It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the time of chakrums, and the time of strength.
The corruption and inflation in England and France was incredible. The key to the corruption was taxes, and leaders were only followed because they were feared. Leaders got away with this because people went along with it - they accepted things the way they were. In their eyes, the status quo wasn't bad.
Even through the injustice that went on during this time, there were a few people who stood for what was still right, and kept in mind what the country could be like.
And it wasn't just Xena.
"At the count of three!" A rough man shouted to others. One hand was free, the other was occupied by a lit torch. Several men were pushing at a prison door.
"One… two… three!" Everyone threw themselves up against the steel door. Nearby guards and soldiers prepared their weapons, looked at each other, and ran away, their minds quickly turned for the better. Their prison that they were supposed to have guarded was now open and inviting for anyone to join in on the inmates' "fun".
Xena sat in her cell, rocking back and forth as the door burst open. A piece of paper in one hand, and a quill in the other, she stood up. Happy to be released, but at the same time, terrified.
Xena hadn't had a normal conversation with someone for almost eighteen years. Her throat itched from trying to talk with the leader of the group.
She didn't have to. He grabbed her arm, causing her to drop her writing tools. As he left, he saw a shine of metal in the corner of his eye.
"Take those things," he motioned towards one of his followers. He nodded to the others to make way for Xena, as they headed towards the carriage.
The gruff man looked at Xena skeptically. She sure wasn't the warrior people had once talked about. One of her ancestors, the original Xena, was known as the Warrior Princess, and she supposedly had passed on her skills to each woman in her family and to her best friend's family - known as Gabrielle.
"What do you think of our little operation?" the dark-haired man asked, chuckling at the fear in Xena's eyes. They briskly walked towards the carriage - or, rather, Xena didn't really walk; she was practically dragged.
"Recalled to life," was all that the Warrior Princess could choke out as she was hoisted into the carriage.
The horses' hooves clamped along the unpaved road, echoing in the hills. The only sound heard other than the mares was the slight mist that sprayed the country that one night.
"What time is it?" one driver asked the other, who was bringing up the rear, looking out for people who weren't where they were supposed to be.
"I heard a sound… sounded like a horse…" the man stopped, his rifle ready for defense. He ignored his companion's question about the time.
"Of course you heard a horse, stupid. We have them right—" the driver was stopped short by their guest.
"I'm looking for Hercules! Is Hercules traveling in this carriage?" the messenger held up a telegram and waved it. There was a rustle from inside the carriage. A head peaked out from the curtain.
"That is me," the deep voice claimed. Hercules stepped out of the coach.
"What kind of name is 'Hercules'?" the driver whispered to the other man.
"What kind of name is 'Falafel'?" Hercules shot back playfully. From the corner of his eye, he saw the other driver lunging himself at him. Hercules was prepared for this and held up an arm to block him. The man wasn't expecting this and flew back, stunned that anyone was paying attention. He shook it off and stood back up, covered in mud.
Hercules tried to ask the messenger what the telegram was, but the young man was busy, his eyes wide, watching the man throw himself at Hercules again.
For a second time, Hercules calmly stepped out of the way, grabbing the man's shirt as he passed. The man groaned as he faced the mud - again.
Hercules looked at the messenger. "You were saying?" A slight smirk appeared on the muscular man's face. The attacker didn't bother getting up from the mud. He knew that Hercules would pay for this, and so would each of his friends.
"Here, sir. They said that you'd know what the message meant," the messenger's horse backed up a bit. "It's 'recalled to life'," he finished.
Hercules eyebrows raised. Falafel and his companion exchanged looks, as well as raised eyebrows. The beat-up man stood up and limped back to his station.
The door swung open and then slammed shut loudly. A young woman had caused the movement, and she looked distressed.
"Hercules?" she asked, fanning herself. Her elaborate dress showed that she was part of the richer society, and probably never missed a social gathering.
"Yes, miss. I am he," Hercules politely bowed. He knew Gabrielle Manette had a fair amount of money, and that meant respect. Hercules himself was well-off. He was an agent at Tellson's bank and worked hard for all of his money.
"You said that you had important news about my mother?" Miss Manette said quickly, not meaning to be curt.
"Uh… yes. What would you say if I told you you're mother was not dead? But what if she was imprisoned, say, for eighteen years?" Hercules cringed, almost ready for the young lady's reaction.
"What do you think you're doing?" a rough female voice spoke up behind Hercules. He turned around to face Gabrielle's nurse and protector - Atalanta.
"Why would you say something like that to frighten the child?" she hissed, picking Hercules up by his expensive shirt collar. Hercules flailed his arms, meaning to apologize. Atalanta just sighed impatiently and set the man down.
Fanning Gabrielle back to consciousness, they sat her down. Hercules repeated himself. Gabrielle's eyes went wide as she prepared to ask a question. Hercules stopped her, holding his finger in the air.
"She is safe, and we will go get her now," Hercules had to say no more, and Gabrielle was outside, waiting and ready.
"Uncle, I won't have it," the man said angrily.
"You'll take it! I won't have myself or the St. Evremonde name made bad!" Ares St. Evremonde, also known as Marquis Ares, was fuming mad. The aristocrat was about to blow up in front of his nephew.
"I think what you do to the people in terrible and cruel!" Perdicus Darnay narrowed his eyes and put on his hat, signing that he was leaving his uncle's estate. Ares had just offered his estate to his nephew, but Perdicus stuck with what he believed in.
"What's with this humanitarian stuff? I hate it!" Marquis growled. His fists were clenched, but he wasn't about to touch his nephew. One of the Marquis' servants pulled out a dagger behind his back. Ares saw this and shook his head abruptly.
"Goodbye, uncle," Perdicus bid farewell to the doorman and many servants as he walked out the door and to his carriage.
Meanwhile, Ares had called in someone.
"You will have it done, correct?" Ares asked softly.
"Yes, your lordship. When Perdicus lands in England from France, he will be arrested for treason," the servant said quietly. Ares grinned.
And waited patiently, watching his nephew's carriage leave the grounds.
The bell on the outside of the door alerted the men and women inside. The door opened to reveal Hercules and Gabrielle.
The woman making a saddle behind the counter set her things down and stood up. Her expression was serious and demanding. She nodded toward the stairs.
"My husband is upstairs. He wants you to see the saddle he has specially made for you," Madame Callisto said. The expression on her face was a cross between a mischievous child's grin and an insane murderer's smirk.
Gabrielle and Hercules nodded and walked up the stairs. Hercules ignored the woman's emotion, and Gabrielle barely noticed it.
Going up the stairs, Gabrielle's feet and head felt heavy. She was nervous and excited about meeting the mother she had never known.
A man was waiting in the shadows at the top of the stairs. He was quiet and pointed inside the room. The candlelight inside revealed him to be Draco, Madame Callisto's husband.
"You must be tired from your long journey. Please, sit down," Draco's words were a little too obvious. People in on their secret cringed. Draco ignored his follower's reactions and led the way inside.
A whoosh went by as Gabrielle stepped in. A dark-haired woman was sitting at a chair, her back to her audience. Another blur went by Gabrielle's face, and she stumbled backwards.
"Those are 'chakrums'. Xena spent her time in prison making these. No one else can make them… she's the only one. For some odd reason, she's the only one who can catch them," Draco shook his head, disbelieving his own words. Gabrielle heard nothing, she was mesmerized by the mother she never met. Gabrielle was brought up by her father, but he had died the previous year.
"Mother?" Gabrielle whispered. Hercules urged the blond girl to go forward. Draco was still muttering to himself and a small group of suspicious-looking people.
"Her name is Xena," Gabrielle recalled, talking to herself.
"Xena? What kind of name is that?" Draco chuckled, thinking about Xena's name. Hercules shot him a Look. Draco was silenced.
"Thank you for rescuing my mother from the Bastille. I owe you a great deal of thanks," Gabrielle gushed.
Draco bowed slightly. "Think nothing of it. We help our own kind." He then regretted saying the last part, because Gabrielle and Hercules were obviously not peasants.
Gabrielle, Xena, and Hercules headed back to England, all exhausted from their exciting day.
On the boat from France to England was something that changed the whole scenario.
As Gabrielle was getting on the boat, she dropped a hat box in the water. A stranger waded in and retrieved it.
Gabrielle smiled shyly at the man, and thanked him.
It wasn't long before they got talking, and realized they both had an interest in each other. The man said that he would love to meet Gabrielle again sometime… and Gabrielle suggested dinner that week. With the date set, they smiled at one another, sparks flying. Xena made few words, but joined in on the conversation - slowly.
Gabrielle thought it was strange that she had met her mother for the first time, yet Xena still wasn't able to make conversation. All those years in prison had a huge effect on her emotional and mental state.
The man walked off the boat in a daze, and headed for his home in England. Gabrielle went her way, also in a daze.
In fact, she was in such a daze that she didn't hear the muffled sound of a man being gagged and handcuffed.