Xena, Gabrielle, and Bilbo approached the small party of elves waiting for them at the entrance to Rivendell.
“Mae govannen,” Elrond greeted them warmly. “We’ve been expecting you, Bilbo. Gandalf sent a message ahead of you, explaining you were on your way, and that you were bringing two new friends with you as escorts.”
“Yes, this is Xena and Gabrielle, two travelers who happened upon my home as I was preparing for my birthday party,” Bilbo replied, indicating each young woman in turn. “They kindly offered to accompany me at least as far as your home, as they’d never been near the valley in their travels before.”
“Enter, friends, and take rest,” Elrond invited, waving them in before him. “When you are rested, come find me, and we will talk. We can exchange stories of our travels over a late supper, and learn much from each other.”
“Thank you,” Xena answered. “We would be glad of a short rest. We’ve been traveling since first light.”
Elrond himself led the travelers to their rooms, and after ensuring they had everything they needed, left them alone.
“I’m not sure which I want first, a long nap or a longer bath,” Gabrielle said wearily, leaning her staff against the wall. “My whole body aches in places I didn’t even know I had.”
Xena walked through to the next room, which turned out to hold a sunken tub, with bath oils already set out along one side. It was already filled with steaming water, and Xena was tempted to slide right in, clothes and all, but decided it wouldn’t be prudent to take her chakram and sword with her.
Stepping back into the bedroom, she leaned her sword next to Gabrielle’s staff and placed her chakram on the table. “The tub is already filled, and there are bath oils on the ledge,” she informed her friend. “You go first, while I find us some fresh clothes.”
“Deal,” Gabrielle said, dropping her pack on the floor. “I can’t wait to get a few hours’ sleep in a real bed for a change.”
“Hear, hear!” Xena agreed, stretching to work the soreness out of her back. “A girl can only take so many nights of sleeping on the ground before turning into a hunchback. I don’t care how long we spend here, I intend to take full advantage of the facilities while we’re able.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Gabrielle called from the tub.