By shadowdancer


For Disclaimers: See Part One

Deciding it was time to visit their favorite Amazons, Xena and Gabrielle, who needed a rest anyway after having been on the road from Athens for several weeks now, made a detour into the woods that were locally known by all in the area as “Queen Danalia's Woods” which meant that if you were a man, and you wanted to live to see the next day you would be smart to stay out of the woods all together unless accompanied by a woman. The warriors of Danalia's tribe killed any and all men on sight, they killed first, asked questions later. They hated any and all men plain and simple. As they stepped into the woods, Gabrielle got the feeling they were being watched, and they hadn't even stepped into the woods more than twenty yards. “Xena, I get the funniest feeling….”

“That we're being watched? We are, Danalia's warriors are in the trees all around us, you just can't see them. Even as we speak, they're watching our every move. They won't attack unless we make a move to harm one of them. Just keep your hands in plain sight, and don't make any sudden, threatening moves towards a weapon and you're fine. Just be glad we aren't male”.

“They would kill us?”

“On sight, no hesitation or questions asked, they hate men with a vengeance. Men are absolutely forbidden in these woods”. As they walked further into the woods, birdcalls and animal cries went were sounded in the trees along the way; the Amazons were talking, signaling one another. Gabrielle looked up into the trees trying to see the origin of the cries, to no avail.

“Xena, I don't see them, they are good. I don't even see movement”

“And you won't, they don't move, these are the Guards, they guard the trail to the village. Each one remains where she is until she's relieved by a sister Amazon, the village is guarded at all times, and the turn Is taken in shifts. They are telling one another where we are, marking are position check point by check point.”

“Wow, impressive. Ephiny's tribe was never this strict in it's security”

“Ephiny was more trusting than Danalia, Danalia is very suspicious of any and all who enter her woods. If there is a threat to her village or her warriors, Danalia doesn't hesitate to kill. If necessary”. As they went along, Xena was very aware of any and all movement in the trees, ready for anything. She knew they wouldn't attack her or Gabrielle but it was a habit, and a hard one to break. As they neared the village, Xena told Gabrielle in a hushed voice, “Now, this tribe is very different from yours, or any other that we've encountered so far; when we are taken to Danalia, Don't make eye contact unless she gives you permission personally, it's seen as a challenge to look the Queen in their eyes. The only ones allowed to look her in the eyes are her First Warrior and her bond mate, and even her bond mate may not look her in the eyes in public. Also, always address her as “Queen Danalia, unless she tells you otherwise. Don't ever touch her, or get more than within an arm's length of her”.

“Geeze, anything else I should know before I meet her?”.

“Just one, when we are taken before her, bow to her, get down on your right knee, bow your head, and hold your arms away from your body palms open and towards her, and stay this way until you're told to stand”.

“Gods that's a lot to remember”.

“Yes, but in this case it's a matter of life or death literally”. They reached the perimeter of the village and were immediately surrounded by guards who had dropped from the trees like huge spiders from threads of their webs.

Gabrielle began to raise her arms above her head and clasp her hands but Xena stopped her, “No, not with this tribe, to them that's a show of aggression, hold your hands open and away from your body like this, and stay still until they tell you to move”. Gabrielle watched Xena and mimicked her posture, holding absolutely still. “I am Xena this is Gabrielle, we've come to visit Queen Danalia if it would be permitted” Xena said to the one who had stood apart from the others.

The woman raised her mask, it was Solari; “Xena, it's good to see you again”, seeing an old friend, Xena relaxed her arms, but made no movement; Solari knew her but the others might not remember, it had been awhile since she'd been there.

“Solari, it's good to see you. Gabrielle and I were in the area and I thought I'd bring her here to introduce her to Queen Danalia”.

“Great, she was in her hut when I came on duty a few hours ago. I'll enquire when we get in the village interior. Guards, return to your posts, they are friends, no harm is to come to them”. The other warriors clapped a closed right fist to their chests in unison in way of answer to her command, and they jumped into the trees again, returning to their posts as commanded. Within moments it was as if they had never been there.

“Wow, I've never seen anyone get into trees so quickly before” Gabrielle commented.

“Danalia's warriors excel at tree travel, they are the best of all the Amazon tribes at it. When they used to have intertribal contests before the Amazon Wars, Danalia's tribe used to win top honors in tree scaling and travel. As well as in Hunting, Tracking, and Archery; not to mention they took second in foot races, and first often as well. Eponin and Helena excel in Tree travel and foot racing. It's interesting but despite the fact that she's much shorter than Eponin, she is the swifter footed of the two, and Eponin is the better tree traveler. I suppose it's due to her longer limbs”.

“She used to be the faster one Xena, Helena is pregnant, and she carries in her third season I believe. She's due any day now I should think. (Chuckles) Eponin is almost always by her side, she's like a nervous father to be” Solari told them.

“Helena's pregnant Solari? When did that happen?”

“During the last mating session, the same man who fathered Aura, their first born daughter, and the twins as well I believe. Aura and the twins look exactly alike”.

“Twins?” Xena replied, astounded, it really had been along while since she'd seen them, but she hadn't thought it had been that long.

“You've missed a lot huh Xena? Where was I when you were here last? Why wasn't I with you?”

“You were in Potedia visiting your mother for awhile. I'd stopped in Amphipolis but mother had gone to Pagasae to get supplies for the tavern with Toris so I came here for a while. I guess I've missed a lot”.

“It's alright Xena, don't worry, you'll catch up in no time. Queen Danalia will be happy to see you”. As they entered the village, Amazons of various ages, were coming and going, carrying things, some bringing a fresh kill into the village, others going out, many in pairs. Young Amazon girls were hurrying about doing chores, or at their lessons, some sitting on rocks scribbling in scrolls learning to read and write, other at archery lessons, wrestling lessons, and hand to hand combat.

“Xena, it's like any other town, only they're all women, and all Amazons. This is a large tribe”.

“They're a lot more than when I was here last”.

“Yes, there are over 500 of us now.. Many of the warriors have given birth several times since you're last visit, and the ones who were children on your last visit are themselves grown and have their own daughters”.

Xena was happy to see her friends had prospered over the years to such a great extent. They soon arrived at Danalia's hut and were announced; Solari entered the hut and instructed Xena and Gabrielle to wait for here there, which they did. When Solari came to the door to retrieve them, Gabrielle confessed, “Xena, I'm nervous”

“There's no need to be nervous Gabrielle, Danalia's very fair”. They entered the hut.

Part IV

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