The Birthday Gift Part VI

By Shadowdancer


DISCLAIMER: I didn't create Xena and Gabrielle, Alti, nor any of the other characters you recognize from the show, but I did create the ones you don't.





The celebration for Gabrielle's birthday, though belated, was grand indeed, dancing, eating, drinking, and a general, all out celebration. It was especially celebratory because Alti had been defeated once again, and none of the sisters had lost their lives. That alone was cause for celebration. Danalia and Ephiny sat in their special place by the fire aside from all the other warriors reserved for the Queen and her First Warrior. As usual, they had one guard each on either side of their chairs in their protective positions standing in the “at ease” military posture. Ephiny smiled, as she watched her sisters enjoying the celebration, but Danalia, always a very sober, serious Amazon, sat straight in her chair, watching with her usual great solemnity. It's not that she enjoyed herself any less; she just wasn't one for smiling. Xena commented on the fact to Gabrielle after she took a sip of Amazon wine; She had to be careful of the stuff, Amazon wine was VERY potent. “I know” Gabrielle replied as she stole a look at Danalia, careful not to stare too long as Danalia hated being stared at. “She 's always so serious. I wonder if she was born that way or if some great tragedy at a very young age caused her to be so unsmiling”.

“I don't know, but Ephiny seems to accept it as just her nature, and I think she of all people should know”. Ephiny bent sideways in her chair leaning towards Danalia to whisper something to her, and Danalia leaned in to listen, then nodded in agreement, and Ephiny returned to an upright position as she pointed to someone or something smiling.

Danalia nodded again, looking where Ephiny pointed, and Xena read her lips to say, “Yes, I think Captain of the Royal Guard suits her best of all the others” and then Xena looked where they were looking across the camp; Eponin, they were talking about Eponin.

Watching Xena watching the Amazon rulers of the tribe so intently, Gabrielle asked, “What is it Xena? What are they talking about? Can you read their lips?”

After another moment, Xena responded, obviously still concentrating. “They're going to promote Eponin to Captain of the Royal Guard, Danalia agreed with Ephiny that she is best suited for the position of all the others considered for it”.

Gabrielle was happy for Eponin, she didn't know her well, but she knew Eponin was a very formidable warrior in battle; very fierce, agile, and strong in battle. She had sparred with Xena a few times and had been able to match her blow for blow, move for move until Xena had swept her feet out from under her after four attempts to do so. Eponin had jumped back to her feet instantly, obviously winded from the mock battle, as was Xena as the match had gone on for quite awhile, both warriors so equally matched, but she stood in her ready stance. Finally Xena had had to call it off, Eponin was not a quitter and never would have done so.

Danalia's visual sweep of the camp and the surrounding area brought her eyes to Xena's and she nodded to her in acknowledgement and silent greeting, and then continued the visual scan. As she nodded back to Danalia, and took a bite of the juicy venison, Xena told Gabrielle quietly, “Danalia is a true warrior, see how she scans the village for danger, as well as the area around the camp? The trees, the ground behind the warriors furthest from the fire, the warriors themselves. Her hearing is tuned to the slightest sound despite the noise of the celebration itself. Her posture is relaxed, yet I'll bet if there were the slightest movement any where near them, she'd have a weapon in her hand, and ready to fight to the death in an instant, protecting Ephiny from harm”.

Gabrielle looked at them, and watched Danalia stop her visual scan long enough to sip some Amazon wine and then watch the celebration. “I couldn't have asked for a better birthday Xena. I have my friends around me, a warm hut to sleep in as long as I like, food and drink as much as I desire, and my bond mate at my side, what more is there?”

“I don't know Gabrielle, I'd say we've both got everything we'll ever need” “Especially as long as we have each other” they held each other's eyes in love, loyalty, and understanding for a long moment, then turned to continue watching the celebration.


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