by Anita Louise

copyright 3/98


This takes place after A Golden Legion.

The Bounty has set sail for Spoon Island. Gabrielle is on her way to take care of a promise she made to Sea .

The characters find themselves facing a journey of discovery and love.

Hurt/Comfort Warning Disclaimer:

This story may be best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving the characters of Xena Warrior Princess. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.

Love/Sex/ Disclaimer This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read
something other than this story.

The television series: Xena Warrior Princess belongs to MCA/Universal...
This is merely one fan's story.

Chapter One

Saxton was standing, he had just checked the main sail. The way the wind had been blowing, they were making good time. They were still some distance from Spoon Island but with each day the ship was getting closer.

He had glanced around the ship staring into the faces of the crew. They all seemed to know something was wrong and several had asked about the Captain. He told them that he was following orders. His eyes were now staring at the back of the woman. She was dressed in a pair of tight brown leather pants and she wore a white open necked blouse, that hung loose from her waist.

Crafton walked up to him and said, "She sure is a beauty hey Saxton?"

Turning his attention to the man he nodded and said, "She is that."

The other man leaned against the bulwark and said, "Always thought she and the Captain were quite a pair. Hope to see that again soon."

Saxton replied, "A welcome sight it would be."

He turned and walked toward the woman.

As he neared her the man cleared his throat several times then approached. Gabrielle turned her head as she reached up and wiped several tears from her face. "Saxton, is something wrong?"

Standing next to the woman he said, "The ship is fine, you are not." His eyes were gazing into the bloodshot eyes looking up at him. The woman's face seemed hollow and she bore dark circles under her eyes.

Forcing a smile she said, "I'm fine."

Reaching out he placed his hands on her shoulders and said, "Captain would not want to see you like this. I've had a nice meal sent to the cabin, why don't you try to eat something."

Taking a deep breath she turned her gaze toward the mass of water that lay ahead of them and said, "Not hungry."

Looking concerned he said, "You are like a daughter to me little one, it hurts for me to see you like this."

Quickly turning toward the man she snapped, "Then don't look at me!" If she could have taken the words back she would have. The minute she said them she hated herself. The man's eyes filled with tears and his face seemed to fall as she said, "Saxton, I didn't mean it, forgive me."

Taking several breaths he said, "If I could give my life so she could return I would. You are all I have left. When I see you I see Ann. It hurts to see you slowly killing yourself. Ann would not have wanted it."

"And I suppose you knew what Ann Bounty wanted?"

He smiled at her and said, "Yes, since the day she met you, a different life, a love of life with you in it."

Feeling herself weakening she said, "I'm going below for awhile."

He reached out and grasped her right arm and said, "I will escort you to the door."

Nodding at him she slowly turned and walked away.

She left Saxton at the door and went into the cabin after she promised the man she would try to eat something. After closing the door she walked over to the desk and stared down at the food that set on it. Reaching down she picked it up and set it on the floor, then she set down in the chair and
stared at the maps and journals laying about it.

Reaching out she thumbed through several until she found the Captains journal. The minute her eyes fell on Ann's beautiful scribing she was mesmerized and could not put it down.


In the beginning I enjoyed the hunt, the thrill of winning. I even felt a certain feeling of power when I sent the defeated to the other side. I had no use for those that could not fight. All this changed on the day we picked up the men that had been shanghaied in Thebes. I felt I had made a good
bargain and now my crew could relax, while the new ones helped with the work. The change began slowly but it started with the young man.

Gabrielle's hands were shaking as she turned the parchment. She would never forget that day, as she continued reading. There was something in his belligerent manner that caught my eye as there
weren't any that would dare defy me. In the beginning I thought I had found someone to toy with, just another flirtatious act of self indulgence, while at the same time I would have someone who would do my bidding. It was to my surprise that he turned out to be a she and the most beautiful woman I have ever set my gaze upon. From the day we crossed swords to the time I tended
her injures, I have cursed myself for having ever struck this remarkable woman.

Gabrielle whispered, "It was my fault, I called you in front of your crew. Never was it your fault, if it had been anyone else, I would have died that day." She placed her right hand on the scribing and began to slowly caress the words, then closed her eyes. The effervescent beauty of Sea, as she
laughed and teased her only made the emptiness she had been feeling stronger.

Setting the parchment down on the desk she stood and walked away. She found herself walking back topside. Searching around, her eyes finally spied Saxton and she walked toward the man. A strong wind had come up and the ship was beginning to rock from the roughness of the water.

Saxton had been issuing orders when he saw her approaching. His face was set as he said, "Best you go below, we will probably be in this for awhile and it will be easier in the cabin."

Managing a smile she said, "Need something to do and this could be it."

Shaking his head he said, "I've got it pretty much taken care of, except for someone in the nest, we are all right."

"Why do you need someone up there?"

The man said, "I'm going to go take a look, there seems to be something on the horizon that I can't figure out from down here."

Gabrielle reached out and grasped the man by his right arm and said, "You stay down here, if anything were to happen to you, I'd never get to the Island and there would be no one to run the ship."

Patting her hand with his he replied, "Captain has all sorts of navigation things in the cabin and you could captain The Bounty easily. No, you must not try to climb up there. He might as well have saved his breath for in an instant she had jumped up and gripped the rigging. He watched her agilely
shimmy up to the nest and before long she waved down to the man. The ship was tossing and she was hanging onto the guard surrounding the Crows Nest. Gazing in the direction Saxton had been talking about she could now see it. It seemed to be a large fog bank. There was no end that she could see and the rocking of the ship was making her sick to her stomach. She was glad she
hadn't eaten anything. It didn't take her long to swing back down to the deck and as her feet touched it the man reached out and grabbed her. "Are you daft? That was a dangerous thing to do."

"You were going to do it."

The man smiled as he said, "What did you see?"

Gabrielle told him about the large bank of white that was building up. He seemed concerned as he asked, "Could you see a way around it?"

Shaking her head she said, "No, why? What is it?"

He answered, "Only heard tell of one of those and it was a long time ago. If it is anything like that..."

Gabrielle stepped in front of the man and said, "Are you trying to tell me something bad will happen when we sail into it?"

Noting the concern on her face he said, "No, just have to look out for other ships, it gets so thick you can't see where you're going. You can't do anymore out here, go below and try to rest."

Starting to object she thought better of it and said, "All right, but if you need me, come and let me know." As she turned to walk away he called after her, "Captain couldn't have done it any better."

Smiling she headed for the cabin.

The ship has stopped rocking and it seemed they were in calmer waters as she walked over to the port hole and looked out. All she could see was a white mist and it seemed to be everywhere. Suddenly feeling chills she walked over to the bed and sat. She had been listening to the sounds of the creaking of the hull and wanted something to drown it out. Walking over to the music box
she opened the lid as the beautiful melody began to flood the room. "Look at you."

The words were warm yet held a stern connotation. The instant she heard them she felt goose bumps and couldn't move.

"What have you done to yourself?"

The words were closer as she reached out and closed the lid, the music stopped. Whispering to herself, "Get hold of yourself, it's not real, you are imagining the words."

She felt the warmth next to her right ear as the words were whispered to her, "Turn around, it's not your imagination."

Feeling her knees weaken and a fleeting sensation in the pit of her stomach she said, "I am hallucinating." Raising her right hand to her ear she felt the soft lips. Slowly turning, her eyes looked up into the face of Sea. Her legs collapsed as she fell into darkness.

Gabrielle had been unconscious for sometime and was now starting to come out of it. Her head was moving back and forth as she mumbled incoherently. Slowly opening her eyes she heard the words, "It's all right, don't pass out again. We need to talk."

Fully alert now, her eyes widened as she gazed at the woman.

Sea had placed her left hand on the Bard's forehead and said, "Never knew you to be speechless. Are you feeling better?"

Pulling herself up and resting on her elbows Gabrielle said, "S...Sea?"

Sea spoke softly as she said, "Yes, Gabrielle it's me."

Gabrielle was setting as she reached out and wrapped her arms around the woman. Sea embraced her at the same time and said, "It's nice to know I have been missed."

The Bard clung to the woman as if never to release her again as Sea said, "Gabrielle?"

"Just let me stay in your arms a little longer. Gods Sea, I have missed you."

Finally easing the woman back Ann Bounty reached out and brushed a strand of hair from Gabrielle's forehead and said, "Even the thought of death will never break the bounds we have." Her hand now tracing the Bard's face, she continued, "I am worried about you."

Gabrielle raised her eyebrows and said, "I don't understand."

"You are letting yourself go, it is not your time and I need you here. Promise me you will take care of yourself."

Grasping Sea's hand with her own she brought it to her lips placing a gentle kiss on it as she said, "Because of me, it happened, it should have been me not you."

Pulling the woman from the bed, Ann said, "Look at me, do I look dead, do I feel dead?"

Shaking her head Gabrielle replied, "No, but..."

Sea's green eyes were reaching out to Gabrielle as she said, "Then remember what I have said, and do not tell mother I have passed, it would kill her."

Gabrielle shakily said, "Where are you? I will search the lands looking for you, where are you?"

"Promise me you will take better care of yourself? I am fighting to return to you, if at all possible I will, till then, promise me."

Tears forming in her eyes she softly whispered, "I promise, Sea."

Bringing her head down the woman placed a soft kiss on the Bard's lips as she said, "Till then."

She was gone as quickly as she had appeared as Gabrielle screamed out her name in vain. Saxton heard the sounds and was now knocking on the cabin door. Opening it she stared into the man's concerned face and said, "Saxton, Sea is not dead, she was here!"

He smiled at her and glanced over her shoulder into the cabin as he said, "You are tired, get some rest and we will talk later."

She watched him until he was out of sight then turned and walked back into the cabin. She could still smell the cinnamon and knew it wasn't a dream. Sea had managed to come to her and she was alive. It only made the aching in her heart worse. To hear, see and be touched by the woman again and to lose her was too much. Walking over to the bed she fell on it and passed out.

It had been several days and they had finally sailed out of the mist. It had been slow going, and they swung lanterns hoping if there was another ship in the area it would see the lights before colliding with them.

Gabrielle was standing at the helm, she had assumed the title of Captain only after much coaxing and pleading from Saxton. Not one crew member challenged her and she was thankful for that. The ship had dropped anchor and was within reach of Spoon Island. Saxton approached her and said, "You have a good visit, just send a signal when you are ready to come back."

Nodding her head she said, "Thank you, you have been patient with me and I couldn't have made it this far without your assistance. I need to spend sometime here and when I am ready I will let you know."

After they were in the longboat and it had cast off, Gabrielle stared back at the ship.

"Are you going to tell Kiera?"

Looking at the man, Gabrielle answered, "I don't know, I guess it will come to me at the time. She is so frail, and loves Ann so much, I will just play it by ear."

He patted her right hand and said, "You will do the right thing."

It didn't seem like long before the boat had entered shallow water and several of the crew had jumped into the water to pull the boat on land. Saxton reached up to help Gabrielle down and she accepted his hand. As her feet touched the beach she sighed and said, "I'll signal."

He reached in the boat and handed her a leather pack as he said, "Some goods in there, you might need."

She accepted the pack then turned and started walking toward the foliage.

Saxton watched the woman until she was out of sight then he turned and said, "Let's get back, she will be fine."

Throwing the pack over her left shoulder she began walking. It was an overcast day, and there was a soft wind blowing in from the east. Shivering she picked up her step. It didn't take her long to make it to the thick foliage and begin her descent to the lush green fields that lay before her.

Spying a large rock formation she headed toward it. She walked up and stared around then sat. It felt good to get off her feet and she was exhausted. Leaning back on the rock she gazed up at the passing clouds. It was the sound of horses nickering that caused her to set up. She was aware someone was heading her way. She stood up holding the leather pack.

"Mistress Gabrielle, is that you?" The Sorrel mare pranced closer and Gabrielle could see the woman that was speaking to her was Alexia. She waved at the woman and said, "Alexia, it is good to see you."

Reining the horse to a stop the woman climbed down. She walked up to Gabrielle and smiled as she said, "It is good to see you once more." Gazing past the Bard she continued, "Is Mistress Ann far behind?"

Grasping the woman's right arm in friendship, Gabrielle answered, "I am by myself this time. How is Kiera?"

Seeming perplexed the woman said, "She has her good days and bad. You will light up her life, she has missed you and Ann."

Sighing Gabrielle replied, "I never realized how much I miss this place. I look forward to seeing Kiera again."

Alexia handed the reins to Gabrielle and said, "Take the horse, it will get you down sooner."

Smiling Gabrielle said, "I'd be honored to ride behind you, let's go."

Kiera stopped the horse in front of the main house as Gabrielle slid to the ground. She thanked the woman then turned and started up the steps. It was getting late and the winds had picked up as they send a cold chill throughout her body. She knocked several times before the door slowly
opened. She stared into the darkened doorway, her eyes trying to see who had opened the door. Finally the words, "Gabrielle, is it really you?" made their way to the woman. Stepping closer to the opening she said, "Yes, Kiera is that you?"

It didn't take long for Kiera to step into the dimming light from outside and throw her arms around the woman as she cried, "You are a sight, come in child."

Gabrielle felt she had come home once more as she returned the embrace then followed the woman into the house.

Gabrielle followed her into one of the sitting rooms. Kiera motioned to a chair as she said, "You are no doubt tired, it is a long walk in from the shore. I will call Alexia and have some food prepared, you look as if you haven't had a decent meal in ages. What has happened to you?"

Setting down, she laid the leather pack on a small table and said, "I'm not hungry, but thanks anyway."

Leaning forward in her chair Kiera set her eyes on Gabrielle and said, "I'll have none of that, now, I will have something prepared and you will eat it." Seeming startled at the woman's tone Gabrielle leaned back in the chair. Kiera called a servant and gave him orders then she turned her attention
back to the Bard. "You look a sight, after you have a good meal, I will have a bath drawn up. A relaxing soak will do you a world of good."

"Forgive me, Kiera, but I'm not hungry and ..."

Rising to her feet the woman walked up to Gabrielle. She reached out and cupped the woman's chin in her right hand. Turning the Bard's face from side to side she finally said, "Either you have been sick or something has happened. Either way, you have come to the right place, the island has a way of helping a person come to terms with their problems."

Closing her eyes, Gabrielle strained to keep from crying as she said, "I'm not sick, and I don't need or want a bath."

Softly patting the Bard's face, Kiera turned and walked back over to her chair and sat. She hesitated for a few moments then she said, "I haven't fed anyone in a long time but I think I can still do it. Now, either you eat something or I will feed it to you."

Gabrielle started to speak as the woman held up her right hand and said, "Stop, it will do you no good to argue. When you have finished eating, your bath will await you."

Gabrielle could feel the woman's eyes on the front of her blouse as she reached up to tie the leather strands that hung loosely. Kiera smiled at her and said, "Leave it, I have gotten used to the way you and Ann wear your blouses, and if I was your ages, I would probably do the same. Now, let's go see you get some nourishment."

Gabrielle followed the woman to the dining room. She stopped and stared at the lovely table, and the chairs that lined it. A plate of heavenly smelling food had just been placed on the table as Kiera turned and said, "Set, I'll have some port brought in."

Slowly walking toward the kitchen she turned and said, "I'll be right in, need to wash up a bit."

Kiera smiled at her and said, "Don't be long."

Alelxia showed her where she could wash up. She had just finished when the woman approached her and said, "Here." She was holding out a towel and Gabrielle took it as she said, "Would she really try to feed me?"

Laughing the woman said, "Wouldn't put it past her, she doesn't take the word "no" for an answer."

Setting the towel down the Bard went back to the dining area. Entering she could see Kiera, setting at the head of the table, she was sipping on a goblet of port. Clearing her throat she approached the table and pulled out a chair then sat. Staring at the plate of food she said, "It's been awhile
since I have eaten a large meal, so if I attempt to eat some of it, will that be all right?"

Setting the goblet down the woman looked at her and said, "Just try to eat something, it will make an old woman happy."

After she had eaten some of the meal she set back and stared at the beautiful table. Kiera had been watching her as she said, "You miss Ann, it is plain to see, everytime I come to this table I see my daughter. There isn't a place on the island that you can't see or recall Ann. Tell me, Gabrielle, what is the matter?"

Shaking her head the woman replied, "So many things, but I will not dwell on them at the moment. I am tired."

Standing the woman called Alexia and said, "Take Gabrielle to the bath." Walking up to Gabrielle, who was standing she said, "Have a good bath, then get some rest. Your room is the same and it is made up for you. If I haven't said, it, I'm very happy you have come to visit." She leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on the Bard's forehead then turned and left the room.

Gabrielle stared at Alexia and said, All right, lead on, I'll get this bath over with."

Alexia smiled as she said, "Then follow me, it is ready for you."


Chapter Two

The warmth from the sun was making its way to the woman. She lay on her stomach, her arms outstretched and her head buried between two pillows. Feeling the rays as they traversed her aching body, she sighed and gently caressed the bed with her right hand. "Se..." The minute she spoke the words, she was awake, it had been a dream although glorious. She stared at the empty spot in the bed as she turned onto her back. Drawing one arm over her forehead she lay still.

"Gabrielle, it's daybreak." Sea's soft words on that morning were still echoing in her mind.

Closing her eyes, she could still see it so vividly and hear the words she spoke to the woman, "Do I really have to move? I don't find you in bed with me very often anymore when I wake. I would love to keep you just like this."

Setting up in the bed she pushed herself against the headboard. If she had only known at that time, the woman would be taken from this life. A knock on the door brought her back to the present as she said, "Come in."

Alexia poked her head into the room and said, "Mistress Kiera waits the morning meal. I have taken the liberty of bringing you some clean clothes."

Smiling up at the woman, Gabrielle said, "You can lay them on the bed and tell Kiera I'll be down soon."

After Alexia had left the room, Gabrielle got out of bed and walked over to the foot and stared down at the clothes. A pair of black leather pants, a light brown leather shirt that had leather ties crisscrossing the front of it and a pair of black boots were waiting for her. Setting down she reached out and took the shirt in her hands. It was soft and she pressed it to her face. Hurrying to dress she rushed downstairs to breakfast and the start of another day.

Walking into the Sun room, she looked around for Kiera, she wasn't there and she walked up to the window. The fields of flowing grass and the forest behind it seemed to be beckoning her. "There you are my dear."

She turned to see Kiera enter the room. The woman's eyes seemed to light up as Gabrielle said, "Thank you, for being so gracious."

Pointing to the table she said, "Let's set shall we."

After the two were comfortable and Alexia had placed food in their plates, Kiera said, "You look much more rested today. Would you like to talk about it?"

Shaking her head Gabrielle turned her attention to the lovely meal. She ate little of it but did enjoy the hot tea. When she was finished she said, "The food is delicious, I'm just not feeling up to par."

Standing Kiera held out her right hand and said, "Come, walk with me in the garden."

Getting up she placed her left hand in the woman's and said, "A walk in the garden sounds nice."

It was a brisk day but the hearty flowers the woman had planted seemed to thrive on the weather. They were breathtaking. They had been walking for several minutes when Kiera stopped, turned, and said, "It's all right, you don't have to find an easy way to tell me."

Gazing up at the woman, Gabrielle said, "Tell you?"

Patting the Bard's right hand Kiera answered, "I know, probably the minute it happened."

Fighting to hold back the oncoming tears Gabrielle said, "Kiera..."

" I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and the minute it happened Ann flashed before me. I prayed the feeling was wrong but before you arrived, a carrier pigeon brought the news. No wonder you look so forlorn and haggard. I understand it was quite a battle, I'm so proud of my
daughter." The woman's eyes were holding back the tears as Gabrielle replied, "I was debating whether to tell you, I didn't want to see you hurt."

Reaching out the woman drew Gabrielle into her arms and said, "You are like a daughter to me, and Ann loved you. If someone were to tell me, I'm glad it is you."

Feeling secure in the woman's embrace Gabrielle said, "It should have been me that died."

Pushing the woman back, Kiera stared at her and said, "Nonsense, we have no control over certain things and my Ann was headstrong. She would not want you blaming yourself, she would want to see you happy."

Turning from the woman Gabrielle said, "I don't know if that will ever be possible again. I was wondering if it would be all right if I took Jez and..."

"It is a wonderful idea, I'll have Alexia prepare you a pack and you take your time. I know Ann and you spent a lot of time riding the island and enjoying one another's company. It will do you good."

Gabrielle replied, "Thanks for understanding."

The woman smiled at the Bard as she said, "Gabrielle, I feel my daughters presence more each day, maybe the fates have smiled on us and she will come back."

Turning to gaze at the woman she said, "I saw the sword enter her body, I saw the blood and I watched as she fell from the cliff into the raging water below. Ephiny couldn't find her, and I searched to no avail. I just went through a difficult problem with my memory. Sometimes I'm not sure what is real and what isn't, but this I know was real. If the fates allow, I pray you are right."

Gabrielle had been standing by the corral fence watching the horses gallop around the area. She enjoyed looking at them as they scampered and played. It was the beautiful black stallion that caught her eye. It was magnificent as it pawed the air with its front hoofs. Every muscle in its body seemed to ripple and its whinny was chilling. Closing her eyes, she could still see Ann Bounty commanding the beautiful animal. They were a match and it seemed even the horse knew something was wrong.

"Brought you your supplies."

She turned to see Alexia walking toward her, she carried a saddle bag and as she neared she handed it to her. Turning her gaze to the horses she said, "Seems Ann's horse is feeling his oats."

"Yes, I wouldn't want to be the next one that decides to ride him."

Smiling Alexia said, "Seems like Ann had a way with animals and also people." She headed back toward the main house.

It didn't take long for a stable hand to bring Jez out of the corral, saddled and ready to go. Handing her the reins she thanked the man, then reached up and caressed the animals face. "Good to see you again, girl." She tied the saddle bag to the back of the saddle then pulled herself up into
the saddle. Turning the horse she trotted from the area.

The mighty palomino seemed to enjoy the trek as much as she did. Its legs carried them through the grassy meadows and into the forest. The feel of the wind against her face and the smells of the forest was giving her a feeing of bliss. Jez had leaped obstacles in their path with ease and she had
managed to stay in the saddle. It was invigorating and she was taking it all in.

It was as they left the forest and the horse started to gallop along the beautiful beach that she reined it in. Setting she surveyed the area, it looked like the last time she and Sea had been there, nothing was changed. The ocean was calm it seemed to hold a slight ripple as it crept in on the sand and in her mind she recalled the last time she had been at the spot.


Ann had reined the horse in as she dismounted and stood staring at Gabrielle."Come on slowpoke, the water is just right."

Smiling at her, Gabrielle urged Jez as the horse trotted up to Ann. She reached up and grabbed the reins as the Bard said, "You're in a good mood today."

Reaching up to help the woman dismount Ann replied, "Always in a good mood when I am with you. We have all day and it is a glorious one." She had pointed toward the sky as Gabrielle laughed. She soon found herself dancing in a circle, their hands joined in merriment.

Letting their horses graze in a grassy area the two women had taken off their boots.

They were now parading in the water making a joyous racket. Sea pointed to the incoming waves and said, "Now, when they get near, see if you can jump them." It was hard to believe but they spent a good deal of the day playing in the water and trying to jump the waves that seemed to knock Gabrielle down more times than she was able to jump them.

Sea had teased her relentlessly and she loved every second of it. They had been so active they forgot how tired their bodies were, until Gabrielle went to jump a large wave and was knocked down by its force, Sea ran to help her up.

They stood laughing at one another as Sea teased, "Keep that up and even the fish will be talking about the wrath of Gabrielle."

Grinning at the woman Gabrielle said, "Oh very funny, and I suppose when you land in the water they say, 'Oh look at how marvelously she falls.'" She reached out and pushed the woman sending her falling backwards into the incoming surf. Running from the water she heard Sea as she ran after her calling, "That wasn't nice!"

It didn't take long before the lengthy legs of the woman caught up to Gabrielle and she tackled her sending the two of them rolling onto the sand.

The two horses raised their heads to see where all the laughter was coming from and then went back to grazing. Gabrielle found herself laying on her back as Sea straddled her, pinning her hands to the sand. She leaned over Gabrielle and shook her long red hair as the water flew onto the Bard's face. She screamed in glee and as the two women gazed into each others eyes, Sea brought her head down and placed a tender kiss on the Bard's moist lips.

The sound of Jez nickering brought her back to the present as she reached down and patted the horse's neck and said, "You certainly know how to bring a person out of a lovely memory."

She rode the horse further down the beach until she saw the foliage. Slowing Jez to a trot she reined the horse in that direction. As the horse approached, she pulled back on the reins and said, "Whoa girl, this looks like a good spot."

After she led the horse into a shady area she tied the reins to a low bush and untied the saddle bag. Throwing it over her shoulder she turned and headed for the cliff. It was slow walking as the sand seemed to be drawing in her boots with each step. Stopping once to look back at the horse then
continuing she laughed at her own clumsiness. "One foot in front of the other, not ontop of the other." As she listened to her own laughter she stopped, although it was a beautiful day, she felt chilled.

Turning slowly she gazed around the area, she couldn't see anyone and could not understand why she felt cold. Heaving her shoulders she turned her attention on the steep wall of rock that she was nearing. The day she followed Sea up was difficult but she did have the woman there if anything
were to happen, now she had to rely on her own stamina. Making sure the saddle bag was securely over her shoulder she reached down and grabbed a handful of sand and rubbed it onto them. Biting her lip she began to climb the rock. Each hand hold and step up was treacherous but she continued. She would not let this ledge of rock be the one thing that would keep her from the summit.

Several times her hand slipped but the other had a good hold and stopped what could have been disaster. After the accident she had, she didn't want to fall again.

Her stomach was tied in knots and her body was drenched with perspiration. She knew at least half of what she was experiencing was from fear. Her fear of heights was being put to the test and she was not going to let it win. When her right-hand touched the top, she smiled and began to pull herself up. Crawling onto the level area, she made it to her knees then sat.

Reaching up to remove the saddle bag she laid it on the ground. Then she began to stare off into the distance. The beauty of it was better than she remembered, the magnificance of the surrounding area was enough to take a persons breath. She loved the view and for some reason it seemed to give her peace.

"Hate to tell you this, but there is only one way down, the same way we got up here."

The twinkling green eyes, the flowing red hair and that mischievous grin was now consuming her thoughts. She could see herself gazing up at the woman with a look of dismay on her face as she replied, "You really know how to spoil a perfect day."

Sea held out her right-hand as she said, "Come on, just take it slow."

Falling back on the ground she stared up at the beautiful blue sky. The quiet and beauty gave her a feeling of euphoria as she quietly said, "Will I ever know... Sea, was it a dream?"

The noise of seagulls were the only sounds she heard. Laying there for a long time she tried to focus her mind on home. Each time she would wander there, a sound would bring her back to the present. Setting up she screamed, Gods, how much can one person take? Ares, you always taunt us, take me and let Sea live!" She was on her feet and slowly turned as she yelled, "Ares!
Answer me!" Finally collapsing to the ground she buried her head in her hands and sobbed.

She stayed there the rest of the day and when she could see the sun starting to sink toward the great waters she knew she had to get down. She did not relish the idea of spending the night there. It took all she had to start back down the rock. She prayed with each movement, she would find the holds she needed. She was now within a few feet of the bottom when she let herself go and fell. Landing on her feet she leaned over and grasped her knees and took several deep breaths.

She could feel her legs shaking as she stood and started toward the area she had left the horse. It was beginning to get dusk and she was happy she heard Jez whinny as she hurried toward the sound. The horse heard her and raised her head nickering. Approaching the animal she said, "Jez, you are a sight for one very tired person. What say we go find the hut?"

The horse acted like it knew what she was saying and stood patiently while she cinched the saddle up then climbed onto it. Turning the horse toward the forest she began to hum. Jez's ears fell back then forward again, as Gabrielle smiled and said, "I know, I'm not the best at carrying a tune, but
you are a critic now?"

The forest was beautiful in the day light but at this moment it lent an eerie cast on the land. She felt herself shiver as she prompted the horse faster. She was relieved when the hut came into sight. She rode the horse up to the small corral and dismounted. Leading Jez into the fenced area she
removed the saddle and bridle. Walking over to a hand-pump she began to bring up cool water and as it ran into the trough the horse seemed delighted. When she was finished she took the saddle bag from the back of the saddle closed the gate and headed toward the small hut.

It was a welcome sight as she was tired and needed to rest. Walking up to the thatched door she found the wooden latch and opened the creaking door. The light from the moon was casting its glow into the room and she was glad of this. Walking in she glanced around until her eyes fell on a small wooden table and the candles that were placed there. It didn't take her long to
light a few then walk back and close the door.

Spying the rolled pallets leaning against the far wall she walked toward them. The candles were giving out a cheery glow and she was happy for that. Setting the saddle bag down she knelt and unrolled each pallet laying them beside one another. Getting to her feet she walked over to a trunk and removed several blankets and a shift. Then she searched until she found a pail and went back out to the corral pumping water to take back to the hut. Jez was busy munching on the sweet grass and was paying her no mind. After pumping the water she gazed up at the sky. Between the trees she could see the expansive moon, it was beautiful. Her mind drifted to the last time she
had been in this spot. "It's beautiful, just like you."

Gabrielle had been concentrating on the magnificent glow that was coming down on the land and was surprised to hear her friend. Turning her attention to the woman that was walking toward her she said, "It is so marvelous tonight, is there a special reason for it?"

Nearing her Sea answered, "It's a lovers moon. It comes only certain times of the year and on this night, your love will come to you."

Laughing the Bard replied, "You don't believe that do you? Are you teasing me again?"

Reaching out to take the pail of water from Gabrielle she said, "Me tease, no, ask anyone and they will tell you the same. Come on let's get in before you get chilled."

Gabrielle had stopped several times to gaze at the moon then she shook her head and followed her friend into the hut.

Sighing she picked up the pail and went back into the hut. Setting it on a small wooden table, she found a ladle and drank some of the cool water. She hadn't realized how thirsty she was and felt a little embarrassed at drinking so much. Setting the ladle down she wiped her mouth with her right
forearm and walked over and picked up the saddle bag. Then she knelt and sat on the pallet. She began to check-out the provisions and was happy to find some dried meat and cheese. Finding a small knife she delved into the food. It was all good but she enjoyed the nutbread the most. When she was finished she lay back on the pallet, a satisfied look on her face as she patted her stomach. Her body was weary and before she knew it, she had fallen asleep.


Continued In Chapter Three

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