DISCLAIMERS: The usual stuff here; Xena and Gabrielle not my creation, but the Amazons in the story are, so them, I DO take credit for.
CATEGORY: ALTERNATIVE FAN FICTION
SEXUAL CONTENT: Very little
By nightfall, they were within a quarter of a candle markís walk from the Amazon village and decided to make camp for the night so that they could enter the village at daybreak. By first light, they were up and ready to go. Xena had given Gabrielle just enough of the herb to make her look pale and sickly in appearance, and make her lethargic and weak. She lay on the litter looking as if she were near death. "I feel like it" she responded weakly when Xena commented on her looks. Seeing her bard looking so close to death frightened Xena more than she realized despite the fact that she is the one who had given her the medication to make her look the way she did. "You know, if you caught a cold during the downpour, then why didnít I? We were exposed to the cold rain for the same amount of time, I should have caught a cold as well" Xena reasoned. "Because by the time you found shelter for the two of you, Gabrielle had already caught a chill, but you are more resistant, youíre more accustomed to being exposed to the elements than Gabrielle. You can tolerate the cold longer than she can without catching cold," Selan explained.
With an approving, appreciative smile, Xena said, "I like the way you think on your feet Selan, impressive". Selan blushed crimson at the praise from the warrior she idolized more than anyone else she knew.
Picking Gabrielle up in her arms, Xena carried her gently to the litter and laid her down, covering her completely with blankets so that nothing could be seen of her but her face, then took Argosís reigns and began walking out of the clearing, Selan following. A quarter candle mark later they were within sight of the Amazon village, and were approaching it when Xena warned Gabrielle and Selan, "Weíre within sight of the village, get ready". "Iíll run ahead and tell them youíre coming" Selan told them as she trotted off in her runnerís jog. Gabrielle closed her eyes as if unconscious, and lay very still.
By the time, they reached the entrance to the Amazon village, Queen Thalinna, First Warrior Sirasi, Selan, and the Queenís two personal guards, Lorana, and Jakara stood there waiting to greet Xena and Gabrielle. As she approached them, Xena happened to notice that Jakara, a very tall, muscular, blue eyed, dark haired beauty, one of the Queenís personal guards, held herself in a way that made it clear, that she was very special. "The Queenís consort no doubt, as well as her guard" Xena thought; a very high honor for any Amazon to hold. To be the personal guard of the Queen of the tribe was a high enough honor, but to have been chosen as her personal consort as well. Jakara held a very high status in the tribe because of this double honor, and she knew it.
Jakaraís ice blue eyes stared through Xena, issuing a challenge, daring Xena to challenge her abilities, but Xena purposely put nothing more than worry in her eyes. She only looked at the tall, imposing Amazon for a few minutes, and then returned her attention to the Queen who was speaking to her. With a motherly look on her face, the Queen greeted Xena, holding her hand out in an offering of the Warriorís handshake. Clasping the proffered arm, Xena greeted the Queen in turn in a voice full of worry, her blue eyes nearly crying. "Queen Thalinna" looking at Sirasi, she greeted, "First Warrior" "Xena" Sirasi answered, "Welcome back, itís good to see you again. Selan says Gabrielle is very ill?" "Yes, we were caught in the downpour three days ago, but before I could find shelter, Gabrielle caught a chill. No matter what Iíve given her, itís only gotten worse and worse". As Xena said this, her blue eyes looked as if they would spill over with tears.
Sirasi moved to kneel beside Gabrielle and gently lifted the blankets that cocooned the bard. Within the blankets, Gabrielle lay still, and pale as a ghost; she looked as if she were already dead. Sirasi put her hand to Gabrielle's chest to make sure that she was in fact breathing, and then held her hand to her head. "Her breathing is very irregular, and she is cold to the touch", Sirasi reported to the others who looked on. "Lokara, help me carry her to the Healerís hut, Selan, run ahead and tell Palia that weíre coming". "Yes First Warrior" Selan responded as she turned on her heals and hurried off. Lokara and another Amazon untied the litter from Argo and then carry it and Gabrielle to Paliaís hut. "Xena, you look tired, when was the last time you rested, I mean really rested?" despite the fact that she had slept well just the night before, Xena managed to make herself appear as if she hadnít slept in days.
"Just last night; but Gabrielle has been sleeping fitfully, and because we sleep beside one another, when she wakes, I wake". "No wonder you look so exhausted. Come, you will have food and drink, and then you will be taken to your lodge to rest. While you are here, you and Gabrielle will be guarded by Jakara, the second strongest, most agile, quick footed, loyal warrior in the tribe, second only to Sirasi". Jakara, with the eyes of a panther, looked at Xena with a lethal stare, as if she were in fact a big cat ready to pounce on prey she had been stalking. "Jakara, you will guard Xena and Gabrielle with your life as you do mine. Whatever command Xena gives you, you will obey as if it came from instantly, and without hesitation. Am I understood?" Thalinna had recognized the look Jakara had given Xena, and wasnít about to allow the strong willed Amazon to pose a threat to Xena or Gabrielle in anyway.
"Yes my Queen, as you command" Jakara responded, bowing her head in acquiescence. "Good, then do as tribal law commands" Thalinna ordered Jakara, to more thoroughly remind the strong headed Amazon of her place. Reluctantly, and stiffly, Jakara took four steps forward, and knelt to one knee in front of Xena; lay the spear she carried lengthwise in front of Xena at her feet, and, straightening, held her arms to her sides away from her body, hands open, palms facing Xena and offered her services to Xena. "I offer myself and my skills as a warrior to you for as long as you desire". Xena could see it was killing Jakara to do this, but evidently, it was tribal law that she do it. "If you do not wish her as bodyguard, you may reject her and no face will be lost by Jakara. I assure you, as long as she guards you and Gabrielle, no one will harm either of you, nor get near either of you unless you command her to allow it, not even me". Xena was impressed; she knew that Jakara resented her presence in the camp, and saw her as a threat for some reason, and yet she was being commanded to pledge her skills and her loyalty to her. "I accept Jakara as my bodyguard and am honored to do so" the ice in Jakaraís heart melted a bit at that last bit; Xena had just paid honor to her skills as a warrior sight unseen, and with her own reputation being what it was, that was quite an honor.
Continuing with the ritual, Jakara said, "I pledge my life to you, and will obey your every command. If any Amazon sees me failing in my duty to you in anyway, she is in her right to take my life instantly, it is tribal law. I am now yours". Xena was shocked by that last bit, but said nothing, as Jakara rose to her feet, and moved to stand behind Xena to her right at attention in guard position. When Jakara had become Xena's guard, Lorana moved to stand in the place behind the Queen where Jakara had stood, and Sirasi took Loranaís place.
"Now, come and eat Xena, and tell me of your journeys since you left us". "Iíd like to check on Gabrielle" "Donít worry, Palia will do all she can for Gabrielle, you wonít do Gabrielle any good, if youíre sick yourself". "Youíre right Thalinna, you always were the more levelheaded one".
Xena, the Queen, and their guards turned in the direction of the dinning hut, while the other Amazons of the tribe disbursed to return to whatever they had been doing when Xena, Gabrielle and Selan had arrived.
Meanwhile, in the Healerís Hut, Palia is about to work on Gabrielle. Knowing Xena's reputation, she knows she had better heal Gabrielle if she wants to live to see another day.
She is, however; startled when Gabrielle sits up, seemingly healthy despite the way she looks.
"Palia, itís alright, donít be afraid, this is all just a ruse to help Sirasi get over her sisterís death"; unable to continue to hold herself up because the herb that Xena had given her made her weak, Gabrielle was forced to lay back down again. "We figured that if Sirasi thought that I was mortally ill, she would empathize with Xena, and it would force her to deal with her grief indirectly, and help her work through it". "But you look so, pale, and ill" "Itís the herb that Xena gave me that causes it. She can "worsen" or improve my "illness" by the amount that she gives me". "Remarkable" "Yes, she is. In a candle markís time, sheíll have to give me more, whatís in my system now will wear off by then". "Alright, Iíll go and get her, and if sheís with others, Iíll say that youíre asking for her, or that I have to give you a treatment of some sort and that I need her to help keep you calm".
"Does this mean that youíre willing to go along with our ruse and keep our secret?" "Yes, of course, you can count on me. Iíll help anyway, I can. Sirasi is getting ill because of her grief, Itís time she let go of the pain". "We agree, and weíre hoping this will help" "Iím sure it will. Tell me how you plan to do it". "WellÖ"
Time change; one candle mark later, Selan runs into the hut where Xena and Sirasi are talking; she is out of breath and highly agitated.
"Xena, Palia says to come quick, she needs to give Gabrielle some medicine but she wonít take it. Her feverís so high, sheís delirious and doesnít know where she is; Palia says if you give it to her then sheíll take it". Jumping up, her eyes full of worry and concern, Xena didnít even answer, she just took off running out of the hut, Sirasi and Selan following. Upon entering the hut, Xena and Sirasi found Gabrielle lying on a cot of sorts thrashing about wildly, her eyes open wide in fear, fighting Palia with the wild strength of hysteria. Rushing to her, Xena on one side, Sirasi on the other, they held her arms down and tried to restrain her from her thrashing to keep her from hurting herself. Her bardís acting impressed Xena, if she hadnít known that she was faking it, Xena would believe that she was honestly in distress.
ĎGabrielle, Gabrielle calm down, itís me, Xena, calm down". Gabrielle looked Xena in the eyes, and immediately stopped her thrashing, "Xena?" "Yes, itís me, youíre safe, and weíre in Thalinnaís Amazon village. The Healer, Palia is taking good care of you".
Gabrielle turned her head to look at Sirasi, "Sirasi?" "Yes, itís me Gabrielle, Iím here. Youíre safe, but you have to let Palia give you the medicine you need to get better". While Sirasi was looking at Gabrielle, Xena quickly took the pouch that held the vial of herbs that she had given Gabrielle earlier, and gave it to Palia unseen. Palia took it and quickly extracted the vial to check if she had to prepare it in anyway, but she didnít, all she had to do was give it to Gabrielle.
Xena helped Gabrielle sit up while Palia held the cup with the mixture in it to her mouth for her while she drank. When Gabrielle had taken enough, Xena inconspicuously signaled Palia by nudging the cup away and then helping Gabrielle to lie back down. When she had passed the pouch to Palia, Xena thought no one had seen it, but someone had. Jakara had see n it, but had turned around before Xena realized that she had. Seen the exchange. Jakara filed the information away for future use, and merely smiled to herself as she returned to her duty of guarding Xena, turning her back to the scene in side the hut. Xena and Sirasi stayed until Gabrielle "slept" again, and then left quietly, walking off into the woods to talk; Jakara followed behind, staying a respectable distance behind to give them privacy but keep them in sight.
As she followed them, Jakara was thinking about how, or if, she would use the fact that she had seen Xena hand the pouch to Palia. If she black mailed Xena with the fact, she would defiantly make an enemy she didnít really need to have, and a lethal one at that. Then again, she would also have Xena in the palm of her hand, what a prime position to be in. or was it?
"Gabrielle's gonna be all right Xena, Palia is one of the best healers I know. She tried her best with Jenara, but, she couldnít save her, her injury was too bad". Sirasiís voice cracked as she said this, and Xena knew all she needed was a little coaxing, and the damn would break, and Sirasi would be able to get over her grief for her sister. She and Gabrielle just had to keep this up a few more days, if Gabrielle's health didnít start to actually fail that is; she would have to be careful how much of the herbal mixture she gave Gabrielle. If Gabrielle continued to take the mixture for too long, it would stress her body too much, and she would become ill in actuality, and possibly even die from it. Xena had to admire Gabrielle, she had warned her about the dangers of taking in the herbs for too long, and she still agreed to do this. "If itíll help Sirasi Xena, Iíll do it. Sheís our friend, we have to help her anyway we can". That was one of the things Xena loved about Gabrielle, she was so loyal, and giving, and self-sacrificing. She would go to any length to help a friend even if it meant that her own life would be in danger by doing so. Gabrielle had sacrificed her own life to rid the world of Hope, her own daughter, taking both of them into the fiery pit of Dahok; that had broken Xena's heart. No wound she had ever suffered in the countless battles she had fought in her life up till now had hurt as much as the sight of Gabrielle falling into the pit of Dahok with Hope in her arms.
Xena chastised herself as she realized that Sirasi was still talking to her, she had let her mind wander, she never did that; especially not when walking in the woods in the open where they could easily be attacked. Even though Jakara walked behind them, she had to stay alert, Jakara could be killed from a distance just like anybody else, regardless of how good a fighter she was, and if she wasnít alert, she or Sirasi could be dead in the blink of an eye. "Xena, are you crying?" Xena felt the wetness for the first time and realized that she had been crying. The memory of loosing Gabrielle to Dahok had brought tears to her eyes just as it had when it actually happened. Sirasi touched Xena's arm gently, motioning her to stop, and asked, "You really love Gabrielle donít you?" "Sheís my life, sheís my heart, my very soul. I canít live without her, I never want to", just expressing what was in her heart to Sirasi brought renewed tears to Xena's eyes, and she allowed Sirasi to hold her as she let the tears fall. The sight of the Warrior Princess crying at the thought of loosing her bond mate, touched Jakara, and softened her hardened demeanor even more towards her. Maybe her dislike for Xena was misplaced after all. Jakara stood there and watched them for a moment, then respectfully, turned her back to them to allow them privacy in their moment of weakness.
END OF PART II
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