By Shadowdancer ™
DISCLAIMERS: The usual stuff here, I didnít create Xena and Gabrielle, though I did create the Amazons in the story.
WARNING: If you havenít read Another Xena and the stories I that series you might want to do so before reading this one as that series, and this one are interlinked. Also, you will want to read Sirasi, and Sirasi Part II before this one, of course. All this said and done, enjoy.
The next day at dawn, Xena went to the Paliaís hut to "check on Gabrielle" and gently nudged her awake. "Are we alone?" Gabrielle asked quietly, automatically watching how she moved her body, and how she behaved as she was supposed to be mortally ill. "Yes, weíre alone, Jakara stands outside on guard though, so watch yourself. "Alright" Gabrielle responded, matching Xena's quiet, conspiratorial tone. She lifted her head a bit to see Jakara standing at the door to the hut off to the left side with her back to it standing at full attention. Laying her head back down, Gabrielle queried, "Why does she guard you? You of all people donít need a bodyguard". ĎI donít know, Thalinna assigned her to me. She assumed that because I would be worried about you, I wouldnít be as alert to danger as I normally am I suppose, so she gave me Jakara as a bodyguard. One of her own personal bodyguards at that, and one of the most able bodied, most loyal, strongest Amazons in the tribe at that". "Wow" "Yeah, "wow". But I donít know about her. Sheís pledged her loyalty to me ritualistically, but thereís somethingÖ. lethal about her. I feel like prey about to be pounced on; but she wouldnít try anything if she were going to, anywhere near the other Amazons. If they see her attempt to harm me in anyway, according to the tribal laws, they are in their rights to kill her instantly".
"Kill her? Without a trial?" "This isnít Athens or Sparta Gabrielle, there is no court of law" here. Weíre talking about Amazon tribal law, and that varies from tribe to tribe. The laws of this tribe say that any Amazon, who sees her attempt to harm me in anyway, or even disobey a command I give her, has the right to instantly kill her. If I command her to guard you, she has to guard you until I command her otherwise". " Xena, may I enter?" it was Thalissia at the door of the Healerís Hut, Jakara barring her way despite the fact that she was the Princess of the tribe. Gabrielle lay still again, and feigned weakness as if she hadnít been just talking to Xena as if there were nothing wrong with her. "ThaliÖI mean, Princess, yes, of course, enter" Xena responded to Thalissiaís request, then in a commanding tone to Jakara. "Jakara, let her pass" instantly, Jakara allowed Thalissia to enter the hut, and then followed her in. standing behind her and in a guard position.
"Jakara, you can return to your position at the doorí Xena told her. "She must stay where she is until I have left Xena, she is your personal guard, and she cannot leave anyone or me alone in here with you, not even me. If anything should happen to you while she is to be guarding you, she will be subjected to banishment, or death, whichever mother sees fit to impose on her". By this time, Thalissia had moved further into the healerís hut so that she could see Gabrielle for herself and check on her progress. "How are you Gabrielle?" In a weak voice, Gabrielle attempted to sit up, and succeeded in doing so with Xena's help. "Iím still weak your highness Princess, but with Palia, and Xena's help, Iím sure Iíll be able to travel in no time". "You wonít be going anywhere for quite awhile Gabrielle. You need to get well first before we even think of moving on". "But weíre needed in Athens" "Athens can wait, your health comes first".
"Xena is right Gabrielle, you canít travel until youíre better. You and Xena are welcome here as long as you like. Besides, you have to tell me all about your adventures since I last saw you; tell me where youíve been, what youíve done, everything". Before Xena could begin her tale however, the sounds of battle were heard in the distance. "Weíre under attackí Thalissia reported unnecessarily. Thalissia pulled the sword she carried on her back, and ran off into battle. Jakaraís heart raced, it had been awhile since there had been an attack on the village, and every bone and fiber in her body was ready for battle. She hoped that Xena would soon join in the battle so that she too could fight. Pulling her sword, Xena commanded, "Jakara, you stay here and guard Gabrielle. Donít let anyone near her". Though she wasnít happy with the command, Jakara had no choice but to obey; "Yes Xena". Jakara took her place by the door of the hut; she really wanted to fight, but she had been assigned as Xena's personal guard, and as such, she was to obey every command given to her by Xena, regardless of the command. If that meant that she had to stay out of the fight regardless of how badly she wanted to fight, then so be it. Unseen by Jakara, Gabrielle whispered something to Palia. "Jakara, Gabrielle says that youíre place should be with Xena, fighting by her side, and protecting her life. She says that she would never forgive herself if anything happened to Xena because you were here protecting her instead of Xena".
"I canít, I was commanded by Xena to remain here. If I disobey, it means death". "Yes, but Jakara, you are commanded to guard both Xena AND Gabrielle, which means that you are to obey both. Therefore, if Gabrielle commands you to go to Xena, then you must obey". "Thatís true, but if something happens to Gabrielle, Xena is in her right to take my life for disobeying her command" "Iím here Jakara, nothing will happen to Gabrielle, now go, fight! Prove your worthiness to be Xena's personal guard." Jakara hesitated for another moment or two and then she was gone. As soon as Jakara was gone, Gabrielle, with the help of Palia sat up on the table. "That attack was perfectly timed" "yes, it was, now, for the rest of the plan".
The battle in the center of the village when on for at least a full candlemark, Amazon against Amazon. Though the battle looked fierce, nobody was actually fighting at her full potential. That is to say, the "attacking" Amazons were from Gabrielle's tribe, and had been instructed, not to kill, or seriously harm anyone; the battle was more for show than anything else. The only one, who didnít know the battle was faked, was the Queen. Selan had told Thalissia the plan upon her arrival at the village, so Thalissia was also careful how she fought. Xena was careful to only make it look as though she was cutting with her sword, just Ďtouching" her "assailant" with the blade, or just coming close to an arm or leg without actually cutting, and they returned the favor. As she fought, Xena caught a glimpse of Thalissia fighting out of the corner of her eye, and was proud of what she saw. The Amazon Princess flipped forward, and backward, as the situation demanded, ducked, swung, thrusted and parried with the skill and agility of Xena herself. She felt like a proud mother as she watched the young girl, grown into a young, mature, woman now, fighting with such skill.
When she had judged the timing was right, Xena signaled Ephiny, who nodded in understanding, and with a whistle, called Gabrielleís Amazons off. In instant obedience, they all retreated, and trotted past Ephiny to disappear into the woods from which they had come, Ephiny nodded to Xena quickly in a silent, and brief good bye before also vanishing.
Suddenly, as Thalinnaís Amazons are "cleaning up" after the fight, attending to one anotherís wounds, helping each other up and what not, Palia comes running towards them: "Xena! Xena! Come quickly, Gabrielle is calling for you. She says she doesnít have much time". Xena turned on her heel and ran towards Palia, who, seeing Xena coming, turned and ran towards her own hut. Sirasi, concerned for Gabrielle, ran after Xena.
IN THE HEALERíS HUT:
Xena on one side of the cot, Sirasi on the other. Gabrielle lay there so still and pale, it frightened Xena, and she knew Gabrielle was perfectly all right. "Gabrielle, Iím here, youíre going to be all right". Slowly, weakly, as if it were a great effort, Gabrielle blinked open her eyes. The look in her bardís eyes scared Xena to death; Gabrielle looked at her with those green eyes of herís that could tear your heart out with a glance. "When Iíve passed on to the other side, promise me that you wonít, (swallows visibly here), promise me that you wonít go back to your old ways. Promise me that youíll say good-bye, and get on with your life; I donít want you to mourn for me for the rest of your days. Weíll see each other again on the other side, and weíll be angels again, fighting by Michaelís side". Hearing this, Sirasiís eyes started to pool up with tears, seeing this out of the corner of her eye, Gabrielle was encouraged. Stealing a glance at Sirasi out of the corner of her eye, Xena began to do some serious acting. "What are you talking about? Youíre not going anywhere you just have a cold, thatís all". "Promise me Xena". In a tear strained voice, Xena responded barely above a whisper, "I promise". After giving Xena a small, weak smile, Gabrielle closed her eyes, and lay very still, frighteningly still. Taking her cue from Gabrielle, Xena stared at her bard for a few minutes as if looking for signs of life. As if panicking, she gently shook Gabrielle by the forearms, calling, "Gabrielle? Gabrielle!" "StillÖ. here" came the faint replay from her bard, and both she and Sirasi visibly exhaled, Sirasi wiping a tear.
"SoÖtiredí "I know Gabrielle, just rest. Iíll get more of your medicine for you"; Xena rose and walked off a few paces to get the medicine, which, unknown to Sirasi, was actually causing the symptoms of Gabrielle's illness. Walking to Xena, Sirasi spoke to her in a hushed voice, "Xena, I know of a male healer nearby named Palador. When Shantar was badly injured in battle once, and developed an infection that Palia couldnít cure, I took her to Palador, and he applied some sort of salve, then gave me some to bring back to be applied once a day. Not only did it work, but it cured the infection, and healed the cut simultaneously. His lodge is only a daysí ride from here". "Gabrielle may not have that much time" Xena responded, her heart breaking and her voice showing it; it seemed that acting was one of Xena's many skills. "Then weíll have to hurry, he can help her, I know he can" as Xena was giving Gabrielle the "medicine" that would in truth worsen her "condition" a bit, Sirasi placed a gentle, caring hand on Xena's shoulder. "I wonít let her die the way I let my sister die, I wonít loose someone else I care about, not again. I couldnít stand it".
END OF PART III
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