Gabrielle stared vacantly at the small stream which played over the rocks just below her feet. The sun was well into the western sky before her awareness returned to her surroundings or to herself.
Still looking at the water she realized that there was no feeling - no anger, no fear, no sense of betrayal. In all her young life she had never repressed or denied her emotions. All of them were part of the sometimes overwhelming joy of aliveness with which she lived each day. So to feel nothing surprised her and brought her back to full awareness.
But, no . . . looking deeper there was something. Something pushing against her heart. She breathed deeply and looked up at the mosaic of blue sky that backdropped the branches and leaves overhead. But she didn't see the sky. The vision shimmering in her mind's eye was . . .
"Xena," she whispered. With the soft sound of that name the pushing inside her was released and her young heart was overcome with anguish. It was torential and no words, no reasoning could dispell it. She dropped her head into her hands and sobbed - for all she had lost and all she was about to lose.
A cool breeze blew around her. She rubbed her arms, wiped the last tears from her face and blinked at the horizon, seeing that the sun had almost completed its daily trek. The sparkles were gone from the water. Darkness was hurrying after Apollo.
But the night inside her had lifted, her anguish had cried itself out. And in the wake of darkness she knew unquestioning faith, love, and strength of will. She would not let Xena be tortured - not her body, nor her heart, nor her soul.
She stood up from the rock and let the strength flow through her. Without noticing the childhood innocence that was being left behind, she set out to find Argo and a strong rope.