Just after Xena confirmed that
Selaska had previously been a warrior herself but had joined up with Chilapa's
Amazons just two season's back, she went to check on the sick children of the
Xena quickly noticed that Xenon was no longer lying in the hut with the other children. She turned immediately to Meslina who was standing guard to ask, "where is Xenon?"
"He's gone to find Chilapa. Don't panic
Xena, he's feeling much better. He wanted to ask about Erina. They didn't have
much time to talk about his Mother and he wanted to learn when Erina would
return," Meslina explained.
Xena noticed the other three children also looked better than when she arrived. Apparently the supplies she received from the centaurs had helped.
Erina and Gabrielle had made it safely across the walking bridge that led them closer to the eastern Amazon tribe lands. Gabrielle's wound was throbbing but the bleeding had slowed a lot after Erina's mudpack.
"We should make camp on this side of the river Gabrielle," Erina said as the sun was beginning to lower across the mountains edge.
"Not yet Erina. I want to cover as much ground as we can. The Pillagers could be attacking my sister's camp anytime. They won't be long before taking your tribe's lands after that. I can't let either of those things happen," Gabrielle told her new sister and friend.
The lay of the land became more difficult for Gabrielle to walk because each step seems to heighten the throbbing in her side. She could feel the piece of arrow still polking in her side like a sharp knife cutting fish, she thought. In her mind, Gabrielle was determined not to let Erina know she felt weak and nauseated because she wanted to reach help quickly. She kept her focus on having promised Xena as well as concern for her own tribal family.
Darkness came much sooner than Gabrielle had hoped and the path ahead of her was impossible to see or so she thought. Erina knew it was time to stop and take rest just as Gabrielle suddenly collapsed without speaking a word.
Erina readied an area quickly and made a warm covering for Gabrielle from branches. She didn't dare build any fire for fear the two attackers from earlier could still be looking for them. She layed down close to Gabrielle and quietly rested.
Xena walked the perimeter of the camp to insure no sound or Pillager was near. She came upon Xenon just as he was about to re-enter the hut where Meslina had prepared another small amount of food for the children.
"Xenon," Xena called gently before he entered the hut. "You know I'm really glad to see you feeling better. Have you been okay?"
"Yes," Xenon replied, "I'm glad you came Xena. I feel much safer now. You saved me and my Mom before and I know you will save us all again."
"I'll do what I have to, Xenon," Xena told the young centaur, "I promised your Mother that I would NOT let the Amazon's die. Go now, have some warm food. I want to see you really feeling well tomorrow."
Just as Xena turned, Selaska had walked over and gave a her a very concerned look. She told Xena, "there was some stirring just over in that direction," as she pointed eastward.
Xena paused and gave a careful listen but could
not hear anything herself as Selaska then told Xena, "You are very lovely.
I'd heard that as well along with the tales of your raids and it was hard to
picture. The legend of the battle at your homeland Amphipolis left you quite a
reputation, as well. Have you ever been back to your home?"
"Yes, I go home. My Mother is still in Amphipolis and my homeland is still very important to me," Xena strongly explained to Selaska as she asked, "were you in any battles where I might have heard of you?"
Selaska stood silent and without answering then whispered, "Shhhh...shhhh, that sound. I hear that sound again."
"I think you and I should use the trees to our advantage, Xena. We can see what that sound is and be sure the camp is clear," Selaska said as she walked toward the edge of camp.
Xena followed the warrior and she too continued to listen closely for any sound or sign of movement. Both Xena & Selaska quickly climbed and squatted in the top of a large tree. They used their eyes to scout for any signs of danger. The fires around the camp were lit and the light was helpful and cast a glow onto the face of Selaska as Xena's back was turned in the other direction.
"I don't see any trouble here," Xena whispered to Selaska who was very close to her and curiously looking around.
Quietly, Selaska moved even closer to face Xena on the large limb and softly told her, "I know I heard something. It couldn't have been game because there isn't any around but some fowl still stir about. You climb well, I see what I've heard is true."
"What you've heard?" Xena questioned, as she seemed startled at the remark by this woman appearing her equal in the skills of an Amazon.
"I heard you were an Amazon at heart but would never commit. We should get back into camp. The noise was surely only a fowl. I'll go back now," Selaska remarked.
Both strong and tall women leaped down from the high branch and both had noticed the similarities in themselves. Xena continued to have some question in her mind about this warrior called Selaska, but there was no time to talk with her further just now.
Xena walked in the direction of Meslina's hut once more to speak with Chilapa as Selaska went back to her post and continued her guard of the camp.
Again, Xena spoke immediately on entering the hut, asking Chilapa, "did Selaska have any belongings when she arrived?"
Chilapa paused but answered, "yes, she had several packs. Her things are in the supply hut. What Xena? What is it you're thinking?"
"I'm thinking I would have heard of her by now," Xena said with a snap to her voice. "I'll check that later. Right now, I need you and I to plan for the remaining supplies and tomorrow if the night passes without trouble."
Eastward still, Erina had only rested her eyes and listened through the night to insure she and Gabrielle were not discovered. Gabrielle had not stirred much at all and when Erina touched her forehead, it was warm with fever.
Gabrielle opened her eyes from Erina's touch and took a long breath before sitting up. "There's enough light. We need to go now, " Gabrielle exclaimed as she stood up but sighed from feeling so shaky.
"Can you make it? You have fever," Erina told Gabrielle.
Gabrielle looked to the ground and found a long and sturdy walking stick to use for balance. "I'll make it, let's go," she replied.
Erina again led the way as she and Gabrielle resumed their walking toward the east in search and desperation to find her former tribe.
The morning was very long and hard
for Gabrielle from the pain and now a fever plagued her aching body all over.
Several times Gabrielle would think of slowing and wanting to have the arrow
shaft removed from her side but knew the time would risk her tribe and Xena. She
followed Erina and only had stopped once to drink some water.
Just before a clearing that lie ahead, Erina stopped and placed her hands together above her head. Gabrielle felt comfort to see the sign of the Amazon's once again and did likewise. Two women jumped down from the trees and stood before them. Their masks were smaller and made differently than those Gabrielle had first seen when she met Terreis so long ago.
One of the women stepped forward and hugged Erina as she lifted her mask and told them, "Welcome. Your sisters child must be better Erina, it's good to have you back."
Gabrielle wanted to greet these Amazon's and tell them quickly of her tribe's plight but, severe pain then darkness overcame her and she fell unconscious onto the ground. Erina and both of the other Amazons ran quickly to help Gabrielle.
Just before daybreak at Chilapa's camp, Xena had risen early. She had already checked on all the children and insured they all were doing well before she went to relieve Selaska standing guard.
Before Xena could assemble her weapons and leave Meslina's hut, Selaska entered saying, "all is quiet Xena". You and I should talk."
Chilapa had gathered some of the other Amazons to direct them to clear the burned wood and prepare to make new fire stacks. Many of the women were feeling stronger from the warm food and rest but supplies would only last through the day. Chilapa walked to the hut where Brianna still lie in mourning and to prepare for her funeral pyre that afternoon. Chilapa had hoped that Gabrielle would be returning for Brianna's passing since she still felt that Gabrielle was the true Queen of this tribe.
Selaska seemed hesitant as she spoke to Xena, telling her, "I'm troubled. Just as you, being a warrior has not been an easy life. I can kill in an instant but I cannot seem to find any warmth in my heart. I have never felt as I do since you arrived, Xena."
"What are you talking about?" Xena almost in a shouting voice replied to Selaska, "look..., we don't have time to talk about this. Just because the Pillagers did not attack in the night, the danger is great. You get some rest. I'll talk with you later."
Xena grabbed her sword and Chakram as she briskly walked out of the hut and went to join Chilapa to be sure the days work was being done for the Amazons. The camp was in need of much re-building since the attacks had damaged many of the small huts. These were needed since the clouds indicated more shelter from rain would be needed soon.
Erina and the two Amazon's from her tribe had carried Gabrielle to their camp. One of the Amazon's there had some experience with cutting out an arrow and she prepared Gabrielle. Apparently the fever and determined efforts of the day had taken toll on Gabrielle and she did not even awake as the Amazon fired the knife.
Gabrielle did give a wince when the woman made the incision but with ease removed the remaining part of the arrow that had pierced her side. The pain was sharp but Gabrielle then felt some relief as now only the fever left her feeling weak and sick. The next moment of pain was the worst yet as the woman cauterized the wound. Gabrielle gasped and tears of pain flowed but only briefly. Gabrielle suddenly thought of Xena and the time she had pulled the arrow through and held her so warm and tight. Her thought was how much she wanted to have Xena's strength now.
"Thank you," Gabrielle quietly told the woman who nodded and gave back a brief expression of appreciation for the kind comment.
Erina had informed her tribe of the plight facing Gabrielle's Amazon sisters and the threat that the same Pillagers posed to their land. All the women moved quickly to gather weapons of bows, arrows, chobos and staffs in preparation to go and help their fellow Amazons.
Erina joined Gabrielle later and was surprised when she asked her, "how much daylight do we have?"
"Gabrielle, you have fever. You can't travel anymore today," Erina told the determined Amazon.
"Oh yes I can. Can you get me some willow bark tea? Is your tribe ready to travel?" Gabrielle said as she saw the walking stick in the corner of the hut. "Bring some torches, we'll travel in the dark this time. Let's go!" she exclaimed to Erina.
Erina seem to know the voice of an Amazon that would listen to no argument and she went quickly to find some willow bark tea for Gabrielle.
Chilapa's tribe worked well through the day and
made ready many of the huts that had been harmed in battle. One special pile of
wood was now made ready in the center of camp as Chilapa planned to go forward
with the pyre for Brianna. "I see no need not to wait for Erina and
Gabrielle," Xena told Chilapa. "Gabrielle has gone through a lot and
she will understand what has to be done."
Chilapa, Meslina, Selaska and all the women of the tribe gathered and proceeded to watch as the fire burned the body of Brianna. Xena sang the funeral pyre in a soft voice as she mostly looked at Xenon who surely was thinking of his own Mother, Ephiny.
When the funeral was complete, Xena left the center of camp and walked alone into Meslina's hut. She was surprised when Selaska entered and asked if she would like something to eat or drink. "No. No I don't," she told the other warrior, "I want to save this tribe. When that is done, I can focus on other things."
A lot of screaming and noise began to be heard from outside, Xena turned and both she and Selaska ran to find that several Amazons were now involved with fighting a group of Pillagers.
She and Selaska drew their swords and moved quickly into the battle. Selaska took on several of the men and her sword was quick and accurate with each swing. Xena saw one Pillagers heading from behind Meslina and she rushed forward to run her sword through him.
Chilapa had drawn her chobos and was able to fight off several as she shouted to some other members of her tribe to let go of their arrows.
The attack of these Pillagers seemed to come in groups as there would be a pause and then another fierce swarm of men with swords and battle cries to fight to the death.
Xena would catch Selaska in the corner of her eye, fighting strongly as she could handle many of the attackers without assistance. Xena continued to swing her sword with super mortal power as she lifted it above her head and chopped down on a tall Pillager approaching Chilapa.
Everytime that the women would think the battle over, another few men charged the camp. This went on well into the night and some of the Amazon women were hurt badly or they were loosing strength to continue.
Xena would calm the camp between the attacks and help the injured to safety as did Selaska who continued to prove being an equal warrior. Meslina had kept the hut safe where the children now huddled in fear and awaiting someone to come and tell them it was over.
Just when Chilapa began to think there was no end in sight, battle cries of many Amazon's were heard. Dozens of small masked women had arrived in camp and began joining the latest battle and killing or capturing the remaining Pillagers.
Xena realized that the eastern tribe of Amazon's
had made it just as daylight was breaking and she quickly began looking for
Gabrielle. She didn't see either Gabrielle or Erina among the women who now were
helping to secure the camp. Everyone was busy helping the wounded into huts and
out of the rain that no one even realized had begun earlier. Xena stood cold and
wet and severely feeling a knot inside when she heard a soft voice behind her
say, "Xena, they are here." Xena spun around to find Gabrielle leaning
on a tall stick and looking terribly weak. "Are you hurt?" Xena spoke
"No, I'm okay Xena. I'm glad we arrived. It looks like you've had serious trouble too," Gabrielle told her mate.
Selaska now walked up next to Xena saying, "all is secure now." as she gave a strange look of surprise to Gabrielle.
"It was too close," Xena stated, "Selaska was a great help. She has the strength of 10 men. Her sword is as sharp as mine," Xena continued as she looked over toward the other warrior.
"I'm glad you were here, Selaska. I feared we would not make it in time. There are some others to follow with supplies. How are the children, Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
Xena seemed to hesitate with an answer and then said, "They are good. Xenon is a real dear. Why don't you get out of the rain and go see him now."
Just after Erina's eastern Amazon's
arrived and helped fend off the Pillagers attack, Xena had suggested Gabrielle
go and see Xenon. She remained standing in the pouring rain with Selaska.
"You, come with me!" Xena ordered as she walked to the Queens hut where she & Gabrielle had chosen to stay as Chilapa had strongly suggested. Selaska followed Xena who walked forcefully into the hut and turned quickly to face Selaska.
"You have some nice warrior skills," Xena told Selaska, "but I'm not so sure you don't like to fight as a sport."
"That's not why I fight," the tall and dark-haired Selaska replied, "The choice to fight was not a question for me. All of my family are warlords or warriors. It wasn't meant for me to be any different."
Surprisingly, Xena accepted that answer and just as she flipped her long wet hair from her face, she placed her long arm on Selaska's shoulder and said, "I've seen many other women warriors and none have the quickness as you. You can help this tribe end the suffering," Xena stopped speaking, and turned to see Gabrielle had entered the hut.
"Oh, I'm sorry to interrupt," Gabrielle told Xena as she was looking extremely tired and weak from the journey back to her Amazon camp.
Xena lowered her arm and turned to signal dismissal of Selaska who left the hut to return outside and re-join the Amazons who continued to secure the perimeter of the camp. There were no signs of further attacks by the Pillagers and attention was given to the wounded.
Gabrielle took a long sigh of breath and reached for a blanket from her chills brought on by the rain. Xena turned to her with a look which appeared to be guilt and then told Gabrielle, "We were just exchanging some warrior stories."
"Xena," Gabrielle said softly, "you seem taken by Selaska. Why did you send me off so quickly just then?"
Gabrielle was obviously upset that Xena had not expressed relief or mentioned she was pleased about her bringing Erina's tribe back in time to help with the battle against the Pillagers. Gabrielle's mind was thinking of her own suffering from the arrow and the strength it had taken from her to manage the return journey.
"Gabrielle, I was only talking with Selaska. She fought with a very familiar style. You don't look well. Perhaps you need some rest," Xena responded as she once again walked out of the hut to join the other Amazons.
Gabrielle sat surprised and alone. She chose not to tell Xena of her arrow wound just now since the tribe had much work to attend to following the long and gruesome battle. Gabrielle's thoughts were Xena will organize the camp and that the fresh supplies should arrive before darkness.
Feeling weak, Gabrielle was lying down when Erina entered the hut to offer more willow bark tea for Gabrielle's mild fever. "Here, you need to drink this," Erina told her as she handed her a cup. The taste of warm liquid felt very soothing to Gabrielle as she took a second sip. Erina waited and then quietly said, "that other warrior, the one named Selaska is quite a woman isn't she?" "Yes, Xena seems to be impressed with her," Gabrielle stated. "There's something about her I don't feel right about," Gabrielle continued to explain as Erina stood above her again strongly resembling Ephiny.
"No!" shouted Selaska as she wasn't pleased with how the dead Pillagers were being dragged to a single pile. "What?" Xena asked her in surprise of this action. "They deserve proper burial," Selaska told the two Amazons clearing the camp of the bodies. "Don't interfere Xena," Selaska said, "I might act quickly to kill but I've seen too many die. They should be disposed of properly. Their hunger made them thieves not wild animals."
Xena seemed surprised at this statement by Selaska and began helping to place the bodies for burning. Chilapa had joined them and explained that the Amazons from the other tribe were being settled in and of how pleased she was with their Queen agreeing to form an alliance. The next step was to survive the sounds and smell of burning flesh as they disposed of the Pillagers who had ravaged their lands and took advantage of all the supplies.
As the afternoon came to an end, the other
eastern Amazons arrived with reinforcements and many baskets full of hearty
supplies to feed both tribes. Gabrielle had only rested a short time and then
joined Chilapa to organize the women and sort the supplies so they would be
Gabrielle watched as Xena & Selaska were working about the camp together and it made her feel very knotted inside. Again, her mind remembered how she had wanted it to be Xena who held her close when the pain of her wound was so bad her own tears felt cold. Her heart was filled with hurt that Xena had not come back to the hut during the afternoon. Darkness was upon them again and Gabrielle wanted to tell Xena more about the other tribe and how wonderful this alliance was for the Amazon nation.
Xenon had come out into the camp area after the rains had stopped completely. He was a fine looking centaur and his hair was light and curly just like his Mother. The other children joined him in some brief play to kick an animal skinned ball around. Erina watched her blood sister's son enjoying life and health once again.
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