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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2
|CHAPTER #22 ----- THE RACE||
H = 11 & 20 & 21, X = 6 & 27
Gabrielle held her jaw open. Then she realized that the Horde never travel alone.
They traveled in large groups - like hunting dogs. They tracks down trespassers and skinned them alive.
She picked up her knees and ran. She ran as fast as she could in the direction in which everyone was traveling. She could feel someone - or something - at her feet.
The bard breathed heavily as she carried her staff in one hand, using it to clear objects out of her path, and to pump her arms to run faster. She felt herself practically fly she was going so fast.
As the forest got less dense, she felt her follower fall back. Gabrielle found this strange and tried to keep up in the race. She didnít know the consequences for the loser. When she got to a familiar looking river, things got worse. She felt as if she were about to faint, and she dropped her staff. Rethinking this, she slowed down unconsciously. What if she needed it? What if she came across the Horde? Gabrielle felt her knees go week. She fell to the ground, all of her muscles screaming.
A grunt sounded behind her. Another echoed on her left. Another on her right. Feet showed up in the girlís face as she tried to stand up. Too tired to fight - and too scared - she pleaded. She pleaded deliriously. This was it. Out of all the ways to day - this was it. She traveled with Xena - and she was going to die in a freak accident.
"Please! I didnít mean to run! I was scared! I meanóscared of bees! I thought you were bees!" Gabrielle cried as they inched closer.
"Yiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi!" a battlecry laughed in the woods. The men turned around to look for the soundís source. Gabrielle took this to her advantage and turned around, prepared to begin running again.
A Horde member stood in her path.
"Hey! Didnít I tell you I was sorry?" Gabrielle yelled to the muscular man. Suddenly she was more confident now that her best friend had come to the rescue.
Gabrielle punched the man in the stomach. Surprised, the man toppled over, only to fall onto the ground. Gabrielle jogged over to where she had dropped her staff and picked it back up.
"Glad to have you back," she said, chuckling. She clenched her teeth in a determined smile and ran back to the Horde group.
She knocked the staff onto one manís head as he was about to grab her neck from behind. He fell back into Xena. Xena spun him around and grinned, punching him in the nose.
"Didnít your mother ever teach you not to get others hurt in *your* little arguments?" Xena laughed and looked at Gabrielle.
"Thanks!" Gabrielle said to her best friend.
"Gabrielle - we have to get away the first chance we get. There are only four of them in sight, but there are more hidden. We wonít be able to take them. I made Danakaís army turn around," Xena explained while kicking one Horde member effortlessly.
The last standing Horde member stood up and aimed his ax right at Xena.
"Xena!" Gabrielle pointed behind the warrior.
Without flinching, Xena stuck out her other foot and caught the man off guard, his stomach caving in from the impact of the warriorís foot.
"Letís go," Xena said calmly. Gabrielle couldnít help but smile. That was Xena.
They climbed through the thick brush, hurrying to get back to the army and Danaka.
"Gabrielle, what were you thinking when you agreed to lead the way to Cirra?" Xena asked. Before Gabrielle could answer, a screech echoed throughout the woods.
They prepared their weapons as they faced their worst enemy.
Callisto stood in front of the two, grinning. Before either of the two could react, there was another sound behind Callisto. All three looked at the group of five Horde members. Each carried an ax. One man flung his ax into Callistoís stomach. She fell back, motionless.
Gabrielle was more than shocked. She wanted to know why Callisto wasnít a goddess, let alone how she showed up all of a sudden. The Horde came up behind Xena and Gabrielle and grabbed their arms behind their backs. Xena struggled, but the Horde put a dagger up to her throat. That stopped her.
Gabrielle grunted as they were tied to posts back at their camp. Xena silenced her by throwing her a Look. Any sound was too risky at this point. Callisto was tied up to a pole next to Gabrielle, and Gabrielle felt like she was in a dream. She didnít understand why Callisto was here, or why the Horde didnít kill Xena or her.
The Horde disappeared behind the ravine, leaving Xena and Gabrielle alone with Callisto.
Gabrielle leaned over to try to loosen her ropes. Xena pushed her breast dagger out of her breastplate and caught it behind her back. She worked at the ropes as Gabrielle still had trouble.
Xena looked over at a groan. Callisto stretched her back.
"Whew! Itís good to be a goddess!" Callisto laughed, set her ropes on fire, and fell free of the burden. She yanked the ax out of her gut.
"Feels good!" Callisto cackled. Gabrielle watched, horrified.
"Callisto!" Danaka suddenly appeared out of the woods, looking at Gabrielle.
"What?" Callisto answered, raising an eyebrow.
Danaka looked confused. "Why did you answer to that name?" she asked.
"Because itís mine," the real Callisto answered. Gabrielleís eyes were wide. She had a funny feeling in her stomach.
Callisto sauntered over to Xena. She picked up the dropped breast dagger and traced it along Xenaís jaw line.
"Whatís the matter? Feel useless? Youíre tied up, and my sister is here to side with me," Callisto said matter-of-factly.
Danakaís eyes opened wide. "How did youó" she was interrupted.
"Shut up!" Callisto shrieked, turning around to face her sister. Xena took advantage of that and kicked Callisto in the back, sending her to the ground. Xena untangled her remaining ropes and rushed to Gabrielle.
"Run! Get out of here!" Xena yelled to Danaka and Gabrielle, nudging them back to where they came from.
Callisto stood up, her eyes flaring. "Danaka!" she screamed.
"How do youó" Danakaís voice cracked. "Are youó"
"I know because Iím a goddess!" Callisto said, not making contact. She pulled her sister and Xena over to either side.
"I kill Xena or I kill you. Which one do you want?" Callisto asked Danaka.
"I have to have the satisfaction of either. One of you burnt my village and I want to know who. Never mind - I already do."
Xena clenched her teeth through the pain of Callistoís grasp on her arm.
"So it wasnít me that set fire to your village," Xena corrected.
"No. You were just a good scapegoat. When we heard your army was coming down to Cirra, my mother got scared and wanted to get to safety in a cave nearby. My mother lit a torch and handed it to me. I started to run out when I tripped on one of my sisterís toys. If she would have cleaned up when she was supposed to, many lives would be saved!" Callisto finished her story.
Danakaís mouth dropped open. "Mother told me that was your toy!"
"No!" Callisto screamed. "Answer my previous question! Do I kill you or Xena?"
Xena was beginning to lose feeling in her arm. She knew now that the fire was not her fault.
It didnít make her feel any better.
If Danaka says to kill her, go to chapter #44.
If Danaka says to kill Xena, go to chapter #45.