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One Clear Voice
By day, the army travelled, by night Gabrielle would tell stories. It pleased the bard that Xena would be there to listen to her stories, which were really their adventures together. Xena remained reticient, however, slipping once to reveal a smile, most of the time being passive or scowling at the bard.
The stories were having a strange effect on Xena. The voices coming back with greater and greater frequency, which annoyed her more often than not, because she couldn't make heads or tails out of the Hades forsaken things.
Gabrielle had her soldiers laughing uproariosly one night when it happened again. She had been telling a quite funny tale about a bard high off of henbane who talked to rocks. Xena had been listening enjoying the show openly for once when the voices hit, completely blocking out the bard's voice.
'You all right? Oh yeah. I'm great. I can't see but, I'm good. Try using both eyes. Oh yeah, that's better, uh huh. Think you can stand? You mean I'm not? Come on. There you go. By the gods! What is it? You are beautiful! Uh huh!' Xena shook her head, a smile creeping up her face. Now if they were all were more like that she could probably live with it, she thought to herself.
After story telling one night, Minos and Xena had disappeared back to her tent. Gabrielle had decided to go for a walk in the woods, and had somehow found her way to the back of Xena's tent. "THAT'S WHY THE MASK WAS SO IMPORTANT!" She heard bellowing coming from Minos which was suddenly hushed, Gabrielle presumed by Xena. She leaned closer to the tent, to see if she could make out what they were saying through the material.
"...attack...first light...amazons...won't know what hit them." Gabrielle visibly paled as she made out the words that Xena was saying. She had wondered why they were getting closer and closer to Amazon territory and now she knew. She just couldn't believe that Xena was planning on attacking the Amazons.
Her first loyalty should be with Xena, but as Amazon queen, she knew what she had to do. Making sure nobody had spotted her, she turned tail and ran, straight for amazon territory.
Gabrielle was out of breath by the time she reached Amazon territory. She knew she had to get back, so she could call a special story hour before she was too late, if only she had more time, she thought sadly to herself. She doubted very much now she would be able to pull this off. No matter which way the tide turned today, she would most likely end up losing a valued friend.
"Coo Coo." she heard the amazon warning call, which quickly turned into the call of their queen returning home. Solari came out to greet her, but Gabrielle hadn't any time for niceties. Gabrielle quickly gave Solari an amazon salute. "Where's Ephiny?" Gabrielle asked hurriedly.
Solari took one look at Gabrielle's face and whistled for an amazon to bring over a horse. She swung Gabrielle onto the back of it and raced toward the amazon village.
Ephiny watching the quick approach of the queen, swept her into her hut. "What's going on?"
"It's Xena." Gabrielle began trying to catch her breath. "She lost her memory and joined up with Minos, a warlord. She's headed straight for here. She's going to attack, at first light."
Ephiny looked at Gabrielle somberly. She hated to do this, but the decision had to come from Gabrielle. Kill Xena, or watch her village go up in flames. "You're here, you're the queen, what do you want to do?"
Gabrielle glanced down at the floor lost in thought. "I have a plan, it's pretty risky, and it's taking longer than I thought it would. I've been telling stories trying to jog her memory, so far I haven't gotten anything. Let me try one more time. I have to try to get through to her. If it doesn't work..." Gabrielle broke off unwilling to believe that this event could actually happen.
"Mount a defense. If Minos' army shows up, attack, as hard as you can, don't worry about harming me. If the army shows up, I'll most likely be dead anyway."
Ephiny's face froze at this. "You're not going to try to take Xena on yourself?" Ephiny asked, her voice a roar.
"Shh. Yes." Gabrielle saw Ephiny was going to balk at this. "No Ephiny, I have to do this. Whether she realizes it or not by attacking the amazons, she attacks me, and I have to avenge that, if it comes to that. But hopefully my plan will work." Gabrielle tried to sound more sure of herself than she actually was. This day could see the end of a beautiful friendship.
Solari deposited Gabrielle as near to the army camp as she dared. Gabrielle only had a few hours before first light and every second counted. "Here." Solari said handing Gabrielle a dagger.
"What's this for?" Gabrielle asked in confusion.
Solari looked at Gabrielle, her expression serious. "Just in case. I would be remiss if I didn't offer my Queen some protection."
Gabrielle looked like she was going to balk, but then thought better of it. "Okay." she said, no enthusiasm in her voice. "I'd better get going."
Solari nodded her head, and turned her horse in the direction she had just come from. "Oh, Gabrielle?"
"Yeah." Gabrielle said, her mind already on what was to come.
"Don't you think you'd better change your clothes?" Solari asked indicating her peasant garb.
"Oh yeah." Gabrielle said giving a small smile. "Thanks."
Solari nodded and rode away. Gabrielle turned and ran back to the stable. Hopefully she would be able to fit her amazon clothes under the ones she wore now. ------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle knew that Xena wouldn't be sleeping, not on the night before a battle, and she was right. She found her leaning against a tree, not far from the army camp.
"What are you doing out here bard? You should be sleeping." Xena said without turning around to look at her.
"I was working on a story. I can never sleep when I have a story in my mind. Would you like to hear it? Gabrielle said praying that Xena would allow her to tell the story.
Xena turned to look at the bard, wondering if the bard had lost her mind. "You want to tell a story now? I'm the only one here." Xena said gesturing around her.
"I'm not sure that this one is ready for a large audience. Would you mind if I tried it out on you?" Gabrielle asked. 'Please, please, please, say yes!'
Xena almost refused, but for some reason she gave in to the bard. "All right! Tell me your little story." Xena said sitting down and crossing her arms and legs.
"I tell the tale of Terries and Ephiny..." Gabrielle began.
Xena had had every intention of humoring the bard and listening to the story, but the name Ephiny had reverberated through her head and the voices were back, followed this time by faces. 'ephiny. What? Ephiny. Eph- Ephiny! I'm right here! I want you- I want you to have my right of caste. Stop talking like that. Please, it's important. I won't need it.' Xena saw the bard in this image, she had been wounded, and Xena herself had been talking to her, along with this Ephiny person. The image changed and she found herself on a podium with the bard and Ephiny. 'By amazon law you are still the queen. Hmm. Xena, does an Amazon Queen beat a Warrior Princess?'
"You're the Amazon Queen?" Xena said, completely cutting off Gabrielle' story.
"Xena, how did you know that, I haven't reached that part in my story yet? Wait a minute. Did you just remember that? What else do you remember?" Gabrielle asked, anxiety and hope vieing for equal space in Gabrielle's heart.
Xena was furious at the bard, but now she was curious too. How did she know this bard-queen, and how well? The voices helped her out by returning again. 'Right of Caste? It's a right passid on by amazons on their death, but I won't accept it. I won't lose her too. Death?
She's dead. She's not dead. I wouldn't let her. Gabrielle, you've never ran from a fight in your life. Come on fight! Fight!' The intensity in the voice(her voice she now realized) scared her. But the voice was relentless. 'Get up Galen, I'm not Asclepius! You should know that by now! It's Gabrielle who performed the miracle.' "Didn't you."
Xena raised her eyes from her lap into Gabrielle's eyes. Gabrielle froze, not quite daring to believe what she saw there. The familiar loving gaze of her best friend. "Xena?''
"Gabrielle." Xena said in a sigh.
It took a second before Gabrielle's paralysis released, and then she was in Xena's arms hugging her fiercely before she even registered that she had moved. "You're back." Gabrielle whispered, catching a sob in her throat. Gabrielle hoped that Xena would never find out how close Gabrielle had come to making the decision to kill her. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----- Gabrielle and Xena talked for a while, Gabrielle filling in the gaps when Xena couldn't remember something. When the air started changing, signalling the coming of dawn, Xena turned serious.
"Gabrielle I want you to go back to the amazons and tell them that I have regained my memory." Xena said.
"What about you, I don't want to leave you in the hands of Minos." Gabrielle said, not wanting to lose her friend as quickly as she had gotten her back.
"Minos has to be taught a little lesson about messing with me." Xena said her voice tight with her fury. "When you get to the amazons, tell them that this is what I want them to do..." Xena said, starting to fill Gabrielle in on her plan.
To be Continued...
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