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The water is blue and innocent as it laps against the worn wooden hulls of fishing boats rocking gently at the pier of Trustano Bay. Xena squints against the flickering glare of the sun off the ocean as she scans the town and harbor several hundred feet below her. Gabrielle has already started down the steep cliff path. Xena is glad they left Argo at a stable two villages ago. The horse would not have appreciated picking her way down these haphazard trails. Xena wonders how many more peaceful sea towns they would be able to bring their grim warning to. Xena starts to make her way down.
Gabrielle pauses to look out to the sea. Such a view has always brought her so much peace: the water moving in on itself in waves, slowly soaring gulls and albatrosses, the cock-eyed lacata bird doing it's jig in the surf. She smiles at the sight of the pelican in command of the town dock. The danger seems so unreal.
"Let's go." Xena says evenly as she comes up behind her.
"Xena, are they sure?"
"Gabrielle, we've been through this."
"But can't the gods be turned away from wreaking this kind of havoc on people's lives? Surely Hephaestus can't be allowed to run rampant."
"Sometimes I don't think the gods have the command over the earth they like us to think they do. Gabrielle, look!"
The bard looks to the far horizon of the water. What has looked like a single, fluffy cloud is building up and spreading slowly across the horizon and up into the sky.
"Is it starting, Xena?"
"I don't know, but it's not stopping."
They both continue down toward the village, reminded of their mission.
"Speaking of the gods, it seems like Hephaestus is stepping into Poseidon's territory, and I hear that Poseidon has quite the temper. Well, do you know, Xena? Have you ever met Poseidon ?"
"I think I did once. Honestly, I was so drunk I don't remember."
"For shame, Xena."
As the pair reach the beach, they see two youngsters, a teen-age boy and girl, sitting on a driftwood log, their backs to Xena and Gabrielle. The boy holds the girl in his arms, her head resting on his shoulder. But they are not looking into each others eyes, they are looking at the strange cloud that is making their familiar daily view, unfamiliar and unsettling.
"Hello." Gabrielle says as she and Xena walk up behind the two. Now a lover's embrace is not conducive to balance, either emotional or physical and these lovers lose theirs and end up, arms still entwined, looking up at at the two strangers
"I'm sorry." Gabrielle smiles as she helps them to help each other back to their feet.
"Who are you?" The girl asks Gabrielle as she shakes sand out of her hair. Her companion is noticing (for an awfully long time, it sems to the girl) the tall woman in leather and armor as the striking stranger continues to take in changes in the sky; a sky whose color seems to be living in her eyes.
Gabrielle draws the girl's attention back "We need to speak to the leaders of your town."
"We don't really have a leader."
"Well who does everyone listen to?"
"Take us toThomas. We have important and urgent news."
The girl grabs her boyfriend's arm and yanks him away from his reverie on Xena. "Come ON, dear one, we're going to take them to Thomas."
A man sits at a chair in his small house. He is binding dried reeds together that are fastened to the bottom of a stout straight branch. His wife sits next to their table, sewing up a hole in her husband's tunic. There is a brisk knock at their door.
The couple look quickly at each other. Visitors are rare in this isolated town and they know everyone here well enough to walk into each others houses without formality. Thomas goes to the door and opens it. Xena and Gabrielle stand in front of him. He doesn't know what to say. His wife comes up behind him. "We don't want any."
Gabrielle turns to Xena and says under her breath, "Apparently Salmoneus has made it here before."
Xena brushes the trivialities and Gabrielle aside as she steps to stand directly in front of Thomas. "We have come to warn you of a terrible danger. It is going to be hard to believe, but the soothsayers have spoken and it rings of the truth. Look!" She points to the white cloud above the sea, that now seems to fill half the sky. "May we come in?"
Thomas gestures them in with his hand, his wife stays at the door a moment to look at the unnerving sight of such an unfamiliar sky. She turns into the house and pulls out chairs for Xena and Gabrielle to sit on. Neither woman sits, so Thomas and his wife, Hezra sit down instead.
"Tell us what is wrong." Hezra wipes her hands against her skirts. She has gone from the unconscious security of the familiar to the quick heartbeat that warns of threat.
"Gabrielle, you tell it"
"Do we have the time?"
"I think so. From the way things look we won't make it to the next town. I'm going to go look for the pillagers.
"The pillagers?" asks Thomas.
Gabrielle answers. "The pillagers found out that we and others. have set out on this mission, and they enter the abandoned houses and steal everything they can get their slimy paws on after the owners leave. They are murdering anyone that stays behind that gets in their way."
"Abandoned houses?" Hezra's heart is beginning to hammer inside of her.
Xena steps out the door to look for the robbers. She knows they are coming.
"Excuse me, what mission are you on?" Thomas asks.
"Oh, right, the soothsayers", Gabrielle, holds the top of her staff with both hands, leans on it and looks up to her right. "Ah yes, The Hephaestus Wars . . ."
"For Hundreds of Years Basilisk's Demons have lived below Tartarus in a land of complete cold and darkness. Zeus has banished them there as punishment for their leader, Basilisk, who cut off mortal men's ability to see into each others hearts and souls. I, for one, feel that this is a severe punishment for what is more a blessing than a hindrance, but Zeus felt that it deprived mortals of an incredible power. Basilisk stole this ability from all men when one wise man saw into Basilisk's soul and saw nothing but a hard gray stone of coldness surrounding the boiling hot metal of endless hate.
Xena steps in the doorway "Gabrielle, could you pick up the pace." She moves out again to check in the other direction.
"Right Xena. As I was saying, Basilisk's demons live in a land of utter cold and complete and endless darkness. They envy Hades his supply of fire from Hephaestus, and occasionally, they are able to break through the Olympian stronghold that has set them in their dismal world, and they emerge in a rage into Tartarus above. They know when Hephaestus will be there, swapping brimstone stories with Hades, and they are most likely to mount their attack during these visits. Whenever this happens, Hephaestus must call his lieges forth from the underworld and the overworld to fight the demons back into their prison. These wars are so violent that men can feel the ground shake beneath their feet, and the fighting is so fierce that holes break through the earth, sending dirt, the smoke of Tartarus, and a few demons flying into the heavens, killing mortal and animal, plant and bug. During some of the greatest raging battles, the very soul of Basilisk is wounded and gushes through the ground to pour its vile burning metal of hate and destruction onto the land above."
Hezra asks, (she has stopped her sewing) "Are they battling now? Last night, we felt our house shake and my daughter's toys fell off our table".
"That's what the soothsayers tell us." Gabrielle says, as she lays her staff down. "Could I have a drink of water, I am parched. I don't tell these things very often anymore."
"What are we to do?" What is going to happen?" Thomas asks as his wife gets Gabrielle a dipper of water
"Thank you very much," Gabrielle says to Hezra. Xena comes back into the room and Hezra offers her water, which she accepts.
"Xena, what did you see?" Gabrielle asks.
"No sign of the pillagers, yet. Thomas, are you ready to help us get the people of your town to safety?"
"I feel there is truth in your friend's story, but why are WE threatened?".
Xena has returned to the window to look out at the sky. She narrows her eyes and doesn't speak, so Gabrielle offers the explanation. "Grandfathers of grandfathers have spoken of Silence Island being the lid of a pit where Hephaestus blows out the demons. It has happened many times before."
"Silence Island?" asks Thomas. "Where is that?"
"It's just out there, where those clouds started coming from.. Surely your fishermen are familiar with it?" Gabrielle looks puzzled.
"We do not venture where we cannot see our village. There are plenty of fish within those bounds."
"Oh, my, but think what wondrous things might be beyond those bounds." This is one of Gabrielle's favorite topics.
"Gabrielle," Xena reminds her, "Don't start with that. Hephaestus seems to be on the verge of victory."
The villagers are carrying their belongings on their backs as they walk in a string up the cliff face. Many were reluctant to go, but Thomas assured them that Xena was a good woman, and if there was no danger, they simply could come back to their houses. And they had all felt the ground moving under their feet several times since Thomas had begun to spread the word.
Hezra runs up to Thomas. "I can't find Ynesh."
"She's probably in the beach cave. I'll go look"
Xena grips Thomas' arm to stop him. "We'll get her. Help your friends." Xena gestures toward the last of the townspeople to head up the cliff. An aging man and woman, who are having great difficulty even starting the strenuous climb.
"Thomas?" Hezra is uncertain whether they should trust the life of their heart to strangers, no matter how noble these women were.
Xena turns to her. "I'll get her better and faster. You go, we will bring her to you. Where is the beach cave?"
Thomas points to an outcropping of boulders into the sea. "It's on the other side of those rocks. Somehow he easily believes that Xena can get his beloved Ynesh better and faster. Xena turns and runs down the beach, Gabrielle behind. Thomas and Hezra help the man with his mother, Hezra turning to look over her shoulder frequently. She won't be assured till she sees the golden hair of her little girl.
The sky is filled with the white yellowish cloud from horizon to horizon and there is a new sight out toward the Silence Island. There seems to be fuzzy black fur along the far edge of the water, then, a billowing black cloud begins to rise, at first it looks like a small pile of leaves has been set on fire in the ocean.
As Xena reaches the boulders and begins to clamber across them, Gabrielle sees three pillagers lowering themselves on vines from the cliffs,
"Xena! The robbers!"
Xena looks back over her shoulder to make sure Gabrielle isn't going to be overwhelmed. "Take care of them, Gabrielle," Xena calls to her as she slips on the algae-covered rocks. The little girl must be a starfish to cling to this.
Gabrielle runs toward the cliff to give the descending scum a hearty staff welcome. The first pillager jumps from the vine to face what he considers not an opponent but a little doll of some sort. He smiles dully. Gabrielle reaches forward with her staff, using it to pull the cloth booty bag out of his belt, give it a little spin and plop it neatly over his head. She pulls the sack taut with her staff, plants the stick in the ground and gives it a good hard jerk to the rear. The sackhead is launched and lands sackfirst and stunned on the beach grass. The other two villains have made it down the cliff and run up toward Gabrielle (taking her a little more seriously than their companion did). When they are almost upon her, their running steps take a bizarre and loose-limbed turn as the beach begins to roll under their feet. Gabrielle holds her staff to the ground and struggles to maintain her balance but the two men are thrown to the ground, frightened.
Gabrielle isn't going to let the earth folding beneath her stop her from the task at hand. She lurches toward the fallen men and they feel compelled to stand up to defend themselves. One man has a curved iron bar that he uses to break open lock chests. The ground is a little steadier and he can now run toward Gabrielle, yelling, the bar raised over his head. Gabrielle flicks the bar out of his hand with the end of her staff, twirls the thing and shoots it over to the third man, hitting him in the forehead and eliminating any concscious thought he might have had. The second man feels that his booty sack is probably not a sufficient weapon for this surprisingly dangerous town protector, so he digs, somewhat panic stricken, in his boot for his dagger. Well, what staff master can resist giving a thief and a scoundrel a whack in the hind end when the occasion, and the hind end, presents itself? Gabrielle wasn't above it and hit a hard and straight shot that caused an involuntary somersault, the dagger found, but flying uselessly out of his hands. Gabrielle gives him a moderate whap across the back of his neck to knock him out and runs over to pick up the knife, which she uses to cut down enough vine to tie the three men together wrist to wrist and back to back.
Gabrielle looks out to sea to see how Xena is faring. She runs toward the rocks.
Xena is still slipping along on the scum, but is almost to the mouth of the cave. She can see the little girl, standing just inside.
The blond-haired six-year-old is looking at Xena as if her imagination is coming to life. She is afraid to step clear outside the cave, because she doesn't know whether the Lady Giant that is coming is bad or good, but she doesn't want to go back into the cave, because rocks and things keep falling off the ceiling. One rock has even hit her on the shoulder. She will have to tell her mama how much that hurt and will probably have to cry then. Oh my, the Lady Giant is almost to her.
As Xena reaches the end of the rocks, they all shift beneath her, as if they were rolling loose down a mountainside. The sound they make is like bare iron spokes on stone when you loose the outside of your chariot wheel and the horse draaagggs the spoke along. The metallic shriek of rock against rock causes the little girl to shield her ears and the quick jerk of the earth underneath her neatly sits her right down. She may not wait to cry till she sees her mama.
Xena can't shield her ears, as her body is trying every physical movement it can react with to keep her from slipping down between the moving boulders. She finds a rock that seems to be planted more firmly in the ocean floor and uses it to launch herself the rest of the distance between her and the child. She lands in front of the frightened young one.
"Are you a bad Giant or a good Giant?"
Xena has to smile a little. "I am a good giant and your parents have sent me to come and get you."
"What's your name?"
"Xena." Xena picks the youngster up from the sand and brushes off her short dress. "What's your name?"
"Ynesh, we have to go now. Will you go with me back to where your parents are?"
"I hurt my shoulder."
"Well, you're being very brave." The beach again rolls, like it had no more stability than the water that constantly flows onto it. The rocks around them screech again. Xena holds onto the little girl to comfort and steady her and looks out toward Silence Island.
The billowing black clouds have overtaken everything in the sky. They hang low above the ocean, broiling and ugly, advancing toward the town. Something else, though. There's something wrong with the ocean. Xena realizes with horror that, in the distance,it's taller! and getting taller by the second. How can she get Ynesh back over the rocks and up the cliff before the water swallows them both up? She sees that Gabrielle is starting the nearly impossible climb over the shifting, slick rocks to them.
"Wait Gabrielle!" She calls as loud as she can, but there is too much noise from water and rock to hear anything. She grabs her chakram and throws it to ricochet off the rock that Gabrielle is trying to maneuver over. Gabrielle looks up toward Xena as the warrior catches the reeturning chakram.
Xena holds both hands up to tell Gabrielle to stop. She looks aroud and grabs a long string of transluscent brown seaweed and begins wraping it around and and around Ynesh.
"Stop it!" Ynesh has always thought that seaweed was very icky. Xena ignores her and finishes wrapping all but a few feet around the girl. She grabs the end that is the beginning of the wrap and holds it together with the loose end in both her hands. She plants both her feet and begins to turn, arms outstretched, picking the little girl up in the seaweed rope, Xena turns round and and around, building up speed, with Ynesh riding through the air on the Lady Giant ride. Xena spins as fast as she can and then lets go the wrapped end of the seaweed the little girl spins out of it like a flying top and flies across the rock outcropping to land with a splash in the shallow water three feet from Gabrielle.
Gabrielle grabs Ynesh, slings her over her shoulder and runs as best she can through the shallows to the beach, the ground vibrating beneath her. The bard looks to see what her friend is doing. Xena catches the look, she points out to the advancing tall ocean and then points up to the cliff above them. Gabrielle looks out to the ocean and and her skin feels like it's shrinking around her muscles. By the Gods, what nightmare is being unleashed? The giant mountain of water is looming larger and larger, the sky is filled with boiling black clouds and the ground is once again starting to roll mercilessly under their feet.
Gabrielle, her staff in one hand, and the girl still slung over her shoulder, runs to one of the vines where the robbers descended. She puts Ynesh down and and starts to help her up to the bottom of the cut vine, but Ynesh has already seen the Very Bad Ocean and has decided to take things into her own hands. Without the aid of the vine, she starts a graceful scramble up the beach cliff.
Ynesh turns back to Gabrielle, "Come on, hurry!" Small and not so small stones are being dislodged and bouncing down the cliff face. Gabrielle looks back for Xena, but the outside walls of the cave block her view. She wedges her staff into the cliff face then pulls herself up by an outcropping tree to grab the base of the vine and begin to pull herself up the cliff.
Xena is making her way up the archway of the cave, she looks over her shoulder at the wave, but does not stop her determined ascent. She feels the noise against her back and head before she hears it. It sounds like all the thunder of all time had been stored in the sea and is now breaking up and out in the roar of the Leviathan. Xena climbs steadily and quickly, but she can feel the water, like a moving mountain, rushing toward her, descending on her, roaring for her blood and bones, roaring with the vengeance of murdered souls to sweep her away to an ocean of death. Death, but never peace. All light of day is suddenly blocked out. Xena looks over her shoulder again. The ocean stands before her.
Ynesh and Gabrielle crawl over to stand on the top of the cliff when the giant wave washes into Trustano Bay. A great, high spray of dirty seafoam and debris fountains up from the cliffside in front of them, drenching them. Gabrielle, shields her eyes as she looks for Xena. Did she make it to the top? In the direction of the cave, it looks like a doll has just been tossed in the air by a playful child.
The wave tosses her friend behind itself with an easy flick. Gabrielle doesn't think, She pushes Ynesh away and runs to where she she saw Xena disappear. When she reaches a vantage point at the edge of the cliff, she can't see anything but a bay full of dirty, churning whirlpooling water where a village was only a few hours ago. The water is receding slowly, crowded with broken wood, and other remnants of the wreckage where people had lived. Gabrielle clutches her fists open and shut in frustration as she turns to look in every direction. Then, out to sea, just beyond the cove itself, she sees half the broken hull of a fishing boat tossing back and forth, a figure clinging to the side.
Onward! Gabrielle sprints to the edge of the cliff where the now-wet vines still hang. She slips down one till she comes to a small ledge, hops onto it and launches herself into the water, now only 30 feet below her. She dives in headfirst, her head narrowly missing someone's floating front door. Once she has kicked her way to the surface, Gabrielle works her boots off, and sights the boat hull several hundred feet away from her, but the sky is so dark and dirty, she can no longer see whether it has its passenger. She starts swimming, dodging random whirpools and knocked about all the way by boards, masts, tables, doors, rudders, driftwood, and dock. Great Detritus, she thinks, it's uncanny how many things float! She swims on, with only one goal, and nothing will stop her.
Xena still lies face-first and spread-eagled against the barnacled hull of the broken boat. She holds onto the top edge with her right hand, her left hand won't cooperate, probably since it's attached to an arm that is hanging from her shoulder at an angle it never has had before. Xena tries to remember how she got here. Wasn't Gabrielle just going on at great lengths about something as they set up camp. No. Weren't they having a drink of water? Was there a little girl? Was her mother here? She wishes Gabrielle were here, she'd straighten Xena's spinning head out pretty quick. Pitchfork? Was there a pitchfork? Why is it snowing dust? Gabrielle will come. She will figure it out.
Xena lies on the rocking hull for many more minutes, half-dozing, but with an iron grip on the broken edge. The boat hull turns slowly in the water. As it turns her to face toward the cove, she sees something that breathes strength into her battered body and hope into her heart. She sees two pale arms churning through the water toward her and a red head bobbing up and down slightly, as if in great physical effort. Gabrielle is coming! She'll know why it's snowing dust. She'll know the horse's name. She'll fix Xena's stupid arm. Xena closes her eyes again, reassured.
Gabrielle sees Xena lift her head, and is relieved. She finds the strength to keep swimming. Her arms feel like she has to stroke through the water with dead pigs tied to them. Oh well, pigs or no, keep swimming, keep swimming. Finally she reaches the hull, she has to rest and breathe for a minute.
"Gabrielle?" Xena rolls onto here right side, her left arm hanging loose in front of her. Her eyes look unfocused. "What's my horse's name?"
Gabrielle looks at her for a few seconds. "It's 'Argo', Xena." Gabrielle crawls carefully across the slippery hull to Xena muttering to herself, "swim 100 furlongs to answer that, guess I can go now, probably all she needs."
"Xena lays her head back down on her right arm. "Argo, that's it." She raises her head back up quickly. "Are you going to fix my arm?"
"What's wrong with it?"
Gabrielle carefully raises the arm in question. It doesn't seem to be set quite right, doesn't line up with the top of Xena's shoulder. Her knees begin to feel like jelly just looking at it.
"Xena, I don't know how to fix it."
Xena lays her head back down. "I don't know. Think you need to pull it straight." She closes her eyes.
"What next?" Gabrielle thinks to herself. She tries to sit in a stable position next to Xena. She braces one bare foot against Xena's side and the other foot against the side of her neck. She grabs Xena's left arm by the wrist, takes a deep breath, her mouth shut tight, lips pressed together, and gives the arm the best yank she can muster (she doesn't want to have to do it again) Kk-Ch-POP! goes Xena's arm.
Xena's eyes snap open wide and clear. She looks at Gabrielle, startled.
"Sorry," says Gabrielle.
"I know. I said sorry. Are you ok?"
Xena is looking around at their situation. Hundreds of feet from shore on a non maneuverable craft, drifting dust falling and falling. A Basilisk demon floats by.
Xena turns back to Gabrielle. "I guess we'll have to figure a way to paddle this back to shore. I know I can't swim that far with this arm and you look tired."
"What are we going to paddle with?" Both women start looking for loose boards. Something catches Gabrielle's eye through the rain of dust off toward Silence Island.
"What is it?"
A baby version of the monster wave has been created and bears down on them.
"We've got a ride!"
Xena and Gabrielle brace themselves as the wave reaches them. It picks them up on and pushes them forward, straight back toward Trustano Bay. Gabrielle's stomach rides its own wave as she holds onto the hull as it speeds along, and she tries to keep from swallowing more than a gallon of ocean. Xena can now hold on with both hands and does so with determination. Things are looking up.
Just as they reach the shallower waters of the still-submerged beach, the baby giant wave breaks, sending Xena and Gabrielle's surf riding thing tumbling onto the barnacled outside hull they had been riding on. Both women lose their grip and are pulled by a powerful current to hit the beach below. Gabrielle bounces back up but Xena is trapped against a rock by a another boulder that has been swept by the same current she was. Both her legs are wedged, and since she is not as strong as the ocean, she cannot move the boulder. She looks to see if Gabrielle is safe.
Gabrielle has returned from a trip to the surface to find her friend trapped, ten feet from air and water above. She struggles with the boulder, pushing with her feet against the other rock. It doesn't move. Xena reaches down to grab both her arms and hold them. She draws Gabrielle up to look at her. Xena shakes her head and smiles.
Gabrielle jerks her arms away and screams "No!" uselessly into the water. She kicks her way to the top, takes a deep breath and dives back in. Xena stands in the trap with her eyes closed and her hands folded across her chest. Gabrielle swims up to her and punches her in the stomach. Xena's eyes and mouth fly open as she expels what air is in her lungs. Immediately Gabrielle grabs Xena by the back of the head, and clamps her mouth over Xena's and expels every bit of good air she has left into her friend's lungs. She moves back and clamps Xena's mouth shut, then shakes a finger in her face.
Gabrielle quickly swims back to the surface for another helping of air, then returns back to the boulder. She is going to keep this up all day if she has to, even if she has to cut Xena's legs off with her own sword, but she will save Xena. She plants her feet again on the one rock and pushes the other, until the ocean seems to be filled with black and silver spots and she feels like she's getting an underwater nosebleed. How can she move this rock. It's killing Xena! Oh, please Gods, don't let it kill Xena. It's not moving! I failed!
Gabrielle opens her eyes, her hands are on the rock but Xena is not beside her. She turns to look behind her and sees the rock she was bracing herself on ten feet away. She looks up and sees Xena slowly drifting to the surface, kicking weakly and paddling.
The bard doesn't pause to consider, she could use some air herself and she swims up and breaks the surface as Xena does.
Xena gasps and coughs. Gabrielle looks around for another flotation device and finds a drifting barrel. Perfect.
She pulls at Xena's arm to direct her toward the barrel. Xena paddles over, still gasping with an alarming raw sound. But she makes it to the barrel with Gabrielle and Gabrielle begins the tricky task of navigating herself and the armored warrior through the floating town to the small patch of beach surface that is clear now. Finally they make it. Xena immediately lays down gratefully on the wet sand, facing away from Gabrielle. Gabrielle leans against the barrel and breathes hard. The white dust continues to drift down on them as they rest.
Even though Gabrielle can see Xena's back rise and fall in even breathing, she still asks her, "Xena, are you all right?"
Xena doesn't answer. Gabrielle supposes she had passed out or fallen asleep. Until her friend finally does speak.
"Gabrielle, thank you for saving my life."
These are words that strike Gabrielle like a renewing fire. She has saved Xena's life. She had better not be crying when Xena turns around so she tries not to.
"I knew you would come."
"You better rest, Xena."
An hour or so later, Xena wakes up and tries to stand. It's a wobbly and painful business, but she doesn't think her legs are broken, just badly insulted by the hard rock. It hurts her to move her left arm and she gratefully accepts the assitance of Gabrielle, who has already been up and about, retrieving her staff from where she'd stuck it into the cliff face and finding a cup to drink from the spring water supply of the town she discovered at the base of the trail. She hands a dipperful to Xena as the taller woman leans on her.
"You're welcome. Do you think you can make it back up the path?"
"Would you like to borrow my staff?"
The two women start the climb.
"Where was your good friend Posiedon when we needed him?"
"I told you, Gabrielle, I hardly remember meeting him. And I'm sure he thinks I' m an idiot."
"Why, what did you do?"
"It's embarassing, Gabrielle."
"Come on, what did you say?"
"I don't know, 'hi there, you're great' I don't know, forget it."
"Ok. Do you remember what happened . . . back there, when the wave came?"
"I remember holding onto the cliff. I had to hold on. I wasn't going to let the ocean defeat me with just one wave. If I could just hold on and keep enough breath. Then my right arm got knocked loose and I kept hold with my other. I felt like I was being shaken by a monster. I didn't want to let go, Gabrielle." She stopped climbing, thinking of how Gabrielle freed her from the rock.. "Gabrielle, I didn't want to let go, ever."
"Don't worry Xena, I wouldn't let you."
Xena and Gabrielle reach the top of the cliff and start a slow but friendly walk back to get Argo.
Disclaimer: Due to the skyrocketing costs of special effects, mlocket's next story will be "Two Heroes Sitting on a Stump and Staring at a Rock".