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Disclaimer: Arlene Bolton, Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
By: Arlene Bolton
Gabrielle wakes just before the sun is up.. She throws off her blanket and sits up. What an unsatisfying sleep she has just had . . tossing and turning. She becomes aware that she is scratching the inside of her left arm quite furiously. She examines it and discovers an angry-looking rash. An odd-looking rash that isn't just red, it is orange and blue and other colors, and, it ITCHES LIKE CRAZY! She crawls over and shook the soundly sleeping warrior princess awake. "Xena, look at this!"
"You better be in danger Gabrielle, becaue if you're not, you are now."
"Sorry Xena, but look at this thing on my arm!"
Xena looks at Gabrielle's arm in the slowly increasing light.
"Did you get bit?"
"I don't know, but it itches !" Gabrielle begins scratching in earnest. Xena pulls her hand away.
"Don't do that, it will just get worse." Xena, is resigned to starting the day with a problem, pulls herself out of her bedroll and goes to look for some unguents. After she finds soothing beshal leaves to smooth onto Gabrielle's arm, they continue on down the valley road they had been following for several days.
As the morning goes by, Gabrielle's arm begins to start itching again, in fact, it becomes painful The rash becomes more pronounced and the inside of her arm and shoulder begins to ache and burn. She hands her staff to Xena who holsters it on Argo's saddle and looks with concern as Gabrielle continues walking beside her, cradling her aching arm.
"Gabrielle, get on Argo."
"That's not going to help."
"Get . .on . . Argo".
Gabrielle finds it difficult to mount the horse using her stiffening and painful arm and Xena gives her a boost, then turns the offending arm over to look at it. The rash covers almost the entire inside of her arm. The colors are even MORE varied. If the welts weren't so raised up and swollen together, it almost seemed like the colors were forming patterns.
The two travel on together for another mile or two, Xena keeps turning to look at Gabrielle, finally seeing that she is sweating and her lips are tight and white with the effort of concealing pain, Xena knows she has to do something. Xena turns Argo into the forest.
"Xena, where are you going?"
"We need to make a stop."
Xena leads Argo up to the small cottage in the forest. Gabrielle's arm is braced against her body with Xena's whip and a What knot. Xena walks up to the door of the cottage and raps on it sharply. A very small bent old woman opens the door. She is wearing sackloth and smiles at Xena with two missing teeth, and looking out of one good, eye, the other with a pure white covering over the lens. "Come in, come in, come in. Oh, I am so excited, oh yes! bring in your friend, please! Come in, hurry. Let her sit there. Now sit down, let me get you some wine!" She continues talking, though not to her visitors "Xena, Xena, Xena, Xena, oh my, Xena, oh my, Xena, as I live and breathe it's Xena! Oh my! Xena! Hee-hee-hee-hee."
The old woman hands Xena her glass of wine and takes Gabrielle hers. Gabrielle shakes her head no. The woman tsks.
"Ts ts ts . .young woman you drink this." She puts the drink into Gabrielle's unfettered hand. Gabrielle is miserable, but still polite. She drinks the wine.. "Thank you, very nice."
Xena is watching the interaction. "Does your arm feel better."
Xena looks at the old woman with surprise.
Catching the look, the crone walks over where Xena sits at her table. "Xena, Xena, Xena, Xena. I can't help your friend. Her affliction is brought on by powers stronger than mine and must be cured by following the path where the picture leads you. It is a command that a lowly practicer like me cannot interfere with and hope to keep her share of the magic market.
"Picture?" Xena puts down her goblet and goes over to Gabrielle. She unwraps the whip and pulls our the arm to check the rash. Gabrielle's inside arm is no longer covered with swollen welts, it is covered from her wrist to her shoulder with a drawing of many colors. All three woman look at it.
At the wrist is the picture of a woman warrior, stepping out of a dark cloud, next is a picture of a girl with golden red hair stepping out of the sun. The two seem to be heading up the arm, which displays pictures of trees and birds and unrecognizable symbols. At the end of the picture, where Gabrielle's arm meets her shoulder, there is the picture of an elaborate palace, which seems to glow on the skin.
"Good grief!" Gabrielle stares at her arm.
"What does it mean?" Xena asks the woman.
"You figure it out, Xena. I can't get over it, it really is you, Xena, Xena, Xena, Xena . . "
"Please don't do that." Xena continues to study the arm. This one symbol is the sign of the Herchon. That would mean these were the Trumpet Hills. Of course! This was the Dance Pagaent and Wolverine Feast. So if they were to go to Sumus through the Treading Woods.
Gabrielle taps Xena on the head. "This isn't a library, Xena."
Xena helps her friend to her feet. "Let's go."
"Oh Xena, Xena, Xena, Xena," their hostess says wringing her hands. "Please stay awhile longer. Xena, Xena, Xena, Xena."
"Listen, stop it!. You're making me hate my name. Thanks for the wine - we have to go." And they did
Following the signs that Xena had interpreted from the arm map, Xena and Gabrielle walked out of a forest to where the pictured palace should be. A large empty meadow between two hills was all that was there. Gabrielle sat down on the ground, discouraged. She held her arm by her wrist. It wasn't sharply painful any more, but it had been throbbing for hours with a muted ache that reached up the arm and down toward her heart.
Xena studied the area and then crouched down by her friend, 'I'm sorry, Gabrielle."
"I'M sorry, Xena. This is all my fault. All this trouble for nothing."
Xena thought she'd let Gabrielle feel sorry for herself for a spell and got up to look for any helpful signs, or maybe a rabbit to kill. Then she heard the sound, or rather felt it first. Deep, strong vibrations in the ground, clump, clump, clump and before she could get back to Gabrielle a monstrous dragon walked between the two hills right toward Xena and Gabrielle.
Xena ran toward her friend who had jumped up from the ground. The dragon slowly advanced and stood before them, his head towering as a high as a tree.
"Which of you is the Sun Child?" The dragon asked in a melodius baritone voice.
"Neither of us." Gabrielle answered truthfully.
Xena whispered in her ear. "The picture on your arm, Gabrielle, it's you!"
"Oh . . kay. I am the Sun Child. Who are you?"
"DO NOT ASK MY NAME!"
Xena stepped forward in front of Gabrielle. "Can you help us?"
'"ALL WHO COME TO ME MUST HELP THEMSELVES!"
"Just tell me how to help my friend, and I'll do it."
"SHE MUST VANQUISH ME TO BE FREE!"
Gabrielle shook her head. "Well then I'm overbaked bread, aren't I? I can't even tie my boots, lelt alone vanquish you. I only want my arm to stop hurting. I don't want to vanquish anybody, or anything."
The dragon looked at Gabrielle, but didn't speak any more. Gabrielle looked at the dragon. The dragon began to lower its head toward Gabrielle and open its giant jaws. Xena drew her sword and the dragon whipped its tail from behind its back and neatly flicked Xena into the top of an oak tree a 100 yards away. It continued to lower it's gaping maw with shining sharp teeth glinting menacingly. When its mouth hovered just over Gabrielle's head, it stopped.
Gabrielle was shaking so hard she was surprised she stayed in one piece. This was a frightening way to die, but she stared the beast right in the one large eye she could see, and almost reach. She stopped shaking a little when she remembered she had to do one thing. She reached out her picture arm and touched the dragon on the side of its head.
"I forgive you."
The dragon snapped its head to the right and bit off her arm.
Gabrielle realized oddly that she didn't need to pull her arm back because she had lost that responsibility. She looked down at her left shoulder. There wasn't any blood. The shoulder just ended. It didn't hurt. (It didn't itch, or burn or ache either!) Her arm just wasn't.
Xena had made her way down the tree and ran up to Gabrielle, picking up the sword she had lost when she was flung.
"Gabrielle!" she said in a horrified voice.
Gabrielle turned to look at her. "It's alright, Xena, it doesn't hurt." Then they both turned to look at the dragon who had begun to sling it's neck around like a whip and its eyes rolled to milky gold then to black then to white. Its claws contracted and his tail began to slap against the ground. Then the dragon seemed to be thousands of bits of colored lights hanging in the air. The bits of light kind of looked like a dragon and kind of looked like a swarm of fireflies. They hung suspended in the air, a cloud of jewels, unmoving, that was gradually replaced by the forming shape of a palace. The giant palace that was pictured on the arm that was no more.
A man stepped out the front door. He wore simple brown pants and a yellow tunic. He walked directly up to Gabrielle and put his hand on top of her vacant shoulder gently.
"Welcome, hero. Your courage has sealed your reward."
"Now what are YOU talking about?" This cryptic stuff was just the end of the rope for Gabrielle.
The world of charm and bending seeks out the Children of the Sun and offers them rewards for their good lives. There is always of course," he pats the stump at her shoulder "a price to pay to prove the final worthiness. But you have proved yourself more than worthy, so this palace and all the wealth it contains and all the power the owner of it wields is now yours. You and your brave friend may now live here in peace and security until your death."
Gabrielle just looked at him for a minute. "And whose brilliant idea was this?"
"It is The Way."
Xena stepped up to the man and grabbed him by his tunic collar. "I'd like to show you The Way."
"Xena, please, wait a minute. It's a good thought, but wait. Listen, bender person. I don't want this palace, we don't need this palace. It's way too big. It's incredibly ostentatious! Really! Haven't you ever heard of simplicity? And another thing, what's the point of rewarding people for good deeds by setting them up so they never do any more? Get a grip, join a different club. It . . just . . .won't . . .do. Keep your palace and my arm, we're leaving. Xena, put him down."
The tunic man straightened his shirt. "You don't want it?"
"Of course I don't want a palace. Find a hundred people to live in it. We have to go." Gabrielle turned away and Xena put a hand on her shoulder that firmly stopped her.
"We want Gabrielle's arm back."
"Xena, what do we want that for. We don't need a souvenir and it will just attract bears."
Xena ignored her. "Where is it? You must have it."
"Of course we have it," the man answered. "It is displayed within. Most Sun Children want a preserved testimony to their bravery."
"Preserved?" Gabrielle wrinklees her face in disgust. "Oh gods, they've pickled it!"
The man leads them to a secluded room. Candles burn, silver shines. There is a hush. In the center of the room is an open rosewood box. On the silk pillows within lies Gabrielle's arm.. The picture that is still on it is illuminated by golden candlelight. Xena grabs it out of its casket unceremoniously. She takes Gabrielle by her attached arm and pulls her out of the room.. The man looks after them, befuddled.
The pair make their way through the countless corridors and luxurious rooms. As they near the exit, Gabrielle takes her arm from Xena.
"Gabrielle, I can take that."
"That's all right, it's my responsibility." As they walk out the front door into the sunlight Gabrielle holds the strange-seeming and suprisingly hefty object up to the shoulder where it used to live, to see if the pieces matched, she thought.
The palace disappears behind them. The arm reaches the hand up to scratch the side of Gabrielle's head. She jumps when she sees her left hand beside her.
Xena smiles at her. "The picture is gone. How does it feel?"
Gabrielle windmills it. "Feels fine."
"Good work, Gabrielle."
"Xena, you're the one that helped me."
"No, really, I've got to hand it to you."
"Well I apprec . .hey wait a minute, that's not funny."
"Now you won't have to go unarmed into battle."
"And to think it was your disarming personality that got you here in the firs place."
"If you think you are amusing, you aren't thinking clearly."
"People will talk of us for years, 'Xena and her Arm-y"
Gabrielle rolls her eyes and starts back to get Argo and to escape the Warrior Punstress.
"I think you need some arm armor." Xena calls to her as she walks behind.
"Xena, this is not a skill that you should develop."
"You're probably right."
"I AM right."
"I might do it again someday."
"Thanks for the warning."
"Don't mention it. Forewarned is forearmed."
"I give up."
They continue on their journey.
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