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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2
|CHAPTER #17 ----- TOUGH DECISION||
H = 6 & 7, X = 6
"Oh, Darius..." Xena said, avoiding eye contact.
"Does that mean 'no'?" Darius asked sadly.
"No, it doesn't mean 'no'. It means I have to think about it..." Xena corrected.
"What next, then?" he asked after a long silence.
"I have to go look for Gabrielle," she explained.
"Then I'm going, too," Darius said firmly. He turned around as he heard footsteps behind him.
"Us, too!" Augolis spoke up behind them. Sarita and Lykus nodded with him. Xena smiled. Darius raised his eyebrows.
"Well, then get ready," Xena agreed. It would be nice to have company on the trip. It was going to be safe one, too - hopefully.
Xena went in the barn and got her things together. She untethered Argo and let him in the field to eat, because they probably weren't going to stop to rest for a while.
Xena called to Darius and his children. "We're leaving now!" she yelled.
The three children ran out, Darius walking behind. She smiled and started towards the road.
"Where are we going?" Darius asked, finally catching up to Xena. Xena stopped and mounted Argo.
"Potedia," she said.
"Never been there, never heard of it. Then again, I don't get out very much," Darius chuckled. Xena grinned.
"I'll race you!" Augolis challenged his younger brother.
"First one to the bridge is the winner!" Lykus yelled. The two brothers ran off, Sarita following far behind. Augolis reached the bridge first, breathless.
"That's not fair! You got a head start!" Lykus sobbed as he approached the bridge second. Xena put Argo to a trot to catch up to the kids, and Darius jogged behind.
"I did not cheat! I won fair and square! You're just a sore loser!" Augolis laughed. Lykus punched Augolis is the stomach. Augolis leaned over, the wind knocked out of him.
"Lykus!" Darius scolded. Lykus turned to face his frowning father. Augolis recovered quickly and punched his brother in the back. Lykus screamed as he went head first over the bridge. Augolis watched, horrified.
Darius yelled out to his son, and Xena stood on Argo while the horse was now galloping. Once she came to the bridge, she stopped Argo abruptly and flipped off the horse, head first.
She flew down the edge of the cliff, the bridge now far above her on her left.
Lykus was still screaming when Xena caught the edge of the cliff and grabbed him by his shirt collar.
They were both out of breath as they looked up the side of the cliff. The edge was about twenty feet above them. Xena looked below at the rushing sound.
The sharp rocks under them did not look pleasant.
"Trust me?" Xena asked, half kidding.
"I want you to hold on to my neck," she directed. He put one arm at a time around the warrior's neck. He started to sob.
"It's all right, it's all right," Xena repeated over and over - partly for herself.
Darius looked below at the two, terrified.
Xena climbed the cliff slowly, grasping whatever rocks came out of the cliff sturdy enough to hold the two. She developed a steady breathing pattern, but felt Lykus slipping.
"Hold on!" Xena said, letting one hand leave a rock to push Lykus back up around her neck. He was now crying.
"Do you need me to drop down a rope?" Darius yelled from above. "No!" Xena croaked. "You are the only person who'd be pulling us up. Not enough balance! Just keep Sarita and Augolis away from the edge!" She adjusted Lykus' hands around her throat, and continued up the cliff. Now they were only about six feet away from the edge.
"I'm scared," Lykus whispered.
"I know," Xena managed a small smile regardless of the situation. Xena pulled her foot up to a rock. The rock crumbled beneath her feet. Darius heard the sound and in no time had the rope in hand. He dropped it down to the warrior.
Xena eyed him.
"I know, I know, but this might be our only help," Darius said.
"Fine," Xena agreed. "Tie the rope around the saddlehorn on Argo, and you hold the end."
Darius did as he was told and went over to the horse. Argo was about ten feet away from the edge. He tied the rope loosely to the saddlehorn and grasped the end tightly.
"Now what?" he yelled. Xena had only one hand on a rock, and one foot on a small, shaking rock. She grabbed the rope.
"Pull us up slowly!" she ordered.
She still grasped each rock as she was pulled up, careful of Lykus on her back. She felt a cramp develop in her right hamstring. She jerked around for a second, feeling Lykus tense up. She grunted and pushed herself forward, trying to keep her right leg moving. By favoring her left leg, she slipped on another rock. Darius felt the tug and held on tightly. Xena looked up. Augolis and Sarita were a ways away from everything, Sarita crying and Augolis' eyes wide open.
They had finally reached the top. Xena hoisted Lykus over her shoulders and onto the ground. He ran up and hugged his father. Augolis ran up to his brother. Xena pulled herself back onto the ground.
"I'm really sorry, Lykus! I didn't mean to-" Augolis cried.
"I'm sure it was all an accident - now let's not let that happen again! Do you hear me?" Darius scolded them both. The two boys hugged their father, and Xena watched on, with Sarita holding her hand.
Darius came up to Xena. "Thank you... thank you so much..." he hugged Xena, and the surprised Xena hugged him back.
"No problem. It happens all of the time," she grinned.
They continued on, Sarita sat in front of Xena on Argo, and the boys walked a little ways back with their dad. The bridge was a sturdy one, sturdy enough to carry all of the travelers at once.
"Thank the gods for small favors," Darius chuckled, crossing the bridge. "Are we playing hide and seek with Gabby?" Sarita asked. Xena smiled at Gabrielle's nickname.
"Sort of..." Xena trailed off.
They finally approached Potedia. Xena dismounted Argo and walked into the village. She looked around, debating which house was Gabrielle's. She went over to the well, extremely thirsty. Darius and his kids followed.
"Hey! You're Xena!" Xena turned around to see a girl pointing at her. "Get out of here! We don't want you here!" the dark-haired girl frowned. The villagers crowded around, their farming tools being held as weapons. Xena stood, ready for an attack.
If Xena fights the villagers, go to chapter #34.
If Xena doesn't fight, and just runs through the crowd, go to chapter #35.