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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2

CHAPTER #28 ----- SURPRISE

H = 21, X = 23


Gabrielle started towards the woods, her staff ready for an attack. She hoped it was someone she wanted to see.

"Ah! Help me!" a small voice called from a few yards into the dense woods. Gabrielleís face turned surprised as she saw who it was.

"Solan?" she asked.

"Yeah!" he looked at Gabrielle guiltily. He was hanging upside down from what looked like a hunterís trap. Both feet were caught in the rope, and he hung several feet off the ground. Kaleipus entered the forest and stared at the sight. Then he realized the "prey" was Solan, and unsheathed his sword to bring him down.

"What are you doing up there?" Gabrielle asked, moving out of the way so that the centaur could cut the child free.

"I came here looking for someone and got stuck. Iíve been screaming for help for a while now! I even tried imitating Xenaís battlecry!" Solan said, falling in Kaleipusí arms.

"Who were you looking for?" Kaleipus asked, still holding Solan.

"Um... just a friend," Solan averted his eyes. Gabrielle put her hand on his shoulder.

"Who? The name?" Gabrielle smiled gently, prompting Solan.

"Xena," he said quietly.

"Why?" Kaleipus asked, almost defensively.

"A kid in my school told me that she was my real mother. I wanted to seeó"

"Why couldnít you just ask me?"

"Because... because I was afraid that you would be sad."

"Why would I be sad?"

Solan shrugged. "Is it true?" he asked.

The centaur frowned. "Is what true?"

"Who is my mother? Are you really my uncle?" Solan asked, tears coming to his eyes.

"Iím really your uncle, yes," Kaleipus looked down. "And Xena is really your mother."

Solanís jaw dropped. He didnít know whether to be happy or sad - or scared.

"Why didnít she tell me?" Solan asked. "Why did she give me away?"

Gabrielle was shocked that he was smart - and brave - enough to ask these kind of questions.

"No! She didnít give you away! She let you stay here because she loved you!" Gabrielle spoke out. Kaleipus looked at Gabrielle sadly. Tears were at his eyes, too.

"Letís go find Xena," Kaleipus said, forcing a smile. Solan nodded seriously. Gabrielle followed the two, and saw Kaleipus hold Solanís hand tightly.

The farther they went into the forest, the darker it became.

Gabrielle didnít know why Kaleipus led the way into the forest, she just figured the smartest thing to do would be to follow him.

She heard a distance sound - like drums. She stopped, her senses alert and ready to detect something that wasnít right.

"Kaleipus?" she whispered. The centaur turned around. Solan looked at her, sensing something that wasnít right.

"Duck!" Gabrielle screamed as an ax whirled by her ear. Before they knew what was going on, they heard whistling.

Whistling of axes spinning by their heads. Kaleipus ducked over Solan to protect him, and Gabrielle pressed herself against a tree.

"I see Xena!" Solan said as he and Kaleipus ran to Gabrielle.

"We have to find cover!" Gabrielle said.

"But what about Xena?" Solan yelled over the flying weapons.

"Donít worry about her right now!" Kaleipus shouted as he and the other two started running back to the village.

When they reached it, everyone was outside of their homes, awake from the commotion.

"I wish I knew who they were. I didnít think anyone lived past those woods," Kaleipus said, watching Solan stare into the woods.

"I know who they were," Gabrielle said. "They were the Horde."

Many people started to whisper among themselves. Elders knew the group from experience, while others learned from tales brought back from battle.

"That canít be! They live miles from here!" Kaleipus argued.

Gabrielle shook her head. "I thought so, too, but obviously, they have advanced and come to take over some of this land," she announced to the village.

"What do we do?" one centaur asked, his voice showing how nervous he was.

Gabrielle took a deep breath. "Keep your children away from and out of the woods. In fact, keep them in sight. The same goes for everyone else! These people are terrible and barbaric. They are looking for water," she explained.

"We have the only wells for miles around here!" another centaur spoke up.

Gabrielle pursed her lips. "Then get ready to defend it."


If Gabrielle pursues the Horde on her own, go to chapter #54.

If Gabrielle suggests that Kaleipus should lead the centaurs into battleagainst the Horde, go to chapter #55.