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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2

CHAPTER #43 ----- WAITING

H = 23, X = 19


Tears welled up in Gabrielleís eyes, but the bard looked away. There was no way she was giving satisfaction to the warlord.

"Iíll be at the inn," Gabrielle said, stomping off toward the village.

Many villagers stood at the gates. They were about to storm out when Danaka and her army approached the town and pushed them aside.

"I am Danaka of Cirra, and Iíve come to reclaim my village!" Danaka raised her sword as her army cheered. It sounded rehearsed. The villagers looked on with a mixture of fear and anger. They knew who this woman was, and they did not want her here.

One man rushed forward, screaming while holding a spear.

"Ha! You are a simple farmer. I donít know what you are trying to prove. If you join my army, however, you might learn something!" Danaka said, her army nervously joining in on her chuckling. The manís yelling was stopped when an elder from the town pulled the attacker away and whispered something to him.

Gabrielle tilted her head. She wished that she knew what was going on. She hoped it was bad for Danaka. Even if she didnít kill Xena, Gabrielle was mad enough to strangle Danaka herself.

That night, Danaka slept in an inn room adjacent to Gabrielle. Exchanging good nights - neither sincerely - they headed off in their own directions. Gabrielle sighed as she lay in bed. Where was Xena? The bard was too scared to go off and look on her own - she knew that the Horde was advancing on territory all around the woods. Gabrielle was scared, but she knew Xena could stop them. They were looking for water, and the only was to appease the fight was to give them what they wanted. Everyone knew that, but no one wanted to give up anything.

Late that night, Gabrielle heard a few sounds coming from the room next to her. Gabrielle was a heavy sleeper, so she was surprised that these sounds would wake her up. The bard eventually brushed them off, figuring that Danaka was just being her "take charge leader self". Shaking her head and rolling her eyes, Gabrielle fell back asleep.

That next morning, Gabrielle awoke to commotion coming from next door. Preparing her staff, she swung open the door still half asleep. There were villagers all standing around Danakaís room. People craned their necks to see over other peopleís heads. Gabrielle became curious of the crowd. Pushing through the crowd, Gabrielle came upon Danaka. She was on her bed, sprawled out and her body mutilated. Gabrielle covered her mouth to keep from gagging. Someone had just come in and killed her in cold blood. Gabrielle knew that this might have been her justice, if the warrior ever went to a judge in a city she tortured, but the bard knew when the right time was the right time. Gabrielle pushed back through the crowd and ran out to the gates of the village.

"Xena!" she called hopelessly.

"You know that Danaka girl?" a man tapped the crying girl on the shoulder.

"Yeah. Sort of," Gabrielle wiped a tear away from her eye.

"Are you Callisto?" the armed man asked.

"She thought I was," the bard answered slowly.

"I killed Danaka."

"What?"

"I am one of her soldiers, but I needed the money for my family. You see, a villager here told me to kill her, and he would give me four hundred dinars. I took him up on the offer, and killed her last night. I asked her for her last wish, and she gave it to me."

Gabrielle stood there listening to the man, shocked at the easy confession.

"What was it?" the bard said softly.

"It was that you would take her place. That you would lead her army. Will you do it?" the man asked after a short pause, close to pleading.

"Why did you kill her? I mean, besides the money. She was your leader!" Gabrielle said, confused.

"We hated her. She was mean to us. She never let us go home to see our families. A lot of soldiers tried to run away, but sheíd always find them and torture them."

Gabrielle looked at the ground. "Tell *my* army to be out in the field outside the village at noon today," the bard said.

He man grinned happily. "I will." He raced off, yelling to several men as he went past.

At noon that day, Gabrielle was facing many men, most were fidgety, and wondering what "Callisto" had called them.

"I have an announcement to make," Gabrielle said loudly. The men fell silent.

"I am not Callisto. My name is Gabrielle. I am a girl from Potedia, a bard - not a warrior. I told Danaka that I was Callisto to save Xenaís life. I feel bad for the lie, but something good has come out of it," Gabrielle continued.

"Yeah - Danakaís dead!" one man yelled. There were a few random cheers and agreements.

"I want everyone to go home now. Go home to your families," the bard finished. The men were stunned that someone was allowing them to do this.

"One more thing," Gabrielle spoke up as the men started to part. They looked back at their new leader. "If you find Xena, tell her that Iíll meet her in Potedia."

The men nodded, and started to go their separate ways. A few minutes later, Gabrielle was ready to leave. She had stocked up on food, ready for the long trip.

"Gabrielle! Gabrielle!" a former soldier ran up to her from out of the woods.

Gabrielleís eyes went wide as his face dropped.

"I found Xena. Itís not good," the man said sadly as Gabrielle glanced at his armor. It was covered in blood. The man collapsed, dead at the bardís feet. Gabrielle fell with him, too stunned to think or to do anything. Where was she now?

THE END