All disclaimers and notes are in earlier parts
Chalice of Blood Part 4
Teyah ran to the warrior and lifted her head. Xena was breathing but very shallowly. The captain sent one of her crew below to get some water and Teyah began to slowly move her hands over Xenas body just above the skin, not touching just feeling her energy. There were a few scratches and one fairly deep gash on her leg where someone had reached out as they fell but the greatest damage was to her back.
Where the barrel had hit her, the bruise was already spreading and her spine was visibly out of alignment. Teyah asked the captain to hold Xenas feet after Teyah turned her over on her stomach. Taking a grip under her arms Teyah pulled against the captain until the whole ship heard a loud crack. Then she straddled Xenas hips and with deep concentration she held her hands over Xenas upper back and the other women could see a light begin as a small glow near her palms and spread from her hands until Xenas whole back was alight. After several minutes, Teyah opened her eyes and the light disappeared, she again seemed to examine the area with her fingers, not touching but feeling every muscle and tendon nonetheless.
Xenas breathing became normal gradually and the other women who were watching released a collective breath they didnt even know they held. Teyah stood and asked the captain if they could move Xena into her cabin now instead of tomorrow and she agreed. Three of the larger crewmembers offered to help and they carefully moved the unconscious warrior down into the cabin. Teyah left to get Gabrielle.
When Gabrielle saw Xena leave with Teyah she had looked over at Palaemon and raised her eyebrow in question. He shrugged his shoulders. She returned to her story and tried to regain her momentum, but in the back of her head she worried about what could be happening.
She was just finishing her third story when she saw Teyah come in, the crowd was applauding and yelling for more but as she watched and Xena didnt appear Gabrielle begged off and left the stage hurrying back to where the other two were. "Wheres Xena?" was the first thing out of her mouth as she reached the tall redhead.
"I think we should all go to the boat tonight. Palaemon they will let you sleep onboard for the night. Get your stuff and I will meet you both down here in a few minutes." Teyah said as she disappeared up the stairs.
Gabrielle ran behind her to the room she was going to share with Xena, and threw the few things she had unpacked back into the bags. She grabbed all of the bags and her staff and rushed to meet the others. Palaemon was the first to return and he explained to the innkeeper as he paid him.
They all walked briskly to the pier as Gabrielle tried to get Teyah to explain where Xena was, "She is waiting on the boat, we need to hurry," was all Teyah would say.
As Gabrielle entered the cabin and saw Xena on the bed she gasped and dropped what she had been carrying as she rushed to her friend. They all heard a moan as Xena tried to open her eyes, looking up into the anxious green eyes of the bard she smiled and said, "I must be in Elysia."
Teyah walked over and tried to explain to Gabrielle as Xena raised herself carefully higher on the pillows. "There was some trouble here on the boat and Xena was injured. I wanted to get you back here as quickly as possible and not alarm you too much. I knew that if I tried to describe her injuries your imagination would run wild so I didnt say anything."
"But what happened, where is she hurt?" Gabrielle said as she looked closely at her friend. "I need my pouch with the stitching supplies for that leg. But there must be more "
"Gabrielle, Im all right," Xena said. "Just stitch the leg and Ill be fine."
Teyah moved over to the dark warrior and with one touch to her back Xena groaned loudly, "I dont think you realize quite what you have been through, my friend." She said, "I think your neck and shoulders will be a little stiff for a while, but you should be fine."
The captain came to the door of the cabin and looked in, seeing the people a little cramped but comfortable in the small cabin she said, "I hope everything is all right in here, we werent expecting you until tomorrow but what an entrance you made Xena! That thing with the fireballs was truly spectacular. Youll have to show me how to do that some time. See you all in the morning. Palaemon, you can make yourself comfortable anywhere on the deck, there is some cloth in bales in the forward area, it should be soft . In the morning then." And she was gone.
Gabrielle looked at Xena, and then at Teyah, "Fireballs?"
The two of them looked at each other and Teyah said, "Well I must check my room, it will be an early morning." And left.
Gab looked directly at Xena green eyes nailing blue and said, "Fireballs?"
"Well yeah, things got a little sticky there, and Teyah sort of suggested that I try the energy thing and, well, I did."
"The energy thing? Like in Chin?"
"Yeah, sort of."
"I thought you said you couldnt do that any more. You said it was lost or you would have used it against the Persian army."
"Well I didnt have it anymore, or rather I wouldnt have it if it wasnt for Teyah. She sort of fed me the energy and I directed it. It worked very well actually."
"What happened exactly. I mean why were you here at all?" Gabrielle still wasnt to sure about the events surrounding the "energy thing," and she wanted to understand it all.
"Well, you were up starting to tell that story about Herc and I, and Teyah came in to get me. She said she knew that the Gray Dragons men were going to attack the boat so we came down here to stop them. Things were going fine until I got hit by something big, in the back and I went down," Gabrielle started to tense up, she reached for Xenas arm and Xena put her hand over Gabs. "Dont worry it all worked out."
"Go on, dont stop there for Elysias sake!"
"So, I was down and I must have been dazed a little or something but I heard Teyah say Use the energy or something and I felt something pulling me up. Well I reached for it and it was there. I took care of the rest of the bad guys and then there was this voice. Then I passed out and woke up here." Xena ended with a smile.
"What about the voice? Who was it? What did it say?"
"Thats enough Gabrielle, I dont remember. You better stitch this thing up before I bleed to death. Why are we all on the boat and not at the inn?" Xena tried to change the subject.
Gabrielle realized that the Princess wasnt going to give any more details so she began to work on stitching the leg. As she worked, it dawned on her that they were alone for the first time in a long time. She began to relax in her friends company, and she looked around the room for the first time. It wasnt big, but big enough, cozy. The bed was suspended from the ceiling with thick strong ropes so that it would sway with the motion of the ship. Gabrielle turned a little green at that thought but kept her mind on what she was doing. When she finished tending to the leg she gathered up the healing supplies and taking them over to the pile of other bags she began to unpack their things and search for her sleeping clothes.
"You gonna change tonight or just sleep in those?" she asked her dozing partner.
"Id better change, not a lot of laundry service on this cruise." Xena responded with her sideways grin.
Gabrielle found both sleeping shifts and brought the larger one over to the bed. As she turned to change into her own, she asked, "Could we talk about something else?"
"Sure, anything." Xena replied with a wary glance at the bard.
"Have you noticed a change in me lately?"
Xena looked up at her, and saw that Gabrielle was looking out the porthole, waiting. Xena took some time thinking about her answer. Has she changed? Yes she has For the better, or did I prefer that light hearted, chattering girl? She has become quieter, more intense, more in control. Should I say that?
"Yeah, you have changed, Gabrielle," she finally answered softly.
Gabrielle turned to look at her and moved over toward the bed. "Is that a good thing do you think, Xena?" She had a puzzled look on her face.
"How do you feel about it?" Xena asked her carefully.
"I feel very different . I have become very sensitive to everything around me. Teyah has taught me to use all of my senses, I can hear better, see things I never noticed before, smell changes in the air. I can even feel people around me, how they are feeling, their anger or frustration. I didnt notice it so much when we were traveling, but today yesterday, in the market I could barely stand to stay because I was so surrounded by people. Is that how you feel? Is that why you dont like to shop with me?"
Xena thought about what the younger woman was saying. Since she was a child herself she had seemed to know how people were feeling, almost what they were thinking. Not just a vague sense of the atmosphere, but a sharp, clear knowing which invaded your own sense of self. She knew how Gabrielle felt, and where this could help the warrior, she saw how it could be a hard burden for the bard, because of her kind, gentle, heart. Unless she could find a way to channel it into her stories, use it somehow. "Yes, I know what you are talking about, Gabrielle."
"Will it always be so hard? Will I have to learn how to close myself down, and close them out like you do? Im not sure I could do that." Gabrielle reached out to her friend and touched her arm, to soften her words. "I almost wish we hadnt ever heard of the Chalice, or this mission."
Xena smiled sadly at the green eyes, and pulled her friend onto the bed for a hug. "I know, I sometimes feel that way too. But we did, and we have taken on the responsibilities involved. If you are having trouble with your new awareness, talk to Teyah. She can help you. There is much more to learn Gabrielle. This new awareness is painful and distracting but you will get through it and learn to work with it. Give it time . Right now though, I cant get changed by myself. I dont seem to be able to move much. I guess I am a little stiff after all."
Seeing her distress, Gabrielle immediately felt ashamed for not noticing that Xena hadnt moved much at all. Being so involved with her own problems Gabrielle had left the stoic warrior unattended. "Im sorry Xena. Here I am telling you how sensitive I have become to the feelings of the people around me and you are sitting there suffering while I am blathering about my problems. What can I do to help you?" She gently moved off of the bed and came around to help her injured friend.
"I would like you to help me get off of this bed and get these leathers and tunic off. At least they took off my breastplate ." Gabrielle helped her off of the bed and unfastened the buckles of her leathers. "Good, now look at my back and tell me what you see." Xena said as she turned around carefully, trying not to let the nausea show.
At Gabrielles gasp she turned back around and smiled, "That bad, huh? Well I guess Teyah was right, I wont be jumping up into the riggings to help the crew for awhile." She gingerly reached for the sleeping tunic and said, "Now please bring my healing supplies I think I have something in there that will make things right by morning, or at least let me get some sleep."
Gabrielle brought the pouch and as Xena was looking through it for the right herbs Gabrielle took another look at the bruising on her back. "This looks bad, Xena, but it already looks like its healing, the colors are changing from purple to yellow already. I knew you healed fast but this is unusual even for you."
"I heard them say something about Teyah and a white light when they were bringing me down here. I guess she is handy to have around after a fight." Xena said as she handed Gabrielle the herbs. "Please find some hot water, probably in the galley, and brew this stuff for me. I should be good as new in the morning."
After helping Xena into her shift and getting her settled back on the bed Gabrielle left.
Xena lay there thinking about how she would talk to Teyah in the morning and maybe get more involved in the training the bard was undergoing. Teyah just didnt understand how Gabrielle felt about life. She didnt realize how full of love she was. How innocent, and trusting and easily hurt. How sensitive, and joyful and Well she just didnt understand.
When Gabrielle returned she helped Xena to swallow the mixture then crawled into the bed and curled up next to her, falling asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.
Palaemon had gone up to the deck and found a soft place to bunk for the night. It was still early so he wandered around the deck until he found a crewmember that was on watch. There were a few scattered around the rail, the captain not wanting a repeat of the earlier altercation.
They talked for quite awhile and Palaemon learned all of the details about the fight earlier. The one thing that really stood out in his mind was the description of Teyah standing absolutely still, staring at Xena, as the warrior drew from her the energy to demolish the enemy. Over and over the phrase "she just seemed to glow with a beautiful white light" was repeated. Palaemon wished he had been there to see it.
Eventually he had gone off to find his soft bales in the front compartment and curled up to sleep, dreaming of warrior women.
The next day Palaemon helped Xena up to the deck. She wanted to be there as they left Greece. "Take good care of Argo, and stay close around here in case we need you. They may send a message for us, if they do you know what to do. We may be back sooner then we think. In any case take good care of my horse and be careful."
Palaemon stood on the pier and watched as the ship pulled away. The three women stood at the rail waving and he was reminded of something that he had heard Teyah say many times. It was like a mantram she had ended her meditations with and blessed her food with. Looking at the three of them, Teyah, Gabrielle, and Xena it seemed to fit. Reverently he said
"Let Light and Love and Power
restore the Plan on earth."
Leaving the bay they headed out across the blue waters toward Crete, the small island that was the gateway to the rest of the world from the east of Greece. They were going to Egypt, then down the Red Sea, and out to the Indian Ocean. Xena didnt want to get into the details with Gabrielle because it was going to be months of water and boats and she knew her friend would not be too happy to hear it.
The morning was spent in the cabin with Xena moving carefully, and Gabrielle clucking over her like a mother hen. By noon they were both about to go crazy and Xena insisted on returning to the deck. The captain and Teyah, talking near the rail, were surprised to see the warrior emerge from the doorway and approach them. Gabrielle was right behind and Teyah asked her, "How is the patient? Not very patient I bet. Looks like you have your hands full."
"We came up so that Gabrielle could get some fresh air," Xena said, as she watched Gabrielle poke her wrist.
Gabrielle looked at them sheepishly, "I uh dont do too well on the water. Xena taught me this thing with the pressure point in my wrist."
Teyah looked concerned but thoughtful, "Have you always gotten sick on the water? I remember you mentioning growing up near a port town, you must have spent some time on the water as a young girl."
"Well, I used to go out in my uncles boat when I was around four, and I dont remember being sick then, but as an adult I have never been able to see water and not get a queasy feeling in my stomach."
"Ah, well I think we can work on that Gabrielle, when do you want to return to our sessions?"
Gabrielle glanced at Xena, who was over talking to the captain, "I want to discuss that with you Teyah, I think things are changing a little too quickly for me." Gabrielle moved closer, "I feel as if I am loosing control of myself. Xena said I should talk to you about it. Im not sure that I like all of the changes that are happening. We have worked so much with concentration and you have taught me to be ultra sensitive to my environment. Too sensitive, I cant seem to shut it out. I had such a hard time at the market yesterday. Every emotion, every thought seemed to rush in on me. I was tired and irritable and I couldnt get away fast enough."
Teyah just smiled.
Gabrielle continued, "We have worked with the air elementals and now I can bring a breeze to our faces on a still day. We have worked with the water and now I can purify our water no matter where we draw it from, but how is any of this going to help us defeat the Sheran-Khan? I am changing, Xena noticed it too. She says I dont seem to smile as much, I have all but stopped writing my stories and I feel my identity as the person I was is slipping away. It scares me."
Teyah looked over at Xena who was standing near the rail gesturing at the rigging, "Lets go forward and talk about this Gabrielle." She led the younger woman toward the bow of the boat, past the large hatchway. When they got there they could see the blue water and the little islands that peppered the Aegean Sea. However the motion of the boat was exaggerated here in the bow, so Gabrielle immediately started to poke her wrist. Teyah stopped her and looking directly into her eyes asked her, "Why do you get sick Gabrielle?"
"I, uh I dont know."
"What happened Gabrielle?" her gaze very intense.
"I dont what do you mean? I nothing happened. What are you talking about?" Gabrielle was feeling very apprehensive all of a sudden.
"Something happened when you were little. When you were on a boat with your Uncle. Didnt it?" Teyah was standing very close to Gabrielle and she reached over and gently wiped her fingers across the confused girls brow. "I know it is hard to remember but you must think. You must try to see it "
Gabrielle felt like she was falling, she slowly drifted back and her body seemed to flow with the movement of the boat. Where before her body had seemed awkward with the movements of the boat, as if it was fighting it, now she seemed to become a part of it, moving naturally. Suddenly she was five years old and out on an adventure with her favorite uncle. She was telling a story to her cousin Alex, who was just four. He was so cute, with his black hair and blue eyes, he looked just like his dad. He loved to hear Gabrielles stories and she loved to tell them so he was her favorite little cousin.
She didnt notice the storm coming in fast from the east. All of a sudden the little boat was rocking wildly and she was being tossed around like a bobber. The waves were suddenly higher than the boat and were crashing over the sides. The sounds of the lightening and the smell of the sea were shutting everything else out for the frightened little girl. She looked over at her cousin to make sure he was all right. He was her responsibility and she began to move toward him. As she edged closer she saw a wave, bigger than the rest, rise up over the boat and begin to come crashing down. It seemed to reach in to the boat and scoop up her small cousin. When the water began to recede she saw him disappear over the side. She grabbed for him and just missed as she screamed for her uncle. Leaning way over the side she could just see the little boy struggling for a few moments and then he just went under the water and didnt come back up.
Her uncle had tied off the wheel and hurried to the bow where the children had been. When he saw Gabrielle sobbing and alone he knew what had happened immediately. Gabrielle saw his face contort into what she thought was rage and he reached for her. She thought he was going to throw her overboard too, so she screamed
Gabrielle was suddenly back on the boat with Teyah standing in front of her. She was terrified and shaking. Xena burst around the corner and grabbed her, looking quickly around for a threat of some kind. "Its alright Xena, Gabrielle and I were just trying to discover the cause of her seasickness. You will be fine Gabrielle, just relax and take a deep breath." Gabrielle was holding on to Xena for dear life and she didnt ever want to let go, but Teyah pulled her gently away and the three of them sat down with their backs against the railing. Gabrielle staying close to Xena, afraid to lose the contact that had become her security.
"Gabrielle, what happened to your uncle? What happened when you got home?" Teyah asked, not wanting Gabrielle to lose the memories again, knowing that she needed to remember this to clear one more thing from her subconscious.
"My uncle? Oh well, he . He was very sad, and he would never look at me after that. My Aunt, his wife had died giving birth to Alex and now he was alone. They didnt tell me then. But I found out years later that he took his boat out one day and didnt come back . If only I had reached a little farther if only it had been me, not Alex ." Gabrielle turned her face into Xena and said almost to quietly for them to hear, "I havent remembered any of this for years and years."
Teyah reached for Gabrielle and gently pulled her up so she was facing her. She took the girls hand and began to draw a symbol on the palm as she talked, "You were only five, Gabrielle. If you had reached farther then its likely you both would have been lost. And if you had drowned then you wouldnt be here with Xena." She talked on and on gently reminding the bard of some of the things that Gabrielle had done to help people and change their lives. She drew the symbol over and over in Gabrielles palm as she spoke and Gabrielle became calmer and calmer. Finally, she turned to Xena, who didnt have a clue what they were talking about, but was glad to do anything to calm Gabrielle. "Xena, could you sit here for a few moments until Gabrielle is better?"
"Sure." Xena answered as she put her arm around her friends shoulders and drew her closer to comfort her.
Teyah stood up and left them there, together.
Xena watched her go and turned to look down at the little blond, wondering what had happened. What had Teyah done to cause Gabrielle so much distress. Was this a good thing? She didnt think Teyah would hurt Gabrielle for any reason and it had appeared that the bard had done something or said something that had upset her. Perhaps a memory or a story, but what could have caused this much emotion? And that scream .
Gabrielle sat up reluctantly, and looked sheepishly at her friend, "I was just telling Teyah about something that happened when I was little. It was a boating accident and we think it is why I get so seasick." As if that would explain it all she snuggled back into Xenas arms feeling so safe and protected, and loved. They both sat there for what seemed just a few minutes and then the captain came around the cabin and apologizing for interrupting them, asked Xena if she could help the crew with something.
Xena reluctantly separated herself from her friend and asked her, "Are you okay? I can stay here if you want."
"No, no you go ahead. Im fine.," Gabrielle said with a smile,,,, "But thank you for asking." She winked at her. Xena offered a hand and as she stood up Gabrielle said, "See ya later, I think Ill go to the cabin and do some writing." Xena noticed that Gabrielle hadnt poked her wrist, not once, and she was smiling as she followed the captain.
Later, after dinner with the crew, and a story from Gabrielle, they all retired to their cabins. As Xena and Gabrielle entered they found a note on the table near the bed. DO NOT GO TO EGYPT UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE BURIED THERE
Both of them just stared at it for a few moments then Xena picked it up and as she left the cabin she told Gabrielle she would be right back. Gabrielle just stood there staring at the closed door.
Xena went straight to Teyahs cabin and asked her to come out on the deck. When they got there she showed the note to the tall redhead. Xena watched the other womans face for any sign of surprise. There was no change in her expression. Slowly Teyah spoke, "They know where we are, we have known that. But somehow theyve found out where we are going. Did you say anything to Palaemon about our first destination?"
With a shrug Xena replied, "He didnt want to know. I dont think anyone knew but the captain. Even the crew didnt know until we left the bay. Even now most of them have no idea."
As Xena watched, Teyah turned back to the water and just stared out at the stars for several minutes. Xena noticed that the other woman seemed tense and then she seemed to relax gradually, a little at a time, until finally she took a deep breath and let out a sigh. Xena released a big sigh almost at the same time and Teyah turned to her with a smile. "I have warned them. They will be ready." She turned to go
"Wait I would like to talk to you about Gabrielle," Xena said as she reached for Teyahs arm. As her fingers touched the skin of the other woman a spark jumped from Teyah up Xenas arm and she was grateful she was holding onto the rail or she would have been knocked flat.
Teyah stepped away and said, "Oh! Sorry, I wasnt expecting that. It takes a little while to discharge the energy after something like that. Please, it would be safer not to touch me at all. I am sorry."
As she tried to regain her balance, Xena quickly said, "No! I am sorry, I should have known better than to do something like that Sorry. Are you too tired to talk about Gabrielle? I have some concerns and since this morning she has been acting oddly."
"I know what your concerns are Xena and I understand. I have learned to care very much for your friend and I agree that it is asking too much for her to shoulder so much of the burden. I have made arrangements to get her some help. We will be adding another to our party in Egypt. But I will have to continue to work with her. I need to begin to work with you too. Perhaps tomorrow or the next day. I will be waiting for a message about the note. Right now I need to get some sleep."
Xena stood there at the rail and watched as Teyah left the deck and returned to her cabin. As she stood there she thought back on all of the unusual things she had seen Teyah do in the last few weeks. She is a very interesting woman, and I dont think we have even scratched the surface of the extent of what she can do. On that note Xena returned to Gabrielle who was waiting up for her, sitting up in the bed reading over one of her stories.
"What? . Oh! You mean the note. Teyah took care of it. She seems concerned but there is nothing we can do about it from here. We just have to be very careful and work hard to prepare for whatever comes at us."
"Oh...well, that certainly makes me feel better. Xena, I wonder what the extent of her abilities is. She seems to be surprising us all the time with new things she can do. Do you have any idea what she did the other day? She was sleeping near the fire. The fire was out. I wasnt really awake yet but I was feeling the cold and so I noticed that it was out. I heard a soft noise from where she was sleeping and suddenly the fire jumped back to life. It was a lot like magic but she keeps saying that she doesnt know any magic. How does she do that stuff? Is it like working with the elementals that she is teaching me? I guess fire is an element but she wasnt even awake, how could she be concentrating?"
Xena was watching the bard, wondering how to explain what she knew about their new friend. Should I tell her about the process of initiation? Would she understand? Do I understand? "She has gone through many years of training, many lifetimes actually. You are in kindergarten compared to what she has gone through. The training is extensive and very advanced. She has mastered all of the elements. Air, water, fire and earth, they are all tools that she can control. First she had to master herself though, her emotions, and thoughts. You wont see her react to anything. Even that note I just took her didnt get a reaction." Xena walked over to the bard and sat next to her on the bed. "I think she is going to change your training a little, Gabrielle. She mentioned adding another person to our group when we get to Egypt. For now lets just get some sleep. Tomorrow will come soon enough and my back is telling me I have been moving around WAY too much today."
Gabrielle jumped up to help her warrior change into her sleeping tunic and once again realized that she had been insensitive to Xenas pain. "Why can I feel everyones emotions but yours? I always used to be in touch with your every feeling and now you seem to be the only one I forget about." She gently and carefully helped Xena slide under the covers.
"Thats it exactly Gabrielle, my feelings are so familiar, you have lost touch with my input with all of the sensory input from strangers. You will find a balance soon and itll all work out. Dont worry, I know you care."
"Oh, I care all right! I am going to make a point of staying in touch with your feelings from now on! Xena, thank you for being so patient with me. Not just for these weeks of my working with Teyah, but for the years we have been together. I am getting an idea of just how dumb and insensitive I was and I wonder why you put up with me so long."
"Gabrielle! Dont ever say you were insensitive and dumb! I never saw you that way! You were always caring and sensitive. You were inexperienced and innocent, but you have a heart as big as all Greece and I never regretted having you with me. You have come a long way, learned to defend yourself and others and gained wisdom and experience on our journeys. Someday you will see how much you have added to my life and be as proud of yourself as I am of you"
Gabrielle looked dubious but she smiled the smile that Xena lived for and climbed into the bed. Curling up against the tall warrior she sighed and said, "I just hope I can do whatever is required to get through this trip and return to our routine with Argo and our friends." As she quickly fell asleep.
Xena couldnt fall into Morpheouss realm so easily and she laid there looking up at the ceiling thinking about the many times she had been grateful to have the little blond with her .
The next few days were spent with Teyah and Gabrielle continuing to work on and refine the bards focus and observation. Gabrielle became so aware of her surroundings and the people she came into contact with that she began to "hear" their thoughts. However Xena continued to be Gabrielles main focus when not engaged in her lessons. She was determined to show her warrior that no matter what else happened she was always there for her.
Teyah asked Xena to spar with her three days after the battle with the Gray Dragons men. Gabrielle objected, but Xena said she was up to it. As they took their positions, Xena with her sword and Teyah with her staff, Teyah suggested that Xena try to strike her, "and dont hold back! Ill be fine, believe me."
Xena hesitated but shrugged her shoulders and moved in toward Teyah striking first at her body. The sword was deflected easily and Teyah laughed. "Come on Warrior Princess, Dont worry about me." As she reached out and swung her staff at Xenas head. The staff didnt connect but as Teyah turned to deflect the sword again she jabbed Xena hard in the ribs.
Surprised, Xena jumped over the tall redhead and struck downward as she flipped but again all she got was a jarring knock on the staff. After a few more minutes and no more success she stopped and rested her sword on the deck. "How are you doing that!?"
Teyah smiled and cocked her head to one side looking at the baffled Princess. "I am reading your mind. I can tell what you are going to do as fast as you know it yourself. You have a wonderful strategic mind, Xena, and you think ahead clearly but you will have to learn to damper you thoughts or misdirect them while you fight or you wont last long where were going."
She moved to the rail beside Xena and looking off toward the East she said, "I will teach you how to think one thing and do another, and I will refine your own telepathic abilities. Yes, I know you have them. I have been aware of it since the first meeting in the council chambers." Xena looked confused again and Teyah continued, "You probably dont even know that you do it, do you? When it is something we have always done it just seems natural but, no, Xena, very, very few can actually read their opponents minds as you have always done and that is one of the secrets to your success."
Xena looked out over the water also and tried to understand what the woman was telling her. Yes, she always knew what the others would do before they did it. That was how she was always one step ahead of them, but she didnt realize she was doing anything unusual. She just thought they were slower, clumsier, less fit than she was. Realizing her advantage she was grateful for it and wondered how in the world Teyah was going to teach her to think one thing and do something else now there was a challenge!
Teyah just smiled and then after watching Xenas face she moved behind the leather clad woman and moved her hands across her back, not touching but sensing the progress of healing in the back. "You do heal rapidly Warrior. This injury should have kept you in bed for a month. Have you always had this talent?"
Xena turned around to face the questioner and smiled, "Yes and no. My wounds have always healed much quicker than others do, but this one should indeed have kept me down. I understand you helped it along a little the night of the battle. I wonder if you could tell me what happened that night."
"Thats another thing I need to talk to you about. We need to begin working on our plan of attack. It worked very well that night but we were lucky. I dont want to depend on luck when we face the Gray Dragon herself or the Sheran-Khan either. That night I was able to direct the energy to you because you were dazed by the back injury and didnt stop to think about what you were doing. I want to have a definite plan and be prepared for any possibility when we reach the White Mountain. If we work together there is no way that they can keep the Chalice. But we have to work very hard until then. For now though your back needs some more time. Just sit still for a minute, let your head hang down and relax "
Teyah returned to Xenas back and placed her left hand just over the worst part of the bruise. She closed her eyes and as she took a deep breath a light began to shine between her hands and the injury. Even in broad daylight it shown brightly. They stayed like that for several moments, neither of them moving, until Teyah opened her eyes and stepped back. Xena, who had felt a warm tingling and a flow of energy throughout her body felt the movement and straightened up, painless for the first time in days. Stretching she turned and looked curiously into Teyahs eyes, remembering what she had looked like so many years before, with her broken leg and her worried mother. "Why do you help me like that? After what I did to your family, how can you work to relieve my pain?"
Startled by the question and the tone Teyah paused before she answered. "Xena what is past is past. You will atone for your actions in the future. It is not for me to assign karma. I need your help now and you needed healing. That is something I could help you with. We must work together in total mental and emotional cooperation and I need you to forget that you ever met me before the council introduced us."
She moved to a seat and continued, "Our history was discussed before we sent for you and I told them that we could work through the past. Please let it go. It would only be a distraction. My family has moved on. Silvia knew who you were when you helped her to get a drink after the battle in the village and she told me later that she was a little fearful when she saw you coming toward her so soon after she regained consciousness. But you were only gentle and helpful. She forgave you in that moment Xena as I had already forgiven you long ago."
Taking the warriors hand she said, "Mother died years ago but she was very happy in the village. She always talked about you with compassion and hope for the future. When she met you, so long ago, and you helped us, she forgave you in her heart. So let it go."
Seeing Xena was unconvinced she added, "Let our past be a strength if you have to remember it at all. It was a turning point in my life. It was because of your armys attack on our town that my mother took me to the Village on the Mountain and I would not trade that experience for anything in the known or unknown world." With a smile, Teyah turned and left Xena standing there at the rail
During the lessons with Gabrielle, Teyah seemed to always return to working with water and air. The bard was working on raising an object from the bottom of a bucket, up through the water and up into the air. When the tall initiate demonstrated it she made it look so easy and Gabrielle was getting frustrated.
One afternoon Xena joined them. "Its harder than it looks, bard." Xena said with a look of sympathy for her friend.
Still focussed, Gabrielle put all of her concentration into it because Xena was there. Slowly the small rock began to rise up, up through the water, gaining momentum and finally bursting out of the bucket to float in the air above. As the bard broke her concentration there was a "plop" as the stone returned to the water and with a beautiful smile of victory Gabrielle turned to Xena and said, "That was wonderful! I was wondering if I would ever get it and then Wow, I just did."
Xena smiled and sat down next to the women. "How about some fishing, Gabrielle?" Glancing over at Teyah, and raising her eyebrow she asked, "Can I send a note to your teacher so she will let you come out and play?"
With a sigh Gabrielle picked the stone out of the water and studied it. "I dont think so Xena, I have so much more to do here. Maybe later."
Xena and Teyah both gave the bard a surprised look and Teyah plucked the stone out of her hand. "If you feel that dedicated to work it must be time for a break. Go catch some fish, and if you must practice try calling them up through the water like you just did the stone." Laughing, she left the two friends on the deck.
With fishing line and hooks, the two settled comfortably at the rail and looked out at the water. The sky was blue and the water was peaceful. There were some dolphins playing in the distance. Several minutes passed. Gabrielle started to fidget. She moved the box she was sitting on and tried to get more comfortable. Xena tried not to notice. Then Gabrielle pulled in her line to check the bait. When she threw it back out she caught it on the railing, as Xena untangled it she asked the girl, "What is it you want to ask me Gabrielle? I know the signs out with it? You know you can ask me anything."
Sheepishly Gabrielle smiled up at her friend, "I was wondering how much of this stuff you know."
"Well this stuff Teyah is teaching me. You seem to know it all already. How long were you at the Village on the Mountain?"
"A few months, and I didnt study the stuff youre working with. It just seems logical thats all. Listen, how much has Teyah talked to you about reincarnation?"
"Nothing really, it hasnt come up. I always wondered about that though. I wondered if we had ever known each other and if maybe that is why I could tell stories for as long as I can remember." Gabrielle felt a pull on her line but didnt pay any attention.
Xena noticed the slight jerk but waited to see if Gabrielle would do anything "I dont know for sure, Gabrielle, but probably you have worked with story telling before.. The Teacher said we have been together many times, in many lives. So I guess it is natural that we are friends now."
Suddenly the line was almost pulled out of Gabrielles hands, and startled, she yelped, "Hey! What is this a whale?!"
"Do you want some help with that, Gabrielle? You might get rope burns with a fish that size. Here, Ill tie the end of your line to the rail so you dont lose it."
Quickly Xena tied the line off and got a rag for Gabrielle to put between her hands and the line to prevent burns. She scooped up some water and poured it on the line and Gabrielle hands to keep them cool as Gabrielle started to pull on the line. "Slow and steady, Gabrielle, dont let any slack get in the line. This line is not for anything that big, I wonder what it is."
"I dont know but I hope its friendly. It is getting closer and closer and dont know if I want to meet it up close and personal. Maybe we could just let this one go huh?" Gabrielle suggested. She had never thought about actually catching something. The idea of fishing had just been an excuse to sit and talk with Xena.
"Hey! Not on your life! This ones big and youre gonna bring it all the way in!" Xena began to struggle with the line, helping Gabrielle drag the fish, or whatever it was, toward the boat. The rest of the people on the boat soon began to gather around the two women, anxiously waiting to see what was on the end of the line.
Teyah arrived and after watching for a few moments, she walked over to Gabrielle and whispered in her ear, "Talk to it Gabrielle, tell it to calm down. Concentrate, concentrate on the thought of it coming to you. Bring it in smoothly and humanely. Promise it a quick and painless death."
"Death! I dont want to kill it!"
Both Xena and Teyah looked at her. "What are you fishing for if it is not to catch the fish? What do you think we do when we catch the fish, Gabrielle?"
"I know, but not this one! I dont want to kill THIS one! Cant we just cut the line?"
"You have already done some major damage to him with the hook and all of this dragging Gabrielle, it would be easier for him to just end it here after this noble battle." Xena was not believing what she was hearing, this pacifist, harmless thing was going too far! Xena could admire the fish for the fight, but it never occurred to her to not eat him in the end. If they could land him. To Xena it was a battle, a challenge to be met, an adversary to overcome. Sure it was a noble fish but just a fish after all. "Cant you see he must sacrifice himself to you if you win this battle? He can fight and he still has a chance to win, but if you get him to the boat he has to give up and I bet he will feed the whole lot of us!"
Just then the crowd saw a very large something break the water about fifty feet from the boat. A strange squeal was heard just as it splashed back into the water and everyone heard the line snap. Gabrielle flew backwards into the onlookers and several of them landed on their backsides on the deck. A gasp and then a groan was heard from the crowd and then they all ran over to the rail to see if they could get a glimpse of whatever it was.
It jumped one more time about seventy five feet away and then it was gone.
Gabrielle lifted herself up from the deck and as she brushed herself off she noticed that Xenas line was stretched tight into the water. "Xena! There is something on your line!"
That night they all had fish, and lots of it, for the evening meal. The stories about "the one that got away" grew and grew until Gabrielle raised her hands for their attention and began to tell a story about how they had first met Palaemon. Many of the women had talked to him while he was on board and found the beginning of the story very hard to believe, but by the end they understood his worship of the warrior.
Much later they all retired to their rooms and Gabrielle helped Xena to change and crawl into the bed. Settling in beside her Gabrielle turned toward her friend and asked, "What do you think it really was?"
"What was what?"
"That thing I was catching today, or not catching ."
Xena reached over to turn out the lantern and stall for time as she tried to decide how much to tell her friend about her suspicions.
"Well Gabrielle, I havent really seen anything quite that big on a line before, but I have heard some stories about very large creatures in these waters."
Gabrielle sat up and smiled at her friend, suddenly sleep was very far from her thoughts. "Stories? Youve heard stories about sea monsters in this area? Tell me!" she demanded.
"I was returning from Chin many years ago, and the ship I was traveling in came upon a wreck floating in the sea. There seemed to be no one left alive and we couldnt tell how long it had been floating there. Two of the crew members and I jumped over to see if there was anything to salvage and I found a man barely alive in what was left of the cabin "
"Did he tell you about the monster that wrecked the ship? Was it big with long tentacles? Did it eat the other men?" Gabrielle was full of questions.
"Wait, wait! You dont like it when I interrupt you. Just let me tell the story."
"Okay, okay, okay, Im sorry."
Just then Xena went totally still. Gabrielle said, "I said I was "
"Shhhh!" Xena held up her hand to signal that she wanted the bard to be still.
Outside, somewhere on the ship, some man was sneaking towards their cabins. In her head, Xena heard Teyah tell her to stay in the cabin and wait for the men to come to her. Teyah also said she was going to go on deck and see if she could sink whatever little boat that they had come on.
Xena explained quickly to Gabrielle and then got up and dressed quickly. As she reached for her sword and chacram the door burst open and the first man through impaled himself on her blade. The bard was ready with her staff but the room was a bit small to maneuver so she tried to stay out of the way. They could hear sounds of other rooms being opened and knew that none of the others were prepared for the surprise.
They both left the cabin and ran to the first door they found. Inside a man was about to stab the captain but Xena taped him on the head with the broad side of her sword and he went down like a very surprised rock.
Gabrielle went to the next room and jabbed the next man in the kidney with her staff and when he turned she put him out with one strong jab to the chin with the end of her weapon.
The commotion was about over so Xena ran up on deck to see if she could help Teyah. Teyah was no where to be seen, but there was another man, unconscious lying on the deck.. Xena called out her name and ran to the rail. Looking down, she actually did a double take, then rubbed her eyes. She never told anybody what she saw.
Down below Teyah was knocking holes in the little boat that had carried the four men, from outside the boat. She was standing on the water as if it was solid, and bashing away at it, below the water line, with an ax. As it slipped below the water she calmly walked over to the ship and using a line dangling there she pulled herself up.
Xena just stood there and stared. Teyah sort of smiled sheepishly and left her there at the rail. Gabrielle walked over and tugged on Xenas arm to get her attention. "We have the second two tied up but what do you want us to do with the one that surprised you?"
"Huh? Oh! Um, we need to throw him overboard Gabrielle, and then I want to talk to the others." Xena said as she tried to catch up to Teyah, leaving Gabrielle at the rail.
"Wait! Xena! We cant just throw him overboard. We have to say something and wrap him up and ."
"We dont have time, Gabrielle." She was met at the gangway by two crewmembers carrying the dead man. "Just throw him over girls, We can mention it to Poseidon later Oh, and bring that other one down to the Captains cabin."
Gabrielle glanced at the women, and paused as if she was going to say something but Xena had already disappeared so she hurried after her.
In the Captains cabin the two men were just beginning to come around. Teyah and the Captain were standing over them when Xena walked in. She noticed that Teyah was standing straight but relaxed and she had her eyes closed. She knew instantly that Teyah was searching their minds for some clue about their identity and thought again how handy she was to have around in a crisis.
Xena stood just inside the door and when Gabrielle burst into her, talking a mile a minute about throwing the man overboard, both the Captain and Xena said "Shhh!"
Stopping abruptly, Gabrielle turned red, first with fury at being shushed for the second time that night, and then with embarrassment when she saw what Teyah was doing.
Teyah suddenly opened her eyes and shrugged her shoulders, "They dont know anything. They just found themselves on the little boat approaching our ship in this calm weather and felt that we would be easy pickings. One of them seems to have a strong urge to kill the bard but the one aimed at Xena must be the one I passed on the way in. Maybe the one from the deck will have more to add."
Continued in part Five- soon
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