A Different Kind of Rift - Chapter 8
As my eyes look upon you.
The fire of hatred fills my soul.
A fire that can only be cooled.
by the warmth of your blood on my hands.
After settling Xenas belonging at a modest lodging near the armys barracks Celeus escorted Xena to the infirmary. As they entered the stench of blood and death seemed to permeate the place. The infirmary was divided into two sections the first of which was for tending soldiers. Any officer of rank would be cared for in his private lodgings. The second section was where they currently stood which was used to treat prisoners. This explained the deplorable conditions.
Xena carefully looked over the room, seeing several men lying on small pallets, many whose wounds were covered in filthy bandages. Pigs deserve better then these men were receiving Xena thought. Although she had see worse in her time, Xena still was sickened by the treatment of these men. Xena was drawn from her thought by a hair-raising scream. Quickly determining where the sound was coming from Xena raced in the direction of the disturbing sound with Celeus following closely. Reaching an area in the corner that was blocked off by blankets draped over some rope in a vain attempt at privacy, Xena move the makeshift wall aside. Xena was surprised to see three men standing over what seemed to be a prisoner who was struggling to get up from the pallet. As she drew closer she saw the blood literally pouring from a leg wound where the white bone of his leg had broken though his thigh just above his knee. The prisoner struggled wildly as the others fought to hold him down. "I tell you the leg must be removed before you bleed to death!!" one of the men shouted at the prisoner.
"Wait!!" Xena yelled. "There is no need to remove this mans leg!" Looking into the frightened eyes of the prisoner. " This bleeding must be stopped, but I can do that without removing your leg. Do you hear me!! But you must calm down before you bleed to death! Quickly taking command Xena ordered the men to release the prisoner and to gather more water and bandages.
"What do you think youre doing WOMAN, you have no authority here!!" the apparent healer screeched. Then a firm hand painfully grasp the healers right shoulder, turning he came to face a stone faced Celeus.
"Leave her be or you will find yourself on one of these pallets!" Celeus fiercely threatened. The healers face turned pale at the threat and stepped back cautiously eyeing Celeus and Xena.
As Xena retrieved the compresses from one of the men she settled the prisoner down and using pressure points on the man thigh he suddenly calmed as the pain eased. Quickly Xena firmly grasp the mans calf and holding the torn thigh pulled with incredible strength resetting the bone with a sickening scrap of bone on bone as Xena set it back into its proper place. Then taking a needle and thread Xena made quick work of sewing the man's wound closed. Looking at the prisoner who was watching in awe as his leg was mended, Xena warned him of the pain to come. "Now I have to relieve the pressure points, you will feel a great deal of pain but it should subside quickly.. understand?" The prisoner could only nod, bracing himself for what was to come. As Xena released him he cried out loudly then passed out. Xena turned to one of the men and instructed him to bandage the wound. Turning, Xena faced the now pale healer, her eyes turned cold as she acknowledged him "We need to talk..NOW!!" Xena lead the way walking past the hanging blankets with the trembling healer and Celeus following.
Grabbing the now nervous healer by the collar Xena picked him up and threw him up against the wall. "Take a look around ..see these men?" The startled healer quickly eyed the room. "Yyyyeess." "You will see to these men properly or by Zeus I will have you laid out on one of these pallets myself with the assurance of enough painful injuries to keep you there for a full cycle!! Do I make myself clear!!"
"Yessss please I will see to it..just dont hurt me!!" The terrified man pleaded.
"One more thing! These are men not animals! Clean this place and show them the mercy of a healer!" Xena exclaimed as she released the man as he leaned against the wall for support. Xena then turned and left the infirmary. Walking up to the terrified man, Celeus whispered in his ear "If I ever hear of any mistreatment to anyone by your hand again I will personally cut your hand off myself." Eyeing the man seriously Celeus took a moment for what he said to sink into the healers mind. Then he abruptly turned and headed for the door. With all his strength drained the healer sunk down the wall muttering "Gods oh Gods!!"
"Xena!!" Gabrielle screamed again bringing Agnor running into her tent. "Gabrielle!!" Agnor cried as he eyed the darkened interior of the tent. Barely seeing a small body hunched over a table he made his way to her. "Gabrielle! Gabrielle!" he repeated lightly shaking the bard. Lighting the candle, Agnor once again called her name Slowly becoming aware of a voice and the bard struggled to consciousness, trying to become familiar with her surroundings. "Wha.. wher.. Agnor whats happening?"
"Gabrielle, you must have been having a nightmare. I was restless and just thought I would take a quick tour of the camp when I heard you calling out. Are you all right now?"
"Ya .. I think so aaa I dont remember what it was about. What was I saying?"
"You were crying out Xenas name. You gave me a real scare. Are you sure that youre ok?
"Yes, Thank you!! Im sure. It was just the some of the ships food taking its final revenge." Gabrielle stated wrapping her hand behind her head working out a painful kink "Ow! Guess that will teach me to use a table as a bed. I think Ill just make my way to that pallet and see if I can drift off to some sweeter realm of Morpheuss. Thanks for checking on me but you better head to bed yourself or neither one of us will be of any shape to help Boadicea."
"All right Gabrielle. Goodnight, pleasant dreams ..this time." Agnor replied with a yawn and headed out of the tent."
Making her way to her pallet, Gabrielles mind struggled to remember the dream. Xena gods I even miss you in my dreams. Lying on the pallet she closed her eyes and prayed to any god who was listening. Please keep her safe..I dont know what I would do without her. Please .. Gods .. I just want it to be the way that it has always been. Goodnight Xena .. where ever you are ..know that I love you ..my friend. With that thought she drifted off with a feeling of warmth and hope in her heart.
The morning came far to soon for Gabrielles tastes as she truly felt as if she did not have enough sleep. Stretching with a moan Gabrielle tried to ease the ache in her muscles. Then thinking of yesterdays event she recalled her conversation with Boadicea. Well I guess this is as good a time as any I know she wont be fooled and I need her to believe that this is not some sort of trap. Funny Boadicea is so much like Xena, proud and fierce. Maybe it might make sense to her ..Gods know I cant figure out why Xena is doing this. She must have a reason ..I want to believe ..I need to believe. All right thats enough of this! Time to see what I can do to help Meridian.
Stepping out of her tent Gabrielle was immediately approached by a soldier. " Boadicea asks for you to join her for breakfast in her tent." Nodding to the soldier, Gabrielle followed, trying to quite her nerves with each step. Making her way into Boadiceas tent she noticed a large platter of food on the table and heard Boadicea dressing behind a closed off portion of the tent where Boadicea had her sleeping area. "Sit down Gabrielle I will be with you in a moment." Boadicea called out. Quietly, Gabrielle made herself comfortable as Boadicea made her way out and headed towards the table.
"Now why dont you tell me about you and Xena, and remember, it is in your best interest to insure that you leave nothing out..this time." Boadicea reminded her as she began to fill her plate with food. Suddenly losing her appetite, Gabrielle began her tale.
As Gabrielle finished she noticed that she was closely watching Boadicea for any reaction. Boadicea seemed calm as her story unfolded; it reminded her of Xena and how she was able to hide all her emotions behind that warriors mask. There must be some special school for warriors that teach how to hide everything from pain to emotions. Taking a calming breath she said, "Now you see why I could not tell you the whole story with Meridian and the others last night."
"Yes, I can see how difficult that would have been. But I like you do not understand Xenas actions. Xena is many things but what you speak of is madness. Joining Caesar? I dont know if Xena ever told you but we know each other and I know of her hate for Caesar. There must be a reason for her behavior or by the Gods she has gone truly mad."
"I only know that I am here to find her and to help her no matter what it takes! She is my best friend and I will do anything I can to save her from returning to that darkness that once captured her soul." Gabrielle sternly replied.
"I will only promise you that I will only harm her if she provokes it. However, I warn you now that I will do everything in my power against her if I find that she has joined Caesar.. by this I swear." Boadicea explained.
"I understand. Just help me get to her if you can and I will do my best to bring her to her senses and find out what is going on."
"Well until we hear of her arrival there is still much to be done. I believe that a good start would be to free Meridians temple from the hands of Caesar, re-paying the debt to Khrafstar for his sacrifice."
"Please I really want to help if you dont object. I think I owe at least that much to Meridian. What do you have in mind?" Gabrielle asked.
As Xena strode purposely towards her lodging, trying to fight off the deep anger she was halted by a hauntingly familiar voice. Quickly, she dodged into an open doorway, peering out the slightly open door to view the men passing. Narrowing her eyes, as she focused on the man at the center of the group. "Caesar!" she whispered watching him pass with his entourage. Hate ceased her heart squeezing it tightly. As he passed from view Xena closed her eyes and fell back against the wall behind her as her heart beat wildly.
Sensing an all to familiar presence she opened her eyes "What do you want now Ares?"
In a flash of fire, a very angry god stood before her. "What in Hades name do you think your doing Xena? Didnt your hatred for Caesar cost you enough the first time? Why are you wasting time here? Your job is at the temple .. or have you forgotten your promise?" Ares spat angrily.
"Quite Ares!!" Xena cried. "I know what Im doing! This is none of your concern and I warn you if you want that cult destroyed stay out of my way!!"
"Quite this foolishness and do what you came here for .. destroy Dahak before its too late!"
"Whats Ares, afraid I will spoil you fun by sending Caesar to Tartarus where he belongs?" Xena spat.
"Caesar, may be one of my favored but unless you destroy that cult this argument is a moot point because we will all be in a living Tartarus!" Ares argued.
Holding back her anger Xena replied "Ares go back to Olympus, enjoy your ambrosia, while I do your dirty work. I know what I am doing and I dont plan on allowing anyone lest you to change my plans. Now go!! I have things to do."
Seething with anger Ares knew better then to push her and with a growl vanished in a flash.
Letting out a quiet sigh Xena turned and headed towards her lodgings. Knowing that it was difficult at best to keep from being identified amongst the now large number of Romans Xena knew she had to put her plan into action before she was recognized.
Appearing in his temple Ares bellowed with rage at the insolence of Xena. Pacing as he waged for control of his anger Ares was only further annoyed at the appearance of his nephew Strife. "Hey Unc, you a kind of like seem upset?" Strife meekly asked.
Raising his head and rolling his eyes Aries replied "Strife, you never cease to amaze me at your lack of perception for the obvious. Now what do want!" Ares barked.
"Weell I noticed that you and Discord have been spending quite a bit of time together recently and I figured that you were up to something and I would love to help you, I mean I mean Im sure that you can handle it but you know how I admire you and all and I really really want to make up for that little incident with Herc."
Trying not to remember how Strife had bungled the job of framing Hercules for his wifes murder Ares tried to figure what was worse letting Strife help or the persistent pestering he was in for if he didnt allow him to help. Letting out a slow hiss "Listen Strife, I tell you what why dont you go down and keep an eye on the a irritating blonde friend of Xenas."
With a wide grin and excited laugh "Great AAA sure Unc anything Ill just go down there and blend in. They will never know Im there."
Walking over to Strife, Ares firmly grabbed the leather covering Strifes chest "Just watch her!! You miserable excuse for a God!! Report back to me if she wanders into any trouble! That Blond seems to have a nose for it. GOT IT!!"
Strife slinked away from Ares as he was released "You got it Oh great God of War! Later!!" with that Strife vanished. Ares could only ponder what else in his plan could go awry.
Strife appeared in Boadiceas camp invisible to the mortals. Checking out the camp Strife looked for Xenas friend. Then he spied Gabrielle speaking with Boadicea and a dark haired woman. Strife made his way over to them walking through a few pesky mortals that were in his way. Yea, it was fun to be a God. Then he began listening in on the conversation.
"So we will strike at dawn. The soldiers should be tired and may have their guard down!" Boadicea explained.
"My people are not fighters but they wish to help in any way they can." Meridian pleaded.
"We could just ride in there but we might have a bigger fight on our hands. What we really need is a distraction to gain the advantage." Gabrielle stated. Suddenly a wicked smile crossed her face and she raised her brow as she thought of just the distraction. " I think I have an idea and your people can help me pull it off, Meridian."
Continued. . .
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