She shouldn’t have eaten those berries. She gave a deep sigh.
“ My first day back in Greece and I’ve poisoned myself.”
she squinted up at the blinding sun and gritted her teeth. Her blond
locks were darkened with sweat, and she grimaced in pain as another
wave of cramps hit. She leaned forward and moaned, then straightened
again with determination.
The swaying of the saddle beneath her only aggravated the nausea, growing
worse with each step until she abruptly pulled up the ambling grey mare.
“Ok girl, ok, I’ve got to get off this four-legged boat
for a while.” she muttered and weakly slid off to the side, holding
onto the saddle for strength. It was getting worse. She wiped the sweat
off her face.
“Hot, how did it get so hot…” her knees gave out from
under her and she rolled to the side of the road. It was going to happen,
as much as she hated it, it was going to happen.
She was going to throw up. She crawled into the grass and gave in, hoping
for relief. The mare, seeing her chance, wandered a few feet away and
began to nibble at a patch of clover.
“Oh, how can you think of food at a time like this?” she
groaned at the mare, between heaving spells.
She stopped and listened. Someone- no several horses were approaching.
She tried to stand but fell back weakly.
“Well, I guess this is it. Poisoned and robbed, maybe killed,
all in one day. Welcome back to Greece, Gabrielle.” she rolled
to her knees again as another heaving spell overcame her, dry heaves
that made her sweat all the more. The horses were close now, and she
could hear men talking. One of them gave a shout and she knew she’d
“Halt! By the heavens, what is this?” the man that spoke
was of some rank, wearing a gold and blue cape. He looked at Gabrielle
with curiosity, then a faint smile graced his face.
“It appears that both you and your horse are grazing?”
Gabrielle smiled back weakly, and then coughed and heaved again.
“Gareth, it appears the grass does not agree with her.”
one of the men piped up.
“Indeed not.” Gareth dismounted and walked over to Gabrielle.
He surveyed the area and sighed.
“I am sorry for joking. You appear quite ill.” he knelt
down, and Gabrielle looked up at him. They exchanged glances and he
knitted his brows in thought.
“You look familiar.”
“I look awful, actually,” she managed weakly, “and
yes, I feel we’ve met before.” she turned away and coughed,
trying to contain the heaving.
“I’m Gareth, the commander of King Quentain’s royal
troops. Perhaps you’ve been a guest at the court?”
“Oh- yes, I was there several summers ago. When Xena and I….”
her voice faded as the coughing began.
“Xena! That’s it- you’re Gabrielle, why I remember
you told us a wonderful story. Well, the least we can do to repay you
is offer a stay until you’re well.” He looked around casually.
“ Where’s Xena?”
A sudden sharp pain and another wave of nausea rocked her and Gabrielle
threw up again, then passed out.
“ Well Gareth, you’ve got quite a talent. That’s
the second woman you’ve found by the road this week!” The
soldier laughed loudly, waking Gabrielle who stirred and realized she
was wrapped in Gareth’s cape like a baby as he balanced her in
the saddle in front of him.
“I’m sorry.” she whispered.
“Everyone gets sick now and then. The servants will clean the
cape. Excuse me. Guards!”
Several men ran over to help set Gabrielle down from the horse. She
stood shakily, taking in her surroundings. The old grey castle looked
the same, but something was different.
“A stockade. You built a stockade?” she mumbled.
“We had to. I’ll tell you why later. Take her in and see
that she’s treated as a guest of the court.” Gareth nodded
to the guards, then rode off, Gabrielle’s horse trailing behind
him on a lead.
The smell of old stone hit her nostrils as she entered. Every little
scent made her ill. She shook her head and pinched her nose shut as
she was escorted up the guest stairway to her room.
“I don’t think you smell all that bad, miss.” the
servant girl whispered conspiratorially and smiled. She held out her
hand to steady Gabrielle. “We’ll get your bath water and
you’ll be clean in no time!”
“Oh.” Gabrielle let go of her nose, not wanting to explain.
“Of course, thank you.”
They had reached the top of the staircase, and the girl pointed to her
“That’s you, third one in. I’ll be back with your
water.” she cleared her throat. “Um, I was wondering, where’s
the other miss? You know the big tall one? Will she be along later?
Cause if so then-”
“She’s dead.” Gabrielle interrupted the girl, her
“Oh miss, I’m sorry, why she was your sister, wasn’t
Gabrielle stared blankly ahead, and shivered. The girl reached out and
patted her shoulder.
“I’ll be back with your water.” she said quietly,
and turned back down the steps.
Gabrielle remained on the landing, and shivered again.
“She was so much more…” she whispered, and pulled
the cape tightly around her shoulders.