Destinies to Fulfill
The original general disclaimer in the first section is applicable to all future sections I write.
Warning: Nothing her worth mentioning, no violence, no sex...nothing...
Continued from Chapter 4
He was alive...barely.
Xena sunk to her knees not in exhaustion but under the staggering weight that she now carried on her shoulders. Blood gushed from a deep gash over his left eye and dripped from his nose and mouth. Xena had more pressure on her than she had ever known before and handled it the only way she knew how - head on.
In a few hours the sun would set and the coldness would set in which would be deadly for Hercules. They were a long way from the house without any equipment and most importantly without Argo. Xena knew she shouldnt carry him all the way back to the house even with Gabrielle's help, he was just too heavy and she was already knocked around. They had no blankets or flint to create warmth to ward of the chill of darkness and they were not exactly dressed for a night under the stars. If worse came to worse they could always share body heat but Xena was afraid that if she placed any of her weight on Hercules, his ribs, that were most probably broken could puncture his lung. No that was a last resort. On the bright side of a rather bleak situation there was three of them which meant that either Gabrielle or Xena could go and fetch Argo and let her carry Hercules.
Unfortunately it would take over three hours to travel there and back and they didn't have that much daylight to spare. If only she had insisted on building that bridge over the waterfall all those years ago.
With that last thought in her head, Xena began to formulate a plan. Who said they needed a bridge?
"Gabrielle, listen carefully, I need you to go and get Argo."
"But Xena it will take hours to get back here even if I ride Argo back !"
"Do you trust me Gabrielle?"
"Do I trust you...what kind of question is that?"
"I need you to cross the river here...It will save about an hour...we need to get Hercules to the house as soon as possible."
"I agree Xena but how am I going to cross here...you said yourself that you couldn't build a bridge here."
"Have faith Gabrielle...we need to move fast."
Without another word Xena climbed up the ladder faster than Gabrielle would have believed possible and before she knew it she was out of sight. Once up top, Xena pulled up the rope ladder and disconnected it from a branch before gathering it up in her arms. She took a deep breath and launched herself in the air and landed a triple somersault on the other side of the waterfall. Vibrations traveled from her ankles all the way up her legs as her body impacted with the ground. Not phased, Xena tied one end of the rope ladder to a near-by tree and swam back to Gabrielle, who was leaning over the still unconscious Hercules.
"Gabrielle, there is nothing that I can secure this side of the ladder too, so I'll have to hold it."
"What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to make your way across the water holding onto the ladder so you won't be swept away by the current. Once you get to the other side run just as fast as you can to the house and get as many blankets
and bandages you can find, also there should be a skin of port in the kitchen, get that too. Once you have all that put them on Argo as well as my sword, rope and my whip. Ride Argo, she'll get you here faster and come the same way we came this morning...OK?"
"Yeah I got it."
"Good...we have to hurry."
Gabrielle not needing to be prompted further, took a hold of the ladder with both hands and waded into the freezing water. The current was very fast and she understood how difficult it must have been for Xena to swim across before unaided. Xena held her end of the ladder taught while Gabrielle struggled to reach the other side. The water chilled her bones and made her limbs go almost numb but she still held on, white knuckled, to the ladder. Her feet finally reached the bottom again and she realized she was almost there. She stumbled onto the bank and sank to her knees, gasping and shaking. She needed a few moments to collect herself before she remembered why she had crossed the waterfall in the first place. She had a job to do. She looked back over at Xena hoping she didn't see how weak she already was but she was hovering over Hercules.
Gabrielle jumped up and sprinted into the forest hoping she would find the way back to the house - after all she did get lost only two days ago.
Xena removed Hercules' shirt and ripped it into several strips before using a piece to apply pressure to his head wound. He was in a mess. She conducted a more detailed examination of his wounds and found that among other things at least three of his ribs were broken and his left shoulder was dislocated. All of the injuries she could detect were the result of his impact with the tree and she could only guess what Zeus' thunderbolt had done to him. The King Of The Gods had obviously intended to kill her so the thunderbolt would have been deadly for an ordinary mortal and considering that she was no ordinary mortal she believed that it was possible for it to kill a demi-god.
What most concerned her was that he was still unconscious so she decided to try and wake him.
"Come on, I know your in there, open your eyes..."
Still nothing, she was shaking him now. She was becoming desperate.
"You never gave up on anything in your whole life...don't give up on me now...I need you...the world needs you."
She was close to tears.
"Please...just open your eyes."
Nothing. Maybe she was asking to much of him...she grabbed his hand.
"I know you're in there, squeeze my hand if you can hear me...please."
After what seemed like for ever, Xena felt Hercules' hand tighten around hers and she felt such a sense of relief that she would have jumped for joy, only she needed to keep focus.
"I want you to listen carefully...block out the pain and focus on my voice."
Hercules fought through the blackness that engulfed his mind. He wanted
to stay there forever...away from the pain that ravished his body and soul...but something was drawing him away. He concentrated on it trying to find its source. It was like a beacon calling to him. It was soothing, comforting even...like a light shinning its brightness into his being making him whole. He was mystified by it, he followed it away from the darkness into the blinding light.
Hercules' eyes blinked open and was blinded by the afternoon light of day and his body throbbed with pain. Xena laughed, delighted that he was awake.
"Sssh, don't try to speak, everything is going to be all right."
Xena said as if trying to reassure herself. "Its OK...everything is going to be all right."
She stroked his face before looking up at the sun who was not far from dipping below the horizon and wished for the hundredth time that Gabrielle got back quickly.
Gabrielle for her part had been running as fast as her legs could carry her for the better part of an hour and as the light dimmed so did her hopes. The image of her best friends face fluttered into her mind. She had never seen her so happy or at peace with herself as she was around Hercules. She remember how when they walked side-by-side the small smiles they would share and the way they seemed to compliment each other.
Hercules, the half mortal son of Zeus, strong brave and handsome. He was the utmost gentleman, kind, generous and forgiving. Xena, the mighty Warrior Princess, the Destroyer of Nations, beauty that could make a man tremble at her feet or sing the sweetest verse, courageous, strong willed, brilliant and capable of things that no mortal had the right to achieve. However as incredible as they both were, in ways they were more human than most people, their souls had been ripped to pieces on more than one occasion, both had shared more pain physically and mentally than a whole generation and there was a gapping hole in both their hearts that only each other could fill. To turn their back on such a love must have been impossible but somehow they managed it or maybe they had been forced to manage it. Their lifelines were somehow intertwined together by the fates and each time they met it seemed to be the most desperate of situations.
Xena approaching the very depth of darkness when she first met Hercules, unable to live with herself or her actions. In a short amount of time she would have given up and become a shell of a person if she had not killed herself already. They had found each other then and he had saved her from the evil which she was. The second time they met was when they had a common goal - to save mankind. Prometheus had been captured by the gods and mortals were doomed to lose the ability to heal themselves and fire which was a necessary part of everyones life. Now at Hercules' hour of need they had met again, maybe it was a pattern.
Distracted by her thoughts, Gabrielle's foot caught on a root and she tripped and landed flat on her stomach. As she slowly lifted her head she realized that she could see the house. She could have almost kissed it's
door if she wasn't in such a hurry. She sprinted the remaining distance and threw open the door collecting the items that Xena had asked her to find, at last when she thought she had everything, she saddled Argo and set off at a gallop. It was already almost dark and she hoped that she wouldn't be too late.
Meanwhile Xena was in the process of making a litter from branches and the like, tied together with the laces of both their boots. She sat next to Hercules tying of the last knot. Hercules was at the moment struggling to stay awake and she had tried talking and even singing to him to prevent him from slipping back to unconsciousness. The song she sang reflected her innermost feelings. She had made it up herself one night when she couldn't sleep. Her smooth voice echoed the song throughout the forest.
"You are doing great...just hold on." Xena pleaded. After being the invincible Warrior Princess for so long it was hard to just sit there and do nothing. She felt so helpless.
"Xena?" Hercules mumbled.
"Yes, I'm here..." She put in as much confidence as her voice would allow.
"This is not the nicest way to spend an evening with a beautiful lady." Xena couldn't help but laugh. Through all the pain he was undoubtedly in, he still tried to lighten the mood with a feeble joke. Just to keep him talking she decided to play along.
"Oh yeah...aren't I good enough company?"
"Your the perfect company but I'd rather be doing something else."
"In front of an open fire. Just you and me. The burning flames painting your smooth skin with a deep orange glow."
Xena involuntary shivered "I'd like that too."
"But instead we are freezing our behinds off in the dark."
Xena thought for a moment. "I tell you what, WHEN we get out of this and you are all better, I promise you the night of your life."
Hercules laughed which gave Xena hope. "I'll look forward to it."
"So will I" Xena whispered.
Continue on to Chapter 6
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