Darkness was everywhere around her; swallowing her like a chilled, oily quicksand. It embraced her senses and pressured her mind. Every thought she had was permeated by the contagious syrup. It was quiet, yet deafening. She took deep breaths and was surprised to not hear a single noise coming from her lungs. She exhaled quickly, trying to provoke the silence with no success. She was helpless; the darkness slipped between her lips and down her throat. She gagged on nothing, feeling so completely overwhelmed by the pool of darkness she was drowning in.
A harsh jerk pulled her from the silence, she felt the whoosh of it coming back up and out of her. It pushed her away like a scorned lover and shoved her to the ground. Disoriented, she hit the cold floor with a thump and gasped for breath. The back of her head burned with a fiery pain from the impact and for a brief moment she believed herself to be dead. Many hands wrapped around her and rolled her over. The harsh sunlight burned her at her eyes and she prayed for the darkness to return. Her vision was blurry, a kaleidoscope of nature and bodies.
Arms made their way under hers and she was pulled to her feet. Many voices rang out but she was not coherent enough to recognize any of them. She felt her head grow heavy as she finally succumbed to the siren's song of slumber.
Some time later, a cooling sensation woke her from her sleep. Slowly, and with great difficulty, she opened her eyes and found that the bleary eyesight from waking up would not dissipate no matter how many times she blinked it away. The world around her was pitching to and fro- bringing up the seasickness that had not plagued her in decades. Mostly because she hadn't set foot on a godforsaken boat of any sort in many years. She felt her breakfast climb higher and higher. She slammed her eyes shut, praying to anyone to end her pain.
"Hey now, don't move," A voice whispered in the blurry room. Was it Lila? The cooling sensation happened again. The splashing sound of water seemed so far away as the damp cloth was placed over her eyes again.
"Wh-" She tried to speak but the pounding behind her eyes started it's drumming twofold.
"You were knocked out of a tree, Gabs. You're getting too old to be running with the children. I don't care what lesson you were teaching the kids. Let the teacher you hired do her job." Lila, lectured her once more.
Gabrielle just grunted in response. Being unconscious was looking better than being scolded like a pup. Lila was the only person who could make her feel like a petulant child.
After a few beats of silence, both women sighed. Gabrielle shut her eyes and grabbed a pillow from the stack next to her and placed it over her eyes.
"Okay, be like that. You're always so quick to get defensive! Oh, and before you throw a tantrum. Yes, your scrolls made it from Virgil. Everything is okay. Sleep." Lila stood and left the room in a huff.
Gabrielle exhaled slowly, hoping to ease the pounding in her head. It had been a long time since she'd been taken so off guard. It was really her fault for not being aware of her surroundings. She was teaching the youngest class how to hide and call each to each other in the trees. She was right in the middle of explaining how to listen beyond the natural noises when she'd spotted Kalliope and the messenger boy on the edge of the woods. Those two beats that she spent trying to see what they were doing ruined the whole rhythm of the lesson. At least she showed the girls what not to do. It was still blurry but she'd probably been knocked out of the tree onto the forest bed. Although by what, she did not know.
Her students, a gaggle of rescued girls from the a few villages away, were set to partake in their Amazon judgement in a few moons, so Gabrielle had been refining their skills by teaching technique thats would ensure that all of the girls passed. Then, after they all received their first weapons from their Blacksmith, they would be free to move on to the adult Amazon career paths like being cooks, scouts, or defense.
But, Lila's Granddaughter Kalliope was too young to participate and as someone who used to be in awe of the band of women warriors, Gabrielle understood the envy. The larger-than-life band of matriarchal warriors was so...romantic in a sense. She knew it was only time until the small girl would be interested in learning the Amazon Way but that she didn't expect that to happen so soon. Maybe she would talk to her niece Sarah about starting her into the new band of girls arriving. Perhaps after the Joining ceremony.
Many, Many summers ago, an emotionally beaten and very broken Gabrielle had washed up on the shores of Greece with nothing left to give. Her soulmate, her partner, her lover, her everything was gone. There was no purpose to life anymore. Her parents were dead, Cyrene was dead. She hadn't heard from Lila or Sarah in a very long time. She didn't even know what day it was - the time between the awful boat ride from Jappa and her stepping foot on Grecian soils was unknown. Still in mourning, Gabrielle spoke to no one and only ate when forced. Only once during her trip home was she visited by Aphrodite in a dreamscape only to forget most of it when she woke. This self-inflicted time of spiritual mourning carried on for quite a long time.
Penniless, emaciated, and emotionally vacant. Gabrielle went to the last place she'd felt safe - Meg's tavern. Even though Joxer was gone and Meg nowhere to be found, Virgil still was around and had a healing effect on the bard when he was near. When she'd arrived, he'd taken her into his arms and they'd wept for all they'd lost in the past. Soon, they packed their things and headed to Amphipolis. Every night they'd talk about their families, their loves, and make plans for the future. Sometimes they spoke of the Elysian Fields and how their relatives must be upset at how they were reacting. Sometimes they screamed at those who had left - especially those who willing sacrificed their precious lives. Occasionally one would wander off for some time alone. This made their journey pretty long, but with nothing to live for and no one waiting for them, who was in a hurry?