Rating: Nothing more than a normal show.
Summary: Gabrielle heads to Africa for adventure. Little does she know, there's more in store for her than an average advanture when she meets one of the native tribes.
Author's Notes: I wrote this fanfiction about two and half years ago in response to a challenge set by the lovely Lady Leonie. I have just recently started writing fanfiction again so I thought I'd edit this story a bit and post it here at fanfiction.net for the first time. I set this after Gabrielle visits Egypt (after FIN) or shall I say "The Land of the Pharaohs". And just like the Xenaverse everybody speaks the same language, no matter where you're from. Anyway, enjoy!
Oh and warning...there are things in here that can be interpreted as Ares/Gabrielle is you choose to do so.
Gabrielle sighed as she watched Egypt fade away from her sight. She would miss the magical land, but there were always other places to explore.
She and Xena had been here in Africa once before, but then it was different, then, they were together. This time, Gabrielle was alone. She gently ran a hand over the urn in her satchel.
She had decided early on that she head for a different part of Africa than the one she and Xena had been to. So, here she was, along the Nile river on a camel heading south.
She had left Egypt as early as possible to stay out of the sun for a while. Unfortunately, it only took a few hours for the hot sun to come overhead. It was pure torture. Luckily, Pharaoh had insisted he give her plenty of water and food. If not for that, she would had surely died of thirst.
Stopping to rest, Gabrielle guided her camel underneath a conveniently placed palm tree next to the river. It was almost dark now. She didn't know if she should rest there under the tree with her flea infested friend or keep riding 'till morning.
Gabrielle's better judgment didn't take over. So, she decided to keep riding in the dark. That is, of course, after she gave her camel some water and rest.
Climbing back up onto the "saddle", Gabrielle continued, unaware that she was being watched.
Gabrielle opened her eyes. Cursing to herself, she looked around. She had fallen asleep and now she was lost. The river was no where in sight. Gabrielle couldn't help but think 'Xena would never have let this happen.'
To make it worse, there weren't even any sand dunes anymore to find her footprints. All that was, was tall grass that came up to her camel's knees.
"Great just great." She muttered, raising herself slightly off the seat to have a look around. In each direction all she saw was grass, grass, and more grass.
Since she was so sore from riding the stupid camel too long, Gabrielle got down and lead it by the reigns in a random direction.
It only took a few minutes for Gabrielle to realize there was something creeping up behind her. When a deep throaty growl was heard, the camel bolted away from her and soon out of sight.
She would have been more upset that all her food and water had gone along with her transportation, but Gabrielle was rather preoccupied with the fact that there was a a very large cat-like creature creeping towards her.
It was an tan color, with a huge gathering of bushy hair around its head and neck. It stood in front of her, knowing there was no possible way for her to get away.
Just as it crouched to leap through the brush onto its prey, a spear soared through the air and landed directly in front of its nose.
The creature obviously recognized the danger and sped away.
Gabrielle collapsed from relief and sat in the grass regaining her breath.
She put her face in her hands and began to weep. Things were so much easier when Xena was around. Why did she have to die?
She stayed like that for a good ten minutes. But her tears subsided when shadows fell over her.
Nervously, Gabrielle looked up. Her eyes squinted and focused in the bright sunlight on the five figures above her.
They were five men, dark skinned, like that of Cecrops. Not one of them had any hair, but each was extremely handsome. They all looked to be about twenty or thirty years old and very well muscled.
Each wore a small length of fabric around their waists and wielded a tall spear. Their chests were bare and they wore no shoes.
One of the men spoke.
"Areyou alright?" He extended his hand to help her up.
It took a few second for Gabrielle to process what was going on.
"Yes...Yes I'm fine. Thank you, for saving me, that is."
"Who are you?" She continued.
"I'm Adjatay. And this is Muenda, Ekundayo, Gahiji, and Dume. And you, beautiful lady, are?" The men bowed as their names were said.
Gabrielle blushed slightly at his compliment.
"My name is Gabrielle. I was traveling last night and I guess I fell asleep. Do you think you could tell me where the nearest village is?"
"We'll do better." Ekundayo finally spoke.
"We'll take you there." Dume smiled a brilliant smile. So, they started off. Gabrielle was extremely grateful for these men and their companionship. But what she did not know, was that all of what had happened had been strategically planned long before she had even arrived in Egypt.
The six arrived in a quaint little village half a day later. While they had been walking, Gabrielle learned that Adjatay, Muenda, Ekundayo, Gahiji, and Dume, were all part of their tribes hunting party. In fact, they had been hunting when they came across Gabrielle.
They had walked and talked for hours, simply enjoying each other's company.
The village they entered now, was quite beautiful. Small grass and mud huts scattered the town, while a long line of tall pointed sticks formed a circle wall around them. Gabrielle could see many other men and women throughout the village. Everybody stopped what they were doing to stare at her, but Gabrielle didn't mind, it was a thing she had gotten used to by now.
"Gabrielle this is our village, Eshe. It means life." Gahiji, who had remained quiet the entire trip, waved his arm proudly to show his home town.
"Come with me. I am to take you to the Wise One's hut." Muenda, Gahiji, Dume, and Ekundayo each gave Gabrielle a kiss on the back of her hand to say good-bye, while Adjatay lead her to a huge hut, one at least three times larger than any of the others.
Pushing through a long piece of fabric hanging in the doorway, Adjatay took Gabrielle by the hand and walked with her to where an old man was sitting in a circle on the earth.
"Gabrielle. I have been expecting your for quite some time. Come sit with me and my son Adjatay in this circle, while we talk." Although it seemed rather strange and unnerving that the man knew her name, Gabrielle complied.
As the three sat in the small circle, Adjatay's father leaned toward Gabrielle and peered into her eyes.
Gabrielle fidgeted under his heavy gaze, but let him continue without protest.
"Adjatay..." The man said abruptly.
Adjatay jerked his attention away from Gabrielle's face and back to hisfather.
"I would like you to take Gabrielle under your wing for a couple of days, teach and show her our ways."
Adjatay looked from his father to Gabrielle and back to his father again.
"Of course I will do this for you." He nodded his head as a sign of respect.
"Good, now leave us. I would like to speak to our guest alone."
Adjatay silently stood and just as silently walked out.
The Wise One again stared intently at Gabrielle. This time, however, Gabrielle spoke her curiousness as to why he was staring.
"I hope I'm not being rude, but why do you look at me like that?"
"I see great pain in you my daughter." The tenderness in his voice made the endearment go almost unnoticed.
Gabrielle simply lowered her head. Was it that obvious that she was suffering?
"Do not worry child. Adjatay will help you heal."
"I don't think anything or anyone can make me feel better right now." Her eyes finally met his.
He smiled. Somehow, his words and the caring in his voice were enough for Gabrielle to believe him.
"Okay." She gave in and answered.
The sunlight shone bright into Gabrielle's closed eyes, when she realized the flap to her tent was being opened.
After her meeting with the Wise One the night before, Adjatay had shown Gabrielle the hut she would be staying in. It wasn't much, just a short straw bed and a grass table, but Gabrielle was grateful for anything the simple people could offer.
"Come now, are you going to sleep the day away. It is almost mid-morning. We have much to do."
Gabrielle's eyes opened to find Adjatay, standing directly above her, with a huge smile plastered on his face.
"Alright, alright, I'm getting up." With that, she threw the light sheet off herself and sat up.
"Good, now let's go." He grabbed her by the hand and dragged out of the hut.
The sight Gabrielle was greeted with almost scared her to death. Literally right outside of her door, was a gigantic beast, at least the size a small house. It was a dark grey color with a long nose and big ears.
"What is that!" She exclaimed, jumping back in surprise.
"Do they not have elephants where you come from?" He scratched the thing behind its right ear and it made an extremely cute honking sound.
"I'd have to say no." Gabrielle slowly inched forward.
"Come here, she will not hurt you." Adjatay, in the end, had to pick Gabrielle up from the spot she stood and place her next to the large grey thing. Once Gabrielle started to pet it, however, you could not tear her away from it.
When Adjatay whistled, the elephant kneeled down on its front legs. He climbed up on its back and motioned for Gabrielle to do the same.
"Oh no, it took me years to get over my fear of horses. There is no way I'm going to get up on something much higher and much less stable." Gabrielle did not have a choice though, as the elephant used its trunk to hoist her up high enough for Adjatay to grab her and pull her on behind him.
Soon, Gabrielle warmed up to the idea of being on the creature and began to relax and listen to Adjatay as they rode out of the village and into the plains.
"Will you tell me why you hurt so?" Adjatay questioned as they rode the elephant across a shallow stream.
Gabrielle knew this was coming, so she had mentally prepared. But nothing she could have prepped herself with would help her with the actual reality of having to have the conversation.
"My best friend, she....well she died a few weeks back, and I.." She paused.
"You what?" He urged gently.
"I could've stopped it." The entire story then just came pouring out and Adjatay listened quietly only stopping every so often to hug her even tighter when the story got rough.
".....and she said she'd always be with me, but I can't even feel her even more."
"Gabrielle, of course she is with you. She is all around you, in everything you see and do."
Gabrielle smiled at the thought. Only Xena would have to be part of anything and everything.
Tears started to roll down her face. Quickly, she wiped them away.
"I'm sorry, crying is for babies." She muttered.
"No, you need to cry so you can move on in your life."
Gabrielle thought about it.
"And how long 'till I move on. Days, weeks, years, I don't think I will ever be able to forget Xena and what happened." The tears fell now more passionately.
"The trick is to not forget but to come to terms with it. The death and the bereavement wizen you, weather you, and make you look at life differently. In truth, it takes years before you can truly begin to turn to the future and have some peace with the past, but it will come."
His words were very comforting.
"I'm just so tired of hurting." He hugged her closer to his chest as they rode back to the village,
"I know, I know."
Gabrielle spend three days talking to Adjatay and the rest of the people she had met in the small village. Each taught her new things about love and life and each somehow got her retell the story of Xena's death over and over to them. Gabrielle soon realized that with every time she told the story, the weight of it seemed to lighten. She smiled when she finally realized what they had been up to.
The last night she was there, there was a huge pow-wow type celebration for a child had been born into their community. It reminded Gabrielle very much of the Amazon's dances. There was a huge bonfire fire in the middle of the village where all of the men and women danced around.
Running up to her was Adjatay. He was fully decked out in ceremonial garb. One of the women had even made Gabrielle an outfit for her to wear.
They braided Gabrielle's now shoulder length hair into long dangly locks and large hoop earring were placed in each of her ears. Her face had been painted with brilliant golds and reds, while she wore a long skirt to match. The top she wore was like that she wore in India but did not have any sleeves and it was red and gold. From her neck hung many hand beaded necklaces to match her earrings.
"You must dance with me." He grinned and pulled her from her seated position out onto the dance grounds.
All Gabrielle could do was follow Adjatay's lead. So, there she danced with him all night long until the sun rose the next day.
As the morning came, she knew she had to say goodbye. She was going to miss this place, but maybe one day shewould be back.
She stood facing Adjatay just outside the village, after she had said her good byes to everyone else.
"Thank you, for everything." Her eyes teared from having to say goodbye to this man.
"It was all my pleasure. But before you go, my father and I wanted to give you something that has been held with great honor among our tribe."
"My name?" Gabrielle's eyebrows quirked.
"Yes, from now on when you come here, you will no longer be Gabrielle but the name that we have chosen to honor you and show you who you truly are."
He took her hand and kissed it gently on the palm, then replaced his lips with a folded piece of parchment.
"Until we meet again." He whispered and placed three more kisses on her, one on each cheek and one on her lips.
"Until then." She whispered back. With that, she mounted onto her new found elephant friend that Adjatay had given her, along with a map and slowly traveled away from the refuge and home she had found.
Adjatay watched her go with sadness, but he knew he would see her again someday and that she would be all right with her protector watching over her.
The flash of blue next to him didn't remove his gaze from the young bard.
"Is she ready to go home yet?" The god of War questioned standing next to the man.
"Not yet," He said unmoving," but soon enough, she will be. Just remember to be there for her when she is." Adjatay turned and walked back into the village.
"Oh don't worry, I will." With a flash of blue, he was gone.
Gabrielle slowly unfolded the piece of tanned parchment in her left hand. Reading it, she smiled.
Gabrielle you are no long. Now you are:
She who perseveres.