The Amazon Camp
The Amazon Camp
"Xena, face it, they're gone. The tribe's moved on. I mean, what could we expect? It's been twenty five years."
"No. They're here, somewhere. Yakut said we'd find them at their camp. Maybe this isn't the right place."
"It has to be. We just passed the waterfall where they caught Joxer spying on them while they bathed. Remember?"
"I remember. But are you sure the camp was right here?"
"Xena, I know my sense of direction isn't as good as yours, but I'm sure. I recognize that small depression. It was where the communal fire pit was. And over there, that rise. It's where they had the totem that assured the return of the longer days after the winter solstice."
"Maybe they haven't gone that far. It wouldn't make sense to abandon such a valuable water source. Let's do this, since it'll be sundown shortly. We'll make camp, get a good night's sleep, and tomorrow we'll start searching in an outward spiral pattern. If they're anywhere near, there's no way we will miss them. Or their tracks, anyway."
"That makes sense. If you want to start unpacking the horses and setting up the camp, I'll gather firewood and get water from the falls."
By dusk, the campfire was blazing away, a defense against the very cold nights that they both remembered. And for extra insurance, they decided to join their sleeping furs so their combined body heat would keep them warm when the fire eventually died down.
It was barely daylight when both Xena and Gabrielle woke up -- abruptly. Even before they were fully awake, they knew they weren't alone. Standing on the other side of the smoldering campfire was the shaman they had been looking for. He was standing as if he had been there all night, waiting patiently for dawn, and for them.
And as the two women got to their feet and looked around, they discovered they were in the midst of the Amazon camp they had been searching for.
Seeing the confused, and possible aggressive, looks on their faces, especially Xena's, he spoke, "I am Morgar. Yesterday Yakut told me you were near."
"Wh-where did you all come from?" Gabrielle asked. "This campsite couldn't have been set up over night, we would have heard you."
"We were here all along. But not knowing if you two were Xena and Gabrielle, I used magic to – hide our presence. After you fell asleep, I gently examined your thoughts as you dreamt."
"You can do that?" Xena asked, a bit alarmed. "You can read our thoughts?"
"No. Not thoughts as you think of them. More like feelings that accompany the things in your minds. The love and respect you each hold for the other made it easy to determine who you were."
"And you made us think there was no one here?"
"No. I altered the … I'm not sure how to explain it. It's like I made the camp and these women not exactly in this world, but not fully in the … Other World. Not there so much that I couldn't bring them back into this world. But it was enough that to you, there was nothing here."
"What magic you possess," Gabrielle said, with awe tinged with fear in her voice.
Before Xena could say more, one of the more decoratively dressed Amazons stepped forward. "I am Yakutamor. I am queen of this tribe. And I welcome you both. Your names are legendary and we are honored to have you in our camp. Would you humble yourselves to join us at our morning meal?"
"Of course," Gabrielle answered. "And the honor is ours. I am so happy to see your tribe has prospered and thrived."
Yakutamor bowed her head in acceptance of the compliment.
"Xena, why don't you and Morgar talk about why we're here? I'd like to know more about what's been going on since we left."
"Sure. You catch up on ancient history, and I'll see about what it's going to take to save our lives."
"That sounds good," Gabrielle answered absently as she and Yakutamor walked toward the center of camp, their arms intertwined.
"Your friend seems to have found comfort with her sister Amazons. I take you were never initiated into the tribe?"
"Nah. Too much sisterly bonding and sharing and communal togetherness to suit me. I can see how it would be good for some women, but I like to be free."
"And you can have Gabrielle all to yourself, as well?"
Xena looked at Morgar curiously, then replied, "Yeah, that, too."
Then turning away from retreating the Amazon duo, Xena asked, "So, what's this great evil that wants to kill Gabrielle and me?"
"For someone who has traveled so far, you seem very unconcerned about your and your friend's impending deaths."
Xena smiled patiently. "We have been threatened before. Attempts have been made to kill us countless times. And we even survived a twenty five year sleep. So, unconcerned? No. But curious, and interested, yes."