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The Amazons dance around their bonfire, feathers from their masks becoming a constantly whirling blur of color. Gabrielle watches the proceeding with fascination, her feet tapping to the beat. You look over at your friend, smile and asked quietly, "Why don't you join them, Gabrielle?"

Gabrielle gives you a quick grin and replies, "Because my ankle's still sore from twisting it during the last dance! But that's okay, I like watching them. When you're in the dance, you can't see the effect of everyone's efforts; you only know what you're doing, and maybe the folks around you."

"Can't see the forest for the trees, hmm?" you ask with an upraised eyebrow.

Gabrielle nods enthusiastically. "Exactly! I couldn't have put it better myself." Gabrielle continues to watch the dance with naked envy showing in her face. You watch the proceedings expressionlessly, though you do occasionally look at your friend and give a small smile at her obvious enjoyment of the festivities.

After a few moments, however, you hear a sound coming through the underbrush towards the village. A heartbeat later, the dancing comes to an abrupt end, and all eyes turn to the sentries coming into the village with a young woman in tow. Out of long habit, you appraise her for strengths and weaknesses. She looks to be in her mid-twenties, her long dark red hair pulled back in a braid to keep it out of her face. You notice that though she looks relaxed, her eyes constantly monitor the area around her. She carries herself well, ready to either run or fight at a moment's notice. The sentries move to Gabrielle and Ephiny, who is seated on Gabrielle's left. The sentries remove their masks, and the leader comes forward. She says in a low voice, "We found this young woman in our hunting grounds. When we approached, she dropped her weapons and asked to speak with our queen. We thought it best to bring her to you."

Gabrielle looks quizzically at you. You shrug your shoulders in response. Gabrielle looks at the lead scout and says, "Bring her here, then."

Scouts move out of the way to let the stranger pass. She walks straight to Gabrielle and makes a quick, graceful half-bow. "Greetings. I am Deandra of Theris. I would like an audience with Queen Melosa."

"Um," says Gabrielle uncomfortably, "well, you can't. Queen Melosa died a while back. I'm really very sorry."

"Oh," Deandra says slowly. "Then I'm terribly sorry to have bothered you. May I please have safe passage through your lands so I can go back home?"

Gabrielle looks at Ephiny. Ephiny looks back at Gabrielle and gives a quick shrug. "Sure," Gabrielle tells Deandra.

"Thank you," Deandra replies, "and I am sorry to have interrupted your celebration." And she quickly moves into the trees. The sentries follow behind soon after.

"Do you have any idea what that was about?" Gabrielle asks Ephiny.

"None," Ephiny answers with a quick shake of her head.

"Oh, well, I guess there's no telling, then," Gabrielle says with a sigh.

Ephiny motions for the dancing to continue. Gabrielle resumes her watching of the activities, but you can tell that not all her attention is on the dancing. Sure enough, after a few minutes she turns to you and says, "Xena, I'm going to find that woman, find out what she wanted to talk to Melosa about. Wanna come with me?"

Sure, I'll go.

Nah, I'll stay here.