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Monday, Jul 22, 2024
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

New Gaia

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New Gaia - Chapter 10 - Meeting the Family

Gabrielle awoke in the morning to find a pair of light blue eyes staring at her. She felt a twinge of alarm before remembering where she was and who she was with. She smiled and said good morning to Tala and then pulled back the fur covers to begin getting dressed. She felt Tala's eyes on her for a minute longer and then the lanky woman stood and began getting dressed herself.

They finished at about the same time and Gabrielle followed Tala out into the bright light of the morning sun. Tala went to the cook fire and Gabrielle joined her Second and the Warriors. They were all ready to leave and Gabrielle caught several comments about Tala's people really knowing how to throw a good party. She smirked at the compliments.

With the final preparations for departure completed, Gabrielle turned back to the village to seek out Tala to say her farewells. She found her talking with one of the older men. Gabrielle had noticed he spent much more time around Tala than any of the others of Tala's tribe. They looked similar, except the man had chocolate brown eyes instead of Tala's unusual blue. She guessed they were probably siblings.

Tala turned away from the man and faced Gabrielle. She thumped her hand against her chest and then pointed to Gabrielle and then to Gabrielle's escorts. "Go Gabrielle," she declared.

It took a moment for Gabrielle to realize Tala wasn't trying to send Gabrielle and her people on their way, but instead intended to come with her. She smiled and then nodded her assent. Tala turned back and issued a few orders to her people. The man yelled and gestured wildly for a moment before Tala straightened up to her full height and growled deep in her throat, sounding for all the world like a pissed off wolf. The man backed up a step and lowered his eyes. He didn't say another word.

Tala returned to her hut and retrieved a satchel of food, a slingshot, and a pouch of rocks. The bag went over her head and one shoulder and the weapons were tied off at her waist. She came back to stand in front of Gabrielle and awaited Gabrielle's command to start her people moving.

Gabrielle turned to her Second. "All right, then. Let's go, Julia."

After frowning for a moment, Julia turned to lead the way with Margaret walking next to her. Gabrielle and Tala brought up the rear. As they walked, Gabrielle pointed at things and named them for Tala, Tala repeating the words and offering the corresponding sounds from her own language, which Gabrielle then repeated. After awhile, they started pointing at things and trying to recall the word the other had used for it. Tala won that game more often than Gabrielle. She seemed to have near perfect recall for the sounds she'd heard Gabrielle use.

They arrived at New Gaia just before the sun sank behind the trees. Tristan had been alerted by Gregory's sentries and was waiting for them on the edge of what they considered to be their town. Gabrielle spoke to the Honor Guard.

"Thanks for the escort guys. Why don't ya'll get some food and a good night's sleep?" she suggested, and most of the weary guards left to do just that, but Julia and Margaret decided to stay.

"Come on, let's go to the Main Hall, where we can talk," Tristan said. He glanced at the imposing figure standing just behind Gabrielle's left shoulder. He had no idea what she was doing there, or even who she was, but he intended to find out.

They strode into the Main Hall. The entrance was guarded by two of Gregory's Warriors and they stood a little straighter as she walked into the large building.

"Welcome back, Chief," the guards greeted Gabrielle. She gave them mock salutes and smiled.

"It's good to be back," she responded.

Gregory had decided guard duty was a useful lesson in patience and alertness. He'd even put it in such a good light that Warriors considered it a privilege to work at the Main Hall or the Healer's hut because of the importance of those two particular buildings and the amount of activity that went on at each. 'He's got a silver tongue,' Gabrielle smirked to herself.

They moved to the spacious central room that was bordered by Gabrielle's and her Advisor's offices and stood next to the large round Council table. Gabrielle explained to Tristan what she'd accomplished so far.

"I can understand the very basics of their language, and I think Tala gets the gist of what I say to her. She's agreed to a kind of truce between our people. At least, I hope so. I think she got the concept, anyway," Gabrielle hedged, looking to the silent woman.

Tristan grinned. "This is so cool. I can't believe you pulled this off," he exclaimed, and moved to hug her in congratulations.

Before anyone could even blink, Tala was standing between Gabrielle and Tristan, a low menacing growl coming from between bared teeth. The guards stepped forward, knives drawn and ready to pounce. Both Margaret and Julia had stepped back, but they'd both drawn their knives as well.

Gabrielle reached out a firm hand to Tala's shoulder. Tala turned just enough to get Gabrielle in her peripheral vision, but not enough to cause Tristan to leave it. Gabrielle slowly pointed towards Tristan. "Friend," she explained.

Tala turned back to Tristan, then looked back to Gabrielle, then back at Tristan again. Finally, she stepped out of the way and held out her hand. Tristan quirked an eyebrow at Gabrielle, but took the proffered arm in a firm grip.

Gabrielle let out the breath she'd been unconsciously holding and then laughed a little to relieve the tension. She motioned the guards back and they tucked their knives back into their belts and reclaimed their positions near the walls. Margaret had already sheathed her blade, but Julia kept hers out just a moment longer before eventually putting it away.

"She's awfully protective, dontcha think?" commented Tristan, and he winked at Gabrielle as he released Tala's arm.

Gabrielle felt a slight blush come over her skin. She knew what Tristan was implying. She also knew that deep down she was secretly hoping it was true, no matter how much the idea might scare her.

Suddenly, Gregory rushed in and grabbed her up in a fierce hug.

"What the hell were you thinking? I was so worried about you being there all alone with those savages," Gregory proclaimed when he set the blond woman back on her feet.

"They're not savages, Gregory. They're actually not that much different from us, they just have a lot less documented history behind them," Gabrielle scolded her First Warrior.

"Sorry, I didn't mean it like that. I was just scared you'd end up getting hurt or something," he apologized. It finally registered with Gregory that there was a very large, very angry, woman standing at Gabrielle's side.

Gabrielle suddenly remembered she hadn't made any real introductions yet. "Oh, um, Gregory, this is Tala. She's the leader of the tribe your hunters met the other day."

Gregory reached out his hand and Tala looked to Gabrielle for a sign as to what to do.

"Friend," Gabrielle intoned, and Tala looked back to Gregory.

She tentatively grasped Gregory's arm. When she looked him in the eye, though, she immediately drew herself up and firmed her grip on his arm. They broke the clasp and Gregory smiled at her. Tala returned the smile with one of her own toothy grins and everyone let out a collective sigh of relief.

Gregory turned to face Gabrielle. "Well, since you're safe, I guess I'll let you get back to work," Gregory said.

"Thanks," Gabrielle replied, and then Gregory left.

"I'll catch ya later, Chief," Tristan said, and followed Gregory out.

Gabrielle jerked her head slightly and Julia and Margaret took the hint and departed as well. When they were finally alone, Gabrielle tried to decide what to do with the woman. It was getting dark outside, but Gabrielle decided a small tour of New Gaia might be a good place to start.

They walked around the village, Gabrielle naming things and Tala repeating them, only fumbling on some of the more difficult words. Before Gabrielle could suggest they go get something to eat, Tala stopped her with a hand on her arm and turned to face her. She wore a puzzled expression.

"People no. Where?" she asked.

Gabrielle tried her best, but could not for the life of her figure out what Tala meant. She shook her head. "I don't understand," she said helplessly.

Tala gestured around at the woods surrounding the town, then at the buildings and some of the other people who were walking around outside. "Okla. People." Gabrielle accepted the statement with a nod. She'd learned that okla was a general name for humans.

Tala pointed to the ground. "People here," Tala continued. Gabrielle nodded again and Tala gestured back to the surrounding countryside. "Where?" she questioned.

Gabrielle shook her head in frustration. She still wasn't getting it. "I don't understand what you're trying to say," she apologized.

Tala waved her hand in the air as if to brush the problem aside. She gestured for Gabrielle to continue with the tour. Gabrielle hesitated and almost asked Tala to try again, but she restrained herself. Until they knew more of each other's languages, it would be near impossible to have a complicated question and answer session.

Gabrielle's stomach growled and that decided her. Tala smiled down at her and gave a playful growl in response. Gabrielle giggled and was thankful for the darkness that hid her blush.

When Gabrielle led her charge into the Dining Hall, no one was very surprised to see the tall dark-haired woman with the bright blue eyes. They'd all heard about her and the truce their Chief had evidently secured with her people. Many of them had also caught glimpses of the woman in the fading light as Gabrielle took her on a tour of their small settlement.

However, when Gabrielle asked Tristan to move down a bit so Tala could sit next to her, several murmurs of astonishment went around the room. They quickly quieted down when it was decided that this was a diplomatic gesture.

Before the food could be brought in, Gabrielle stood. "May I have your attention please." She waited for the conversations to die down. "Thank you. I want to introduce the leader of the tribe we've recently come in contact with. Her name is Tala and she'll be staying with us for a short while." Gabrielle turned to Tala and pointed at the assembled group of diners. Then she clasped her hands together. "Friends," she declared.

Tala stood and clasped her hands toward the group exactly as Gabrielle had. "Friends," she called out.

There was a short silence and then several people stood and imitated the greeting, mumbling the word 'friends' at the visiting leader. The notion picked up steam, as more and more people stood and declared their support of the camaraderie between their two communities. Tala sat back down and nodded, accepting the pledge of fellowship, as the last of Gabrielle's people returned to their seats.

After a few minutes, Luis and half a dozen volunteers brought in large wooden trays filled with food and laid them out on the serving tables that lined the walls of the room. People took turns getting up and filling their plates and returning to their tables. After a few dozen people had served themselves, Gabrielle nudged Tristan and they both got up to fill their own plates. Tala started to rise with Gabrielle, but Gabrielle gently pushed her back into her chair and shook her head.

The Chief and her First Advisor filled two plates each, a fact that was not lost on anyone present, except maybe the Chief herself. Gabrielle juggled the two plates along with two mugs of water flavored with a little fruit juice. As soon as she and Tristan returned, Julia and Jonathan rose to retrieve their own dinners.

Gabrielle set one of the dishes in front of Tala and placed the other one in front of herself, then set the mugs down for each of them. Tala watched her with a strange expression on her face and Gabrielle tried to think what might be wrong.

"Eat," she said, and demonstrated by eating a bite of her own food.

Tala continued to stare at her for another few moments, then took a tentative bite of the food on her plate. Her eyes lit up and she started shoveling the food into her mouth as fast as it would allow itself to be scooped up by her nimble fingers.

Gabrielle laughed. "I guess that means she likes it," she said to those within hearing range and received a few laughs in response. Gabrielle got Tala's attention and tried to make her slow down. She reached for the fork on Tala's plate and placed it in her hand. "Like this," she said, and illustrated by dipping her own fork into the food on her plate and bringing it up to her mouth. She waited and Tala slowly copied her movements.

When Tala was done chewing her food, she grinned and then laughed. Gabrielle scrunched her face into a question. "What?" she asked.

Tala thought for a moment, then said, "Food tools," and laughed even harder. Gabrielle shook her head at first, but Tala's laughter was contagious and soon she was holding her side from laughing so much.

Tristan watched his best friend laugh with the native woman. He hadn't seen her in such a good mood since he couldn't remember when. She just seemed so at ease. Heck, she was downright giggly. He'd never seen her like that.

They finished dinner and Gabrielle grabbed up their dishes and headed for the three large water troughs that had been set up in the back of the room. Gabrielle sunk her dishes into the large soaking/washing trough and then took her place in the line behind the rinsing trough. It moved quickly and she rinsed two plates that were handed to her by the man in front of the washing trough, and then handed them off to the person on her left, who was waiting with a damp towel. The person waiting in line behind Gabrielle took over for her and she headed back to Tala.

Tala watched as the woman who took over for Gabrielle was in turn relieved by a man standing behind her. She noticed that the whole relay of scraping, washing, rinsing, drying, and stacking was made up of lines of people waiting their turn to help out. When there were no more dishes, the utensils were washed and then the cups. Finally, the last people left in line worked together to empty out the trough and carried the stacks of dishes to another room in the back of the building.

Gabrielle watched Tala watch her people. It was fascinating to see the various emotions cross Tala's features as she studied the cleanup system Gabrielle had invented oh so long ago.

Tala realized she was being watched when the show ended. "People strong. People good," she told Gabrielle.

"Thank you. We all help each other, so that we can always remain strong and good," Gabrielle explained.

Tala nodded her approval.

Gabrielle motioned for Tala to follow her out of the empty Dining Hall and took her to one of the many outhouse facilities that graced the outskirts of the small town. The pits had to be redug in different places on a regular basis, in order to keep up with the high usage, and Gabrielle made sure to take Tala to one of the newly dug privies. Luckily, Tala grasped the concept immediately and Gabrielle was spared having to try to explain their use.

When they were finished, Gabrielle led Tala to one of the surplus shelters Tom had constructed. He'd argued it was only a matter of time before some of those that had doubled up because of romantic involvements decided they needed 'space.' Gabrielle had agreed with his reasoning and okayed the construction.

Gabrielle gestured into the small dwelling. "You can sleep here," she said. Tala nodded and motioned for Gabrielle to precede her. Gabrielle shook her head. "No, I live over there," and she pointed to a slightly larger cabin across the center of the square, near the Main Hall. "You can stay here," she said again.

Tala shook her head and stood taller. "Tala go where Gabrielle go," she declared.

Gabrielle suppressed the chuckle that wanted to erupt from her throat. "Maybe I should start calling you Ruth," she mumbled under her breath.

Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders and sighed outwardly in resignation. Inside, she was doing cartwheels at knowing she wouldn't have to be separated from the tribal leader.

She led Tala across the square and into her own modest housing. Her cabin was square and larger than Tala's hut, but was still just one room. There were windows cut out in the middle of the left- and right-hand walls that could be covered over with thick shutters that hung on the outside of the dwelling. The wall directly across from the door had hooks set at Gabrielle's chest level that were being used to cradle her bow and quiver. Below that was a stone hearth that would soon come in handy as the weather turned colder. Gabrielle's bed of dried grass, furs, and her grandmother's quilt was positioned in the left corner and there was a low table next to it. A dining table with two chairs was set in front of the window to the right.

Gabrielle lit several candles around the room. Tala seemed interested in the lighting devices, but refrained from touching any of them. Gabrielle prepared for bed and slipped off her clothes down to her shirt again. Tala removed her weapons and laid them out on the small table next to the bed. Then Tala stripped and climbed onto the soft bedding.

Gabrielle picked up a spiky brush, one of the first made in New Gaia, and ran it through her hair a few times. She'd had Gregory cut it a few months back, so it was nice and short again. Gabrielle noticed Tala watching her and decided to see if she could brush out the woman's beautiful long black hair.

She knelt down and moved to position herself behind the reclining woman, nudging her to a seated position. Tala looked dubious, but allowed herself to be moved. Gabrielle splayed her legs to either side of Tala's body and began to gently work the brush through her long mane.

There were surprisingly few tangles in Tala's hair and Gabrielle only pulled on the sable strands a few times. She brushed Tala's hair long after all the tangles were gone, enjoying the closeness it engendered. Gabrielle's hearing picked up a low humming and she realized that Tala was purring. She tried to figure out how Tala was making the sounds, but all she could determine was that the sound originated somewhere low in the woman's throat.

Gabrielle set the brush on the low table, next to Tala's weapons, and gently pushed Tala down onto the bed to sleep. Tala turned over as soon as Gabrielle had joined her and wrapped a protective arm around the smaller woman. They fell asleep together.

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