Finding a place to set up camp for the night wasn’t as easy as most people would like to think. There were a million little things to consider; some glaringly obvious, some not. It had to be safe, of course, and relatively sheltered from the elements. Falling asleep to a gentle breeze under the clear night sky was one thing. Being rudely awakened from that same slumber by a surprise thunder storm was quite another.
Being seasoned travellers, Xena and Gabrielle knew all the little tricks there were to know about camping in the great outdoors. It was almost second nature to them. Then there was Xena who, regardless of where they found themselves, always knew where to find the best camping spots. One of her many skills, as Xena would say if anyone asked.
They had set up camp a good hour or two ago, in a clearing not far from Potidaea. A campfire was already blazing merrily away. Three sticks, each bearing a fat juicy trout, were stuck into the ground near the fire. The camp was totally devoid of human life though Argo, Xena’s ever-loyal battle mare, could be seen grazing near the tree line. A breeze blew in from the south, wending its way through the trees, rattling leaves and stirring up ashes. Argo raised her head, one ear swivelling around in the direction the breeze had come from. She snorted derisively as Xena and Gabrielle came into view covered in a mixture of mud, leaves, twigs, and other unidentifiable bits.
“Be nice.” Xena mumbled to Argo as she passed by. Argo rolled her eyes at the warrior princess and resumed grazing.
Gabrielle went to check on the trout while Xena rummaged through their travel packs. She pulled out a bathing cloth and a bar of soap then turned to her partner. “Clothes?”
“You’ll only get mud on them.” Gabrielle told her.
Xena grumbled something about caravans and ungrateful merchants under her breath then waited patiently for Gabrielle to reposition their dinner around the fire. They didn’t want to overcook the fish while they were busy getting the mud and assorted gunk out of their hair and other parts of their body. They also needed to wash their armour and clothes and find some way to dry them overnight.
Hidden from view, a shadowy figure dressed in black stepped out from behind a tree. Dark brown eyes tracked the progress of the two women through the woods before winking out in a muted flash of light. Up ahead, Xena and Gabrielle walked on oblivious to the presence of their mystery watcher.