The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #58: The Deliverer

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll #58:  The Deliverer

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

January 46 B.C.

     Xena and I had been traveling toward the northern territories for several weeks.  It was after Xena had been seemingly preparing me for something.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed important to her.  She had left me alone with Joxer and Autolycus to face Jett, Joxer’s assassin brother.  Then she left me alone to save the virgin priestess without telling me that she had gone off to take care some other business.  Only a week after that she had decided to teach me how to turn murdering warriors into an amazing fighting team to go up against Ares and his chosen minion Milo to show off his newly invented invincible weapons and armor.  All of this preparation was exilerating and exciting, but it made no sense.  I was flattered that Xena had decided I was ready to learn more about the warrior arts, but I would have been much more interested in learning how to do her famous flip.  Technique seemed to be what I was lacking in my mind, but I didn’t really question Xena.  She had never led me astray.  Everything she had ever done had ultimately benefitted me in becoming more like her.  In the begining of our travels together I wanted nothing more.  Yet now, I was somehow different, but I had yet to recognize it fully.

      As Xena and I continued to aimlessly travel north toward Gaul territory I was killing time with philosophy.  Of course the warrior princess is never one for philosophical discussion, but as usually she was humoring me.  Anyway, my theory went something like this.  I asked her what she thought of when she thought of a mountain.  As I spoke I put an image into Xena’s mind explaining that it was nothing more than a bunch of boulders.  Then I continued inquiring of what she thought of when she imagined a rock.  My thought was that it was nothing more than a large grain of sand.  Then I imagined how simple a large grain of sand could become.  My theory that I was attempting to explain to the warrior princess was simply that no challenge was insurmountable no matter how large it appeared to be on the surface.  It was what I had learned as a result of my most recent challenges that I had faced traveling alongside the warrior princess.  When I asked her if she was beginning to understand how I was feeling she just looked to me frustrated with my thoughts and curtly stated that she didn’t understand with one simple harsh “no.”  I looked to her frustrated with her because she didn’t seem all that interested in my philosophical debate about life.  As I walked she could see that she had hurt my feelings, and softly asked me what possible information my thoughts could have that could be useful to us.  I really didn’t have an answer to that, but decided to forgive her anyway because at least she was attempting to be more sensitive to what was important to me.  I decided to brush my hurt aside and attempted to make light of our moment of friction stating that if nothing else it had given us something to talk about in between towns.

      Xena decided to make light of it as well stating that towns, which were made up of houses, which were simply nothing more than large huts made out of wood.  Before Xena could continue to patronize my philosophies I attempted to cut her off frustrated again with her lack of understanding.  But Xena continued stating that wood was made out of trees, but then came the problem with my philosophy that she was pointing out.  She stated that trees were bigger than huts so it debunked my whole theory.  She snapped her fingers as she did this which only irritated me even more.  I looked to her again stepping back and remembering that although Xena could be frustrating I couldn’t fault her for not having an abstract thought process like my own.  As I expressed this thought Xena’s attention was suddenly distracted at something up ahead.  Before I had time to say anything else she raised her hand up and smacked my chest with the back of her hand.  It was a bit jarring and uncalled for.  I carefully removed her hand from where it had connected with my body and straightened my clothing.  As I asked her not to do that I could hear voices of the men approaching us along the trail.  When I looked up I shifted my state of mind from one of emotional hurt to one of concern for what I saw before us.  I looked to Xena and asked her who the men were.

      She was just focused and said nothing at first as I saw five men, three of which had their arms tied to thin wooden logs.  Their arms were stretched out across the logs they carried across their backs.  There were also two other men who appeared to be some type of soldiers.  They were soldiers I did not recognize because I’d never seen men wearing such uniforms before.  The three men who were carrying the logs were being beckoned by their captures to move along.  One of the uniformed men was waiving his sword about threatening his captives.  Xena finally responded to my question stating that from the way the captive men were dressed she surmised that they were from an island located north of Gaul.  Xena then gazed out at them and then commanded both me and her horse Argo to move forward toward them.  The lead man held his hand up and instructed his men to halt.  The first captive fell to his knees exhausted as he let out a grumble.  Xena then looked to the lead soldier and stated that he was a long way from Britannia.  He stated that it was only due to the fact that the criminals he traveled with had run this far south.  He explained himself stating that he and his partner were taking the three exhausted, hungry, thirsty men back to Britannia for trial.  To me, as I looked at them I couldn’t possibly imagine what they had done to be treated in such an inhuman manner.  They didn’t look like criminals to me.  The men looked more like farmers or perhaps fisherman down on their luck somehow.  I knew better than to say anything out loud, but I wanted to.  I was certain that Xena would have something to say about it, but she didn’t.  She looked the soldier, and the men up and down.  Then she stepped to one side of the lead soldier taking her horse to pass him on down the road.  I stood there angry.  I was sure Xena would want to do something for these men, but she seemingly had no sympathy for them.  I found myself even more frustrated.  It had been like this all day with the warrior princess.

      Reluctantly I stepped aside to pass the soldier to continue on, but I couldn’t put it out of my mind.  The idea that I should do something even if Xena would not I could not shake.  The man who had fallen to his knees from exhaustion looked up at me in desperation.  I could see it in his eyes.  He was not a bad man and he needed to be defended for whatever crime he may have been accused of.  As I began to continue on knowing that without Xena I could do nothing for him he suddenly had something to say.  The man risked his life and shouted out to his captures that they could kill him and his friends right there if they wanted to, but that they would never give in to Caesar.  That statement seemed to grab Xena’s attention instantly.  She stopped her forward motion with Argo.  I turned to face him again.  I was considering asking the soldier in charge of what their crimes were.  I deeply wanted to get involved.  Not only that, but I was reminded of Xena’s story of her destiny.  She had once had a destiny with a man named Caesar.  Xena then approached the lead soldier and demanded that he let the men go.  He asked what her reason was.  Then Xena looked to him and affirmed that she had an entire list of reasons as to why he should release his prisoners.  Then she went into action.  She punched the man with the sword in the nose sending him staggering backward.  She stated that her sudden action against him was reason one.  Then she reached back and grabbed the lead soldier’s sword as he began to pull it from its sheath.  She instantly pushed it back into its resting place from which the solider attempted to free it.  She then drove him to the ground along with his sword.

       At that moment the first man had managed to get back to his feet and attacked Xena who turned back toward him and delivered furious punches with both hands across his chest and face.  He was quickly back upon the ground as Xena declared that action against the soldier was reason two.  Then she straightened her leather cuffs on her biceps and reached from behind for her sword.  Then she jumped up as she pulled out her sword swinging it down upon the lead soldier who was still stuck to the ground struggling to free his sword for a counter against her.  He quickly gave up and raised his arms up in the air for surrender.  Xena swiftly sliced  her blade through and between the soldier’s sword, and his belt separating him from is sword.  She stated that final action was reason three.  With that the lead soldier was free from his sword still stuck in the wet ground as he quickly jumped to his feet and ran off into the woods.  Xena turned to face the other soldier who was about to counter attack again, but she looked to him pointing her sword in his direction wild-eyed and stated that she didn’t often get to reason number for, but when she did it was very messy.  This was enough of a threat to send the second soldier running off into the opposite direction into the woods.  The solider screamed in panic and terror as he ran off into the distance.  Xena quickly turned her wild eyes toward the man who was on his knees.  She shifted her emotions from passionate war to concern as she approached the man and freed him with her sword from his binds.  I followed her lead helping free the other two men.  This all seemed very serious.  I suspected it had something to do with the man from Xena’s past who had been mentioned only moments before.

       As the man on his knees rose to his feet Xena asked him what Caesar wanted with him.  He explained that Caesar knew that he was out hiring mercenaries to join Bodecia against Caesar in Britannia.  Xena appeared to be shocked.  She asked the man if she had heard him right when he had stated that Bodecia was fighting Caesar.  I found myself to be on the outside of this conversation which was uncomfortable due to how serious it seemed to Xena.  I asked Xena if she actually knew this Bodecia, but then I answered my own question remembering out loud that Xena was a who is who of warriors from all over.  It seemed that every where we had ever traveled she always knew of every warrior and warlord.  Then Xena continued pumping the man for more information.  She asked about Persudicas.  The man’s response was short stating that Persudicas had died.  He explained that Bodecia barely had any time to mourn the death of her husband when Caesar had come upon them in Britannia to invade their lands.

      As I hurried to finish untying the rest of the prisoners I ran back to join Xena and the self-proclaimed mercenary.  Xena paused for a moment as if to consider something for a moment.  Then she looked to the mercenary and asked him how many others like him he had managed to find.  He responded that 200 men had already set off for Britannia to help in Bodecia’s fight against Caesar.  He then looked to the men behind him and stated that he had paid the three of them to escort him safely to northern Gaul.  To me the idea that they had earned what the mercenary had paid them seemed quite absurd.  I interjected my thought out loud that he might want to consider a refund.  He softly laughed and then smiled looking to me.  This was seemingly the first anyone had noticed of my presence since the moment before he had mentioned Caesar’s name.  With that thought I decided to ask him what his name was.  He answered proudly stating that his name was Kraftstar, and that he was the first priest of the temple of the one god.  Xena responded telling Kraftstar that he could add her name to his list of volunteer mercenaries.  She said that she would be going with him to help Bodecia and most certainly to destroy Caesar.  It was in that moment I saw something I had only seen one other time in Xena.  When we had fought against the hoard.  Her passions for war were bubbling to the surface again.  It was the side of Xena that was seemingly glaring its head more often than it had ever before.  It made be very uncomfortable because I couldn’t control it and she was seemingly having difficulty keeping it in check.

     From that moment on there was no doubt that we were on a mission to continue north even further north than Gaul.  Many suns  passed and at least a moon before we found ourselves having reached our destination which was to reach the island of Britania.  During our journey to Britannia it seemed that only Kraftstar and his men could keep me company.  Xena’s mind and heart were elsewhere.  They were in her deep past where she had first encountered Caesar of Rome.  Finally, the moment when Xena seemed most happy was when she announced that we had reached the harbor where we would finally meet up with Bodecia.  Xena rode ahead with Argo to check it out leaving me with Kraftstar and his men.  He turned to me and stated that between Bodecia and Xena he could not tell who hated the Romans more.  Kraftstar had heard my story of Xena’s destiny of Ceasar.  There had been plenty of time for me to tell it in our travels toward Britannia.  I explained again to Kraftstar that Xena did not hate the Romans, but that it was Caesar that she really hated for his betrayal of her.  It seemed to me that there may have even been a time that Bodecia had also been betrayed.  As the five of us left behind by Xena found a spot to sit down and rest our tired feet Kraftstar expressed that he was glad that Xena was on his side no matter any of the other details that might be lurking about the past.  I propped my staff up against the tree.  The exhaustion had set in even for me.  Xena had pushed all of us hard to reach Britannia quickly.  It was almost ridiculous how her sense of urgency had kicked in once she realized that she had an opportunity to go up against Caesar again.  For the first time it seemed that we were on a mission that had very little to do with the greater good.  Strangely this entire journey had begun with Xena and I trying to find out more about what Ares had been up to with Discord.  Now we were a long way from home.  There was a lot I was uncertain of.

      Kraftstar continued to share his thoughts with me as mine would not settle down.  I tried to focus on what he was saying as he explained that he hoped that there was still time to save his temple.  Kraftstar stated that Caesar was in control of his god’s temple and that he was afraid that it might be destroyed by the Romans.  I decided to use this opportunity to distract my concerns about Xena’s blood-lust with Kraftstar’s god.  I asked him to tell me more about his god.  I was intrigued despite my distractions.  My question was what his god’s name was.  He had never mentioned his god’s name in all the time we had been  traveling together.  Kraftstar affirmed that his god did have a name, but that it was forbidden to speak it.  The idea that a god would not want his name spoken was odd to me.  All the gods I had ever known wanted to be known and to be worshipped by everyone.  Kraftstar shared with me that he would be happy to tell me more about his god.  He seemed so committed to his god.  It was something that I used to be to my gods, but after having developed very personal relationships with them I realized they weren’t as great as they flaunted themselves to be.  In a way it was nice to know that there was still someone out there who believed strongly in the power of his own god even if I didn’t have faith in my own gods.  I decided that perhaps it was best that I didn’t know more about his god than he had already shared with me since my own gods were trouble enough for me.

     Soon the next part of our journey toward Britannia began as we found ourselves having to travel the seas.  It wasn’t very long after we sailed on the water before the 2007 mercenaries found themselves suffering from the classic symptoms of sea sickness.  Even Kraftstar was feeling it.  The waters were definitely rough in the northern seas.  I decided to invite Kraftstar down under the deck to show him the trick that Xena had once shown me to help me get rid of sea sickness on long trips on the water.  As I showed him how to relieve his discomfort he began to tell me more about his people and of his god.  He was seemingly disappointed that people labeled he and his followers as a cult.  Kraftstar was upset about it, but he understood that the idea of one god was difficult for people to accept.  I didn’t want to offend him so I explained my point of view in a broad way.  I stated that it was difficult for people to accept something that was abstract and could not be seen or touched or heard.  My gods never had a problem with showing themselves and being quite loud about it.  I was finding myself to be a bit uncomfortable talking with Krafstar again and missing home because we were now further away than I had ever been before.  Kraftstar reached out to me asking me when the last time was that I had actually felt love or true friendship or had even seen the effect of love.  I was intrigued because it seemed as if Xena and I had not felt closeness to each other in a while.  We had been too busy to even think about it.  Xena was certainly preoccupied with Caesar.  Kraftstar continued explaining that if I just opened myself up to the effects of his god then I would be able to see those effects when his god brought his kingdom forth to the earth.

     At that moment I began to hear Xena’s boots descending the steps into the cabin.  I shook my head as I thought about what Kraftstar was saying, but I was still not completely convinced about his god.  I was glad that Xena was coming to interrupt our conversation.  Xena approached us in that moment and I explained to her as she looked to us that I was just showing him how to avoid sea sickness.  I don’t think she had expected us to be down below together for so long.  There was an awkward pause and a moment.  Then I went onto explain that Krafstar was telling me about his god.  It seemed to better explain how long we had been below inside the cabin.  I fumbled for words to explain myself to Xena stating that Kraftstar’s god was very interesting.  Xena just looked to us with a dead pan stare.  I knew what she was thinking.  She was thinking that I had fallen for Kraftstar in an emotional way.  Part of me knew that she was not wrong, but I attempted to hide my new feelings for him from her.  Then she walked away to another corner of the cabin.  It wasn’t what I had wanted her to do.  I had almost wanted her to be angry at me for having been ignoring her, but I wasn’t sure my actions had delivered the desired effect.

     I decided to leave Kraftstar and join Xena as she pulled out her sword and began wiping the blade.  I sat down next to her and softly asked her if anything was going on.  She continued to wipe her blade, and flatly asked if me if anything had to be going on.  My hope was that she would share with me her deepest feelings about Caesar, and about Bodecia.  I pressed her stating that I felt that she had mixed feelings about the entire mission.  My next comment was to express that although Xena said she wanted to help her friend Bodecia she had not yet said anything nice or friendly about Bodecia.  Xena then stopped wiping her sword.  She realized that whatever it was that she had been keeping from me I was not going to let it go.  I was being genuine and caring and not pressing her too hard.  I had a right to know her feelings about these two people no matter what they were.  Xena then began to explain a little more.  She said that she and Bodecia had once been allies a long time ago.  Xena looked me in the eye as she spoke.  Which she did not do very often.  I pressed her for more as Xena cringed.  There was more to the story.  Xena didn’t want to tell me.  She hesitated stating that in a sense the two of them had been allies.  Xena went onto explain that Bodecia had thought of Xena as a friend, but that Xena had only needed an army.  Xena began wiping her sword again as she spoke explaining that she had allowed Bodecia to believe whatever she wanted to until Xena was able to take full control of Bodecia’s men.

      I watched Xena’s hand move with the the old rag she had found in the cabin as she ran it up and down her sword realizing out loud that Xena had heartlessly used Bodecia.  Xena stopped wiping her sword again, looked up, and then into my eyes stating firmly that she had ordered Bodecia to be killed.  Xena waited for me to say something, but I couldn’t think of anything to say about that kind of betrayal.  Xena then continued her story explaining that Bodecia had escaped her ordered execution and had joined forces with her husband Persudicas.  She stated that the two smaller armies had attacked her larger more powerful army.  Xena had easily defeated them.  When Xena spoke of this moment in her history she appeared less than proud of her behavior.  After she had defeated them the two had retreated north to Britannia.  In that moment Xena admitted to me that she was not the only person with in this equation that was dealing with past betrayals.  I could see that Xena felt a great deal of shame for her act of betrayal.  It was a sad story and it made Xena seem smaller in some way.  She attempted to change the subject before I could say anything more.  Xena could feel my shock in learning this about her.

      She  then changed the subject and stated that she had seen Ares on the day before when she was scouting the coast.  I found that to be intriguing.  I asked her what he was doing this far north.  She explained that she didn’t know, but that she thought he might be attempting to use this opportunity in Xena’s emotional weakness to get her to do something stupid in his name.  It had been Ares who had led her to Bodecia in the past.  He had wanted to shape Xena in his image because she had been ripe for the shaping then.  Now she was just frustrated that he was even there.  He had told Xena that he and Caesar were still on good terms.  Xena expressed to him that she did not care about that, but that she was still irritated at Ares for having driven her mad with the furies.  What Xena said that was most interesting about her encounter with Ares was that he was seemingly very concerned about Kraftstar’s temple.  Ares wanted her to take control of Bodecia’s army again so she could use it to destroy the temple.  Before I could ask Xena anything more one of the crew dashed down the steps into the cabin.  He urged Xena to come back up to the deck.  Xena did not hesitate.  She quickly stood up, changed emotional gears, threw down her rag and sheathed her sword.

      Once upon the deck again it appeared that something dramatic was happening.  There on the steps to the starboard control was what looked to be a very high ranking Roman officer with two Roman conscripts accompanying him.  He wore a silver helmet and silver armor to distinguish him from the other Roman soldiers.  He was looming over everyone.  The mercenary who had informed Xena of his presence instructed the Roman officer to tell Xena what he had told everyone else.  The officer’s statement and demand was simple.  The demand was that Caesar had ordered that no ships were to land on the shores of Britannia.  Then he stated that the ship had until the following morning to sail back to Gaul.  He continued explaining the consequences of us staying docked on the coast of Britannia.  The consequence would be that he and his subordinates would take control of the ship and that all aboard would be disciplined.  The mercenary men grumbled.  Their dissention was clear.  Xena hesitated before making any moves or answering.  She was very careful in her next move.  Then she answered the Roman officer explaining that he could tell Caesar that our group of men was not stupid enough to go up against Caesar’s army.  Then Xena hesitated for a moment and looked to the first mate.  She quietly gave him an order stating that she would check the wind up top and then they would set sail.  Then she looked carefully back toward the Roman officer who was pleased and smiled as he stated that she that had made a wise decision.

      The men in mercenary group were clearly unhappy, but Xena was really left no other choice.  There was no way that a group of only 200 mercenaries could go up against the professional army of a nation state.  Then the Roman officer stated that he would relay Xena’s message to Caesar.  Under her breath she had contempt and I could hear it as the Roman soldiers exited the ship.  Then Xena made the long climb up to the top of the crow’s nest to check the wind as she had stated she would do.  I sensed that there was something more going on.  Xena was very careful.  Almost too careful considering she had not yet demonstrated that she was capable of controlling her emotions when it came to Caesar.  I noticed as I looked up at Xena in the crow’s next that she was looking out across the water toward the land.  Suddenly, I saw a glint of steel from across the water.  It was a secret signal.  I looked back up to the crow’s next at Xena who smiled and pulled her sword.  She sent a signal back toward the coast as she waived her sword and then used the sun to reflect the light back.  Then the ship began to sail back out toward the sea.  We began to sail north.

      When Xena came down from the crow’s nest I asked her what was happening.  She stated that this was all part of the plan.  That we were going to sail out of visual range of the Romans and then we were going to rejoin Bodecia and her army.  Xena had planned this all along.  I was impressed with her as always, but I wasn’t sure what she was going to have me do.  She explained that she wanted me to take control of the ship and to meet at the pre-planned rally point with Bodecia and her army.  Xena was going to take most of the men with her.  She would lead them to swim to the shoreline.  They were going to flank Caesar’s small coastline fortress in two groups of 100 men one each side.  This would keep them distracted until Bodecia could cut up the middle with her own army.  That left me with enough men to get the ship to the rally point.  Xena explained that the ship would be the distraction until the last moment.  Once I was able to land the ship with the handful of men left it would be too late for Caesar the stop the attack.  Soon after this conversation Xena took her men and left me with the ship.  It was only a short time before we landed at the rally point where Bodecia’s army would be.  Xena and the men had off-loaded and swam the rest of the way just south of where I was instructed to land the ship.  Once we landed the ship I led Kraftstar with me and sent the remaining men to scout up ahead as Xena had instructed

      Then I decided to take a moment to watch the battle in the valley below unfolding.  Kraftstar and I were on the higher ground.  As I watched the battle I could see the Romans unaware of what was about to happen to them.  In a way I almost felt sorry for those unsuspecting men.  They had no idea that they were just a part of something very personal between three people, Xena, Caesar, and Bodecia.  As I watched and waited what I really wanted to get a glimpse of was this warrior woman Bodecia.  In watching the men I noticed that they had discovered the canoe that Xena had taken with a lead party with her.  Suddenly, there was shouting from the Roman officer down below.  He was barking out commands to his men.  It was obvious that he realized what was about to happen.  Moments after he had barked out his commands I heard the sound of hooves pounding in the valley down below.  I looked to the sounds and caught my first glimpse of Bodecia riding around the bend through the low creek water on her chariot.  She was bold, powerful, and focused.  She commanded her horses to push themselves to their limits of speed.  Bodecia was like a shadow coming out of the water in the late evening as she approached the entire Roman garrison alone.  The Roman officer shouted to his soldiers to get into formation.  He told them calmly to stand firm and prepare to fight.  The Roman soldiers calmly knelt down with their shields raised ready to defend against Bodecia’s seemingly lone attack against them.  The were the most seasoned soldiers I had ever seen.  It was quite amazing actually.  They appeared to have little to no fear of what was about to happen.  It was as if they had no battle nerves.

      Suddenly the Roman officer shouted out a command for his men to prepare their weapons.  They did so without hesitation and in unison.  The garrison of men only had about eight soldiers and their commander in the group.  I wondered how they would handle 200 mercenaries, Xena, and Bodecia.  As I watched the battle unfold down below alongside Kraftstar it seemed to happen in dramatic slow moments.  Just before Bodecia was about to strike one could finally feel the fear of the Roman officer and his soldiers permeating the air.  It appeared as if Bodecia was going to plow her chariot right through their line and trample the men, but instead she yanked back the reigns of her horses and halted the chariot.  She then jumped off of her chariot with a forward motion flying through the air with a long battle cry against her enemy.  She landed before them and reached to her left side for her sword.  Bodecia wore black war paint on her face just below her eyes along her cheek bones.  Her breast plate was a bronze breast plate, and she had fiery red hair.  It was clear that she was a powerful woman in Britannia and that she commanded a great deal of respect.  As she pulled her sword the Roman officer shouted her name and stated that Caesar would rest laurels on his head for his successful capture of her.  It was clear that she appeared to be on a suicide mission.

      Just when it appeared that Bodecia was a fool charging into battle Xena approached the enemy from behind and commented that he might not still have his head after this battle ended.  Then she flipped over the small Roman garrison and landed in front of the Roman officer.  She gave a battle cry and delivered a hard kick in the direction of the Roman officer.  It knocked the wind out of him catching him off guard.  He had no time to recover from the blow when Xena delivered a back kick with the same leg across his face in the opposite direction.  That put him on the ground instantly.  At that moment the first flank came rushing out of the woods down from the high ground charging into the valley.  At that moment a short conversation of which I could not hear with all of the noise of the battle down below happened between Xena and Bodecia.  I couldn’t tell if the conversation was friendly or if it was a stand-off between them.  Suddenly, both Xena and Bodecia charged forward into battle with the mercenaries.  The battle was one of the most violent and passionate battles I had ever seen Xena fight.  She was focused and with in another time and place.  Bodecia was just as furious as Xena when she fought.  The two powerfully skilled women battled the Roman soldiers with their army of 200 men and drove fear into their enemy.  The enemy was not ready for this onslaught and was completely out numbered.

     Suddenly, I could hear some of the men shouting out a command to retreat.  In that moment I realized that Kraftstar and I were too close to the battle.  We were about to get swallowed up by the Roman retreat.  I barked out a command to Kraftstar to follow me through the woods in an attempt to escape being captured.   We ran hard as I scouted the land for any dangers.  Just as I had thought we had escaped capture the hands of a Roman officer reached out and grabbed me.  I felt the steel of his broad sword across my chest.  He had managed to rob me of my staff when he grabbed me so I was completely defenseless.  Once I was able to gather my senses again I looked to the ground hoping I could find an opening to be able to reach down and retrieve my staff, but the Roman soldier’s grip was too taught.  He had another man with him who had captured Kraftstar.  As another Roman soldier followed his leader’s retreat the officer stated his frustrations out loud hoping that despite the loss of the battle he could potentially redeem himself if he brought Caesar prisoners from the battle.  As the Romans dragged us off toward Caesar’s camp I demanded that we be released, but no one was listening.  I was afraid of what might happen if Kraftstar and I were to meet face to face with Caesar.  What I had heard of him was unpleasant.  I felt fear in a way that I had never experienced it with my thoughts of our immediate fates clouding my mind.

      It was nightfall before Kraftstar and I were finally escorted into Caesar’s camp.  My fears were beginning to get the better of me as they shifted into frustrations.  The Roman officer who had brought us in shoved us into a temple where they were going to hold us.  I was coldly commanded to sit by my captures, but I refused deciding that I would prove that I could be tough up against them.  Kraftstar reached out to me realizing that I was afraid.  He was calm and he reached out and grabbed my arm attempting to calm my desperation.  With his soft touch he managed to calm my nerves as I slowly allowed myself to sink down onto the stool at the table.  Kraftstar went onto say that his god had taught him that direct confrontation was not always the best solution to a problem.  Although I had allowed him to calm me my frustrations were still fuming within.  I spoke under  my breath telling him that Xena had taught me just the opposite about Caesar.  Caesar had taken advantage of my friend and I was certain he would do the same to us if we allowed him to.  Then I thought of Xena and just that one thought soothed my nerves as I spoke my thoughts under my breath to Kraftstar out loud.  I was sure that Xena would notice that we were missing before long and come to find us.  Even if Xena was distracted by Caesar that would be the very reason that she would find us.  His past betrayal of her was a miscalculation on his part.  Xena was sure to come for him for retribution soon.

      In that moment from across the temple a deep commanding man’s voice spoke.  It said that once a man was able to divide a woman’s emotions from her he could conquer her and then he could have her.  Then he rose from his golden chair before the fire and revealed himself to us.  A part of me was curious, but another part of me was just waiting for death to come.  As Caesar looked to me and locked eyes I found myself entranced by his stature, and his power.  He exuded confidence and poise in his movements.  He wore a golden breast plate with the finest Roman cloth for his uniform.  It was deep bloody red.  His scabbard was black and adorned with the finest treasures of the world.  His face was battle hardened.  Caesar was a man of great accomplishment.  As he approached he revealed that he was cutting up an apple and eating a slice of it off of the blade of his knife.  He made it look so suave and easy and effortless.  He then smiled and stated that his strategy was simple and that it was nothing more than to divide and conquer.  Instantly I was afraid again.  It felt like a veiled threat.  I didn’t know what he would do next as Kraftstar reached out to sooth me again.  My first instinct of defense was to go back to square one and to try to talk myself out of whatever fate it was that Caesar had in mind for me.  It seemed that there might not be time for Xena to come find us if I couldn’t at least keep Caesar talking with me.  As I fumbled my words I attempted an apology  for what I had said only moments before he had revealed himself.  Caesar interrupted me and stated flatly that it did not matter what I had just said.  He continued explaining that my own actions had no bearing on my fate for it had been decided the moment that I had entered Caesar’s world.

      His statement was confusing, but I sensed that it had a double meaning.  It was actually cryptic in the way that Xena sometimes made a cryptic statement.  Caesar’s presence grazed me as he walked by and turned back around to face me directly.  He was now standing over me looming and asked me how Xena was.  I wasn’t sure how to answer that question.  The only words that would come out of my mouth were that Xena was fine.  It seemed to me that the less I said the better.  This was never a strategy I had used before, but Caesar’s power with words seemed to be beyond my own.  Caesar then stepped his foot upon the stool that I sat upon and he stated that he had heard that I was a friend of Xena’s.  Quickly I realized that the best answer to this challenge was to simply state that Xena hardly knew me, and most likely did not even know that I was gone.  I decided to make light of the moment cracking a joke saying that Xena hardly ever knew when I was around.  This led me to say that she didn’t even know what my name was.  I attempted to play myself as nothing more than Xena’s jester.

      Caesar did not crack and he was not at all humored.  Instead he was harsh and stated that Xena’s fatal flaw was her strong emotion.  Caesar went onto say that because Xena had feelings and because she cared for others that it made her less of a warrior for these were not good attributes in his mind.  As he said this to me he pulled out his knife slicing off another piece of apple and feeding it to me carefully.  It was another veiled threat.  I accepted the strange gift although it was not really a gift.  He was just continuing to demonstrate his power over me and that he knew more about me than I realized.  I looked to Caesar and waited for him to strike me, but he didn’t.  Instead he took his foot off of my stool turned to his men and commanded them to guard us.  I took Caesar’s gift from my lips and hid it in my hand.  Perhaps he had poisoned it.  I didn’t want to find out. He was too unpredictable in his actions.  As he began to leave the temple it was as if Kraftstar and I no longer existed to him.  It was as if we were already dead.  Caesar gave one last command to his men as he raised his knife in the air and declared that we would be taken to the hill in the morning.  I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but I suspected the worst.  I reached out to Kraftstar and hoped he could comfort me once more.

     I decided that perhaps the best way to pass the time till the morning was in asking Kraftstar about his god again.  If his god was a comfort to him perhaps his god could be a comfort to me in my time of need.  I wanted to know if he had faith in his god.  Kraftstar said that it was difficult for him to explain.  He went into a personal story stating that he had once had a farm in Gaul.  He had been an avid follower of the many gods making all of his temple offerings and doing everything that was required to secure their love and their help.  Kraftstar went onto paint a familiar picture saying that there was a day that a warlord came to his village destroyed his farm, killed his family and nearly killed him.  Then he said as he lied in the brush bleeding to death he had seen that same warlord go over to the temple of Hera and Zeus  to make an offering.  He said that in that moment he could not understand why the gods would bless that warlord for his offerings yet they would shun everyone else for offering less.  The gods whom he had hoped would protect him and his family had failed him.  My heart felt his pain for it could relate to such personal loss. I could relate to the loss forin that moment I could feel Perdicas reaching back into my heart and whispering to me as Kraftstar told his tale.   I expressed my regret for Kraftstar’s loss, but he told me that his pain was all over for him now because everything changed when some travelers from the east had passed by and found him.  They had cared for him and nursed him back to health.  During his time with those eastern travelers they had taught him about their one god.   I asked him if that was when he had started to believe in his god.  He stated that he had actually felt at first that the travelers were like sheep to believe in such an idea.

       Kraftstar continued with his story stating that after he had left those travelers behind he had met the warlord again.  The warlord had been wounded from another battle, and the warlord was in a weakened state lying there before Kraftstar.  Kraftstar’s will was for blood-lust as he picked up the warlord’s sword and prepared to get his vegeance against him.  As Kraftstar held the sword above the warlord’s throat he said that something had happened to him.  It was some kind of light that had filled Kraftstar’s soul and it was in that moment in which Kraftstar had discovered that his one god actually existed.  My next thought, of  which I spoke out loud, was that his one god must have been the force who had given Kraftstar enough strength and courage to kill the warlord.  It was the one thing that I had never been able to do when I had met Callisto.  I had not had the strength to kill Callisto to get my vegeance against her for killing Perdicas.  In this moment I thought that I might find that I could have satisfied vegeance somehow if only I had the strength back then.  But Kraftstar said that it had only been the opposite effect for him.  Despite all of his rage and anger against the warlord he could not kill him for he knew that even the warlord had an important purpose to fill in the in the world.  Then Kraftstar said that this was what he meant when he spoke about having faith.  He said he was aware that it sounded strange, and he was right.  It did sound very strange.  How could it be right for a warlord to be given mercy when Kraftstar’s family was not spared?  How could it be faith when my beloved Perdicas was murdered by Callisto when he had done nothing to her?  Despite these questions I agreed with him on one point.  It was not right to follow his urge for blood-lust.  For me it had been Xena that had reminded me that killing was not a part of who I was when my moment of truth came.  For Kraftstar it was his one god.  Then I realized what it was that Kraftstar was trying to do.  He was trying to help me to restore my faith that things would be okay despite our dire situation.  We were simply two grains of sand wading through the bolders.

     My night in the occupied temple seemingly lasted for an eternity.  Time passed by so slowly.  It was strange yet if time could have stopped and given Xena the opportunity to arrive I would not have argued.  Soon I found myself lying next to Kraftstar within our shared passions as I slipped into a deep slumber.  My nerves and my fears had finally been soothed to allow sleep.  Early the next morning I was rudely awakened by the sounds of Caesar’s boots as he arrived back at the temple with us.  He handed a scrolled message to one of his men.  He commanded his soldier to take the message to Catalineous.  Caesar wanted that legion of men to form up and move to another location on the battlefield.  With that Caesar sent his man away with the message.  Caesar’s officer asked him if there was trouble.  Caesar explained that during the night the barbarian army had given up land that they had fought and died for previously.  He stated out loud as he approached Kraftstar and I that if Xena was going to offer him the land so easily that he would go ahead and take it back.  Caesar’s officer was alarmed stating that he felt that it would spread the Roman forces to thin.  Caesar appeared annoyed that the officer didn’t understand his strategy.  He stated that he wanted Xena to attack him for the lost ground for it would draw Xena into a big battle in which he would easily be able to defeat her.  He then walked over to one of his personal banners and grabbed it from the wall.  He turned back to his officer and instructed him to take the banner with him because he wanted Xena to know who had ordered the deaths of his captives.  With that Caesar walked away and disappeared outside the temple, and all of the comforts of the night before dissipated as I realized that this time I might not survive what was about to come my way.  Perhaps my fate had absolutely been sealed.  I had to began to accept it.

     Krafstar and I were escorted to the hill as Caesar had commanded the night before.  We were tied to a pair of crosses and we were helpless to save ourselves.  I waited for Kraftstar’s god to come into my heart and to fill it with the light of hope and of faith.  Then Caesar’s officer stated that Xena would be witness to all that was about to happen.  He then turned to me and said that Caesar had one last message to me that he was certain would mean something to her.  He stated that my legs were to be broken.  This sent panic into my soul.  The emotion I was about to feel inside was fear of the idea of my legs being broken and what that would feel like before I would finally die.  The suffering was unimaginable for me.  I tried to gather the courage within to accept the pain I would have to endure yet all I could think of was how Xena had become dark after Caesar had betrayed her so long ago.  Even if I did survive I was not sure that Xena’s heart would survive seeing what Caesar had done to me.  That upset me more as I closed my eyes and prepared to take the blow of the hammer.  I closed my eyes as I heard the solider prepare to swing his hammer.  I attempted to hold my breath hoping that somehow that would soften the blow.  Just as I felt the hammer graze my knee I heard the sound of Xena’s battle cry coming from beneath me.  Xena popped out from the ground along with 15 mercenaries and yanked the soldier with the hammer off of his feet as he narrowly missed my legs.  Then more mercenaries popped out of the ground from everywhere.  My arms were stretching and hurting from being pulled down by my own weight and the gravity of my body.  I realized that I might have to endure a long battle hanging from a cross.

      Suddenly, from down below the ridge Bodecia and her army of mercenaries charged into the battle.  Again Xena and Bodecia had taken the Roman’s by surprise managing to set up a battle in which they would have the advantage of numbers.  Xena had succeeded at dividing Caesar’s army too thin as Caesar’s officer had warned him of earlier in the morning.  I could see Caesar standing off in the distance observing the battle on top of the largest hill.  I was afraid that he might have some unknown part of his plan that would reveal itself.  I was afraid for Xena as she fought Caesar’s officer to defend me.  Swords were flying everywhere and I thought I might be cut by a blade during the skirmish.  As I awaited Caesar’s next move it appeared that he did not have one.  The mercenaries were easily defeating him and Xena took down his officer holding her blade to his chin.  The officer’s terror-filled face awaited her to strike him into death, but she didn’t.  Instead she allowed a few of the mercenaries to take him prisoner.  As I watched the mercenaries taking weapons and loot off of the dead Roman soldiers on the battle field I wanted to pass out from all of the blood, but then I heard the soothing sound of Xena’s voice.  Xena called my name and I looked up again.  I was having trouble breathing now as the weight of my body hanging upon the cross was getting to me physically.  I attempted to make a joke, but I was deadly serious.  I warned Xena that we needed to work on the timing of these close to call battles to rescue me.  Xena then threw two knives she had pulled off of the dead soldier below my feet and released the ropes which had bound my wrists to the cross.  My body fell limp down onto Xena and I almost lost my breathe.  I was in a lot of physical pain from the time I had spend bound to that cross.  I could barely move my arms and legs and I felt very weak.  Xena asked me if I was okay.  I nodded in affirmation as I looked across the battle field to notice Caesar’s fiery anger at losing to Xena.

     Caesar grabbed a spear and intended to hurl it at Xena.  She rose to her feet and grabbed her chackram to defend his offensive against her.  I heard Xena’s chackram flying through the air as it effortlessly sliced through Caesar’s spear.  A fragment of his spear shot back in his direction and stuck into his hand.  Xena’s chackram easily returned as it deflected off of a defending Roman shield.  Caesar looked down at his wounded hand and then removed the large piece of wood sticking out of it.  He was almost in shock at his defeat as he glared across the battlefield toward Xena.  Xena then grabbed Caesar’s banner, held it up and ripped it in half demonstrating her superior battle strategy over him.  I don’t think she had ever defeated him before this moment and he was not handling it well.  In that moment some of the other mercenaries helped me to my feet as they celebrated their victory over Caesar alongside Bodecia with Xena.  Xena waived Caesar’s torn banner and all of the mercenaries raised their swords and shouted out in victory.  The victory would be short-lived for both Xena and Bodecia knew that Caesar would not be able to wallow in defeat very long.  He would most certainly be ready to counter-attack by the following morning.

      There was no time to waste.  Xena told Bodecia that it was time to return to camp and regroup.  Bodecia agreed with Xena.  She was all business as she ordered her men back to camp.  I walked alongside Xena and Bodecia listening to them converse about their plans.  It seemed to me that Xena was very disappointed that I had allowed myself to be captured by Caesar.  She had barely taken the time to speak to me about any of what had just happened to me the night before.  Not only that, but I really wanted to get to know Bodecia, yet she was a warrior leader just as focused as Xena if not more.  I found myself feeling very small with in this dynamic of myself, Xena, Bodecia, Caesar and the mercenaries.  It was as if I really found myself not belonging with Xena for the first time.  I had never felt this way before, but I didn’t like it.  There was seemingly no place where I fit into the equation.  It felt as if somehow Xena were punishing me for my careless mistake in getting captured by Caesar.  I decided to fall back into the crowd of mercenaries for comfort.  Perhaps I could talk to Kraftstar and to his followers.  I needed to feel like I was doing something useful with in this twisted craft of warfare.

      Once we reached Bodecia’s camp hidden cleverly within a cave Xena finally decided to approach me about my mistake in getting myself caught.  She grabbed my arm forcefully pulling me away from Kraftstar.  I was ready for what she was going to say to me.  Before I would allow her to belittle me I tried to explain to her that I had never had any intention of getting myself caught.  I apologized to her because it was all I could think of to say hoping that it would somehow restore her lost faith in me.  Before I could finish my attempt at defending my actions during the battle on the night before Xena seemed much more interested in if I had actually spoken with Caesar.  I was puzzled for a moment.  This was not what I had expected.  Perhaps she was not disappointed in me.  Maybe this was my chance at redeeming myself.  As I began to describe to Xena Caesar’s distinctive entrancing aura she stopped me and forcefully interrupted.  Her analogy was that his aura was exactly same power that drew a moth to a flame with the same result.

     This put quite a distinctive image in my mind.  She was comparing me to that moth with in the fact that I almost got myself killed.  She wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t feel what I had just suffered at Caesar’s bidding should have been criticized so harshly.  I needed Xena to take me seriously again and so my next statement was very serious.   It was useful information she wanted from me and not to discuss what I had suffered.  I then spoke of how he had talked about his strategy to divide and conquer.  That seemed as if it were important information she could use in her next battle against him.  I needed to win her faith again.  Before I could finish my thought Xena filled in the blanks stating that dividing a woman’s sensabilities from her emotion was Caesar’s philosophy and she was already well-aware of it.  Just then she seemed very annoyed and I realized that I had allowed myself to become nothing more than Caesar’s messenger to prod at Xena’s emotions.   Then Xena walked away and I realized that despite his having betrayed her she had once had very serious strong feelings toward him.   There were so many old passions stirring within the warrior princess between her past love affair turned betrayal with Caesar and her own betrayal of Bodecia.  It was more than I could handle or deal with.  I couldn’t calm her nerves because I couldn’t calm my own nerves.  I was very much out of my element.  I was having my own crisis of faith.

      I decided that it was time to find out as much as I could about what had happened the night before between Xena and Bodecia at the camp.  As I moved about I searched for wounded men I could be of service to.  When I reached the back of the cave I found an entire stash of food and water and a make-shift hospital.  Bodecia was amazingly organized.  She was an amazing leader and I wondered if maybe it had been Bodecia who had taught Xena those leadership skills during their time together in the past.  Unfortunately, for Bodecia it had been to her detriment.  I realized that Xena was doing the same thing with Bodecia that I was doing with her.  She wanted desperately to regain Bodecia’s faith in her to make up for her past betrayal.  As I sat down next to one of the wounded I grabbed a nearby torn rag and wooden bowl of water to help wipe his wounds.  I started asking him about Bodecia and he said that he knew her quite well.  He was one of her officers and had witnessed what had transpired between the two women the night before.  He said Bodecia had been very suspicious of Xena despite having accepted Xena’s help in going up against Caesar again.  When Xena had first arrived back at the camp with Bodecia after the first battle Bodecia’s officer stated that Bodecia had reminded Xena that Xena was not in charge of this army.  Xena did not take it well according to Bodecia’s officer and had trouble biting her tongue.   Bodecia pointed to the past, but Xena would not allow Bodecia to live in their past relationship.  Xena reprimanded Bodecia for bringing the past into the present.

       When I asked Bodecia’s wounded officer what had happened next he stated that Xena tried to convince Bodecia that she had arrived in Britannia only to help Bodecia.  Bodecia did not believe that for a moment.  In fact, the officer stated that Bodecia revealed to Xena that she was keenly aware of Xena’s need for vengeance against Caesar.  Bodecia was certain that Xena had come only for Caesar.  The Celtic warrior woman went on to state that Caesar was the only reason that she herself had not attempted her own revenge on Xena.  Bodecia had decided that Xena was a lesser evil than Caesar and that she most certainly would be unable to defeat Caesar without Xena’s help.  The Celtic warrior leader then walked away from Xena, and Xena genuinely attempted to apologize to Bodecia for the loss of her husband Persudicas.  Bodecia’s officer stated that the Celtic warrior woman was not interested in Xena’s weak apologies and she left Xena standing alone in the middle of her camp.  In that moment I thanked the Celtic officer for his conversation and for being so open about his leader.  I attempted to ease his mind knowing that Xena really did have good intentions.  Although it was also becoming quite clear to me that she also had selfish motivations.  It was a strange place for the warrior princess to be.  She was the evil self and the good self all in the same moment.

       I moved onto take care of another wounded mercenary.  He was able to fill in the next part of the story of Xena’s night with Bodecia.  This mercenary told me that Xena had approached him and asked him if he had known of where I was in the camp.  Xena assumed that I had made it back with everyone else after the battle.  When the mercenary stated that no girl was brought in Xena pressed the mercenary for more asking him about the leader of the temple whom the girl had been last known to be traveling with.  The mercenary stated a woman approached him and interjected into the conversation asking Xena if it had been Kraftstar that she was inquiring about.  Xena affirmed that it was and the woman continued stating that the last she had heard Kraftstar had gone to Gual to hunt for mercenaries.  She had heard nothing about the girl Xena had been asking about.  It must have been in that moment that Xena realized that I had been captured.

     As I tended to another officer it was revealed to me that Xena had stormed off into Bodecia’s tent uninvited while Bodecia was putting together the battle plans.  Xena had quickly taken down both the officer  and Bodecia instantly drawing her sword upon Bodecia.  The officer said that within the tense moments he had almost choked to death.  Xena had kicked the air from his lungs.  The warrior princess then accused Bodecia of lying to her.  Xena must have suspected that Bodecia was attempting to get her own revenge by not telling Xena of my capture.  Bodecia’s answer to Xena’s challenge against her decision to allow me to be lost to the Romans was that one person was not worth saving when she had to get an entire army out of the valley before Caesar could recover with reinforcements against them.  Bodecia had been certain that Xena would never have allowed Bodecia and the mercenary army to leave the valley before it was too late.  For Bodecia I was not worth the sacrifice of her men.  Bodecia attempted to use the tense moment to get control of Xena’s blade being pressed up against her chest, but Xena was too strong for the move.  Then Bodecia tried words stating to Xena that she had something important to reveal to her.  Xena waited for Bodecia to reveal her secret.  She must have thought perhaps I had been killed rather than captured.  Bodecia refused to say anything more until Xena surrendered and gave the officer his breath back.

      Xena had to make a choice.  As the officer continued his story he explained that he was certain Xena would have killed both himself and Bodecia if she had revealed anything Xena did not want to hear.  Bodecia held out and waited for Xena to make her choice.  Xena could have chosen to kill Bodecia and find out nothing or to free the officer from his suffering allowing Bodecia the chance to get her blade upon Xena for a clash of swords.  Xena chose to save the officer freeing his impeded lungs and restoring the officer’s breath.  Bodecia used that moment to leap to her feet as she grabbed a staff.  Once the moment had calmed and cooler heads had prevailed the officer had asked Bodecia if she wanted him to call a guard to come to the tent to deal with Xena.  Bodecia decided against it and asked the officer to leave the two women alone together.  The officer stated next that he had been the one who had retrieved my staff back at the river where I had allowed myself to become captured.  He revealed to me that the reason that Xena had not come for me sooner was because Bodecia would not allow her to jeaporadize the position of the mercenary army.

      After several hours of stand off between the two women the officer said that Xena had finally found a way to convince Bodecia that she could come up with a battle plan against Caesar that would allow both Bodecia to easily defeat him and Xena to save Gabrielle.  The only problem with what the officer had described to me was that Xena had decided that I could be used as bait.  When I heard this I realized that both Xena and Caesar were only using me as a pawn in a much larger game.  It was the game of war.  Caesar, it was clear had wanted to use me to divide Xena’s emotions so he could easily defeat her in battle.  Xena had used me to bring Caesar into a trap.  It was a brilliant plan, but I did not like the idea that I was considered expendable.  It was low even for Xena to have allowed me to be used in her war strategy in this way.  It explained why it had taken her so long to come for me.  I nearly lost my life because she had wanted to come to Britannia to get back at Caesar.  This had been something Xena had been planning to do for months.  I was now discovering these plans and my heart was beginning to understand what Bodecia’s heart was feeling.  Then I realized that for Bodecia Xena was her Callisto.  I began to respect Bodecia even more and I began to feel regret that I had been the one that these men had sacrificed themselves for.  Had I not been captured they might not be lying in this hospital injured.  The responsibility I was beginning to feel weighed heavy on my heart.

      The day dragged into night.  While Xena and Bodecia spent their time making battle plans to divide and conquer Caesar’s army it seemed that somehow Xena had managed to regain Bodecia’s trust in some small way.  I could see that Xena had been able to help Bodecia take the advantage against Caesar within two smaller battles in two days, but it seemed that there was something much larger looming.  Late in the night Xena returned to the cave with me.  She woke me to inform me that she wanted me to go with Kraftstar and his followers to secure Kraftstar’s temple as soon as Bodecia and the mercenaries took it from Caesar in the morning.  Xena stated that only a small garrison now held the temple because she and Bodecia had successfully been able to force him to spread his army thin.  The plan was for them to force Caesar into one larger battle in which he would sacrifice more than he should.  She was attempting to use Caesar’s own strategy against him.  Somehow it appeared that she was thinking more clearly than she had in a while.  She had given me a purpose for the morning.  I should have been upset about her expecting me to hold a temple alone while she rode off with Bodecia to fight the larger battle, but I wasn’t.  I had found myself so lost within the dynamics of what a real war was that I had no interest in joining Xena for the blood bath Xena had planned for Caesar’s army.  In the moment I found myself more comfortable with spending time with Kraftstar and learning about how I might be able to restore my own faith with getting to know his god better.

     On the next morning taking the temple went according to Xena’s plans.  It was a simple maneuver in which Xena had Bodecia order a few archers to start a stealthful attack against the unsuspecting garrison.  The first barrage of arrows hit its target as the Roman officer in charge ordered his men to form their shields in defense against the second barrage of arrows.  One man had been killed during the first barrage as the men prepared and hunkered down.  Xena then rode in for the charge upon one of Bodecia’s horses.  She flipped into action landing directly onto the shielded Roman defense as she gave her battle cry.  As soon as Xena began to disperse the Roman defense the mercenaries charged out from the woods down to the low ground of the temple for their attack.  Xena pulled her sword out to attack the Roman defenses even further striking a soldier’s shield with great power.  Quickly Bodecia led her army of mercenaries in for the kill against the Roman garrison upon her chariot.  The garrison did not put up much more of a fight instantly realizing that they were completely out numbered and would be slaughtered by the mercenaries in moments.  Bodecia stopped her chariot and observed that the garrison was heading straight for the hills.  Xena advised Bodecia to keep her army charging forward to follow them.  The warrior princess was instructing Bodecia to kill them knowing that the garrison was attempting to out run their attackers.  Xena suspected they were attempting to find a way to reinforce their garrison so they could retake the temple.  With that Bodecia led the charge and continued her pursuit of the Romans and Xena jumped back onto Bodecia’s black horse and charged after them.

      It was in that moment that I followed Kraftstar and his cloaked followers into their sacred temple.  Kraftstar then stopped and looked to his followers and to me and offered his praises to the one god.  I was happy for him because it seemed that there was something very powerful and amazing about his god.  The temple had been spared rather than destroyed by the Romans and now we were about to enter it.  Kraftstar’s aura was entrancing as he led his people to their savior and I could not help, but feel a closeness to him and a tenderness toward him for the journey his life had led him on.  He had been through so much, but his faith was proving to be stronger than even the Roman army.  To me that was worth everything.  I needed to feel that there was power within faith again.  In this moment with Kraftstar I thought I might just be able to salvage my own faith in goodness and in the greater good.  I found myself to be overcome with joy and I reached out and embraced Kraftstar offering my praise to his god.

      Soon after entering the temple Kraftstar and all of his followers dressed themselves in ceremonial robes.  Kraftstar offered me to join them during their sacred ceremony.  I wasn’t certain that it was appropriate for me to join them, but Kraftstar insisted that his god was open to embracing everyone.  He urged me to stay because he wanted me to be a part of it and he wanted me to see it.  I felt honored and flattered.  It seemed that Kraftstar and I had shared so much together in these last several weeks and especially over the past few days.  The two of us had shared great emotional passions with one another and we had also shared physical passions which I had kept from Xena.  It had been a long time since I had felt this way about anyone.  For the first time it felt as if I were finally healing my heart from my loss of Perdicas to Callisto.  I had finally found someone who could truly relate to my pain and suffering inside.  We had faced Caesar and death together.  Now Kraftstar and his followers were inviting me into their inner circle.  As we approached their ceremonial room one of Krafstar’s female followers approached him and asked him if he didn’t mind if she went ahead and did the honor of conducting the ceremony of rejoining.  She was aware that this ceremony belonged to Kraftstar, but she stated that there had been a few changes made to the ceremony by the tribunal during his absence.  He appeared confused for a moment, but not concerned.  Krafstar allowed her to conduct the ceremony as the tribunal had advised.  He smiled and then she stepped upon the stone pedestal at the center of the temple and began the ceremony.

       All of the cloaked followers then knelt down and picked up a rope.  I could only assume that it was meant to represent the idea of rejoining the group after having been absent.  I followed the group as they picked up the rope and held it in unison.  And then as we stood there her chant began.  “From the begining of time the one has been waiting to complete the circle.  The world that is his has reached a time of rejoining.  The days of old are gone, and the new is before us.  Tremble at his arrival.”  In that moment I wasn’t sure I fully understood what was being said.  As I continued to observe and to listen Kraftstar whispered to me under his breath and stated that this ceremony had changed quite a lot since he had last conducted it.  I looked to him not quite certain of what to say next or how to respond to him.  Then the ceremony continued.  “But first the door must be opened.  The path of his arrival must be sanctified in blood, pure blood, innocent blood.”  As the priestess continued her chant and I heard her speak those words of blood I found myself feeling confused and uncertain.  Before I had time to consider the moment Kraftstar’s followers grabbed him and began leading him toward the alter at the center of the temple.  They began chanting loudly as he began to struggle.  Another pair of priests grabbed my arms and restrained me from doing anything to try to help him escape.  Kraftstar looked back to me shouting out with in his struggle to get away from his captors.

      As I struggled to free myself my heart raced in panic.  I asked my captors to release me, but they would not.  In the next moment I looked up to see that Kraftstar had been placed upon the alter and they were tying his wrists and ankles to the alter.  Suddenly, I realized that he was to become the innocent sacrifice needed to open the gates for this one god who seemingly revealed himself as dark.  No god of good would seek blood to enter into the world.  The priestess continued, “This world will end today.  The hand of Dahok will sweep the earth bringing with it the winter of a thousand years, killing everyone who stands in the way of his world.”  As I continued to struggle to release myself from my captors I head Kraftstar crying out to me pleading for my help.  He stated this was not our god of faith at all.  I didn’t know what to do.  I was seemingly unable to free myself as the chanting of the darkness surrounding us became louder.  The blue cloaked followers chanted loudly as they awaited Kraftstar to be sacrificed in blood in order to open the portal for Dahok’s planned arrival.  Everything happened so fast and there was not time to think.  I had to do something and I had to do it alone.  The deep dark chanting continued as a cloaked female follower arrived to the alter with a long golden box which contained a knife.  I saw the priestess open the box and prepare to take the knife from within.

      Then the priestess held up the knife in ritual toward the sky, and then turned back to the alter with the knife raised above her head.  She began to chant again, “With this life we praise Dahok the dark one.”  I felt powerless and I didn’t want to feel powerless to stop this sacrifice.  I refused to allow another close to my heart become a sacrifice to the cycle of violence.  Without another thought I kicked one of my captors distracting him long enough to deliver a furious elbow to his stomach knocking him flat onto the ground.  This motion was seamless as I elbowed my second captor sending him backward off balance.  I delivered a final blow to the nose knocking him to the ground behind me.  Everything happened so fast yet it seemed as if every moment was an eternity.  The dark chanting continued as I dashed upon the alter and charged at the priestess who held the knife ready to strike Kraftstar.  I reached to grab the knife and delivered a punch to her wind pipe.  I couldn’t stand to listen to another word from her.  It all happened in one fluid motion as I watched her fall to the ground off of the alter.

      I then turned to Krafstar to free him with the knife from his binds.  There was a deep anger boiling up from within my heart.  I felt that there was something that Kraftstar had failed to mention to me about his god.  My adrenaline was high and all I could think of was the moment when Callisto had slid her sword through Perdicas’s heart.  It felt as if I had just taken a sword through my own heart.  Just as I had cut the last bind from Krafstar’s wrists his eyes grew wide and he shouted out a word of warning to me.  It echoed through the temple and I acted.  No sooner than I had turned around did my eyes catch a flash of heavy steel wildly swinging through the air in my direction.  The priestess charged at me and I quickly maneuvered away from her charge at me with her sword.  Using the stone alter I turned away and shielded my body from the blow she delivered toward me.  She had intended to kill me.  I was meant to be the sacrifice.  Kraftstar shouted my name again.  With no time to think I acted and turned to face my attacker with a rage like no other.  Her steel blade was raised again as she charged toward me.  She had left herself completely open for my instant counter attack.  Quickly with the only offensive move that I had I charged forward into her attack and thrust my knife directly into the left side of her abdomen.   I felt the softness of the inside of her body.  I heard a whimper come from her body as she looked deeply into my eyes with regret.

      Suddenly, I realized what I had just done.  Her arms began to drop as she struggled for breath.  Then I realized that my knife was still stuck in her side.  I pulled it out to inspect her wound.  Maybe it was treatable.  Then she dropped her sword with a tear in her eye and looked directly at me into my eyes.  A weak smile spread across her face.  I waited for her to say something.  It appeared as if she could still stand and walk, but was struggling to breath.  Then she fell into herself grabbing for her wound.  Then another whimper came from within her body as she fell to the stone alter unconscious.  Her hand was still holding her wound and my hand was still holding the knife while my other hand had attempted to catch her from falling.  I did not think about any of it.  It just happened.  Then I looked at her deep bloody wound and realized that she was gone.  She had died in that moment.  I had delivered her to her death and watched her take her lasts breaths.  My soul was the last soul she had seen before she passed into the abyss.  It was as if it were a nightmare as I rose to access what I had just done.  I still held the steel blade soaked with the blood of the priestess.  Shock took hold of my soul and my being for I could not believe what had just transpired.  There had been no time to think only to act.  Had I really just plunged a knife into an innocent?  I stared at the knife painted in blood in my hand as I followed the blood flowing upon it into to my hand.  I stared at it in disbelief.  Everything that I had ever fought for and everything I had ever believed about myself and my world to be true was no more.

       For an eternity I could feel the suffering and anguish of every soul that had ever been upon the earth.  Every innocent man, woman, and child flashed through my soul and I internalized all of their pain in my heart for I was no better than Callisto.  I was not a murder yet I had just murdered someone.  My bloody hands were now evidence of another chain in every link that ever created the cycle of violence.  I had now become a part of the very thing I had always stood against.  As I turned in circles within my confusion Kraftstar approached me and took the my bloody weapon.  Softly he looked into my eyes and spoke a debt of gratitude as he held the bloody knife.  I began to sob releasing the tension within my heart as I looked down at my blood soaked hands.  The blood was now beginning to dry as Kraftstar explained that I had just succeeded at helping him to bring Dahok into the world.  My body began to shake as I felt violated inside.  I didn’t know what I was going to do to resolve my mistake.  It seemed irreverseable for death is permanent.  Tears began to fall from my heart as Kraftstar continued to speak to me softly and to draw me back into the world.  He stated that Dahok had needed a sacrifice and that I had just willingly given it to him.  Kraftstar’s hand moved to touch my face, but I instinctively moved away from him.  Kraftstar continued explaining that Dahok was not just looking for a sacrifice of flesh and blood, but also the sacrifice of a pure soul, innocent of evil.  I stared at my bloody hands in disbelief.  I could only hope to awaken from my nightmare as he spoke to me.  I didn’t want to hear his voice anymore.

      Kraftstar looked to his followers and declared that the world and all who were upon it would be no more.  He then raised the bloody sacrifice above his head and declared that the new kingdom of Dahok would rule from this moment forth.  Somehow that statement snapped me into some coherence of thought as I realized that I had just been betrayed by Kraftstar.  He had taken my heart and taken advantage of my innocence and my trust in him as a friend and as a lover.  Then he turned to me and stated that I would be the one who would bring forth Dahok’s evil world of blood and of death.  He smiled and it pierced through me.  In that moment I realized that I was completely alone and doomed to continue the cycle of violence.  All of the pain and suffering of the world was upon my bloody hands.  My soul was powerless to do anything, but to cry out loud as I shouted one word, the only word that could escape from my lips in that moment.  Not me, it could not be me.  I could not be the one responsible.  I fell to my knees tears filling my eyes and rolling down my face.  Emotions flooded through me and I could not control them.  I wanted to die in that moment for I did not deserve to live.  It should have been me on that alter.  My ears could no longer bare to hear the truth.  I attempted to cover them and to fall into myself hoping that I would soon wake from my nightmare.

       The next thing that I could recall was that I heard Xena’s footsteps enter into the temple.  I realized I was alone and that I must have passed out from the shock I had just experienced.  I was sobbing still unable to gather myself as I attempted to stumble my way toward the warrior princess.  The priestess lied dead upon the stone alter.  Xena quickly approached me at the alter as I crawled to the front where she arrived.  She softly spoke my name.  Then she sat down upon the steps to the alter as I reached out to embrace her.  I needed her now more than ever.  I needed to feel whole inside.  I could barely utter any words as Xena held me and stroked my hair.  She asked me what had happened.  I asked Xena where the priestess was, but I could barely get her name to escape my lips.  Xena told me that she was gone.  Then Xena pulled me away from her realizing that I was in extreme shock.  She looked me straight in the eye and asked me in a very serious tone who had done this.  It was in that moment that my senses were finally coming back and though I was still extremely emotional and remorseful of my actions I knew that I had to tell Xena the truth of who I had become and who I really was in that moment.  I looked directly into her soul and confessed my crime weakly, but without hesitation.  I was disappointed in myself for my own actions.  In my heart I felt there had to be a better way.  Xena looked to me confused not quite understanding my truth, but I laid it out straight.  I explained that I had simply killed the priestess.  Xena was still confused, but I repeated my statement just to clarify my truth.  Xena did not want to believe it.  She rejected the idea out loud.  I confessed my crime again through my tears explaining how I had just stabbed the priestess.  Then I held up my still bloody hands.  Her eyes expressed shock.  Then she realized that she had to do something to calm my battle nerves.  She shouted out that I had killed the priestess accidentally.

      I refused to accept my deed as any less than what it was.  The cold blooded murder I had just committed through a stab wound could not be explained off as a simple accident.  I stabbed her to kill her.  My rage in the heat of that single moment of my life had gotten the better of me and I had committed murder.  Xena’s eyes searched mine hoping that she could find something else to say, but there was nothing else to say.  It was all true.  Then I leaned in to embrace Xena once more.  I needed to feel comfort and I needed to feel calm.  Xena held me and began to stroke my hair again.  She was preparing to tell me that it was okay to have my first kill, but before she could say anything more the voice of Kraftstar interrupted.  He thanked Xena.  Xena looked up and I looked to see him standing there before us.  I wanted to hurl.  He had raped my soul and I didn’t want to be near him anymore.  I tried to hide my naked heart from the evil presence that he intended to deliver inside me.  Xena jumped up from the alter and screamed out an obscenity at him.  She drew her sword instantly ready to do something about him.  Xena demanded to know what Kraftstar had done to me.  He simply explained that he had full filled my destiny.  Kraftstar then promised that I would be for Dahok.  Xena was confused and demanded to know who Dahok was.  Kraftstar explained that Dahok was the one true god.  Through acts of great wars Dahok w0uld bring the clensing fires of humanity to the earth.  He stated that Dahok’s war was begun of innocence.   Xena was still confused.  She had remembered the god of David and the Israelites, but Kraftstar stated that there was no room for that god or any other god, and that they would all be taken down by his god in time.   Again Kraftstar thanked Xena for bringing me into the great war which would kick off the death of love.

      Xena was still uncertain of what the larger goal was for Kraftstar.  Kraftstar asked Xena to look inside herself and reminded her that she had brought me into her darkness from all of her own past deeds.  He then asked her why she had come to Britannia.  Kraftstar then answered his own question stating that Xena had come only to defeat Caesar.  He went onto state that it was Xena’s hatred of Caesar that had brought her to Britannia, and that Dahok appreciated rage.  In that moment Xena’s rage boiled to the surface as she charged at Kraftstar with her sword screaming.  Her emotions were controlling her as she missed striking him down.  He ducked her attack then turned and hurled a great power into her direction.  She quickly flew across the temple and went down hard.  I slowly started to rise from my own ashes of despair realizing that if Xena were going to die I wanted to die along side her.  I would help her fight evil one last time.  Before I had the chance to get to my feet Dahok’s fire rose from the ashes of my despair and reached for me.  I attempted to jump away from his power and his grasp, but the force of his evil was too much.  The fire grew larger as I looked back it engulfed me and I was dragged back upon the fiery alter.  Xena jumped to her feet and screamed for me attempting to rescue me.  She had completely forgotten about Kraftstar until he flipped into her path blocking her advance against Dahok’s fire.

      Kraftstar fought Xena with her own power and her own moves.  He kicked her back across the temple against the walls.  I cried out for Xena, but she was powerless to rescue me from the wrath of Dahok.  Suddenly, the stone alter exploded before me.  I blocked the rubble as it hurled toward me.  In that moment I was suddenly engulfed completely within the fire of Dahok with in the smoke and the flames.  My body was levitated high up into the temple as I could feel Dahok’s fire burning deep inside me.  I could only feel the struggle below and the struggle within.  Dahok had entered human form within Kraftstar’s body as a demon being.  He declared that Xena’s blood was needed to completely open the gate for Dahok’s entrance.  Xena refused to allow it.  She regathered her senses and began to focus.  She put her rage deep within and used it against the mortal form in which Dahok had taken within Kraftstar.  Xena hurled her chackram and discovered as it hit the temple walls that Dahok’s weakness lied with in its own connection to the temple itself.  She shouted out to me promising to battle her way into the fires which held me physically captive.

     The battle continued as Xena managed to get a blow in against the demon.  She noticed that it weakened the evil energy that had taken hold within the temple itself.  Xena then went for a low offensive move with her sword sweeping the demon’s sword away opening him up for her counter offensive against him.  She pulled her breast dagger and cut him with it.  Every time she took a deep blow at him I could feel the fire inside me weakening, but it was still strongly moving through me.  Being violated by Dahok’s power in this way was uncomfortable and unpleasant.  I was being touched by a force that I had not willingly invited into my being.  It felt as if Dahok’s fire was being fueled by my deepest rage and deepest human flaws.  His power drew every negative emotion and every negative experience it could probe from within my soul.  As Dahok’s force was beginning to weaken even more he fought back against Xena’s strength and cunning.  The warrior princess was taunting him into an enraged mistake as he had done to her early in the fight.  His godly ego was getting the better of Dahok as he began to falter in his choices against Xena within their duel of wills.  Xena begged him to come at her as she flipped over him to press her advantage against his mortal emotions.  She didn’t believe he was truly a god.  Gods could not be injured and he had proven that he could be hurt.  Xena continued to press her advantage by continuing to manipulate his emotions within the mortal demon he had appeared in the form of.

      As Dahok’s fire within me was weakening I could feel the ebb and flow of the emotional battle between Xena and Dahok’s demon.  He had regained some composure as he charged at Xena again who continued to point out Dahok’s flaws and weaknesses.   Xena turned to face him with her back to the fiery alter.  As Dahok’s demon approached charging at her she fell upon her back and grabbed him at full force and momentum.  She flipped him through the air kicking him up over her into the fiery alter.  The demon’s body fell into the fire below me and blocked the gates that were now open.  Suddenly, Dahok’s fire within me lost its hold upon me and disappeared from beneath me.  I fell from the sky toward the hole in the alter.  Xena jumped up and leapt across the hole to grab me as I fell from the sky.  She swooped in and saved me from my despair as she stood before the destroyed alter and held me in her arms.  I held her tight and did not want to let go of her.  I was afraid of what might happen next.  I did not want to get separated from her again.  She urged me to stand upon my own feet and kept repeating that she would not let go of me.

      Suddenly, the earth beneath began to shake, and the temple began to collapse.  Xena barked out an order for me to run.  I ran into an archway and Xena followed barking out another command to get to get down.  She shielded me with her body as the entire temple began to fall all around us.  The temple itself exploded within its own fiery rage as Dahok’s power struggled within its own defeat.  Fiery stones dropped from the sky raining down upon us.  Again I passed out as the earth continued to shake beneath us.  It was several hours before I came around again, but I was numb inside.  Xena was still holding me in her arms as I awoke.  I whispered her name and she assured me that she was still with me.  I tried to explain how I was hurting deeply within.  I had no words really to describe what I had just experienced with in Dahok’s fire.  Xena did not understand what I meant.  I tried to tell her that everything had changed.  Even I had changed inside my soul somehow.  There was no going back from those moments in Dahok’s temple.  I would never be the same.  My heart cried and my eyes could not control the tears that fell.  Xena stroked my hair and rocked me like a child.  I felt like a child that had just been violated and there was nothing that I could have done to stop it.  Despite that Xena promised me that all would be okay.  She would make things better.  Xena then apologized to me saying that she should have listened to Ares when he had come to her asking her to intervene and to destroy the temple sooner.  She said that she had felt that he only had selfish intentions.  Again, it was her rage against even the god of war that allowed Dahok to enter into my soul and my being.  I was never going to be the same now that I had become nothing more than Dahok’s deliverer.

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The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll# 53: Aphrodite’s Enchanted Scroll

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #53:  Aphrodite’s Enchanted Scroll

October, 47 B.C.

     As Gabrielle’s next adventure began she and Xena found themselves passing by one of Aphrodite’s temples.  The sun was just about to set over the horizon just beyond the trees in the forest.  The bard had only met Aphrodite once and recalled Joxer the Mighty having become the innocent victim of Aphrodite’s rage over the loss of her temples to peace between two kingdoms.  It seemed ridiculous that the goddess of love would appear interested in Joxer, but perhaps it was because that despite his idoicy the goddess may have found him to be kind-hearted.   The bard expressed her thoughts about the goddess that she had always admired despite her spell over Joxer with the ringing bell, and inquired if Xena had ever met the goddess of love.  Xena responded that most of her dealings were always with Ares for Ares was only interested in war which was something Xena had been interested in for a long time before the bard.  In fact, he was still obsessed with the warrior princess even though she had clearly renounced her allegiance to him several times since traveling with Gabrielle and being converted to the path of light by Hercules.

       Gabrielle found that she was getting to know the god of war quite well herself; although, she was still very interested in the goddess of love.  The bard expressed to the warrior princess that she hoped to one day be in the presence of the goddess again.  Xena just scoffed at the idea realizing that the bard was idolizing Aphrodite, but Gabrielle didn’t see it that way.  The warrior princess pressed her opinion of the gods upon the bard stating that in her experience with any god there were always alterior motives.  Those motives were usually not in favor of humanity according to the warrior princess.  Then Xena proceeded to remind the bard that it was Aphrodite’s son Cupid whom had left baby Bliss unattended leading to the disaster with the Hestian virgins, and the warlord Draco in love with Gabrielle.  This was all brought up in order to prove her point about the gods and their intentions.  Gabrielle argued with Xena explaining that it wasn’t all Cupid’s fault, and that he had resolved the situation as soon as he was able to.  The bard also gleefully reminded Xena of her own uncontrollable lust toward Draco at the time.  Xena just rolled her eyes at the bard’s comment.  Gabrielle pressed her argument stating that Baby bliss was the real culprit as she reminded the warrior princess of the unpredictable nature of children at play.  The warrior princess moved away from the bard as if becoming disinterested in the conversation.  At first Gabrielle was a bit offended that her friend was now ignoring their debate and conversation about the gods.  Yet there was something else upon Aphrodite’s temple that had caught Xena’s eye.

       The bard followed the warrior princess up the steps of the temple to see what it was that had caught Xena’s gaze.  Xena appeared to be slightly disgusted at what she saw scrolled upon the temple doors.  Someone had written messages all over the front of Aphrodite’s temple proclaiming their worship of Xena the warrior princess.  There were several phrases and praises scrolled upon the walls and the doors.  Xena entered into Aphrodite’s temple and followed the scrolled messages.  Gabrielle read them as she followed the warrior princess inside the temple.  Many of the phrases were taken directly from the writings of her many scrolls about the warrior princess.  The bard found herself to be pleased that so many people had either read or heard of them.  Xena was not impressed and was uninterested in the fame that the bard had seemingly created around the warrior princess and her deeds.  Xena suspected that Aphrodite would most certainly be offended by the defacing of her temple through the scrolled worship of Xena.  The warrior princess expressed her displeasure certain that Aphrodite, like all of the other gods she had ever encountered, would find a way to get her retribution against Xena.  Gabrielle argued that the goddess of love’s retribution couldn’t possibly be worse than Ares’s use of the furies against the warrior princess for defeating him in his bid to rid the world of Hercules.

      As the sun set Xena decided that the two friends would set up camp in the forest just down the road from the temple.  It was obvious that Xena was still quite mentally exhausted from her battle to win back her mind and her sanity from Ares.  All the warrior princess really wanted to do was relax her mind and not strain it upon any topic beyond that of the bliss of a good night’s rest.  As the two friends sat by the camp fire upon their sprawled out bed rolls, Gabrielle pulled out of her saddle bag the most glorious object.  It was a fresh scroll.  As the bard held it up she took a whiff of the empty new parchment she had just purchased back in Amphipolis before they had left Xena’s mom behind for their next adventure.  The bard proclaimed how much she loved the moment of bliss that she felt just as she was about to begin writing a new scroll.  The warrior princess, as usual, was not paying too much attention to the bard’s creative rant as she continued concentrating on making repairs to her leather accessories.  Despite this Gabrielle went on to describe the feel, of a clean, yet empty scroll.  She looked down at the new parchment as if the idea of it being so perfectly clean and empty was an inspiration with in itself.  It seemed as if the bard felt a burst of creativity coming from within herself as she went through the familiar ritual as she crinkled it.  Gabrielle loved that sound it made the first time she would open a new scroll.  Again the bard held the scroll under her nose and took another deep whiff of the freshness of a new story just bursting from within herself and the scroll.  It was a certain connection that would occur and it would drive her to write from with in the depths of her soul.  Gabrielle loved the untouched scent of her new story just waiting to be told.  The scroll was already almost a living breathing entity even with out words upon it.

     Then she offered her new scroll to Xena.  The warrior princess gazed up momentarily from her chore in repairing her leather accessories.  Xena appeared to be slightly curious about the bard’s ritual and process, but not enough to want to partake in it.  As the bard held out her new scroll to the warrior princess Xena politely declined the experience stating that from her viewpoint the parchment just smelled like a piece of musty old leather.  Gabrielle expected nothing less of the warrior princess.  Though it wasn’t a true insult, Gabrielle decided to take Xena’s opinion and turn it to her advantage explaining that for those who were not creative like herself it certainly would smell of musty old leather.  Then Gabrielle turned to her fresh scroll and began to bring it to life as she spoke the words she was about to imprint upon it out loud.  Xena barked at Gabrielle pleading with her not to write another story about Xena and her adventures with Gabrielle.  The warrior princess wanted to know if Gabrielle ever became weary of writing about every thing that Xena did.  The warrior princess suggested that Gabrielle create new characters and new emotional images as she cut the loose thread with her teeth that had been caught upon her breast plate.

     Gabrielle was slightly surprised at Xena’s suggestion or even that the warrior princess had a suggestion about the bard’s writing at all.  The bard inquired of Xena intrigued and wondered if it was fiction that the warrior princess was suggesting that she try.  Xena looked to Gabrielle and with a slight nod of her head affirmed that indeed it was fiction that she thought the bard should write.  Gabrielle could see that Xena was walking a fine line with the bard’s creative passions in suggesting such an idea.  It was as if the warrior princess was afraid of what the bard might think of the idea that Xena would want to alter how Gabrielle chose to express her writings.  Gabrielle took the moment of open sharing with the warrior princess and decided that it was a new break through.  For the first time Xena appeared to be just slightly interested in something outside of herself.  The warrior princess was genuinely interested in what Gabrielle might be doing with in her creative process.  The bard decided to respond with a positive comeback.  She expressed to the warrior princess that indeed she had thought about trying fiction before, but had to admit to her friend that she wasn’t so confident about her ability to create her own living, breathing, fictional characters.  Gabrielle wondered if Xena really respected her creative talents enough to believe in the bard’s potential.  The warrior princess pressed the bard to go ahead and try the idea of a fictional universe, but she asked that the bard do it quietly instead of out loud.  At that point, Xena had shared about all she was willing to share with in Gabrielle’s creative process.  With that Xena laid her breast plate and leather accessories aside, rolled over and declared to the bard good-night.

     Despite Xena’s request that Gabrielle experience her creative process quietly, Gabrielle could not do it with out telling her most intimate story out loud.  It was how she had begun telling her stories as a child in the taverns back in Podedia.  It was the way she would always write her stories upon the parchment.  She had a need to express her inner voice and passions out-loud.  There was no other way.  As Gabrielle began her next story she spoke Xena’s name out loud.  Xena chimed in suggesting that the bard make someone else the hero in her story this time.  Gabrielle paused as she was about to put her first words onto the new scroll.  She looked over to Xena who was lying down snuggling up within her bed roll.  The bard knew that Xena was only trying to force the bard to take her advice and to stop writing such wonderful and popular stories about the warrior princess.  The bard glanced back down to her scroll deciding that Xena’s idea was not such a bad one.  Gabrielle could still write a truthful, heart-felt story without Xena.  In fact, Gabrielle could write the story about the lone warrior Gabrielle.  And so that is how “The Quill Is Mightier” became inspired, and its power became enchanting.  Gabrielle found herself to be enjoying the idea of writing fiction for the first time.  The words just flowed from her mind, and soul like never before, but after only a few lines the bard found herself to be feeling a deep sleep coming upon her.

       “Suddenly, the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with a jerk as five barbarians rode out of the woods” toward camp.  The battling bard could feel the ground shaking beneath her as the hooves of their horses pounded violently upon the ground.  Gabrielle shouted out to Xena who was apparently still soundly sleeping.  It was the opposite of what would normally happen in this scenario.  Despite that Gabrielle did not think, but she jumped up into action as the barbarians approached.  Gabrielle jumped up onto a rock to get a better vantage point of the barbarians as they approached.  She awaited the warrior princess to choose a striking position of defense upon the battlefield against the barbarians, but Xena did not flip into action.  Gabrielle looked back toward the camp and shouted out for Xena to wake up again.  The barbarians were getting dangerously closer.  Gabrielle suddenly realized that she was going to have to take on the barbarians alone to defend the seemingly unconscious warrior princess.  Quickly the bard turned to face the barbarians and with out a thought flipped into action.  As the battling bard flipped over the on coming barbarian leader she kicked him off of his horse.  He fell behind her and his horse ran toward the camp.  Some how the bard was also able to knock the other four barbarians off of their horses in what seemed like an instant.  Her move was just like that of Xena.  It was amazing and soon Gabrielle realized that she was Xena and just as good.

      Despite that Gabrielle still needed some help.  This was five barbarians against one battling bard.  Gabrielle shouted out to Xena again for some assistance in the battle.  As the battling bard awaited Xena she flipped into action again.  “Twirling her trusty staff then jumping upon it she delivered kicks of such fury” flipping across the battlefield back toward camp “deflecting the thrust of a barbarian sword with her mighty abs.”  From below, underneath the bed roll emerged an eerie sounding scream.  It was Joxer terrified of the sudden interruption of his slumber.  Gabrielle suddenly rose up from her deflection of the barbarian attack upon Joxer and head-butted him into submission.  Gabrielle felt the agonizing pain echoing through her skull as she grabbed her forehead attempting to sooth the power of her uncontrollable defense against the barbarians.  The barbarian sword thrust high up into the sky and then fell back down upon the earth again knocking down the barbarian leader from behind.  As Gabrielle began to recover from the excruciating pain in her head she heard the barbarians shout out that they were retreating for the power of the battling bard had been too much for them to handle alone.  The bard looked out across the forest and watched them ride away in an attempt to escape her  new-found warrior wrath.

      Gabrielle’s adrenalin was coursing through her veins like never before.  She felt the high of the aftermath of her amazing battle and subsequent lone victory over the barbarians.  Joxer shouted out against the barbarians a threatening word of warning as he found his way to his feet.  Gabrielle turned to him with in her excitement and asked him if he had just seen all that had transpired.  The battling bard was proud of the back flips that she had just effortlessly been able to do.  As she was coming down from the warrior high she realized that there was something unusual about the fact that she had just done something that she had never been physically able to do before.  She had never even attempted to practice a back flip before this moment.  Joxer inquired about Gabrielle’s ab armor, but there was no armor.  It was just the bard’s mighty abs that had saved Joxer from certain death by barbarian sword.  Gabrielle began to find herself deconstructing what had just happened.  It had all happened so fast and with out a thought.  Xena was no where to be found.  Gabrielle had no idea where those barbarians had come from, and what was even more strange to her was the fact that Joxer was standing before her.  There had been no reason for him to be there.  Gabrielle and Xena had not sent for him, and what he had been doing sleeping in Xena’s bed roll made absolutely no sense to the bard.  Joxer was most certainly not sneaky enough to make it into their camp without either one of them knowing of his presence.

     Suddenly, Gabrielle realized that everything that had just occurred seemed eerily familiar in some way.  She dashed over to her bed roll and picked up her new scroll from its resting place and began to read it out loud.  Moving to her feet Gabrielle continued to read until she realized that everything that had just happened had been written upon her new scroll.  Joxer inquired of the bard asking her if what she said was true.  Of course he was laughing the whole time.  He didn’t believe that it was possible as he began to let out boisterous laughter.  Gabrielle realized that her staff was still drilled tightly into the ground from her onslaught against the barbarians.  She struggled to pull it out, but it felt very hot.  The staff burned to the touch as Gabrielle yanked it out of the ground and then threw it at Joxer.  Joxer caught the scalding staff and discovered what the bard had done with her fury and power.  He stated the obvious back to the bard who decided that it was time to write something special for Joxer to do.  “As the last of the barbarians fled the scene Joxer took the staff of Gabrielle unable to control himself.  He hit himself once, twice, and then three times on the head with the staff only to knock himself off of his feet falling onto the ground.”  Joxer was surprised by what he had just done and inquired of the bard why he had done that to himself.  Gabrielle’s suspicion had been proven to be correct as she responded to the idiot that she had written that Joxer would do that to himself.  She actually felt a little sorry about it, but the regret only lasted for a fleeting moment.  The bard proudly declared that she could write anything and it would most certainly come true.  Despite having proven her new theory she was still a little surprised at the power of the scroll that she had just begun to write the night before.  Next came a new thought.  The bard realized that she had the power to change the entire world just by the words that she would be inspired to write upon her scroll.

       With that the bard invited Joxer to walk down the path with her toward the nearest village.  They could go there and have a feast for breakfast.  Joxer appeared confused and in a bit of a trance, but he just blindly followed the bard as she continued to express that she now held the power of the world within her hands.  She was certain that Xena would be very proud when she had returned from her fishing trip that Gabrielle had written into the scroll.  Gabrielle could not have given Xena a greater gift of solace than a fishing trip.  Especially after suffering through the wrath of Ares.  Joxer interrupted Gabrielle’s train of thought wondering why Gabrielle was so certain that Xena had gone fishing.  Gabrielle had to explain to him that she had written it on her scroll so that was obviously where Xena was.  For a moment there was silence and then Joxer grabbed the scroll from Gabrielle and wanted to know what it was that Gabrielle had written that had brought him to her.  Joxer verbalized what he assumed Gabrielle had written by explaining that he had the heart of a lion and the soul of a warrior.  Gabrielle found that she wasn’t even exactly certain how that happened, but was certain that her scroll would reveal all.

     Joxer then began to read the scroll out loud from the beginning.  As he attempted to read it Gabrielle realized that Joxer wasn’t the most literate.  He mispronounced the word “fishing” and Gabrielle had to correct him.  Then he continued on reading slowly until he found himself to the phrase he described as “funny.”  As Joxer licked his lips within his confusion, the bard felt that he wasn’t completely wrong in thinking that the sentence which read “Gabrielle awoke with a jerk,” was strange and didn’t quite make sense.  There was nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence, but when Gabrielle had written the sentence she had intended it to be more of a description about the lone warrior’s state in the moment rather than a description of an unmentioned character.  The sentence had manifested itself to be more literal when it brought Joxer.  Gabrielle was waiting for the moment when Joxer would come to the same realization that she had already arrived at.  She could have written it stating that “the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with Joxer,” but instead the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with a “jerk.”

     The idiot didn’t disappoint deciding that he must have come to Gabrielle’s camp on his own.  He quickly lost interest in the said power of the scroll, rolled it up, and handed it back to the bard.  He wanted to know what they were going to do next.  Gabrielle repeated his question back to him with zest.  She then asked him what they wouldn’t do.  The lone warrior Gabrielle grabbed Joxer by the arm and began leading him down the road with her.  She was really beginning to like the idea of embracing a side kick and eager student of her very own.  The warrior bard expressed to her student that stories could be anything they wanted them to be and that happy endings could truly happen.  As she continued on down the mentoring path with her student Gabrielle noticed that two sisters were approaching them.  The appeared to be traveling with somber faces.  She greeted them inquiring if indeed they were the sisters of Guya.  Simultaneously they answered with a gracious affirmation of their identity as the bowed their heads upon approaching.  The bard was now ready to demonstration to her student the power of her mighty quill.  She then she inquired of the sisters of Guya if there was anything that she and her new side kick could do to help them.  The younger, taller sister explained that the two of them were out and about collecting goods for their orphanage.  They were collecting goods they could sell to raise funds at their shop in the nearby town.  As the young sister continued the older shorter sister’s eyes lit up as she looked to Joxer stating that his scabbard would fetch a very high price.

      As the older sister reached out for Joxer the jerk did not disappoint.  He was certain that she was talking about and reaching out for his manhood which he hadn’t realized until this moment was standing high and proud.  He glanced down and began to laugh and smile with a slight bit of embarressment.  The sister appeared slightly confused at his response not realizing what he was thinking was not the same thing she was referring to as he explained that he would not give it up for just anyone.  Despite that he was a man whore and expressed that he would be willing to take any pass at him for the sisters of Guya.  Gabrielle quickly intervened clarifying for the idiot that it was not his manhood, but his scabbard.  Joxer quickly became less excited by the prospect of giving something up for the sisters of Guya.  He explained that he couldn’t give away his scabbard for their cause because it was the only thing that his father had ever given him.  Gabrielle could relate to sentimental value.  For a moment she thought of the large Trojan horse that she had once wished she could have taken with her.  The older sister stated that it was unfortunate because it would have been a hot commodity back in Caucus.  Joxer continued explaining that he just couldn’t give it away as the bard realized that she could resolve the embarressing moment with just a few strokes of her mighty quill.

         “After realizing the power of the scroll, and the will of a mighty quill, Joxer and Gabrielle met the sisters of Guya.  The sisters were seeking a donation from Joxer to their orphanage.  But Joxer would not give up his scabbard because it had been given to him by his father.  And so the bard Gabrielle wrote her magic and suddenly a kind man came from the woods offering his own gift, a kinsman sword.  The sisters of Guya were delighted to receive such a wonderful gift.  And so the good that was to be done by the will of the mighty quill had only just begun.”

       Gabrielle wrote the above verse explaining to the sisters as she wrote that she was certain that they were about to receive a very nice surprise.  The power of the mighty quill went into action almost instantly as both the “kind man” and the “kinsman sword” arrived right on command.  As the younger sister held the magnificent weapon in her hand the older sister could barely contain her excitement at the gift.  She raved about how that one singular gift could fund their orphanage for many years to come.  The man vanished quickly down the road as the sisters found themselves to be utterly delighted to receive such a fine gift.  Gabrielle then showed Joxer the verse that she had just written proving to the idiot once and for all that the bard had the power to change the world.   The younger sister exclaimed that it was a miracle and with that the bard realized that her work with the sister’s of Guya was finished.  The lone warrior bard grabbed the jerk by his chest-plate and proceeded to drag him on down the road with her to the nearest village tavern.

     “The day went on as Gabrielle and Joxer entered a nearby tavern to have breakfast.  Out of the kindness of his heart the tavern owner offered to Gabrielle and all who were in the tavern free food to eat and drinks on the house.  And with that statement all who were at the tavern drank and ate joyfully together in the spirit of peace.”  That was the bard’s plan all along.  As the tavern keeper served the lone warrior and her sidekick breakfast Joxer began to pull out his bag of money.  Gabrielle held up her hand and pulled out her mighty quill explaining to him that there was no longer any need for his money.  Then she looked up to the tavern keeper and inquired of him how much they needed to pay for their meals.  The tavern keeper seemingly fumbled for the words for just a moment, but then declared that it would be free and that the drinks would be “on the house.”  The bard gleefully repeated exactly what she had written and exactly what had been declared by the tavern keeper.  As she finished her statement the tavern ceiling began to drip, but then pour down upon the tavern.  Suddenly, the bard realized that perhaps she needed to be a bit more careful in how she worded things because it seemed that the will of the quill was not always what she had intended.  Despite this minor set back beer seemingly rained down every where and Joxer happily grabbed his mug and began to fill it up and drink up all of the abundance.  The jerk then rolled over upon the table and drank like a fish.

      As Gabrielle finished her glorious plate of abundant food most of the tavern patrons had become inebriated.  Of course, abundant beer was still raining down upon them every where as patrons were passing out left and right.  No matter, the bard was ready for more action with her mighty quill and to do good out in the world.  She beckoned her student to come along with her for there was no time to waste as she rolled up her scroll.  Unfortunately, as the lone warrior and her sidekick began to make their way out of the tavern one of the drunken patrons began an argument with the tavern keeper who attempted to kick him out for drinking more than his share of raining beer.  The patron punched the tavern keeper and the bard commented that it was always that one drunk who would find a way to spoil to good drink for all.

     At that point the tavern began to erupt into a massive bar fight as Joxer commented that there was definitely an army of drunken patrons to contend with.  He then stated that at least things couldn’t get any worse than an all out brawl.  The bard attempted to defend her mighty quill explaining that it was not the intention for her story to unfold that way.  As the two companions turned to leave they were taken by surprise by the bold entrance into the tavern of the five barbarians that the lone warrior Gabrielle had defeated single-handed earlier in the day.  The barbarian leader expressed his displeasure with having been made a fool by the lone warrior’s amazing fighting skills.  He pointed his sword into the direction of the bard declaring that he and his vicious ugly men were barbarians.  Again the bard chose to battle against the barbarians with her mighty quill as she pulled it out and wrote feverishly upon her scroll.

     “Then the five barbarians returned for Gabrielle, but they didn’t stay long for they decided to go west instead.”   Although the barbarian seemed confused for a moment he declared his next order of business to be to lead his men west.  Gabrielle looked to Joxer and was pleased at how seemingly easy it was to change any given moment.  As the barbarians exited the tavern and ran out to jump upon their horses to ride west one of the bar patrons exclaimed that they would be heading directly into the path of the sisters of Guya orphanage.  “But the sister’s of Guya orphanage would be in their path so they turned east.”  Though the barbarians suddenly shifted their destination from west to east, it did not matter because the drunken female bar patron then declared that the barbarians were headed toward the village of Echinecea.  The sisters of Guya and their orphanage were now safe, but the innocent villagers of Echinecea were in grave danger.  “The barbarians disappeared from the land!”  Again the female bar patron exclaimed with alarm that the barbarians were now headed for the nearest port where they would most certainly kill all who sailed the seas.  Gabrielle realized that she had to come up with a better plan.  The bard continued to verbalize her thoughts as she wrote.  “The barbarians went to the caves and fell into a deep sleep.”  Joxer piped up a small word to the wise wondering if all of this sudden chaos surrounding them was all of the good that Gabrielle had planned on doing.  The bard found herself to be frustrated and experience extremely bad writer’s block.  With that she tossed her usual weapon of choice, the mighty quill, and the scroll of power into Joxer’s chest and declared that she refused to write another word upon the scroll.  With that the bard walked out of the tavern of chaos that she had somehow created.

       Joxer quickly followed behind attempting to comfort his friend feeling a little guilty for prodding her about her writer’s block.  Gabrielle accepted his apology knowing that it was really her terrible writing that had caused all of the chaos to begin with.  As they walked through the village she talked through her writer’s block with Joxer explaining that normally her writing is much more vivid and much better.  It just didn’t make sense what had happened to her creative talents.  For the first time it seemed that there was something missing from her writing.  Joxer chimed in that perhaps her writing in this case was a little too vivid.  Perhaps it needed a bit more work.  Joxer suggested that Gabrielle should edit it.  That idea sparked the bard’s mind and she realized that editing was exactly what her new magic scroll needed.  Her faith in her writing had been restored.  There was hope again.  The lone warrior Gabrielle had now discovered the simple power of the scroll.  She threw her arm around her student and declared that with careful editing she could easily end hunger, disease, and even war.  That statement verbalized instantly inspired Gabrielle’s next words.

     “Then the will of mortals won out…and war lost all its power.”  Instantly the sounds of a deep screaming male voice came falling out of the sky down upon the village.  It was Ares, the god of war.  He was in a panic as he struggled to harness his immortal power.  He was confused and upset for it seemed that his powers were now non-existent.  He then looked up and noticed that he had been dropped down next to the bard.  Ares glared at Gabrielle instantly realizing what had just happened to him.  He charged at Gabrielle in anger exclaiming that his new predicament was the bard’s fault.  The bard was confused attempting to defend herself from his accusation.  He was right, but he was wrong because Gabrielle had not intended her use of the word “war” to mean Ares.  Despite that she knew she had the solution and that she could fix the problem.  She had to think fast because the enraged Ares was about to strike.  “The force that enchanted the scroll lost its powers.”  And then the sound of a woman’s voice screaming fell from the sky and dropped into the village landing upon the former god of war.  Gabrielle found this to be very intriguing because the woman who had fallen from the sky was none other than the goddess of love Aphrodite.

      The bard began to suspect that there was more to her magic scroll and her mighty quill than she had previously recognized.  Something was definitely out of place.  Ares was buried underneath the pink flowing gown of the love goddess who was nearly knocked unconscious by her fall.  Ares barked at her inquiring if her solution of punishment against Gabrielle was to give her powers of destiny.  The former god of war had a few choice words of his own to describe Gabrielle which were not at all flattering, but interesting none-the-less.  Aphrodite responded in frustration that she had not given Gabrielle powers of destiny, but only enchanted a scroll.  The former love goddess pressed Ares reminding him that there was no reason for him to be surprised because it was Ares himself whom had instructed her to act against Gabrielle’s uncontrollable writings.  Ares rose up onto his elbows and explained himself to his sister again explaining that what he really wanted was to get Xena out of the way.  Aphrodite defended her actions reminding Ares that enchanting the scroll worked in at least getting the warrior princess out of the way.  However, it was not expected that Ares would lose all of his powers.

      At this point the bard decided that she would interrupted this little conspiracy conversation just to clarify what she had just heard.  She repeated that Aphrodite had enchanted her scroll with the intention of harming Xena as an inquiry.  Love and War glared  as the looked to the bard and then back at each other.  Then Aphrodite explained that Ares had only been using her to get what he wanted for himself.  He was indeed the master manipulator having been successful at turning love against the world.  Aphrodite rose to her feet and continued to explain to Gabrielle the situation.  She stated that he had an army somewhere in the valley that was ready to reign down upon every one and start a new war.  Ares simply wanted Xena out of the way so he had manipulated Aphrodite into becoming mad at the bard.  Gabrielle realized that in a way, Aphrodite was also a victim of her brother’s wrath.  She deduced that Ares was probably even the one who had convinced some young weak-minded children to deface Aphrodite’s temple in order to goad her into becoming mad at the bard.  Gabrielle was touched by both Aprhodite’s heart-felt confession of her crime and Ares’s interest in her scrolls.  He must have read at least a few of them otherwise he would not have known what to tell those vandals to write.

      Ares rose to his feet and badgered his sister patronizing her for figuring out his real intentions.  Aphrodite reminded her brother that though she was light at heart she was not stupid.  Then Aphrodite looked to Gabrielle and suggested a simple solution to the problem.  She politely asked the bard to just write upon the enchanted scroll in order to restore Aphrodite’s powers.  Once that happened Aphrodite could simply zap the scroll and everything would be normal again.  Gabrielle could see that Aphrodite was not malicious like Ares.  Indeed she had her selfish side, but she was playful and more interested in delighting herself with the pleasures of love than in reigning war down upon the land.  Ares also chimed in politely explaining that he needed his powers to written back in first so he could rejoin the waiting army and give them the signal that Xena was no longer in the valley.  Aphrodite reminded her brother that he wasn’t helping his cause by openly declaring that he wanted to rejoin his waiting army.  Ares tried again.  This time he promised that he would not allow the army to attack this time as long as Gabrielle gave him back his powers.  Aphrodite laughed at her brother knowing just how ridiculous a lie he was openly telling.  Ares took a jab at her reminding her that she could no longer fly now that she was as powerless as he was.

      Joxer finally opened his mouth again and addressed Aphrodite.  He was sure that if Aphrodite undid the power of the enchanted scroll then it would bring Xena back and the army would be too afraid to attack the valley.  Gabrielle thought for a moment and then looked to Joxer declaring that indeed what he had just said made sense.  It was a rare occurrence, but sometimes even Joxer had a good idea and that was what was needed in the moment.  “Aphrodite is as she was before.”  Instantly, Aphrodite’s powers were restored as she disappeared from her spot in the village and then suddenly there was the sound of a woman’s voice screaming raining down upon the village from the sky.  Again Aphrodite fell down upon Ares knocking him to the ground.  Joxer declared “she is as she was before.”  Then he stated in a matter of fact tone that it was definitely all in the wording.  At this point Gabrielle was afraid to write anymore.  She just wanted the chaos to end and for every thing to be back to the way it was before she ever began writing “The Quill is Mightier.”  Gabrielle’s next idea was that just maybe if she could fill up the scroll with random characters completely then maybe the curse upon them could end.  Aphrodite looked up at the bard from her place on top of the frustrated Ares and was offended that Gabrielle now viewed her gift of the enchanted scroll as a curse.  Aphrodite and Ares rose from the ground to their feet and Aphrodite continued explaining that once the scroll was filled up that was where it would end.  Whatever was written on it would stay the way it was as Gabrielle had written it.

       Joxer chimed in again and stated that all Gabrielle needed to write was simply that “everything is as it was before.”  Aphrodite sarcastically replied to the idot explaining that Joxer’s chosen phrase would not work.  All that would happen in that instance would be that every person on the earth would go out of existence as they were before they were born into the world and the gods would go back to their infant origins.  Aphrodite then inquired if the bard had written Joxer into her scroll.  She appeared to be annoyed by the idiot.  Gabrielle attempted to cover her mistake in calling him a jerk, but as she handed the scroll to Ares he read it out loud, “Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.”  Aphrodite laughed delighted at the brilliant double meaning of the word.  Ares nodded his head and Gabrielle carefully looked to Joxer hoping that his naive mind would still be unable to decipher what the enchanted scroll had done.  Joxer did not understand the double meaning because he didn’t understand why everyone thought waking up was such a funny phrase.

      Then it dawned on Gabrielle that the only real way to solve this dilema was to deconstruct everything she had written thus far.  He first order of business would be to bring Xena back.  It was the first thing she had written upon the scroll.  As Gabrielle stood flanked by both Ares and Aphrodite attempting to solve the riddle Ares had a brilliant idea.  His inspiration was, “Xena rides in at the head of an army.”  He was absolutely certain of the beauty of that phrase.  Gabrielle reminded Ares that it sounded great out loud, but when she put it on paper Xena might ride in heading up an army of ants or children, or even harpes.  Joxer interrupted reminding everyone that a description of the army and of Xena was they key.  A burst of inspiration flowed through Gabrielle’s soul as she jumped with excitement.  “Suddenly, there was the arrival of the woman.”  This was Gabrielle’s initial inspired creative thought interrupted by Ares’s creativity which included “leather.”  Gabrielle agreed that the leather should be at least mentioned.  She also thought it might be important to mention that Xena had black hair and that she carried a chakram.  Joxer interrupted the creative process as he was hunched over propping up the enchanted scroll upon his back.  He wanted to know if anyone really understood what Xena’s magnificent weapon really was.  He wasn’t even certain that the scroll would know what a chakram was.  Again, Gabrielle realized that Joxer did have a point.  Then she decided that Xena should be carrying her whip in order to clarify it for the scroll.

     Gabrielle suddenly moved to write the next phrase, “Suddenly, there was the arrival of the woman wearing leather carrying the whip of Xena.”  Just as the quill marked the last word on upon the parchment the sound of a whip whirred in through the air.  Gabrielle and her creative comrades ducked to miss being smacked by its fury.  Ares demanded to know who the woman with black hair and leather was that now stood before them with Xena’s whip.  Gabrielle couldn’t believe who she had brought with the enchanted scroll until she explained to Ares that Minya was a friend from the village of Laurel that she had Xena had met when fighting the giant Gareth and Zagrious’s army.  The bard suddenly remembered that the whip was a poor choice for the enchanted scroll because Gabrielle had traded Xena’s whip for a frying pan in that adventure.  Ares was clearly disgusted, disappointed, and frustrated all at the same time.  The enchanted scroll certainly had a sense of humor.  Minya expressed her confusion not knowing why she had suddenly arrived in this random village, but she was ready for action none-the-less for Xena’s whip never left her side.  As Minya approached Gabrielle she wanted to know who all of Gabrielle’s companions were.  Gabrielle introduced Ares, Aphrodite, and Joxer.  It seemed necessary.  Joxer was now standing next to Minya pleased to be acquainted with a new dark female warrior in leather, but Minya was much more interested in Ares.  Minya showered Ares with praise and worship ecstatic to be in his presence.  Ares was pleased to be openly worshipped as was Aprhodite who immediately received praise from Minya also.  Then Minya looked to Joxer and apologized for not really having ever heard of him.

     Gabrielle realized that things were becoming a lot more complicated with each and every word transcribed onto the scroll.  She decided that maybe it was time to go back to the tavern, relax, and grab something for her now empty stomach.  A full stomach might help the bard in being able to focus a bit better.  Minya was pleased by the idea as was Joxer, and when the five comrades arrived the chaos was still ensuing.  Beer still rained down from the ceiling and the food was still free.  At least that was something good that was happening.  And the longer the five of them sat at the table drinking, and eating, the less attractive the former gods became to their new found fan club.  Aphrodite was enjoying the experience of being mortal within her drunken stooper.  But then Minya chimed in that despite her boyfriend Hower being an extreme fan of the beautiful goddess, Minya had decided that she would go back to Laurel and share with him how plain and dirty and mortal Aphrodite had become.   Ares found Minya’s wit to be quite amusing while Aphrodite wasn’t so pleased to be described as dirty as a wagon wheel.  Both Ares and Minya were also drunk, but they were happy drunks.

     The bard had decided that she would stay sober in order to solve this problem with the enchanted scroll.  At least everyone else was entertained enough to stay out of her creative process.  Joxer was attempting to find the best way to capture the been falling from the ceiling.  He had built a contraption which fit upon his head and was trying to determine the best way to make it work for him.  Gabrielle couldn’t believe the absolute disaster her writer’s block had become.  She was supposed to be the great bard with the wonderful stories.  Now it seemed she wasn’t capable of writing a happy ending without creating it poorly.  Joxer snapped out of his obsession with beer and looked to Gabrielle.  He scolded her for thinking that all of her stories were bad.  Joxer expressed himself openly stating that he thought most of her stories were good and not everything always turned to disaster when she wrote them.  Then Joxer reminded Gabrielle that the sister’s of Guya had received a happy ending.  Just as Gabrielle was beginning to think that Joxer was very kind the sisters of Guya arrived in the tavern and told the tale of how they had sold their kinsman sword for a king’s ransom to the warlord Philiodos.  Gabrielle looked across the tavern to see the warlord gorging himself on the free produce he had collected as he ate the fruit right off of his sword.  Joxer was content with that knowing that the sisters of Guya orphanage was funded for many years to come.  Gabrielle was embarressed because she knew that now a warlord was well-armed with an amazing weapon.

     Gabrielle attempted to correct her most recent known literary mistake.  “The woman was not Xena, but her friend Minya of Laurel.  Xena goes to a number one friend.  Xena rejoins the woman who brought her new life.  And now Xena returns from her journey.”  Suddenly, a man dressed in golden armor burst through the doors of the tavern and declared Philiodos to be a dead man.  Gabrielle looked up from her writing and realized that somehow that kinsman sword belonged to the man now standing in the door threatening to kill.  The bard jumped up from her place at the table and demanded that the man in the door wait just one moment before acting upon his desire.   His attention was redirected and the bard asked him what his name was.  He stated that it was Scaberus and then wanted to know the reason for the bard’s interest.  “Scaberus the man whom had offered his kinsman sword to the sisters of Guya arrived at the tavern, and decided that he too would go to the caves with the barbarians to get some deep sleep.”  Then Scaberus made his declaration and exited the tavern for his new destination.  Ares looked across the tavern to Gabrielle and reminded the bard that the caves would eventually become dangerously full.  Gabrielle did not care too much for his comment.  It was stating the obvious, but it was all that she could come up with in order to keep the chaos at a distance until she could figure out a real literary solution.

     As Gabrielle left the tavern her dismal entourage followed.  Her endless creative frustrations were growing within.  The bard was barely able to contain her anger at the situation.  She openly decided that instead of writing in the scroll that Xena should come to them perhaps the solution would be to go out to the nearby lakes and streams in a search to find Xena themselves.  The bard guessed maybe it was a trout stream since Xena’s favorite fish was trout, but then again, it could be any body of water from the Strymon to the Agean.  Who knew exactly where Gabrielle had sent Xena.  It could take years to find her.  Gabrielle threw down her scroll upon the table outside the tavern and walked off.  She couldn’t handle the pressure any more.  It was too much.  As Gabrielle hoped that she might be able to find Xena somewhere fishing nearby the next verse found its way upon the unattended enchanted scroll.

    “A warrior Joxer the Mighty,

     asked a boon from the God Aphrodite,

     and what a surprise he saw,

     but love’s eyes three times…

Gabrielle had only gone back into the tavern to retrieve her staff that she had almost left behind, and when she found her way back out side to rejoin her companions there before her was something horrific.  Three naked Gabrielle’s were dancing in the middle of the town on top of a veranda.  They were intriguing yet quite an embarressment to see a reflection of oneself three times.  Gabrielle then looked to Joxer who was holding the quill in his hand.  Gabrielle suddenly realized that somehow Joxer had written Gabrielle naked into the enchanted scroll.  The bard was furious with Joxer.  She ripped the scroll off of the table and looked to see what it was that Joxer had written.  He attempted to explain that he was only intending to edit the scroll a little.  As Gabrielle read out loud Joxer’s attempt at a limerick.  Joxer explained that he had a little trouble filling in that last line and inquired if Gabrielle had any ideas on how to finish it.  Gabrielle could barely contain her anger as it boiled from the depths of her soul.  It wasn’t the kind of anger one feels when they have a lust for blood.  Instead it was extreme frustration and embarressment.  Gabrielle grabbed Joxer by his chest plate and dragged him up close to her.  She whispered an angry inquiry asking of him what “love’s eyes” had to do with her.  Gabrielle feared the worst as she ran through how to solve the new problem of three naked Gabrielle’s dancing and running around in the streets.

As Joxer fumbled for an answer to his riddle Gabrielle thought that perhaps it was Aphrodite’s eyes that Joxer had been looking at in the moment that he had written those words upon Aphrodite’s enchanted scroll.  Then that didn’t quite make sense.  Unless it was Aphrodite’s eyes that were looking in the direction of Gabrielle in the moment when the thought was inspired for the limerick.  Aprhodite must have fed Joxer those words who only transcribed what Aphrodite had told him to.  Joxer was in worship of the goddess and she enjoyed his admiration.  That made sense to the bard.  Joxer confirmed the bard’s thought laughing nervously as he instructed Gabrielle to send the naked Gabrielle’s away to the end line of the limerick,” three Gabrielle’s to the caves go nighty.”  Of course Joxer the man whore was in no hurry to send the girls away.  Gabrielle wrestled the quill from his grasp as he and everyone else continued to stare at the spectacle both he and Aphrodite had created.

The day had been truly exhausting not only for the bard, but for everyone else within her company that the scroll had brought along.  Gabrielle led everyone back to camp hoping that maybe Xena would return from fishing on her own.  The next morning came and the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with an necklace upon her chest.  She was still half sleepying as she rose up from her slumber to get a better look at the unexpected surprise.  From behind she heard Joxer’s voice hoping that she would like the gift.  The bard was flattered that Joxer had given her a gift.  She accepted it stating that it was a beautiful gift.  The bard was not certain why Joxer would just go out and buy her a necklace.  Joxer explained that he had bought it to make-up and to apologize for writing the three naked Gabrielle’s.  Gabrielle chuckled at the simplicity of Joxer’s train of thought.  It was admirable, but before the bard could have another thought Joxer explained that he had to trade his father’s scabbard to buy it.    At this moment the tone of Gabrielle’s mind delved back toward frustration.  She was hoping that she had not heard him correctly.  She asked him to repeat what he had just said.  Joxer repeated his statement even louder than before.  Gabrielle rose to her knees and faced Joxer.  She scolded him for having sold his father’s scabbard because he had only on the morning before flatly rebuffed the sisters of Guya.  Joxer did not agree with the bard’s opinion that he should not have sold it for the necklace.  He tried to explain why the necklace was so much more important than the sisters of Guya.  Gabrielle didn’t want to hear it.  A new problem had just been created.  She hadn’t even written on the scroll, but she was sure that someone else would if they hadn’t already.

Gabrielle approached Joxer to reveal that she had hidden the scroll for safe keeping inside his father’s scabbard.  Joxer at first thought that it was a game until Gabrielle reached out, grabbed Joxer’s nose, and attempted to rip it off of his face.  Gabrielle screamed in frustration and Joxer screamed out in pain waking the rest of the sleeping beauties.  Joxer explained that he had traded a peddler for the necklace and that they could easily get the scroll back.  Joxer begged for Gabrielle to release his nose as he was certain that the peddler would not easily figure out the power of the enchanted scroll inside.  “And then it began to rain riches all over the town.  Dinars, dinars, all around the town raining dinars!”  In the next moment the woman from the tavern on the day before came running through the woods shouting out that it was raining riches around town.  She urged everyone to hurry to gather their riches.  All Gabrielle wanted to do next was to strangle Joxer for his idiocy.  It wasn’t enough of a challenge to be dealing with an unruly scroll combined with writer’s block, two mortal gods, Minya and no Xena.

After Gabrielle had taken out all of her lone warrior frustrations upon Joxer she regained her composure and gathered her misfit troops declaring that she knew exactly what she would have to write next.  The only problem now was that they had to get the scroll back.  Ares was obviously not convinced that Gabrielle had the answer.  She hadn’t proven herself worthy of the answer thus far.  She realized that he was just grumpy having been stuck within a mortal body for over 12 hours.  Despite his mortality he was no less manipulative.  She gleefully told Ares that the answer to his question was a creative secret she would keep to herself.  Gabrielle then commanded both Aphrodite and Minya to team up and go into town to find out where the peddler had gone.  Gabrielle then revealed that she would team up with Ares and they would go look for the peddler where it was still raining dinars.  Joxer wanted to know what his role in Gabrielle’s plan was.  Gabrielle walked over to the tree where she had tied him up to keep him out of her way.  She then untied him and instructed him to go to the caves with the rest of the bunch she had sent there.  She was pretty certain he would have no trouble taking that order.

It wasn’t long before Gabrielle and Ares found themselves to be hot on the peddler’s trail.  As they rounded the corner out of the woods through the meadow Gabrielle noticed that there were a pair of deep ruts created by most likely a pair of wagon wheels.  Gabrielle explained to Ares that she thought it might be carrying a load of dinars which meant that they were on the right trail.  Strangely Ares was impressed.  He asked the lone warrior where she had learned to read trails so well.  Naturally Gabrielle responded that it was the warrior princess who had taught her that skill.  Gabrielle explained that if one hung around Xena long enough one could learn anything about the warrior arts.  The lone warrior went on to explain that it was all about focus.  Ares agreed with Gabrielle on that point.  With pride he declared that he had been the one who had been able to harness Xena’s natural gifts and power and to give the warrior princess her ability to focus.  He explained that when Xena had first come to him she had just been another lost power-hungry warlord.  Ares prided himself on having given Xena a purpose.

Gabrielle took the opportunity to remind Ares that Xena had a different purpose in the present alongside the bard.  Ares regretfully agreed with Gabrielle on this point stating that he was aware of just how good Xena was at fighting for the cause of the greater good.    He went onto admire what she had done up against him when he had gotten her put on trial for the murders of those innocent villagers.  Gabrielle turned to Ares as they walked and stopped to face him.  She asked him about his opinion on how Xena was able to wiggle her way out of the bind he had recently put her in up against the furies.  Ares admitted that it was indeed a stroke of brilliance on Xena’s part.   He was like a proud father describing how Xena approaches all of her foes with her steel gaze.  He smiled as he thought of Xena’s gaze as did the bard.  The two foes were finding a moment of true relatability with one another as Gabrielle smiled at the image in her mind of Xena’s steel gaze.  Then there was an awkward moment of silence between them.  Gabrielle looked to the deep wagon tracks and then followed them into the distances toward the caves.  She pointed out her latest observation to Ares.  Ares agreed with her accessment.  Then within another awkward moment of silence between them Ares revealed that he felt that the two of them were just starting to warm up to one another with in their conversation.  Gabrielle did indeed notice the feeling too.  It was slightly off-putting.  Ares expressed that he really didn’t feel that he enjoyed feeling warm toward Gabrielle.  Gabrielle agreed that the feeling was mutual as the agreed to move on toward the caves together.

Upon entering the caves both Gabrielle and Ares prepared their weapons for they weren’t exactly sure what they would find when the ventured inside.  Soon they found themselves startled by Joxer popping his head up from behind the sleeping barbarians.  Gabrielle barked out a command for him to get away from the barbarians.  He pleaded with the bard to allow him to disarm them while they slept.  Gabrielle was certain that no matter what it was that Joxer thought he was doing to help he would most certainly make matters worse for everyone.  Joxer argued with the bard that he would not make things worse as long as he didn’t wake anyone up before he finished the job and found the peddler.  Obviously, even Joxer had learned something in his travels with the warrior princess.  He had been able to deduce that the wagon tracks belonged to the peddler.  From behind inside of another chamber with in the cave a man emerged holding a scroll.  Joxer turned when he noticed the man’ footsteps approaching and shouted out that the man was the peddler he had traded with on the night before.

The peddler appeared to be confused about his situation and suddenly Scaberus ran into the cave from another chamber.  His sword was drawn and he was ready to do battle to recover his kinsman sword.  Scaberus was certain that one of the people occupying the cave had to be carrying his sword.  He wrestled the scroll from the peddler with his sword as Joxer recovered it from the peddler from the cave floor.  Joxer then threw the scroll to Gabrielle as the barbarians a began awakening from their deep sleep.  Gabrielle caught the scroll and then ran toward the barbarians hoping to knock them out the the scroll before they had a chance to react.  Ares followed with his sword drawn.  Joxer attempted to run out of the cave entrance only to smack into Minya and Aphrodite who had just found their way to the peddler’s location.  Both Minya and Joxer laid flat on the ground as Ares shouted out to Aphrodite to follow him with Gabrielle and the scroll.  The dazed and confused barbarians scattered.

Gabrielle desparately searched for a quiet place with in the caves to transcribe her solution to the enchanted scroll upon the scroll itself.  She found herself blindly running into Scaberus again who swiped in from her grasp.  Scaberus then ran into Joxer, who ran into the peddler and the three naked Gabrielles.  Then the barbarians came along and swiped the scroll from Joxer’s grasp.  Everyone was descending upon the power of enchantment as Gabrielle followed the echoing sounds through the cave to everyone’s location.  She found a low position from which to attack the barbarians as they tripped over her outstreatched staff along the floor of the cave.  With that the bard had reached success and retrieved the scroll disappaearing alone through the maze of caverns until she found the perfect quiet spot to open the enchanted scroll and to end this chaotic literary mess once and for all.  “All who were enchanted went into the caves and then out again.  One following the other all in search of Xena the warrior princess the scroll went.”  Just as Gabrielle had finished transcribing her literary solution everyone in the caves descended upon her.  She waived the scroll high up into the air and demanded that everyone stay back.  Then she went for it she threw the scroll through the air at random and then the peddler emerged capturing it and running off through the maze.  Gabrielle instructed everyone that the scroll knew the way out of the caves and that all should follow.

And so the parade of chaos began led by first the peddler, then three naked Gabrielle’s, five barbarians, Scaberus, Minya with the whip of Xena, the mortal Ares, the lone warrior Gabrielle, the mortal Aphrodite, and finally Joxer the jerk.  The four original companions were out of breath as the took a moment to gather themselves.  Joxer wanted to know what Gabrielle had written in the scroll and the bard revealed to him that she had written to send it to the warrior princess.  She had only hoped that she had been able to phrase it right this time.  The four companions moved forward following the trail of the parade of chaos.  Gabrielle remembered that there was still one serious problem that even the scroll couldn’t solve.  She demanded that Ares find his army in the valley and stop them from attacking everyone.  Ares claimed that he could only do that if he had his godly powers.  Until then he was powerless to stop them.  Ares declared that he would later punish Thelonious and his army in some horrible way.  The bard reminded Ares that there would be innocent people who would die at the hands of his army if it wasn’t stopped soon.  Gabrielle was frustrated that Ares didn’t have the courage to just go into the valley where his hidden army was waiting to instruct them not to attack.  She boldly stated that with or with out the god of war she and the rest of her companions would fight the warlord to stop him.  Aphrodite turned to Gabrielle and expressed that she had no interest in being a part of fighting against Thelonious’s army.  She had never agreed to do that for anyone.  As Gabrielle was about to respond Joxer stopped, raised his hand and took a deep whiff of the surrounding air.  Aphrodite scolded Joxer for pointing out her mortal faults.  Joxer attempted to ease Aphrodite’s concern about what he was smelling stating that it only smelled like fish.  Aphrodite was upset knowing that her mortal hygene skills were not up to speed.  She was normally a goddess and had no need to worry about such matters.  Gabrielle watched as the mortal goddess of love began to have an uncontrollable emotional breakdown in front of everyone.  The smell was too strong to be just coming from Aphrodite herself.

Gabrielle took a whiff of the air also.  Then from around the corner emerged Xena the warrior princess dragging a wagon load of fish behind her.  Xena smiled when she caught sight of Gabrielle and her band of misfit companions.  Then she approached the bard and pulled out the enchanted scroll asking Gabrielle if she had been looking for it.  Gabrielle reached for the enchanted scroll, but Xena would not surrender it.  Instead the warrior princess explained that she had taken it from a peddler, chased by barbarians, then chased by three naked Gabrielles.  Xena looked to the bard showing Gabrielle just how amused she was by seeing Gabrielle naked three times.  Gabrielle chuckled to herself for a moment at the thought that must have been going through the warrior princess’s mind when she saw that particular group of gals.  Xena said that she then saw Minya chasing them with her whip and was indeed still chasing everyone.  Xena said that seeing all of that was what had led her to read Gabrielle’s scroll.  Gabrielle admitted that it was most definitely not her best work.  Xena agreed completely, but was curious as to who wrote the limerick.  She considered that it could have been Gabrielle, but then Joxer chimed in and proudly accepted credit for his limerick.  Xena wasn’t impressed nor surprised that it had been Joxer.  Gabrielle explained all of the ways that she had attempted to bring Xena back through the scroll.  “Xena goes to a number one friend.”  Xena stated that the scroll had taken her to a friend that she hadn’t seen since she was five years old.  It was her first friend ever.

Ares then chimed in asking Xena about his contribution to the scroll, “Xena rejoins the woman who brought her to a new life.”  Xena picked up a large fish and held it up saying that her mother wanted to thank Gabrielle for all of the fish that Xena had brought to her courtesy of Gabrielle’s scroll.  The bard was about to ask the warrior princess why she didn’t decide on her own to come back and find out what was going on with these strange urges that she had been feeling.  Xena already knew what the bard was thinking and admitted that after visiting her mom she had planned on rejoining the bard, but was overcome by the irresistable urge to return to fishing.  Xena was certain that was at about the same time that Gabrielle had written upon the scroll, “And now Xena returns from her journey.”  Xena continued as she explained upon feeling that second urge to go fishing that something somewhere was going wrong.  She explained that she had visited almost everyone she had ever known who had meant anything to her with the exception of Gabrielle.  The warrior princess looked to Gabrielle and said that was when she realized where she needed to go next.  She needed to return to Gabrielle.  Gabrielle felt warmth in her heart to know that all of her frustrations with the creative process had only brought out the best most tender-hearted moment in Xena.  Gabrielle was pleased at this break through in their friendship, but the mortal goddess of love interrupted their love fest with her own selfish concerns.  She was becoming extremely frustrated with suffering through mortality and wanted it corrected as soon as possible.  Joxer reminded every one that stopping the warlord Thelonious was also on the list of problems that needed a resolution with the help of the warrior princess.  However, Aphrodite was still very uninterested in the problems of war.
Xena then approached Aphrodite inquiring about the charm that Aphrodite had used upon the scroll when she had enchanted it.  She needed to know the exact words.  Aphrodite thought about it for a moment and then revealed to the warrior princess this phrase, “Lies will make the world go round till truer words are written down.”  Xena thought about it for a moment and then revealed that the solution was simple.  Instead of writing fiction, Gabrielle needed to write the truth.  In a way, it was Xena who had inspired Aphrodite to charm the scroll because it was on the night before the chaos that Xena had suggested Gabrielle write fiction.  It was obvious that Gabrielle should not at all be writing fiction.  There was still the problem of the warlord Thelonious.  Xena wasn’t at all worried about that.  She declared that she could handle that job on her own.  Her main concern was that Gabrielle write down upon the enchanted scroll exactly what she saw as Xena would fight the warlord and his army.  Aphrodite’s faith in the mortal ability to problem solve had been shattered over the past two days.  She wasn’t so certain that her godhood would be restored.  The former goddess wanted to know how she would be certain Xena’s plan would work.  Xena explained that she would know when her powers would restore themselves.  Xena had confidence in Gabrielle’s ability to write truth.  It seemed the warrior princess was a little soft toward Aphrodite realizing that it was all a set up by Ares all along.  Then Xena grabbed her wagon load of fish and began to look for a vantage point for defense with her fish against the army of Thelonious.

Secretly Gabrielle wasn’t as confident in her ability as Xena was.  Xena had not just suffered through the same two days of chaos that the rest of the crew had.  Joxer dragging one of Xena’s fish along with him after smacking himself on the chin approached Gabrielle and asked her what was wrong.  Gabrielle had hoped that she could hide her lack of confidence, but Joxer obviously could read her better than she realized.  Gabrielle had to openly admit that writing action was not exactly her strongest point as a bard.  Ares could not believe what he had just heard.  He stepped around to the opposite side of Aphrodite, pausing only to sniff her mortal stench momentarily, as he verbalized that he couldn’t believe that Gabrielle followed Xena around the known world all day, every day without being able to write in some action.  He wanted to know exactly how the bard was able to accomplish this as Aphrodite stuggled to keep composure over her brother’s momentary slam against her obviously poor hygene.  Ares eagerly awaited the bard’s answer.  Gabrielle began to explain gleefully that her method in doing this was simply in the fact that she used mostly metaphors.  Gabrielle stated that such metaphors included phrases like, “Xena burst on the scene in a blaze of glory.”  Then she realized that Ares was also taking a jab at her.  Gabrielle was frustrated enough.  She didn’t need to stand before the former god of war and take his verbal abuse against her.  The bard began to move away from her group of misfit creative partners, but before she could walk away Joxer grabbed her by the shoulder and reminded her that she couldn’t use metaphors this time.  For if Gabrielle used metaphors they might find themselves picking up the remaining exploded pieces of Xena’s body from the certain instant explosion that would happen immediately after writing that phrase upon the enchanted scroll.  Despite all of Joxer’s idiocy he seemingly continued to offer some interesting feedback in the process and this observation was no exception.  Gabrielle looked to Joxer slightly worried yet surprised at his morbid outlook.  She just hoped that she wouldn’t write anything more that would hurt anyone or kill anyone.  Killing Xena with her quill had never occurred to her, but apparently anything went with Aphrodite’s enchanted scroll.

Upon finding the perfect vantage point to view the battle which was expected to occur between Xena and Thelonious’s army Gabrielle soon heard the sounds of the army approaching from within the trees around the bend.  Suddenly, Thelonious appeared with his rag tag army following closely behind.  He barked out commands to them as they approached.  Xena didn’t waist time as she began her onslaught against them with her wagon load of weapons.  Before the men had time to act they were being pummeled with trout, and perch, and anything one could possibly imagine from the various species of known fish.  The smell was awful as the men collapsed onto the ground in a mass of expected chaos.  There was so much fish now covering the ground the rest of the approaching army slipped and fell to the ground unable to handle the massive attack of fish against them.  The warrior princess cried out as she battled them bravely.  Gabrielle and her creative comrades knelt down behind Xena in the trees just beyond Xena’s position as the bard began to write.

     “Xena fought the army of the warlord Thelonious.  For two days Ares had planned for this battle all day long.”  Gabrielle continued writing as Joxer began calling out the actions.  “Xena leads with a pike, then a trout, bam, bam two quick bass.  Oh, he is taking it on the chin.”  Gabrielle quickly added in to the scroll, “Xena threw a starfish at the warriors.  Then Xena laughed, picked up a giant squid, and wound her arm around for the throw.”  Joxer continued on, “That octopus came out of nowhere.  She must have thrown that just for the howl of it.”  Then Joxer laughed at his own ridiculous joke.  “Ares took over asking Gabrielle to write that Xena hit the warrior with a squid.  Joxer argued with Ares declaring that it was not a squid, but an octopus, but Ares countered confident that Joxer had been wrong and that it indeed was a squid that Xena had just thrown.” 

     “Gabrielle hesitated for a moment as they worked out their creative differences and then continued to write upon the scroll as Xena then threw a sword fish like a javelin at another warrior hitting him in the head.  As the enemy sank to the ground she reached for her chakram, but instead grabbed an eel, pausing to notice, then throwing the eel like it was her chakram knocking out two more warriors.  When the eel returned to the warrior princess it was no longer in the form of a chakram.  Xena threw it aside then she grabbed another big fish and slapped it across the faces of two other warriors.”  Ares interupted Gabrielle’s connection to her mighty quill and interjected that Gabrielle should write that Xena whacked the warrior with her sword.    Gabrielle wasn’t so certain that was even a real word.  Joxer interjected editing Ares’s literary suggestion with an alternate word for “whacked.”  Gabrielle was not convinced that Joxer’s word “hit” as a good literary choice despite that she continued writing,  “Xena hit the warrior with her sword then fought with the warrior leader Thelonious.  As Joxer continued to give Gabrielle the correct words, and descriptions of Xena’s battle against Thelonious he stopped for a moment, and inquired about the earlier phrase ‘Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.’  The bard was delighted at the thought and then Ares demanded that the creative writing team keep to the task at hand.” 

     “Suddenly, Minya arrived along side Gabrielle and her team.  She declared in a whisper that she was “ready for action.”  Gabrielle was surprised to see Minya.  She seemed to appear out of nowhere.  Gabrielle was going to be out of scroll soon as everyone stood up to get a better look at what was happening on the battle field.  Joxer inquired of Minya about what had happened to those barbarians she had been chasing.  Minya declared that the barbarians had suddenly decided to stop fighting and head back to Barbaria.  She defeated him as the barbarians turned around and went back to their homes in Barbaria.  And with that Minya stepped forward ready to join Xena in the battle.  Minya said, “I’m ready for action.  I’m going to crack some heads.’   Then Joxer and Minya looked to one another as Aphrodite became a goddess once again.  Then Aphrodite enchanted Joxer and Minya with a love spell and said, ‘I’m back!  Later.’  Then the restored goddess of love disappeared with in a bright light and went home to Mount Olympus.  As soon as Aphrodite disappeared her enchantment spell wore off.  Joxer’s fish stuck between himself and Minya turned Minya’s raging hormones off.  Joxer apologized for his slimy fish, but Minya instantly pushed him away.  Gabrielle’s eyes darted back into the direction of the battle.  She watched as Xena ducked the advance of Thelonious’s raging sword, and quickly took the offensive advantage against him using her sword to swipe his feat from beneath.  Thelonious fell to the groudn as Xena spun around and sheathed her sword into it’s scabbard upon her back.  Xena was intense in battle.  She jumped up and back flipped onto her fish wagon catapulting the remaining baskets of fish into the air across the battle down onto the warlord and his men.  Fish piled onto Thelonious rendering him helpless to continue the fight.  As Thelonious’s men began to scatter Ares become a god.  Ares wound up his fist into a ball, harnessed his godly force from within his breath, and managed to shake out a mighty bolt of lightening across the battle field.  The lightening bolt of godly force struck one of Thelonious’s men as he tried to escape the wrath against him.  Ares shouted out, ‘Run maggot!’  Then he laughed and Gabrielle was taken by surprise.  One bolt of the god of war’s fury against Thelonious’s man wasn’t enough as the god repeated his previous action.”

      Gabrielle paused in her writing realizing that the story of the mighty quill was coming to an end as things were begining to become normal again.  The god of war now had his powers back and Xena had won the battle the battle against Thelonious and his army.  Gabrielle felt the power from just over her shoulder.  It was an entrancing dark power as she turned toward the attraction she was beginning to feel toward Ares.  She looked into his eyes and he gazed deeply into hers.   His strong sexy appearance was nearly over whelming.  Then he pointed down to the bard’s chest and inquired about it.  Gabrielle looked down to see what he was looking at only to be smacked in the face by the god of war.  He then laughed maniacally at his own joke at her expense, as we walked off into the forest disappearing with in the power of his godly force.  His triumphant laughter echoed as he left.  Gabrielle shook her head.  She realized that she was finding herself to be attracted to him, but the moment had thankfully passed and she had regained her sane mind and senses.  She couldn’t believe the gall of Ares.

Then Minya comment that she had expected much more from the god of war.  She was clearly disappointed in his performance.  Minya continued describing her thoughts out loud of the god of war.  She thought that it was only his powers that made him.  He would be just another regular guy if it weren’t for his entrancing sexy self.  Gabrielle could relate to Minya’s sudden entranced hormones.  The god of war’s essence obviously wasn’t completely gone.  As Joxer stood by listening to this conversation of women and their hormones, Gabrielle inquired to Minya about how hers were feeling.  Gabrielle just wanted to hear her admit that they were uncontrollable.  Ares did indeed have power over the female urges.  Minya explained that she had to leave for it was very important that she return home to Laurel to visit her boyfriend Hower.  And with that Minya left for Laurel as Joxer expressed that he thought Minya was a strange woman.  Gabrielle nodded in agreement as Xena approached the conversation.  The bard looked to Xena and declared that things appeared to be well in the moment.  Xena very pleased at their work and agreed that indeed everything was now back to normal.  Joxer pointing toward Gabrielle’s scroll with his giant fish noticed that there was still a little bit of space left at the bottom.  Gabrielle thought about the idea for a moment and suggested that there was perhaps something else to write to finish the story.  And there was most definitely something else to write.  Xena made her creative suggestion as Gabrielle realized that she knew exactly what was missing in that space upon the scroll.  “Finally, Love’s eyes three times vanished from existence leaving the lone bard alongside her friends in peace once again.  Lies will make the world go round till truer words are written down.  The End! “

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #52: The Quill Is Mightier

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll  #52 :  The Quill is Mightier

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia & Friends

October, 47 B.C.

     Xena had gone fishing.  The lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with a jerk as five barbarians rode out of the woods.  Twirling her trusty staff she delivered kicks of such fury deflecting the thrust of a sword with her mighty abs.  As the last of the barbarians fled the scene Joxer took the staff of Gabrielle unable to control himself.  He hit himself once, twice, and then three times on the head with the staff only to knock himself off of his feet falling onto the ground.

  After realizing the power of the scroll, and the will of a mighty quill, Joxer and Gabrielle met the sisters of Guya.  The sisters were seeking a donation from Joxer to their orphanage.  But Joxer would not give up his scabbard because it had been given to him by his father.  And so the bard Gabrielle wrote her magic and suddenly a kind man came from the woods offering his own gift, a kinsman sword.  The sisters of Guya were delighted to receive such a wonderful gift.  And so the good that was to be done by the will of the mighty quill had only just begun.

      The day went on as Gabrielle and Joxer entered a nearby tavern to have breakfast.  Out of the kindness of his heart the tavern owner offered to Gabrielle and all who were in the tavern free food to eat and drinks on the house.  And with that statement all who were at the tavern drank and ate joyfully together in the spirit of peace.  Then the five barbarians returned for Gabrielle, but they didn’t stay long for they decided to go west instead.  But the sister’s of Guya orphanage would be in their path so they turned east.   The barbarians disappeared from the land!  The barbarians went to the caves and fell into a deep sleep.

     Then the will of mortals won out…and war lost all its power.  The force that enchanted the scroll lost its powers.  Aphrodite is as she was before.  Suddenly, there was the arrival of the woman wearing leather carrying the whip of Xena.  The woman was not Xena, but her friend Minya of Laurel.  Xena goes to a number one friend.    Xena rejoins the woman who brought her to a new life.  And now Xena returns from her journey.  Scaberus the man whom had offered his kinsman sword to the sisters of Guya arrived at the tavern, and decided that he too would go to the caves with the barbarians to get some deep sleep.

     A warrior Joxer the Mighty,

     asked a boon from the God Aphrodite,

     and what a surprise he saw,

     but love’s eyes three times,

     three Gabrielle’s to the caves go nighty.

      And then it began to rain riches all over the town.  Dinars, dinars, all around the town raining dinars!  All who were enchanted went into the caves and then out again.  One following the other all in search of Xena the warrior princess the scroll went.

     Xena fought the army of the warlord Thelonious.  For two days Ares had planned for this battle all day long.  Xena leads with a pike, then a trout, bam, bam two quick bass.  Oh, he is taking it on the chin.  Xena threw a starfish at the warriors.  Then Xena laughed, picked up a giant squid, and wound her arm around for the throw.  That octopus came out of nowhere.  She must have thrown that just for the howl of it.  Ares took over asking Gabrielle to write that Xena hit the warrior with a squid.  Joxer argued with Ares declaring that it was not a squid, but an octopus, but Ares countered confident that Joxer had been wrong and that it indeed was a squid that Xena had just thrown.  Gabrielle hesitated for a moment as they worked out their creative differences, and then continued to write upon the scroll as Xena then threw a sword fish like a javelin at another warrior hitting him in the head.  As the enemy sank to the ground she reached for her chakram, but instead grabbed an eel, pausing to notice, then throwing the eel like it was her chakram knocking out two more warriors.  When the eel returned to the warrior princess it was no longer in the form of a chakram.  Xena threw it aside then she grabbed another big fish and slapped it across the faces of two other warriors.  “Xena hit the warrior with her sword then fought with the warrior leader Thelonious.” 

     As Joxer continued to give Gabrielle the correct words, and descriptions of Xena’s battle against Thelonious he stopped for a moment, and inquired about the earlier phrase ‘Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.’  The bard was delighted at the thought and then Ares demanded that the creative writing team keep to the task at hand.”  Suddenly, Minya arrived along side Gabrielle and her team.  She declared in a whisper that she was “ready for action.”  Gabrielle was surprised to see Minya.  She seemed to appear out of nowhere.  Gabrielle was going to be out of scroll soon as everyone stood up to get a better look at what was happening on the battle field.  Joxer inquired of Minya about what had happened to those barbarians she had been chasing.  Minya declared that the barbarians had suddenly decided to stop fighting and head back to Barbaria.  She defeated him as the barbarians turned around and went back to their homes in Barbaria.  And with that Minya stepped forward ready to join Xena in the battle.  Minya said, “I’m ready for action.  I’m going to crack some heads.”  Then Joxer and Minya looked to one another as Aphrodite became a goddess once again.  Then Aphrodite enchanted Joxer and Minya with a love spell and said, “I’m back!  Later.”  Then the restored goddess of love disappeared with in a bright light and went home to Mount Olympus.  As soon as Aphrodite disappeared her enchantment spell wore off.  Joxer’s fish stuck between himself and Minya turned Minya’s raging hormones off.  Joxer apologized for his slimy fish, but Minya instantly pushed him away.”

     “Gabrielle’s eyes darted back into the direction of the battle.  She watched as Xena ducked the advance of Thelonious’s raging sword, and quickly took the offensive advantage against him using her sword to swipe his feat from beneath.  Thelonious fell to the ground as Xena spun around and sheathed her sword into it’s scabbard upon her back.  Xena was intense in battle.  She jumped up and back flipped onto her fish wagon catapulting the remaining baskets of fish into the air across the battle down onto the warlord and his men.  Fish piled onto Thelonious rendering him helpless to continue the fight.  As Thelonious’s men began to scatter Ares become a god.  Ares wound up his fist into a ball, harnessed his godly force from within his breath, and managed to shake out a mighty bolt of lightening across the battle field.  The lightening bolt of godly force struck one of Thelonious’s men as he tried to escape the wrath against him.  Ares shouted out, “Run maggot!”  Then he laughed and Gabrielle was taken by surprise.  One bolt of the god of war’s fury against Thelonious’s man wasn’t enough as the god repeated his previous action.  “Finally, Love’s eyes three times vanished from existence leaving the lone bard alongside her friends in peace once again.  Lies will make the world go round till truer words are written down.  The End! ”

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #51: The Furies

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#51:  The Furies

October, 47 B.C.

     Pain and tragedy are powerful forces.  They often lead one down the roads of emotional turmoil.  The fates can be as evil in their deeds as the gods they serve beneath.  Xena and Gabrielle had been through a lot together.  They had almost lost each other many times.  Their lives had led them on a challenging journey yet there was a need for the warrior princess to visit family beyond the bard.  Gabrielle understood this for she often found herself missing her sister Lilla, and her mother and father back home in Potedia.  It was fortunate for the friends that they had found themselves winding their travels back through Macedonian territory.  This was where Amphipolis was located.  It was just north of the coast near the border to Thrace west of the Strymon River.  The warrior princess appeared to be delighted, and at ease to finally be near familiar territory again. 

     As Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo traveled north along the main road parallell to the Strymon Gabrielle had decided that gambling would be an excellant way to pass the time.  She was looking to challenge the warrior princess to a foot race.  Xena seemingly refused to take the risk of losing to Gabrielle.  The bard was delighted that her friend was seemingly doubtful of certain victory against her sidekick.  Xena tried to avert the challenge stating that she did not like to gamble all that much.  Gabrielle found this to be an amusing and weak arguement against the race.  She was quick to remind Xena that her life was a gamble everyday.  This was hardly a solid reason not to accept the bard’s challenge to a foot race.  Xena realized that the bard had trapped her within her own words which the warrior princess had always known to be Gabrielle’s strongest asset.  She was a professional with words.  The warrior princess quickly surrendered to Gabrielle sighing weakly as if there were a tinge of boredom to the idea of yet another friendly travel game.  This was something Gabrielle was also famous for.  She then asked Gabrielle what the stakes would be since playing the game of gambling seemed inevitable at this point in the conversation.

     As soon as Gabrielle realized that Xena was in she soon thought of what her prize should be.  She gleefully told the warrior princess that she would be cooking breakfast on the following morning which was a chore normally reserved for the bard.  Gabrielle was feeling playful, confident, and triumphant.  She was certain to win the foot race if Xena had easily caved to the idea of the gamble.  Xena then looked to Gabrielle as if she were nuts.  The warrior princess could not believe that Gabrielle would imagine that she would be able to cook a decent meal.  As the bard pondered this comment she knew that Xena was right.  Cooking was definately not one of Xena’s many skills.  Yet Gabrielle soon had a new idea.  She requested that Xena would collect all of the firewood for their camps every night for a week. 

     Suddenly Xena was very willing to participate for she had an immediate request from the bard if she were to win the foot race.  Xena was practically begging for Gabrielle to agree to making her special dumplings with red sauce.  The bard realized that the stakes were high for it was not easy to gather the ingrediants needed to make the dumplings.  The other problem with this request was that the dumplings took an entire day to perfect.  It had been a long time since the bard had even had the time to sit around and make her dumplings for their latest adventures had kept them at sea much of the time.  Not to mention that Xena had died, and Hercules had almost died during the same period.  Gabrielle thought of this and decided the gamble would be worth it for the chance to cut out firewood detail for a week.  Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the bets placed and now it was time to put the words into action.  Gabrielle picked the tallest cypress along the road to Amphipolis and pointed it out with her staff.  She had determined that the cypress would be the finish line.  She pushed Xena behind her as she began to take her position.  Xena held the bard’s arm firmly asking her friend to remind her of the lead that she had been asked to give to the bard.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that it had been three large strides in front to give Gabrielle a fighting chance at winning.

     Gabrielle began to slowly take three large strides forward into her starting position as Xena prepared for the signal to begin.  The bard began to shout out the three commands to begin; however, after the second she began to move forward.  She had actually decided to give herself a few additional strides.  Xena would not be able to argue for after the second command was given she should have assumed the race would commence.  Gabrielle dashed forward confident that she had finally out smarted and out witted the warrior princess.  As she dashed full speed forward the bard could hear the sounds of the warrior princess closing in.  Gabrielle found it rather odd that Xena would have chosen to race by flipping her way to the finish.  It didn’t matter.  This only made Gabrielle’s win that much easier.  As Gabrielle was only a few strides away from reaching the cypress she jumped up into the air throwing her arms out in triumph as she shouted out to declare her very first victory over Xena. 

     As the words of victory were ringing through the air Gabrielle was suddenly startled by the presence of the warrior princess barely a nose length away directly in front of her.  The warrior princess had flipped over the bard just in time to steal the victory away from Gabrielle.  Xena’s celebration of victory was nothing more than a slight smirk to patronize the bard.  This led to Gabrielle finding frustration with Xena and her tactics.  It seemed that the warrior princess would do anything to win despite promising a three stride lead in the begining.  The bard’s enthusiasm of victory quickly deflated into an accusation of cheating against the warrior princess.  Gabrielle pointed her staff in the direction of the warrior princess shocked by the sudden invasion of personal space.  The warrior princess wasted no time in responding to the bard’s harsh critisicm.  Her face quickly turned into extreme intensity as if the warrior princess were suddenly angry.   Xena swiftly drew her sword ready for a fight as Gabrielle quickly backed off of her earlier accusation of cheating.  Gabrielle knew that she didn’t want to battle Xena.  That had not been part of the gambling arrangement.  The bard soon tried to take back her pettiness as she quickly backed away from Xena who slowly stepped to her left and then looked just beyond the bard’s shoulder.  Suddenly Gabrielle realized that Xena’s intensity was not as a result of her cheating comment, but of something else Xena had spotted down the path beyond her.  The bard suddenly heard the laughter of men behind her.

      Gabrielle moved with Xena slowly as she heard the sounds of footsteps and then laughing men approaching behind her.  She quickly spun around to the left facing the men to rejoin Xena within a defensive stance.  Without taking one eye away from the approaching party of men Xena gently ushered the bard to move just behind her.  Gabrielle’s ability to read Xena’s actions had improved greatly over time.  She took Xena’s non-verbal command without a single word or inquiry.  The bard had put great trust into all decisions made by the warrior princess for Xena had never lead the bard astray.  Xena’s sudden tense silence was soon followed by a relaxed body language and tone.  Gabrielle still felt extremely cautious of the situation yet Xena was seemingly comfortable and at ease.  It was amazing how the warrior could instantly adjust her tone and demeanor.  Xena opened up a casual conversation despite the fact that there were ten warriors standing before her weapons drawn hungry for a battle. 

     The warrior princess inquired the leader of his intensions.  He responded just as casually back to the warrior princess.  His reflection of the warrior princess’s ease was amazing as the bard continued to observe the transaction of words.  She even found herself lowering her staff slightly attempting to relax as Xena had been able to do.  The warlord responded candidly explaining that he was indeed out for a morning hunt and that Xena was the prey.  Xena could not resist the mystery or the details of why he would choose her to hunt down.  The warlord calmly explained that there had been yet another bounty placed upon Xena’s head.  His motive was to take his men and find Xena in order to collect the bounty.  With that statement he twirled his sword flashing it as a threat that the battle would begin, but Xena quickly countered with more words.  She was demonstrating rule number one again hoping to avoid battle the bard presumed. 

     Then Xena spoke with ease as if making a friendly joke explaining to the warlord standing just feet in front of her that she assumed that there were easier ways to make a dinar.  She accompanied this statement with a threat of pain as if it were a last effort to avoid what she felt was an unnecessary fight.  Then the warrior princess rubbed her nose and looked down as if it were some kind of signal or test to see if her enemy would take the advantage.  He barely flenched his body as he made a slight move forward.  Instantly the warrior princess responded casually into a bold blunt move into battle knocking the warlord across the chest with the handle of her sword.  The warlord was taken by complete surprise as he fell to the ground windless.  Within less than a moment the entire scene exploded into a bold forceful battle.  Xena fought with great energy as she countered an attack coming in from the left.  The bard quickly backed into position ready to strike down any of the men Xena had thrown back into her space.  Gabrielle was approached by an attacker whom she broadsided across the chest with her staff reflecting the move she had just witnessed Xena pull on the warlord with her sword handle.

     It worked brilliantly allowing the bard to be prepared for the second attacker just in front of her now.  She undercut his legs with the opposite edge of her staff throwing him violently onto the ground.  As the bard looked behind her she sensed that there were yet two more sets of boots approaching her from behind her.  Gabrielle quickly twisted back to the front of the battle and dug her boots into the ground firmly.  She pushed her staff long down low to undercut two more attackers.  The two warrior women had created a circular fighting stance recycling the enemy right back into the other to keep them from gaining their advantage of numbers.  The warrior princess drilled a thunderous kick into the chin of the enemy as she swung back around to take on those that Gabrielle had flattened down onto the ground.  Xena kicked one from behind and then spun around forward to face another in sword combat.  He fought her with double swords as Xena defended against his advances.  The bard could hear Xena’s short battle cries as the struggle between the two ensued.

     Soon Xena took a shot with the handle of her sword knocking him to the ground.  For a few short moments it appeared as if the battle was going to cease.  Then something strange happened.  The warrior princess carelessly decided to throw her sword to the ground leaving herself disarmed against ten warlords.  Xena fought hand to weapon combat as if it were a game rather than life or death.  It was as if she were playing with the enemy without the thought of the danger involved.  She smashed heads together, and reached out kissing a warlord’s arm.  The warrior princess jabbed her fingers in the eyes of another.  As Gabrielle continued to battle on she began to notice the sounds of the battle on the other end of the circle.  They were abnormally strange.  Xena’s battle cry was not the same as she flipped another warlord over her shoulder behind.  Gabrielle’s eyes flickered away from her battle over to the warrior princess to notice she was behaving ridiculously.  The bard was certain that this was not the best time for a friendly joke.  Gabrielle called out to Xena between breaths, but before she could receive a response two more warlords approached her armed with swords.  As they charged in for the kill Gabrielle quickly disarmed them with her staff knocking them under the chin and then spinning around for the final momentum.  She knocked them off of their feet and then looked back to Xena who was seemingly doing well despite her sudden craziness. 

      Gabrielle caught a glimpse of Xena disarming her attacker, but then as he approached going in for the tackle the warrior princess stopped him pulling up her hands into his face.  Then she instructed him to wait for a moment as she picked up his sword handing it back to him.  She was like a child unable to realize the mistake of handing a weapon back to the enemy.  This was unlike Xena.  Gabrielle was extremely puzzled as she watched the confusion unfold.  Even the warlord was seemingly confused.  Gabrielle thought for a moment that this could be a new unconventional battle tactic although it seemed highly unlikely the warrior princess would ever resort to this.  The bard watched as Xena urged the enemy to attack her.  Xena then kicked his sword out his hand sending it directly up into the sky floating high above.  Then she sent a kick across his face as he wobbled unconsciously eyes rolling into the back of his head.  Suddenly his sword landed upon his skull knocking the warlord out cold. 

     As he fell to the ground Xena snapped up her sword off of the ground with her boot by the handle and caught it effortlessly.  Then she lifted up her sword above her head and sniffed her arm pit exclaiming that she loved the smell of warrior sweat in the morning.  The warrior princess then pulled back her hair casually and walked back down the path where she had left Argo just before the foot race had begun.  Gabrielle shouted out to the remaining conscious men lying on the ground commanding them to move on.  She checked to make sure those who still lied down motionless were alive.  Once Gabrielle had confirmed that there had been no deaths she looked up to notice the warrior princess was eating one of the apples from Argo’s saddle bag and twirling her chackram on the edge of her fingers.  It was as if Xena were in her own little childlike world.  Gabrielle was intrigued yet irritated by Xena’s strange new behavior.  As Gabrielle approached Xena the warrior princess shouted out with excitement over the greatness of her chackram.  The warrior princess continued explaining that she had discovered it to be more than a weapon, but an exciting toy.  Then the warrior princess turned away from Gabrielle as the bard was about to interject a comment.  Gabrielle watched as Xena began to juggle the apple and the chackram ignoring Gabrielle.  The bard wanted to say something, but she was unable to express anything.  She was confused yet becoming greatly concerned for Xena’s mental health. 

     Finally Gabrielle had decided to reveal her concern to the warrior princess who just turned back to the bard and denied that there was anything wrong.  She even called Gabrielle by the wrong name.  Then she jumped into a backward flip onto Argo’s saddle landing upon her horse facing the wrong direction.  Argo was startled as Xena spit out her apple and replaced her chackram into its loop upon her hip.  Then she smiled candidly and exclaimed that she had never realized how wonderful the view was from that angle upon her horse.  She was seemingly excited about the prospect of riding backwards into danger only to see where one had been.  For a slight moment Gabrielle wanted to laugh at Xena’s idiocy, but that moment passed quickly into worry for the bard.  She was watching Xena attempting to understand what was transpiring within the warrior princess’s mind.  She decided to approach Xena with a serious question.  The last thing the bard wanted was to offend Xena in such a way that would curb her mood into violence.  Gabrielle reminded Xena of what the warlord had said about there being a bounty upon Xena’s head.  The bard was concerned that Xena appeared to have no curiosity about the bounty.  The bard demanded to know expressing concern if Xena was at all worried about this information.  The warrior princess responded by jumping off of the back of her horse flipping up into the trees above and then finding some fancy acrobatics down landing just in front of the bard. 

       Xena responded cryptically explaining that she was indeed interested yet she was not certain the warlord would elaborate on what else he knew.  This response to the bard’s question was semi normal despite the fact that the warrior princess appeared only about half serious with a cryptic tone.  The cryptic part was a comfort as the bard reminded Xena of her famous pinch interrogation.  She was certain that it would work.  It always had before.  Gabrielle began to think that the warrior princess might be just playing a game with her for pushing Xena into her gambling game unwillingly.  The bard decided to play along for the moment.  Xena raised her finger as if a gesture of faith in the bard’s idea which intrigued Gabrielle although she found herself to be confused by Xena’s reaction to the statement.  The bard followed the warrior princess over to the leader of the warlord group who was just begining to find his way back into the realm of consciousness. 

     Xena quickly jabbed her fingers into his neck before he could realize where he was as Gabrielle knelt down beside Xena listening to the interrogation.  The warrior princess explained her procedure to the victim reminding him that the flow of blood had just been cut off to his brain.  As usual he had only thirty seconds to respond.  Xena’s first question was outrageous.  She demanded to know how old the warlord was when he had lost his virginity.  Gabrielle attempted to scold Xena.  Xena responded by commanding Gabrielle to shut up although Xena did not refer to her as Gabrielle, but Maivis.  Then the bard looked to Xena realizing that her friend was not in control of her own actions which made Xena lethal.  The man could die if someone did not regain control of the warrior princess even if it was not the warrior princess herself.                                                                             

    Surprisingly an answer to the ridiculous question came from the warlord struggling for a breath.  Xena did not approve of this answer and asked for another response.  The warlord quickly submitted stating that his virginity was lost at a much later age.  Then Xena looked to the bard again referring to her as Maivis explaining that asking nicely was the only way to get good information.  Gabrielle had been counting down the seconds.  Time was running out.  She had to get some real answers if Xena refused.  Gabrielle quickly looked to the dying warlord and asked him desperately for answers to the mysterious bounty on Xena’s head.  His breaths were more difficult now as he explained that it was the priest who had ordered Xena’s head.  Gabrielle demanded of him the identity of the priest.  The warlord barely breathing now struggled to say that it had been the priest at the temple of the furies. 

     Gabrielle sat back for a moment and thought of this knowing that if there was any other information to dig out this was the last chance.  Then it occurred to her that there was no more information that could be mined from the pinch interrogation.  She remembered the legend of the furies as Xena asked the warlord what the capital of Assyria was.  This snapped Gabrielle back into the moment as she demanded forcefully that Xena release her victim from certain death.  Xena’s response was slow and seemingly without concern or awareness.  She was certain that the warlord could answer more questions.  The amount of questions was not the issue.  Gabrielle was certain that they had all that they needed, and that there would be more information in a trip to the temple of the furies.  The bard looked to Xena again demanding with a glare that the warrior princess release the man from his pain. 

     Finally the warrior princess released the warlord within the last moment.  She jumped up from the ground as if annoyed and irritated that Gabrielle had demanded that her game of life and death end before it had begun.  The bard jumped up following Xena demanding to know where the warrior princess was going.  Xena answered shortly stating that she was going for a bite to eat.  Gabrielle then wanted to know what Xena had planned to do about the issue of the furies.  Xena’s answer was sarcastic as she had determined that the furies could feed themselves without her.  This confirmed that Xena was in serious trouble as the bard demanded that the warrior princess focus on her problem of being unable to control herself or her own thoughts.  Xena turned to Gabrielle reminding the bard that missing breakfast always made her cranky. 

     For Gabrielle this was different than a cranky morning with an empty warrior stomach.  Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s arm firmly to hold onto her moment of focus.  She explained her theory of how serious Xena’s trouble was revealing a small portion of the mystery of the furies.  The legends had told the bard that the furies often punished their victims by persecution which had only explained the bounty on Xena’s head.  Only the priest of the temple of the furies would have that kind of authority.  As for Xena’s insanity Gabrielle was uncertain of how to release Xena from it.  Gabrielle tried desperately to reach Xena explaining that the madness was the real problem.  Xena’s response was seemingly on track with Gabrielle and for a slight moment the bard felt a sense of relief.  Yet the warrior princess made a joke of her situation at best.  She exclaimed that she had never felt better a day in her life as she playfully slapped the bard’s checks with her hands and turned to move onto the next uncertain moment.

     Gabrielle struggled to hold onto Xena’s focus firmly grabbing the warrior princess by the arm again forcing Xena to look her in the eye.  The bard felt that if she could not reach Xena’s mind she should try to reach out to Xena’s heart.  Gabrielle demanded that they go to the temple of the furies to investigate things further.  Xena then looked to Gabrielle as if formulating a plan.  Then her look turned to spite as if this were just another game.  It was like a battle of wills and the competitive side of the warrior princess was not about to lose it to Gabrielle.  Gabrielle asked nicely hoping that she could revert Xena back to the moment of the game with the warlord’s interrogation, but Xena swung her head away refusing to give in.  Then Gabrielle spoke softly asking with concern and with her heart.  Gabrielle begged Xena to do it for her friend even if Xena could not do it for herself.  For a moment Xena’s eyes flickered of suspicion and then she smiled gleefully and agreed that they should go to the temple.  The warrior princess then moved into the next moment flipping backward upon Argo and shouting out a childlike command for go.  Then she kicked Argo’s sides and laughed hysterically as they rode down the path.  The bard was becoming frustrated, but she was certain that Argo was aware of Xena’s madness as well.  Xena’s horse would not let her get far without Gabrielle.

     Gabrielle and Argo had spent the entire day trying to keep Xena under control.  The bard had difficulty focusing on coming up with a solution beyond the temple of the furies.  After hours of playing Xena’s child-like games of fury and madness the bard had finally wrangled the warrior princess into camp for the night.  Of course it had been made possible by an agreement that they would pick daisies until sunset.  The warrior princess was no help in gathering the firewood or starting the fire.  She spent several moments seated upon a large log next to the camp fire.  The bard paced as she tried to think of how to solve the delema.  She remembered that the furies had been known to punish people for their crimes with madness or persecution, but she had never heard of a person being punished by both persecution and madness at the same time. 

     As the bard paced about the campfire she spoke her thoughts out loud.  The warrior princess casually interrupted with sarcasm as if asking Gabrielle why she suspected that the warrior princess was crazy.  For a moment the bard thought that maybe there was still someone in there underneath all of the madness as she approached the warrior princess who fussed with a headdress of daisies.  The bard went for the last dinar of hope asking the warrior princess if she felt even a drop of concern for herself at this juncture.  The warrior princess answered seemingly concerned only for her vanity as she stared into the copper plate adoring her leafy flowered head laurel.  It appeared that Xena was only amused as Gabrielle’s irritation rose nearly to a breaking point.  The bard demanded to know if Xena was concerned about the depths of what was going on inside her mind within the past day and within the current moment.  Xena just shrugged off Gabrielle’s concern joking about how her mind was the last place the bard wanted to venture into.  The warrior princess described her condition as terrifying at best as if it were nothing at all.  Then she proceeded to ask about the leafy laurel wondering if she should lose the daisies. 

      The bard’s resolve within the situation had been spent.  She was now totally exhausted from the mind tricks and clever mental gymnastics Xena had been demonstrating all day long.  Gabrielle turned away from her hopeless friend deciding that the only way to come to a solution would be over a good night’s rest.  Not only that, but with any luck the warrior princess’s sudden breakdown might be gone once she had worn herself out with the daisies.   Upon lying down the bard’s eyes closed sending her into an instant deep rest yet it did not last the night for Gabrielle found herself awakening while the stars were still out.  When she awoke she noticed that there was no sign of Xena within her bedroll.  Gabrielle quickly rose from her groggy state into an alarmed concern.  She looked about the camp frantically to find that Xena was not there. 

     Not only that, but there was evidence of a greater more sinister madness for Xena had left her clothing behind including her breast plate and armor.  Even Xena’s weapons were left unattended.  This was unlike the warrior princess.  The bard wondered if the bounty hunters from the previous day had returned to capture the warrior princess within her weakened state of mind.  There was little time to consider this for the bard had to find her friend.  Gabrielle ran for her staff and then began the task of tracking the warrior princess.  She quickly realized that where ever the warrior princess had gone she had gone there alone.  There were no signs of a struggle.  The tracks were the footprints of a person not wearing boots.  In fact the foot prints were of the the warrior princess.  Gabrielle followed them to the Strymon and then to a small village in the early morning darkness.  As she approached the scene she saw the warrior princess standing before a frightened crowd of villagers holding a large burning torch.  The flames were immense, intimidating, and extremely hot.  Xena was completely vulnerable and defenseless yet her darkness echoed as she lashed out at the crowd. 

     Gabrielle heard the warrior princess’s sinister words as she blindly accused the people of the village of being shameful for their heinous crimes.  The bard heard the warrior princess shout out that she had come to take retribution for the actions of the innocent villagers.  Gabrielle rushed to Xena’s side as the warrior princess continued the madness exclaiming at the top of her voice to the people of the village that she was to take her retribution in flames.  Gabrielle suddenly realized that Xena was about to burn down their village.  Gabrielle knew that the warrior princess was in a fragile state of mind.  Even within her vulnerability Xena was dangerous.  The bard sensed that she was more dangerous now and had to be handled gently.  As Gabrielle approached carefully she stood by Xena’s side softly asking the warrior princess what it was that she had been doing.  Xena firmly explained that she was simply delivering the people into their wrath of justice.  It appeared that Xena was convinced that they were all evil and that their evil had to burn.  Gabrielle looked out into the faces of the crowd.  Most of them were the startled faces of women and children.  Innocent young eyes gazed upon their enemy in disbelief and fear.  There were no evil people in sight.  Gabrielle was confused yet alarmed by the suddenly irrational behavior Xena was now displaying. Xena was getting worse. 

     Gabrielle was firm yet still soft as she demanded of Xena what crimes these innocent people had committed.  The warrior princess lashed out with a powerful uncontrollable anger declaring that they had all crucified the women and children.  The bard’s heart broke as she felt powerless to stop Xena and to rescue her friend from the uncontrollable madness.  Gabrielle reached out to her friend desperately as her eyes welled up with tears.  She grabbed hold of her friend’s face and pulled Xena’s eyes forcefully into her own.  Gabrielle hoped to convince Xena of the reality that the warrior princess could no longer see.  The bard lashed out under her breath within a whisper of frustration that there were only women and children standing before Xena’s own wrath.  Gabrielle continued to paint the picture of reality for the mad warrior woman whispering under her breath softly that they were afraid of Xena.  For the innocent could not see Xena’s world or Xena’s reality.  They could not see the warped mind that Xena carried within.  The moment of madness seemingly dissipated into deep regret and sadness for the warrior princess began to cry like a child who was hurting inside.  Gabrielle realized that she had to diffuse Xena’s fears and the fears of the innocent standing before them as she asked Xena calmly to hand over her large burning torch.  The bard gingerly took the weapon of fear and laid it aside into a harmless resting place. 

     For a moment the warrior princess had seemingly snapped out of her madness back into reality as she sadly commented with defeat that she was indeed in trouble.  It was as if it had been difficult for Xena to admit that she had been defeated by her own madness, but that did not matter to Gabrielle.  For the first time in almost a day the warrior princess had finally realized that Gabrielle’s pleas with her friend had not been part of a game.  For the first time Xena’s mind had found its clarity within the situation.  Gabrielle had only wanted to help Xena restore her sanity.  The bard looked to her friend as she searched for a covering for the warrior princess.  She explained that although the warrior princess was defeated for the moment there was still hope.  Gabrielle was intent on helping Xena find those responsible for her madness.  Xena would not lose this battle.  Then the bard covered Xena and softly explained the importance of why she had wanted to visit the temple of the furies the day before.  Xena’s mind was open to this idea long enough for them to return to camp and prepare for the journey to the temple. 

     For the next several hours it was an ongoing struggle for Xena to compete with her madness.  Gabrielle could see her friend’s suffering and her pain.  It was difficult to watch Xena struggle so hard within herself, but it was a fight Xena had to partake in to survive.  The warrior princess was within a battle of her own wits.  Gabrielle spent the morning hoping to help Xena by connecting with her friend’s emotions.  It had seemed the only way to control the madness up to this point, but the effort was constant and draining the bard’s emotional energy.  When the two friends had finally been able to reach the temple of the furies after veering off into several distractions Gabrielle was barely able to contain herself from bursting out against the madness.  Gabrielle finally resorted to restraining Xena’s hand keeping it firmly within her grasp.  As she dragged her friend into the temple Xena flopped about like a child as if it were yet another game.  Gabrielle shouted out to her friend to restrain herself from the madness as they approached the priest in the temple. 

     The priest looked up calmly to notice the commotion within his temple.  He immediately recognized the warrior princess as the friends approached him.  For a moment it appeared that Xena was able to pull herself out of the madness, but the moment did not last. The priest knew that Xena had come to ask about the bounty on her head.  Xena’s response was not serious.  In fact she was candid as she reverted into a child like remark asking the priest to take her head for it was driving her crazy.  As the warrior princess spoke those words she put her finger into her mouth and then reached out to touch the priest’s forehead with it.  Just before Xena could make contact Gabrielle grabbed her friend frantically and pushed Xena behind her desperate for the answers she seeked about Xena’s madness. 

      The bard’s concern for her friend was growing larger as the priest stated the obvious.  Xena had been punished by the furies with both persecution and madness.  He surmised that Xena’s crime must have been quite appalling for this to happen.  The furies punished few with both crimes.  Gabrielle’s concern grew into frantic worry unable to imagine what crimes Xena had committed in her past that the bard was unaware of.  She demanded of the priest Xena’s crimes.  He stated that Xena’s crime was simply a breach of duty.  When Gabrielle heard this she was hopeful that the answer would be simple and the solution possible as the priest explained that Xena was to avenge the murder of a family member.  Gabrielle was suddenly confused for the only member of Xena’s family she had known to have been murdered was her brother Lycious.  That had seemingly been resolved, but then Xena responded lashing out at the priest.  She instantly grabbed him by the throat with passionate anger declaring that she had indeed avenged her brother’s murder.  Anyone whom had stated otherwise was lying. 

     Gabrielle suddenly snapped out of her confusion and surprise as she slowly tried to restrain Xena again.  Yet Xena was beyond restraint.  The warrior princess threw the bard away from her as she prepared to kill the innocent priest.  Gabrielle shouted out to Xena hoping to divert the warrior princess away from her madness for a single moment.  The priest prepared to speak his last words as he struggled to state that it had not been Xena’s brother the furies were angry over.  Gabrielle quickly asked the priest who before his certain death delivered by Xena’s madness.  The priest struggled again to get out the words revealing that it was Xena’s father whom had been murdered.  This seemed to quiet the madness for another moment as Xena loosened her grasp slightly upon the priest’s neck as he struggled to breath.  Gabrielle could see the wheels of reason spinning with in her friend’s fragile mind as it searched for the illusive answers.  As Gabrielle again tried to slowly approach and calm the warrior princess Xena released the priest from death and began to pace about the temple.  Gabrielle approached the priest hoping to help him regain his breath as she asked the priest who had murdered Xena’s father.   The priest barely able to speak now stated that he did not know that answer. 

      This was not what Gabrielle had been looking for.  Xena’s problem was not any closer to being solved than it had been as they had entered the temple.  Gabrielle felt a bit of panic, but she quickly realized that she could not allow herself to panic.  Xena needed her to be strong now more than ever.  Gabrielle approached the pacing warrior princess who seemed to be within her own panicked madness.  Gabrielle asked Xena if she wanted to sit down for a moment hoping to get the warrior princess to calm down, but Xena’s response was a sudden forceful push of rejection.  Xena pushed Gabrielle away as if in great pain and fear as the warrior princess dashed out of the temple leaving Gabrielle behind with the priest.  Gabrielle instantly knew what Xena was trying to do.  She was trying to protect Gabrielle, but Gabrielle could not let Xena go out into the world alone with her madness.  The bard was willing to risk her own life to save Xena no matter what it would take.  Without Gabrielle Xena might hurt many innocent people.  Xena was more dangerous now, yet as vulnerable as a young child.

     Keeping up with Xena was nearly impossible for the bard as the warrior princess sprinted through the forest off of the beaten path.  Gabrielle tracked Xena’s frantic movements following the prints of her warrior boots into the depths of despair.  The boots weaved in and out of the trees leaping over a pile of dead trees.  Xena had dashed in and around spinning in circles.  There were places in which the earth was out of place as if Xena had stopped within a frantic panic.  As Gabrielle followed the desperate trail she could hear the sounds of Xena’s madness echoing through the trees.  First Xena screamed out enraged against Baccus, and then she dashed on through the trees.   Gabrielle could hear the sounds of Xena’s boots hitting the fallen leaves and then she heard the sound of Xena’s sword leaving its sheath.  The bard saw a flock of birds just ahead and there she watched as the warrior princess swung her sword about, enraged and afraid.  It was as if Xena were swatting at dryads as she screamed out within the agony of her madness.  The warrior princess’s movements were out of control as she fought against the thin air above her.  Xena was focused on whatever it was that only she could see within the depths of her own mind.

     Gabrielle could see how sick her friend was and helpless Xena had become.  She was out of control and reality was nowhere to be found.  The bard tried to approach Xena carefully and calmly from behind.  As Gabrielle walked slowly to approach the warrior princess, Xena’s warrior senses kicked in.  The warrior princess swung around violently ready to face her enemy.  She kept shouting out Callisto’s name as she began to charge forward to attack.  Gabrielle shouted out trying to reach the warrior princess within all of the babbling words and fear.  Xena raised her sword for the kill swinging it violently in the direction of the bard.  Gabrielle could see the madness within Xena’s eyes as she ducked the attack.  She tried desperately to regain Xena’s attention away from the visions of madness which now infested the warrior princess.  The bard’s heart was racing with fear, but not for her own safety.  She was afraid that Xena was beyond even her endless love for the warrior princess.  Gabrielle’s heart sank feeling that her friend was gone yet she still fought to regain Xena’s mind.  First she tried to reveal that it was Gabrielle that stood before Xena and not the vision of Callisto.  She asked the warrior princess calmly to put the sword down, but Xena was too disoriented to understand the request.  Her eyes flickered about as if she could not even see the bard standing an arm’s length before her. 

     Gabrielle continued to try to break through the madness as she begged Xena to put down the sword and allow the bard to help her friend.  With frustration building within Gabrielle shouted, hoping to get through the babbling madness.  She was certain that the next step beyond the temple of the furies was to find out who murdered her father.  Gabrielle was desperate to approach the warrior princess to disarm her and get control again.  Xena was more difficult this time than back at the village earlier that morning.  She was refusing the bard’s help this time as she shook her head unable to accept that she was out of control.  Just as Gabrielle was about to make full physical contact with Xena she was overtaken by Xena’s madness.  Before the bard could finish telling Xena about the  misfortunes of another man whom had suffered madness for the death of his mother Xena’s madness had taken over.  Gabrielle was now fearing that her life was about to end at the hands of the warrior princess’s uncontrollable madness. 

      Xena now had Gabrielle restrained and her sword pressed to the bard’s neck.  Gabrielle continued to try to get more words in explaining that Orestes had not avenged his father, but the warrior princess had now slammed the bard up against a tree and begun to tie her friend up.  With the cold blade of Xena’s sword still pressing across Gabrielle’s neck and chest the bard stood quiet, calm, and still.  Her chest rose and fell with fear for the next moment she would have to endure with Xena’s madness.  Xena spoke through the madness in her usual cryptic way babbling something about the gods and how human beings meant nothing to them.  She compared people to beetles and went onto say that people were toys for the gods and would be killed for their sport.

      Gabrielle felt the vines Xena used to tie her to the tree tightening across her arms and wrists.  The bard was uncertain as to what Xena’s madness would do to her.  Gabrielle felt Xena’s hand running through her hair and across her face as the sword tightened across her neck.  The bard closed her eyes for a moment and took a sudden deep breath hoping that Xena was still in there somewhere within the jumbled mess within her mind.  Xena continued to speak to her as she stroked Gabrielle’s head and shoulder softly as if trying to communicate her true intentions despite the madness.  She apologized cryptically to the bard that she would have to leave Gabrielle behind for she was fully aware that she could not be trusted within her madness.  Then the warrior princess smiled as she slid her blade across the bard’s body off into the woods.  The bard heard the sound of the blade scraping the trees echoing through the woods as if it were death whispering into her ears. 

     For a few brief moments the bard was still in shock, but as she heard the sounds of Xena’s warrior boots disappearing into the distance Gabrielle snapped back into reality relieved that Xena had not yet been able to kill her best friend.  It meant that there was still time to save Xena from her madness, but Gabrielle was even more irritated and frustrated than before.  She was keenly aware that if Xena was able to leave her friend behind then it meant that the warrior princess was still rejecting Gabrielle’s help.  Gabrielle was hurt by this thought as anger began to build within.  That choice had not been as a result of Xena’s madness, but her lack of confidence in Gabrielle.  Gabrielle began  to forcefully remove herself from the vines which she found to be not very difficult.  The warrior princess had not tied her very tightly.  Xena was on the move and she had to stop her friend from hurting anyone else for they might not be so lucky as the bard had just been.  Only Gabrielle’s pride had been injured for the moment.  Yet the bard was determined to win her battle against the madness.

     Gabrielle followed Xena’s trail once again following it into and through a nearby warlord’s camp.  The bard found that most of the men within the camp had been pummeled by the warrior princess for they were all passed out upon the ground.  She continued carefully through the camp hoping to attract little attention to herself.  The bard noticed that the trail of the warrior princess led toward Amphipolis.  This did not shock the bard, but it became a bit of a comfort.  Xena had gone to see her mother.  It would be easy to find Xena, but Gabrielle could only hope that the warrior princess was able to control her madness long enough to protect her own mother.

     Soon Gabrielle reached Cyrene’s tavern and ran inside within a panic.  She was extremely concerned for both Xena and her mother.  Instantly the bard spotted Cyrene with Xena lying down upon one of the tavern tables.  There was no one else in sight.  Gabrielle called out to Cyrene as she approached.  Xena’s mother was tending to her very ill daughter wiping Xena’s face gently hoping to calm the madness.  Cyrene spoke up and spoke to Gabrielle about the madness which had consumed her daughter without mercy.  Gabrielle was shocked that Xena had been able to tell her mother what had happened to her, but Cyrene interrupted explaining that her daughter was incoherent.  It was the story of Orestes and of how the furies had punished him for not avenging his father that Cyrene spoke of.  Gabrielle was surprised to know that Cyrene was familiar with this story.  Cyrene continued explaining within her own sadness that she had hoped this day would never arrive.

      This led Gabrielle to realize that Cyrene had the answer to the problem.  She inquired Xena’s mom of what she had known about the fate of Xena’s father.  Cyrene continued as if she were talking to herself out loud that Xena’s father had been murdered.  There was regret in Cyrene’s voice as Gabrielle found herself to be almost relieved yet still concerned about the unknown.  Gabrielle softly asked if Cyrene knew who had murdered Xena’s father.  Cyrene answered with a soft affirmation..  She stopped stroking Xena’s forehead and then slowly turned away as if she were agonized by her own knowledge.  Cyrene walked away from Gabrielle without a word as Gabrielle followed pursuing Xena’s mother for the answer.  The bard begged Cyrene with her heart for the answer to the mystery so that she and Xena could bring the murderer to justice in order to satisfy the furies. 

     Slowly Cyrene turned to face Gabrielle and then gently spoke the bard’s name.  She then posed a question to the bard.  She asked if Gabrielle felt that Xena could go through with the murder of her own mother.  Gabrielle was shocked at this simple question.  It was the answer to the riddle of the furies.  It was the solution to the madness yet there was tragedy in the thought and the idea that Cyrene was guilty of murdering her daughter’s father.  Gabrielle could not wrap her mind around the thought and was unable to grasp what would drive a mother to commit such a tragic crime.  The bard refused to believe it as she spoke her thought out loud.  Cyrene moved forward closer openly confessing to the murder.  Gabrielle stepped back still in disbelief of the facts. 

     Cyrene continued as Gabrielle stood motionless within the tavern.  Xena was now sitting upright still dazed within her madness although for the moment it
was quiet.  Cyrene approached her daughter explaining that it had happened when Xena was only seven years old.  Her father had come home from the temple of Ares with in a drunken rage.  He had told Cyrene that Xena had to die.  Cyrene suspected that Xena’s father had only been confused by the priest.  She thought that maybe the priest had demanded that Xena be sacrificed to the god of war.  Cyrene had known Xena’s father to have been very dedicated to the god of war.  She was now speaking directly to Xena who appeared to be listening within the madness.  Her mother continued explaining that she had gone against Xena’s father’s wishes.  She would not allow her daughter to be sacrificed to the gods.  His response to a mother’s love was to kill Xena’s mother too. 

     Cyrene’s recounting of the memory was a painful one as she continued explaining that Xena’s father then went out to the stables to sharpen a knife for the blood letting.  She described his preparation for the sacrifice as a methodical one.  Gabrielle could only imagine that Xena’s father had taken the seven year old out to the stable with him and prepared her upon his alter.  Cyrene had been forcefully dragged out to the stable where she must have killed him to save Xena from sacrifice.  Cyrene’s weapon of choice had been an ax.  The god of war had gotten his sacrifice either way.  It seemed that the god of war had been obsessed with Xena for her entire life.  Gabrielle found herself sitting at the next table feeling the emotion of a mother’s love and the conflict of Cyrene’s difficult choice.  It was exactly the same situation that had occurred with Orestes.  Cyrene paused for a moment as if waiting for Xena to respond, but all was quiet.  Then Cyrene joined Gabrielle sitting down with her as Gabrielle broke the silence hoping to move the moment of sadness forward. 

     Cyrene responded agreeing that Xena’s circumstance was exactly the same as that of Orestes.  She continued explaining his mother had also killed his father which made his obligation by the code of the furies to kill his mother in order to avenge his father.  Gabrielle then inquired if Orestes had actually avenged his father.  She wanted to know if the act of murdering his mother had released him from madness.  It was an uncomfortable, but necessary question.  Cyrene did not have the answer.  All that she knew beyond that was that Orestes lived in the village of Andreas not far from Amphipolis.  Gabrielle pondered this information for the moment.  She was not certain that killing Cyrene was the answer although it appeared to be the only solution within the moment.  Even Cyrene was aware of this although not completely comfortable with in herself.  Gabrielle sensed this.  She decided that the next step would be for her to make the trip to Andreas to find Orestes and the solution to the problem which faced them. 

     With hope Gabrielle looked to Cyrene and tried to offer comfort and understanding despite the feelings deep within both women.  Gabrielle then spoke with confidence and told Cyrene that she would go off to Andreas.  There she would find the way out of the mess.  Then Gabrielle took Cyrene’s hand into hers and rose from the table.  Cyrene sighed with relief that the bard was not judgmental of a mother’s actions.  Gabrielle reached out and gently stroked Cyrene’s shoulder as she moved toward Xena.  The bard stood before her friend feeling Xena’s hopelessness.  The situation seemed impossible, but Gabrielle could not believe that it was.  She spoke to Xena softly knowing that Xena was still with in somewhere.  Gabrielle continued to offer her hope to Xena determined that together they would get through it all.  Gabrielle could not remember a time or a moment in which the two friends did not triumph over the obstacles they faced.  The bard reached out to stroke her friend’s shoulder knowing that it was the only way to communicate the feeling inside.  Then Gabrielle left the tavern with the determination and the hope to defeat the furies for it was the only way out.

     Her journey to Andreas was only a few hours walk.  When Gabrielle arrived there she found herself guided to the village asylum.  Gabrielle was confused for Orestes should have been released from madness according to the code of the furies.  The village man whom had brought Gabrielle to Orestes explained that the code of the furies was all a lie.  Avenging the death of his father could not possibly release Orestes for how could Orestes avenge the death of his mother when he himself was the killer.  His punishment from the furies for this crime was unimaginable.  Gabrielle knelt down before the man chained to the moldy walls of the basement of the asylum.  It was dark, and dreary, and musty.  This was a most unpleasant place to spend one’s last days upon earth.  Gabrielle looked into the old man’s eyes.  He was lost within his incoherence and alone.  It was a fate worse than death itself.  His soul was empty and defeated.  Gabrielle’s heart sank into the pit of her stomach as she imagined that man chained to the wall as her best friend.  The bard could not allow Xena to kill her mother.  It would free no one.  Panic and alarm began to rise within the bard as she quickly rose from Orestes and began the hurried  journey back to Amphipolis. 

     When Gabrielle had finally returned to Amphipolis she found that both Cyrene and Xena were gone.  Her heart raced with concern as she scoured the village looking for Xena and her mother.  Some of the people of Amphipolis had heard that Xena had taken Cyrene to the temple of the furies to be sacrificed before the god of war and the furies.  Gabrielle wasted no time in finding them.  She hoped that she was not too late.  After running for hours Gabrielle finally reached the temple.  The sun was low in the sky as Gabrielle busted through the temple doors hearing Xena’s voice screaming for the kill.  Gabrielle looked across the temple alter to see Xena there with a dagger raised above her head.  She was about to commit the crime and seal her fate forever.  The bard shouted out to Xena not to kill her mother.  Gabrielle kept talking to explain why it would not work and release Xena.  Just before she could reach the warrior princess to stop her physically, Ares, the god of war restrained the bard and covered her mouth so that she could not speak.  His grip was solid, strong, and tight.  Gabrielle could feel his power running through her skin and did not dare to move another step forward.  She did not struggle.

     Xena then spoke to Ares as if pleased by his action against the bard.  Gabrielle then looked to Xena and tried to speak through Ares’s grasp hoping to reach Xena in some small way.  Then Gabrielle looked to Cyrene who was preparing to face her own death.  Xena raised the dagger above her head once more preparing to kill her mother.  Gabrielle again tried to get out a word through the god of war as she looked to Xena with pleading eyes.  The furies stood before the alter awaiting the deed and then Xena suddenly paused as if she had been hit by a small moment of clarity.  Still holding the dagger above her head Xena’s mind went over the details.  Gabrielle could see the warrior wheels spinning despite the heat of the moment.  Then the god of war became impatient asking the warrior princess about the delay.  Xena spoke asking herself out loud why she was about to kill her mother.  Gabrielle had somehow been able to reach Xena with her presence.  The bard did not know how long Xena’s clarity would last as Ares responded explaining the code of the furies to Xena once more.  He was more than ready for the sacrifice of Xena’s mother.

     Then Xena moved back into madness entranced by Ares’s words and again she prepared to kill her mother raising the dagger above her head.  Gabrielle again tried to get out a word through Ares’s grasp stopping Xena again.  Xena looked up to Ares and went over the details of her situation again as if delaying for something.  Ares responded with an impatient affirmation of Cyrene’s crime.  Then he demanded that the warrior princess show her mother no mercy.  Within the next moment Xena babbled something seemingly incoherent as if she had forgotten what was going on around her.  She asked how her mother could have killed her father if he was very much alive.  This statement was confusing for everyone who witnessed it.  Gods and mortals were astounded by Xena’s strange revelation.  Gabrielle searched Xena’s eyes as Ares released his grip of the bard distracted by Xena’s madness.  He countered to the furies stating the obvious that Xena was indeed crazy.  Xena continued explaining that she was still thinking of killing her mother for fun despite the fact that her father was still alive.  Everyone was captivated by Xena’s madness as Gabrielle found herself trying to sort madness from clarity.  Xena was rapidly shifting between the two states of mind.  It was difficult for the bard to keep up.  Gabrielle sensed Xena was fishing for a sudden solution to the problem. 

      Then Xena stated before the furies, and to all who witnessed the moment that Ares was her father.  The furies were now intrigued by this shifting of events.  Xena continued candidly asking her mother to take another look at the mythic lover whom had given her Xena.  Ares brushed off the idea as nonsense asking why Cyrene had not mentioned this fact before the current moment.  Xena countered Ares’s statement with the unexpected.  Referring to Ares as “daddy” Xena drove the point home to the furies that he was her father.  Then Xena urged Gabrielle to do her bard thing.  Gabrielle was uncertain of what Xena was asking of her in the moment.  She was still sifting through the mood swings, but it suddenly all became clear.  Xena needed Gabrielle to set up the legend and the myth to fit all of the pieces together to implicate Ares as her father. 

     The bard released herself from Ares’s grasp and began to tell the women’s tales of their exploits with the god of war.  It has often been reported that while the husbands are away at battle the god of war will take their forms and visit the beds of each of their wives.  Gabrielle was not certain that this was what Xena had been looking for, but it seemed to fit the situation.  The bard began to question things for herself wondering if Ares was indeed Xena’s father.  It would explain Xena’s amazing natural abilities.  She could be the female version of Hercules.  The god of war glared in the direction of the bard irritated that she had been able to implicate him into Xena’s mad ideas.  He approached the alter where Xena stood before her mother.  Xena then asked Cyrene to tell the furies about the night she was created. 

     At first Cyrene was lost, but she too was able to follow what Xena was trying to put together.  Cyrene began to explain how Xena’s father had unexpectedly come home from a distant battle to be with her in a night of passionate love.  Ares then looked to the furies expressing his displeasure with the entire charade.  Xena’s next question was posed to the furies.  She wanted to know if they eavesdropped on their victims while they tormented them.  The head of the furies responded that they often listened in on the mortals they tormented.  Xena then asked them if they had overheard the conversation that she had had with Ares when she had planned to throw herself over a cliff to save her mother.  Then Xena looked to Ares and teased him about how she had been able to set him up for this moment.  The furies did not respond until Xena again asked if they had heard the conversation with Ares.  They affirmed  that they had heard.  Then Xena joked about their scantily clad red outfits.  There wasn’t much clothing to cover the women who took the forms of the furies as their existence. 

     Xena did not linger on that point too long for she asked them if they wondered why Ares had chosen the word “jealous” to describe the man who was supposed to have been her father.  The head furies looked to Ares and asked him for an answer to the question of the word jealousy.  Ares realized what Xena had put together.  She had created an excellent defense and way out of insanity.  She had turned her trial of defense into a trial in which he was now the defender of his own actions.   He calmly explained to the furies that when he spoke of jealousy he had meant that Xena’s father had been jealous of the attention that his wife had paid to their daughter.  The god of war stated that it was common for mortal men to become jealous of the attention their wives paid to their children. 

     Xena was not beaten with Ares’s argument over jealousy.  Instead she was fueled with an even bigger story.  Xena approached Ares and pushed him on the shoulder playfully.  She told her view to the furies explaining that shortly after Ares had planted his seed into her mother creating Xena, Cyrene’s husband  returned home.  Thinking that he had impregnated his wife Xena was born.  Years went by without him knowing any different until one day he arrived to worship his favorite god at the temple.  On that day someone, maybe a priest or even the god of war himself revealed the truth of Xena’s creation to him.  This led to the jealous rage which forced Cyrene to kill her own husband with an ax to protect her child and then led to the present circumstances.  It all made perfect sense until Ares laughed nervously yet with godlike confidence.  Then he repeated forcefully that he was not Xena’s father.  Everyone looked to the furies who looked to Ares and then to Xena.  They wanted to know why Ares would go to all the trouble to drive Xena insane.  Ares was delighted at the question posed by the furies.  Everyone shifted their focus back to Xena.  For a moment it seemed that he had finally beaten Xena at her own game.  Yet Xena had the perfect retort.  First she delivered a complement to Ares telling him that he had made a bit of sense to her when she had spoken with him during her earlier attempt at suicide.  This was disheartening news to Gabrielle.  Then Xena went onto explain to the furies that a mad Xena would be more sympathetic to Ares’s world view.  Again her madness made perfect sense. 

     Xena smiled with craziness in her eyes and then looked to the furies to check their response.  It was obvious that they were not totally convinced.  Xena continued talking to Ares explaining that he had made sense of life to her when they had been talking earlier.  She went onto explain that the best part of it all was the fact that once she killed her mother she would be doomed to complete dependence on her father for eternity for she would never be free of her madness.  Then Xena drove her argument home stating that she could prove all of this to be true.  Her final solution was to fight against Ares in a one on one combat.  Xena was sacrificing herself in front of everyone.  If she was going to be doomed it would be on her terms.  She would die in battle against the god of war.  There was no other glorious end for her.  She explained that if she was half god she would be able to hold her own in a battle against a god.  It was a challenge to Ares.  He would have to kill her or let her go.  The tables had turned in Xena’s favor.  Ares could not win this battle of wits.  By this point in the spectacle even Gabrielle was beginning to believe that Xena was half god.  Xena’s arguments were too convincing to believe otherwise. 

     The curiosity of the furies was heightened as Ares again stated firmly that this entire story was ridiculous.  Gabrielle could not determine who to believe.  The god of war with his genuinely intense statements or the mad warrior princess.  It was obvious to Gabrielle that Xena’s mind was still extremely sharp.  Xena was somehow still in control despite her madness.  The furies looked to Ares who appeared to be almost disgusted with Xena’s suggestion that she could hold her own against the god of war.  Then the furies asked Ares what he was afraid of.  It was obvious that he did not have the desire to fight Xena.  Xena smiled candidly and declared that Ares was afraid of the warrior princess.  Then she explained why driving her points home.  Xena declared that she was indeed a half god and crazy beyond control.  Suddenly the warrior princess charged forward toward Ares with her sword.  Ares dodged the move.  He had not expected the warrior princess to charge him so quickly.  He had to adjust into battle mode.  It was obvious to all who witnessed Xena’s trial before the furies that her actions were extremely unpredictable.  Ares’s god-like movement gave him the advantage of quickness.  He had disarmed Xena of her sword within seconds and defended himself with solid strength and brawn.  Xena did not let up or allow the furies to see weakness within her for this battle was to regain her wits.  Without pure warrior determination, power, and drive Xena would be doomed if Ares did not kill her first. 

     For several moments the two battling forces exchanged blocks and punches only to find themselves within a stalemate.  Cyrene was below the blows upon the temple alter unable to remove herself from with in the middle of the intense action above her.  Xena had to find an opening for Ares was going to demonstrate that he was superior by immorality for Xena would tire out if he held her out long enough.  Finally, Xena was able to break through finding a small opening within Ares’s defense.  She delivered a powerful blow to his face.  If he had been mortal his nose would have been broken instantly from the force.  Ares fell backward surprised by Xena’s offensive move.  He did not fall though as a mortal would have landed flat on his back.  Instead his powerful aura absorbed Xena’s force and he fell forward onto Cyrene’s chest.  Xena made a sexual joke about his relations with her mother further bruising his god-sized ego.  Ares was being enticed into the fight of his life as he suddenly recovered and prepared to prove that Xena was truly mortal.   Xena grabbed the chandelier above and swung over the alter driving both of her warrior boots firmly into his chest.  Using all of her warrior strength the force of her double kick drove Ares’s body across the temple into the wall. 

      The building shook with the power of an earth movement as Xena had already planned her next move before she would make it.  This was Xena’s battle strategy.  It was as if she were playing a game of chess.  The warrior princess was seemingly always just a few battle moves ahead of Ares so that she could hold her advantage of being unpredictable.  She had to be able to counter Ares’s unbeatable strength.  Gabrielle watched as Xena flipped gracefully through the air and landed below the tapestry rods.  Then she thrust herself up into the air jumping to grab hold of one of the outer golden plated rods.  Xena hung awaiting her foe’s arrival and response to her challenge.  She had taken the battle onto a higher level.  The god of war was angry and his aura delivered a hard feeling through the souls who witnessed the battle.  It was an eerie moment as he flipped backward across the temple to the opposite wall where Xena awaited him.  He then thrust himself up into the air grabbing hold of the opposite tapestry rod.  Gabrielle saw his eyes disappear within his head and then reappear with a passionate fire of anger.  Xena had the god of war tied up within his passions.  It would be the perfect diversion of his attention which would allow Xena an even larger advantage against him. 

     Xena flipped down onto the second level of tapestry rods and enticed Ares into battle.  He responded without thinking.  His passions guided him down onto the opposite side as he met Xena down below.  Xena then yanked her sword from her scabbard upon her back.  Gabrielle found herself extremely impressed for she had remembered that Xena had been disarmed.  The warrior princess’s moves had been so quick and swift that Gabrielle had missed the moment of the battle in which Xena had rearmed herself with the sword.  Xena charged forward above giving a firm battle cry into action as Ares reflected Xena’s moves following right into Xena’s trap for him.  Gabrielle watched as their swords clashed with intensity.  The entire temple shook as they fought.  With each clash of the sword the floor shook beneath ever so slightly.  Ares went high with two swings of the sword and then low offensively as Xena defended high then low.  His aim had been to knock her off balance, but Xena had been ready for his move.  Instead she pushed him back with two kicks one to the face and one low as he began to lose balance.  Xena moved high across Ares charging  for his head.  He recovered easily ducking the move and then returned powerful kicks.  Xena defended his kicks seemingly effortlessly.   Ares then went for the high move across Xena’s face, but missed as she created distance between herself and his sword.  She ducked his offensive in full control until he disarmed her parrying into the middle with his sword. 

     The bard watched helplessly as Xena’s sword flew through the air across the temple violently leaving Xena without a weapon to defend herself against Ares.  Yet the warrior princess was quick as she kicked Ares high into the chin sending him backward as she flipped up off of his chest backward landing at the edge of the tapestry rods miraculously recapturing her sword.  She gave a confident battle cry affirming her power against Ares as she looked to him and smiled delighted that she had been able to carry the battle this far.  Then she moved forward simultaneously with the god of war as both flew through air forward clashing swords in the middle.  Gabrielle saw the sparks of their power as each landed on opposite ends of the tapestry rods.  Ares attempted to intimidate the warrior princess with his own deep battle cry, but it did not have the same thrust that Xena’s did.  They again repeated the previous move clashing swords in the middle creating powerful sparks, but neither could seemingly gain the advantage large enough to defeat the other in battle.  Finally Ares had enough of Xena’s little games.  It was obvious that the god of war was not used to being the victim of manipulation.  He wasted no time in charging forward across the tapestry rods on foot.  His powerful drive forward was seemingly going to drive the warrior princess from her perched position, but instead she had been prepared for his move.  She drove forward just as he was about to strike with kicks of fury.  Xena drove him back across the tapestry rods and then over the edge. 

     Ares recovered although it was clear that he had not been prepared for that move.  He rolled down entangled with in the tapestry, but then reversed the gravity with his god force and thrust himself back upon the tapestry rods.  Gabrielle watched as he then tore the tangled purple and gold tapestry from his body enraged that the warrior princess was proving the impossible.  The bard was uncertain if Xena had thought this far ahead into the battle.  She could see that Xena had planned on that last move to have been the end.  Now the true strength would be told as Ares charged forward, but then Gabrielle noticed that Xena had already repositioned herself.  She had already dashed across the tapestry rods to meet Ares attempting to rob him of some of his momentum.  As the god of war clashed forward Xena defended allowing him to drive her back.  His moves were high, but not well-controlled.  He was too impatient for a win and the advantage.  Xena took this lack of self-control from the god of war and armed him with false confidence.  Just as he had driven her back to the edge of the tapestry rods Xena defended wide pushing Ares’s weapon powerfully away from its offensive.  Unsuspecting, Ares again was taken by surprise.  Xena used his moment of surprise backhanding him across the face then kicking low hoping to rob him of his balance again.  Ares returned the low move unaffected by it.  The high move had been more potent, but not enough.

     The two exchanged simultaneous kicks and then Ares drove downward with his sword.  Gabrielle could see that fatigue would soon take hold of Xena if she did not find a way to end the duel soon.  Xena absorbed Ares’s drive down upon her blocking with her sword and then using the power of her legs to push the momentum back into her favor.  Again Ares was surprised by the move as she regained the advantage and kicked his weaker leg.  This sent both of them backward and off balance, but both recovered.  They were now below grabbing hold of the tapestry rods.  Ares had realized where Xena’s true power was, her legs.  The warrior princess met him in the middle of all of the hanging tapestries as they exchanged powerful kicks against one another.  Xena then did a double kick pushing off of his stomach and then using that momentum to swing back and grab hold of his waist with her legs upon her return.  She locked him into submission and then knocked her forehead into his which sent them both falling.  They fell down to the next level of hanging tapestries. 

      Xena’s sword and Ares’s sword rested there, but the god of war was quicker to his feet.  As he rose to retake the advantage he prepared to take Xena’s life with one powerful thrust.  His pride had been bruised badly and he had to prove himself now more than ever.  The warrior princess reached desperately for her sword behind her not allowing herself to take her eyes off of the enemy.  She had to be ready to defend for his next move.  Xena allowed Ares to feel the certain victory and then as she held her hand up to take the blade she used her leg to rob him of his advantage.  In that same moment the warrior princess had retrieved her sword and then flipped down onto the floor of the temple.  She grabbed the bard and turned her to face the god of war who was now recovering again and fully ready to strike with all of his godly force.  He sailed through the air bearing down upon his enemy as Xena told the bard that she was planning to use her as a shield.  Gabrielle now found herself in the middle of the two most powerful forces she had ever witnessed.  She was about to become the sacrifice.  Xena was truly mad beyond doubt.  As Gabrielle prepared to take Ares’s blade through the chest, Xena threw the bard down out of the path of the god of war and used his sword against him.  She deflected his advance sending him right onto his temple throne.  Xena had successfully disarmed and beaten the god of war in a fair battle. 

     She turned to face Gabrielle, and all who witnessed the battle declaring candid victory as she laughed playfully and danced with delight.  Ares just watched the scene disgusted that he had been defeated by a mortal.  His hopes for controlling Xena had been destroyed.  There was no way for him to win the trial now.  With that Xena and Gabrielle went to the temple alter to release Cyrene from her binds for she was no longer in danger.  Xena did not have to avenge her father since he was clearly there alive and well before the jury of fury.  The warrior princess then approached the furies and their head priest declaring again that she had proven herself.  Xena stuffed some fruit into her mouth only to spit it back out reporting to the lovely furies that the priest had been leaving them rotten fruit.  The furies appeared displeased by this as they looked to the priest who was in shock of what he had just witnessed.  He was unable to respond to the accusation.  Xena affirmed her victory again to the furies awaiting their release of her mind.  With that the head of the furies reached her arm out with her thumb facing down.  She slowly turned it back up as Xena’s mind began to clear from its imprisonment.  Gabrielle was delighted to see that Xena was finally free of her torments.  The warrior princess looked to her mother with love and concern for her actions against Cyrene over the past day.  Then the furies looked to Ares assuring him that they would report his misdeeds of the sacred trust  to the Olympian family.  Gabrielle looked to Ares to see his reaction to this defeat as the furies assured their priest that they would discuss the issue of rotten fruit later.  Ares was casual in his response to the furies as if unconcerned about being the black sheep in the family.  He was confident that they would come begging him to help them with something in the future.  The furies disappeared instantly to report him to Zeus. 

     Ares then looked to Xena and inquired the warrior princess if she truly believed that he was her father.  Xena responded that it did not matter if he was or he was not.  What was important was that the furies believed in the idea.  Ares then rose from his place on the temple throne and applauded Xena for her efforts.  He complemented her for her brilliance despite the madness and stated that if he was indeed her father he would have been very proud of her actions.  Cyrene appeared to be unamused at the god of war’s meddling in her daughter’s life.  Xena’s mother glared at him as if she had known some kind of secret.  With that Xena motioned Cyrene and Gabrielle to leave the temple.  As the three prepared to leave Ares interjected a comment of his own.  He did not understand why Xena cared so much for the bard.  Gabrielle looked to Ares disgusted that he would even make that comment.  It did not matter for both Xena and Gabrielle had defeated him in proving that Xena deserved a pardon from eternal torment. 

     Later that day after the excitement had died down Gabrielle found herself having time to analyze it all and to reflect.  She realized that Xena’s gift of anticipation was a little unsettling.  As Gabrielle brought wood back to the camp to set up the fire for the evening she approached Xena stating that it was obvious that the warrior princess would know what Cyrene would say for Cyrene was her mother.  Yet Gabrielle was uncomfortable with the idea that Xena had also known exactly what the bard would say within an unpredictable moment.  The bard expressed to the warrior princess that she was not sure if the idea of being predictable was a comfort or something to fear.  Xena just responded  joking that she had known that Gabrielle would even approach her with this concern.  Gabrielle was playful as she gently slapped the back of Xena’s shoulder.  It reminded her of being with Lilla again  for a moment. Xena was Gabrielle’s family now and it was a comfort to have Xena back to normal.  Just then Cyrene began to speak with grief to Xena almost whispering of Xena’s father.  Gabrielle decided that she would leave Xena alone with her mother out of respect.  It had been a difficult day for both of them.  Many old wounds and regrets had been reopened.  Despite Xena’s lost hopes of ever meeting her father in life to discover a better understanding of herself, Gabrielle knew that Xena would forgive her mother no matter the truth.  Xena loved her mother very much and could not hold the murder of her father against Cyrene.  Cyrene had done it with a mother’s love for her daughter.  There was nothing to forgive for Xena had been given life despite the dark deed that her mother had been forced to commit.  The lessons of the gods are selfish for their tricks pleasure no one and are ill tragedy for all.  

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #50: Judgement Day

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Judgement Day

Scroll #50

September, 47 B.C.

    The bond of friendship is a strong one.  As the bard Gabrielle had discovered it is stronger than the god Poseidon, and even death.  True friendship is driven by love, and the love that Gabrielle had for Xena, and Xena for Gabrielle was what brought them back together time and time again.  After having left Callisto and Velaska behind Xena opened up to Gabrielle in a way that she had never done before.  Xena had been reminded of her past during their time sailing the seas.  Though the memory of a past with Caesar of Rome had been painful it explained a lot about the warrior princess that Gabrielle had come to understand about her friend.   Xena explained that even more than the warlord Cortese it was her crossing paths with Julius Caesar of Rome whom had instilled into her the worst evil qualities and desires for blood-lust.

Xena had always been a secretive person, even with Gabrielle often times.  Since their earliest adventures together Xena, for the most part, kept her darkness from Gabrielle’s knowledge.  Yet after Xena had shared her story of betrayal by Julius Caesar of Rome, Xena began to share even more.  She explained to Gabrielle of how she had been informed by Hercules months before that he had found himself crossing paths with Callisto.  Hercules had sent Xena a message about it while she was visiting with King Lias two seasons before.

Suddenly, the bard realized that if it weren’t for that important message from Hercules Xena would not have been able to find the immortal Callisto to enlist her help against Velaska.  Gabrielle found herself torn about the idea that Xena had kept such a secret from her.  Although the bard had heard the story of Callisto escaping the underworld, and becoming an immortal before, it seemed as if it was something that bard should have been made privy to sooner.  It should have been Xena telling her and not strangers in a village tavern.  Xena began to explain why she had decided to withhold this information from the bard.

It was yet another secret that Xena had kept from Gabrielle, but Xena explained that it was only because the warrior princess wanted to spare her friend the pain of being reminded of what Callisto had done to Perdicas.   Hera had brought Callisto back from the dead in the hopes of wiping out Hercules and his family in exchange for escape from the underworld.  Callisto had wanted another shot at Xena after Xena had succeeded in defeating her yet again as she attempted to steal Xena’s body, family, and reputation of being a warrior who loves the common person.  Hearing that Xena had known all of this months before only made it more difficult for the bard to continue on her own path of enlightenment and forgiveness toward Callisto.  Listening to the story of the immortal Callisto only made the bard feel raw inside again.

As the two best friends sat together in the tavern for some dinner and relaxation they began to over-hear two drunkards speaking quite loudly and over all of the other voices inside the crowded tavern.  Xena and Gabrielle found themselves to be quite annoyed by their rambunctious behavior.  It was over the top and unnecessary.  The two men were talking about Hercules which was what caught the ears of both the warrior princess and the bard.  One of the men stated very loudly that he could not believe that the hero Hercules had gotten married.  Not only had he said Hercules was married, but that Hercules had given up his super-human strength to marry a deer.

Suddenly, the warrior princess had enough of their shenanigans.  She did not enjoy listening to two scum poke fun at her dear friend and former love.  It was a disgrace and they were defacing his name.  Hercules didn’t deserve that for all of his good deeds to humanity, and especially to Xena.

Xena had just found her new mission and she was ready to put out the raucous laughter and humiliating jokes.  As the warrior princess rose from her seat, and turned to confront the hoodlums she directed to them her curious question.  She asked them if in fact what they had said about Hercules having gotten married had been true.  One of the men answered her, but he answered her with yet another insult to Hercules.  He was so drunk that he couldn’t even distinguish a question from his own bad jokes.  He responded as if Xena weren’t even there as he pressed forward with his assault on the reputation of Hercules.

Suddenly, Xena turned back to Gabrielle after the man gleefully stated that Hercules had not only married a deer, but he had also given up his god-like powers to do it.  Xena commanded Gabrielle to rise from her place at the dinner table and declared that they were leaving immediately.  Though Gabrielle was slightly annoyed by Xena’s sudden need to leave the tavern she started to understand that there was more to it than Xena simply being annoyed at the drunkard’s insults.  Xena actually believed that there was truth in their drunken statements about Hercules.

Gabrielle was not laughing at the insults, but she was laughing in her heart having quickly realized that Xena actually still had romantic feelings and perhaps a bit of a passionate flame and attraction toward Hercules.  Xena bolted out the door of the tavern as Gabrielle grabbed her staff and exited not far behind.  Although it was refreshing for the bard to get out of the company of the obnoxious hoodlums.  She was slightly irritated that Xena was suddenly leaping at the excuse to go out and find Hercules after over six seasons since their last encounter.

There was a small part of the bard that understood Xena’s need to fill her passions, but the bard did not agree with any plan or idea that Xena might be having with in her warrior mind to perhaps talk the hero out of his decision to marry what was said to have been a deer.  The whole thing seemed ridiculous to the bard.  Even if it were true that Hercules had fallen in love with and married a deer the bard’s motive was in expressing to Xena that the warrior princess should clear any idea of meddling in the romantic affairs of the legendary hero.  The bard had learned pretty early in her travels with the warrior princess that meddling in the affairs of love could be dangerous.

If the man wanted to marry a deer who was Gabrielle or even Xena to criticize?  To the bard love was all about being happy and feeling at home with the one you loved most.  Gabrielle was certain that Xena was jealous and upset with Hercules for not having bothered to tell Xena about his wonderful news.  Xena scoffed at the bard for even thinking about scolding Xena for her feelings.  Xena attempted to play it cool, but Gabrielle knew better.  As Gabrielle continued the conversation Xena suddenly bolted ahead as if Gabrielle no longer existed.  Gabrielle could barely believe what she was witnessing unfolding.  Especially since only minutes before all of this Xena was pouring her heart out to the bard back inside the tavern.  It was as if they were making a certain break-through, and it had suddenly been interrupted by madness, and a certain warrior lust.

Then Xena untied Argo from the post, and moved quickly.  Gabrielle attempted to catch up to Xena as the warrior traveled with a sense of urgency toward the main road.  The bard shouted out to Xena to slow down, but to no avail.  Gabrielle asked Xena what the hurry was to reach her old flame.  She wasn’t so certain that rushing off to inform Hercules of the rumors floating about was all that important.  It felt as if Gabrielle were talking to herself.  As Gabrielle dashed down the road to catch up to Xena, the warrior suddenly halted on down the road upon Argo.  It was clear to the bard that Xena had made some kind of startling realization.  As Gabrielle caught up to Xena and Argo upon the road Xena calmly called upon Ares the God of War.

Ares appeared within an energetic fiery flash.  Gabrielle had never seen Ares do that before.  She had seen him as a mortal, and she had seen him transform shape from playing the role of Xena’s father morphing into himself, but never as a powerful flash of light.  The god of war appeared just down the dirt road before the warrior princess who sat upon Argo and smirked at Ares’s arrival.  It was as if the warrior princess had somehow sensed the god’s presence before he had even arrived.  The bard found it to be impressive warrior senses.  Even after traveling with Xena for this many seasons Gabrielle found her to still be full of surprises.

Ares was delighted and excited that the warrior princess had called upon him as he approached her.  With one hand upon his sword, which was sheathed in sleek black leather, Ares taunted the warrior princess about how she had just lost out on the love of her life to a deer.  He cackled loudly and boisterously over the topic.  Xena was clearly not amused by this.  As Ares stood there before her in his tight, sleek black leather warrior presence he expressed to Xena that despite his brother Hercules having rejected her he would be there for her.  Ares proclaimed, although he didn’t like to be second choice, he would graciously accept any passes or offers of love that Xena might want to make toward him.

It was clear to the bard, and obviously to Xena herself, that the extremely sexy, god of war was no more than a glorified whore.  Ares of course did not pretend to be anything else.  He pressed forward with his sales pitch, and laid it all out for the warrior princess.  He reminded her that they had once had a very hot, and heavy romance that involved some of the best wars and blood baths he had ever seen in the known world.  Ares then moved in closer to the warrior princess as if attempting to create some kind of irresistible sexual tension.   If the bard had not known Ares to be such a tricky adversary she might have found herself to be somewhat attracted to him herself.  The smell of his cologne permeated the surrounding air as if Zeus himself were standing there.

Ares reminded the warrior princess of how much Xena’s blood lust had once inspired him.  He balled up his fist, and flexed his enormous, exposed biceps as he delivered his passionately lustful speech of the warrior princess and her past successful bloody exploits alongside him.  Ares brought up a specific battle, the battle at Torrence, in which he had been extremely proud of their work together.  He described the battle as having been one of bloody limbs scattered everywhere upon the battlefield as Xena had led her army through her opponent’s infantry like flies.  The god of war proclaimed this battle to have been one of the most beautiful battles he had ever witnessed or had ever been a part of.  It was clear to the bard that Xena was disgusted and seemingly felt dirty as Ares jumped up on to the horse with her.  He started touching the warrior princess who was struggling against the urges toward him she seemingly felt.  Gabrielle feared that Ares was tapping in to Xena’s dark side and this Gabrielle wanted to avoid.  The bard cleared her throat loudly.

Ares then whispered into Xena’s ear, and pressed further into the warrior princess’s mind and into her emotions.  He told Xena that they could easily leave the irritating blond behind, but if the warrior princess absolutely needed her along for the ride he could always make a minor exception.  Then the god of war explained, as he whispered to the warrior princess, that this was his offer to her.  With that the god of war suddenly disappeared within his blue flame leaving the warrior princess to contemplate his offer.  Gabrielle could see that Xena’s mental wheels were spinning as she dissolved back into a thinking mind rather than one of raw emotion.  Gabrielle approached Xena and stepped in front of Argo upon the road.  The bard wanted to know what it was that had just happened between Xena and Ares.  She also wanted to know what was pressing through Xena’s warrior mind.

As Xena continued to travel down the road with the bard alongside her horse she explained to the bard that there had been a time in which she had partnered with Ares on the battlefield.  It was after she had partnered with Caesar.  Xena explained that she was confused during this time in her life, and that she had been through some very traumatic experiences.  Ares had come along, and sold himself as her savior and as the one who would help her pick up the pieces of her failed war campaigns up to that point.  He promised her that they would conquer the world together, and that they would defeat her worst enemy Julius Caesar.  The young warrior princess had bought into Ares’s persuasions back then, and that mistake had led her into the battle at Torrence.

Strangely, the battle of Torrence had taken place not far from where they were, and Xena decided to take Gabrielle there with her to see the destruction and devastation that Xena had left in her wake along side Ares.  As the two quietly walked through the empty battlefield they found it still littered with the bones of many corpses.  And as Ares had described, there were the bones of the limbs scattered everywhere severed from the rest of their bodies.  Gabrielle could see that her friend was disturbed to be reminded of this.  Traveling through Torrence might not have been something that had even occurred to the warrior princess before the conversation overheard in the tavern.  Now the mood was completely different.  Gabrielle was concerned for Xena, and had a difficult time believing that Xena could have ever been capable of such destruction, but Xena assured the bard that she had been.  Xena explained to the bard that this was the reason she had never wanted Gabrielle to experience what it was like to kill someone.  Gabrielle’s light had become Xena’s strength, guide, and moral compass.  Xena would do anything in her power to protect the bard from this path.

The two best friends and companions continued on through the rotted carnage left behind in near silence.  As they reached the opposite edge of the battlefield they could hear the sounds of a mob off in the distance.  Xena paused and held up her hand commanding the bard to stop, stay silent, and to listen.  As they listened Xena moved forward toward the tree line for a better observational position.  In most scenarios this might not have caught her attention, but as the bard followed she peered through the tree-line.

On the other side indeed there was a mob, and at the head of the mob was Iolas Hercules’s best friend.  Along with him was the local town magistrate of the village of Torrence.  The magistrate urged the mob forward as if they were on a mission.  He mentioned an argument that Hercules had with his new wife on the morning before.  Iolas responded explaining that his friend was seemingly not himself recently, and in fact, that the gods could be behind something.  Another village leader piped up, and stated that responsibility was of no consequence because it was clear that Hercules had become a danger to their community.  As the mob continued on by, Iolas stated that he was going in ahead of the mob to get Hercules.  Iolas explained that since he was Hercules’s friend that perhaps Hercules would listen to him and would get himself up out of bed.

As the mob passed by Gabrielle looked to Xena alarmed at what she had just heard.  Xena looked to Gabrielle, and cautiously instructed the bard to follow her into  the opposite direction along the tree line staying off of the village road.  The two continued to travel alongside the tree line following the village road into Torrence.  As they continued, and were a safe distance away from the mob, Gabrielle broke the silence and asked Xena what she thought that Iolas meant when he said that the gods might be behind whatever was going on with Hercules.

The warrior princess responded by explaining that she suspected Ares was behind whatever it was.  Ares only appeared to Xena when he was behind something or was up to something.  Xena suspected that it had something to do with Zeus because Ares had been wearing the essence of Zeus when had appeared to them on the road earlier that morning.  The warrior princess explained that the fact that Ares had mentioned the battle of Torrence, and the fact that he had mentioned Hercules’s new marriage could only mean that Ares had somehow set up his brother.  Xena explained how Ares had always been jealous of Zeus’s love for Hercules the half mortal son.  It was one of Ares’s motivations for teaming up with Xena in the beginning.  It was Ares who had sent Xena to kill Hercules in the past, but it was to the god of war’s detriment.  Thankfully it had led Xena to be defeated by Hercules who was the first person able to re-direct her path away from the darkness.

Gabrielle inquired if Xena was worried about Ares and what he was up to.  The warrior princess replied that she wasn’t all that concerned.  She explained that though Ares was conniving he almost always failed in the end because of his arrogance and over confidence.  Gabrielle chuckled at the thought that Xena was unconcerned about the god of war and his motives.  It appeared that Xena was still more interested in finding out more about Hercules and his new bride.  The bard then inquired again.  She wanted to know if Xena was at all concerned about why a mob was out to get Hercules.  Again, the warrior princess was seemingly not all that concerned.  Despite that she did not have any ideas as to why a mob would be after Hercules, and Xena was certain that Hercules could handle himself.  She still strongly felt that to get answers they would have to visit another tavern and preferably one in the nearby village of Torrence.

As the two friends continued following the path alongside the tree-line they heard the mob racing back up the main road just on the other side again.  They appeared to be even more angry than they had been on their way back down the other direction.  Xena and Gabrielle stopped and looked through tree-line, and there behind the mob was Iolas calling out to them attempting to explain why Hercules was not at home.  By this point it appeared that the mob had lost all faith in Iolas.  They nearly trampled over him as they were no longer interested in what Iolas had to say.  Iolas was easily pushed him aside as the mob marched on back toward the village.  Soon the mob had passed on down the path into the distance.  Quickly and with stealth Xena pulled Iolas off of the road and back into the trees alongside her and the bard.  Iolas seemed to be taken completely by surprise as Xena covered his mouth so that he would not give away her position with the bard.

Iolas was seemingly in a panic.  Gabrielle asked him what was going on, and inquired of why a village mob was searching for Hercules.  Xena uncovered his mouth and Iolas stated under his breath that he was glad to see both Xena and Gabrielle, but that they had to hurry and find Hercules.   Iolas said that Hercules was in trouble.  Gabrielle wanted to know what Iolas meant by that.  Iolas stated that Hercules had not been himself for the past several days.  Iolas stated that since Hercules had married his new wife Serena, and given up his half-god power to do it, he had become belligerent.  Xena didn’t understand why that would make Hercules unstable, and it certainly didn’t explain why the mob was after him.

Iolas continued explaining that when he had gone to visit Hercules earlier that morning he had found the legendary hero in a state of emotional shock.  Gabrielle wanted to know why Hercules was in shock.  Iolas stated that someone had murdered his new wife Serena.  Iolas explained that they had to hurry and catch up to the mob back in the village because Hercules was being accused of murder.  Iolas had been able to buy Hercules some time to escape allowing Hercules an opportunity to find his wife’s murderer.  Xena agreed with Iolas that it was important that they try to stay ahead of the mob in finding Hercules, but she felt that she and Gabrielle might have a better chance at flushing out the real culprit behind all of this which Xena suspected was Ares.

Ares, as always, Xena said, had shown her too many of his cards.  Xena mentioned that setting up Hercules for the murder of a mortal was Ares’s plan.  Murdering one of Zeus’s mortal creations was the highest sin Hercules could ever commit against his father Zeus.  The warrior princess explained that Zeus had only one rule when it came to Hercules.  No other god was permitted to punish his son except Zeus himself. Ares was very aware of this and was smart enough never to cross that line himself.  The only condition in which Zeus would allow Hercules to be judged, and punished by another god was if Hercules were to ever kill a mortal in cold blood.  Xena certainly did not believe that Hercules was capable of such an act.  Which was why she was certain that the god of war was behind it all somehow.  Yet she explained it was not Ares’s style to do the dirty work himself.

The warrior princess realized that they needed a quick simple plan to deal with the immediate situation.  She wasted no time in deciding what to do next.  Xena decided that the three friends would follow the mob back into the village of Torrence.  Iolas would go on ahead using Xena’s horse to try to find Hercules ahead of the mob.  Xena felt Hercules needed to be found and escorted to a safe place away from the danger it posed to him.  Once Xena and Gabrielle arrived at the village behind Iolas they would attempt to stay out of sight of the mob.  Xena and Gabrielle would only reveal their presence if necessary.  Iolas stated that at this point anyone who was thought to be an ally or a friend of Hercules would be in just as much danger.  Xena instructed Iolas not to worry as she urged him to get up on to her horse.  Iolas did so thanking Xena.  Then he raced off down the village road.  Xena and Gabrielle followed behind on foot as they dashed up the road behind him.

By the time Xena and Gabrielle had arrived there was a large fight brewing at the center of the village.  Iolas had already arrived, but the mob was holding him back from defending Hercules who appeared to be nursing an arrow wounded shoulder as the village mob beat him mercilessly.  Iolas was shouting out desperately to his friend helpless to stop the brutal beating.  As Xena and Gabrielle approached, Xena instructed Gabrielle to come into the fight after she found her moment to take on the mob while Gabrielle would flank them.  Gabrielle wasn’t so certain that she and Xena could take on an angry mob on their own, but it was going to have to happen because there was no time to waste.

The mob began to beat Iolas down to the ground as Hercules could no longer be seen within the pile of people beating on him.  Suddenly, a few local soldiers mixed up with the mob pulled him out of the pile of villagers and began to beat him with their weapons of war.  It went from wooden clubs to professional weapons in a hurry.  They thrust a large round weapon through his stomach knocking the wind out of him.  He was clearly in anguish as they were about to give him the death-blow.  Suddenly, that was the moment in which Xena chose to strike.  With her signature battle cry she entered into the fight, raised her mighty chakram, and aimed it right through the raised weapons of the mob.  Flipping through the village behind her chakram Xena had given Hercules just the opening he needed to rise from his defeat and fight back against his attackers.

Quickly Xena’s chakram sliced through the enemy weapons as Xena reunited with her chakram catching it at the end of her series of acrobatic flips.  Someone from the crowded mob shouted out her name as many of them ran from the mighty warrior princess in fear.  Gabrielle did not know if it was because of Xena’s many well-demonstrated skills in an instant or if it was her history with the village prior, but Xena brought fear with her as she battled on.  This was Gabrielle’s signal to enter the battle.  The bard charged in alongside Xena, Hercules, and Iolas to fight off the enemy.  A small band of local soldiers had been called in to deal with the situation, and as the mob dispersed they charged into battle against the four friends.

Though both Hercules and Iolas had been badly beaten by the mob already they rose with power in their charge against the small army.  Xena easily defended against her attacker as the bard pulled out her staff to defend against the power they faced.  Though Hercules had risen he had been overwhelmed by the pain of the shoulder injury as Gabrielle smacked her attacker to the ground with her staff.  When the bard gazed across the battle she saw Hercules was being beaten with weapons of war again as two soldiers held him defenseless.  Hercules was then kicked to the ground as Xena punched and smacked her way through the line to get to him.  Gabrielle flipped her staff around to regroup against the next approaching enemy soldier.  She smacked him in the stomach knocking the wind out of him as Iolas found a way to free himself from his over-sized opponent.  Iolas flipped his attacker from behind over his shoulder onto the ground.

With Xena enemy bodies were flying everywhere.  Her power and strength was amazingly displayed as she fought alongside Hercules who struggled to push himself back off of the ground again.  Xena and Gabrielle continued to defend him from as many attackers as they could knowing that he was now truly mortal and unable to handle the volume of attackers coming at him.  Iolas went to Hercules’s aid as another attacker came at Hercules.  Iolas threw off another soldier as Hercules’s weakness was becoming clear.  Hercules struggled to stay upon his feet as his legs collapsed beneath him and he grabbed for his injured shoulder.  Iolas attempted to catch Hercules’s fall, but the legendary hero fell hard.

The battle had been won by the four as Iolas’s concern for his friend was rising.  Hercules passed out as Iolas tried to talk to him, but both Xena and Gabrielle could see that Hercules was in serious condition.  Xena instructed Gabrielle to fetch Argo.  Gabrielle quickly moved back across the village toward Argo and quickly Xena instructed Iolas to help her hoist the body of the injured Hercules onto her horse.  The friends had to act quick and swift in order to get the legendary hero safely out-of-town.  As Xena jumped up on to her horse she instructed the bard to bring Iolas with her using Xena’s trail left behind to find them.  Xena knew of a safe place they could take Hercules until they could figure out what to do next.  Iolas was grateful for the help his friends offered him and to Hercules in their deepest time of need.  As Xena rode out-of-town with Hercules, Gabrielle knew Xena had just given her an unspoken command.  It was up to the battling bard and Iolas to find a way to cover their tracks so that they wouldn’t be followed when they rejoined Xena, Argo, and Hercules.

Once the four had reached one of Xena’s secret weapons storage caves from her days as a blood-thirsty warlord Xena removed the arrow shaft still lodged inside Hercules’s shoulder, cleaned out the wound, and then stitched it up.  Iolas stood by feeling helpless for his friend explaining that he had never seen Hercules in this bad of shape or ever to have taken such a beating.  Xena instructed the bard to hurry and get more water and bandages for Hercules.  Gabrielle handed Iolas a bowl with the medicinal contents that Xena had used to clean out the wound.  She quickly grabbed the water bucket and ran out of the secret cave hide-out.  As Gabrielle left the cave she overheard Xena give Iolas Hercules’s condition.  She stated to him that she was certain that his shoulder had been dislocated and he could have possibly fractured his skull.

Soon after the bard left the cave Iolas emerged within distressed silence.  As she was leaving the stream with her full bucket of water she saw him standing on the bank alone.  The bard called out to him asking if he was okay.   Iolas bravely and quietly replied that he was, but Gabrielle could see that he was upset.  As she passed him by with her bucket of water she decided to turn back to comfort her friend.  Gabrielle put her bucket of water down, approached Iolas and gently laid her hand upon his shoulder.  She explained that she knew Hercules would be okay.  Gabrielle went on to explain to Iolas of Xena, and how great the warrior princess’s battlefield medical knowledge was.  Iolas interrupted Gabrielle’s thought already knowing that about Xena himself.  Gabrielle inquired more about Iolas’s obvious and deep concern.

He hesitated, but then revealed to Gabrielle the true nature of the dire situation.  He gravely laid it out to the bard stating that Hercules was certain that he had killed his own wife Serena.  Iolas stated the evidence to Gabrielle explaining that when he went to visit Hercules earlier that morning, he himself had seen Hercules over the body of his wife with a bloody knife in his hand.  Gabrielle could understand Iolas’s shock in seeing his friend like that.  It made Gabrielle think of her stroll through the stale battle of Torrence that Xena had revealed to her earlier in the day.  It seemed that both she and Iolas had witnessed the darker side of their friends.  Gabrielle decided in that moment that Xena needed to be with Iolas to help comfort him.  The two of them needed to figure out who could have committed this awful crime.  Gabrielle could not believe for a moment that it was Hercules.  She recalled the time when Ares had framed Xena for the murder of three innocent villagers.  Gabrielle suspected that Xena was onto something when she had mentioned Ares having shown his cards when he appeared to them on the road just after they had left the tavern to visit Hercules.

When Gabrielle returned to the cave she could hear that Hercules had awakened.  He and Xena were having a heart-felt conversation.  Xena explained to him that she had come as soon as she had heard the news of Hercules’s new marriage.  Xena had wanted to come to share in his new-found happiness.  Hercules then revealed to Xena that his wife had been murdered.  Xena inquired of how it happened and of what Hercules knew about it.  Hercules explained that he had been having a strange violent nightmare and that the killer hadn’t even awakened him when he killed Serena.

For Xena this didn’t add up.  Hercules agreed that it did not make sense that he would not be awakened by the sounds of his wife being murdered in cold blood right next to him.  He explained to Xena that the sleep he was in was like no other he had experienced before.   Then Hercules tried to rise from his injury expressing that he was certain Ares must have had a part in all of it since it was Ares who had promised Hercules eternal happiness with Serena in exchange for Hercules giving up his immortal powers.  Xena was knew that Hercules was right, and was not surprised that Ares had reneged on his promise to his half-brother.  She scoffed at the idea that Ares could ever keep his word in any deal with anyone including his brother Hercules.

It was obvious that Hercules wasn’t even certain that he hadn’t killed Serena himself.  Xena instructed Hercules to rest before he attempted to face Ares again.  Gabrielle quietly entered the cave with her bucket of water.  She expressed to Xena her concern about Iolas and suggested Xena go out to talk with him.  Xena appeared to be annoyed at the situation because Xena suspected just what Gabrielle had suspected.  Ares was attempting to get his brother killed, and to regain Xena’s affections at the same time.  Xena handed something to Gabrielle as she was leaving the cave to speak to Iolas.  Gabrielle asked the warrior princess what it was.  Xena revealed that it was a goat skin, and that hopefully it would be something that would save Hercules’s life.

Gabrielle sat quietly next to Hercules.  It appeared that he was having another one of his nightmares as he tossed and turned.  He kept calling Serena’s name and telling her that it was all his fault.  Hercules was still fighting a fever and delirious as he went in and out of consciousness.  Gabrielle’s heart felt for him as he struggled with the demons he could not understand and could not find.  The bard could sense Hercules’s guilt as she sat beside him attempting to keep the legendary hero’s fever under control.  It seemed that Xena had been outside with Iolas for a very long time.  Iolas was in deep despair for his friend.  He didn’t want Hercules to suffer and did not want his friend’s good name to become tarnished.  Even if Hercules really did murder his wife in his sleep.

Iolas had made an offer to Xena.  He offered to turn himself in on behalf of Hercules for the murder.  Xena didn’t feel that was the right course of action.  Iolas also offered to kill Hercules himself if indeed it was found for certain that Hercules had killed his wife.  Xena didn’t believe for a moment that Iolas could go through with it.  Iolas wasn’t so certain Xena could kill Hercules either, but Xena knew that she would if that was what should happen to resolve the situation.  Yet Xena wasn’t convinced that was necessary.  Xena was pretty certain of Ares’s involvement, but she didn’t think he had done it all alone.  The murder plot was too complex for him to have done it all alone.  Xena wanted to be able to flush out the accomplice.  The warrior princess had devised a plan in which she would allow Hercules to go and turn himself in which was exactly what Iolas didn’t want his friend to do.

And so Xena’s plan was set in motion . Gabrielle had gone to fetch another bucket of water for Hercules.  By the time the bard arrived back at the cave Iolas and Xena had already returned.  Yet when Gabrielle returned moments behind them Hercules was nowhere to be found.  Xena asked Gabrielle if she knew where Hercules was.  Gabrielle explained that she had only been gone for a few moments.  It was just long enough to fetch a pail of water.  Iolas looked to Xena and was certain that his worst fear was becoming a reality.  Hercules had gone to turn himself in.  Then Gabrielle set down her full bucket of water and noticed that Xena’s sword was missing.  The bard deduced that Hercules must have taken it.  Xena looked to Iolas inquiring if Hercules might have wanted to take her sword to commit suicide.  Iolas was certain that Hercules would never turn a sword on himself.  Instead Iolas was convinced that Hercules would commit suicide by charging himself into overwhelming odds.  Xena could understand that.  Dying a warrior’s death would be a more noble resolution, especially for someone like Hercules.

Xena’s plan was now fully in motion.  The three friends knew just where they would find Hercules so they grabbed their weapons, and prepared to return to the village where they expected  he would be.  When the three arrived back at the village Hercules was in the process of  turning himself in to face his demons.  Iolas shouted out to Hercules.  The town mob began to approach, but Xena warned them to stay back unless they wanted to experience her wrath once more.  The mob backed off at her warning.  Iolas rushed to stop Hercules from jumping in, and taking on the mob alone, but Hercules was determined and certain that he had killed Serena.  He was intent on doing what he felt was the right thing publicly.  Suddenly, Iolas tried to convince Hercules that he was wrong in believing that he had killed his wife own wife.  Iolas pleaded with Hercules to go back to their hide-out until they solved the murder.  Instead Hercules drew his sword and jumped into a sword battle with Iolas.  Though the legendary hero was gravely injured his natural strength and power allowed him to easily defeat his opponent knocking Iolas to the ground.  Hercules seemingly went off of the deep end.  Then Iolas recovered in the duel with a defensive move plunging his sword straight through the stomach of Hercules finishing off the battered hero.  As Hercules seemingly took his last breath he uttered his last words proclaiming that his friend had killed him.

As Hercules fell to the ground Iolas was seemingly in shock at what he had unintentionally done.   Xena responded in emotional anguish to the death of her once passionate lover.  She attacked Iolas intending to punish him for her pain.  She demanded, from within her passionate rage, that Iolas to get up and fight her.  As their swords clashed violently before the village mob Gabrielle ran to the aid of the fallen hero to comfort him.  The duel between the two friends turned sudden enemies did not last long.  Xena quickly got the upper hand on Iolas with an elbow to the nose as she charge forward clashing her sword with his and then quickly thrusting it right through his chest.  He gasped for his last breathes as Xena jerked her sword from his body and pushed him to the ground with her hand upon his face.

Then she looked wild-eyed to the village mob and asked them if they were ready to see more blood.  It appeared that the warrior princess had taken a sudden turn back down the path of her blood-lust.  The village mob was shaking with fear for the wrath they expected to come from the warrior princess at them.  It was clear that they remembered the battle of Torrence years before.  Just as the village army stepped forth to defend their people against the wrath of the warrior princess Ares, the god of war, appeared from within the crowd ecstatic with excitement.  He congratulated the warrior princess on her performance against Hercules and his friend Iolas.  Xena had defeated the legendary hero to the satisfaction of war.

Ares chucked as he approached Xena who with suspicion asked Ares what he was doing there with her.  Ares proclaimed confidently and proudly that he had an interest in the situation that was unfolding.  Xena held steady to form as she spoke out-loud the truth that Ares had planned the entire circumstance.  Ares’s response to Xena was that he had to keep himself busily amused.  Then Ares looked to Xena and explained that there was a way to bring the hero back if that was indeed what Xena wanted.  Ares made his offer stating that all she had to do was come back to him, and to once again become his warrior queen alongside him where she belonged.

Xena was torn inside hoping to be able to bring forth the rest of the story in front of the village audience.  She asked Ares how he had managed to take such a strong and honorable man to a place in which he could take part in the act of killing his own wife.  Ares was sly and was not about to give up the full truth in front of an audience.  He proclaimed that he would keep that little secret to himself.  The god of war knew that he was in the better position with in this battle of wits against the warrior princess.  He had not forgotten about how he had been defeated by Xena when he had tried to frame her for the murder of those innocent villagers.  He wasn’t about to let the warrior princess defeat him again.

Just when it seemed that the warrior princess would have to choose between restoring the life and honor of Hercules or becoming a blood-thirsty warlord along side Ares again, someone came forth.  It was a young god dressed in leather.  He was a god that no one had ever seen before.  He addressed Ares as his uncle explaining that he had used a Morpheus induced sleep upon Hercules in order to be able to slip by the hero while he did the deed.  Xena looked to the young arrogant god and repeated the statement that he had killed Serena.  The young god explained that it was indeed very easy for him to accomplish.  Strife was proud of his accomplishment.

The village mob began to whisper within itself as Ares began to realize that he was losing control of the situation.  He barked out that it did not matter who killed Serena.  The fact was that Hercules was dead there before everyone, and if Xena wanted him returned to the living she would belong to Ares now.  Xena looked to Ares as he proclaimed himself victorious over her and over his brother Hercules.  Suddenly, a shout came from within the mortally wounded Hercules.  Shocking the gathered village crowd, and everyone who was witness, Hercules seemingly rose from certain death to challenge Ares’s comment stating that finding his wife’s murderer mattered to him.  As gasps fell through the crowd Hercules’s best friend suddenly rose from the dead as he moved to his feet alongside Hercules.  Hercules pulled something from his torn sleeveless yellow shirt and revealed to all that he had been protected by a blood-filled goat skin.  Xena smirked with delight knowing that her plan had succeeded in flushing out the true murderer of Hercules’s beloved wife Serena.  She had publicly exonerated Hercules.

Suddenly, Hercules charged at the lesser god Strife enraged by Strife’s confession to Serena’s murder.  Hercules, as all mortals, wanted vengeance against the one who had taken his wife from him.  The legendary hero went for the throat taking down Strife with his heart’s anguish.  Both man and god fell to the ground in the scuffle as a nearby wine barrel fell over onto Strife.  Hercules was going in for the kill as he shook Strife attempting to strangle the immortal god.  Strife struggled to fling Hercules off of him as the legendary hero rolled over some hay bales onto the ground.  Strife then rose to his feet ready to take on the grieving enraged hero.  Ares stood by watching appearing entertained yet disgusted at Strife’s inability to keep their little secret.

Hercules quickly recovered rising to his feet to charge at Strife again knocking the immortal to the ground once more.  Then the hero shouted a command to the immortal demanding that Strife pick himself up to face Hercules for more punishment.  Strife quickly rose to face the hero taking a powerful slap across the face from Hercules.  Then Hercules sent a powerful punch into Strife’s jaw, and continued to pound Strife’s immortal body with his fury.  He kicked Strife to the ground, but Strife rose to his feet from the blow with little effort as Hercules attempted to deliver an even more powerful kick to Strife’s skull.  As Strife rose again he took a boot to face flipping over backward back to the ground.

That blow took Strife down hard and Strife attempted to quickly scurry away from Hercules’s rage on his hands and knees as he rolled over onto his back, and dragged himself to the aid of his uncle Ares.  Strife whispered to Ares begging for his help in Hercules’s onslaught against him.  Ares was not amused and disgusted at his inexperienced nephew.  He grumbled under his breath reminding Strife that he too was a powerful god, and that he should use his powers against the now completely mortal Hercules.  Hercules moved toward Strife for another attack as he raised his fist and threw another powerful punch at his wife’s killer.  Strife had risen back to his feet and easily deflected Hercules’s mortal blow.  Strife’s deflection of Hercules’s power was turned against Hercules as it became a punch of equal power sending Hercules flying across the village to the ground.

The hero was not used to being mortally wounded in such a battle and took the fall hard.  One could see that he was still feeling the pain of his bleeding chest wound from the arrow and his dislocated shoulder as Hercules struggled to  rise to his feet to face Strife once more.  Strife yelled out against Hercules in triumph and then charged the hero with his newly recognized advantage.  Strife kicked Hercules across his face as the hero was attempting to get up.  Gabrielle looked to Xena as the hero fell hard.  His new mortality was showing itself in exhaustion as the hero was losing his strength and stamina in the fight.

Strife reached down and grabbed Hercules from the back of his neck and began pounding the hero’s face violently into the ground.  One could hear Hercules struggling as he grunted in agony at each blow Strife delivered to his mortal body.  Strife then picked up Hercules’s body and thrust it even further across the village to the ground again.  Ares looked pleased, but Xena could see that Hercules needed help.  The hero needed her help, but she could see that he needed to win this fight on his own.  Xena looked to Ares and demanded that he even up the fight god against god by returning Hercules’s powers to his brother.  It wasn’t a fair fight and Ares had reneged on his deal with Hercules when he promised his brother eternal happiness with Serena in exchange for Hercules giving up his super-human strengths.  Ares flatly refused stating that he was enjoying watching his brother’s suffering.

Gabrielle could see that Xena was deeply concerned for Hercules as Strife continued to abuse the legendary hero to death.  Strife grabbed Hercules and slammed him into a barrel of wine.  Hercules was now struggling to breathe and stay conscious.  Iolas shouted out to Ares reminding the god of war that he had reneged on his deal.  Ares defiantly admitted that he lied to his brother, but he didn’t care.  If the god of war wasn’t going to get Xena back he would at least destroy the brother that he was so jealous of and retain his father Zeus’s greatest affections for himself.  With Hercules out of his way he would become Zeus’s pride and joy.  Ares then smiled, laughed, and continued watching his brother suffer.  Strife began to jump upon Hercules’s chest attempting to collapse his lungs.  Just when it seemed that Strife would finish off Hercules, a brave old man stepped out from the crowd and demanded that Ares play fair in this duel against his brother.  The old man’s voice grabbed Strife’s attention and the mini-god stopped his onslaught stepping down from Hercules’s chest to see who was interrupting his show of power.  Strife stepped away as if he knew the old man and respected him.

The crowd was quiet as the old man approached Hercules and offered both of his hands to the exhausted hero.  Hercules attempted to rise to his feet, but then stretched his arms out to take the old man’s hands for assistance.  As the old man took Hercules’s hands into his own there was a large bright ball of surging energy that appeared between the two men.  The energy was powerful and electrifying.  Hercules was regaining his super-human strength.  As he rose to his feet his wounds instantly healed and then suddenly the old man morphed into a god.  It was the most amazing sight.  A powerfully wise elder man cloaked in a brilliant shiny silver elegance now stood before the village crowd.  Zeus had appeared before all in the village to save his most beloved son Hercules from the wrath of his jealous son Ares.  It was a miracle.  Hercules was touched to see his father come to rescue him from certain death.  The tender moment between father and son ended as Zeus stepped back and away from Hercules and Strife.

Hercules then looked to Strife realizing that Zeus was allowing him the opportunity to punish Strife for Serena’s death.  Hercules looked to Strife ready to take down the lesser god.  The fight was now even.  Hercules took a swing and Strife ducked away, but Hercules countered with another punch to Strife’s chest effortlessly sending the mini-god into the air across the village.  Strife screamed loudly and then plunged through a thatched roof into a village home.  It created a loud thunderous crash.  Gabrielle looked to Ares who appeared disgusted once again.  Hercules charged across the village and entered the village home forcefully throwing the doors open.  The brutal sounds of their battle could be heard coming from inside.  Suddenly, Strife plunged back out of the village home through the wall into view of the village crowd.  Strife attempted to scurry away once more as he felt for his feet beneath him to stand up again.

Hercules busted through the wall after him as Strife reached for a large ceramic water jug to use as a weapon.  Strife reached back, and wound up to slam the jug into Hercules’s body.  Hercules effortlessly blocked it with is gauntlet then disarmed Strife’s weapon twisting the mini-god’s arm.  Strife’s body slammed toward the ground as Hercules flung the mini-god over his head and slammed Strife continuously upon the ground.  Strife screamed loudly as he took the abuse from Hercules.  The crowd was in awe as Hercules spun Strife’s body above his head and then threw him back to the ground with his rage.  Hercules continued to disfigure Strife’s face with thunderous punches until the god of war had decided he had seen enough.  Suddenly, Ares whipped up a ball of godly energy and flung it across the village like a lightning bolt.  The bolt of energy sent Hercules falling backward onto the ground.

The villagers began to descend upon Strife as he lied upon the ground.  Then Strife slowly rose up unable to stand, looked to the crowd and laughed maniacally.  Then he disappeared in within a fiery ball light as his laughter echoed into silence.  Hercules was not satisfied for he did not have his full justice against Serena’s killer.  The hero rose to his feet and shouted out to his brother that their sibling rivalry would not end without Hercules receiving his retribution for Ares’s unfair deeds against him and wife Serena.

Ares agreed with Hercules angered that he had been exposed by both by the warrior princess and Strife’s inability to stay in the shadows.  As the god of war rested his hand upon his sheathed sword he engulfed himself into a flame of power disappearing as triumphant laughter echoed in his wake.  The all-powerful Zeus had seen enough as well.  He quietly exited the village on foot.  It was an invitation for his son Hercules to follow.  Hercules looked confused and dissatisfied for he did not get his revenge or his satisfaction.  The hero ran out of the village after his father to confront Zeus.  Xena and Gabrielle moved to go after Hercules, but Iolas signaled that Hercules needed to face Zeus on his own.

Xena attempted to lighten the moment expressing that Iolas gave a good scream when she had thrust her sword through him.  Iolas then looked to Xena and opened up his shirt.  He showed Xena the mark she had left on him with her sword during their theatrical performance to expose Ares, and Serena’s true killer.  The warrior princess laughed with pride as she joked that it was going to make a nice scar.  Then Iolas complained that Xena had cut him a bit too close.  He said that it was a little too real for his taste.  Gabrielle chimed in defending Xena explaining to Iolas that it was the only way they could have made Iolas appear mortally wounded.  Xena realized that she had to reassure even Iolas that she would never have killed him for real despite what she had done to him in their past.

Soon Hercules returned and Iolas quickly inquired about his private conversation with Zeus.  Hercules walked ahead frustrated and asked Iolas not to be concerned with his dealings with his father.  Iolas jumped ahead to join Hercules in an attempt to comfort his friend and sooth Hercules’s frustrations.  When the bard and the warrior princess finally caught back up to Iolas, Hercules had gone to be alone.  Iolas said that despite having exposed the real killer Hercules still blamed himself for allowing himself to marry the last of Serena’s kind.  If Hercules hadn’t made the deal with Ares Serena would still be alive.  That was what Hercules believed.

Gabrielle knew all too well what that felt like.  It would be a pain that would never leave, but she was certain that Hercules would one day be able to learn to deal with the violent loss of his wife for Gabrielle had learned to live everyday with the loss of Perdicas.  As the bard stood alongside the warrior princess and Iolas at Serena’s funeral by the water she felt Hercules’s pain.  She looked on as the hero stood in solace over the stone grave of his beloved.  He had lovingly built it and marked the spot upon which she would forever lie.

The bard listened to the warrior princess sing her beautiful song of farewell which was the song of the dead that those from Amphipolis would sing for those lost to us.  Gabrielle was reminded of Perdicas’s funeral and how Xena had sung the beautifully moving chant for her beloved husband.  Despite wanting to share Hercules’s grief with him Gabrielle knew that for Hercules grief had to be experienced alone.  As the song ended into the silence of nature’s sounds Hercules placed Serena’s necklace upon her stone marker, and pounded it into the stone reminding all who would pass who lied beneath.  She was the last of her kind, and so the three friends left Hercules behind within his solace so that he might quietly bade his sweet wife farewell.  The bard was certain that one day they would be brought together again for death can never sever the power of love.

Xenaverse Timeline

Xenaverse Timeline

A Brief Overview

In 1940 Dr. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas the daughter of the late Mel Pappas joined forces on an archeological dig in Macedonia.  What they uncovered were the first of over 100 ancient scrolls written by a bard from the ancient village of Podedia located in ancient Thrace.  In the words of the late Dr. Covington, “These scrolls will revolutionize the way we look at the ancient world.”  Dr. Covington’s find led the scrolls underground for 50 years until they later resurfaced in Hollywood, California and became the basis for a popular 1990’s television series  known as “Xena Warrior Princess.”

*Please note that dates listed on the scrolls are the dates in which Gabrielle wrote her scrolls and do not necessarily reflect the date of a specific event in the Xenaverse.  Any scrolls on this site are strictly the translated English language interpretations of the scrolls themselves.  The original texts were written in a combination of ancient Thracian dialects and those of ancient Greece.  Below are the findings and conclusions of both Dr. Covington and Melinda Pappas as they had studied and translated the scrolls.

Xena is conceived unexpectedly one night when her father visits Cyrene sneaking away from battle.

Xena is born in 74 B.C.

At the age of 7 Xena’s mom is forced to kill Xena’s father with an ax to save Xena’s life from him. He was drunk after leaving the temple of Ares and tried to kill Xena. Xena’s father served in the Greek army. 67 B.C.

At age 16 Cortese’s army invades Amphipolis killing Xena’s 15 year old younger brother Lycious. Xena’s 19 year old brother Toris flees the battle in shame. 58 B.C.

After Xena’s loss against Cortese she rounds up as many followers as she can to create an army to protect her village of Amphipolis from any future armies from attacking. 58 B.C.

For two years Xena sacks and conquers villages all around Amphipolis and through many parts of Greece. She also encounters her tragic loss of a scouting party against the hoard. This leads her army out to sea. It supports itself through the spoils of its conquests against rival villages. 58-57 B.C.

During her second year in command of her rouge army she takes it into piracy sacking several villages along the coast. One of those villages is the village of the young Callisto who is only 8 years old. Xena’s army burns Callisto’s village to the ground overzealous in its attacks and leaves the young child’s soul damaged for life at the loss of her family. Xena meets Caesar for the first time. 57-56 B.C.

At the end of the third year Caesar returns after several months away upon returning to Rome and he betrays her breaking her legs. After being rescued by the slave she had captured and learned the pinch move from Xena is filled with rage and anger. She meets Borias and they go on a rampage across the lands in the east which leads them to Chin. Xena is 19. 55 B.C.

At the age of 20 Xena and Borias conquer Ming-Su and defeat Lao-Mao’s dreams of peace. The two move onto the land of Chuppa and Japan. Xena and Borias try to obtain ransom money for Akimi’s return to her father. Xena spends several months traveling with Akimi without Borias. Akimi accomplishes her revenge on her father and commits suicide begging Xena to take her ashes to their final resting place. 54 B.C.

At the age of 21 Xena rejoins Borias. Xena travels with Borias back toward the west. During their travels they meet with the shamaness Alti who persuades Xena to go against Cyan Queen of the Amazons and annihilate the entire Amazon race. Alti follows them through their battles encouraging Xena toward her ways. Xena becomes pregnant with her first child Solan with Borias being the father. This changes Borias and he becomes a more honorable man. He gives up his interests in world conquest. This leads to Borias’s death and Solan’s birth. 53 B.C.

After losing Borias to death, her army at the hands of the Centaurs, and Solan to her own darkness Xena finds herself to be lost. It is in her loneliness that she decides to travel to the north. The warrior princess stirs things up in the north in places such as Britannia where she meets Bodecia and betrays her. Still searching for conquest as she sets her sights on Valhalla, Odin, and the Rhinegold. Xena is 22. 52-51 B.C.

After being defeated by her own evil and Grenhilda’s passion for humanity which was turned into Grendel Xena is feeling frustrated and defeated. At the age of 23 Xena travels toward Rome where she meets Ares for the first time. Ares has taken an interest in Xena and decides that she is the one he needs to conquer the world. Xena will lead to world domination and a world governed by wars. Ares offers Xena the ultimate weapon in exchange for her services. Ares introduces Xena to the chakram. During his intense molding period with the warrior princes Ares falls for her and never loses his passion for her. Ares’s plans with Xena go awry when Hercules defeats Xena. A few months later Xena regroups to get revenge against Hercules, but is unsuccessful. She ends up losing her army to her second in command Darphus. Later she unites with Hercules against Darphus and turns away from Ares. Xena then leaves Hercules feeling ashamed and in despair of all of the wrongs she has committed. Xena is 25. 50-49 B.C.

1) Now 26 Xena decides that she is done with her warrior ways. Her despair and shame leads her to give up her weapons and herself. She is on the verge of her own self-destruction when she meets the young bard Gabrielle at the age of 16. 48 B.C.

1) Xena and Gabrielle travel together and Gabrielle becomes an amazon princess. They run into famous personalities such as Helen of Troy, Hercules, and they meet up with Xena’s past for the first time through Xena’s older brother Toris. Gabrielle also meets Cortese for the first time. 48-47 B.C.

2) Xena and Gabrielle continue their travels. Gabrielle meets Xena’s son Solan and the centaurs. Callisto confronts Xena for the first time since her family was killed by Xena’s army. Gabrielle marries her childhood sweetheart Perdicas who is killed by Callisto. Gabrielle becomes an amazon queen when she is informed by Ephiny of Queen Melosa’s death. Xena and Gabrielle meet Joxer for the first time and he begins to travel with them on occasion. 47-46 B.C.

3) Gabrielle and Xena take on Ceasar of Rome and Ares begins taunting Xena on a regular basis. Gabrielle begins developing a friendship with the goddess Aphrodite. Gabrielle is impregnated with the child of the evil Dahok. Xena and Gabrielle’s friendship experiences a rift due to Gabrielle’s evil daughter Hope killing Xena’s child Solan and due to Xena’s debt to Lao Mao in killing Ming Tien of Chin. Gabrielle passes into the darkness of fire with her child Hope leaving Xena and Joxer to mourn. Xena kills Callisto with the hindsblood dagger. 46-45 B.C.

4) Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer are reunited in Podedia. Xena begins to go through a spiritual transformation as does Gabrielle. They travel to India where they meet Eli who later learns the way of love and spreads its message throughout the land. He touches Gabrielle who surrenders her staff for a peaceful existence still alongside Xena. Gabrielle must return to the Amazons when news of Ephiny’s death comes to her. She and Brutus make a pact of peace between Rome and the Amazons, but Caesar rejects it and instead crucifies Xena and Gabrielle. Callisto returns by way of Satan. 45-44 B.C
Ides of March 44 B.C.

5) Xena and Gabrielle are brought back into life by Eli and the powers that be. Xena becomes impregnated. Gabrielle faces Alti in order to save Xena’s child’s soul. Eli is killed by Ares in a battle of love v.s. war. Both Xena and Gabrielle travel to Egypt to defeat Brutus’s invasion and to hand over control of Rome to Caesar’s relative the young Octavius. Xena then gives birth to Eve who becomes hunted by the gods upon Mount Olympus due to the fates and their proclamation of Eve’s destiny to bring down all of Olympus. Xena and Gabrielle fake the three of their deaths in order to save Eve’s life and Ares buries them in ice at the top of Mount Edna where the two stay frozen and lifeless for 25 years. 44 B.C.-19 B.C.

5) As the climate change melts the ice caps upon Mount Edna Xena and Gabrielle are then freed from their frozen graves. They return to life only to find that they have been resting for 25 years. They immediately search for Eve who has now become Livia champion of Rome. Livia is an angry lost young woman who has a thirst for violence and power. Ares has been nurturing her for quite some time. Xena and Gabrielle work desperately to free Eve from her anger only to lead them to the death of their friend Joxer. Joxer’s son survives his vengeance against Livia as Livia is brought back to Eve by a prayer Xena has said to Eli. Xena is then given the power to kill and wipes out almost the entire Olympic race except for Aphrodite and Ares who surrenders his godhood to save the lives of Eve and Gabrielle. His love for the warrior princes is proven although the warrior princess does not return the feelings. 19-18 B.C.

6) Eve goes off to follow Eli’s path while Gabrielle learns of the last links to Xena’s past before their meeting one another. This takes them to the land of the Norse Gods where they confront Odin and his Valkyrie and Grenhilda. Grenhilda is then saved from being wronged by Xena 35 years prior. Gabrielle and Xena finish out their travels together as Xena begins to becomes settled within her soul. Finally Gabrielle learns of Xena’s time in Chuppa and her friend Akimi. Xena discovers that she had wronged 40,000 souls accidentally who she had left at the mercy of the evil of Yodoshi’s soul. Xena sacrifices herself in death to free those souls and leaves Gabrielle behind. 18-16 B.C.

Caesar 100 B.C.- 44 B.C. age 66
Toris 77 B.C.
Eli 76B.C,- 44B.C. age 33
Xena 74 B.C.- 44 B.C.——–} 44B.C.-43B.C.——–} 18B.C.-14B.C. age 60
Lycious 73 B.C.-58B.C. age 15
Joxer 72 B.C.-18B.C. age 55
Ephiny 68 B.C.-44 B.C. age 24
Callisto 65 B.C. -45 B.C. age 20
Gabrielle 64 B.C. – 44 B.C.——-} 44B.C.-43B.C.——} 18B.C.- 13 B.C. 51 age —-?
Lila 63 B.C.-18 B.C. age 47—-?
Octavius 64 B.C.- 18 .C. age 48—-?
Solan 52 B.C.-46 B.C. age 8
Eve(Livia) 43 B.C.-16 B.C. age 26—-?
Sarah 39 B.C.- 18 B.C.
Virgil 36 B.C.- 16 B.C. age 19—-?

Detailed Overview

Xena born March 29, 75 B.C.- September 13 B.C. Age 62
18 B.C. Preserved at just under age 32. Xena is physically 36 when she dies.
Gabrielle Born February 15, 67 B.C. Age 54
18 B.C. Preserved at age 24 and is physically age 29 when Xena dies.
Callisto born July 68 B.C. Callisto is 20 when she physically dies in 47 B.C.
Julius Caesar born July 13, 100 BC-March 15, 44 B.C. Age 55

January 16th, 58 B.C. Amphipolis is attacked by the warlord Cortese and Xena’s younger brother Lycious, 15, is killed in battle while her older brother Toris, 19, runs for the hills. Xena is 17.

August 58 B.C. After expanding out to surrounding villages and finally to the coast Xena takes her army of followers on a rampage to protect Amphipolis. It is at this time she is sailing near Gaul and meets Caesar of Rome. She also meets her good friend Malia from Gaul. Malia is the first to teach the art of pressure points to Xena. Xena is 18.

October 58 B.C. Xena returns Caesar to Rome in Gaul for ransom.

In March 57 BC Caesar returns to Xena to betray her breaking her legs upon crucifixion of her and her army.

In July 57 BC After having been saved from the Roman Army by her Gaelic friend Malia, who was later killed by Ceasar’s soldiers at Nicklio’s, the healer, Xena has been befriended by Borias. She joins his army and becomes his lover and protégé. She convinces him to leave his wife and son Balok behind and they travel across the land to the east to Chin with his army. Xena is a young girl with a limp that Borias was taken by and decides to take under his wing as well as to be his lover. During the next months Xena is introduced to La Mao, Ming Tien, and Ming Tien’s father. Lao Ma attempts to save Xena from herself and teaches her and loves her with many things. Lao Ma discusses Xena’s knowledge of pressure points. Xena kills Ming Tsu and kidnaps Ming Tien his son teaching him to be a monster. Xena and Borias feud, but their feud is resolved by Lao Ma who is later betrayed by both during her quest for a peaceful Chin.

In December 57 B.C- February 56 BC. Xena and Borias set sail for Chuppa to do business. While there she meets the young Akimi who wishes to be taught to be a warrior by Xena. Xena teaches Akimi the warrior arts and later finds that Akimi wanted to use those skills to kill her father Yudoshi. Akimi then asks that Xena take her life after the deed. Xena is heart-broken and is forced to do it by Akimi. Xena condemns over 40,000 souls when in her emotional rage she accidentally sets fire and kills an entire village.

April 56 B.C.- Xena’s army comes upon Syra the home of Callisto where they burn the village killing women, and children in the process. Callisto’s evil is born in her loss of her entire family in the flames of destruction. Callisto is 11.

May 56 B.C.-July 56 BC Xena and Borias meet Alti. Alti reveals Xena is pregnant. Borias and Xena plan to sack the Amazons and later the centaurs. Alti offers the gift of ultimate power and for Xena to become “The Destroyer of Nations.” Alti introduces Xena to a new young friend who is later killed during a battle. Alti takes Xena to the land of the dead. Otari is only a child and meets Xena at this battle in which Xena’s young Amazon friend is killed. Alti entices Xena to kill the young 6-year-old Amazon Otari. Borias saves Otari.

August 56 BC-September 56 BC Xena attempts to assassinate Cyan Queen of the Amazons. Borias scolds Xena for attempting the assassination. Xena decides to learn Cyan’s fighting moves. Cyan attempts to turn Xena’s life around offering her to join the Amazons and leave Borias to change for the good. Cyan attempts to reverse Xena’s murdering ways. Alti attempts to win Xena over in a duel of spirits with Cyan in front of Xena. Cyan wins the battle. Cyan again offers Xena the chance to change. Alti curses Xena’s unborn child to never experience the love of his parents. Xena betrays Cyan the Queen of the Amazons of the steps. She kills her young red-headed warrior for sport, Cyan, and most of those in Cyan’s tribe. Alti takes the blood of Cyan to enhance her own powers. All major Amazon leaders at the time were killed in Xena’s betrayal.

October 56 BC- Xena attacks Corinth with Borias, Dagnon, and her army. Borias had split command of the army with Xena so each controlled half. They had taken control of the Centaurs. The plan was to grab the Ixion stone and then later to use its power to sack Athens. Borias offers to meet Colliapous to arrange a treaty of peace. Xena and Dagnon betray Borias. Borias then turns to the centaurs and allies with them. Xena blinds Colliapous in one eye in the battle. During this same time Xena’s personal servant Satrina offers her lover the warlord Damaious’s plan which defeated Rhodes when he sacked it. It included poisoning the grain of the people of Corinth to reduce their strength in defenses. Xena had defeated Damious in a prior battle and killed him obtaining Satrina.

November 56 BC- Xena and Dagnon meet the Centaurs and Borias in war for the Ixion Stone. Xena gives birth to Solan and Borias has changed his ways. Satrina stabs Borias attempting to stop him from taking Xena and his son away from the way of war. Dagnon kills Borias in a sword duel after Satrina exposes Borias has entered the camp. Xena gives birth to Solan during this time. Borias is killed by Dagnon a member of Xena’s army which she has taken over from Borias. Solan is born on December 8, 56 BC. Xena gives Solan to the Centaur leader Colliapous to raise as his own. Xena withdrew her army and left Corinth not finishing her attack.

February 55 BC- January 52 BC 35 years- Xena enters the Norse territory where she meets the Norse God Odin suffering. She stays in the Norse territory until March of 51 BC where she convinces Odin to fall in love with her, becomes a Valkarie, betrays Brenhilda, the other Valkarie, and the Rhine maidens to steal the ring in order to gain ultimate power. Brenhilda becomes the Grendel and gets the last laugh keeping the ring of power from Xena’s grasp.

March 52 BC-September 52 BC Xena moves back toward Greece passing through Britannia. She gathers and picks up an army of loyal followers to lead. This is when she first meets Ares and begins her romantic as well as business partnership with Ares. He appears to her and makes a deal with her using her past with Odin and Caesar’s past betrayal to gain her loyalties to his cause to conquer the world for his image. Xena encounters Bodecia and betrays Bodecia pretending to ally with her while satiating her quest to defeat Caesar in his quest to defeat Gaul. She defeats Caesar in battle then steals Bodecia’s army to march toward Rome.

October 52 BC – On their way toward Rome, in pursuit of Caesar, Xena’s army encounters the hoard (Pomira). She loses half of her men. She meets the young girl Vanessa whose father Raul is a fighter in her army at this time. Vanessa is taken from her family by the Pomira. Vanessa is 7.

November 52 BC- Ares guides Xena to Kal’s temple in Celtic lands to steal the dark chakram so that she can use it to fill her destiny to rule the world through force. In exchange Xena is to kill Hercules for Ares. During this time is the first time Xena encounters Hercules and Iolas.

December 52 BC- Xena marches through Thelassa’s village and leaves Thelassa to be torn to death by flesh-eating crabs.

January 51 BC- Xena meets Thalia who joins her army and co-leads with her for a time.

February 51 BC – March 50 BC- Marcus joins Xena’s Army. Xena turns away from Ares when she falls in love with Marcus. Ares is hurt, but continues to support Xena’s campaign to shape the world in his image. During this time Thersities the assassin, and many of the other personalities she later encounters again in Gabrielle’s scrolls join Xena’s army after being captured in villages she defeats and destroys. She trains those who will join her allegiance.

March 50 B.C. – Thersities has affections for Xena and tricks Marcus and Xena both into breaking off their relationship so that he can ask for her hand in marriage. She accepts. Marcus’s heart is broken and he leaves Xena’s army.

December 50 B.C. Thersities betrays Xena leaving her army and abandons their marriage.

June 49 B.C. – Xena‘s underling Darphus betrays Xena and takes over her army banishing her. Hercules is hot on their trail until he finds out that Xena’s army is no longer under her control. Together they defeat Darphus, Xena delivers the death-blow. Ares resurrects Darphus and gives him his pet Greigous. Xena and Hercules team up with Iolas and defeat Darphus a second time. It is during this time that Salmoneous meets Xena becoming her army’s jester and then ally alongside Hercules and Iolas against Darphus.

#1 Sins of the Past
July 2, 49 B.C. Gabrielle is age 18.

#2 Chariots of War
August 49 BC

#3 Dreamworker
September 49 BC

#4 Cradle of Hope
September 49 BC

#5 Path Not Taken
October 49 BC

#6 The Reckoning
October 49 BC

#7 The Titans
November 49 BC

#8 Prometheus
November 49 BC

#9 Hooves and Harlots
December 49 BC

#10 Death in Chains
December 49 BC

#11 The Black Wolf
January 48 BC

#12 The Warrior Princess
January 48 BC

#13 The Gauntlet
January 48 BC

#14 Unchained Heart
January 48 BC

#15 Athens Academy of Performing Bards
February 48 BC

#16 Fistful of Dinars
March 48 BC

#17 Royal Couple of Thieves
April 48 BC

#18 Warrior, Princess
April 48 BC

#19 Altered States
May 48 BC

#20 Mortal Beloved
May 48 BC

#21 Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts
June 48 BC

#22 The Prodigal
July 48 BC

#23 Death Mask
August 48 BC

#24 The Greater Good
September 48 BC

#25 The Ties That Bind
October 48 BC

#26 Callisto
October 48 BC

#27 Is There A Doctor in the House
November 48 BC

#28 A Solstice Carol
December 21, 48 BC

#29 Giant Killer
December 25, 48 BC

#30 Orphan of War
January 8, 47 BC 1 year 2 months and 12 days until Maternal Instincts

#31 Remember Nothing
January 16th, 47 BC

#32 Girls Just Wanna
January 47 BC

#33 Warrior, Princess, Tramp
January 47 BC

#34 Return of Callisto
February 47 BC

#35 Intimate Stranger
February 47 BC

#36 Ten Little Warlords
February 47 BC

#37 Here She Comes Miss Amphipolis
March 47 BC

#38 A Day in the Life Of
March 47 BC

#39 Blind Faith
March 47 BC

#40 The Execution
April 47 BC

#41 For Him the Bell Tolls
April 47 BC

#42 A Comedy of Eros
April 47 BC

#43 Been There Done That
April 47 BC

#44 Ulysses
May 47 BC

#45 The Lost Mariner
May 47 BC

#46  The Price
June 47 BC

#47 The Quest
August 47 BC

#48 A Necessary Evil
September 47 BC

September 47 BC Lao Ma is executed by her son Ming Tien.

#49 Destiny
September 47 BC

#50 Judgement Day
September 47 BC

#51  The Furies
October 47 BC

#52 The Quill Is Mightier
October 47 BC

#53 Aphrodite’s Enchanted Scroll
October 47 BC

#54 Surprise
October, 47 BC

#55 King of Assassins
November, 47 BC

#56 Warrior, Priestess, Tramp
November 47 BC

#57 Dirty Half Dozen
November 47 BC

#58 The Deliverer
January 46 BC

#59 Gabrielle’s Hope
January 46 BC

#60 The Debt
February 46 BC

#61 When In Rome
March 46 BC

#62 Maternal Instincts
March 20th, 46 BC

#63 Bitter Suite
April 46 BC

#64 Forgiven
May 46 BC

#65 Vanishing Act
May 46 BC

#66 One Against An Army
June 46 BC

#67 Armageddon Now
June 46 BC

#68 King Con
June 46 BC

#69 Forget Me Not
July 46 BC

#70 Fins, Femmes, and Gems
November 47 BC

#71 If The Shoe Fits
July 46 BC

#72 Tsunami
July 46 BC

#73 A Tale of Two Muses
August 46 BC

#74 Daughter of Pomira
September 46 BC

#75 A Good Day
October 45 BC

#76 To Tartarus and Back
January 45 BC

#77 Sacrifice
February 45 BC

#78 A Family Affair
April 45 BC

#79 Soul Possession
April 45 BC

#80 In Sickness and In Hell
May 45 BC

#81 Crusader
June 45 BC

#82 Locked Up and Tied Down
June 45 BC

#83 Past Imperfect
July 45 BC

#84 Adventures In The Sin Trade
July 45 BC

#85 Paradise Found
August 45 BC

#86 Devi
September 45 BC

#87 Between The Lines
September 45 BC

#88 The Way
October 45 BC

#89 The Play’s The Thing
December 45 BC

#90 Takes One To Know One
February 44 BC

#91 The Convert
February 44 BC

#92 Endgame
March 44 BC

#93 Ides of March
March 44 BC

#94 Fallen Angel
March 44 BC

#95 Chakram
March 44 BC

#96 Animal Attraction
April 44 BC

#97 Succession
April 44 BC

#98 Seeds of Faith
May 44 BC

#99 Them Bones, Them Bones
May 44 BC

#100 Purity
July 44 BC

#101 Back In The Bottle
September 44 BC

#102 Punchlines
November 44 BC

#103 Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire
November 44 BC

#104 Little Problems
December 44 BC

#105 God Fearing Child
December 44 BC

#106 Eternal Bonds
January 43 BC

#107 Lifeblood
February 43 BC

#108 Kindred Spirits
February 43 BC

#109 Amphipolis Under Siege
March 43 BC

#110 Anthony and Cleopatra
July 43 BC

#111 Looking Death in the Eye
August 43 BC

October 30 B.C. Cyrene is burned at the stake by the people of Amphipolis accused of being a witch due to the evil spirits which invaded her tavern.

April 25 B.C. Sarah Lila’s daughter, Gabrielle’s niece, at age 15 is taken by Gurkhan and his men. Lila’s husband and Gabrielle’s parents are beheaded by Gurkhan.

#112 Livia
July 18 BC

#113 Eve
September 18 BC

#114 Motherhood
November 18 BC

#115 Coming Home
December 18 BC

#116 The Haunting of Amphipolis
January 17 BC

#117 Heart of Darkness
January 17 BC

#118 Who is Gurkhan
February 17 BC – May 17 BC

#119 Legacy
June 17 BC

#120 Dangerous Prey
July 17 BC

#121 The Abyss
September 17 BC

#122 The Rheingold
December 17 BC

#123 The Ring
January 15 BC

#124 Return of the Valkyrie
February 15 BC

#125 Old Ares Had A Farm
April 15 BC

#126 The God You Know
August 15 BC

#127 You Are There (The Golden Apples)
January 14 BC

#128 Last of the Centaurs
April 14 BC

#129 Path of Vengeance
May 14 BC

#130 To Helicon And Back
June 14 BC

#131 A Friend in Need
September 14 BC

#132 When Fates Collide
October 14 BC

#133 Many Happy Returns
February 13 BC

*For more information on “The Xena Scrolls” please visit the links below.

http://warriorprincess.wikia.com/wiki/The_Xena_Scrolls

http://thexenascrolls.homestead.com/

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll # 36: Ten Little Warlords

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#36:  Ten Little Warlords

February 28th, 47 B.C.

Pulling oneself out of the depressing nightmare that is reality can be tough.  And though the nightmare of Callisto had seemingly ended Gabrielle awoke just before dawn to the familiar sound of a crackling fire and the boots of Callisto stopping before her.  When she opened her eyes all that could be seen was not the comforting face of Xena, but the reminder of her rage that continued to stir within.  The voice that spoke Gabrielle’s name was soft and soothing yet it was Callisto’s voice.  Though it had Xena’s familiar tone Gabrielle’s body reacted as she jerked into sudden consciousness and realized again Xena’s face was now that of Callisto.  The bard worked hard everyday to get over that anger and that constant sadness of her loss which ate away inside her heart.  This pain seemingly bled so deeply at times that it found its way into the pit of Gabrielle’s soul. She felt certain that it would be much easier to deal with if only Xena could really be Xena.  At least then the constant reminder of Perdicas’s absence would be less of a burden to the heart.

Though it was Callisto’s face which stared softly into the bard’s eyes Gabrielle was still having much difficulty accepting it as the now true face of her best friend.  She felt almost saddened knowing that it must not be easy for Xena to understand that her presence was a constant reminder of the one who murdered Perdicas.  Not only that, but Xena had to endure the constant darkness which followed Callisto for no one else knew the truth that Gabrielle and Xena knew.  Then as the bard rose to her feet slowly with Xena’s assistance and attempt at comforting her Gabrielle expressed her frustration of the situation.  Xena did understand.  Though there was nothing that could be done about it all now.  At least together they had succeeded at ridding the world of the evil soul of Callisto, but her presence in their lives would never be completely gone.  Gabrielle attempted to come up with a temporary solution to this issue pleading with the warrior princess to at least try to change her hair color back to its natural darkness rather than the irritating blonde it had become.

Xena’s reaction was seemingly abrupt as the bard found herself being thrown by the mighty hands of Callisto the warrior princess behind the brush.  As Gabrielle quickly tried to recoil her suggestion the warrior princess moved her finger to her lips in an attempt to hush the frantic yet momentarily startled bard.  Gabrielle’s confusion was almost so overwhelming that she had forgotten that there was indeed one other person in the world who knew of the truth about Callisto the warrior princess.  As Xena held steady she knelt down beside Gabrielle as they watched and listened together upon the intruder’s entrance into camp.  He wore a small bush over his goofy yet ugly bronze helmet in a lame attempt to conceal himself from view.  As always the warrior princess had sensed his presence way before he had even been fifty yards from camp.  Despite being in Callisto’s body the bard found herself impressed by Xena’s ability to adjust to her new surroundings.  It was obvious that Xena was handling things much better than Gabrielle.

As the idiot entered from beyond the darkness and the brush Xena instructed the raging bard without words.  Gabrielle knew that this was a test to see if she could control the enemy’s approach.  Although the enemy was an idiot he was a perfect decoy for a young bard in training.  Gabrielle watched as the enemy took one, two, and then a third creeping step toward the fire ten yards away from their position.  Just as the idiot was about to turn the corner toward the crackling fire Xena squeezed the bard’s arm signaling the take down.  Gabrielle rose from her knelt position with her staff and lunged forward shouting out Joxer’s name and sweeping him to the ground with a kick to the knee and a leg sweeping staff move.  Joxer suddenly fell upon his back to the ground unaware of the danger which had awaited him

As he lied upon his back blinded by his crooked helmet Gabrielle took the advantage stabbing him in the breast plate with her staff.  There was a yearning for attack coursing through the veins of the bard as she looked down to notice that Joxer’s breast plate wasn’t really much of a plate at all.  It was more like an old strainer used in every kitchen she had ever seen back home in Potedia.  Yet this sidetracked thought soon left and any mercy she may have felt for the idiot quickly left her heart.   Joxer’s response to Gabrielle’s cunning move on him was sarcastic and less than complementary.  He tried to play off his blunder in battle stating that he had been noisy purposely as if he had conspired with the warrior princess before arriving.  As Joxer brought himself back to his feet brushing his brown trousers off Xena soon emerged from the brush.  She was actually quite surprised to see the idiot and was highly curious of his arrival.  Whatever the reason it seemed important to the warrior princess as Joxer continued to speak.  He took off his helmet with pride and confidence and removed the fern sticking out of the top.

After he finished his presentation of warrior prowess he continued his statement explaining that he had received an important message for Callisto.  Joxer was certain that the blonde warrior would want to know of this message.  Yet he was still quite confused for he couldn’t remember if Callisto was actually Xena or if Xena was Callisto.  He looked to Gabrielle who was reminded that there was just one other who knew the true identity of Callisto the warrior princess.  The bard could sympathize with his confusion for she too was still feeling it inside.  Yet Joxer’s presence was still as annoying as ever.  Gabrielle then thought as he continued to converse with Xena that maybe it would have been better if Joxer had been the one stuck in Callisto’s body instead of Xena.  At least she could deal with her frustrations by popping him in the nose or beating him with her staff.  The bard was very aware of Xena’s warrior skills and did not dare to move upon her frustrations against Xena who was still stuck in Callisto’s body.

Then the bard realized that even Xena was still having some difficulty in dealing with her new identity for she seemed irritated that Joxer would even think to bring her Callisto’s personal messages.  Xena turned from his ignorance with irritation in her voice declaring that he should burn the message rather than waste her time with it.  Gabrielle found herself in private agreement with the warrior princess’s attitude, but Joxer was not so certain that this message should be burned.  His persistence prevailed as he explained that this message was from none other than Ares the god of war.  Joxer was an idiot, but he did have at least a tiny brain working within his dumb skull part of the time.  His observation proved to be of great interest to the warrior princess.  She remembered that there was at least one other that knew that she wasn’t really Callisto.  Ares most certainly knew the truth for it was Ares that had helped Callisto escape the underworld by using Xena’s guilt to get into Xena’s body.

As Xena’s interest in Callisto’s message intensified Joxer demonstrated his pride in knowing that he had Xena’s undivided attention.  It was rare that Joxer had ever had Xena’s attention at all.  He then stated that Ares had sent only ten personal invitations to ten different warlords.  Callisto had been one of those ten.  As the warrior princess continued to listen and to run the scenarios through her mind Joxer fumbled through his lose gear to retrieve the actual message.  The bard’s curiosity of Joxer’s story turned to irritation, and then to a sudden uncontrollable impatience.  Her eyes darted about his clothing looking for something randomly hanging out until finally they spotted the misplaced scroll.  Gabrielle’s arms jerked her staff forth stabbing Joxer’s side where the message for Callisto hung.  Joxer looked up surprised yet annoyed that the bard had interrupted his performance for the warrior princess.  He then brought his sarcastic tone into the conversation once more downplaying Gabrielle’s impressive move.  He asked her if maybe she was a fierce warrior trapped within the body of the bard.  His implication was that she was clumsy and uncoordinated.  Yet the bard did not find his sarcastic humor at all amusing.  Xena continued to ignore the tension between the two inexperienced warriors still thinking of the message as she read the scroll.

Then she proclaimed that it was not Ares who had sent the letter.  He would have no reason to send such a letter to Callisto for he knew that the real Callisto was back in Tartarus where she belonged.  Yet Xena was uncertain of whom had sent the letter which brought her to her second question of why.  The warrior princess needed to know who really sent it and why they would send such an invitation.  Of course Xena’s thoughts were spoken aloud almost as if she had forgotten that Joxer and Gabrielle were there.  Joxer took advantage of the moment and tried once again to prove that he was a worthy sidekick.  He desperately wanted a mission and a quest and now he had found one.  Joxer asked Xena when, but Xena cut him off immediately.  She declared that he would not go with she and Gabrielle at first light.  Joxer’s face turned to extreme disappointment and Gabrielle felt a sense of relief in knowing that she would not have to spend the day warding off Joxer’s idiocy on top of trying to keep her anger in check.  Dealing with Xena as Callisto was difficult enough for the bard.  Yet Xena let Joxer down gently.  The bard couldn’t understand why the warrior princess didn’t just tell him the truth about himself.  Instead Xena gently placed her hand upon his shoulder and asked Joxer to stay behind to protect the local villagers from the nine other warlords that would be passing through.  She assured Joxer that his warrior presence could prevent panic from breaking out.  Joxer’s disappointment turned to sudden delight for he had never thought of doing that.  It was as if he had come to a sudden revelation.  His part in Xena’s plan was even more important than what Gabrielle would be doing.  Somehow he had gone from a childlike idiot to a confident and well respected hero within seconds.

As Xena ushered the bard away from Joxer leaving him to think of all the good that he would do without them he tried to thank her.  Yet he was still confused for he was getting this wonderful warrior advice from Callisto yet it was really Xena inside.  Gabrielle turned to face him and to try to sympathize with his confusing pain.  Yet even Gabrielle was finding that it was getting a little less confusing to identify what Xena now looked like.

As first light broke into the warm mid morning sun Xena and Gabrielle had approached the outskirts of the next village.  There they stayed hidden in the tall brush to watch as the other nine warlords arrived.  One by one each warlord made his dastardly appearance.  And each one had that suspicious look about them.  It was as if they held the key to the greatest secret in the world.  They were a select few, but no one knew why.  The first three warlords came quietly and did not think to speak to anyone.  They just entered into town trying to be inconspicuous, but the bard could see right through their evil presence.  Then two more came into town almost at the very same moment.  One was short and stout.  Xena named him as Tegasaur.  Then the bard spotted the fifth noticing that he was rather large almost like a giant cyclops.  The hairy giant pushed an innocent villager aside.  Xena declared the two approaching warlords as bitter enemies.  Gabrielle noticed that they seemingly recognized each other and  awaited the bloodbath to begin.  It was as if she yearned to see blood on this peaceful morning.

Suddenly Gabrielle realized the importance of finding out the answers to Xena’s burning new questions.  The who and the why was burning within the bard’s own heart like no other questions she had ever asked before.  She suggested that Xena close in quickly using her infamous pinch to defeat every warlord before he had a chance to strike back.  Yet Xena seemed calm and patient.  As the bard found herself to be extremely fired up with rage inside she was ready for an offensive move.  Xena noticed the bard’s unusual mood and spoke softly to her friend in an attempt to calm the raging heart within.    Gabrielle’s raging mood calmed for a moment, but the calm did not last.

As the bard prepared for the battle to ensue the two warlords suddenly stopped before one another.  Instead of drawing each others’ blood as the bard had expected the two men pooled their information.   The bard found herself in a state of confusion yet disappointment.  Just moments before Xena had declared that the two were certain enemies.  In fact she had compared their encounter to throwing oil on a raging fire, but it didn’t appear to the bard that they were about to draw any swords or daggers.  Gabrielle watched the two disgusting men spit upon the ground as if it were the sign of an ugly greeting.  It was clear that the two had not been raised with one manner within either of their bones.  They were truly hideous as they each held up a scroll.  The scrolls looked exactly like the one that Xena had received as Callisto.  Then the two shook hands firmly as if sealing a deal.  It was then that Xena and the bard realized that the two had decided to join forces, but their motives were still shady.

Suddenly the bard felt the need to pounce.  As her muscles tensed and she grabbed up her staff she began to charge forward.  Xena quickly grabbed her friend who was seemingly unable to control the burning rage within.  The warrior princess spoke soothingly to her friend.  She  encouraged patience and then tried to lighten the mood by asking Gabrielle if she had slept on another rock the night before.  Though at first Gabrielle did not see the humor in Xena’s joke she finally realized that Xena was right.  Xena insisted that she follow the warlords alone while Gabrielle should go on toward the market to grab something for her stomach.  The warrior princess was certain that it was the bard’s empty stomach that caused her friend to be so vengeful on this morning.  Yet Gabrielle herself was not exactly certain what the issue was within.  And although she was confused she listened to the warrior princess as always knowing that Xena understood her even when she herself did not.

As the bard watched Xena go in after the warlords she herself went in the opposite direction into town.  Gabrielle desperately tried to hold down the anger and the pain of her recent losses, but it seemed that the harder she tried the more the fire burned inside.  The bard thought maybe it really was her stomach that actually burned as she heard the sounds of the approaching market.  An old hag called out for a sale on fishcakes which actually began to sound very good for the moment.  Gabrielle remembered how much she really loved how the flavor melted in her mouth.  Fishcakes suddenly seemed to be the answer to all of the bard’s problems as she approached the old woman’s stand.  The bard was swooned by the sale of six for only one dinar.  That was unheard of and most definitely a deal worth cashing in on for the most seasoned of bargain hunters.  It was just one of the bard’s many skills aside from her storytelling.

As she approached the woman for the sale she found herself suddenly entranced by the man across the way.  The sound of his voice was so soothing as it called out fishcakes ten for only one dinar.  Gabrielle quickly turned away from the cheap old hag and rushed over to the peasant man who sold ten fishcakes for only one dinar.  Her stomach would be full for days for that kind of deal.  She wouldn’t have to feel the raging fire within the pit of her stomach for at least ten days.  Yet just before the bard could pull out the single dinar that would pave the way to her soothing happiness the old hag chimed in once more.  This time she offered twelve fishcakes for a dinar.  The bard’s head began to spin with confusion once more as her stomach felt that aching pain and the fire began to drive up into her heart once again.  It was more than she could bare to take.  Not only that, but she could suddenly feel that her arms were being torn apart by the two marketing fishcakes.  The competition was fierce as the battle began to rage between the peasants in the market for the sale of twelve tiny little fishcakes.

Gabrielle had reached her breaking point.  She suddenly ripped her arms from their restraint as she shouted out at the top of her lungs.  The bard no longer seeked fishcakes.  She seeked vengeance and rage.  She seeked blood and sweat.  Gabrielle needed to release her nervous energy in the heat of a battle.  And so the bard turned and took barely a glance at her new peasant enemies and began to smash her way through the market delivering thunderous punches to anyone who dared get in the way of her destructive path.  She tossed innocent peasant girls to the ground just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Then she focused back upon the two peasants that had been trying to make the sale.  They were the true culprits of it all.  And as the market had now broken out into total chaos Callisto appeared to investigate what she had missed.  Actually it wasn’t really Callisto, but everyone in the market stopped for they were certain that the wrath of the irritating blonde would rain down upon them.

Gabrielle was on the rampage determined to stop the raging peasants in their sale before anyone else fell victim to their entrancing fishcakes.  Gabrielle chose the first weapons she caught sight of as one of the fishcake dealers pleaded and begged for Callisto to spare his life, but Gabrielle knew the truth.  Callisto was not at all the one they had to worry about.  She was in control of her rage yet Gabrielle was not.  The bard suddenly picked up a large trout from one of the nearby stands and prepared to belt the fishcake dealer with it over the head, but just before the bard could strike Xena grabbed her friend by the ear and yanked hard dragging the bard out of the market and into the nearby tavern.  Xena then scolded the bard for her crazy actions.  The warrior princess realized that her friend was delusional which was strange and out of character for the bard.

It was a painful journey for Gabrielle as she could not break free of the grasp of the mighty warrior princess or the rage that boiled within.  As soon as Xena had busted through the doors she threw Gabrielle down into an old rickety chair and again demanded that her friend calm down.  It seemed that the bard’s mood was a result of more than just an empty stomach.  Xena found herself quite confused at this strange turn of events.  It seemed that no one’s true behavior could be predictable.  Her warrior instincts were not working as they normally would.  It was possible that the warrior princess was unable to judge the character of a warlord now that she was stuck within Callisto’s body.

As she thought out loud wondering why innocent peasants were ready to kill one another and why warlords were on their best behavior she was interrupted by the voice of an impatient bard.  Gabrielle shouted out to the barkeep demanding service for thirsty customers as she pounded her wooden mug upon the table.  Yet just as the bard was unable to control her mood swings her mind was still sharp as her ears caught the conversation between the barkeep and one of his obviously drunken customers.  The angry bard was determined to find out who it was that held the barkeep’s attention.  As she listened to the conversation she could have sworn that the drunken customer dressed in dark rags and leather pants was bragging himself to be a god.  Xena too had caught a bit of the conversation because she seemed to be focused on the drunken fellow.  As Xena approached him he turned around and flashed a crooked smile toward the warrior princess.  He then shouted out her name, but he didn’t call her Callisto.

Xena suddenly rose from the table and began to walk toward the bar uncertain of who knew her true identity.  At first the man with the black hood over his head didn’t look so familiar yet as she approached and listened to the voice she paused in her advance.  Suddenly it was all very clear to the warrior princess.  Yet to the bard it was still foggy.  Then escaping from Xena’s lips was the name of the god of war.  Ares grinned back as if delighted that the warrior princess had figured out his true identity yet Gabrielle found herself not so certain that the god of war would be found in a petty little tavern among peasants.  Yet the drunk was determined to make his impression.  He laughed as if amused that Xena didn’t recognize him.  Moments later Xena confirmed that it really was the god of war only he had been turned into a mortal.  Of course that was the real mystery because even Ares did not know how he ended up becoming mortal over night.  Yet it seemed like justice to Gabrielle who was still angry at him for not giving Xena her body back.  If anyone had the power to give Xena her true self it was him.  But now he was just a plain old mortal idiot just like Joxer or any other mortal man.  In fact, the bard noticed that he spoke with a bit of slur in his speech.  He was just as big of a loser as any.  Ares was hardly impressive and definitely not what Gabrielle had imagined a god to be like.

Gabrielle found her rage taking over as she rose from the table and approached the mortal god of war.  She wanted a piece of action and she was determined to show him what real pain was.  Yet he did not take her actions against him lightly as he tossed her aside out of drunken anger and frustration.  Xena did not allow his disrespecting ways to go unpunished.  The warrior princess suddenly picked up the mortal man and threw him across the tavern over her head.  He flipped  out of control until he crashed into some bar furniture before coming to a rest.  Gabrielle was delighted to see how truly vulnerable he really was.  She was ready to finish him off, but Xena would not allow it.  Instead Xena threw out a rag to the demoralized god and instructed him on how to heal his new wound.  His mouth was bleeding from the corner.  He looked like a helpless little child as if about to cry, but he didn’t.  Instead he made a notation of what mortal pain felt like for the first time.  Gabrielle found herself enthralled with the idea of giving him more pain, but was again scolded for her out of control behavior.  Xena demanded that the bard leave her alone with Ares.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that if she needed an extra warrior to be there she would be most definitely ready for battle.  Yet just as Gabrielle felt this energy surge she realized that her thirst called out to her and was again focused on the lousy barkeep.

The anger redirected itself as she tossed some bar stools aside and sat before the barkeep.  There was an unusual power that could be felt within the bard.  She had never before experienced this kind of power.  It was an uncontrollable driving force that could barely be controlled.  She snapped out to the barkeep for a drink and though he tried very hard to service the angry young blonde he was unable to appease her.  He must have served her at least three or four different drinks and none of them soothed that unquenchable thirst for blood and violence.  And then it dawned upon Gabrielle that she was feeling the wrath of warrior power.  She looked to her left and tried unsuccessfully to use Xena’s famous pinch upon an innocent drunk.  The drunk fell not because he was about to die of a blockage in his artery, but because Gabrielle had become frustrated with her failure in using the famous move as she threw his stool from beneath him.

And while the bard argued with the barkeep and continued her scene of rage Xena and Ares conversed and exchanged information.  Neither really knew the answer to who had been the one who invited Callisto and nine other warlords to the village, but the two had come to an agreement before leaving the tavern.  Suddenly the bard was ready for more action as Xena prepared to leave the tavern and Ares behind.  Gabrielle was glad to know that he would not be joining them on the next leg of their mission.  Yet as the day fell into night Xena explained to Gabrielle the conversation that taken place between herself and Ares.  He had told her that he was unaware of how he had ended up mortal.  His godhood had been stolen sometime during his preoccupation with Xena and Callisto in Tartarus.  By the time he had returned home to Olypmous his sword had come up missing which held the key to his immortality.

This was a big disappointment for the bard knowing that Ares could have helped Xena, but now there was no chance.  As the bard began to write him off of her list of known gods Xena explained that there was more at stake than her return to her own body.  She explained to the bard as explained by Ares that the world would never know peace again.  No matter how much Xena and Gabrielle wished to end war by condemning Ares to mortality the fact was the world was imbalanced without him.  Ares had said that without a sitting god of war no mortal would be able to control anger and every peaceful peasant would rage inside starting more wars than could be imagined.  When Xena revealed to Gabrielle that even she was falling victim to this imbalance Gabrielle’s uncontrollable anger began to boil even more.

Xena felt that she was losing her friend, but knew of no other way to save her from the imbalance and indifference of war.  Gabrielle rose from her log by the fire suddenly exhilerated and alert like Xena.  She was certain that what she had been feeling inside must be what Xena felt like inside everyday.  Finally the bard had made it to warrior status, but as she rejoiced over this new self discovery Xena interrupted her with reality.  The warrior princess explained that Ares had been right when he had said Gabrielle was already infected with uncontrollable hatred.  Gabrielle did admit to the warrior princess that she was infected with a boiling anger inside.  Her anger was so great that she felt the need to hurt Xena because Xena was in Callisto’s body.  It was difficult to deal with as Gabrielle desperately tried to hold onto her sane mind for a solution to her anger problem.  If only one of the other gods could put Xena back into her real body.  There had to be at least one of them that would be willing to help relieve Gabrielle of her painful anger.

As Xena realized Gabrielle’s confession and desire to hurt her she knew that it was the reminder of Callisto that kept her from regaining control of her emotions.  Xena knew that there was only one way to help her friend.  She had to go with Ares in the morning and she had to go alone.  Gabrielle was disappointed that Xena was going to help Ares the one who had caused all of this pain.  The bard was desperate to plead with Xena not to help Ares, but Xena’s mind had already come to its decision.  Before Xena left Gabrielle to join forces with Ares she asked the bard to try something in an attempt to calm the raging anger within.  Xena reminded Gabrielle of one of her most favorite poems about the Elysian Fields.  The warrior princess asked Gabrielle to remember that poem and to recite it when the rage became unbearable.  “Elysian Fields calm and green, love birds singing so serene….”    Before Gabrielle could finish Xena interrupted her reminding the bard only to recite it when she was feeling the anger inside.

Upon the next morning Gabrielle awoke from her slumber to find that Xena had gone without her.  She was confused at first, but suddenly the urge came over the bard to follow Xena’s trail.  Gabrielle knew the warrior princess well now that she had acquired that warrior anger and rage.  She was certain that she had what it took to take out even the most vicious of warlords along the way.  Gabrielle feared nothing as she took her trusty staff into town following every detail which led her to track down where Xena had gone.  After trying to use Xena’s pinch unsuccessfully to obtain information from the local villagers Gabrielle stumbled into someone she would rather have never even met.  It was Joxer whom had plowed her over with his sword drawn ready for action.  Yet Gabrielle was not at all amused by this.

Angry at Joxer for his clumsy blunder Gabrielle snapped at him as she used her staff instinctively to knock him to the ground from his feet.  Joxer’s sword flew out of his grasp into the air and then landed near the water in the harbor.  The boiling bard attempted to finish her victim off until he popped back up angerly questioning her action against him.  Gabrielle responded with impatience stating that she was on a mission to seek out and find Xena and Ares.  The bard was certain that Xena was in danger being in the company of the mortal god of war.  Joxer’s pride was high as a goofy smile spread across his face for he realized that Xena had trusted in him well this time.  She had given him two orders of command which directly related to the mission.  Yet Gabrielle had seemingly been ignored by the warrior princess.  Joxer bragged of guarding the docks in the harbor until the boat which carried ten little warlords would return.

Gabrielle lowered her staff and suddenly drove it into the ground.  Tapping her boot knowing instantly that Xena was only fooling the idiot with his overzealous warrior wanna be attitude.  Gabrielle was the real warrior for she knew that only a real warrior could follow one as skilled as Xena.  As the bard bragged and attempted to set Joxer straight on this fact he only scoffed at her statement against him and against his intelligence.  Joxer then explained that he already knew exactly where the boat was headed.  He even bragged of what he had seen transpire just before it had departed.  Joxer stated that Xena and Ares had ambushed one of the other warlords in order to gain Ares an invitation and passage onto the boat.  Gabrielle found herself laughing with disgust as she imagined the god of mortality trying to pose as a mighty warlord.  Joxer agreed with the bard on this point for he had witnessed the hung over god of war.  In fact he had run into Ares in the tavern just before the god of war had met with the warrior princess.  Joxer had seen the mortal suffering of another idiot hung over.

Suddenly Gabrielle’s anger rose within again for she was jealous that Joxer seemingly knew all of these important details.  She was becoming ill of his over sized pride as she searched for a point of attack against his confidence.  Gabrielle then asked Joxer what reason did he have for staying behind when he could have been on the boat with Xena and Ares.  Joxer thought about it for a moment only to reply that he had already been on the boat.  He had followed Xena and Ares and proclaimed himself the mightiest of warriors.  Though as he retold his version of the event to the bard his face turned from lit excitement to sudden disappointment for he had been reminded of the response.  He realized that no one respected him not even the bard before him.

Gabrielle knew what must have happened next when he did not finish his story.  The crowd of warlords must have laughed in his face.  Joxer finished his wonderful tale reminding the bard that he played his fine role of fear in the face of the evil Callisto although he knew that there was nothing to be afraid of.  He even went as far as to say that if it really had been Callisto he still would not have been afraid.  Gabrielle scoffed at the idea in her mind knowing that Callisto would waste the idiot in an instant if given the opportunity.

As Gabrielle and Joxer argued and bickered over what their next role in the mission would be Xena and Ares traveled across the sea with eight nasty warlords.  The best of the best had been invited to join the ranks of this honor.  There was a prize to be won at the end of the journey although no one had been allowed onto the boat with a single weapon.  Most of the warlords would not have complied with the phony Ares’s demand although it was said that one of them would obtain a prize in the end.  As they sailed the sea Ares tried desperately to deal with his throbbing headache unaware of what the hangover would deal him next.  Xena played the part of Callisto listening to the many warlords who bragged of dastardly deeds.  Many had staked claims on triumphs won by others.  One had proclaimed that he had personally smashed down the gates of Spartica, but it was actually Ares who had done that deed.

Another warlord proclaimed that he had defeated Xena shamelessly in battle only to be shown up by Callisto’s own claims to the same story.  There were a lot of vengeful feelings upon this journey as Ares played low key per the advice of the warrior princess.  After almost a day of sailing the boat finally docked upon a small isolated island.  On the island was a castle in which Ares was said to be residing.  As the true god of war and the warrior princess fell behind the pack the warrior princess wondered what it must be like for a god to have to ask for the help of a mortal.  Ares’s response was unexpected for he replied with his own question.  He wondered what it was like for Xena to be wanting to help the god who had made her a legendary warlord.

As the mortal god bragged of the talent of some of the other warlords he spoke of Virgileous proudly.  Yet he also stepped back from Virgileous realizing that his complements of the giant over-sized mongrel were not making Xena jealous.  The god was hoping to win over the warrior princess as always.  He finished the conversation adding that though Virgileous did him proud he had known no greater enemy and friend than Xena.  What Ares didn’t realize was that Xena was finding him more irresistible as a mortal than as a god.  He was human to her for the first time.  She even felt pity for the man who knew nothing of mortality until now.

By the setting sun the ten little warlords had reached the castle and entered in through its mighty doors.  Callisto led the way as the mighty doors opened magically and without effort.  Suddenly as the pack moved inside cautiously torches lit themselves to reveal an empty hallway.  In a circle they lit one by one and there were ten when it was finally done.  Xena suddenly found herself putting together the truths of this mysterious game.  There was only one whom she knew that would create such a show.  She recalled the beginning of the journey remembering the mysterious godlike voice that introduced all of the warlords to the contest on the boat.  It seemingly came from a spinning silver disk although Ares had not been flattered.  Xena remembered he had been right about the fake who tried to imitate his infamous voice.

Callisto then declared before the audience of warlords that it was Sysphus whom had most likely been responsible for sending them all on this wild goose chase.  Ares found himself confused for a moment reminding Xena and the other warlords that Sysphus had been condemned by Hades himself to push a rock uphill in Tarturus for an eternity.  All of the warlords had heard of this story fearing Hades and fearing death despite their dangerous career choices.  They had faith in only Ares whom they worshipped hoping that their beloved god of war would be there to save them in their time of need during battle.

Suddenly there was a bright flash and then a puff of smoke.  There before the warlords in the middle of the circle stood Sysphus.  He appeared irritated that Callisto had figured out part of his scheme.  Yet Sysphus played her down only to say that he was flattered to be in the presence of the mighty Callisto.  Sysphus also knew a secret about Callisto as he revealed it to the rest of the warlords.  Ares’s cover was now blown as all of those whom had once followed him had now seen him at his worst.  It was most likely one of the most emberresing moments the god of war had ever experienced.  The warlords suddenly realized that they had all been taken for fools.  There was no real prize to be won.  As they turned to leave Sysphus with his games he retook their attention disappearing like a god.  Then he reappeared before them at the doors explaining that though he was no god of war he held the ultimate prize within his possession.

It had all begun with Hades whom had said to bring together ten of the best and most skilled warriors.  One of these warriors would be the winner of a contest to slay a monster known only as the Barracas.  Each warlord was to draw number from the bowl.  They would go in order by number to see who would get the first chance at slaying the mighty Barracas.  Yet no one had ever really seen a Barracas or even heard of one.  Their chance to slay the Barracas would begin at sunrise with number one and then as each was defeated by the Barracas the next was to take his place attempting to slaughter the nasty beast.  Whomever was able to slay the Barracas successfully would win Ares sword which contained his godhood.

Ares was upset that his sword was being used as a mere prize in a silly game.  He felt disrespected and upset at Hades for allowing such an imbecile to steal his sword.  Naturally Vergilious stepped forth to claim the sword, but was rejected by Sysphus who was very much in control of these puppets who thirsted for the ultimate power.  Sysphus explained that his own reward for redistributing the godhood of  war would be immortality for himself.  He also declared that each warlord would be provided with a weapon to use against the Barracas in the morning.  And with that he disappeared as one of the other warlords announced that no one would leave the island on this night.  Their boat was no longer docked on shore for it had mysteriously disappeared.  This meant that all were staying within Sysphus’s castle for the night.

Soon Gabrielle and Joxer had landed upon the mystical island as the sun began to set.  By now Gabrielle was extremely irritated by the presence of Joxer.  No matter how hard the bard tried she could not get it out of her mind to want to kill Joxer yet she fought the rage.  Her heart was strong though her wits were tested by his stupidity.  Despite Gabrielle having thrown Joxer off of the boat after he argued with her about Xena’s wishes he would be fine she thought.  Yet she was still angry at Xena whom had left her behind to deal with Joxer and had gone off with Ares alone.  Gabrielle fought back the sails of the small vessel which she had arrived upon as the winds picked up off of the sea.  Then she felt a presence from behind.  Instinctively she picked up an or and swung around slapping the enemy across the face.

As the enemy fell to the ground she realized it was Joxer.  Gabrielle found herself shocked that he had been able to swim from the ocean and reach the shore.  She was beginning to get irritated that he kept sneaking up on her like that.  There was seemingly nothing that would rid her of his irritating presence.  When she asked the idiot warrior what he was doing he answered that he rethought Xena’s earlier orders to him.  He thought that just maybe this dock had been the one she had meant when he was told to guard the dock.  The bard could see that he was confused and out of his mind at best.  As he rose from the ground where he lied on the beach he stated that it was time to find the castle.  He began to walk in the opposite direction.  Gabrielle corrected him explaining that the castle was in plain sight straight ahead.

Joxer turned to see that the bard was indeed correct.  Yet he was determined to prove himself to be the best warrior.  Just before the argument was about to ensue once again there was a mysteriously strange sound coming from the wind.  The bard paused for a moment to listen.  It sounded dangerous and vicious.  Joxer was obviously afraid as he too had heard the sound.  Yet Gabrielle put the fear aside knowing that a true warrior fears nothing.  And so she led the way toward the sound.  Maybe it was a vicious monster that could kill Joxer so that she could find peace once again.

After following the sound into the night the two were led into the mouth of a dark cave.  This made things much more exhilerating and exciting the bard thought.  Her irritation of Joxer began to turn to a competition of warrior skills.  She knew that she could kill that monster if that was indeed what they were hearing.  Gabrielle tried desperately to focas on finding Xena knowing that there must be a drain pipe somewhere leading into the castle.  Of course Joxer the idiot had wanted to actually storm the castle doors.  Gabrielle realized quickly that he’d get himself killed that way knowing that even she could not go up against ten warlords alone.

Suddenly the sound of the monster echoed at the pass.  There were two choices.  One was to go toward the castle and the other was to slay the monster.  Joxer of course was cowardly stating that the castle was the obvious choice, but Gabrielle rejected that idea.  She was the leader in this search party and they were no longer searching for Xena.  It was all about killing the monster now.  She had to prove her superior skill to Joxer and she had to get rid of him somehow.  This had to be the way.  Yet he was still persistent in arguing with the bard who could no longer resist the urge to grab him by his nose and snap it off.  Of course she tried, but failed although Joxer let out a whimper of pain as Gabrielle twisted it around till it would twist no more.

Back at the castle the warlords were ready to kill one another as they had drawn their numbers only to discover that Callisto had drawn number one.  The number two warlord would not settle for second prize for he began a brawl warlord against warlord hoping to win against Callisto for number one.  Every warlord in the castle had known that he could not take Callisto on alone.  Yet eight against two was a certain victory.  Yet Xena in Callisto’s body was more than they could handle.  She fought them all off protecting the weakened god of war from a fate of certain death.  It was lucky for him that he had drawn number ten for no one feared Ares now.  As the battle ended someone died for there were left now only nine.  Number two whom had foolishly begun the battle found his fate.  Suddenly the voice of Syshpus chimed in pleased at what he had seen.  Yet he advised all to save their strengths till morning for it was the monster that deserved their warnings.

As the warlords went off for their slumber Xena found herself again feeling sorry for the mortal god of war.  He had been stripped of it all including his pride.  He that battle he had almost died.  Ares had sustained an injury to his shoulder as Xena cared for him.  She was feeling a strange love, but it wasn’t like any other.  The warrior princess knew that he didn’t really care wishing that he would understand.  Yet a god can never understand mortals though he has become a mortal himself.  Ares expressed how though Xena was within Callisto’s body he could still feel her true self.  Even her touch was real to him although he had mentioned that both had been his pleasures past.  It was just like a god to brag of all those he had.  So many mortals had played his victim for he had pulled their strings of passion and emotion.  As a god Ares was a master, but as a man only a helpless disaster.  That was what made Xena feel for him.  His helpless mortal state.

Yet the night was violent in the castle for each warlord plotted against the other.  They built shallow alliances with one another in an attempt to get a step closer to the Barracas.  The second to go came in.  It was number seven who had claimed number two.  He burst in through the door of Xena and Ares about to strike only do die before them.  After he fell all that could be seen was a huge ax in his back.  Xena and Ares had been given only a small dagger and a mace.  It was clear these weapons were meant to kill warriors and not monsters.  Yet the why of it all was still as foggy as the location of the sword.  Xena was certain that it was within the castle in plain view.  It was obvious now what they had to do.

As Xena and Ares searched the castle for a clue they stumbled upon two more bodies of dead warriors.  Three and four had now perished.  They had perished at the point of each others’ sword.  It was an obvious trick played upon them by those  warlords remaining alive.  The situation was grim as Xena knew that they would soon find themselves in another battle of warrior skill.  This time it would be four against two although Ares as a mortal was not much of a warrior at all.  As the two true allies searched for the sword Ares tried desperately to convince Xena to take his sword.  His mortal heart desired more to be with Xena than it did to reclaim his godhood.  He could not imagine being a god again knowing that Xena would never trust him.  She had made it clear to him back at the bedchamber that if he ever lived to see immortality once more that he would always forget what he had promised as a mortal.

Ares had tried desperately to convince her otherwise, but Xena was not easily fooled.  Even mortal men tell lies to full fill their own desires.  Of course Xena rejected his idea knowing that she was not the woman for the job.  She did not wish to be a goddess or an immortal.  Yet Ares agreed that she should be the goddess of desire rather than of war.  He was planting the seed for immortality with the mortal he loved most.  Ares would make her a goddess with his sword and then convince her to give him his own immortality so that they could reign together upon Olympus.  Xena refused his offer again as number nine approached from behind.  The warrior princess had spotted his reflection within a shield upon the wall.  He carried a sword as he struck from behind.

Effortlessly Xena pulled out her dagger given to her by Sysphus.  She sent the dagger into number nine sealing the deal with Ares.  She admitted that he was the right man for the job despite how much she wished to keep him from regaining his reign.  Not one of the other remaining warlords would be trust-worthy for as mortals they would turn on one another.  Ares had yet to try to kill Xena so she knew that his heart was true.  If he had been the evil that she had known him to be Ares as a mortal would have been without remorse.  Yet she could see it in his eyes as they placed the body of nine upon the alter of warrior’s sacrificed in the name of his sword.  Ares regretted yet another of his lost warriors on the battlefield.  Though soulless he wasn’t heartless which made him the one who should reign as god.

They continued on searching through the castle.  Their search for his sword led them into the castle dungeon.  Xena was cautious as they searched knowing Sysphus would have many tricks and traps set for anyone lurking about.  She was certain that it was down in the dungeon that he would hide the sword for it could be in plain sight and he could capture an unsuspecting victim.  As they walked Ares found himself stumbling over a dungeon rat which startled him with surprise.  The warrior princess laughed at the helpless god of war who mistook this mortal experience for fear rather than surprise.  Again Ares tried to convince Xena the become a goddess and take his sword.  He was not so certain that he would make it out of Sysphus’s contest alive.  The two were about to exit the dungeon as they slowly ventured up a staircase only to be surprised by an appearance by the magical Sysphus.

Sysphus was candid as he laughed in the face of his helpless contestants.  He was confident in having the upper hand.  Yet Xena interrupted his confidence by revealing that she was onto him.  It was a contest of wits between the magician and the warrior princess for it seemed at each of their meetings a new piece of the puzzle was openly revealed.  Sysphus shot back at Xena revealing he knew that she was Xena and not Callisto.  He tried to figure out how this could have come to pass.  And then he looked to Ares laughing at the god for his blunder.  Sysphus explained how he had taken advantage of Ares’s passions for Xena when Ares was not so careful to guard his sword.  It seemed that Hades was angry at Ares for tampering with the souls that belonged in Tartarus.  Switching Xena’s for Callisto’s almost cost Hades all the power in Tartarus.

Xena could see that Sysphus was setting a trap.  He proclaimed that he hoped that Xena would win the sword of Ares yet Xena knew that it wasn’t true.  Sysphus played on Ares emotions as he declared the former god a loser in front of the mortal he loved most.  Ares reacted as Sysphus expected.  He ran down the stairs toward Sysphus to attack and save his pride.  Yet he also was there to restore Xena’s honor for it had been  he who had stolen it from Xena.  Xena called out to the blinded Ares, but Ares was helpless at Sysphus’s hand.  Suddenly the stairs collapsed beneath the god sending him to the bottom back into the dungeon.  As Ares struggled to rise from his fall Sysphus pulled out one of his endless tricks.  Ares found himself hanging from a rope unable to free himself.

Sysphus then disappeared within the depth of his laughter as another trick revealed itself upon his exit.  Ares was about to meet his doom at the end of a floor full of spikes.  Fire shot up from beneath them as Ares screamed with fear and terror.  The warrior princess quickly acted saving him from certain death.

As the early morning hours began to wear on into the dawn Gabrielle continued searching with Joxer for the infamous monster.  Yet her irritations were rising as Joxer’s presence drove her blood to a boil.  Joxer mocked the bard of her irritations.  He had been dragging the point of his sword along the walls of the cave for the past ten minutes.  Suddenly Gabrielle stated that she was ready to kill at any moment.  She wanted to kill Joxer.  As he tried to speak she halted his comment not wanting to deal with another of his statements.  If only Joxer could stay quiet long enough for her to kill the rage inside or the monster down the corridor.  One of the two would most certain help her control her pain within.  She was beginning to understand that all of this pain could be controlled if only she could have that moment of peace away from Joxer.

Again Gabrielle began reciting the poem that she love most as Xena had suggested before leaving with Ares.  And then suddenly Joxer began to speak of blood lust.  He was certain that he knew exactly what Gabrielle was feeling inside, but Gabrielle knew that he was clueless.  Joxer tried desperately to out due Gabrielle’s anger as he drew his sword and prepared to slash open an annoying buzzing around his head.  It was a little fly that had been following him for sometime.  Gabrielle paused to watch  him within his dilusional battle against the small winged beast.  Then she realized that he had snapped.  She began to laugh hysterically for she had now seen it all.  There couldn’t be a worse situation than being stuck with Joxer in a cave with the worst anger within.  Not only that, but there was an unknown monster somewhere up ahead.

And then it happened.  Gabrielle heard the monster as if it were only moments away.  She needed something powerful that would be certain to kill it.  The bard realized that Joxer was a bonus for he had a sword.  She turned to Joxer and asked of his sword, but he would not give it up.  He whined declaring that a warrior never gave his sword away just before a battle.  This only infuriated the bard more as she lunged forward attempting to strangle the big lug who knew nothing about being a warrior.  She was tired of hearing his warrior stories and advice.  The bard had enough.  Suddenly she realized she had to get rid of the rage before she hurt someone even if it was only Joxer that she had to kill.

Gabrielle reached for Joxer’s sword removing it from the scabbard and then she charged forth toward the wrath of the monster.  Joxer tried desperately to follow, but instead decided that he was going to fight the monster with his bare hands.  He quickly passed Gabrielle in the race to see who would kill the monster first.  When Gabrielle finally arrived trailing behind she found Joxer beating a large machine with a stick.  He was intense in his battle against the contraption.  There was no real monster.  It was only a noisemaking thing.  Gabrielle found herself to be disappointed that she had been chasing down a machine with the world’s biggest idiot.  Someone was going to have to pay for this crime.  There was only one thing left to do.  It was time to find Xena at the castle.

Inside the castle darkness was giving way to the light of day.  Xena had finally figured out what Sysphus was planning to do.  There were now only five left of the ten that had been invited to participate in the contest for Ares’s godhood.  As Xena and Ares returned to the scene of the crime they were interrupted in a battle of three against two.  One of the three enemies stepped forward declaring that he and the other had decided to ally.  Yet just as his pride was high he found himself betrayed by two.  Vergilious and the other took his life stabbing him to death with a knife.  Now the odds were even two against two.  Only true warriors fought one another in this way.  Vergilious was definitely worthy in Ares’s eyes, but his new partner was a traitor.  Xena warned Vergilious that there could only be one god of war reminding him of his folly.  Suddenly Vergilious turned to see his coming demise.  He ducked missing the blow that would have surely taken his life.

The battle then ensued.  It was every man and woman for themselves.  Xena took on the betrayer as Ares found himself having to fight the second best warrior in Greece.  It was now a battle for survival as the weapons clashed and punches were thrown.  Gabrielle and Joxer could hear the sounds of the ensuing battle as the rushed up the staircases toward the bedchambers.  Joxer was determined to get there first and to settle things once and for all.  He had killed the monster and was worthy of the prize.

Suddenly Xena was looking death in the eye.  Yet now it was time to declare where the real sword lie.  She reached across the dead upon the alter of sacrficed warriors.  Xena grabbed what everyone had been searching for and rose to take her enemy with Ares’s sword.  There was a strange power in killing with the world’s most powerful sword.  The warrior princess felt a certain exhilaration and it was entrancing like no other mortal sensation.  As her victim fell before her she looked to the other warriors fighting.  Ares was losing against Vergilious.  Xena could almost feel her sense of duty.  Though she did not want to be a goddess she knew what she must promise.  If Ares were to die she had to take the sword.  Yet in the last moments before his certain death Ares reached for a loose dagger.  He acted quickly sending it through the heart of one of his most prized warriors.

Vergilious took the blow surprised at Ares’s sudden advantage.  He had been certain of victory against the mortal god, but now it was all over.  Xena watched Ares experience blood for the very first time as a mortal.  There was a look of shock and regret which she did not expect.  As the battle was seemingly over Sysphus appeared before the remaining contestants.  He tried desperately to convince Xena to take Ares before he could take her.  A momentary thought crossed her mind until she was interrupted by the sound of a familiar idiot.

Joxer entered into the room where the dead lied.  He declared himself to be the new god of war for he had been the slayer of the Barracas.  Gabrielle was not far behind entering into the room.  She revealed to Xena the truth of Sysphus’s contest as she described the machine that made all of the noise, but was nothing more than a ploy.  Xena was suddenly aware of what she had almost taken.  She had almost taken not Ares’s sword, but Sysphus’s eternal punishment in Hades.  He had planned on allowing the warriors to kill themselves leaving only one to push his rock uphill in Tarturus.  And the sword of Ares was to fall to him and he would reign upon Olympus as the new god of war.

Ares found himself disgusted that Sysphus had almost succeeded.  Had it not been for an idiot and a bard Xena would have taken his life and his sword only to spend eternity in Tartarus.  Ares wanted to strike, but couldn’t for he was about to meet his doom.  From behind there was a sign of life still coming from the fallen Vergilious.  The ax rose for the kill, but Xena acted quickly hurling Ares’s sword into the surviving warlord.  Vergilious fell  to the power of the sword leaving all with just one thing to do.  Ares removed his sword from the eighth fallen warrior.  It suddenly glowed with an immense power as he held it in his mighty hands.  Like fire it burned with passion as lighting struck about it.  And the rage within the bard began to dissipate into the storm.

There was a certain relief in knowing that it would be easier to deal with the pain, but there was one more thing.  Ares scoffed at the mortals who stood before him for they had allowed him to become a god again.  Yet he seemingly did not appreciate it as the evil Sysphus disappeared from mortality back into his eternity in Tartarus.  Gabrielle and Xena waited with high hopes that Ares would hold up his end of the bargain.  Yet he did not keep his promise for he had not made it as a god.  His promise to put Xena back into her own body was made while Ares was mortal.  And so he was not held to it and did not bind it.  Ares laughed as he disappeared leaving Xena as Callisto in sadness.  Gabrielle was disappointed and full of sorrow for her friend who would never know peace.  And now the bard had to make a choice.  She had to choose to stay with Xena as Callisto or to go.

Yet the choice was simple for the bard.  As the three friends left the castle and seeked out the ocean Gabrielle walked alongside her friend.  She expressed her regret that they had helped Ares at all.  Yet Xena reminded the bard that without him the world would have been full of uncontrollable rage.  Gabrielle understood what Xena had meant yet she still felt like killing Joxer whose presence was annoying beyond compare.  The two friends watched as Joxer frolicked about like a child along the beach.  At least there was something true about him.  He was as innocent as a child and could be trusted despite his lack of warrior skill.

Yet the bard admitted that life would still be hard though she was willing to stick by her best friend despite her forever being reminded of Callisto’s wrath.  Xena seemed satisfied at that, but then she tried to lighten the moment.  She then asked Gabrielle if she would even stick by her if she one day turned into a snake haired gorgon monster.  Gabrielle laughed, but admitted that she would have difficulty looking at her.  Yet even then Gabrielle would not leave Xena’s side.  And then for a moment there was an uncomfortable silence between the friends.  But Xena interrupted it with a complement to Gabrielle.  She praised the bard for not giving into the violence and the rage within.  The warrior princess expressed the strength that it required for one to go against the rage within.

Gabrielle found herself flattered that Xena had noticed her battle within.  She realized that Xena had understood all along and even understood the pain that still lingered.  Gabrielle laughed for a moment realizing that although she had survived  a world full of rage she had yet to survive the ride back to the mainland alongside Joxer.  But just when it seemed impossible to journey on a familiar voice echoed with in the bard’s ears.  As she turned around she saw Xena standing there on the beach before her.  It was not Callisto there anymore.  Ares had taken pity upon Xena and the bard.  Gabrielle tested Xena for a moment asking her which body would be the worst to be trapped in.  When Xena responded with the snake haired gorgon monster Gabrielle knew it was true.  Xena was back to her true self and within her true body.

And so the nightmare had finally ended although the pain would never die.  Gabrielle would always be reminded of how Perdicas had to die.  It was not because she saw Callisto’s face everyday, but because of his absence.  She would never see Perdicas again, but he would always be there forever in her heart.