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 #2: Scroll #31: Remember Nothing

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll # 31:  Remember Nothing

January 16th, 47 B.C.

I sing of a time when Xena the Warrior Princess never existed, and her best friend and loyal sidekick Gabrielle remembered nothing.  It all began on this day eleven years in passing since the death of Xena’s brother Lycious while fighting against the warlord Cortese.  Xena had lead the way in the fight to protect her home village of Amphipolis from the spoils of an evil warlord, but at the cost of the life of her dearly beloved brother.  The warrior princess had carried this guilt upon her shoulders for eleven years now as she had blamed her beliefs in fighting for the cause to protect her village, family, and friends.
Every year on this day Xena would come to the temple of the fates as she lit three large candles.  The first candle was for the maiden, the second for the mother, and the third for the crone.  She asked for the fates blessing and for their mercy upon her brother’s soul so that he may rest in peace.  After making this proclamation Xena’s sidekick Gabrielle entered the temple as she had been listening to Xena’s prayers for her brother.  Gabrielle expressed that she wished she could have known this great brother Lycious for she could feel how important he had been to Xena.  In fact, Lycious was still very much a part of Xena, and very much alive within her heart though she mourned his loss greatly.
Suddenly there were screams which came from outside the temple.  Xena the warrior princess and her faithful sidekick Gabrielle exited the temple to investigate the disturbance.  Once outside the temple they discovered that an army of evil warriors descending upon the monks of the temple attacking them in an attempt to destroy the temple of the fates.  Soon Xena the warrior princess burst into action as she twirled around upon the steps of the temple knocking out ten warriors with a quick move.  Then she flipped from the steps to the front of the temple where she met another skilled warrior in mask.  This skilled warrior appeared to know her quite well and most likely was yet another of the evil men she had encountered during her dark past.  She fought him gracefully as she blocked his kicks, but he slipped one by her as she took it across her face.
This mystical warrior flipped around her looking to set himself up for the next offensive strike, but Xena was not fooled for it was obvious that she knew his fighting style well.  She quickly took him out only to be attacked from behind by another young warrior.  Her sidekick Gabrielle shouted to warn her friend of the danger which lurked behind and with one move she put the final blow to her skilled enemy and whisked her sword from its resting place thrusting it into the attacker from behind.  The sword slid in smoothly.  Then as she turned to face the coward whom had met his death he fell to the ground and his helmet came loose.
It was only a young boy who had been taken by evil and had given his life in the thirst for blood.  He was now a lifeless young boy as Xena looked upon her bloody sword.  Once again she had caused the death of yet another young boy like that of her brother who had died at the tender age of fifteen at the battle against Corteeze.  As Gabrielle approached Xena, Xena stood as if she had drawn blood for the first time.  The guilt had built up within her and now after this event it had overcome her.  She stared at her bloody sword and then found herself drawn back into the temple of the fates leaving Gabrielle stunned with the lifeless young boy.
Once inside the temple Xena saw something extraordinary.  For the first time she had been given the privilege of seeing the faces of the three fates.  They proclaimed to her that it was rare that anyone was permitted to see their faces, but Xena had saved their temple from its attackers and now they were prepared to reward her for her heroic deed.  But Xena did not feel heroic.  She felt sick to her stomach as if this last kill had been her first.  Xena defied the fates offer explaining to them that she did not deserve a reward for taking the life of a young innocent boy.  She had known that he had only been caught up in the wrath of war as many young men and women do.  Xena’s wish was that she could have that young boy’s life back.  That was what she truly wanted and further more she had professed that if she hadn’t drawn blood and become a warrior in the first place life would have been simpler and better.
And so the fates bestowed their power upon Xena releasing her from all that she had done and they had given her a clean slate.  But there was just one condition for restoring all that had been lost as a result of Xena’s warrior path.  That one condition was that she was never to spill one drop of blood for if she would do so that would be the event that would turn the tables back to the current life path she had been on.  Xena explained to them that it wasn’t possible for she was a warrior.  How could a warrior live true to her way without spilling a drop of blood?  The fates proclaimed that it was not possible for a warrior to be a warrior without the spoils of blood.  They made it clear to Xena that in order for her to receive this gift they were bestowing upon her she must give up the warrior way.
Xena left the temple disgusted and almost unbelieving that they would give her such a gift.  When she stepped outside she called for Gabrielle, but Gabrielle did not come.  She looked frantically about, but there was no one around.  All of the dead warriors that had been there before she had entered the temple had disappeared, and there were no others around.  The moment was quiet as the wind whisped across the face of the warrior princess.  And then she was no more.  Xena looked down to see that she no longer wore that famous leather, and she no longer felt the weight of the mighty sword she had always carried upon her back.  As she looked down she noticed that she was dressed in one of her most favorite dresses as it felt soft and light.  There was no weight of blood only the power of pure light could be felt within.  It was a strange release for Xena for she did not understand at first.
And then she heard a familiar voice calling her name.  It was a man’s voice.  And as she turned around to see who it was she found herself to be greeted by the handsome young man named Lycious.  Xena could not believe that this was really happening.  Her brother was a grown man and he was alive.  Lycious was beautiful with his blond curly hair, and his dark piercing blue eyes.  Xena was overjoyed as she ran to throw her arms around the brother she had not seen in over ten years.  The brother she had lost had been given back to her for she had never drawn blood at the battle against Corteeze.  Lyious was surprised to see Xena in all of her excitement.  He didn’t understand that for her he had been taken from her for eleven long years.
And as they walked Xena couldn’t stop looking at him.  She couldn’t stop feeling the immense joy to be in his presence once again.  And as always Lycious still looked up to his big sister.  He still looked to her for guidance and support.  Lycious trusted in Xena as always.  And then Xena noticed that Lycious was wearing his barillas token.  It was a token worn by all of the young boys of her village as a sign of good luck and good fortune.  She couldn’t believe that he still wore it.  Infact, she teased him for it until he reminded her that it had been this token which had spared his life from the arrow that almost took it at the battle of Corteeze.  And then Xena realized how truly important this token was.  It was a symbol of her own good fortune.  Lyious was still confused at his sister’s sudden strange behavior so he suggested that she go home.  As he walked on down the peaceful green pasture in the forest Xena realized that for the first time in many years she was able to be home.
All she had ever wanted was to be able to have that place where she could be accepted and loved for she had shamed her village and family as a warrior, but now all had been restored.  As she skipped into the village the day was beautiful for life now had new meaning and it had joy for Xena.  She had never committed any of the wrongs that had caused her to hurt so many in her alternate life .  And when she arrived home she was still uncertain that all of this was real.  It was more like a beautiful dream than reality.  She looked upon the kitchen table and at the flowers upon the window.  It was as if she had been seeing life for the first time again.  Xena was as youthful and innocent as Gabrielle had always been.  She was the light of hope instead of the darkness of hate.
As Xena looked through her box she sifted through the keepsakes, the sentimental jewelry, and then suddenly from behind there was a presence.  Xena spun around with the reflexes of a warrior pinning her attacker to the wall instantly.  Only this was no attacker, but a suitor.  In fact, this suitor was none other than Mufias the boy next door.  According to Mufias he had been courting Xena since before the battle of Corteeze.  He was confused at Xena’s reaction to his entrance.  Mufias inquired if Xena had, had a bad day at the inn where she and Lycious worked side by side housing the great travelers of Greece.  But it had not been a bad day at all and Xena was hoping that Mufias was the only surprise that awaited her in a life of love.
And though Mufias was a surprise to Xena he was a pleasant one for he was tall, with dark coarse hair, and deep brown eyes.  His nose was a bit peculiar, but he would be just fine for Xena.  At least this Mufias was not some evil warlord like the many she had been courted by as a warrior like Draco, or even her great lover Marcus.  A passing thought of sorrow came to her as she thought of Marcus, but she knew and believed that things must have turned out better for him in this life because she had never gone to his camp to save that girl to stop a war.  Xena’s presence in his life had been a confusion which had led to his demise for he had loved her with all of his heart.
As Xena’s mind wandered Mufias interrupted reminding Xena that if she was getting cold feet about their wedding that he would only wait about fifteen more years on her before he would give up on courting the beautiful princess.  Apparently this Mufias was very much the comedian of the family clan.  But his comedy turned to sudden tragedy when Mufias also reminded Xena that it had been her mother’s last request that Xena and Mufias wed one another.  And so the surprises continued although this surprise was tragic for Xena’s mother had been lost as a result of Xena, Lycious, and the others deciding that retreating to the hills was their only hope against the wrath of Corteeze rather than to stand up and fight.  Mufias also mentioned that she and Lycious had been involved in the reconstruction of their village of Amphipolis and that her mother had died of a broken heart for the loss of everything she had ever known to Corteeze.
Xena immediately went to her mother’s tomb because although she had been gone for ten years it was as if she had just lost her mother.  She was mourning this loss knowing that if she hadn’t killed that boy in the battle at the temple of the fates she would never have been led to this alternate reality.  Xena cried for her mother as the tears streamed down her face from the depths of her innocent heart.  She professed to her mother that she was sorry and that though she would lose her mother and her friendship to Gabrielle at least the world would be a better place.  Without the existence of the warrior princess Gabrielle would never have left her family to join the warrior, and Xena would never have shamed her mother and all of the others she loved dearly from her village of Amphipolis.  And so Xena had reasoned that this choice was her only choice and it was for the best.
After mourning for her mother Xena found herself walking through the village once again.  It was a very vibrant place and she was happy to know that without a drop of blood she and her brother Lycious had been able to help lead the effort to rebuild their lives after war and destruction.  Yet while Xena was at the market she saw something that disturbed her.  An old man in the market was attacked by a warrior for accidentally bumping into him.  The warrior held a knife to the old man threatening his life.  And just when he was about to thrust the knife within the neck of the old man Xena pulled the rug right out from under him knocking the evil man to the ground.  She had clearly taken him by surprise though she played it off like a master proclaiming that she had only been checking the price of the rug and didn’t realize that the warrior had been standing on it.
The evil warrior held back from his anger and forgave the pure soul for her accident because she was a beautiful woman.  As he walked away from her he demanded that the rest of the warrior men bring out the slaves to collect the pickings for a dinner to the warlords in the area.  Xena was unaware of who was there, but all of these warriors she recognized for she had killed many of them in the battle for the greater good in the alternate reality.  But that was over now though there was a part of her that was still uncertain of how she was going to live her new life without blood shed.  It would be nothing short of the greatest challenge she had ever faced.  As she thought deeply the maiden appeared before her telling her not to have a second thought of it.  She was confident that Xena would make the right choice.  The maiden knew that Xena had a burning passion to be the warrior she had been destined to be in her other life.  Yet there was so much at stake for Xena.  No blood was allowed if she were to be a warrior here.
Then as the maiden disappeared into thin air Xena saw a vivid familiar face.  It was the face of her best friend Gabrielle.  Only Gabrielle was not who she had been in the alternate reality.  Gabrielle was a slave.  She was collecting food at the market for the dinner of her evil masters.  As Xena looked into the eyes of this familiar face she saw pain.  She saw grief, and she saw anger.  These were things she had never seen within the bard before.  How could it be possible that Gabrielle’s life would hold a worse fate than leaving her family?  But then as she tried to search Gabrielle with her eyes to be recognized within Gabrielle backed away from her with fear and suspicion.  And then she clumsily backed into the leader of the warrior gang in town.  It was the one that Xena had confronted about the old man.  The warrior leader was angered at the slave’s clumsy move and he raised his club to her to beat her as punishment.
Xena could not allow this to happen to her best friend.  She would not see Gabrielle beaten by these thugs.  Xena stepped in saving Gabrielle from the strike of the club only to anger the evil warrior even more.  Now she had made herself a target.  And then just as the warrior was about to attack Xena Mufias stepped in apologizing for Xena’s actions.  He claimed that it was all just a misunderstanding for they had been looking in the market to purchase a slave for themselves, and Gabrielle was perfect.  She was exactly what they had been looking for.  Mufias urged Xena to go along with his story and she did so with great reluctance for she did not see Gabrielle in the light of a worthless slave as did Mufias.  But that was all he had known.  He never knew Gabrielle the way Xena had known her.
Gabrielle looked to Xena with disgust knowing that she was just another piece of meat to be sold or a possession to be owned, used, and abused.  There was such a burning fire of anger within her emerald eyes.  And just when Xena thought that she would be triumphant in releasing her friend from the wrath of evil by a simple purchase the warrior leader rejected the sale for he said that the warlord Mezentious liked this one too much.  Xena was crushed for she couldn’t save her friend.  She couldn’t come to the rescue as she had always been able to do in the alternate reality of the warrior.  And then she watched helplessly as Gabrielle was dragged away in the binds of slavery as she struggled against Mufias to get to her friend.  Xena called out to her friend frantically, but her pleas were not heard by fate and not by Gabrielle.
But Mufias was not humored at Xena’s actions.  He scolded her for thinking that she could ever make a difference in the world.  In fact, he couldn’t understand why she would be so passionate about saving a worthless little slave girl.  But this wasn’t just any slave girl.  This was Gabrielle that they were discussing and for Xena there was no question about it.  Gabrielle had to be rescued from her binds in this life for if Xena had been a warrior Gabrielle would never have been a slave.  Again Xena was at fault for wanting this new bloodless life.  Xena could not live with herself knowing that Gabrielle’s soul was bound in chains.  As she argued with Mufias he reminded her that in this world she had to learn to go along to get along.  And then he left Xena alone to think about her latest actions.
Suddenly within all of her confusion the crone appeared before her.  She reminded Xena that Mufias had been wrong.  Xena did have the power to make a difference and Xena knew what the remedy was.  The remedy was to draw blood and to go back to the life path of a warrior which was true to her destiny.  But Xena could not believe that the world was a better place with the warrior princess in existence.  She argued with the crone that her life was better this way, but the fate reminded her of the life of Gabrielle and how different it was on this current path.  Yes things were different within this alternate reality, but this was Gabrielle that they were talking about, and Xena did not believe that Gabrielle was beyond saving.  Xena had faith that she would be able to find that light within Gabrielle that she had always loved during her life as a warrior.
Later that night Xena went to the supply market just before close to purchase a chicken.  She needed some information from the man at the market who dealt with the warlord Mezentious.  Xena was determined to save Gabrielle no matter what she had to do to get there as long as there was no blood spilled.  She had a plan and she would start at first light sneaking into Mezentious’s castle to retrieve the life and soul of her best friend.  Her plan was ingenious as it always was with the warrior princess.  She arrived at the castle within the delivery of goods under the wagon.  Xena had anticipated that they would do a check for stowaways so she was prepared.  And when the wagon stopped they did check only to find the red wine of a drunken wagon man.
As the goods were unloaded Xena made her way into the castle hiding around a nearby corner.  She watched her best friend work diligently in the binds of slavery.  And as she watched she noticed many of the other female slaves looked very familiar to her.  In fact, they looked a lot like the amazons she had known as the warrior princess.  Then she recalled her conversation at dinner the night before with Lycious of how he had said the amazons had been captured and demoralized by the warlord Chricous.  She realized that the only reason that these amazons were even here was because Chricous had been the one who had forced a war between the amazons and the centaurs which as the warrior she had been there to stop.  But now there was regret for she realized this too was her fault.  Lycious had wanted to start plans for an attack on these warlords last night, but Xena knew that she was bound to life without a sword and so she knew in her heart that there had to be another way.  The problem was that the answer had been eluding her.
Xena waited for the right moment and then suddenly she snatched Gabrielle startling the young slave girl.  Gabrielle was astonished for this woman from the market was obviously not one to take no for an answer.  The slave girl was almost angered for she could get in trouble if she were found talking to an outsider.  Xena reminded Gabrielle of their meeting in the market the day before.  Gabrielle confirmed that she remembered, but was less than pleased to see Xena.  In fact, this was unlike the Gabrielle that Xena had known before.  As her sidekick and best friend Gabrielle would have been over joyed to be reunited with her friend, but Xena had to remember that Gabrielle did not know her like she had known Gabrielle.
The slave expressed her disgust for the offer to be bought for her services while at the market the day before.  Xena had realized then that Mufias’s offer had offended her friend, but she couldn’t explain herself to this slave girl yet for her story was so outrageous that Gabrielle wouldn’t understand.  The explanations would have to wait.  For now Xena had to get Gabrielle back to freedom, and as she prepared to explain her plan to rescue Gabrielle to her freedom she was interrupted by a cold rejection.  Gabrielle walked away from Xena, and expressed that she was not inclined to do anything more than get back to work before being caught with Xena on a pleasurable break.  Xena could not take no for an answer.  She couldn’t accept that Gabrielle would not want to be free.  So Xena reached out to her friend once more with her heart, and as she did so Gabrielle reminded Xena of what happens to runaway slaves for she had tried her way at freedom once before.
The slave girl pulled down the sleeve of her old blue rags and revealed to Xena the marks of a scar that could never be healed.  She stared coldly at Xena as if she had convinced Xena that freedom was not an option for this slave girl now.  Her life path was that of a slave and nothing more as her fate had been sealed.  She was as worthless as the next slave.  Xena’s heart broke upon this sight for she could feel the pain of Gabrielle.  She could see how much had already been lost as a result of the fate of a slave.  Xena expressed to Gabrielle her sorrow of this great pain for it had been her fault again as Gabrielle’s name suddenly slipped from her lips with great compassion.
This intrigued the slave girl for just as she was about to walk away from Xena she looked upon this strange and stubborn young woman as if she had seen a ghost.  How did she know her name?  And just as the slave inquired of Xena, Xena revealed her own identity hoping to break through once again.  Xena could see how serious this truly was and how much of that beautiful light she loved about the bard had been lost.  And then she tried to convince the slave to try for her freedom once more, but was rejected once again until she mentioned that her brother Lycious would be able to protect her from this evil.
The slave girl was once again intrigued for she had heard of this Lycious person.  In fact, she had heard of him at dinner with Mezentious and Crichous on the night before as they had been disguising their plans to team up with a third powerful warlord.  Xena recognized all of these names from her life as a warrior, and in that life she had defeated them all.  In fact, she had defeated them all with the help of her loyal sidekick Gabrielle.  The slave girl continued by explaining that she had known about Lycious because it was said that he had run to the hills against Corteeze instead of standing up and fighting.  How was a coward going to protect her?  Xena could understand this reasoning and again she felt responsible.  The slave girl continued to express how though she was only a slave she could still see and she could still hear life happening around her yet life for her was over.  It had been over for a very long time.
Xena could see that Gabrielle though drained within was still as sharp as ever and this gave her hope for if Gabrielle could still hear and see life she could still write about it as she always had in the alternate world.  Xena knew that she had to get her back.  She tried getting through to Gabrielle’s heart by touching on that fiery part of her that had always believed in goodness and fighting for it no matter what the price.  But this slave girl once again rejected her.  It was as if she didn’t care.  This was unlike the Gabrielle Xena had known.  Xena reminded the slave girl of all of the people who would suffer as a result of these three sworn enemies banning together.  This certainly would snap her out of this dismal depression, anger, and hatred for Gabrielle had always cared more for others than she had for herself.  Xena thought of the time Gabrielle had taken an arrow to save a child during a bloody war almost ending her life.  But even that part of her had been seemingly lost as she once again tried to reject Xena.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that she didn’t even really know her.  But Xena did not believe that.  Xena recanted by reminding Gabrielle that maybe she didn’t even know herself.
And then it happened.  Xena could see a tiny bit of fire reviving from within this slave girl.  It was that fire that she had always known and loved.  It was that little bit of passion for others that was still within this Gabrielle that Xena had tapped into.  She had finally talked Gabrielle into another escape attempt.  Xena’s plan wasn’t going to fail this time.  And so they carried out the plan as the slave rolled Xena out in a large wooden meat barrel.  She rolled her right into the middle of the action as all of the slaves continued to work and unload the delivery.  Then the slave girl was stopped  under suspicion as one of the guards approached to check the goods.  He took a mug and unplugged the cork at the bottom of the barrel waiting for the liquor to come out.
Gabrielle waited nervously realizing that if this stranger’s plan failed she would be back under the whip to be punished for another escape attempt.  All that she could remember was the wretched pain and agony of the whip across her fair skin.  She cringed for a moment for not a drop of alcohol came out of the barrel.  Just as he looked to the slave girl for an explanation Xena suddenly exploded from within the barrel stringing the culrpit up by some rope.  She fought off a few of the close guards swiftly with a few kicks and punches, but without a weapon.  Xena instructed Gabrielle to put out the burning fire as she prepared a little contraption for successful escape.  This contraption was a simple one for it was only a large board placed upon a barrel on its side.  As Gabrielle put out the flames with a broom Xena called to her for the burning broom, and as always Gabrielle learned quickly and adjusted well just as she had as Xena’s trusty sidekick in the reality of the warrior.
Xena quickly took the broom setting fire to the armor of her attackers.  They screamed with agony, but not a drop of blood had been shed.  She quickly barked out another instruction to Gabrielle telling her to jump upon the contraption that she had set up.  Gabrielle was confused as to what this was supposed to do to help her escape.  For a moment she questioned this strange woman’s actions, but jumped upon the board obediently.  And then Xena cried out with her signature battle cry and flipped upon the opposite end of the board launching Gabrielle into the air out the chimney into the back of the trader’s wagon that Xena had arrived on.  But for the plan to be finalized Xena had to make her own escape so she burned the rope of the man she had strung up as she jumped upon the board ready to fly.
Soon she was back with her friend taking Gabrielle to the free life she deserved.  Xena was certain that Gabrielle would thrive once all was repaired for Xena’s faith in Gabrielle was strong.  She had no doubts that the bard would live once again.  When they arrived back home to Amphipolis Xena had given Gabrielle her mother’s dress.  It would be a first step in restoring that pure soul that she had always known and loved.  And Xena would accomplish this without blood.  She had to succeed.  Gabrielle took the dress with uncertainty for she had not yet figured out why this strange woman seemed to care.  She explained to Xena that the one thing she had learned in life was that she could trust no one.  Xena explained to Gabrielle her reasons for fighting so hard to bring Gabrielle to freedom.  She explained that Gabrielle reminded her of a friend that she had always known.  Xena described to Gabrielle a beautiful pure soul who was full of stories, light, and of love.  Gabrielle then glared back at Xena, and coldly reminded her that she had better take another look because she was not that person.
Then Xena knew that this was serious.  She realized just how much damage had been done to the young girl from Podedia.  But Xena was determined to breath life back into that vibrant soul yet.  She would not give up.  Xena left Gabrielle to change.  When she entered the front Lycious was there to congratulate her for rescuing this slave girl.  He looked up to Xena for it, and because of her action in the name of goodness he was determined and ready to plan an attack on these warlords.  Lycious was ready and willing to give his life for this cause of goodness.  He was full of drive, excitement, and energy as he went onto explain to Xena his plan of attack.  Lycious wanted Xena to lead one of the fronts for he knew how skilled she was from their sparring practices.  But Xena did not want this for there had to be a way to live and do good without shedding blood.  Lycious did not understand this as he continued to explain his battle plan.
As Xena argued with him Gabrielle appeared before them.  She was polite and apologized for interrupting them.  Xena looked upon her friend in her new clothes, and realized that it truly was the same Gabrielle for Gabrielle had always been one to eavesdrop because of her great curiosity in wanting to know what was going on around her.  In fact, it was this habit of eavesdropping which had given Lycious valuable information regarding the seriousness of their current situation.  This was almost comforting because for the first time within this life she saw the light of Gabrielle beginning to shine a bit brighter.  How pure she looked with her hair brushed and all cleaned up.  Xena was pleased and so was her brother Lycious.  It could be described as love at first sight.  Xena saw a chemistry between her brother, and this slave girl that she could never have foreseen, but was not surprised by it.
As Lycious looked into Gabrielle’s eyes she looked back.  He too could see that light, and Xena knew that he could love her the way she had always loved her as a warrior.  Lycious offered Gabrielle a chair graciously.  For the first time in two years this slave girl felt like a real human being.  A small smile spread across her pure face as she accepted this man’s charming offer.  And then suddenly there was a knock at the door.  Gabrielle jumped up from her perch in fear for it was her only reflex.  But Lycious tried to put her fears at rest explaining that it was only Mufias.
When Lycious answered the door Mufias appeared, but so did the army of Mezentious.  Mufias had made a deal with Mezentious.  In exchange for the return of his slave girl the deal was that the triple alliance would not attack Amphipolis, but as always the evil warlord cannot be trusted.  Then Mufias was left behind as Lycious tried to pursuade Xena to fight with a sword in the hopes that they could save themselves and their new friend Gabrielle.  But Xena refused to take up arms once again, and the three of them found themselves in Mezentious’s dungeon locked away in cages.  Lycious was not happy with Xena’s choice not to draw blood.  In fact, he was disappointed in her for this wasn’t the way he had thought that his sister would go down.
Lycious tried desperately to free himself with his barillas token as he was cutting with it in the wrong direction.  Xena tried to help her brother explaining to him that he should cut against the grains, but Lycious was not amused.  He was angry at Xena’s choice, and he couldn’t understand why she had not chosen to stand up and fight.  Xena reminded Lycious that it had been Mufias that had betrayed them, but Lycious was not in agreement for he felt that Mufias’s actions had been for the best intentions although they had failed.  Then Xena realized that somehow she would have to explain herself for she couldn’t bare to lose her brother’s respect.  She tried desperately to explain in some way as she fumbled for the right words, and then out of frustration she found herself about to tell the true story.  But then she realized that he would never believe her so she had said that it had been fear.  But it was never about fear for Xena.  It was about releasing herself from the shame of her past blood lust in the life of the warrior.  She then realized that if she had told Lycious she would not fight because it would result in his death that he would have gladly died to change things for the better.  Xena was beginning to realize that this life was a losing battle.
And then as she thought about this she heard sobs of anguish coming from below.  They were the sobs of a defeated soul.  Gabrielle had never sobbed that way before.  It was a pain within her that Xena did not recognize.  She realized that this pain was her fault too for Gabrielle would never have been a slave if Xena had not made the choice to live a blood free life.  Gabrielle agreed that it was Xena’s fault for she would never have remembered what it had been like to be free if it hadn’t been for Xena.  Gabrielle confessed to Xena through empty eyes that she didn’t know whether to thank Xena or to hate Xena.  And then Gabrielle scoffed at Xena’s earlier reference to a great friendship.  But Xena could not hear that.  She would not allow Gabrielle to sell herself short.  Gabrielle felt worthless again, and Xena couldn’t bare that feeling illuminating from her friend.  Xena then confessed her deep love for Gabrielle passionately reminding Gabrielle that she was her friend.  But this slave girl remembered nothing.
Suddenly two warriors came in to take one of them to Mezentious.  They chose to take Lycious, and just when they were about to cut him down one warrior turned on the other.  There was a great duel and Xena took advantage of the situation.  She grabbed hold of a loose knife hurling it to the rope which restrained her from the ground.  With great accuracy she hit her mark as always and released herself from her binds in warrior style.  As she reached the ground she burst out ready to face the warrior left standing at the end of the sudden duel.  But this was not an enemy.  The warrior removed his shroud of mystery.  He had been Mufias.  Mufias had realized his mistake and was now ready to follow Xena and Lycious in their beliefs.
Gabrielle looked down upon her new friends with disbelief.  Just when things had looked bleak they had come through again.  Xena and Mufias quickly released the two remaining prisoners, and Lycious had forgiven Mufias restoring their kinship of family.  Then Mufias explained their plan of a quiet escape to Xena and Gabrielle only to find that Lycious had plans of his own.  He was going to take on the entire party of warriors because they would be surprised and unsuspecting of his arrival.  Lycious also had faith in Xena that she would stand up and fight for what she believed in.  And so they soon found themselves within an epic battle.  It was the single event which Xena had fought so hard to avoid, but it was obvious that avoiding battle was impossible.
Lycious had entered triumphantly knowing that he would win his sister over in a decision.  Just as he had made his stunning entrance Xena saved him from an oncoming pickax meant to take his life by catching it barehanded.  And then the fight was on.  However, Xena still did not pick up a sword.  She fought skillfully as she disarmed a warrior only to pass the weapon onto Mufias.  Lycious kept urging her to arm herself, but she refused knowing the consequences of holding a sword.  Xena had always said that when you pick up a sword you become a target.  She refused to put herself in that position for she knew that she would most certainly have to draw blood.  Xena battled on without blood until Lycious looked her into her soul between kicks and punches only to say that she should not fight destiny.  And then Xena took a moment to reflect in the heat of a bloodless battle.
It was as if everything was in slow motion for her as she saw the events which were unfolding in this bloodless world she had been living for the past few days.  She compared the good with the bad on both sides of the dinar, and then as she gazed across this great battle to crush the evil triple alliance she saw her worst nightmare unfolding.  It was Gabrielle.  The young innocent bard from Podedia had a new fire within her as if she had made a new discovery.  A sword had fallen to the ground before her.  She made the choice to pick it up, and in less than a split moment she had made herself a target for blood.
Suddenly from across the battle the warlord Mezentious caught sight of his slave girl defying him in battle as he charged forward to take her life.  His last words to her were unkind for she was just another prize from the spoils of war to him and nothing more.  The slave girl knew this and she didn’t care anymore.  She had the power now  for she held the sword.  And then she made her choice thrusting the sword through the chest of the warlord Mezentious.  Xena watched as her friend died before her not in body, but in spirit for she had chosen blood lust, hate, and evil as her savior rather than to embrace love and peace.  At that moment Xena realized that this was not Gabrielle.  It wasn’t the friend that she had always known for the blood, and the hate illuminated violently from those tarnished emerald eyes.  Now Xena knew it was truly too late for the slave girl Gabrielle.
And so Xena had made her choice.  She looked to Lycious who had passed her a sword.  And then she looked to him one last time to say a regretful good-bye knowing that he had to die in order for her friend to live, and for all who had been saved by the warrior princess to be restored once again.  The warrior could feel the presence of an approaching enemy from behind as she thrust her sword into his stomach.  The battle raged into the sound of another familiar voice warning her friend of the danger which lurked from behind as she whisped around with one graceful quick move knocking the attacker to the ground without one drop of blood.  Her attacker had been only a young boy, and as the other evil warriors fled the scene Xena warned this young boy that he had been given a second chance.  She demanded that he change his ways avoiding bloodshed for her sacrifice to him.  He agreed to do so in fear, and then he too fled from the wrath of Xena the warrior princess.
Gabrielle stood beside her friend watching the young boy flee with the others, and then suddenly Xena grabbed the bard embracing her friend tightly.  The bard did not understand what was wrong with her friend.  But Xena laid Gabrielle’s suspicions to rest by thanking her friend for being the light.  Gabrielle then inquired of Xena about going back into the temple to see the fates once more, but Xena refused.  Gabrielle then asked Xena  why she seemingly was not herself, but Xena replied by telling her sidekick that she was more herself now than ever.  And as the two best friends left the temple of the fates Xena asked Gabrielle if she thought that the fates truly had control over our fates in life, and the paths we must walk.  Gabrielle wasn’t so certain that the story of the fates and their power of destiny was truth, but then Xena sung to the bard her story of the warrior princess who never existed and of the slave who remembered nothing.