The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#35: Intimate Stranger
February 23rd, 47 B.C.
In life there is a fine line between what is a dream and what is a reality. Though sometimes it is difficult to define. The warrior princess awoke from several nightmares which dealt with her guilt. These nightmares were so intense that Xena awoke from them in a cold sweat. Soon after she could not stand the lonliness which had set in as a result so she softly woke the bard from slumber hoping she could receive some comfort.
The cool morning air rushed over Gabrielle’s face suddenly for Xena had pulled back her blanket from her face. It was still dark out for the sun had not yet risen. Gabrielle looked over to Xena seeing the warrior’s chest violently rising and falling. Xena’s eyes were distraught with worry and with guilt as she held her forehead with her right hand leaning her back up against a tree. Gabrielle sat up on her elbows with concern and inquiry asking the warrior princess if there was anything wrong. As usual Xena would not answer the truth. She only said that it was time to continue their pursuit of Theodoras Callisto’s first in command. Since Callisto’s death Theodoras had taken over her army. His goal was to take Athens though the bard had heard that all he really wanted was to sooth his heart’s pain. Theodoras had been in love with Callisto and now his violent army expressed his pain with each village it retained.
As the two women prepared to scout Theodoras’s nearby camp the uncomfortable silence between the two friends ceased. Xena broke in with an inquiry of dreams. She asked the bard if she had ever experienced a dream. Gabrielle sensed Xena’s heart was within a confusion. It was obvious now that it had been a dream that had brought it to this place. Gabrielle then replied that she had indeed dreamed before. She said that it was within her dreams that her best stories would come flowing through her soul. Yet it had been a long time since she had dreamed. Gabrielle had not had a single inspiration within her nights since the violent murder of her beloved Perdicas.
The warrior princess found herself saddened by this loss within the bard. Gabrielle was still feeling numb with the pain of her loss despite Callisto having been gone. Then Xena broke into the bard’s numb feelings with her own waves of guilt. She began to open up her fears to her friend which had been building within her recent nightmares. It was on this morning that she had awakened from them yet again. Xena described having had four successive dreams. The first began like a normal scouting mission. She said that she was with Gabrielle and they were following two of Theodoras’s men. Xena said that she remembered jumping down from the trees and then Gabrielle joined her upon command. Gabrielle had asked Xena if she was certain that these men belonged to Callisto’s army. Xena had confirmed that they had and were most certainly going to rejoin their new commander. Then she asked Gabrielle if things were okay. Gabrielle expressed her discomfort with the thought of Callisto again. Xena understood her friend’s pain. Then explained that Gabrielle’s pain was the reason that they had to stop Theodoras and his men so that they could all be brought to justice. The bard seemingly understood this and then left Xena to rejoin Argo in the brush.
As Xena stood to hunt down the enemy she heard a familiar voice calling her name. She turned with her weapon drawn and discovered that it was her mother. Cyrene kept asking Xena when she was going to return home to where her friends and family loved her. The warrior princess had said that she felt confused and afraid that Cyrene was present. She then told her mother it was not safe for her to be there. There was danger just beyond the trees where Theodoras was with his men. Xena could not attack with her mother there for the guilt of her past deeds began to intrude. Then Xena found herself realizing that it was all a trick. That it was not really her mother who stood there before her. And as she approached the imposter Cyrene revealed her true identity. She was Ares the god of war. He was still after his favorite warrior princess. Ares commended Xena for rejoining his darkness for he was certain that she would one day command his next great army.
Xena was not at all amused by his presence. She despised it and reminded him that his ambitions were only a dream. Then Ares showed the warrior princess her recent fault. He accused Xena of being a murderer. When Xena tried to defend herself he only reminded her that she had been the one who killed Callisto. The warrior princess desparately fought against her guilt. She had killed Callisto for a justice. Callisto’s death was justice for the death of Gabrielle’s Perdicas. But Ares persisted with more. He claimed that the warrior princess had murdered Callisto because she had allowed her to sink into the quicksand despite Callisto’s innocent pleas for help. Ares declared that if Callisto’s death had been in the name of justice then it would have been a fair fight by the sword. Yet instead Xena had just let her enemy die helplessly unable to rescue herself. Ares insisted that this act had ensured that Xena was a murderer when she did not try to save the once innocent.
Xena’s guilt began to rise as she tried deparately to hide it from Ares. But the god of war then showed her a vision. It was the dark memory of the day that she had watched Callisto die. Callisto was sinking rapidly as she called out to Xena. Her eyes no longer of firery rage. They only spoke of a childlike innocence and fear. Callisto reached out to Xena as she called for her rescue. Xena tried desparately to distance herself from all of the guilt within, but could not. Her hands which held her sword then pulled her toward the vicitm. The warrior princess tried desparately to fight it, but the sword then plunged into the victim as Ares laughed triumphantly.
Suddenly Xena awoke from this first nightmare with great fear. She jumped to her feet from her slumber swinging her sword wildly ready to do battle. Her warrior senses were confused as she scanned the camp. There was nothing there, but a frieghtened crow and Gabrielle sleeping soundly alone. Xena then slowly approached her friend desparate for comfort. As she turned Gabrielle’s shoulder to awaken her the bard’s face turned into that of the dead Callisto. Callisto’s brown eyes stared lifelessly. They stared deeply into Xena’s freightened soul. The warrior princess jumped back in disbelief as she saw the endless blood dripping from her hands.
This time she awoke to the face of Gabrielle who had been trying to save her from her nightmares. Gabrielle had shaken the warrior princess startling the guilty soul. Then the bard’s soothing voice expressed its pity for the soul that could not release itself from deep guilt. Xena then felt safe again as she asked Gabrielle if she felt what Ares had said was true. Had she really executed Callisto by allowing her to die helplessly within the quicksand. Gabrielle’s voice was reassuring to Xena telling her that she had only done what had to be done. These were the words that Xena desparately needed to hear from her friend. Xena continued by expressing how every dream she had had was about Callisto and no one else. The guilt ridden warrior continued by explaining that it was Ares taunting her and saying that she really had become a murderer when she did not try to save Callisto from her own darkness. The warrior princess felt guilty for not giving Callisto a chance to change the way that Hercules had given Xena that chance to change.
Gabrielle sharply yet confidently refused that statement for she said that Callisto had chosen her own path and demise. It was not Xena’s responsibility to try to change Callisto according to the bard. Gabrielle continued soothing the guilty warrior’s soul with more words yet they began to sound confusing to the warrior princess. The bard said that just because Xena had not tried to change Callisto or to show Callisto any mercy as others had shown Xena that these things did not make Xena a murderer. Xena began to move away from the bard slowly though Gabrielle’s hands did not release her shoulders. Gabrielle continued her strange twisted soothing statements. She said that if Hercules had chosen to judge Xena the way that Xena had chosen to judge Callisto then Xena would most certainly be dead by now. Xena then questioned the bard with alarm. Gabrielle continued as her words became more harsh and that soothing familiar sound suddenly began to change its tone. She said that Xena deserved death more than did Callisto for it had been Xena who had created Callisto. Though it was Gabrielle’s face that Xena saw her voice was now that of Callisto and before the words could finish the warrior princess awoke a third time. That was when she had awakened startled Gabrielle out of slumber. Finally Xena had reached the safety of reality. Yet even then there was seemingly little comfort for the warrior princess’s heart.
As the two friends continued scouting on after exchanging their woes and dreams Xena’s pace suddenly quickened. Gabrielle’s concern rose as her own thoughts of pain deminished into the alertness of preparing to do battle. Xena then knelt down before some footprintes in the mud along the road. Gabrielle followed inquring the warrior princess uncertain if they were following the trail of Theodoras. Xena answered her friend with confidence saying that Theodoras and his men had gone over the river through the woods toward a deserted village. Not only were they following the trail of the enemy, but there was another man following as well. In fact, Xena was certain that this lone warrior was about to get himself killed. Gabrielle pieced together the sarcastic comment and realized that it was Joxer that Xena spoke of. Somehow he had managed to find himself right in the middle of the action once again.
When Xena and Gabrielle finally arrived on the outskirts of the deserted village they found that Theodoras was about to execute Joxer. The so called warrior challenged Theodoras proclaiming that soon the Athenian army would storm the camp and seize Theodoras and his army. Theodoras was slightly amused, but more irritated at the annoying intruder. He had decided that he was going to have Joxer killed this time for he was growing tired of dealing with his idocy. Theodoras was angered when Joxer mentioned the name of the woman he had loved. He then said that he would spill Joxer’s blood carving him from the inside out. Joxer was defiant yet slightly fearful at the thought of his violent oncoming death. He tried to talk his way out of it reminding Theodoras that he would need Joxer as a hostage when the Athenians came to take his army. Theodoras ignored Joxer’s pleas as he and his men began to beat their victim senseless. Joxer was helplessly hanging upon a rope as Xena’s battle cry raged out from within the woods.
Suddenly Theodoras and his army dispersed into the woods looking to kill the warrior princess. Yet she had already arrived into the village as she flipped violently crashing through the walls of a large barn. Within the barn was Joxer hanging from the ceiling beams. Gabrielle entered through the gaping hole left by Xena’s wrath as she and Xena scanned the barn for any of Theodoras’s men. No one was present except for the idiot who proclaimed that he had been the one who had scared the enemy off. Gabrielle was prepared to go after the enemy into the woods, but Xena declared that it would not be wise in the night. She decided that they would camp and so Gabrielle went to fetch the blankets. Xena began to pace within the barn planning her next move. Joxer could barely stand being ignored any longer demanding that Xena free him from his ropes. The warrior princess finally decided to free him, but not without punishment for his stupidity in acting alone. Joxer suddenly found himself eating the dirt with little sympathy to follow.
As the friends prepared to try to recapture their dreams Gabrielle approached the warrior princess staring off into the distance. She brought a blanket to cover Xena’s shoulders realizing that though Callisto was gone from the world her presence still lurked within it. Xena then continued expressing her guilt. She was now certain after having her terrible nightmares that her guilt was real. Xena really felt that she had committed an injustice allowing Callisto to die in the sinking pit of quicksand. Gabrielle was disappointed for she now realized that Callisto had truely won despite her death. Callisto had taken Xena’s light turning it into an endless guilt while she had handed Gabrielle endless pain and empty rage within her own heart. Gabrielle expressed her disgust with the situation as she spoke these thoughts aloud. For Xena was wishing that she had not killed Callisto, Joxer had developed a death wish because he had not succeeded in killing Callisto, and Gabrielle now felt that the world would have been a better place had the blonde nemisis never existed at all. With that the bard left the warrior princess within her guilt unable to console her friend beyond her own heart’s lingering pain. And so Xena’s nightmares continued relentlessly and without end.
Upon the early morning before the next sun Gabrielle found herself suddenly awakened by Xena’s jolting her shoulder. The bard was startled out of her slumber barely able to focas on Xena’s quick words. Xena said that she had finally figured out what was really going on all of this time. She said that Callisto was back somehow with the help of the god of war. Gabrielle suddenly found herself alarmed by the thought of Callisto’s return. She was uncertain of how she would deal with another face to face meeting with her worst enemy. When Gabrielle inquired of the warrior princess what she felt that they would do next. Xena responded with zest. She said that they must immediately go onto Amphipolis for Callisto was certain to strike there next. The bard did not understand how Xena had come to this conclusion so easily. Xena continued explaining that because of Callisto’s undying revenge for her she was most certainly out to kill Xena’s mother. There was someting eerie about Xena’s quick knowledge of her enemy’s certain motives.
Just when Gabrielle was about to awaken Joxer to join them on their new mission Xena grabbed the bard’s arm. She then told Gabrielle that it was best that they leave the idiot behind. Xena was certain that he would only get himself killed. Gabrielle could most certainly understand that. And so as Gabrielle prepared herself and Argo for their journey to Xena’s home Xena vanished for a short time. Gabrielle found herself increasingly confused. She began to wonder if maybe she too had been having a strange dream. Yet her concern dissolved upon Xena’s return as the sun began to rise. Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo traveled together. Yet the entire journey seemed like a strain and a struggle. Argo was extremely fussy on this morning. It was unusual for Xena’s horse to be so upset. Gabrielle tried to figure out what may have spooked Argo, but most of her effort had gone into keeping Argo still.
Then Xena started revealing her plan. It was not typical for her to be so open and seemingly vengeful. She said that Callisto most certainly had gone to fetch her army. Xena was planning on reaching Theodoras before Callisto could regain control. Argo continued to express her discomfort. Gabrielle wondered if maybe it was because of Xena’s guilt. She wondered if maybe it was the guilt begining to poison the warrior princess’s heart. Then Gabrielle asked Xena if she would take Argo from her. The bard was certain that Argo would calm down if Xena were to take the reigns. Yet Xena refused to comfort her horse. Instead she declared that Argo was only behaving in this way because she sensed Callisto as she had the last time they had gone up against Callisto.
Then Xena turned to Gabrielle proclaiming that she had a confession. She said that it was not right that she had been the one to kill Callisto before. Xena said that Gabrielle should have been the one to spill the blood for her vengence deserved to be tamed. The bard suddenly found herself disturbed by Xena’s sudden change. Before Xena had fought desparately to keep Gabrielle from drawing Callisto’s blood. And now she was determined to convince Gabrielle that it was her responsibility. Gabrielle listened to her friend as Xena continued. She said that her guilt over the issue was about to tear her apart. The bard’s worst fear was seemingly playing itself out. Gabrielle did not know what to do or how to visualize the truth.
The bard then tried to verbally make sense of things. She asked Xena if what she had said was the truth. The bard wanted to know if Xena truely felt it was her responsibility to kill Callisto. Xena’s reply was strange. She disputed that statement only to say that Callisto was most certainly after her mother. Gabrielle stated that Callisto had to be stopped short of killing Cyrene. Xena did agree with this, but her blank stare pierced through Gabrielle like fire as Xena said that stopping Callisto wasn’t the problem. She continued stating that once Callisto was stopped there had to be a resolution. Xena seemingly did not know the resolution yet Gabrielle sensed that there was something beyond. The warrior princess then stated that she was not so certain that she could go through with killing Callisto again. Then she walked away from Gabrielle and Argo leaving the bard to contemplate Xena’s strange new demeanor.
As the day wore on Gabrielle found herself even more confused for Xena began to teach her the art of vengence. She had chosen a small tree to be the devout enemy and commanded the bard to strike it down. But Gabrielle had already made up her mind. She had already learned that the vengence would not calm her raging heart. Gabrielle’s efforts were futile against Xena’s constant beckonings as she scolded the bard for not trying hard enough. When Gabrielle tried to talk her way out of learning the truths of vengence Xena only pursued further. She told the bard that it was not about vengence at all for Callisto was already dead. All that she asked of the bard was to send her back to Tarturus where Callisto belonged. Xena proclaimed that Gabrielle’s heart could bring the strength of vengance forth for it still existed within the bard. Gabrielle knew Xena was right. She had only buried those lustful feelings deep within. Yet Gabrielle was afraid to release them openly knowing the damage that would most certainly follow.
As Gabrielle prepared to strike at the tree once again Xena’s rage spilled out with even more power. The bard suddenly found herself frustrated as she turned to face her friend. There was definately something wrong within. As Gabrielle searched Xena’s eyes for some light Xena calmed her tense muscles for a moment. She shifted the sudden suspicion to a challenge. The warrior princess then asked Gabrielle to allow Xena to play the part of Callisto. Gabrielle found this sickening and not at all amusing. Xena persisted with the charade saying that she only looked like Xena, but that she was really Callisto. Though the idea seemed impossible the bard’s mind momentarily grasped the idea as truth. She thought that maybe it was a true explanation to this situation yet her heart worked desparately to deny it. Then Xena beckoned her to strike and so weakly Gabrielle struck for she did not wish to unleash vengeful feelings upon her best friend.
Again Xena persisted trying to belittle the bard with insults, but even that did not allow Gabrielle to strike a powerful blow. Yet Xena tried once more to grasp the vengence with the bard. She began to describe the sensation of killing Perdicas and of how she had felt his blood on her hands as he died. Gabrielle’s rage began to surface as her soul began to boil and the darkness emerged from within her heart. Then Xena finalized the statement by belittling the bard again telling her that she was incapable of killing the one who had taken her love from her. And with that Gabrielle lost all of her senses. Her self control was completely gone. Her muscles tensed within her arms and her legs thrust forward with the staff as it struck Xena in the chest violently. The warrior princess suddenly fell to the ground for Gabrielle had knocked the wind out of her friend.
As Xena rose slowly from her defeat Gabrielle’s darkness quickly retreated into realization. The bard suddenly felt great guilt for what she had felt and acted upon. She turned away from Xena who praised her yet Gabrielle did not feel like a celebration. Instead her stomach felt ill. As if she wanted to purge it of the evil lurking within. Xena then continued to stroke the bard’s dark ego telling her that she was proud of the action against her. Gabrielle expressed her deep concern for having felt hatred within that moment. She had truely believed in her mind that Callisto was real within Xena’s eyes and that was what had allowed her to strike. Gabrielle did not want to face that moment again, but Xena only commented that hatred had to be faced no matter the consequences. Then Xena handed the bard her weapon, but this time it was not just a simple fighting staff. Xena had fashioned it into a spear using the breast daggar that Gabrielle had once purchased for herself. Then Xena said that she was going to take care of the one who was following closely behind. Upon her abscence Gabrielle found herself barely able to move or to function. Instead she just stood against the tree and stared at the weapon of death that now faced her. She sensed that this was a moment of choice. Gabrielle desparately hoped that she would not make the wrong choice.
After many moments of spying the weapon Gabrielle finally picked it up. She began to inspect the point of the weapon as she tested it up against the tree. The bard questioned her resolve wondering if she would be truely able to make the choices that Xena had to make every day with the sword. There was still a great deal of uncertainty within her as Argo began to stir upon Xena’s return. The warrior princess seemed a lot more at ease as she grabbed a drink to quench the thirst of her passionate encounter with war. When Gabrielle inquired of who had been following them Xena said that it had only been one of Theodoras’s men. Then she confidently brushed off the situation stating that she had been able to scare him off.
Gabrielle prepared to grab Argo to continue on their journey, but Xena’s calm nature began to shift back into that crazy uncertainty for the bard. She said that Argo would not be going with them onto Amphipolis. Xena stated that she feared for Argo’s safety. Again this was unlike Xena for Gabrielle had never known the warrior princess to go anywhere without her horse alongside her. Gabrielle investigated this with a question for she wasn’t sure that an emotionally distraught horse should be left out in the woods alone. With Callisto lurking about she might fall victim. Xena was certain and persistant that she should leave Argo behind. She was so confident that she asked Gabrielle to move ahead while she hid Argo’s briddle. Gabrielle looked to Xena once more with grave concern, but she did not argue with the warrior princess. She was often cryptic about many things.
Gabrielle walked on alone for about two hours until she began to hear some very strange sounds lurking behind. The bard circled back upon her path to investigate what was just behind her. To her surprise she caught sight of Joxer walking alongside Callisto, and then suddenly she heard the distant sound of the roaring chackram. Then the chackram was in plain view, but it was not Xena who tamed it. Callisto took the mighty weapon as Joxer narrowly escaped its wrath. He fell backward passing out after Callisto tamed the weapon. Then she prepared to return it to the warrior princess only to find herself confronted by the warrior woman. She warned Callisto not to send back her weapon for she would only recapture it. Then Callisto demanded to know where the bard was, but Xena played her off without revealing a single detail. Gabrielle strained to hear the dialogue between the two women, but found it muffled by the sounds of the wind blowing through the brush.
All she could do now was watch and hope Xena would be triumphant. The sounds of screams and battle cries broke through the rustling plants as the two women flipped across one another clashing their swords into action. It seemed all of their battles began this way. And then they would face one another swords ready. Callisto was seemingly on the defensive in this battle as Xena attacked to perry. The warrior princess swung missing Callisto as the blonde jumped backward. Xena then charged forward with even more aggression and force. There was great power and strength, but it was not coming from Xena. It was coming from Callisto. Callisto seemingly fought to avoid drawing blood. She only fought to defend. Strangely it seemed to the bard that Callisto was fighting like Xena and Xena like Callisto. She thought maybe it was because Xena was seeking a justice fairly deserved.
Then Gabrielle saw Callisto flip and roll to the ground dodging another advance. Gabrielle thought that Callisto could have easily taken the advantage against Xena, but for some reason she had chosen not to. Instead she knelt down in the mud blocking Xena’s downward motion from behind. Then Callisto spun around from the ground looking to strike at Xena’s feet, but the warrior princess flipped over her to escape the move. Callisto rose to face Xena who attacked high against the blonde. There was a massive struggle for control. Callisto used her sword to hold off Xena’s. Xena twisted her sword to disarm Callisto who suddenly kicked Xena’s sword from grasp. Then something extraordinary happened. Callisto ran up Xena’s chest flipped backwards and kicked Xena in the face. It was the same move that Gabrielle had seen Xena use many times, but this was the first time Callisto had ever used it. Then there was a pause in battle as Gabrielle thought of this.
Yet her suspicions were rested when Xena mirrored the move that Callisto had made. Then Xena flipped Callisto by the arm only to have the move reversed by Callisto. Callisto then kicked Xena who fell back and then she slid a daggar from her boot returning to the offensive against Callisto. The blonde warrior did not have a weapon. Instead she dodged each strike and then jumped into a reverse flip using her legs to capture Xena into submission. As the women fell to the ground Xena ended up on the bottom as Callisto took control. The daggar held steady with neither woman taking the advantage. Gabrielle suddenly sprung up from the brush realizing that she had to enter into the battle. Callisto was about to take Xena’s life. Gabrielle arrived behind Callisto with her spear pulled to attack. The bard was prepared to take Callisto’s life. Gabrielle was totally focased and could hear nothing. Her blood raced through her veins as the vengence began to rise. Suddenly her concentration was broken by Xena’s voice. Xena commanded her to kill the blonde warrior, but before Gabrielle could respond her ears were filled with Callisto’s voice asking for soft mercy.
Callisto continued explaining to Gabrielle that she was about to tell her an impossible story. Then it was out. Callisto proclaimed herself to be Xena. Her voice was calm unlike usual. It wasn’t phsycotic or crazed. Yet Xena responded quickly saying that Callisto’s statement was only a trick. Callisto quickly replied with the trick being that of Ares. She said Ares and Callisto worked together to use her own guilt against her. This had been how Xena had become Callisto while she slept during the night. Gabrielle found herself suddenly confused. There was a fine line between vegence, and truth. Xena then spoke up once again reminding Gabrielle that Callisto had taken Perdicas. Gabrielle fought the urge to kill knowing that Callisto might be telling the truth. Callisto’s explanation explained why Xena had been behaving so strangely and why Argo had been upset. Then the vengence rose and almost overcame the bard’s resolve.
Callisto broke in one last time. She asked Gabrielle to question Xena about her dreams since Perdicas had died. The bard found herself confused by this strange request coming from the blonde warrior. She wondered how the blonde even knew what she and Xena had talked about the night before. Xena accused Callisto of tricking the bard once more. But Gabrielle felt that the question was a valid one. it would prove the truth in all of this confusion. And so Gabrielle asked Xena to answer knowing that it would be simple. Xena hesitated and then struggled to find the phsycotic words that would pull vengence from within Gabreille’s heart. The answer Xena gave was wrong. Xena said that Gabrielle had been dreaming of her vengence, but that was not the truth. Then Callisto calmly broke in proclaiming that Gabrielle had dreamed of nothing since Xena had killed Perdicas.
And so it was true. Callisto was Xena and Xena was Callisto. Somehow the impossible had happened and they had traded bodies. Gabrielle was stunned and Xena relieved for she had won this battle of truth with words. Xena looked to her friend who dropped her weapon as Callisto took the moment to escape running for the horse that Joxer had brought along with Xena. Gabrielle then looked at Xena totally astonished by the incident. In disbelief Gabrielle was stunned only interrupted by the sound of a flying daggar approaching her. When Gabrielle suddenly snapped back into reality she looked up to see death. Yet Xena was there to save her capturing the daggar within her hand. Then Callisto rode off only she looked so much like her friend. This left the bard with Xena who looked exactly like the one she despised.
Again doubt rose within Gabrielle as she looked to the blonde woman who now stood before her. The person that was once Xena rode off triumphantly as she recaptured the chackram and screamed through the woods. This thought was chilling. Gabrielle could not understand or comprehend. She then asked the blonde if it was true. Xena confirmed that she was really the bard’s truest friend. Gabrielle was very upset. She did not want to face this new reality. The bard wished it were a dream, but this was truely reality. Then Joxer awoke lost for a moment only to discover that he had missed his oppritunity to kill Callisto once again. When Gabrielle asked Xena how this had all happened Xena revealed a plan and of how it all began.
On the night before she had been standing staring out into the woods. As she leaned up against the doorway she had fallen asleep. Xena had been unable to distinguish her dream from her reality for she had just experienced the three nightmares hours before. As Gabrielle and Joxer slept Callisto had come. She beckoned Xena into the fog and into the darkness. This led her into the depths of Tarturus where Callisto taunted her with her guilt. Then Xena realized what had been happening to her. She had been a victim of Ares who had taken the world of dreams and the world of reality making them into one. This allowed Callisto to become his new warrior that would replace the many rejections of the warrior princess. There was only one way to allow Callisto and Ares to succeed. They had to bring Xena to admitting her own guilt. The two had been successful and so Callisto was released from Tarturus as Xena and Xena found herself trapped forever.
Xena had only one hope of escaping her guilt and eternal life within Tarturus. She seeked out Hades who would be the only one that could help her. Xena argued with Hades over the truth of her identity for he did not believe that she was the real Xena. He too knew as Gabrielle had known that Callisto was very clever. Hades continuously refused to believe Xena’s story though she seemed to know every secret of the underworld. There was only one way that the dead could escape the underworld and it was through the guilt of those who had killed them. This made sense to Hades, but he still did not believe. Then Xena spoke of her beloved Marcus and of how together they had saved Hades kingdom from Atyminious. Again Hades decided that everyone knew of that information too. Then Xena reminded Hades of what had happened in the end. She reminded him of how she had stabbed Marcus through the heart before him. Her love had been unmistakeable. Hades had been the only man to witness that knowing that Marcus would have kept that moment to himself. Finally Hades relented although he was still displeased with Xena for allowing her guilt to free Callisto. He said that he could only give her one day to repair her mistake for his displeasure would yield no more.
As soon as Xena had returned to life within Callisto’s body she found something that nearly broke her heart. Argo had been badly wounded by Callisto though Xena was able to save her horse. Joxer of course had to jump into the conversation reminding Xena that he had come to Argo’s aid. The idiot was courageous and brave with his heart, but abscent with his mind thinking he could go up against Callisto alone. Xena had thanked Joxer for his help in trying to protect her beloved horse. She then explained that Callisto had meant for Xena to have to kill her own horse certain that it would break Xena’s heart.
Soon Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer had reached the cave near Amphipolis where Callisto had told Gabrielle she was going to take the people. Armed with fire bombs Gabrielle and Joxer awaited Xena’s command for an attack. Callisto had killed Theodoras and taken over his army as Xena. She was preparing for Xena’s arrival as Xena had suspected. Callisto was preparing to burn the people of Xena’s village to death the way that Callisto’s family and friends had suffered at the hands of Xena’s own army. Then Cyrene called out to the dark nemesis unaware of the evil that lied within her. Soon Cyrene’s senses were sharpened with truths as she gazed into the eyes of the enemy playing the part of her daughter. Callisto then left her within fear and requested that the first torch be thrown at the feet of Xena’s mother. She wanted Cyrene to meet certain death even if the warrior princess were to arrive before death had taken her.
Callisto was unaware of the danger that lurked within the cave waiting to strike. She taunted the idea of the warrior princess’s arrival, but found herself interrupted by the arrival of Ares warning her of her out of control vengence. Callisto did not heed Ares’s warning of Xena’s skills. She was blinded by her vengeful goals against the warrior princess. Callisto proclaimed that Ares was no longer in control of the situation for he had promised her satisfactin and she would have it. She didn’t care what happened to Xena after that. Callisto was certain that Xena would be reclaimed by Hades in Tarturus before she could stop Callisto. Then Ares left his newfound creation with anger. He too had underestimated his new warrior queen. She had used him to have her vengence and now he was defeated. As Ares disappeared Xena gave the command as Joxer and Gabrielle began to hurl the fire bombs into the cave. Callisto’s army put out their torches immediately as the dispersed from the cave fearful of Callisto’s arrival.
Yet Callisto had already been there and now Xena flipped into action. Callisto was ready for battle against Xena. She was ready to satisfy her vengeful heart. And so the battle began as Callisto drew her sword and clashed with Xena’s. This time Xena moved offensively within Callisto’s body. She tried a new series of moves to catch Callisto off guard as she spun around several times an perrying with her sword after each spin. Xena delivered a few kicks and then received a return kick from Callisto which disarmed her of her weapon. Suddenly Xena began to fade into the setting sun as she warned Callisto that her vengence would never be realized now. Callisto would not give up her victory over Xena for she reminded her that Xena would always know who had killed her loved ones despite being in Tarturus. Then Callisto turned and ran for the people of Amphipolis locked away helplessly within their cell. But before Callisto could get to a lit torch Xena made one last move. She took a poison dart from the cuff of her wrist armor and plunged it into Callisto’s juggular.
Gabrielle and Joxer dashed into the cave with their weapons raised ready to do battle against Callisto. Yet they were too late for Xena had finally disappeared forever returning to the depths of Tarturus. Then Callisto ripped out the poison dart from her neck. She appraoched the people of Amphipolis, but fell to the ground passing out into slumber from the poison dart. Gabrielle realized what Xena had done. She was making one last attempt to return Callisto to Tarturus. Gabrielle and Joxer could only hope that Xena would return to them when it was finally over. And so the battle raged on within Tarturus. The battle of guilt and vengence persisted. Xena put a face upon the vicitms that Callisto had ever taken. She had called upon Callisto’s mother who came to reclaim her innocent child. Callisto retreated to denial, but soon she put herself on trial.
And then it was finally over as Xena’s body fell into Callisto’s. As Callisto slowly rose to her feet those who had weapons held them steady. Gabrielle then faced her enemy prepared to do battle, but the enemy had not returned. It was Xena still within Callisto and Gabrielle was still in despair. She did not want to believe that Xena could not return to her the way she had remembered her friend. Callisto then proved her innocence to the bard with the words of her truest friend. Xena spoke of Gabrielle’s own words about her belief in the power of love. Gabrielle had once said to her friend that the true weapon against the cycle of violence was not vegence, but love. Suddenly Gabrielle realized the she was seeing a reflection of herself within. It came through the face of the enemy and the eyes of her truest friend. Though Xena would never be restored to herself her soul had learned a lesson that Callisto could never understand.
Early the next morning as Gabrielle awoke she found it difficult to rise from her slumber. For the first time in weeks she had a dream though she wished it had been reality. Then the bard found Joxer who stood with the blonde warrior princess. He was clearly still shaken by the new home which now housed the soul of the warrior princess. Gabrielle heard Xena thank Joxer once more for his courage in protecting Argo. When Gabrielle approached Joxer’s nerves were on edge as he jumped back startled by her arrival. The bard tried to calm him down reminding him that there was nothing left to be fearful of. Yet Joxer protested that he was completely at ease. As he left the two friends alone Gabrielle found herself missing Xena again. Though her friend was right there with her it was still a great reminder of the one who had taken Perdicas from her. Xena put Gabrielle’s heart at ease reminding her to think of Perdicas and the love she had for him when she looked at the face of Callisto instead of the hatred it commanded. And so as the two friends moved foward together Gabrielle began to sing the song of Perdicas. Her love for him was endless as was her love for the warrior princess.