The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #30: Orphan of War

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll#30:  Orphan of War

January 8th, 47 B.C.

     The bard of Podedia had been traveling alongside the warrior princess now for nearly eight seasons.  She had learned so much about her friend the warrior princess and of the warrior arts.  Yet on this day she was to find that Xena held more secrets than she could have ever imagined.  There was still much more to learn of the warrior princess and of her heartaches, and of her past mistakes.

     On this day the warrior princess and her loyal friend were tracking down the warlord Dagnon.  It had been spreading throughout the taverns of Greece that Dagnon had been searching for the Ixion stone.  This stone held great power for any man who had it within his possession.  The great and powerful warrior Ixion had once been given its power as a gift from the god Ares.  And with this gift Ixion had been given two choices.  One he could take the stone and use its power for the good of humanity or the other choice was to take the stone and create an empire of darkness.  Knowing how persuasive the god of war can be it was obvious that Ixion would choose the power of war and so the stone was created.  However, upon Ixion’s triumph alongside the god of war he was destroyed and himself became the stone.  Ezixion’s warrior soul was then sent to Tartarus for payment to Hades. 

       Yet the story of Ixion’s stone does not end there for the warrior princess had once found herself mesmerized by the potential of its power.  During her days as an evil warlord she had worked closely with Dagnon as a senior member of her army.  Though the two warriors respected one another very little they did respect the skills that each comrade possessed.  Unfortunately for Dagnon the warrior princess was in command so he would have to take a secondary role within the warrior princess’s master plans to conquer and rule the entire world.  But she needed the stone to do this.  The stone itself had been sealed within a secret cavern beneath the earth somewhere near centaur territory.  It had been hidden there by Hades for his brother’s abuse of Ixion’s ego.  Xena and her army had conquered many before, but it came down to a great battle between the centaurs in the end. 

     As Gabrielle listened to Xena’s story of the stone she wondered how the centaurs would take Xena’s return for she had known a small part of this story during their travels through the amazon territory.  They had met the centaur commander Tyldus there and Xena had made peace with him despite their past rivalry.  Yet not every centaur within the centaur nation had forgiven the warrior princess for her past evil doings.  Gabrielle was very aware of this as they found themselves entering deep into centaur territory.  The bard found herself feeling quite nervous because the area was wounded with the markings of a fresh battle.  Centaur peace banners were smoldering having been set ablaze by Dagnon and his army.  When Gabrielle asked the warrior princess of how she thought the centaurs might react to her presence Xena’s answer was not promising.  For the warrior princess upon having not beaten the centaurs had reached a treaty with them.  Within the treaty her promise was never to return to centaur land. 

      Now the warrior princess had returned and she had returned while Dagnon was present with evil motives.  Former allies were now enemies yet would the centaurs understand this?  The warrior princess was not certain.  Yet that was the smallest of their worries as Xena had felt the presence of an impending attack.  She asked the bard to ready her staff for the enemy was just moments from engaging them into a battle.  The bard readied her staff and just as she scanned the field she caught sight of what the warrior princess had sensed.  Five of Dagnon’s men charged forth toward the two friends as the warrior princess drew her sword ready for battle.  Yet one of the men threw a large round tipped weapon.  It floated slowly and heavy toward the warrior princess.  Gabrielle watched in awe as the warrior princess caught it effortlessly.  Then the bard found herself being attacked by two of the five enemies.

     The warrior princess then returned the weapon to its owner knocking him over the head with it.  Just as the warrior princess defeated the first attacker she looked up to find that two more were charging forward.  She battled them with her sword side to side and then a sixth man came rushing out of the distant brush.  He had a long spear with a sharp tip.  The tip was of metal and not bark.  The enemy powered his weapon forth toward the warrior princess who stood holding only the blade of her sword upright for her defense.  As the spear made contact with the blade of the warrior princess it split into two pieces and found its victims rising from the sides of the warrior princess. 

     The bard continued to battle on with her two enemies, but then suddenly more of Dagnon’s men engaged.  As the battle began to escalate help arrived with five centaurs charging into the open field.  Their presence was enough to force Dagnon’s small band of men to retreat.  Yet the danger was far from over.  The leader of the centaur group approached the warrior princess who stood serious.  She stood down her weapon and watched her uneasy ally closely.  Neither side moved.  They just stared and waited for someone to make the first move.  It was the warrior princess who finally broke the tension.  She threw down her weapon showing the sign of surrender.  But that was not enough for the centaur leader.  The warrior princess then reached for her chakram and threw it down alongside the sword.  Gabrielle realized that she too must follow in the symbolic surrender throwing down her staff.

     The uneasy silence between the warrior princess and the centaur leader finally ended.  He expressed disgust for her return.  The warrior princess was quick to let him know that her intentions of return had nothing to do with a battle for the stone or anything to do with taking anyone from him.  Gabrielle found herself confused that Xena was talking with her cryptic tone.  The bard was uneasy with the constant secrets that her friend tried to continue to hide from her.  When she questioned Xena of this there was an unexpected interruption.  From within the trees above the sounds of a young boy’s battle cry and then he appeared before the warrior princess and her friend.  He appeared angry and upset with her as if he knew exactly who she was.  The boy accused the warrior princess of having killed his father the great Borias and savior to the centaur nation.  Xena appeared disturbed and upset by this young boy’s presence.  She seemed to know him just as well as he seemingly knew her history. 

     Then Xena spoke of her true intentions.  She expressed that she was not within centaur territory to harm anyone and she tried weakly to defend herself saying that she had not been responsible for the death of this boy’s father.  The warrior princess stated that she was only present to help the centaurs to fight against Dagnon and his plans to retrieve the Ixion stone.  Then she would be on her way.  Of course Xena also knew this centaur leader well.  His name was Colliipous.  Colliipous appeared to be a fearless and brave leader.  He had been through some very tough battles for he wore a patch over his left eye.  Despite this he appeared strong in his resolve.  Then Collliipous accepted the truce reluctantly although he sensed something within the warrior princess.  Colliipous then took the boy whose name was Solan back toward camp leaving Gabrielle and Xena behind.  When Gabrielle asked Xena who the boy was she only stared blankly and said with shock and sadness that he was her son.

     The bard found herself extremely upset for a moment that the warrior princess had never told her of this son.  Not only was the bard confused about the secret, but of Xena’s intensions for keeping her identity from him secret.  The friends found themselves following behind into the centaur camp as guests who were only tolerated and not welcomed.  Gabrielle continued to inquire the warrior princess of this story for it was obvious that there was more to it than just the Ixion stone.  With great regret and reluctance the warrior princess sung her tragic tale to the bard and of an orphan of war.  The reason that Xena had chosen to surrender to the centaurs was because of a baby boy.  She had been lovers with Borias the great savior of the centaurs.  In fact, he had once been a leader within her army until he had found his way toward the light within himself.  He then turned against the warrior princess and made it his goal to stop her from getting to the Ixion stone.  He had told the centaurs of the warrior princess’s plans, but before the centaurs could win in a war against Xena the baby boy was born. 

     The warrior princess found herself torn between the desires of a lust for great power and the new-found love within a mother’s heart.  She had found herself confused and not knowing what she should do.  The father of her child had been killed within her camp, but she had not killed him.  Xena did not know who had taken the life of the noble warrior Borias.  Yet she had to make a choice.  It had been one of the most painful choices of her life.  She had to choose between her lusts and the well-being of her new baby boy.  Xena could not choose between them so she called the commander Colliipous to set up the truce.  Upon their meeting Colliipous was angered of Borias’s death.  He blamed the warrior princess and promised her that Borias’s death would not be without consequences.  Borias would always be honored and remembered by the centaur nation.

     The torn warrior princess then shocked Colliipous by presenting him with a gift.  It was the newborn child of Borias.  She expressed to her enemy that she was handing the child over to him knowing that if she were to raise him that he would become evil like her.  It was more than a loving mother’s heart could bear.  She could not allow her darkness to take hold within the innocence of her helpless child.  And so she handed the child over to the centaur commander.  For the first time it was obvious that their truce was real.  Colliipous promised the distraught mother that he would raise the son of Borias as if he were his own son.  It was a great honor for the centaur leader and he accepted the orphaned child with love and open arms.  And then the warrior princess walked away from her responsibility returning to her way of evil.

     Gabrielle was even more upset with the warrior princess after hearing this painful story.  She was upset that the warrior princess would leave her son behind without letting him know who his real mother was.  She was certain that there was more to this dreadful story, but the warrior princess sharply responded to the bard.  Xena had said that was all to the story and nothing more needed to be said.  Then she left the bard to think of Solan the young boy who was confused about his life and about his past.  The vibrant young boy needed his mother the bard thought.  She put herself into his place and felt his emptiness knowing that despite not knowing what it was like to be a mother she was certain of what a child would feel without his mother.

     The bard could not resist leaving the past within the past.  She followed Xena listening in on the conversation she was having with Colliipous.  The bard felt there was something missing.  As she eavesdropped on her friend she heard Colliipous and Xena arguing over Solan’s zest for becoming a warrior.  It was just the thing that Xena had not wanted Solan to become.  This was the true reason she had given him to Collipous.  She knew the nobility of the centaur race and had been certain that Solan would be raised without the thoughts of vegence and of the warrior life.  Yet his display of vengeance against her earlier had proven that she had failed as a mother.  Colliipous argued the warrior princess’s point reminding the mother that it had been her choice to abandon her son nine years before.  Yet the warrior princess though hurt was angry for Colliipous had not kept him from the warrior path.  Colliipous defended himself once more reminding the warrior princess that to be a good father he must give Solan the freedom to choose his own life path even if it meant that of a warrior.  Colliipous could only guide his adopted son within the right direction.  It was up to Solan to choose it.  And so the warrior princess had lost the argument knowing that Colliipous was right.  She realized that if she had raised him herself he wouldn’t have had that same choice.

     Disgusted she left Colliipous’s hut to find Gabrielle awaiting her return.  Gabrielle wished to continue to conversation about Solan, but the warrior princess had already moved on.  She was back to focusing on the reason that they had come.  Colliipous was full filling the responsibility that she was regretting that she had given up.  The warrior princess explained that they had to find Dagnon before he could find the stone.  It was a very simple solution and obvious to even the bard.  Xena could sense the bard’s impatience with her guarding her true feelings.  And so she finally broke the barrier and told the bard that giving birth to a child was not the end to the process.  Despite her having been separated for nine years from her son she proclaimed that she felt him still growing within her heart every day.  A mother giving up her child did not mean the end of her love for him.  The warrior princess suffered every day since for her loss within the heart.  Gabrielle realized that she too felt the same way that Solan must feel.  And if this was true the bard knew that it was right that Xena tell Solan the truth.  But Xena snapped at the bard for even suggesting the idea.  She was firm with Gabrielle expressing that it was not the bard’s concern to stir up these unresolved feelings for herself or her son.

     Then Xena left the bard angry and on edge.  Gabrielle watched her friend leave the centaur village disappointed that Xena would not gather the courage to what she was certain was right.  The bard wanted so desperately to bring a mother and her son back together, but heeded Xena’s warning.  Though Gabrielle knew what was right she also did not want to jeopardize her valued friendship with Xena.  This friendship had become the most important and prized of Gabrielle’s life.  She couldn’t take that risk and would not if she was the loyal friend that she prided herself to be.  And so Gabrielle left it at that.  Yet she followed the warrior princess worried about her state of mind.  Though Xena had spoken of going to Dagnon’s camp instead she went to pay her respects to the man who had died to save the centaur nation and the world.  His sacrifice had also saved his son in some distant resolution.

      Gabrielle watched with pain in her heart for the suffering within her friend’s soul.  She could see that Xena felt her presence even from the distance.  But there were more eyes upon the warrior princess as Solan was just above in the tree that hung over the grave of his father.  Solan tried to stay still and silent, but his skilled mother felt him.  And if not through the way of the warrior through the bleeding heart of a mother.  She demanded that he show himself and that he come down.  Xena would not allow her son to have vengeance upon her.  Her tone was that of a scolding mother and Solan obeyed as if he really knew the truth of the warrior princess.  When he came down he was angry that the warrior princess was near his father.  Solan threatened her again, but she assured him that she had come only to pay respects to the courageous warrior Borias.  She explained to the boy that she and Borias had once been very close and that she had not been the one who had killed his father despite what he had been told.  Colliipous had given Solan that false story so that he could honor his mother for the truth of Solan’s mother was shameful.  Xena understood why Colliipous had told Solan the false story, but she knew now that it had been one of the many mistakes and was compelled to correct him.

     Solan was not completely convinced and still held ill will toward the warrior princess.  Then Xena tried to reach his light by asking him what else he knew about his mother.  Solan’s rage calmed for a few moments as he imagined what he had heard his mother to be.  He described the most wonderful vision.  His eyes twinkled with delight and of love’s light.  He spoke of a woman so special that her smile was like a whispering wind.  And of a mother who had a voice that sounded of the muses of the great Orpheus.  There was no better way to envision a mother he had never known.  But what he described was what he had felt within.  It was what Xena had felt growing within her own heart for nine years.  Then the warrior princess took this opportunity to speak of his father.  She told Solan that his father could sing with a beautiful voice too.  Xena reminisced of how she and Borias had sung together, but this only returned innocence to its anger.  Solan stomped off leaving Xena hurting inside for leaving him behind.

     Then the warrior princess turned away quickly, but not from pain of the heart.  Instead she had spotted a third pair of eyes spying upon her.  They were the eyes of the enemy.  She quickly attacked the spies stationed just moments away.  Gabrielle realized that there may be more of Dagnon’s men about the area and so she dashed off to catch up to Solan hoping that she could protect him while the warrior princess dealt with the spies.  When Gabrielle caught up to Solan she yearned to help him understand that the warrior princess was not the evil warrior that he had learned of.  Solan was reluctant to talk to Gabrielle knowing that she was a friend of his lifelong sworn enemy.  She then tried an approach that Xena had not yet attempted. 

     Gabrielle spoke of all of the wonderful lessons that she had learned from her friend the warrior princess.  She told Solan of how being a warrior was not always as noble as he thought.  Then Solan asked her where she got her staff.  Gabrielle explained that it had been a gift from that amazons.  She also told Solan that it was a weapon used to defend herself from trouble.  Solan bragged of his weapon too.  He explained that his sword could do the same thing.  He was very proud of it although it seemed to be much too large for him to handle for it was a man’s sword.  It had been left to him by his father.  Yet the bard countered Solan’s attack knocking Solan’s ball to defend herself with the staff.  Solan found himself impressed for a moment as Gabrielle took advantage of the moment.  She explained that a staff was much better than a sword for she had learned a long time before that a sword makes a person a certain target.  The staff is a noble weapon that has no threatening sharp ends to entice an enemy to attack.  Solan was intrigued as the bard went on to tell him that she could use the staff well and she did not have to be a warrior to know its art. 

     Gabrielle could see that she was breaking through to the innocent boy, but just as she was making progress and getting through they were attacked.  Six of Dagnon’s men swooped down upon the two victims as Gabrielle fought passionately with her staff to protect and defend Solan.  She knocked down three of the men allowing Solan for time to escape yet Solan froze and did not move.  Soon the bard lost her momentum within the battle and was taken down by Dagnon’s men.  She received a hard blow to the back of her head with the metal handle of one of their swords.  All went dark until the bard found herself awakening with an extreme head ache.  She found herself fortunate to be alive, but now the game was serious.  Dagnon now had the innocent young boy as Gabrielle rushed back toward the centaur village to warn Xena of the new situation.

     As the bard traveled she ran into Xena who rode up behind her upon Argo.  Gabrielle told Xena of Solan’s danger.  Xena had just been to Dagnon’s camp and had sized up their situation.  His army was quite large and powerful and they were planning on taking the centaurs in a battle through the woods which would give them an advantage.  Xena told Gabrielle that she must warn the centaurs not to fall into Dagnon’s trap for they would be slaughtered in a battle within the woods against men.  Then Xena rushed off back toward Dagnon’s camp while Gabrielle followed Xena’s order to warn the centaurs.

      When the bard returned to the centaur village she told Colliipous of Solan’s capture.  She was certain that Xena would be able to rescue her son and that there was no need for them to fight.  Colliipous and the other centaurs would not stand back.  They were determined to help rescue the son of Borias no matter how many of them would have to die.  Gabrielle pleaded with Colliipous and the centaurs not to fall victim into Dagnon’s trap.  She warned them of their certain slaughter against the men within the battle field in the woods.  But Colliipous and the others did not heed the warnings.  Instead Colliipous spoke of the men that he had fighting alongside the Centaurs.  He was certain that they would be able to help support the centaur army sufficiently.  Gabrielle realized that the centaurs were determined to honor Borias with their bravery.  She realized that there was only one thing left for her to do.  The bard jumped upon Collipous and decided that she would ride into battle with the commander of the centaurs. 

     And as the centaur army rode on toward Dagnon’s camp Xena had arrived there with a plan of her own.  She scouted the area once again to find that her son had been locked up within a wooden cage guarded by six of Dagnon’s men.  Xena was certain that she could defeat them, but knew that it was a trap.  She could not risk her son’s life without knowing Dagnon’s true plan.  Helpless she watched her son struggle to reach his father’s sword stuck in the ground just in front of the cage.  Then Xena made her move once she caught sight of  the crippled warlord Dagnon leaving his tent.  Moments later he returned inside shocked yet impressed with the warrior princess’s move.  She had left nothing more than a small opening within the top of Dagnon’s tent.  He admired her skill, but was determined to have his stone.  Dagnon could barely resist the beauty of the warrior princess and like many other warlords had plans of passion.  But first he had to lay out his demands.  He had kidnapped Solan as a bargaining chip and the warrior princess realized this.  She kept calm as she reclined upon his furniture and listened to his demands.

     The warlord had three conditions for the warrior princess which would lead to the return of her son.  The first was that he needed the Exixion stone.  Xena assumed that he needed the location of the stone which she herself did not know.  She expressed this to the warlord who said that he did know where it was.  He spoke of the hidden caverns.  Xena had already know that information as well, but Dagnon wanted to know where the hidden caverns were.  The warrior princess did not know the location of the caverns accept that they were in the general area.  Dagnon then went onto his second condition which was for the shared passion with the warrior princess.  She assumed that he would ask that of her, but it was something that she could not give up to him.  And so she took advantage of Dagnon and bound him with his own ropes.  He was still impressed with her cunning abilities and skills, but was still angered to lose.

     The warrior princess knocked him out and then flipped out the same way that she had arrived.  She used her knowledge gained from the amazons and glided through the trees above until she arrived  just above her captive son.  The warrior princess prepared her whip using it to grasp the top of the wooden cage.  Solan took notice of the disturbance above as the warrior princess warned him toward silence.  As she pulled the cage up using her whip as a pulley she scanned the camp below.  Dagnon’s archers were too close for comfort as the swordsmen training just below.  Just when Xena had finally gotten the cage within reach Solan reached down for his sword.  He would not leave it behind despite what his mother had wished.  Xena had hoped his capture would have deterred her son, but he was brave like his father.

     Suddenly Dagnon’s men caught sight of the attempted rescue.  Xena flipped giving out her battle cry from the tree into the heat of a battle.  Solan’s cage fell violently to the ground before he could escape and then crashed through the grass into the depths of a secret pit.  Suddenly the warrior princess heard the pleas for help coming from within the pit.  She flipped backward continuing to battle as she reached down into the pit to save her son.  Suddenly the warrior princess jumped up with Solan and grabbed the whip which still hung from the tree branch.  As she tried to formulate a plan of escape Solan warned of the archers.  Then the warrior princess asked that her son trust in her as she let go and they tumbled to the bottom of the pit.

     Upon reaching the bottom the warrior princess realized that these were the caverns that she had once seeked herself in her quest for power.  Now Dagnon knew their location and it was clear that she and Solan had to find the stone before Dagnon could get to it.  Xena moved quickly, but found herself having slowed down by the injury that Solan had sustained from the fall.  His arm had been broken and the warrior princess now found herself becoming a mother over a warrior.  She was gentle with her son as she eased his pain with her pressure points.  Then she took his sword cover using it as a splint for her son’s arm against his wishes. 

     The warrior princess found herself very impressed with Solan’s warrior instincts and praised him.  Yet she reminded him that what made his father such a great man was not because he was a great warrior, but because of his wisdom of the heart.  Borias had followed that wisdom and saved the centaurs from being slaughtered by Xena in her days of darkness.  She expressed to Solan her regret for her past, but her relief for Borias’s acts of bravery.  It was his brave heart that had saved Solan and the centaurs from Xena’s evil.  She could not respect Borias’s memory enough to make up for all that she had done.  For Solan this was just the moment that he saw the truth of the warrior princess.  In the face of great danger he had seen the truth of the warrior princess.  As she released the numbing pressure to his arm the pain returned as she held her son in her arms for the first time since she had given him away.

     Yet their reunion lasted only moments for Dagnon and his men were now hot on their trail.  The warrior princess and Solan quickly moved to find an escape from the caverns.  As they searched they found themselves discovering the temple of the Exixion stone.  Xena explained to Solan that it was there that they would find the altar which housed the stone.  Yet when they approached the alter they found that the stone was missing.  For Xena it was a relief.  She realized that Borias had indeed found the stone and he had hidden it away for safe keeping.  Borias’s secret would stay a secret from it rested with the noble father for eternity.  And now that the problem of the stone had been solved escape was the next move.  Yet Solan had made a discovery of his own upon the altar.  His father had left behind his hand-prints upon the altar within the centuries of dust.  Solan asked the warrior princess if the prints were that of Borias.  Xena confirmed that Borias had  indeed left them behind.  Her son was fascinated by the prints as he touched them with his own hands desperately yearning to connect with the father he had never known.  Solan then asked the warrior princess of how they would escape.  Xena looked up above to find an opening higher than she could reach.  But she knew that she could summon Gabrielle’s help using the vines of Orpheus to signal her loyal friend.

     As Gabrielle and the centaurs traveled toward their battle they heard a strange noise.  It echoed through the land like  the deep voices of the gods.  Colliipous and his army halted its advance questioning the sound.  Gabrielle responded that only Xena could be calling them and so they followed the horn until they found the opening to the caverns.  Down below Gabrielle called out to Xena.  Xena and Solan prepared for their rescue as Gabrielle and the centaurs sent down a rope.  The warrior princess and Solan began their ascent being pulled up by the mighty centaur army.  Yet Dagnon and his men arrived at the temple within the cavern attacking the warrior princess and Solan.  They released the rope cutting off the rescue effort.  Xena fought to protect her son against them in hand to hand combat as Gabrielle regrouped the rescue party.

     Quickly the warrior princess swiped her son from danger as she jumped upon the alter grabbing the rope.  The centaurs quickly pulled Solan and Xena to safety leaving Dagnon and his men behind.  Yet Solan had dropped his father’s sword unable to hold onto it.  It was the worst thing that could have happened for within the handle of Borias’s sword was the secret of Borias.  The Exixion stone had been hidden in the handle of the sword and popped out upon its harsh landing upon the floor of the temple.  It’s power was so immense that it shun brightly.  The stone was a green emerald and it glowed within the hands of the enemy.  Dagnon rejoiced and celebrated his win over the warrior princess this time.  The only thing that could be done now was to return to the centaur village and await the arrival of the powerful evil.

     Xena and Colliipous discussed a defense plan together.  For the first time they had found themselves allied within a noble cause together.  Their solid handshake bound them together within an alliance for life.  Together they would defeat the evil of the stone and together they would love the orphaned boy.  Colliipous urged Xena to promise that she’d care for his son if he should die in battle.  The centaur leader now trusted Xena for he had seen the change within her.  He trusted the warrior princess and Xena regretted that they had ever been at odds.  Colliipous reassured the warrior princess expressing that he had never been at odds with the noble warrior princess.

     And so they prepared their battle plan as Gabrielle sat with the injured Solan tending to his broken arm.  She wrapped it for the young boy as they talked about Xena together.  Solan spoke of how he had never been told of the truth.  He had never known of the warrior princess to be so loving and so special.  Gabrielle only said that she herself had never known of any other warrior princess, but of the good.  Solan seemed almost relieved that Xena was not the woman he had been told of.  And Gabrielle was relieved that the truth of his mother could one day come out.  She was confident that Xena would gather the courage to tell him the truth.

     When the bard returned to the front line she felt compelled to apologize to the warrior princess for having thoughts to intrude upon her relationship with Solan.  The bard assured the warrior princess that although she did not agree with Xena’s choices in the matter she respected them.  Expressing that her pride in being Xena’s good friend had been enough to stop her from interfering.  Xena accepted the bard’s apology although she greatly appreciated the concern of her loyal friend.  Gabrielle left Xena with the assurance that she would always be there for the warrior princess no matter the consequences. 

     Then the bard caught news of the battle plan.  Xena and Collipous had created a giant cross-bow that was the size of five centaurs put together.  It had a metal tip to pierce the enemy.  Obviously they expected evil to be larger than life.  Xena instructed Colliipous to use his archers as a distraction, but that the final blow would have to come directly from the giant cross-bow.  They only had one chance at hitting the enemy and so it would have to be precise.  Xena was uncertain of which direction Dagnon would be coming from so they had to be ready from all angles.  Gabrielle then asked what her position would be and the parents of the orphaned child both responded with worry and concern.  It was obvious that the bard was responsible for his protection.  So she decided that she would take Solan to the underground barracks.  But before Gabrielle could move to position there was a loud growl which emerged from the trees beyond.   The ground beneath shook as if it were about to divide and then there it was.  A large centaur-like creature with a face like that of Bacchus.  Veins popped out of the head of the beast with pointed ears.  The voice was that of Dagnon and the teeth were sharper than those of a griffin.

     Evil held the sword of Borias as Solan cried out preparing to reclaim his father’s pride.  But Gabrielle would not allow Solan to jump into battle against the beast.  Only Xena and Colliipous could handle its powerful evil.  Together Xena and Colliipous rode into battle going up against Dagnon and the beast that he had become.  The first line of centaurs was demolished by the power of the stone within the forehead of the beast.  His eyes radiated with evil as Colliipous approached ready for combat.  Dagnon’s power was too great for the centaur leader.  He easily defeated Colliipous as he grabbed the helpless centaur and lifted him by the neck into the air.  Just before Dagnon was about to crush his opponent Xena rolled beneath the beast and took a shot kicking him below.  Dagnon released his grip as the warrior princess prepared to face him alongside Colliipous.  She tried to use words to entice Dagnon into her trap, but he knew his old ally well.  He was aware of her cunning skill and would not allow himself to fall victim to it like all the others. 

      Instead he warned the warrior princess that she would be the one that would die in this battle.  He was certain of his victory as their swords clashed.  Suddenly Gabrielle felt the attack of Dagnon’s men coming from behind the village.  She began to battle against them protecting Solan from their wrath.  One of her enemies tried to disarm the bard of her staff, but she countered flipping over him taking it back.  From behind she was grabbed, but the bard used her strength and delivered a blow with her elbow.  After freeing herself from his grasp she prepared to finish the task.  Yet before she could end the battle in triumph the sound of the mighty chakram cut through the air and hit her enemy straight in the chest.  Gabrielle looked back toward the warrior princess who had been way across the battlefield.  The bard was amazed at how the warrior princess still protected her even as she battled the largest dark force ever known.  Yet there was a part of the bard that felt intruded upon for she was certain that she had controlled her own battle.

     Yet Xena was beginning to lose her footing and her grasp over evil.  Dagnon continued to battle against the warrior princess with words insisting that he had been the one who had killed Borias.  He laughed in the face of goodness and prepared to strike down the warrior princess.  The evil beast rose his sword above the warrior princess who turned and threw her sword cutting the rope of the large cross-bow releasing the powerful weapon.  Xena ducked allowing the giant spear to strike down the enemy straight through his chest.  And though it had seemed that evil would triumph once again the warrior princess had defeated it.  Dagnon now joined the warrior Ixion in Tartarus in the hands of Hades forever. 

     Despite all of the truths that had been told and revealed to the young Solan there was still just one left to be known.  The warrior princess sat down alongside Solan on the next morning following the great celebration.  She was preparing to tell him who she really was, but was afraid.  Xena began by apologizing for all of her past mistakes openly to her son who had already forgiven the warrior woman.  But it wasn’t Xena’s passion for evil and for the stone that she had been apologizing for.  It wasn’t her attempt to take over the world or to kill the centaurs that she had been regretting most.  And so the warrior princess left it at that.  She allowed her son to continue believing that Xena was just a very good friend to him and to his father.  He pleaded with the warrior princess and Gabrielle to stay for a while.  Solan was certain that they could all enjoy life together.  But the warrior princess could not endure her painful mistake.  Though she was brave in battle it was the matters of the heart she had much to overcome.  Xena desperately tried to convince herself aloud that Solan truly had the best life now that she could have given him.  He had a family and friends who truly loved him.  Solan had everything that she felt her own life lacked.  And so the bard thought that maybe it had not been Solan who had been truly orphaned.  Maybe the true orphan of war was the crying heart of the warrior princess.