#70 Fins, Fems, and Gems
November 47 BC
#71 If The Shoe Fits
July 46 BC
July 46 BC
#73 A Tale of Two Muses
August 46 BC
#74 Daughter of Pomira
September 46 BC
The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll#75: A Good Day
October, 45 BC
The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll #76: To Tartarus And Back
January, 46 BC
When does one know if upon awakening to the day if this day will be a good day, and when does one know if this day will be his last? Men make choices based upon what they believe in and what they believe to be the truth. This journey began with the bard asking herself these very same questions only to find out that maybe the answer was just as simple as the question itself.
Xena and Gabrielle had caught word that their homeland of Greece was in danger of being destroyed by the war of the Romans. As always Ceasar was involved as was his greatest rival Pompeii the Magnus. This danger had never been able to come to pass until the day that the great roman triumverant had been severed when the roman Crasious had been mistakenly beheaded before the citizens of Rome in an attempt for Ceasar to save his own pride. Since that time Ceasar and Pompeii’s armies had been fighting with one another viciously and had moved through the lands of Rome and many of the countries which surrounded it. Now the two had landed upon Greece bringing their differences to the homeland of the great Warrior Princess.
Upon recieving the word of this great tragedy Xena had decided that she must do something to prevent the destruction of her homeland. It was this destruction of her village which she had vowed to protect that had started her on her journey as a warrior the day Cortese’s army had changed the young warrior princess’s life forever. Xena worked in her mind the ultimate plan that would keep Greece safe and send the Roman vagrants back to the wasteland from which they had come. As always she was secretive with the bard as to what her actual plans were. The bard had learned that in time Xena’s intentions would be revealed and she would be instructed accordingly as to what her part in Xena’s plan would be. Gabrielle knew that no matter how small her role seemed it would always be just as important as Xena’s role in the forefront of all of their adventures for the greater good.
They soon came upon a small village hidden in the plush valleys just beyond the mountains along the coast. It was obvious to Xena that the Romans had already been there for the waste they had left behind. Xena hoped that she had not been too late, but realized that she may have been unable to save this village from Rome’s wrath. As the two quietly approached the village they could see that the Romans appeared to still be there. In the distance it could be seen that there were only a handful of them surrounding the villagers in the middle of the town square.
Then from just beyond the woods Xena caught sight of another Roman officer who appeared to be ambushing his own legion alone. At best his attempt would be merely a suicide mission. It wasn’t obvious as to why he would want to do this. Maybe he was infact from the opposing army. Xena decided that they should follow him into the village yet keeping a safe distance behind. Moments later it was obvious that he and those soldiers who were already in the village were all from different legions of Ceasar’s army. Xena realized that it had been Pompeii who had come and gone already. Luckily for the villagers he had only taken their food and supplies sparing their homes and lives. Ceasar himself would have burned the village upon leaving to remind those who passed through that he had been there.
Once inside the village Xena and Gabrielle watched the incident quietly as the Roman soldiers harrassed a young woman who appeared to be the leader in the village. She tried to explain to Ceasar’s men what Xena had suspected all along. The woman was angered that these soldiers would come and demand the food and the supplies which had already been taken by Pompeii. Yet the men of Ceasar did not take her word and they did not believe her. In fact, to Ceasar’s men it was a crime to furnash supplies to the enemy, nd as always and in typical Ceasar style the soldier leading the handful of other soldiers prepared to make an example of this woman. He was about to raise his sword to execute her when something unexpected happened. The officer that Xena and Gabrielle had been following stepped in to take control of the situation.
He pronounced his rank to the soldier and said that he was taking charge of the situation. This officer proclaimed himself the protector of this small village and ordered the men to stand down. But the one who had prepared to execute the villager ignored this commander proclaiming that the officer’s rank meant nothing for the officer was a greek by heritage. The officer then prepared to fight against his own men to protect this small village. It was quite mysterious, but Xena did not take time to think about it. Instead she jumped into the situation as if on que surprising the officer. She flipped into battle beside him and introduceed herself candidly to the man that she was about to fight alongside. He was shocked at the sudden arrival of the warrior woman, but did not question it for he needed all of the help he could get. Then the officer introduced himself as Flannigus.
Xena used her chackram to destroy the spears of the enemy and to take out their swords. It was a quick move and it evened the odds. Gabrielle stepped in as the battle began using her staff to block the enemy from advancing upon the villagers. She instructed the women and children to get behind her as she prepared to protect them and get them to safety. This was a part of the bard’s role that she was familiar with. It had always been her job to seek refuge and to defend the weak and the innocent. Gabrielle was very comfortable with this role and leaving the major battling to the more experienced warrior princess.
As always Xena was passionate as she fought. It seemed that everytime she was in battle it was the first time. Xena seemed to channel that energy that she felt when protecting her own viallge which made up her passion. This was why she would never give up no matter what the odds were and it was the reason that Xena ususally won her battles. It was her love for her family, her home, and her country that made the warrior princess passionate about the greater good. She knew in her heart that her purpose as a warrior was to be the protector. Xena was okay with this even if it meant killing hundreds in a single day.
As the bard fought to save lives Xena fought to protect them, yet it was unclear as to why this roman officer Flannigous would step in to protect this village when it was known throughout the world that Rome wanted to conquer all who stood in her way. Soon the battle between the roman soldiers and the greek protectors ended and the village was seemingly saved, but Xena knew in her heart that the romans would be back for more. She knew that they wouldn’t leave until the village had been bled dry of any and all life which it possessed.
The officer Flannigous proclaimed a happy victory and was greeted pleasantly with love from a small boy who ran into his arms joyfully. The little boy was Flannigous’s son and the brave woman whom had been under fire in the town square was his beloved wife. The woman and her child were overjoyed to be reunited with the man of the family and he too was full of joy. This was the moment that Gabrielle realized what the stakes had been for this roman and why he too had fought so passionately for this village. It was his home, his family, and his life that he had been prtoecting alongside the warrior princess.
And though Gabrielle was convinced of Flannigous’s intentions Xena was not so forgiving. She was almost angry that a fellow greek would himself out to become a part of the effort which brought suffering into the world. He represented to her all that she fought to eliminate. Flannigous read her emotions and feelings toward him immediately as he tried to explain himself. First he thanked her for helping him protect his home and family. He was full of joy that his battles were seemingly finally over, but the warrior princess remineded him of a harsh reality. She reminded him that the monster which he had fed would return for him and all that he valued despite what he had given to it.
Flannigous realized how serious the warrior princess was and stepped aside with her defending his choice to join Ceasar’s legions. He explained to the warrior princess that he had only joined Ceasar to gain the power of the riches that are recieved by those who serve the cause of Rome so that he could take his family away from all of it. Flannigous explained that he wanted nothing more than to protect his son from the realities of war. He wanted to raise his son in a place where war would not touch his life and take his innocence as it often will. Gabrielle could relate to this, but Xena was still not convinced. Flannigous was aware of it and was disgusted with Xena for not understanding his true intentions. He ripped off his roman helmet and explained to Xena that though he fought with the Romans and on the side of the romans he would never take the life of a fellow greek. That was why he had deserted his legion. He did not want to find himself facing a fellow countrymen.
In that moment Xena realized the sacrifice that Flannigous had made for not only his family, but for his own life for she knew that desertion from the roman army by Ceasar meant death. She reached out to him as he inquired of her suspiciouns being in his uniform. Xena confessed to him that indeed it had been his roman uniform that had created her prejudice. It was obvious that Xena’s name and deeds were well-known amongst Ceasar’s legions.
Their happy truce was short lived as Xena immediately became focased on her mission once more. She explained to the disallusioned Flannigous that she could use him in helping her with her plan to rid the greek valley of the roman enemy. Her ultimate goal was simple as she shared it with him. Xena simply explained that in order for the romans to be truely defeated they would have to be at war with one another. The harsh reality of the situation was that though Flannigous had thought Xena had come to stop the war in truth she had come to make sure that it happened. Her reasoning was that if she could force Ceasar’s army into fighting Pompeii’s army within one big glorious battle then it would be inevitable that the ego’s of the two would end up being the thing that destroyed both in the end. This would indeed send the two back to Rome and Xena was certain that it would be a very long time before either one would be able to reach Greece with another army again. That would give her plenty of time to be ready to defeat them before it ever came to that again.
It was a fact that in Xena’s travels and expereinces before meeting Gabrielle she had learned a great deal about strategy and about how to win. Her master mind was given to her by none other than the great master mind himself. Julious Ceasar was indeed responsible for showing Xena how to outthink her opponent. It was probably one of his greatest regrets.
After convincing Flannigous of the lurking threat beyond the valley she quickly moved into action. First he sent Gabrielle off to scout the surrounding landscape so that she could plan her own attack upon the romans. The only problem was that she didn’t know how she would obtain a small army until Flannigous had crossed her path earlier that morning. It was his responsibility to scout his village and those surrounding to gather the best army possible. Xena knew that with his experience and rank he would be able to train even the most inexperienced budding warrior. When Gabrielle returned to Xena with her report Xena was pleased to find that the surrounding area was full of underground caverns which made it even easier for Xena to develop her plan. As always Xena planned using her gift of spontaniety. Even given the worst situation possbile Xena could always create a work of art even greater than any scroll that could be written by the bard herself.
It was amazing to watch how the warrior princess could take a simple run down village and become the commander of its hidden army. She knew that every village was full of warriors for she had once been a simple villager. Yet it was this harsh reality that saddened her for she knew the sacrifices these simple people would have to make. This was why building trust and morale was so very important. So as she continued building her army out of nothing Gabrielle helped Flannigous recruit. As she moved through this village Gabrielle could feel the energy and the love of a people who were peace loving. It was such a simple existance and though she had fought so hard to leave it she often wondered why she had ever wanted to leave it. And then she was suddenly reminded of her young innocence and ignorance when she met a young enthusiastic archer named Temechula. Temechula was very eager to join this new army though he was only 14 maybe 15 at the most. For a brief time Gabrielle saw a reflection of herself before her own blood innocence had been stolen away. She tried to talk him out of his excitement, but realized that even she couldn’t be talked out of it the day Xena tried to leave her behind back in Podedia. Gabrielle had refused to miss out on the adventure and the glamour of it all. Temechula was no excception to these dreams and falsehoods.
So Gabrielle thought that if she couldn’t talk him out of joining the army at least she could protect him by placing him in a position that wouldn’t allow him to be exposed to the realities that she now knew. When she asked him what his talents were he proudly drew his bow and shot an arrow through a hommade contraption precisely peircing the apple just beyond. The bard was quite impressed realizing that even she had not been about to handle a weapon in her innocence. She decided that he would be perfect for sending messages with absolute accuracy. His role would be just as important as that of Flannigous the seasoned officer in the field. Temechula was excited to be enlisted by the bard yet he thought of what it might be like to kill someone. It was ironic that he did not fear being killed, but he feared having to kill. Gabrielle realized that Temechula was much like herself and yet she was disappointed that he would even think of this. Her response was delayed yet serious for she wanted to be sure that he understood that once one decided to draw blood it would not only take a life, but it would take one’s soul.
Gabrielle still had much shame within for taking the life of an innocent on the alter of Dahok. It was something that she would never be able to forgive herself for no matter what day it was or how many others she had saved. She would always remember that one that she took. No other words needed to be said and Gabrielle knew by the look on his face that Temechula understood the burden that Gabrielle herself already carried. He realized that she desparately wished to protect him from that.
Once the army was put together and the uniforms were sown by the village seamster Xena was pleased to see that her plan was falling into place. The uniforms were almost a perfect match to the one Flannigous wore. It would be difficult for either army to tell that Xena’s army belonged to neither of them. But the next part of the plan wasn’t going to be pleasant, and no one expected that they would be asked to do this. It was almost like asking a village to kill itself. Xena stood upon an old rickety wagon and announced to her new found army that it would have to commit its first crime. It would have to burn its home in order to prevent the enemy from gaining supplies. For a moment all was silent. Everyone in the village was appauled by what their new commander was asking them to do. They were getting their first lesson in the harsh reality of what it means to join that glorious army and go out into the field. These simple peace loving villagers saw that war was not adventurous or exciting, but ugly and destructive.
No one moved for a very long moment, but then one brave soul lit a torch and slowly walked to her home and burned it to the ground. It was that brave woman who had stood up to the roman army. It was the woman who was married to the officer Flannigous. Others in the village began to follow. They too reluctantly lit their torches and burned their homes to the ground. The people poisoned their lifestock, and destroyed their lives as their commander had instructed them to do. It was an amazing sight as the bard watched in horror. The fires burned like a poison arrow through the shoulder in the hearts of the villagers. Their pain was unbearable. As the bard watched them she looked to Xena uncertain that this choice had been the right choice or the true choice. Gabrielle could see pain in Xena’s eyes as she recalled Callisto’s tragedy and how Xena’s army had burned Syra to the ground. Was this what it felt like watching your home go up in flames? It was so hot like catapults just before being fired. Then Gabrielle knew that this was what a true battle must smell like. It was something that she never ever wanted to experience again for she remembered the last battle that she had been close to. It was during the battle against the hoard which had eventually been resolved with not war, but one simple word. That word was the bloodline of life itslef. It was water.
The next part of the plan was for Gabrielle to take the villagers through the pass to safety. She and the brave wife of Flannigous then prepared a hospice as Gabrielle was certain that there would be wounded to tend to. This too was another familiar role for Gabrielle and it was one that she was comfortable with. Again she would be saving lives. And though there was much horror to be seen tending to the wounded it filled the heart with joy to be able to comfort those who suffered. For Gabrielle the hospice represented the place where the weary soul could reenter into the world of peace. Gabrielle hoped that this day might be the day that she could allow her own weary soul to rest and be healed within the walls of her hospice.
As soon as it was reported that everyone was safe Xena and Flannigous began the first phase into battle. The first part was simple. Xena sent Flannigous with part of the army and had them take the hill between the two powerful armies. Neither had taken the hill in the valley and Xena knew that both would want what the other one had already taken. Their egos were larger than Mount Vesuvious could ever be. It was the perfect trap for the two men as the flag that claimed the hill had Pompeii’s symbol on one side and Ceasar’s symbol on the opposite side. This would definately force a battle. And while Flanngious and his small legion took the hill, Xena and her small legion stole into Pompeii’s small hold army and stole their artillary.
Xena’s plan was genious as she easily defeated Pompeii’s strong hold and she laughed all the way back to camp. Both legions had succeeded in doing their part. While Xena had stolen artilary the two powerful armies had been tricked into a minute battle. Pompeii was unaware, yet Ceasar easily realized the trick and quickly put together that Xena was behind it all. His only problem was in figuring out what Xena’s intensions were. He had already known why she was there. It was to settle the score for his betrayal of her as always.
While Ceasar was trying to outsmart Xena Pompeii was clueless as to what was really going on until his badly damaged legion reported back to him the arrival of the woman who had taken his catapults. Pompeii had been quite amused yet intrigued for she had given a message to be delievered to Pompeii. The message was a simple one. It was for Pompeii to meet her in the forrest when the moon was positioned at the highest point in the sky. Xena had known exactly what would happen once the information was passed on. She knew that the grapes would listen and everyone would hear loudly and clearly. Her plan was falling into place nicely, but there was just one more part to play out. The last scene would occur and the big battle would begin.
There was only one problem with this. Despite the success of earlier that day Xena was still unable to fully predict what Ceasar’s response would be for she knew that he would figure things out before the battle would take place and be ready for it. Xena had to find out what his counter would be once he had figured her out. It was easy for her to break into Ceasar’s camp with Flannigous taking her as a prisoner for Ceasar. Once inside Xena found out part of Ceasar’s plan. He was planning on reserve troups to come out from the woods and take Xena’s army, but there was just one more part of the plan that his right hand Brutus was instructed to carry out. Yet there was one problem. Flannigous had gotten himself cuaght before Ceasar could reveal to Brutus the second part.
When Xena returned to the hospice Gabrielle was eagar to hear the news, but it was clear to her that Xena was disappointed and uncertain. This was the first time that Gabrielle had seen concern within the warrior princess. Yet it was too late to turn back now. The battle was going to happen. It was just a matter of knowing what Ceasar would do. Yet Gabrielle was confident that the warrior princess would have no difficulty in adjusting to any last minute moves that Ceasar might make in the field. Then Xena’s face turned serious. She asked Gabrielle to come walk with her into the darkness of the evening twighlight. Xena took the bard to the edge of the mountain and showed her the situation up close. As Gabrielle looked below into the valley she saw thousands of campfires. She began to realize the magnitude of what the warrior princess was up against and was relieved that it was Xena who would be in command and not herself.
But then Xena revealed the last part of her plan. She explained to Gabrielle that she would not be present at the battle for she had to take care of her meeting with Pompeii and Ceasar. Xena did not want either of them present at the battle to witness the greatness of it. Though Ceasar would not be there physically he had Brutus and she knew that Brutus was Ceasar’s lifeline to his army. Pompeii would not be a problem, but Xena needed her right hand against Ceasar out on the field as well. She began to explain to Gabrielle the reasons that Flannigous was not a good choice to be in command. Though he had great experience in the field he did not know Ceasar like she knew Ceasar. Xena knew of only one other mind that could compete with that of Ceasar. It was Gabrielle. Gabrielle knew Ceasar the way the Xena did.
Gabrielle did not want to hear this. She did not want to face the truth that Xena spoke of for it meant that she would have to send men to their deaths and Gabrielle could not allow herself to make that choice. She solidly refused the warrior princess. Yet the warrior princess did not at all seem surprised by this. It was as if she had known that Gabrielle would refuse and so she did not argue with the bard. She left the bard standing over the valley looking down onto the battle field below. Gabrielle soon felt the lonliness a commander feels the night before she goes into battle. Yet she was comforted by the fact that it would be Flannigous and not her. It would never be Gabrielle for Gabrielle would never allow herself to make that choice, and Xena had seemingly respected her wishes.
The night soon turned cold. It was like the feeling of death upon one’s shoulders. As Xena prepared to put the last part of her plan into motion her army prepared to force the world’s greatest battle ever. As the moon rose high in the night sky the great archer Temechula sent out the word directly from the commander herself who by now had both Pompeii and Ceasar in the palm of her hand. Both had come with armed guards though only one had been formally invited. Ceasar had crashed the party though it was hardly unexpected by the warrior princess. As soon as her command flew galliantly through the air both Pompeii and Ceasar knew that Xena had led them away from their armies on purpose. Yet Ceasar had expected this, but what he had not expected was to fall through the cracks into the caverns below. He found himself trapped with his two worst rivals.
As the command went out Xena’s army was led into battle by Flannigous. The battle began in the early hours of the morning. One could hear the sounds from miles away, and the smell of the catapuls was quite strong. Gabrielle found herself awaiting the flood of victims from the field for she was certain after what she had seen down in the valley that many would not even make it off of the field. Just before daybreak the sounds of the battle had stopped. Gabrielle had found that to be quite strange for not one person had returned from battle. She feared the worst for a moment until a few miles down into the valley as the sun rose she caught sight of Flannigous and the rest of the army. She was amazed at how many of them were still standing, and they all looked like they were full of joy and triumph. Flannigous came running toward the bard overjoyed at how easy it was to end the big battle. He shouted that Ceasar had pulled out his army and they were reatreating back toward the sea.
At that moment Gabrielle’s heart stopped. That was the second part of Ceasar’s plan because Gabrielle knew that it was very unlikely that Ceasar would ever retreat. She knew that he would risk an entire army before he would ever retreat back to Rome especially when Xena was involved. The bard’s voice was alarmed as she shouted out to Flannigous that it was a trick and a lie. She was firm with him explaining that it was a mistake to think that it was over. And though she realized just how weary these men were she knew that if they did not go back out onto the field that all would be lost. Flannigous paused for a moment realizing the seriousness of the situation. Then he proclaimed to the men that he had been instructed by Xena to trust in Gabrielle. But he did not stop there. He then handed the command of the army over to the bard.
Gabrielle was astonished and suddenly realized that Xena had planned for this moment all along. That was why she had shown her the valley the night before. Xena had known that Gabrielle would need to be prepared for what she would be up against. Now she had to make a choice. She could either choose to save her beliefs or she could choose to save her homeland and the lives of these village people. The choice was not as tough as one may have thought it to be. There was no comparison between one’s beliefs and the lives of thousands. Soon Gabrielle found herself in uniform and full battle gear ready to lead hundreds of simple villagers to their deaths. Not only was she leading them to die, but she was leading thousands of Romans to their own deaths as well. Though they were the enemy they all had families just like Flannigous. Yet in war none of those things matter.
Xena’s right hand set up her army and then gave the command leading them back into the wrath of Rome. Her plan was simple. All she had to do was get the battle between Pompeii’s men and Ceasar’s men to start back up and to finish. Now that the second part of the plan was revealed it would be simple. It didn’t take long to get the two fighting again and Gabrielle instructed her men that as soon as the catapultes started firing up again upon command they would once again fallback and out of the battle. There was no need for them to lose their lives to fight.
While Gabrielle was in command Ceasar then revealed to Xena just how much he had figured out about her plan. He revealed to her that he had known about her army and that he had made plans to eliminate it. The three had been fighting until near exhaustion all night long. Once Xena realized what Ceasar was going to do she left Ceasar and Pompeii to continue the futile battle against one another. She realized that she had sent her own right hand into a suicide mission. Xena had to get to the battle before it was too late. For the warrior princess it seemed as if it had been an eternity to arrive at the battle. She could hear the deafening sounds of the swords clashing and the explosions, but no matter how fast she ran it seemed as if she would never get there.
Suddenly, as the warrior princess approached she began calling out for her right hand man. Across the field miles away Gabrielle fought with her men to hold onto the battle. Though she had tried to retreat she saw that Ceasar would retreat in response. His plan was even more genious than Xena’s had been. Gabrielle knew that she and her men would have to fight this one through until the end in order to succeed for Ceasar would not allow them to withdraw without himself withdrawing. As the battle intensified all around the bard the sounds of the battle became silent like the sound of a battle the night before as death comes upon the shoulders of the lonely commander. Though the bard was responsible for leading her own men into death she could not kill the enemy. She fought the enemy with her staff for it would never deliver anyone to the hands of Celesta. As the field became silent she could feel her heart pounding. It was pounding so hard that if felt as if everytime a catapult would explode her heart would beat.
The sounds could not be heard, but felt within. Her body was soaked with perspiration and it mixed with the blood of those who had perished around her. Its smell was strong like the passion between two lovers, but it was of a different kind of lust. It was blood lust that flowed through the veins of every man and every woman upon the field. Suddenly the bard felt dirty. She stopped for the lust that she felt within was a violation of the depths of her soul. And then suddenly she heard a familiar sound that slowly became audible. It was the sound of someone calling her name from a great distance. Or maybe it was the sound of the men screaming in pain and in agony. It was the sound of her own men falling all around her feet. The bard found herself in shock as she looked upon the battle barely able to move.
Death and hatred were everywhere. Not one soul wanted to be here and she could feel the suffering and the confusion. It was such an overpowering feeling like no other. Suddenly her acting had turned to a reaction. It was one of the very first things that Xena had taught her about being a warrior. She had acted and led the army into battle, but now she was reacting for she had stopped to think about everything around her. This was the commander’s fatal mistake. As she looked upon the battle field lost she caught sight of Flannigous who had driven his sword into the enemy triumphantly. He had gone from being a loving husband and father to being an animal attacking its weak prey. His face was passionate as it lit up with the rush of the kill, and then suddenly he was the prey. From behind the enemy prepared to strike him down. The bard then acted and shouted across the field in warning. Flannigous did not hear her through the sounds of the battlefield as she could not hear the desparate cries of the warrior princess crossing to rescue her friend from this awesome burden.
The enemy struck Flannigous down, but the officer did not go down without a fight. He blocked the enemy’s first thrust, but was clearly exhausted from hours of fighting. The enemy was bearing down on his vicitim the father of a son and husband of a beautiful wife. Gabrielle could see before her that she had to act. She looked to her left and caught sight of a spear upon the ground. It belonged to the enemy who laid resting peacefully resting within this miserable tarturus. The bard picked up the spear and threw it toward the enemy, but did not intend to kill the enemy. Her hopeless attempt at saving a life failed as the spear did not come close to its target and the victim became the father who had sacrificed to give his son a life of peace.
Just after the enemy had thrust his sword into the chest of a father an arrow came from behind and struck the enemy through the heart. The shot had been prescise. It had come from a well-trained archer. It had come from the young Temechula. Gabrielle’s eyes met the eyes of another whom had just lost his blood innocence for the first time. The guilt began to rise for she could have prevented the death of a father and the death of Temechula’s innocence if only she had chosen to kill. The battle was begining to calm as the field was littered with thousands of lifeless men like Flannigous. The bard ran to the officer and cradled his body and hoping to comfort the injured as he took his last breath on the battlefield. He never made it back to the hospice.
As the sounds of the battle faded into the smell of death and the lonlieness of silence the bard was numb inside. It felt just like she had killed for the first time once again. Only this time it wasn’t one, but thousands. She had done it willingly once again. As she sat there with the dead officer and the stunned young archer Xena approached from the depths of the battle. She saw her friend distraught and realized that she had taken more from the bard than she should have. Xena sat down beside the bard as Gabrielle tried to reason. The bard tried to contemplate and to understand the purpose of what she had just
done and what had just happened. Xena could feel her pain and knew that there was nothing that she could do or say that would make things alright. Then the warrior princess hushed the shocked commander and consoled her. It was as if she were holding in her arms a child who had seen too much. Xena had been too late.
As the day passed and the sunlight began to set into the twilight of the night before Gabrielle was still stunned with pain and with guilt. She watched the funeral fires of the fallen men and tried to understand. The bard watched as the brave widow of the officer thanked Xena for helping to save her village and its people. The woman was greatful that the warrior princess had come to give her son peace. It was something that Flannigous had not been able to give himself. Xena knew excatly how to comfort the widow. She told her that Flannigous’s sacrifice had not been for nothing. It had been for that peace he had longed for himself and through his own life. It was his gift to his wife and child. And then the widow told Xena that when her son asked her about Flannigous she would simply tell him that his father was a simple fisherman and nothing more.
The bard realized that every single man that fought and died today had been simple fisherman, farmers, husbands, and sons. That was all they had ever wanted to be, and somehow they had all found themselves caught up in the violence of blood lust and the spoils of an ugly war. And then there was Temechula who was still unable to cope with the loss of his own blood innocence as Gabrielle tried desparately to cope with the loss of her morals. Xena once again tried to explain to Gabrielle that there really is no answer to these burning questions and torments within. The only thing for certain is that we make the choices we make because they mean something. If our choices were wrong and our sacrifices were in vain then what would be the point for all life would be futile. So the answer to the bard’s choices of today had been simple. Today was a good day of fighting nothing more and nothing less. It had all been in the name and for the cause of something known as the greater good. It was nothing more, and it was nothing less.
This is the story of a lost soul which found itself having gone to Tarturus and Back. And so it began with a cool calming breeze whisping over the young girl who had fallen in and out of consiousness. It whisped over her damp body as she lied there alone. A blond fair-skinned young woman, she was unaware of anything except for what had been in the moment of this present. She struggled desparately to regain her conscious mind as she felt something cold push underneath her limp body. As she desparately worked to pull herself back into the world she could smell the salt and hear the distant crashes of the sea. She was certain it was the sea squinting her blue-green eyes as she looked up toward the sky limp on the beach. Her hair was wet with only small whisps blowing in the wind smacking her face into what seemed to be familiar.
Things were begining to come into focas for the young woman. She could feel her salt filled lungs breathing in and out with a heavy feeling of the chest. It was a bit uncomfortable yet it indicated that death had not yet stolen her life. She was for certain that she would have passed with her last conscious thought, but it seemingly did not happen. The young woman appeared of age 20, 21, or maybe even 22. She wasn’t even certain herself for the moment. Had time gotten away from her? Why was she here washed up on a beach? And what beach was this? Was it a beach in a paradise called the Illisian Fields? Was it a beach in the land of the dead? She thought to herself as she lied on the beach slowly focasing on her surroundings yet feeling too weak to rise from her current state.
Her eyes focased on the blue sky with it’s fluffy clouds keeping the pace of the sunlight glistening off of the waves coming into the shore. There was seemingly no other life for miles. Suddenly her thoughts were rudely interrupted by her chest purging itself of the salt and the water which had invaded her body. She struggled to cough and tried to raise up to assist her chest in its work. The she slowly rose pulling herself up with her arms. Her hair continued to blow in the breeze as she coughed and tried to pull herself away from the incoming serf. It was cold and it was begining to make her shiver. Chills began to run through her body and a bit of fear for the fact that she was almost completely unaware of even her own identity in the present.
As she pulled herself away from the surf her coughing began to subside. The salt water had been purged as her chest rose up and down quickly in relief from its prison. She gazed out about the sea with a feeling of serinity yet uncertainty. She couldn’t remember anything accept fire. It was her last conscious memory. There was a certain sadness, a loss that came over her as this firey vision haunted her mind. A look of confusion spread across her face as she held her head in her hands almost as if she were suffering from a migrane, but that wasn’t what it was. Suddenly she shook her head as if trying to shake this aweful trace of the past from her being.
She looked up at the sea again feeling the gentle breeze beating on her face. There was something familiar about this place. It was as if she had been to it before. She looked down at her shaking body and felt the material of her wet clothing clinging to her skin. There was a bit of relief of her modesty as she realized that she had something to cover her. Her chest rose to take a deep breath. Time seemed to stand still, but for how long she did not know. As her conscious mind began to return closer to its natural state she decided that she must leave this place. Where she wanted to go was not certain. Who she would be looking for was also cloudy to her, but she knew that she had to find someone. That need to find someone was what drove her inside to rise from her limp feeling.
She would endure the pain and pull herself to her feet. The young woman felt afraid inside. She rose to her feet and walked slowly on her weak limbs. She reached down to rub her soar knees and noticed the marks of sand and earth that crawled up her legs and back down to her ankles and feet. Deciding that she needed to clense herself she walked toward the ocean again slowly. The small waves made their way up her ankles, then her calves, knees, all the way up to her waist before she stopped walking toward the abyss of endless water. It was cold yet refreshing. She began to cup her hands in an attempt to wash her face and arms and chest. For a moment there was a feeling of rebirth, but the strange thing about it was the fact that this feeling of rebirth was familiar to her in some distant way. Again she was at a loss as she tried to regain the memory which refused to surface itself.
This had become a painful ugly struggle within these first few moments of the consious world. Where had she been? Where had she come from? So many unanswered questions began to torment her. She paused in her bath and tried to tune into these images that kept flashing back into her mind in and out back and forth. It was as if she had gone to Tarturas and back. The feeling was an almost overwhelming experience. And then suddenly a low voice rang inside her mind. It kept repeating “I forgive you mother.” This voice and this phrase kept echoing inside her mind.
There was a sort of pain that came with it. This pain was like fire building up inside the young distraught woman as she froze in the ocean. She wanted so desparately to remember, but the more she focased the harder it became. Pain burned her heart from the inside out as this low voice kept repeating…”I forgive you mother…I forgive you mother…I forgive you mother.” It was a strange uncanny connection of some sort. The young girl couldn’t identify what it was or who was saying it. It just echoed painfully in the depths of her soul. She began breathing heavily. Her heart rate was racing. The voice became louder and stronger. “I forgive you mother…I forgive you mother.” It was as if the voice were now coming from the sound of the ocean itself. It began as a low whisper and then developed into a loud crash. The young woman who was being tormented by it suddenly covered her ears in an attempt to seal off the sound of it. She was unsuccessful as it continued to torment her. The voice began to speak more quickly and it became even more powerful. “I forgive you mother….I forgive you mother!” It growled almost with a vengance. The young blond woman could no longer bear the sound of this voice. She let out a loud scream of dispair. Shouting…”Nooooooooooooooo!”
The young woman struggled to remove herself from this ocean which was seemingly engulfing her with the voice and the pain. As she struggled to break free the undertow became stronger. And with that came the sound of yet another voice that was seemingly familiar. As one voice continued it’s chant “I fogive you mother…” another voice of evil laughter echoed in through the skies and through the clouds. Lightening strikes filled the air as the thunder crashes had shaped themselves into evil laughter. The ocean triumphed over the young blonde woman as it pulled her into its black abyss. She struggled to break free of its hold as the laughter echoed in her ears and the whispers swept through her heart.
Part of her wanted to mourn and feel shame for the thing she had done, but another part of her struggled with the will to survive against the many faces of evil. They were the very faces that she had always fought against. The faces that she had been determined to defeat for the cause of the greater good. Her struggle with the undertowe, and the waves of the mighty ocean seemingly lasted for an eternity until finally the young woman could no longer fight it. Her will had been worn beyond repair. The fire in her heart and the desire to be the ultimate symbol of good had lost to the face of evil. It had broken her down to her weakest thread of fate.
She was now in and out of consciousness once again as her lungs had been stuffed once more with the heavy salty water of the sea. And then as her soul began to say its final good-bye a radient light appeared under the black endless restraining waters. The young woman held her will for just a moment for a pang of curiousity. A reflection appeared before her illuminated in brilliant light. It was almost comforting. The being that had appeared before her began to speak to her.
“I release you mother. I release you from your death. You sacrificed yourself in order to save the one you loved. I can’t punish you for that.” The face that appeared and spoke to the young blonde was soft with its words yet harsh with its tone. There was an eerie feeling which swept through the young blond’s body. Suddenly she felt as if she were being thrust into a deep dark spirol. Was this the path to Taruterus? The young woman wanted to claw and scratch her way to the surface of this never ending spin. But she could not. She felt alone as the reflection disentigrated into the blackness which surrounded her.
In the next moment the young woman raised up from the grainy sands of the beach as her eyes flew open. She was breathing so hard it was as if she’d run a marathon. Her chest was frantically rising and falling. She was holding herself up with her elbows on the sands of the beach. The ocean was calm again. The young woman looked frantically about as if she were going to see someone or something standing before her handing her a warrent of death, but there was no one. Only the ocean and its crashing waves spoke to her with their calming effect on the soul. The young woman’s clothes were damp as they clung themselves to her salty skin. She was now wearing damp water filled boots. They were brown and laced up to the calves.
Lying next to the young woman was a staff. It was seemingly the only thing that was familiar to her up until this point. She was begining to have more flashes of the memory. People of the past and people of the present were known yet unknown. She was unable to piece anything together. The woman decided that she must leave the beach. Maybe if she just walked a little ways she would find that familiar place. Or maybe she would run into that person that she longed to find, but couldn’t see in her mind.
She struggled to her feet. There was a feeling of physical weakness. Grabbing the staff she helped herself up and stood for a moment gazing over the scene. There were beautiful mountain ranges surrounding her on all sides except for out into the ocean. The cool breeze was blowing into her face off of the water as her loose strands of hair fell victim to it. She took a deep breath just to be sure that everything was in working order and to see that all of the salt water had cleared itself from her lungs. This experience reminded her of a seemingly distant memory of a time that she had survived an over turned ship during a tsunami. But that was all that she could remember about it. The faces of those who were with her during the ordeal were of a blurr at best.
She squinted her eyes as if she could almost see them before her, but to no avail. After several moments of standing on the beach just out of reach of the incoming tide she decided to walk toward the mountain ranges. Maybe there would be a village there somewhere. She didn’t know, but the weather was starting to get a bit chilly and she knew that she had to find some food. Her body was signaling to her that it was in need of nourishment. Slowly she turned away from her mysterious ocean unaware of why she had washed up onto the beach. As she began to walk toward the thick greenary she wondered if maybe her vision of the tsunami was the reason for her being there. But then she kept wondering about the fire visions. Why did she keep seeing fire in her mind?
She did not know. After several moments of walking along the beach away from the ocean toward the mountains a feeling of lonliness swept over her. It was a painful lonliness as if someone should be there with her by her side. She was not accustomed to walking alone. She felt this strongly as she walked. It was as if there should be a companion with her. Why did her companion leave her? She did not know. The young woman wanted to cry as her heart wept on the inside with a deep sense of loss. Small tears began to well up in her eyes as darkness was falling upon the land. The winds were picking up and her arms developed goose bumps at this sensation.
Though she was not in Leumaria it felt that way to her. It was as if she were a child lost without her mother. She was desparate for something familiar. The pangs of lonlieness became more intense as the darkness engulfed the land. By now she had reached the trees and was walking into the forest. She knew that she needed to find a warm place to camp, but nothing was familiar about this territory. It seemed the young girl walked for hours. Her feet began to get sore inside of her tightly laced boots. Weakness began to take control of her body as her feet and arms began to go numb from the cold.
The young girl cried as she struggled to continue her lonely walk through the dark woods. Finally her knees gave way to fatigue as she fell to the ground. There was almost no will left inside of her. This once young, vibrant, adventurous girl had fallen victim to something beyond her imagination. As she lied on the cold ground gazing into the starry night sky she felt lost in the abyss of life. After several moments of lying there she had made up her mind that it was time to give up. It was time to curl up and die. May the fates cut her life thread for there was not color left in it. Once again the young woman fell in and out of consiousness. Visions kept filling her mind good, bad, beautiful, and ugly they created uncertain feelings within. This went on for a hours until finally everything faded into total blackness.
In the next conscious moment the blackness faded into a bright white. The white then slowly faded into life once again. Her eyes were opening themselves slowly as if they had been sealed shut for centuries. There was someone standing over her. The young girl was lying in a soft bed. She could feel that it was a soft feather bed. Although her eyes had not fully focased she began to raise up onto her elbows once again. A voice came from the face that was slowly coming into focas. The young girl was squinting her brilliant blue green eyes trying desparately to see something familiar in the face. “Now lie down dear. You shouldn’t be sitting up.” This was the first human contact that she could recall for a long time. It felt comforting, but as the face focased into a woman’s unknown identity her heart sank once again. The young girl sighed and went to drop back down, but the woman at her beside wouldn’t allow her to drop down. She gingerly layed the young girl’s head back down onto the pillow softly. And then she smiled and said, “I thought you’d never wake up. It was so sad to see such a young little thing like you so close to death. Though I see it everyday. I prayed for you.” Then the woman patted the young girl on the forehead with a smile.
This woman was an older woman who seemed experienced at caregiving. The blonde was intrigued for a moment. Her caregiver felt very motherly to her. The blonde was compelled to speak. She struggled for a moment as if her voice were horse, but then it broke through. “Where am I?” The older woman who had been ready to move onto the next victim of illness turned back to the blonde. She chuckled, “I thought you’d never speak.” And then a brief smile spread across her face as she spoke. “You’re in a hospice dear.” The blonde looked puzzled and then repeated the statement in a questioning manner…”I’m in a hospice?” The older woman tried to continue this breakthrough in conversation with this young girl who had been silent for days. “What’s your name?”
The blonde rubbed her head as if she were going to answer quickly and with confidence. Her mouth opened as if she were about to reveal the secret to the mystery of her own identity, but then nothing came out. And she felt almost panicked inside. She responded as if speaking only to herself and no one else. “I don’t…know.” There was silence between the two women for a moment. “In fact, I don’t know anything about myself. I don’t know who I am, where I’m from, who I know, who I don’t know, and why I’m here.” The old woman could feel the discontent within the blonde’s frantic voice. She softly spoke in an attempt to calm the unfortunate creature. “It’s alright dear. A lot of us get this sort of illness. I’m certain it will all come back to you in time.” The woman was about to move on once again when the blonde rose up sharply and grabbed her arm in desparation.
“You have to help me! You must know something! How I got here. Was anyone with me? Who brought me in? Who found me? Where? When?” The blonde was frantic and quick to speak. The woman tried to think of something to calm her. She could see the young girl’s thirst for information, but she had little to offer. The old woman wished that she had more, but the only thing she could offer the girl was the staff. “Well…the only thing I can tell you is that when you were brought in you had a staff.” The girl quickly rose to her feet. Her caregiver was astonished at this quick movement from a seemingly lifeless creature at first. “Yes! My staff!” The young girl turned to the old woman and asked, “Where is it?”
The old woman motioned for one of the young priests who had been standing nearby. A young man quickly appeared before the girl producing her staff. It looked so beautiful yet it was only a piece of wood with several tribal symbols and decorations. The young girl took the staff in her hand and looked it over as if it were the first time she’d seen it. She carefully ran her hand over the symbols and the decorations that the staff contained. Her hope was to find something that would jarr her memory open. The old woman and the youg priest stood before the blonde as she began to slowly pace before them twirling the staff.
This familiar object seemingly began to guide the young girl into slow controlled battle moves. They were forms of a sort and she performed them with grace and experience. The old woman began to smile as the young priest stood quiet and in awe of this young thing that didn’t appear to be a warrior yet knew how to move like one. “I certainly hope dear that you find your identity soon.” The blonde stopped in mid swing of the staff and stared in the direction of her caregiver. “What did you say?” It was as if the blonde had been offended and the caregiver didn’t know how to respond to the delicate mindstate of her patient.
“I just hope that you will find yourself soon.” The blonde stepped up closer and snatched a word from the previous statement. “Hope! Why does that word seem so important to me?” That puzzled look of intrigue began to spread across the blonde’s face once again as she dropped the staff down to her side and thought about that word. She walked back over to the bed and dropped down onto it leaning up against the staff wracking her mind in an attempt to solve the mystery at hand. As she did this the older woman exchanged a whisper and a glance with the young priest and then she went onto visit with her next patient.
The priest approached the blonde slowly. He was careful knowing how fragile her mind was. He knelt down beside her leaning against her staff and he spoke softly. “I brought you in.” It was as if she were listening, but still clinging to her thoughts. He continued. “You see it was like this. I was walking through the forrest after being down by the beach. I was fishing.” It was as if he were nervous and didn’t quite know what to do to get a conversation going. He was fumbling through his mind trying to entertain this young girl who was very attractive to him. The caregiver had given him what seemed to be such a large responsiblity. He didn’t want to make a mistake. While thinking of this the young girl clung onto the word “fishing” as she repeated it back to herself wondering why it seemed important. The young boy siezed the oppritunity to captivate her and continued.
“I just happened to notice you lying there next to a huge bolder. You looked like you had been there for quite a while.” He stopped once again disappointed that he was recieving no response from this patient for the girl was still stuck on “fishing.” The boy priest decided to change the subject in an attempt to get the girl’s attention. “You know this staff looks like an Amazon staff. Do you think maybe you could be an Amazon? Not that you look like one, but….” Suddenly she snapped out of her thought and looked him dead in the eye and said…”yes…that’s right…I think I am an Amazon.”
She began to whisper to him as if it were a secret. “I think that maybe I am even an Amazon Queen.” The priest began to chuckle a bit at the thought that this young girl could possibly hold the Queenhood of any Amazon tribe for the legends he had heard spoke of Amazons as tall while this young girl was rather short. She was offended by this and shot up to her feet and began to fall into her standard sarcastic response. “You don’t think I could be the Queen of the Amazons do you?” The boy rose to his feet to feel equal to her and responded lightly. “It’s just that you don’t seem like Queen material.” She looked at him and inquired…”Well what is “Queen material?”” He fumbled for an answer realizing that he had offended the young girl. What the boy didn’t realize was that a slight grin of interest had spread across her face.
He continued on with his explanation. “Well it’s just that you looked more like a bard to me, or a village girl maybe.” She thought about these scenarios. They both seemed likely, but so did being the Queen of the Amazons. She stared at her staff again. The priest felt a moment of control in the conversation once again and decided that he had better make a suggestion. “If you really feel that you are connected to the Amazons maybe you should go and find them. Maybe if they know you they can help you.” The young blonde seemed excited about this possiblity. “Do you know where I can find the Amazons?”
The priest’s heart sank into his stomach when he realized that he couldn’t offer her any insight on the location of the Amazons. He knew little about them. He had only heard of their legends. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” He bowed his head down disappointed in himself for not having all of the answers. The blonde realized his shame and she hugged him in an attempt to comfort his soul. “It’s okay. How can I expect you to know where to find the Amazons when I don’t even know who I am.” There was a moment of silence and then she separated from him and asked curiously…”What’s your name?” He looked up and said “Dionaisis.” She smiled brightly at him. And then suddenly she reached out her hand instinctively to shake his and said, “My name is Gabrielle.” The moment of joy was interrupted by the unexpected exchange. A look of shock spread across the blonde’s face as if someone else had just said that.
She released her hand from his and asked, “Did I just say my name was Gabrielle?” He smiled back at her and responded, “Yes I think that was what you said. Are you sure that is your name?” She turned away from him for a moment and then back to face him. “No…I’m not certain. Yet it seemed so natural to say that.” The boy looked at the girl with a glimmer of hope for her. And then he asked. “So what should I call you? Should I call you Gabrielle?” The blonde thought about it for a moment and then a wave of excitement swept over her. “Wait! Maybe the staff has my name on it.” She feverishly began to look at its details closely to see if there were any inscriptions on it. On the tip of the staff a symbol was placed there, but there were no names. She sighed after consulting the staff for information.
The boy thought quickly again and responded “Well if Gabrielle is your real name then I think maybe you were a storyteller of some sort.” He was fumbling to hold her attention as she thought again about his latest suggestion. Then she plopped back down onto the bed and said, “It’s no use. I don’t think I’ll ever know who I am.” The boy priest was saddened for a moment at the girl’s disappointment. “Maybe you are just pushing yourself too hard Gabrielle. I’m certain you’ll remember. These things just take a little time you know.” He sat down next to the young girl and she leaned in close to him seaking comfort from the young boy.
He gave his comforting heart to her, but after several moments she rose again inquiring more of the boy priest. “What makes you so certain that I am a bard?” The boy looked astonished for a moment unexpecting of this sudden interest in his latest suggestion. “Well I just know of this great Bard they call Gabrielle. She is from the village of Podedia and she travels with the one they call Xena the Warrior Princess.” The boy was delighted as he thought of the many stories he had heard that had begun with this great bard’s quill. He continued…”It is said that she writes of her travels and adventures with Xena. Many sick or wounded that have come through have shared these great stories with me. I only wish that I could read them from the scrolls that have given them life.”
This girl was very interested in the priest’s insight. In fact, she was very impressed that he followed great legends so closely. This made the boy seem very attracitve to her. As if they had something in common yet she really didn’t know why. After he spoke of his knowledge of this bard from Podedia she had almost forgotten about what it was that she had set out to accomplish in the first place. She was so fascinated by this that she began to ask him to share the stories that he’d heard from others. And so he did. For many suns and many moons this boy priest stayed by the young girl’s side as he nursed her back to physical health.
For weeks this went on until finally the girl awoke from an eerie dream to find herself desiring to write her own story. So she immediately asked the boy priest for some fresh scrolls and a quill. The boy brought these small requests to her and she immediately began to work the magic. As she wrote passion flowed through her soul into her fingers onto the parchment. It was as if she had rediscovered a lost art. The boy stood back in the shadows as he watched her with great interest. Maybe he had been right. Maybe she was the Bard Gabrielle of Podedia. Indeed she did look like the one people had described.
For days the girl wrote feverishly upon her scrolls as the priest watched with great interest. He was certain that this was the great Bard, but what had happened to her? How had she been separated from her companion the great Warrior Princess? It seemed almost tragic. Had the Warrior Princess been slain? And then after the fourth day of feverish writing the girl looked up from her work dropping the quill on the floor. There were tears streaming down her fair cheeks. The boy priest rushed over to comfort her. She stared off into an unknown abyss. After several moments of silence she turned to him sadly and said, “I am Gabrielle. I am the Bard of Podedia. Queen of the Amazons, the best friend of Xena, and the mother of Hope.”
The priest did not know what to say. He did not know how to comfort her. She seemed to suffer so greatly and he knew that there was nothing to be done. Gabrielle spoke softly…”Thank you Dianisis.” She placed her hand gently upon his shoulder as he knelt by the bedside. She smiled not with joy, but with aprreciation for she knew that if he had not told her all of the stories that she had written she would not have been able to find home. And though home was not a place the bard Gabrielle knew just where she was to find it.
February 45 BC
#78 A Family Affair
April 45 BC
#79 Soul Possession
April 45 BC
#80 In Sickness and In Hell
May 45 BC
June 45 BC
#82 Locked Up and Tied Down
June 45 BC
#83 Past Imperfect
July 45 BC
#84 Adventures In The Sin Trade
July 45 BC
#85 Paradise Found
#87 Between The Lines
#88 The Way
#89 The Play’s The Thing
December 45 BC
#90 Takes One To Know One
February 44 BC
#91 The Convert
February 44 BC
March 44 BC
#93 Ides of March
March 44 BC