Xena Scrolls Volume #6

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #112: Livia

July, 18 B.C.

     Xena and I awoke from death’s essence inside of an icy tomb upon a snow covered mountain.  Neither of us could understand how we had ended up there.  Xena immediately realized that something had gone wrong with the plan to save her daughter from the wrath of the Gods, and to escape her own mortal death proclaimed by the fates.  Octavious was supposed to meet us at the ocean upon our wake with an unharmed Eve.  But Octavious was not there.  Then Xena realized that there was only one other who could have been responsible for this unexpected flaw in our escape of death.  Ares must have had a hand in all of this, and now there was only one thing left to do as Xena and I set off to find Eve.

     As we walked the path down to the foot of the mountain we reached a small village.  This village was not familiar to the warrior princess and she seemed confused as she looked about.  Infact, everything was strange for us, and nothing about this place looked remotely familiar.  A local village woman approached us asking if we were lost.  When Xena asked her where it was that we had traveled to the woman had said that we had arrived at the bottom of Mount Edna though it was many marathons from the meeting place we had planned to find Octavious with baby Eve.  Xena then asked of Ares expecting him to appear as he always did when she called upon him.  But this time Ares did not appear.  Then the woman told us that Ares had not been seen in the area since the death of the legendary Xena twenty-five in years passing.    This was a shocking revelation to Xena and I.  This meant that Eve was all grown up. 

     Xena’s next question was of Octavious.  The local woman responded that she knew nothing of a powerful man named Octavious of Rome, but that Ceasar Augustus was emperor.  She was sour upon speaking his name as she continued on about his lover who was known as Livia champion of Rome.  This champion of Rome was said to be more powerful and blood-thirsty than any warloard known to the land in several years past.  It was said that Livia was responsible for slaughtering the lives of many of the followers of Eli.  I was intrigued to know that Eli’s legacy of love and peace was still alive after all of these years and it suddenly inspired a new hope for me within.  I yearned to know more about Eli’s followers, but my questions were seemingly old news for the local woman could see that I was out of the loop. 

     As Xena and I began to travel toward Rome to find Octavious and Eve we came into another village along the road.  There we saw a most extraordinary thing.  It was a memorial dedicated to our lives and adventures in the fight for the greater good.   Upon the enterance of this tavern memorial were two scyths and a chackram resembling the one Xena had once carried a quarter century before.  We entered the tavern in awe of what we found inside.  It was like a shrine to a pair who had once traveled the land together in an effort to protect the will of mortals and their desires for peace.  Infact, there was even an authentic scroll written by the bard herself hanging on the wall on display for all to see.  I was flattered, but soon another surprise entered the tavern hall.  It was a familiar voice.  The voice belonged to an old friend to Xena otherwise known as Meg, but she was aged with grey hair and she had gained a few pounds.  As I looked on I could not believe that this was Meg for Meg had looked identical to Xena.  It was almost like a bad dream.   But insisted that it truely was Meg.  We really had been sealed away from life for twenty-five years and just when we were coming to accept this new reality Joxer entered and began to squabble with Meg.  He too was aged a great deal.  His hair no longer brown and clean cut, and his familiar chest plate removed from his wardrobe.   

     I called out to Joxer interrupting the scabble between a now married Joxer and Meg.  Joxer turned his head as his face showed annoyance, and then suddenly changing to disbelief for there stood his life’s love and Xena the warrior princess.  He slowly hobbled over to us throwing his old arms around us in a loving embrace.  It had been twenty-five years for Joxer, but only a blink of an eye for Xena and I.  The people he had most cherished in his youth had come back from death not aging  a single day.  Meg interrupted the happy reunion for her husband stating that she had not remembered me with short hair.  The last time she had seen me was before our trials in India.  But this did not phase Joxer for he immediately invited us to sit down for a drink and a meal and to reminice about old times.

     Joxer spoke of how he had figured out that we had not died at the hand of the gods though we had convinced them of our deaths successfully.  As Joxer told the end of the story looking death in the eye it must have been a fate to see for he had watched me perish with Eve in the firey crash of the wagon, and then Xena had faked her own suicide sealing our fates.  Ares himself had watched her drink the poison, but it was not poison at all only the tears of Celesta bringing upon the essence of death.  Joxer spoke of how the gods were satisfied with our staged deaths and had disappeared leaving only Ares behind, but before Joxer could save us from Ares the god of war took us away.  That was the key which unlocked the mystery to our mysterious twenty-five year disappearance. 

     Then Joxer told of how he had bought my  last known scroll for sixty-five dinars years before hoping that it would unlock the secret of our disappearance with Ares after finding Octavious who had revealed to Joxer that we were infact not dead, but alive.    Xena and I were still in shock as Joxer continued his story.  He had said that he had not given up on his search until the day Xena’s horse Argo passed.  There was sorrow in Xena’s voice over the loss of her beloved horse, but she was comforted to know that Argo spent her last days with a good friend.  The moment of sadness ended quickly for Joxer was tickled to have his best friends back, and soon he had a surprise for us.

      We went out to the stables and there Xena met for the first time the daughter of Argo.  Joxer had fittingly named her Argo the second.  He told Xena that he allowed no one to ride her and then suddenly Xena was saddling up the young horse.  Argo the second warmed up to Xena immediately as if she had always known Xena, and with that leap over the fence you knew that Xena the warrior princess was back in business.  And then another surprise revealed himself.  It was Joxer’s son Virgil who had grown into a handsome young man.  It was funny to imagine that one day we would be meeting the son of Joxer the Mighty.  Virgil had heard his father tell many stories of our great adventures, and now that Xena had her horse she was ready to go to Rome in search of her own child.  Joxer immediately insisted that he and his son go with Xena and I to Rome since things had changed a great deal since the last time our clan had traveled the road together.  Joxer was truely excited that he would be going off on yet another adventure with Xena and I.  He had dreamed of this day for a very long time and so we were off to find Octavius the last known caregiver to Eve.

     Upon arriving in Rome things had changed.  It was barely recognizable.  Xena immediately went looking for Octavoius as the most recent Roman champion rode through the gates for her victory march.  Xena had decided that she would attend the victory party certain that she would find Octavious there.  Joxer insisted that he should go with Xena on this mission to find Octavious, but his old body was not in agreement though his spirit stood strong.  Old Joxer coughed as he tried to shout out his title of Joxer the Mighty, but it was no use. 

     Later that night Xena was in despair for she had discovered that the victory march had been for Livia champion of Rome.   Not long after Xena went looking for Octavious the Roman guard approached with an announcement.  They had stated that Livia was building a new temple to the god of war and needed the money of the citizens of Rome.  As they approached the three Greek travelers Joxer refused with passion to pay for a shrine to the god of war for it was Ares that had robbed him of his friends so many years before. 

     The guards siezed him for his disobeidience to them and asked if the three strangers were followers of Eli.  The bard Gabrielle stated that it was a mortal’s choice as to what faith she would follow.  This was an answer that displeased them and so the fight began.  Gabrielle fighting side by side with Virgil taking on the Roman guard.  And as always Joxer wanted to be a part of the action as he tried to draw his old sword from its scabbord with little success.  The fight continued with Virgil and Gabrielle delivering kicks and punches faster than the enemy could send its men.  Joxer again struggled to draw his sword and this time he was successful as he raised it above his grey head in triumph shouting in an old frail voice that he was Joxer the Mighty.  And as those familiar words came through Joxer’s old arms couldn’t hold the sword up for thrust as he fell backwards to the ground.

     The Roman enemy took advantage of the old man’s weakness and captured him jamming a knife to his throat.  Virgil and Gabrielle had no choice and so they surrendered the battle and the three were taken to a Roman prison.  While in the prision they discovered that all who were there had been followers of Eli.  They didn’t deserve to be there.  Livia the champion of Rome had condemned them and shortly thereafter she entered the prision to look for their champion which she had planned to fight to the death in the great collesium of Roman games.  As she entered the prison dressed in Roman armor Gabrielle noticed something familiar about her.  And then it dawned on her.  Livia was Eve the daughter of Xena.  And it all made sense.  Eve as Xena had a darkside and had become a conquerer just as Xena had before meeting Gabrielle.  This meant that there was hope.  There was a chance that she too could be turned around just as Xena had turned from the darkness to the light.  Hope consumed Gabrielle as Eve entered to choose the challenger.  Gabrielle stepped forward offering a strong word of goodness hoping Eve would get the message.  Eve could be good if she only knew that there was goodness inside of her.  Gabrielle was determined to show it to her.

     Eve’s respsonse was small and almost non-existant as Gabrielle spoke to her softly in almost a mothering voice.  Instead she looked to Virgil and chose him as her challenger.  And just as quickly as Eve had come she had left.  She didn’t know who she was which was what made Gabrielle realize that she would be able to save her. It was a matter of time and nothing more.  Maybe this would be Gabrielle’s chance to make up for the things she had not done for her own daughter.

     As for Xena she had confronted Ceasar and when she did she had realized that Ceasar Augustus was really Octavoius.  Octavious was shocked to see a youthful Xena.  He turned away from her as if thinking that she was only an illusion, but she was real.  She was present and there below rode in the champion of Rome Livia.  Xena could not believe her eyes.  There was her daughter Eve whom she had vowed to show a better way than the blood of battle, but she was too late.  She was twenty-five years too late.  Xena was angry and devastated for her child had been stolen from her.  Her chance to make up for the wrongs committed by herself and against her son Solan was had been stolen away from her in a simple blink of an eye.

     Octavious was not disappointed as he stood by the choices he had made for the safety of Livia.  Octavious had not raised her, but he had made sure she would have the best of everything.  She had grown up in the Roman provinces and been given the best possible education and training.  But Xena was not satisfied or even the slightest bit humored by this.  She left Octavious with a range of emotions.

      Later she finally caught up with Livia or Eve rather.  Her worst nightmare filled her eyes as she opened the door and saw Eve kissing the God of War passionately.  Xena interrupted this little love fest and Ares quickly responded.  He too was shocked to see the love of his eternal fire appearing before him again with not one shred of age.  She even had that same look and that same presence that he had fallen in love with the first time he had witnessed her in battle.  As Ares walked toward Xena he went for the passion in his heart.  He longed to touch lips with the warrior princess.  But Livia was not amused by this mysterious lover of his.  She was from his past.  There was no respect for the warrior woman from the young champion of Rome.  She threatened to kill the intruder, but Ares suggested that it wasn’t necessary.  Ares implied that Eve the daughter of Xena must still be alive if she had come all of this way from the grave in which he had buried her.  He was suspicious as Xena denied that her daughter was alive though breathing before her with anger and hatred out of control.

     Xena quickly exited the scene more confused and more worried than before.  Knowing that Ares had been the one who had tapped into her daugher’s darkside just as he had done to her so many years before.  Xena knew how it felt to be promised the world only to find oneself following the wrong path to self-destruction and darkness.  There was only one thing that she could do to get Ares out of her life and so she went back to Octavious.  He was not pleased to see her again.  Infact Octavious was annoyed.  Xena asked for his help in revealing the truth about Ares to her daughter.  At first Octavious objected.  He loved Livia and he was going to marry her, but Xena convinced him of Livia’s passoinate love for the god of war.  Octavious was relectant, but he went along with it.

     That night at a party in honor of Livia Xena approached Ares in disguise.  He asked to be poured a drink and then he was surprised as Xena revealed her identity in a seductive manner.  She knew how to handle Ares and she knew how to tap into his manly desires though he was a god.  The plan was set in motion as Octavoius requested a word with Livia and as she approached Octavious she caught sight of Ares passionately kissing his mysterious lover.  Anger consumed the young champion of Rome and then Octavoius knew the truth.  He was disappointed and hurt that Livia had not been truthful about her love for him.  She loved Ares and only wanted Octavious to have the power of Rome and the world at her command. 

     As Octavious and Livia separated in anger Ares had figured out that Livia was indeed Eve the daugher of Xena.  He revealed this knowledge to Xena and Xena pleaded with Ares not to reveal her secret to the other Gods.  Ares refused.  His condition was as always…”Be mine and we’ll have a child together and with that I’ll take Eve’s secret to the grave.”  And with that Ares disappeared as always in god style.

      On the next day Livia champion of Rome was introduced in the collesium to fight the champion of Eli.  Eli’s champion would be Xena.  As she stepped out in Roman armor shield in hand and sword down at her side she looked across the collesium to see her beautiful daughter Eve upon a horse with vengence in her heart.  Her vegence was a vengence of passionate love for the one whom Xena had stolen from her, but in truth she had not.  Ares never had love for Eve.  Eve was just a vessel for keeping war alive.  Xena was Ares’s real prize, but only Xena knew this.

     Xena slowly walked down the steps ready for battle, but not really wanting to fight.  When she reached the bottom she paused and shouted across the collesium to her daughter.  Xena’s attempt to have a peace with her daughter was rejected.  And Eve did not believe she was the daughter of Xena though the night before Xena had tried to convince her.  Instead Eve had responded with an attempt to kill the woman who had stolen her lover yet she had been unsuccessful.  If indeed this woman had been her mother why hadn’t she been there when she had been most needed?  Livia did not understand and so her confusion rejected the motion for peace and the battle began.

     Xena took on a defensive position as Eve rode up and thrust her sword down upon the warrior princess knocking the shield to the ground.  And as Xena tried to recover Livia was already coming back around for a second attack upon the warrior princess.  This time Xena tried to jump up and kick her off of the horse, but she was unsuccessful for Livia had taken the blow and stayed tall upon her stag.  She rounded for a third time and appraoched Xena and this time Xena tried a forward thrust, but Livia flipped through the air signature of her mother and landed upon a pillar declaring that she was Livia not Eve.  Flipping back onto her horse she swung her net above her head and attacked again capturing the warrior princess and dragging the body of the one who had given her life across the ground.

     But Xena didn’t stay down long for she quickly cut through the net with her sword and flipped upon the horse grabbing Livia and flipping off throwing her to the ground.  Before Livia could recover Xena put her famous pinch upon her daughter.  She professed her love to her once again and pleaded for her daughter’s forgiveness once again.  But Livia again did not believe her.  She responded by telling Xena that if she truely was her mother then to let her die.  But Xena would not let her die.  The rabid crowd was impressed that the champion of Eli gave mercy to her foe and so Ceasar Augustus gave the battle a thumbs up and the prisioners were freed.

     Xena took off the death grip and offered her hand to her daughter, but again Eve refused.  She was confused and as the followers of Eli were released they embraced Xena for her heroic actions.  Xena tried desparately to wade through all of the joyous people, but she was unable to catch up to her daughter and so Eve disappeared once again.

      Eve #113, October 18 B.C.

The Xena Scrolls

B y:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll  #114  :Motherhood

November, 18 B.C.

     I give resolution to a battle that has lasted since the birth of Xena’s child twenty-five years in passing.  This story is of love which comes to us and is expressed in many different ways.  It is the story of a mother’s guilt, a friend’s grief, and a god’s sacrifice for the woman he loved.

     Xena and I had followed a confused child for many marathons.  She was in complete anguish for what she had discovered about herself and for the monster that she had become.  Eve had fallen victim to the spoils of blood which was not meant to be.  As Xena and I stayed behind we watched her child suffer with the pain of knowing what it was to be the force who had taken from so many without mercy.  Xena understood this pain for she had once gone through the same metamorphosis herself.  Xena had been saved by Hercules and been guided by a loyal friend.  I did not know if I could bring myself to help Eve the way I had helped Xena because Eve had taken a dear friend from me.  It was a strange feeling being pulled with the grief of my great loss coupled with the love I had for my friend and her own intentions. 

     I spoke to Xena and expressed my doubts about being able to save Eve as I had my best friend, and Xena understood.  She expressed that she would go alone if it was a choice I had to make, but she reminded me with great poise and strength that I was her light.  And now Eve needed a light to fill her own darkness, and it was then that I realized my responsibility to Eve.  At that moment over the opposite hill an army of vengeance descended down upon the emotionally distraught soul of Eve.  Eve caught sight of them as Xena threw her chackram to deflect the thrust of an oncoming spear meant to take the life of a once evil spirit.  Eve did nothing to attempt to save her own life.  She froze upon the dessert as the soldiers of vengeance descended down upon her. 

     Xena immediately rushed to protect her daughter from their wrath.  I followed Xena with a strange uncertainty.  We met with the army at the bottom of the hill and fought to protect the one known as Livia.  Just before Xena could reach her daughter’s side a warrior on horseback captured her with his rope and drug Eve’s body through the sands of a vast wasteland.  Xena reached for her chackram and attempted to shoot for release by cutting through the rope, but her chackram was stopped by the hands of her child.  Eve wanted to die for all of the pain she had caused, but Xena refused to accept that.  Xena flipped through the air gracefully knocking off another oncoming warrior from his own horse as she whistled for Argo the second.  And just as faithfully as her mother had been Argo the second responded to the command of a great warrior and then Xena was off to save her daughter’s life. 

     I grabbed the horse of the warrior who had fallen and followed Xena in her pursuit.  Xena caught up to the one who was to avenge the deaths of thousands as she threw out a fist in his face knocking him violently to the ground and taking the reins of his horse.  She yelled out a command to the horse and it stopped its forward motion immediately.  Xena had rescued her daughter once again as she unwrapped Eve from her binds.  Eve still held Xena’s chackram.  She had been badly scraped up from her attackers.  As I approached to join them a sudden impulse came over me.  It was like voices in my mind.  They were reminding me of Eve’s wrong to my dear friend Joxer.  The voices were like a fury as if trying to command me to pass judgment upon Eve.  And then just as the voices were about to win out Xena called upon me for some water. 

     A cloaked woman approached us and inquired if it was Xena’s name which I had spoken.  I responded to her and she asked if this was indeed the champion of the followers of Eli and the God of One.  Again I confirmed that indeed this was their champion.  The woman was overjoyed that she had found us and she offered to take us back to her home where there were many more followers of Eli’s message. 

     Once we had arrived there Xena and I were greeted with much love and joy as the followers gathered around the table to listen to my story.  Eli had been a man of flesh and blood with a simple message of love, peace and of forgiveness for all.  After twenty-five years there had been some discrepancies as to Eli’s mortality, but he was truly mortal. 

     Eve sat alongside her mother only to refuse the message of Eli.  She was unable to forgive herself for the sins that she had committed on so many innocent.  Eve spoke of how she had killed men for refusing to give her tribute tasting their blood, and how she had killed our friend Joxer.  Then it happened again as I struggled to stay focused.  The voices came back and this time they were stronger than before.  It was like a burning desire inside to do something that I did not want to do.  This fury within my mind kept pulling at my division between grief and loyalty.  Xena calmed her daughter’s outburst, and the woman who had guided us to these wonderful people then guided us to another.  She had said that there was another man like Eli who was known as the Baptist.  He was known for cleansing mortals of their sins of the flesh and bringing them forth to the light.  The woman took us there with the suffering soul of Eve.  While there we watched the Baptist do his work.  He saved a man with the waters of the sea cleansing the man of all of the sins of the flesh.  As the newly baptized soul emerged from the water one could see the joy in his eyes and the relief within his soul.  A debt had been lifted from him as he had been blessed by the One to start a new beginning.

     And then something truly extraordinary happened.  The Baptist reached out his hand to Eve.  He looked deep into her soul.  Eve was afraid of his gesture, but his eyes were able to comfort her enough allowing her to approach him.  There was a part of Eve that was fearful, but the Baptist was a very loving teacher and healer.  He told Eve that he saw standing before him a suffering soul.  Eve could not refuse this observation.  She truly was suffering inside for all that she had wanted now was for her pain inside to stop.  She wanted to see a new way becoming open to the light for the first time. 

     The Baptist took Eve’s hand as he blessed her with the holy waters of the One, and a great trudge was lifted from the spirit of Xena’s child.  I saw a mother proud of her daughter and I too felt a relief within.  I had recalled having the same hope for my own child and as Eve returned from her cleansing with the Baptist Xena took her daughter in her arms for the first time in twenty-five years.  As I watched them embrace I longed to feel that connection to my own daughter, but I knew that it would never be.  And as that thought of Hope came to my mind again I was tormented by the strange voices once more.  They were beckoning me to remember how the evil within my own daughter had led to my own pain.  The voices urged me to take Eve because they proclaimed her to be a fraud just as Hope had been to me.  I saw Xena looking into my eyes and then just beyond her the god of the sea rose from within. 

     It was Poseidon and he was angry.  Suddenly Xena drew her sword snapping me out of my mind’s disillusion as all of the Gods of Mount Olympus appeared before us.  All, but Aphrodite, Ares, and Athena appeared  ready to do battle.  They attacked with a vengeance as fire balls, bolts, and many other powerful energies engulfed us.  Xena blocked each shot at her daughter and her friend with her sword, and then deflected another from Strife destroying Poseidon before he could destroy Eve.  All of the gods were struck with a sudden fear and they were silent for a moment.  How could a deflection of Xena’s sword have been the power that had eliminated Poseidon?  The goddess Discord was consumed with a vengeance all her own because for the first time she had felt a loss that mortals feel everyday.  It was death staring her in the face for the first time.  She thrust forward attacking Xena.  Effortlessly Xena took off the head of Discord killing yet another god of Mount Olympus.  Another god stepped forward to avenge the death of his sister.  It was the god Hephestus.  Xena used her chackram to dissolve his attack as she flipped forward rolling to greet him ready for battle.  She robbed him of his weapon and then of his life as he took his own ax to the chest.

     Suddenly, the goddess Athena appeared with Ares alongside her.  They had become the new leaders upon Olympus since the death of Zeus by Hercules and the disappearance of Hera.  Athena was angry at her siblings for being so foolish.  She scolded the gods reminding them that if they had only taken in the patience of time none of them would have had to perish.  But now the power of Xena had now been unleashed and discovered.  It was now possible for a mortal such as the warrior princess herself to take the life of a god.  There was much fear within the Olympic clan as Xena threatened to take more of them if they dared to follow us. 

     As we fled the scene with this new discovery I asked Xena how it was possible for her to have this awesome power known to no other mortal in the history of man.  She explained that the archangel Michael had sent a spirit to her with a message.  He had told her that as a result of Eve’s cleansing Xena would be the one chosen to eliminate the gods of Olympus.  Xena had accepted this awesome responsibility and was ready to use it for the good of the god of One.  It was His wish that He be known to all humanity.  The sands of time were running out for the Olympic reign which had lasted for thousands of years.  And as I contemplated the implications of all of this Eve spoke of how she had come to realize her own purpose here.  She spoke of how her cleansing had lifted her from one weight and then given her a new one.  Eve was still confused and afraid uncertain of where to begin her new life.  Yet Xena had the answer as to where Eve was to begin, and so we set off to visit the home of a slain friend.

     Upon arriving at the modest home of Joxer’s family I caught sight of Virgil working on his own story.  I was certain that it was the story of his father.  Virgil greeted Xena and I with joy happy to see that we had returned to him.  But then as Eve dismounted from Xena’s horse she revealed herself to the one she had taken from.  Virgil’s joy turned to anger and vengeance.  He drew his sword ready for blood.  He wanted to ease his own pain by killing the one whom had taken his father from him.  And as I watched Virgil move toward Eve a part of me wanted him to succeed, but Xena stepped in once again not allowing Virgil to take the life of a once evil soul.

     Eve spoke softly to the broken hearted son of Joxer expressing to him that if she could have given back his father with her own death she would gladly have made the sacrifice to him.  It was the only thing she could say in the hope that she could reconcile with Virgil.  Ultimately she would hope for forgiveness yet she knew in her own heart that it was not possible.  I understood Virgil’s pain for I too was still in pain over the loss of one of my most valued loving friends.  Tears rolled down Virgil’s face and anger held it’s expression as he reminded us all that Joxer the Mighty had never been one known to hurt anyone.  No woman, child, or beast had ever suffered at Joxer’s hand.  Joxer had been a kind-hearted soul that had perished in the wrath of Eve otherwise known as Livia.

     And then Virgil turned away from Eve packing his things as he prepared to leave his childhood home.  All of the memories were clearly still too painful for him.  Xena and Eve entered Joxer’s home as Xena tried to comfort her daughter by explaining that when you take a life there is no going back.  And then I asked Virgil where he was going.  Virgil said that he was to join Meg, and the rest of his family in Athens.  Meg had taken Joxer’s death hard.  I understood.  I could feel Virgil’s pain for I too shared in it with him.  We tried to comfort one another though it wasn’t the same without Joxer.  Life would never be the same.  There was now a large void for us both.  Virgil thanked me for my comforts as he mounted his horse and rode off.  I was left alone with only the distant presence of a memory of the man who had once loved me very dearly, and I had never appreciated him for that love.  Now it was gone.  It had been taken by the never ending cycle of violence.  It had been taken by Eve.

     That night Eve was eager to learn more about her mother.  Xena introduced her daughter to my scrolls.  Eve read them with great excitement for it was her way of being able to know who her mother was and to understand where she had been.  Eve thanked me for writing them as I had preserved her mother’s legacy and legend, but for some reason I didn’t feel that joy.  I was fighting against the pain of my own loss and the will of my friendship to Xena.  As the rain fell in the night it was as if someone were crying for Joxer.  And as the tears fell Xena stood watch by the window anticipating that the gods would return to us again.  Then Ares appeared.  He was standing in the rain waiting for Xena.  Xena asked me to watch the back door for the other gods as she went out to confront him. 

     As I looked out the back door within the darkness a shadow cast itself upon the wall.  It passed mysteriously through the corridor.  I pulled my weapon prepared to protect Xena’s child, and then he appeared.  It was Joxer.  He materialized before me and fell clumsily to the floor.  Joxer was a young man again just as I had remembered him.  My heart fluttered jumping with excitement for his spirit had seemingly come to comfort me.  This was my chance to show my own appreciation for his love for me and for risking his life to save mine.  A tear came to my eye as I spoke to Joxer.  I told him that I had missed him dearly.  But his smiling face turned cold as it shot back at me.  He told me that he was dead.   My vision of Joxer scolded me for letting Eve kill him.  It cut through my heart like a nail through the cross.  I wanted to sob for I had let my own friend down as Brutus had let me down against Caesar. 

     Joxer told me that there was only one way I could be reprieved of my guilt for his death and that was to avenge it.  He told me that I must kill Eve.  I didn’t want to kill Eve, but I didn’t want to let him down again.  I remembered how I had not been able to forgive Brutus, and I realized that Joxer would not be able to forgive me.  And then as I fought the temptation of my vision I heard a familiar voice.  As I turned to see who it was behind me I saw Hope.  She appeared before me.  Hope reminded me of how I had to kill her for her own evil.  She reminded me of how difficult it was for me to make that choice and how it had resulted in the death of Solan.  If only I had killed Hope when Xena had asked me to Solan would still be alive.  And then as her voice spoke to me Hope’s presence lead me to Eve.  Hope urged me to make the choice that Xena herself could not make. 

     I could feel that I was losing my sanity as a fire inside rose within me.  I had to do what Xena could not bring herself to do.  I had to save Xena from the things that I had done wrong.  It was up to me to make it all right.  Hope stood before Eve as the furies were about me.  Hope beckoned me to make the move.  She urged me to draw my weapon upon the unsuspecting Eve as Xena’s daughter read my scrolls.  And now I had reached the point in which my division of guilt had separated me from my saine mind.  There was no turning back.  I no longer had control as my weapon came upon Eve and I thrust it into her side from behind.  And just as I had shown my daughter that I really did love her only killing her for her evil I felt a jolt from behind.  It was Xena’s chackram that had nailed me on the back of my head. 

     I felt the extreme pain throbbing through my mind.  I wanted to turn to Xena, but instead I just stared forward as my vision of Hope disappeared, and I dropped to the floor.  At that moment everything went black.  I could see nothing, but I could hear everything.  Xena had moved to her daughter who was still alive.  Eve’s breath sounded of suffering.  She coughed and I could hear her strain to speak to Xena.  It was obvious that her lung had been severely punctured.  Eve told Xena that I had been hit pretty good by the chackram expressing her concern for me.  I then felt Xena’s presence move toward me.  At that moment there was a release from within my mind.  Then I heard Xena whisper under her breath…”The furies….”  I could feel Xena’s confusion about my action turning to realization.  Xena had realized that I had been unfocused during the past few days.  She had seen it in my eyes after the battle against the avenging warriors.  Xena had seen it just before Poseidon was taken down upon the arrival of the gods of Olympus. 

     And then the gods of Olympus were present again as the sounds of their fury filled my ears.  I could hear bolts bouncing off of the walls, and I heard Xena leap back taking the table down in an attempt to protect her daughter and her friend.  One could hear the two halves of Xena’s chackram deflecting about as a distraction for the gods.  Then I began to feel another presence.  It was the sparkling presence of the goddess of love Aphrodite.  I could feel her love within me.  Aphrodite had come to be with someone she genuinely cared about.  I could feel her gentle touch as she tried to comfort me in my mortality.  And then I heard her say that she was only there to help.  Xena must have discovered her presence thinking that Aphrodite was fighting against us.  The battle continued, and as it raged on I felt sadness from within the goddess of love.  Her sadness was in knowing that this did not have to be.  She understood love’s power though she was as selfish as any of the gods on Mount Olympus.  And then she used her magic to whisp us away to another room within the house.  I could still hear the battle raging, but I was no longer a part of its center.  There was a series of explosions presumably from the powers of the gods.

     I tried to listen as I kept going in and out of the black abyss of consciousness.  Aphrodite stayed with me as if I were a child who had fallen in the spoils of war.  She stroked my bleeding head as my wound had been a fatal one.  I could still hear Xena fighting fiercely to protect her daughter.  Eve screamed in terror for the sound of flames had taken her, but Xena had put them out as one could sense the god Hades was approaching them.  Just as Hades was about to take the life of Xena’s child Xena engulfed him in her own flame of terror.  I could hear Hades’ screams as he was burning to death.  And I felt Aphrodite’s sadness for the loss of another of her brothers.  For the first time we shared in the pain of loss together.  The next to go was Strife.  His anguish was heard from under the crash of a large bookcase falling to the floor.  And then there was a one on one duel of swords clashing between Athena the ring leader of the gods and the mother of the twilight bringer. 

     As I went in and out again a new presence had engulfed the room.  It was a familiar presence.  It was one I had felt before.  This presence felt like the god of war.  And then I knew that Xena must have brought Eve to be watched over by Aphrodite as she watched over me.  Ares had come to be the destroyer of the bringer of twilight.  I could feel the fear of Eve knowing that death was upon her, and I could feel the regret within Aphrodite’s heart.  I did not hear the goddess move to save Eve from her brother.  Xena had expected the goddess of love to defend the bringer of twilight against her own family, but Aphrodite had not come to be a part of all of this.  She had only come to comfort a friend close to death.

     Suddenly I heard the boots of Xena enter the room.  I heard the chackram tear Ares’s flesh and his sword drop to the ground.  All was quiet for a moment and then his presence was no more.  And in the next moment I felt the comfort of love’s presence leaving my side.  All felt cold around me.  I heard Xena rushing to her daughter’s side as Eve too was mortally wounded.  The furies had driven me to draw the blood of a child, and though I had been the one to attack Eve Xena grabbed hold of my lifeless body and dragged both her daughter and her light out into the raining night.

     Xena was determined not to lose anyone.  She promised me that she would protect me as she had always done before.  I was her light.  I was the part of her that gave balance within her own darkness.  Xena spoke to her injured daughter and proclaimed her to be her hope as my own daughter had once been mine.  Again I felt the presence of Aphrodite.  I heard her express her sadness and compassion to Xena, but Xena was not convinced of Aphrodite’s love for a friend.  She challenged Aphrodite asking her to heal me if she truly loved the bard.  Aphrodite explained to Xena that healing powers could only be blessed by Athena.  Aphrodite was certain that Athena would not agree to it.  Xena had already taken too many of the gods to turn back now.  Xena begged Aphrodite to send us to Mount Olympus, but Aphrodite refused.  She couldn’t take the thought of anymore killing.  Aphrodite understood what the bard had always understood.  She did not want to see another perish upon Xena’s hand.  I went out again and then came back.  Aphrodite had reluctantly agreed to take us. 

     When we arrived at Mount Olympus Xena was grateful that Aphrodite’s love for Gabrielle was as strong as her own.  Xena advised Aphrodite to leave for more gods would inevitably suffer a fate of death.  Aphrodite was reluctant to leave the bard’s side knowing that her friend may not make it through the mortal fate upon her.  Aphrodite knelt down beside me and I could feel her loving touch as she bade me fare-well referring to me as the “little one” as if I were the innocence of a child.  And then her presence was no more.  I heard Eve call Xena mother for the first time.  Xena was shocked at this simple gesture of a word, but Eve felt her own mortality setting in from the wounds inflicted by my own furious mind.  Xena had told Eve of how she had regretted missing her daughter’s childhood and growing up.  Eve was forgiving, and told Xena that she had liked spiders as a child hoping to comfort her mother knowing she was upon the threshold of death’s door.  Xena chuckled weakly, and realized how much she had in common with the daughter she had barely known.

     Another presence appeared again.  It was the god of war.  Xena asked of him a deal.  She asked the god of war for Athena’s blessing to heal her daughter and her friend.  Ares made it known that he could make Xena a goddess and save the life of her friend, but he could not offer the same for her daughter.  He challenged Xena reminding her that with each of their recent confrontations Xena had been unable to thrust death upon his mortal state.  Xena was not humored at his challenge as she thrust a weapon into his leg.  It was a small cross-bow as Ares squealed feeling mortal pain for the first time.  He couldn’t believe that he had been shot by a mortal for he had been the all powerful god of war.

     I heard Xena wrap him in chains as she took us all to meet Athena.  Athena’s voice echoed through the halls of Olympus.  Xena again presented the deal to her.  She promised to spare the lives of the remaining Olympic gods if Athena would grant blessings to those whom Xena loved most.  But Athena would not bow down to the mother with the power to kill gods.  She mocked Xena and then I heard an arrow move through the air.  It was stopped by Xena’s hand and then a second arrow cut through the air.  This arrow was also stopped.  Xena screamed with vengeance as she thrust the arrows back at the sender.  It was Artemis and one could hear her lifeless body drop to the ground.

     And so the final battle between Xena and Olympus began.  Athena drew her sword as the two clashed against one another.  There were more explosions from the raging power of Athena as the sound of collapsing columns echoed through the halls of Olympus.  Xena’s passion was no match for the goddess of wisdom.  She thrust a weapon through Athena, but Athena did not fall.  Xena’s power to kill gods was no more for the bringer of the twilight had breathed her last breath.  Eve had perished from her mortal wounds, yet this discovery did not stop Xena as she fought against Athena passionately.  I could hear a mother’s love in battle though the end result was inevitable.  And then the unexpected happened.  I went out and then came back to hear chains across the marble floors of the Olympic palace.  It was the god of war approaching me.  I felt his hand upon my head and then there was this extraordinary energy throughout my body.  Slowly the silence of mortal death came back into the sounds of the clashing swords and then the blackness began to fade into a blur of vision. 

     The ruin of the beautiful marble palace of Olympus came into focus, and then I saw Xena thrust her sword into Athena who was about to kill the mother of the bringer of twilight with her own thrust.  Xena had accepted that she was going to die at the hand of Athena, but then I saw the blood dripping from the stomach of the goddess Athena.  This powerful immortal had become mortal again.  She looked into Xena’s eyes who was stunned to realize that her power against the gods had been miraculously restored.  There was regret within Xena’s eyes for Xena had respected Athena more than any of the other Olympic gods, and with Athena’s death Xena knew that it meant the deaths of her loved ones as well.   

     I struggled to move as I saw the god of war standing over me.  There was a bit of sadness, and regret illuminating from within his being as he watched his sister be taken by death’s cruel hand.  As I moved toward Xena she rushed to Eve and I.  Eve too had been saved.  The god of war had saved us both.  Some how he had healed us without Athena’s blessing.  As Athena faded she asked why her brother had betrayed her, and he explained that it was his undying love for the warrior princess.  Ares regretted that his sister had to perish, but a part of him knew that Xena was his own undying hope.  Athena could not understand this.  She could not understand how it was possible for Ares to heal without her blessing.  Ares explained that he had made his own sacrfice.  He had sacrificed his immortality in exchange for the gift of healing, and in that moment the once powerful immortal goddess Athena fell in the heat of a battle for survival.  After Xena had embraced the ones she loved she realized that it was Ares she had to thank.  He had so desperately wanted to prove his love for the warrior princess.  As she rose to face him she realized that his love for her had been true.  In the beginning it had been a selfish love, but now it had become selfless.  Xena barely knew what to say to him.  A simple thank you rolled from her lips and the god of war nodded in understanding of her. 

     It truly is amazing how powerful love can be.  A mother’s love for her child, a friend’s love for another friend, a child’s love for his father, a sibling’s love for another sibling, a god’s love for a mortal, and a man’s love for a woman.  I’ve seen so much pain in my adventures and my travels with Xena, but despite all of the pain there is no greater gift than love.  And so my struggle between guilt and loyalty had ended as I had forgiven Eve for her wrongs.  I had accepted her for her own darkness as I had accepted Xena’s darkness so long ago.  And then Xena had granted me her own gift.  It was the gift of sharing in motherhood for she understood my pain in losing my own Hope.  She wanted to give me a new hope.  It was the part of my light that had been sacrificed for a friend so many winters ago.  A loyal friend could not ask for much more than that.          

#115 Coming Home
December 18 BC

#116 The Haunting of Amphipolis
January 18 BC

#117 Heart of Darkness
January 18 BC

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

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #119:  Legacy

June, 17 B.C.

     As I take a breath within this moment I do not know how it shall all end.  Shall the greater good and its justice take precedence over a soul that once shun with the bright light of hope and determination.  Only the sands of the hour of time shall reveal what the fate of this darkness which has inevitably come upon the once passionate burning flame to end the cycle of violence.

     This journey began on a lighter thought.  After my seemingly conquering one demon within Xena had suggested that we take a break for a while, and rest before returning to the path of our ultimate quest which has always been for the cause of the greater good.  Nothing in life has mattered so much to me than to fight for that cause alongside the warrior princess.  It has been my only reason for fighting through all of the things that I have seen, and all of the things that I have done.  But this adventure that my heart and soul seeked so long ago has come at a price greater than I could ever have imagined.

     Xena and I had meant to travel along the coast of North Africa, yet the conditions soured into a blustering sand storm in which we found ourselves lost and out of touch.  I was not happy about this.  I was tired, and I was hurting.  And so when the sands finally let up Xena and I found an abandoned bathing hole to enjoy one of the few of life’s little pleasures.  Bathing is one of the few things left which can soothe this restless soul and so a warm hot bath was just what was ordered.  And as always after this small blissful moment I felt once again refreshed within for somehow I was reminded either by the bath or by Xena’s sarcasm that fighting for the cause of the greater good holds much more beauty than can be imagined by anyone who has not taken up arms to defend it.  As I returned to suit I took one look at the abyss around us and saw a little bit of beauty in the peaceful silence of it all.

     But this peaceful quiet of the dessert did not last as it erupted into the familiar sounds of battle.  As always Xena could not resist investigating.  She lived for battle for it was her determined way in this life, and nothing in the world could ever force her to turn and look the other way.  There were times that I wished that we could just forget that we had ever heard those sounds and this time had been one of them.  But my loyalty to Xena always kept me in check of ever questioning Xena’s instincts and so we jumped upon our horses dressed in weapons ready for a fight.  Again I followed Xena into battle as I had done against my better judgment many times before.

     We approached the desolate hills and we looked down into the valley below.  What we saw reminded me of a time when we jumped in to help Ulysses against those nasty pirates in order to even the odds as Xena would always put it.  And so we rode into action immediately without a second thought.  There were two groups of nomadic people’s feuding against one other.  The thing to remember is that there is a certain a rush that one feels when one rides into battle.  It’s like your blood races through your body uncontrollably.  Like a passionate rage ready to take its prey.  We were going in for the kill, but we really knew nothing of the situation.  We took the side of the underdog as we entered into this battle.  The underdog had been surrounded by men in dark wardrobe upon horseback fighting the nomadic people in the white wardrobe.  There was almost something symbolic about it in a way.  It was the dark battling against the light.  Naturally I wanted to choose the light for it felt most natural to me, but as the battle raged on I felt myself enter into a grey area.

     This grey area had not been unknown to me for I had entered it before, but this time there was something distinctly different about it.  I had leaped off of my horse at full gallop attacking the new found rival knocking him to the ground.  I moved to my feet fighting like a passionate dancer upon the stage.  Across the battle field was Xena my mentor.  She was lovely as always, but heavier than I.  Xena’s style was not that of a dancer, but of a charging bull.  Yet there was a sense of love with every stroke of the sword as it moved from one victim to the next.  Xena did not choose to kill anyone during this battle for her instincts did not direct it.  This battle had only been for fun and for sport.  For me it was something very different.

     I pulled my weapons into the defensive position.  I was in control of my motion and the timing was perfect.  Everything about me flowed.  My body, my mind, my soul, and spirit were working together to perfect the art of the warrior although I was nowhere near completely mastering it the way Xena had already done.  I was leaps and bounds behind, and just as I thought of this I felt a fast approaching physical presence from behind so I spun around to defend.  A one on one confrontation between me and my rival and then he began to feel a bit overpowering.  Instinctively I threw him to the ground and drew my weapon to the offensive, but just as I was about to go in for the kill something inside me pulled me from this warrior balance.  For a moment I thought to myself what if this man is not really the enemy?  What if choosing to kill him rather than to just disable him is the wrong choice?  What will the repercussions be to me beyond this moment in the heat of battle?

     After this hesitation from deep inside of me I quickly turned my weapon back upon the defensive and struck him out cold.  At least I knew he would eventually wake up with nothing more than a nasty migraine.  At least I was certain that he would wake up.

     The battle ended soon after this moment of question and Xena and I felt very energized.  In fact, we were proud of what we had accomplished here.  We had helped someone as we always did and we usually made some of our closest friends this way.  And as cruel as life can be making new friends is essential order to replace those who have perished at the hands of the darker side. 

     Our rejoicing was seemingly as short lived as our new found allies for the leader was not happy with our deciding to intervene.  She scolded us for entering a battle that was not rightfully ours to fight in.  Xena and I were insulted because for the first time someone had been ungrateful for our sacrifice.  The leader of the lights explained that those who did not choose their battles wisely were certain to meet an early demise.  I remembered Xena once giving me that same advice about choosing your battles wisely.  Xena had not entered this battle in haste.  I knew this and was quick and ready to defend my friend’s actions and decision.

     As Xena and I stood before this ungrateful woman I urged Xena that we should just go.  It was obvious that our services were not needed nor appreciated.  As we turned to leave the woman again scolded Xena accusing her of being a fraud.  She had heard Xena’s name carelessly escaping from my lips.  Again I came to defend my friend.  I couldn’t believe the attitude of this person.  It was something we had never encountered before.  When I confirmed that this indeed was the “legendary Xena.’  She still didn’t believe me.  She mocked me by referring to me as the “battling bard Gabrielle.”  This was a shocking revelation for I had never heard anyone refer to me in that way before.  How did she even know about me?  Xena was self explanatory, but me? 

     I returned her sarcasim with my own as I confirmed that I was indeed Gabrielle, and that it was a long story as to how Xena could even be walking the earth alive and well twenty-five years in passing.  This female leader still did not believe, and who really cared anyway.  It didn’t really matter except for now we had been challenged.  It was definitely a first, and I did not expect that it would be the last.  So I naturally rose to the challenge as always.  This was a battle of wits now which was something that I had always prided myself on.  Xena allowed me to do most of the talking since she had always known me to be an excellent talker.  I went with it and then the woman mocked Xena’s chackram claiming that it couldn’t be the legendary Xena that stood before her for she hadn’t even used her chackram in battle.  With pride and contempt Xena replied that it had not been necessary for her to use it in this particular battle.

     Naturally our latest rival was not buying that one either.  So I urged Xena to show her exactly how her little silver round killing thing worked.  She sprung into action whipping out the metal piece deflecting it off of a nearby dessert rock and splitting the sword of our challenger.  And then of course the chackram came back to its master as always only this time she added a little zing to its capture.  She bounced it off of her boot as it hung itself gracefully back upon her hip.  The chackram had come to rest after its dance.  Xena looked to me with a large triumphant grin knowing that the two of us had won this battle of wits as we had won the battle of braun. 

     Once again we were sailing high upon our pride until we looked to see that our newfound friends, rivals, and enemies had bowed down before us as if we were Egyptian royalty.  What an amazing unexpected turn of events this was.  The next thing we knew we found ourselves being waited on with a most gracious hospitality.  The nomads now welcomed us with open arms and excitement for we were going to be their saviors.  The leader introduced herself as Kaheena, and Xena was certain to remind me that none of their gifts was to be refused no matter how unappealing or unappetizing they may have been.  Of course we really did not know what we had gotten ourselves into, but then again we never know.  The fates weave their tangled web for us, and we just do the best that we can with their mess.

     After receiving many gifts and some strange delicacies Kaheena spoke of an enemy that Xena and I would help them defeat.  I assumed immediately that it was the nomads of the dark wardrobe, but was immediately informed that they were merely rivals and nothing more.  Instead Kaheena spoke of a more deadly challenge yet it was one that Xena and I had confronted on many past occasions.  She spoke of a people that came from across the sea and invaded their homelands only to hunt them down and destroy them.  Xena and I knew exactly who she was talking about.  The Romans were the only people that would be capable of this kind of violence, lust for power, and hunger for complete control. 

     In fact, Kaheena had said that the Romans had begun to build their roads across the dessert, and then continued her story informing us that her tribe had tried to form alliances with other nomads in the area like the ones they feuded with earlier in the day.  Yet it was  seemingly impossible without peace between these separated nomadic peoples with so many differences of opinion and custom.  After being bathed in glory, and showered with gifts we were offered to lie with Kaheena’s cousins. She insisted upon this being that it was one of the many hospitable customs of her tribe. But as pleasurable as they may have been to us we had to turn them away.  In fact, I told them several more stories about the battling bard of Podedia, and Xena the legendary Warrior Princess including the customs of Amazon chastity.  This of course satisfied their customs and committed admiration.

    That night  Xena and I were thoroughly flattered as we lied down to bed.  I myself could not believe that these people hundreds maybe even thousands of miles away from our home were sharing and enjoying the scrolls that I had written seemingly so long ago.  It was as if they had been talking about a different Gabrielle.  Of a girl that I no longer knew.  Kaheena had been the one who had mentioned that my scrolls had been the inspiration to them as children and now they were passing on my wonderful stories to their own children.  When I wrote those stories I had been full of wonder and of hope.  Now that power of hope had bled through my writings into the lives of these nomadic dessert people.  It was very satisfying and pleasing for me to know this. 

     As I thought of these things Xena reminded me of the situation at hand.  We were now on a new assignment.  It was one very familiar to us.  The Romans were once again on our minds as they had been in the past, but if anyone was up to this job it was Xena and I.  If anyone knew the Romans well enough to conquer them it was us.  Knowing that we would be coming into a major battle again soon I recalled my first good day in battle against the Romans.  I was reminded of the day that I watched a father perish in battle to save his wife and son’s future.  There was still a part of me that knew I could have saved Flannigas from death, and that brought me back to my dilemma of the most recent battle earlier in the day.  I inquired of Xena about those moments of uncertainty of instinct in battle when it came to the kill.  This inquiry did not last long for Xena scolded me reminding me that hesitation was not an option.  Her answer was to go with instincts only and if that wasn’t a good enough answer to the question then pain would be the end result.  I thought of physical pain and not emotional of course.

     Early yesterday morning Xena and I awoke to more gifts and admirers.  Upon our arrival to the camp of the dark nomads we met their paternal leader Tezire.  He was uncertain of the visit at first considering the events of the previous day, but when Kaheena explained that she and her tribe had brought the legendary Warrior Princess he paused.  Tezire was not completely trusting and did not believe that Xena the warrior princess was actually found roaming the desserts of North Africa.  Xena was insulted that he did not believe just as Kaheena had not believed.  But then his younger son stepped forward.  He had been a witness to the awesome fighting power of the legendary Xena and her battling bard.  After hearing the exciting testimony of his young son we met with Tezire and Kaheena in an attempt to hopefully work out a peace treaty.  A union between these two tribes was necessary so that we might be able to defeat the Romans more efficiently and more easily. 

     As the details were being worked out between Xena, the dark, and the light I met a most peculiar young boy.  In fact, this was the young boy whom had given the testimony to his father of what he had witnessed the day before.  He was full of wonder, of life, and of light and hope.  He almost reminded me of someone from my distant past.  This moment of interaction with him was so familiar to me yet I couldn’t exactly remember why.  He was so curious about me, my scrolls, my weapons, and he complemented me to no end.  His name was Kara.  It was a beautiful name and its rhythm fluttered with the same enthusiasm as did his spirit.  Kara’s admiration of my storytelling was apparent as he doted on my understanding of the essence of battle.  He inquired if I had realized that even in my earliest work that I was aware of this.  I was flattered by this more than anything, but when I had written my scrolls I had done it for the pure adventure and enjoyment never realizing that they would come across so powerfully. Kara then hastily picked up one of my sais pleased that it was the kind of weapon that would not kill.  Of course he picked it up by the defensive side.  I gingerly took it from him showing him that it could indeed kill.  Kara asked me if I would teach him how to use these weapons.  Again I was flattered that someone would want to be my apprentice as I had been Xena’s.  In fact, Kara had referred to my style of fighting as intelligent and restrained in comparison to Xena’s strong approach. 

     He then insisted upon washing my feet for me.  At that moment I realized who he had reminded me of.  This was me when I first met Xena.  It was the same passionate fire.  This was same nieve view of what being a warrior and taking up arms was all about.  It was the same haze of admiration I had once carried for Xena.  Yet it was so very eager to learn the ways and the tricks of the trade.  A huge part of me wanted to refuse him because I knew the other side.  It made me realize why Xena had tried so desperately to leave me behind.  She saw in me that same bright light which shun so brightly upon my spirit so long ago.  And then as I was about to reflect on all of this Xena summoned me to join her.  We were going to go get information from the Romans.  Naturally the two nomadic leaders wanted to be a part of this mission and so did my new shadow, but Xena was commanding and firm letting everyone know that this detail could be handled by Xena and I alone.

     And so we traveled across the dessert to pay a visit to the Roman governor.  He wasn’t far across the valleys.  It was only a few hours of travel.  During our journey Xena asked me about Kara.  She wanted to know what had happened between us back at the camp.  I explained to her that Kara had wanted me to teach him to use the sais.  Xena stroked my ego a little more by telling me that he had chosen a very good teacher.  This led me to comment on how strange it was for me to be known more as a warrior and less as a bard than I had before.  Xena wanted to know if that was a good thing for me.  A part of me was certain that indeed it was for I had strived for that kind of recognition for so long, but there was another part of me that wasn’t so certain.  That part of me wondered if maybe I had lost myself somehow, but I did not share this with Xena. 

     When we arrived at the Roman camp Xena insisted that I play the part of the slave girl while she got to be the glamorous aristocratic wife.  We entered freely with little security.  It wasn’t like in the days of Caesar and Pompeii.  Everyone of those Romans was paranoid, but not this man.  He was quite confident and cool about his situation.  He did not feel at all threatened.  Of course he did not realize that this woman standing before him was the legendary Xena.  Xena gave him a false family name and claimed to be of the fifth generation of one of Rome’s most well-known aristocratic families.  She introduced herself as a wife of the CVO family. Xena claimed to have come to investigate investment possibilities in this new territory.  The nomad situation was brought up and it was revealed to us of how the governor was planning on remedying the situation.  He had planned on three legions to pass through the narrow valley.  It would be a surprise attack which would crush them indefinitely.  Of course I spoke a little more than my part and the governor suggested that I be punished.  Prior to that one of his officers scoffed at the idea that Xena would be alive and well to aid the nomadic peoples.  In fact, she was referred to as Caesar’s whore.  But I suppose that is how Caesar viewed her.  It was obvious that the Romans did not have their legends straight.  But this was to Xena’s advantage and she knew it well.

     On our way back to Kaheena’s camp we ran into another of those nasty dessert sand storms.  I wanted to stop for being pelted with whirling sand was very uncomfortable and it was difficult to see two steps in front of oneself.  Xena insisted that we keep trudging forward.  Our fate would be much worse if we were to stop for we would be buried alive within the cloud of sand. These were definitely some of the most unpleasant moments of being a warrior.  Playing the part was one adventure, but this was quite another hardship.  And then something beyond imagination came to pass.  I lost the reigns of my horse for a moment as I was knocked to the ground by the force of the wind.  I tried to rise back to my feet quickly, but I was very disoriented.  I was lost within a whirlwind of confusion and pain.  I tried to focus so that I could continue on this simple journey between one point and another, but I was finding it very difficult.  I heard Xena calling out for me.  That was when I realized I could not see her anymore.  She was far from me.  It was seemingly the farthest she had ever been.  I called back desperately hoping that maybe she would be able to help me find myself within this mess. 

    And then I saw a figure emerging from within the shadows of the storm.  It didn’t look like Xena.  The shadow was dark and mysterious.  I walked up closer to get a better look hoping that my mind was only playing tricks on me, but it wasn’t for Xena then appeared before my eyes calling out my name frantically.  The figure was approaching from behind her right shoulder.  She wasn’t ready and seemingly could not sense the presence.  I looked as the figure raised an arm and then I saw it glistening in the sand.  It was a blade that I had seen.  Instinctively I ran for the figure.  I couldn’t allow my friend to be slaughtered by the darkness.  She was all there was in life.  She was my reason for getting up every day to fight against evil. 

     Then it happened.  I whirled around with the enemy and drew my weapon to the offensive thrusting it into the firm chest of Xena’s attacker.  Yet as my weapon entered something about this moment didn’t feel right.  My friend’s life had been in my hands.  Xena saw the whole thing.  She saw the mistake that I had made.  This was the dilemma we had discussed the night before.  The moment of truth had come for me and my instincts had lied.  As soon as I dropped the enemy to the ground with my weapon into his body I had to see who it was that I had taken.  When I unmasked the villain tragedy struck.  This was not an enemy at all.  The life I had taken was of completely pure innocence.  I had taken a gift from the world rather than a burden.  As Kara lie dying in my arms he was shocked to see that his attacker had been the one whom he had admired most.  My name slide from his lips gracefully and confused.  His beautiful name released itself from my lips and then I felt him take his final breath.  Death washed over him quickly and in his hand he had been clutching a scroll which spoke of peace being reached between two tribes at war with one another.  Someone had blown out his candle.  I had distinguished Kara’s light with just one wrong choice.  A single thrust of my sais had been his demise.

     Xena and I returned to our abandoned bathing hole.  The place that had given me solace only a few days before was now the place in which Xena was washing blood lust from my own hands.  I could not believe that this was me who had made the terrible mistake of taking the life of an innocent.  Not only had I made a terrible mistake I had committed a crime.  I had murdered someone.  I had murdered an innocent.  Xena felt my pain and wanted to console me, but what could she have said to me?  She agreed that she never thought that she would see the day that she would be washing lustful blood from my palms, but today was that day.  Inside my heart was drowning and my soul was suffocating.  What could be done to redeem me for this crime?  Betrayal and lies are one thing.  Killing one’s own evil child, or avenging one’s murdered parents are other things, but killing for the sake of killing.  Playing God was not something that I had the authority to do, and I knew this.

     Xena then insisted that I return to Kaheena’s camp.  She would take Kara’s body back to his father and the dark camp and she would explain everything.  I wanted to be the one to tell Tezire, but Xena would not allow it.  She left me to deal with my mistake.  I was feeling very alone yet my body was still energized with the nervous energy of a fresh kill.  When Xena returned to me back at Kaheena’s came I was eager and hopeful to know what had happened with Tezire.  According to Xena it had not gone well at all, but how else should one expect the father of his slain son to react.  I was so ashamed of my action.  How could the one who once professed to end the cycle of violence expect her murderous actions to be forgiven? I argued with Xena to let me deal with Tezire, but she refused firmly reminding me that death was the penalty for my crime in the land of the dessert. 

     That was the breaking point for me.  I couldn’t hold this in.  I had to tell and I had to do it my way.  The guilt was beyond my control.  Xena revealed to me that she had lied to them to protect me by saying that it had been the Romans who had slaughtered Kara.  She had made up that story because at first Tezire had blamed Kaheena for Kara’s death.  Xena’s protective lies did not make me feel any better.  As we argued about my fate Kaheena entered our tent to discuss the battle plans with Xena.  She alerted Xena of a valley to lure the Roman army into that would trap them into a battle with us.  Kaheena was just as hungry for the blood of the killer as was Tezire.  Xena tried to downplay the situation by confirming Kaheena’s good work in locating the perfect battle position.  Kaheena was pleased to receive Xena’s approval.

     But then as Xena tried to dissolve my guilt and her lie one of Kaheena’s men suddenly entered into the tent with a Roman which had been captured by the water hole.  He had been washing off his spear when he was captured.  The spear still had blood on it and to Kaheena it was certain proof of the Roman’s guilt.  I knew in my heart that he was condemned just the way Xena had been condemned by the villagers whom she tried to save against the mysterious hooded warrior so long ago.  And now Kaheena was ready for immediate punishment of the crime in order to restore faith with her new ally Tezire.

     I stood in the background of this lie watching and listening to it grow into a nightmare.  I knew that if I did not confess I would be responsible for not one innocent death, but two for this Roman had not killed Kara.  I was the guilty one.  Xena continued with the lie trying to save the Roman from certain death knowing that if she did not stop his execution from happening that I would confess.  She scolded Kaheena for picking a Roman at random for execution just to satisfy justice and grace with a new ally.  But Kaheena would not back down.  She insisted that even if the roman didn’t commit the crime someone else just like him did.  And that was when I realized what a dirty criminal I really was.  I realized that she would just execute him for an example and that he did not deserve to be executed for my crime.

     During this entire scene I had agonized.  I had wanted to tell the truth.  I could not lie about this, not even for Xena.  My guilt for killing Kara was enough.  I would not accept guilt for this man’s death if I could save him with my own life.  It was the moment of truth and just as they were about to take him out of the tent I stepped forward gravely and confessed to Kaheena that I was the murderer.  Xena looked to me knowing that I would confess, and she was concerned for the events to follow were beyond even the will of the warrior princess.  And because of Xena’s lie to save me Kaheena and Tezire were on their own once again to face the Roman army for Kaheena no longer trusted the legendary warrior princess.

     I was immediately taken to Tezire’s camp where I was shackled and imprisoned with the body of the murdered.  The room was lit with the candles and with the light of Kara’s eternal spirit.  His innocence permeated the tent as the pure white candles burned around his body.  I couldn’t help but see his face.  The look on his face when I had taken his life was frozen in my mind and every time I looked to the lifeless body before me I was haunted within.  For hours I was left with my guilt for killing him.  The shackles upon my wrists were as heavy as my heart.  It was as if my own heart were the shackles of eternal torture. 

     In the early morning hours while the darkness was still upon me Tezire entered the tent to honor his slain son.  He bowed down next to me and mourned his son quietly.  Then he turned to me unexpectedly and asked me how I felt.  At first I didn’t understand his question, but then he asked me how it felt to kill an innocent.  The only word I could find to describe it to him was unbearable, but it was beyond that for me.  When I tried to pour my heart out to him and to explain my mistake to him he did not want to listen.  But why should he listen.  Tezire’s face was full of vengeance as he threw his hand across mine.  He wanted revenge just as I had wanted revenge for my family only weeks before.  Tezire said that if he had realized that I was a snake before he would have taken my life before I could have taken that of Kara.  He was firmly serious.  And then I realized that he was right.  I was a snake.  Then he left me to be alone with my heavy unbearable guilt. 

     I began to go over in my mind how I had gone from being the healing light to the dark slimy snake who could kill an innocent.  My path had begun with such excitement.  I had yearned to be a warrior like the one that had saved me and my village from the warlord Draco.  I recalled telling my sister that I was leaving to join Xena, and then I remembered my journey to Amphipolis to join Xena.  My first adventurous encounter had been with a blind Cyclops and I had told him a false story about hunting to kill the warrior princess in order to escape his wrath.  I recalled the first time Xena pulled me upon Argo to join her on the path of the warrior, and then the time that I had played the part of Xena to save a village when I had almost lost her to a poison dart.  I thought of the time that Xena and I had helped stop a war and we had saved many lives.  In fact, I had almost died that day.  A part of me now wished that I had because in those days I was commended for my gifts of healing the soul and passion for saving innocent lives. 

     My first weapon had been one of defense only.  It had been the staff that Ephiny had given me when we had created peace between the Amazons and the Centaurs.  And then my thoughts went to my first painful loss along this path.  It had been my husband Perdicous.  I recalled what it felt like to have my heart ripped out by evil though recently my heart had been numb of this kind of pain for some time.  Callisto had been the evil in those days.  At the time I had thought that the only way to heal that pain was through blood.  And then I recalled that I had not drawn her blood though I had wanted revenge.  That time I had survived the cycle of violence and I lived with its pain.  But then I recalled my second test of which I had miserably failed.  I recalled my first kill when the evil Dahok had tricked me, and taken my blood innocence giving me my child Hope.  My hand could still feel the knife and I could still see the blood dripping all over the blade down to my once pure innocent hands.  That kill had confused me.  It had lead me to try to go against being a warrior.  I thought of my spiritual journey in India as a result of that experience and many others soon after it.  That was when I had met Eli who had given me a chance to choose the alternative life path of peace and of love.  That was when I had given up my first weapon.

     Xena had not been pleased with that decision, but it was one she had to live with for a while.  My path of loving with a pure heart did not last long though.  I had once been the one who begged Xena not to become a monster if something had happened to me.  Instead I was put to that test when Xena had been paralyzed by her own chackram as evil triumphed over me again.  The monster within emerged as I had slaughtered several Romans trying to save my best friend.  In the end we were led to Caesar’s crosses.  All of that bloodshed at the end of my sword had been for nothing.

But then later I had run into Eli again when he had resurrected us though the power of God.  And when I tried to rationalize his way to the way of the warrior I was put to the test by Eli himself.  That test I had failed as well for I had let Ares kill him.  After that all I could do was fight because there were no other answers to my burning questions within.

     My most recent test had been to resist blood vengeance at my own hand upon the man who had been responsible for the deaths of my mother and father.  I had come very close to thrusting that knife into the body of the evil Gurkhan, but instead I just beat him.  But even that wasn’t commendable.  I thought that if I killed him I would become him, but instead I killed an innocent.  Kara’s death rushed through my mind like an arrow through the shoulder.  The pain of knowing my grave mistake ached like a fresh battle wound being sown up carelessly only to be reopened.  My true mistake had not been killing an innocent.  My true mistake had been my choice to leave my path to end violence for that of a warrior who must embrace it.  And then I prayed that Xena’s prayer prayed so long ago for me, and my light to shine would be answered though my heavy burden had dissolved my own hopes as the last drops of wax fell from my candle. My heart had decided that it would be best that someone dissolve what little of me was left before any more damage could be done.

     As the sun rose early I was taken out to the execution grounds.  Inside I was already dead.  My captures led me to the grave which had been dug for me in the sand.  It was a deep grave and it looked lonely.  I was sluggish as I approached it dragging my feet for I didn’t have the strength in my heart to make the journey to my death.  Suddenly, we had reached the point of no return.  I looked down into the pit before me and then I was thrown into it.  They buried me within and I did not struggle for I deserved this death no matter how gruesome it may be.  At least death would free me from my guilt for all of the things I had done in my life.  Then I was left buried in the sand for several hours.  I looked around the dessert.  It was just as empty as I felt inside. 

     Finally the moment came.  Men came upon horse back with weapons which were meant to strike their criminals in the head.  My death would be by blunt objects to the head.  The more I envisioned this death the more fear rose within me.  There was still just a little part of me that did not want to die though I had committed this horrible crime.  I thought of Xena and of how my path had been to follow her.  As my executioners prepared to charge forward I realized that it was time to prepare to face my crime.  I had to die now.  They galloped toward me at full speed as the sand kicked up behind the hooves.  The men swung their weapons triumphantly above their heads as Tezire gave the command for execution. 

     There were the cries of death all around me as they beat the empty skulls and charged forward to take my life.  I did not close my eyes.  I faced my doom knowing that I must accept my sentence completely and with dignity.  Just before the execution squad reached me upon their horses something very miraculous happened.  The sound of the chackram approaching informed me that though I had lost hope for myself someone else still had hope for me.  Xena’s chackram sliced through the weapons of the execution squad protecting the last flicker of light from being blown out by the continuing cycle of violence. 

     And then after that another miraculous event occurred.  The warning horn blew informing the nomads that the Romans were just over the valley approaching for battle.  Immediately the nomadic people dropped the spectacle of my execution and retreated to regroup for the battle of their lives.  As soon as they dispersed Xena rode up on her horse and released me from the binds of my sandy grave.  A part of me was relieved that Xena still had hope for me, but a larger part of my heart still felt the heavy burden of Kara’s blood on my hands.

     Later that day we looked upon the valley where the nomads prepared for battle.  They were obviously not prepared to handle the Romans and had little inclination of the battle they would be engaging in.  Xena and I had experience on our side.  As we stood there we contemplated rejoining the nomads and leading them to victory.  But I wasn’t certain that I would be accepted by them after what I had done.  Xena had only lied, but I had killed one of their loved ones.  Xena tried to comfort me knowing what it was like to feel like giving up.  She had once felt that way and when I asked what changed things for her the legacy was revealed.  Xena said that it had been me, Gabrielle, who had been what changed things and turned life around for her.  Then she encouraged me and said that if anything my mistake would make me a stronger person, but I wasn’t so certain of it.

     Now here again was a chance for me to attempt to redeem myself for my mistakes.  So Xena and I rode into the nomadic army offering to help lead them against the Romans.  When Kaheena and Tezire tried to refuse us Xena reminded them that they didn’t have much of a choice considering the odds, the stakes, and the fact that without Xena there was little chance of survival against the approaching Roman legions.  Kaheena thought of this and she knew that Xena was right.  And so Xena was in command of yet another army.  She always seemed to revel in the roll of commander of the army.  But then again she was a talented seasoned warrior.  Who wouldn’t want Xena to lead them to victory?  As we prepared for battle we waited for the sandstorm to hit because Xena wanted to use that to our advantage.  The Romans were unfamiliar with this phenomenon of the dessert, but the nomads existed harmoniously with it.

     Just moments before the battle Kaheena was feeling uncertain of allowing Xena to lead.  She questioned the odds and doubted that victory was certain.  I once again came to Xena’s defense asking the ungrateful nomadic woman what more could she need if she had Xena on her side?  Then she looked to me and questioned the convience of the arrival of the roman army just in time to save my skin.  She mocked me for writing such legendary stories about a warrior who could defeat entire legions single handedly.  It cut through me like a knife, but all of these stories had been true as Kaheena and Tesire were about to find out. 

     When the sun was in position the winds began to stir the sands of the dessert creating a cloud of blindness.  We could hear the Roman legions approaching.  They had taken the bait and were about to fall right into our trap.  Xena commanded everyone to bury themselves in the sand.  Quickly all warriors followed orders preparing for the legendary battle of their lives.  The Roman’s came blindly into the valley and the call to attack came from our strong leader.  The nomadic warriors popped out from beneath the sands and appeared within the cloud of darkness to attack the intruders.  Swords clashed against metal, as Roman warriors fell quickly to the wrath of the storm.  They were totally unsuspecting of this and their blood ran thick through the dessert across the sands.  During this battle I had chosen to fight it with a staff for I knew that there would be no chance of my killing anyone and it freed me of having to choose life or death for my opponent.  The ebb and flow of the blood through my warrior veins charged me with the savage energy needed to survive a battle against our familiar Roman foes.  Xena was graceful as she moved smoothly from one end of the battle field to the other tearing through soldier after soldier.  Her warrior cries were like music playing and it set the tone for the rest of the instruments within this well orchestrated song of the warrior.  There was something strangely harmonious about it all. 

     But then suddenly there was a break in the song.  Across the battle field I caught sight of Tezire.  He was involved in hand to hand combat with the enemy.  Tezire was winning, but just behind him I caught sight of death approaching.  Another Roman soldier was advancing with his sword raised about to go in for the kill.  I could see it clearly in his eyes and then I was reminded of the day I could have saved another warrior, but instead I froze in battle.  This time I didn’t freeze.  I reacted quickly using my staff to take out the approaching enemy.  Tezire never felt the presence of death coming from behind and in that moment of action realized that he had been saved by the one who had taken his precious son.  There was a long moment of time in which we were frozen.  It was like nothing else around us was happening.  It was just me and Tezire.  We shared a mutual moment of relief.  My relief of knowing that maybe I was redeemed and forgiven and his moment of contemplating forgiveness for the murder.  But this moment snapped back into battle when I realized that we had to stand up continuing to fight.  I urged Tezire to come along with me as I reached out to him.  He took my hand and we charged in together to finish a battle that we had begun together.

      Xena’s plan played out perfectly as we swiftly defeated the Roman legions.  And later that night we had returned to camp with the nomadic people’s.  As Xena and I sat by the warm fire I admitted to her that I didn’t think that the day was going to end so well, but instead it had turned out to be just another good day in battle.  She agreed with me.  Then I asked her why she came back for me going against the will of the greater good.  Xena explained to me that sometimes there are circumstances in a warrior’s life that go beyond the call of the greater good.  She confessed that I was the one thing that she had always put before that cause no matter what the stakes.  Then I asked her if she would have saved me if it had been my choice instead of hers.  Xena confirmed that even if it had been my choice to allow my execution that she would have gone against it.  She could never let me die if there was something within her power that she could do to spare me.

     Tezire had approached us and I knew that he had heard every moment of our conversation.  He came to thank me for saving his life and tried to comfort me from my heavy guilt.  Tezire said that we were now even for my deed to him.  Because of my swift reaction I had saved his life and that was how he had come to understand why I had killed Kara.  I had been protecting my friend.  But I knew in my heart that though I had spared his life we would never be even for my mistake did not allow me to bring Kara back to him, and so did Tezire.  Yet Tezire must have seen something that I could not see within myself for he told me that Kara would have been a great warrior just like me.  And so there in lies my own legacy yet it is a legacy that I still do not fully understand.   

#120 Dangerous Prey
July 17 BC

#121 The Abyss
September 17 BC

#122 The Rheingold
December 17 BC

#123 The Ring
January 15 BC

#124 Return of the Valkyrie
February 15 BC

#125 Old Ares Had A Farm
April 15 BC

#126 The God You Know
August 15 BC

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

#128 Last of the Centaurs
April 14 BC

#129 Path of Vengance
May 14 BC

#130 To Helicon And Back
June 14 BC

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#131:  A Friend In Need

September, 14 B.C.

The universe is full of wonder and of mystery.  It is a tapestry woven with such complexity yet larger in simplicity.  I found myself awakening in the early morning hours.  Wondering about these mysteries and wonders as I looked upon the stars before they began to fade into a new day full of promise.  As I spoke aloud to myself and contemplated these powerful thoughts enjoying the many sounds of serenity the orchestra was unexpectedly interrupted.  It was interrupted by a most unlikely source.  Xena rose from her sleep to interject her opinion of the universe and her thoughts on what it was all about.

     I was quite shocked that she had even been listening to me for the warrior princess rarely ever had time to stop and take in the beauty of life.  She was always seemingly wrapped up in the noise of it all.  But that was okay for I had known it to be her nature.  This philosophical episode was not.  Of course this wonderful moment we shared together in contemplating the stars and our vast universe passed so quickly that if one weren’t paying attention to stop and gawk all would have been lost. 

     The conversation quickly shifted to the warrior princess expressing her boredom with our ongoing quest to seek out and find the most dangerous adventures doing good as we always had.  I hadn’t really ever thought about that much myself.  In fact, I was quite content with fighting alongside the beautiful warrior princess preserving good for all the ages.  She frolicked around in her blankets a bit and sat up closer to me and asked me what I thought about the idea of taking a vacation from all of this nonsense.  When one stopped and took a better look at our situation it really was quite absurd that anyone would want to live the kind of lives we had lived together.  Who would be crazy enough to seek out danger for the sake of saving the world for it was indeed a large place.  It really was kind of strange, but it was who we were and had always been.  It was what our lives had been about.  We had chosen these lives for ourselves long before we had ever taken our first breaths into this world  which we had been born.  Though separate in the first breath I always knew that we would be together in our last breath.  That was a comfort to me if nothing else in the world could be.

      Xena continued by suggesting that we go to the land of the pharaohs and do some damage there for Greece was becoming a bore.  She had heard of course that they were in need  of  a girl who knew how to use a chackram.  Of course this was the extent of the warrior princess’s wit, but it always made me laugh inside.  And then suddenly I wondered how long Xena had been awake and listening to me.  I asked her if maybe it had been that she had heard the person who was still circling around our camp in the woods nearby.  She agreed that she had indeed been listening to that sound too for at least half past an hour or so.

     We decided that we would come out of hiding from him for if he had been a threatening soul he would have found us much sooner.  Xena and I walked in the direction of the one who so desperately wanted to find us and caught up to him within a few moments or so.  It was obvious that our arrival had startled him at first.  I could tell by his clothing and his manner that he was from the lands of the far east.  In fact, he was a monk for he wore pure white robes.  He bowed before us almost nailing me with his travel gear, but that had been the extent of the fierce battle that usually followed an unexpected visitor to camp.

      And of course this man as all who had come before him seeked the warrior princess.  As always Xena was candid and amused that yet another who came in search of her many skills.  It was strange to see her so light upon her feet and it was very unlike her to almost blow someone off, but once again it was obvious to me that maybe a vacation was just what the warrior woman needed.  Yet her light heart soon turned serious when a familiar name from her past came up during the conversation between herself and the young monk.  He mentioned the one they called Akimi.  Xena was quite familiar and very shocked that this man had seen Akimi.  Then the monk sung to us his tragic tale.

     He and a fellow monk had been traveling a great distance during a violent storm near the far eastern land of Higutchi.  They desperately seeked refuge inside of a nearby sacred tea house.  Once inside there were three young women dressed in pure white robes as were the monks.   Yet these women were not just women they were spirits trapped between two worlds.  The women bowed their heads as the monks entered to dry their soaked clothes and rest their weary bodies.  Kenji described an eerie feeling that had come over him and then suddenly the woman bowing before them in the center of the three rose before the monks.  Kenji described his experience as if he’d seen a ghost.  In fact, that had been the explanation as to Xena’s grave reaction when he had mentioned Akimi’s name.

     Akimi and her companions invited the two young monks inside to enjoy life’s greatest pleasures.  Kenji spoke of how beautiful and tempting Akimi’s spirit had been.  He had said that the temptations had been quite overwhelming, but he did not allow the flesh to give into such pleasures.  Yet his traveling companion had been unable to refuse these wonderful seductions as the other two women shared in their company.  As Kenji sat next to the gentle spirit of Akimi he listened to her play a beautiful song.  It was a comforting overture that filled him with desire yet he could not allow himself to follow it.  Akimi turned to him and smiled as Kenji complemented her music unaware of the danger that he and his companion were about to face. 

      Though Akimi had only been a ghost Kenji spoke of how real his experience had been.  The young monk then spoke of a soft bell ringing.  When he looked up he saw that one of the other women had been wearing a brilliant golden anklet.  Then he looked to Akimi whose comforting song suddenly stopped.  She looked very upset and was concerned for Kenji’s safety.  Then she warned Kenji of the arrival of a power greater than could be imagined.  Akimi told him to run away and hide yet Kenji was confused and did not understand.  He ran outside as Akimi had instructed, but he  could not allow himself to leave.  He hid just beyond the white curtains which floated gracefully in the wind. 

     Suddenly, there was a loud crash as evil had just entered into the tea house.  Kenji described this evil as horror that could paralyze the mortal body with fear.  He stood watching this spectacle of horror unfolding before his mortal eyes as a powerful chilling whirlwind emerged from the mouth of this nasty creature.  The being shot out his power and froze the unsuspecting victim who now found himself alone within the steaming bath.  His companions had disappeared and his pleasures had suddenly ended.  The other monk was chilled to death and then upon death’s grip came a worse punishment for his misdeeds and misconduct.  The evil being then sucked the spirit out of the monk imprisoning it for eternety.  Kenji realized that he had to leave for he did not want to fall into the hands of this evil.  He took one last look and saw a dirty smile spread across the wretched face of the lord they called Yodoshi.  It was as if Yodoshi fed his inner hunger by imprisoning the dead within his own misery.  No one could defeat him and no one could come close to touching him. 

  As Kenji ran for his life back out into the storm he was startled as Akimi came back to him once more.  She then revealed to him why she had spared his soul from her master lord.  It was because she had seen within him a compassionate soul.  Then Akimi asked of him a favor.  She told him to find the samurai warriors and take the great Gitana.  Kenji was confused for he was not a great warrior and could not possibly defeat this being alone.  Akimi then spoke of a great warrior in the west that he could find who would know how to use the Gitana.  Kenji was full of confusion and questions for there were hundreds of warriors in the west.  He did not know how he would find this great western warrior until Akimi revealed to him that it was not a powerful man, but a warrior princess that he would seek.

     After hearing of this I was immediately intrigued myself for this was  a part of that wonderful mystery I had been contemplating before the sun rose over the valley.  I knew that it would be a wonderful story and another chapter to add to my collection of great battles and triumphs won by the warrior princess.  Every thing she ever did she had always done to undo what wrongs that had been committed before our time together.  I admired her for her perseverance and determination to make right those parts of herself that had once gone wrong. 

     Soon we found ourselves traveling with Kenji upon a ship sailing toward that great land they call Chin in the east.  It had once sent a demon to the Norse, but now the demon would face a light more powerful than darkness could ever become.  I practiced my warrior exercises on the deck of the ship with the young monk who himself was not bad.  I felt the focus of the warrior as I listened to more of the story and history surrounding the magnificent weapon known as the Gitana, and of the mysterious samurai warriors.   Of course my fascination distracted me and the young monk would have killed me had I been in a true battle.  Just as I began to return to focus I asked Kenji to tell me more about Akimi.   She seemed quite powerful in her own right from what I had heard so far.  Suddenly, Xena interrupted and asked me to join her upon starboard.  She was serious in tone and began to share another tragedy from her past.

      Though the warrior princess had many tragedies from her past they always made for the best adventures.  We always did our best work when we traveled outside of our homeland.  Maybe that was why she had wanted to travel to Egypt.  Yet I realized that she was now quite serious like the time she told me of Lao Mao.  Little did I know at this moment in time that the warrior princess had been on her final quest of the spirit.  It was the last piece to her light that had been incomplete from its damage up until now.

     Lena spoke of her relationship with Akimi.  Her meeting had come upon another of her conquests with her lover Borias just after they had ruined Lao Mao’s dream and the promise of peace to the land of Chin.   Borias had heard of a girl on the island of Higutchi whose father had a ransom out for her.  Xena and Borias were in need of more funds to fuel their conquests so the two found themselves face to face with the coward  known as Cao.  Cao had been the one that kidnapped Akimi.  Of course Cao  had planned on obtaining the ransom for himself, but Xena offered him 50 gold pieces for Akimi.  Cao refused her not willing to make a deal with a women.  Xena was insulted by this and threatened to take Cao’s life if he did not take the gold.

     Akimi  entered into the conversation expressing her excitement, and of how she had wanted to join the great warrior princess.  She desired to be the student of the warrior princess asking Xena to teach her everything she knew as did a once youthful Gabrielle.  She had been a very young girl like I had been upon meeting Xena.  Akimi had wanted to join Xena the great warrior princess as I had done.  It was a strange irony to know that I  had not been the first crazy kid to want to follow Xena, but I could understand why. 

     Naturally Borias scoffed at the idea that Xena could be someone’s teacher.  In fact he was a bit jealous that Akimi wanted to follow Xena instead of him.  He didn’t want to share the warrior princess for their passion for one another was of a lustful nature.  Xena’s ego was boosted as she smiled and thought what a great challenge it would be to have a student.  She was intrigued by this young innocent girl.  Akimi had great confidence in Xena’s ability to teach her the craft of the warrior, but she proclaimed that Xena had been seeking more than just riches.  She proclaimed that it was love which Xena had been truly searching for.  Both Borias and Xena were amused  by this although  Xena did not deny it.  Instead she stated that she was only firmly interested in conquest.  Suddenly, Cao was enraged and thought that he could defeat the warrior princess.  Yet Xena had decided that if he wasn’t going to take the money offered to him then she would take his life.

       Xena quickly used her infamous pinch for she did not have time to play games with Cao, and preferred not to do combat with the samurai who was a fraud.  She had always followed a strict warrior code even in her days of darkness.  The code was to live and die by the sword with honor.  Cao was not an honorable warrior.  Akimi watched with great interest as Cao lived the last 30 seconds of his life.  Just before he was to take his last breath Xena took Akimi leaving Borias to remind Cao that he should have taken the gold.  Borias then took back their offering to Cao and left him to die. 

     Soon the three were setting sail toward the island of Higutchi.  Borias was still amused that Xena thought that she could be a worthy teacher.  Of course Xena had not really been interested in teaching, but her ego had been challenged yet again.  She could not allow Borias the satisfaction of his words.  Xena called Akimi to her attempting  to prove him wrong.  Akimi was a very willing student although Xena said that her first lesson had not been a truth.  Xena played the part of the enemy and instructed Akimi to defend against it.  As Xena began the excercise she betrayed Akimi’s trust to prove a point.  And thus the false lesson was to trust no one.  Borias found himself to be amused which made Xena even more determined to succeed at teaching her new student.

     Upon arriving at the island of Higutchi the season had changed to winter.  Xena of course was impatient for time was standing in the way of the ransom money.  What the young Xena had not realized was that instant gratification is no replacement for love.  Not only was she impatient with that, but impatient with her student as well.  It was a lesson that she herself had yet to learn.  As they walked down the path into the woods Akimi did not complain though she still had bruised ribs from her teacher’s brutal lessons.  According to Xena Akimi had a great power for listening to more than just the sounds of life, and of war.  She had the power to hear the emotions of the trees, of people, and of the spirit.  Akimi had told Xena that the entire universe was able to be heard in this way and that it was bound by these sounds. 

     Then Akimi gave Xena a special gift.  It was on a piece of parchment.  Xena took the gift, but did not understand the foreign language which it contained.  She did not know how to react upon receiving this wonderful gift.  Xena reluctantly thanked Akimi, but Akimi could see that her teacher was confused.  Akimi took the parchment and turned it so that it could be translated.  She had written Xena a beautiful poem within her own language although it truly was done through the universal language of love.  At the time Xena had not understood this.  She was more concerned with gaining payment from Akimi ‘s father for Amiki’s return.  The two traveled a great distance together.  Days turned into weeks and then weeks into months.  In fact, Xena had said that two seasons had passed before they had stopped.  Within that short time she had taught Akimi many skills of the warrior, but it had taken several weeks before she had actually gotten the hang of it. 

     I was in awe as I listened to Xena’s beautiful story of the student that had loved her the way I had always loved Xena.  My heart was full of joy for it was as if Xena were telling me my own story only someone else had lived it.   Yet my joy was quickly put out when Xena expressed darkness within her voice.  Xena said that although Akimi had expressed to her beautiful words of love Akimi had broken Xena’s heart.  I didn’t understand at first how someone who seemed so much like me could ever do something that would break Xena’s heart.  

     Xena continued the story by explaining to me that during the winter season as the snows fell Akimi had led Xena to her grandfather’s home.  Yet her grandfather was dead.  Xena found herself frustrated and enraged that she was wasting her time with this young student for all that she really wanted was to receive her payment and move onto her next conquest.  Xena felt that Akimi had betrayed her so that she could learn the art of the warrior.  Yet Akimi knew something about Xena that Xena did not know about herself.  Akimi heard what Xena’s soul truly seeked.  It seeked love though Xena didn’t know it yet.  Her conquests were merely a pleasurable substitute that lasted for a moment and then passed.  A young Xena could only have learned that falsehood from Caesar. 

     As Akimi knelt down before her grandfather’s alter to seek his blessing Xena prepared to take Akimi’s head with her sword.  Yet as Xena raised it Akimi could feel that to kill her student had not been what Xena had truly wanted.  Akimi drew her hair back without facing the warrior princess and waited patiently for her to strike.  Xena did not strike though she was still frustrated.  Akimi then turned to Xena explaining to her that though her grandfather was dead she could still speak to him for she heard things that Xena could not hear just as Xena’s warrior ear could hear things that Akimi’s ear could not.  Xena waited for a moment contemplating Akimi’s words though still enraged.  Then Akimi stood up and proclaimed that she had indeed received her grandfather’s blessing. 

     Akimi  then wanted to show her teacher how true her love really was.  She spoke of a gift for Xena though it was forbidden for women to carry it.  It was a special samurai sword that only the greatest warriors of the east carried.  It was called the Gitana.  Naturally the young warrior lusted for it and was impatient as Akimi received her blessing.  Then the two continued onto the valley of the samurai.  Upon their arrival Akimbo requested the blessing of the samurai for permission to give this wonderful gift to her teacher.  When it was revealed that her teacher was a woman of foreign blood the samurai leader flatly refused the request.  Yet Xena would not allow that.  She challenged the samurai leader to a battle to prove her worth of this great weapon.

      Of course she won the duel sustaining an injury to the chest  though not by the sword of her enemy, but by a machine meant to torture using sharp pegs to kill its victim.  It was a weapon unfinished as was the soul of the warrior princess.   Yet Xena spoke of something special that happened during this particular battle.  For the first time she had found herself coming to the aid of her student for the leader of the samurai had tried to kill Akimi for bringing Xena into his sacred house.  After displaying her great skill , saving the life of her student, and  defeating the samurai she was granted this gift, but only because she had stolen it.

     As the teacher and the student continued onto their final destination Akimi once again expressed her great love and appreciation of her teacher.  She thanked Xena for saving her life back at the house of the samurai, but Xena had difficulty accepting this love.  The young warrior princess did not understand it and did not feel that she was capable of returning this wonderful gift of love to her student.  Xena tried to tell Akimi that love was not something that she could return to Akimi as she felt guilt for her reasons of traveling with Akimi.  Yet Akimi was confident of Xena’s potential and reminded her of this.  Xena began to feel a joy that she had not felt for a very long time.  It had been before Caesar, and before Cortese sometime, but she couldn’t really recall it.  Then Akimi asked Xena if she could teach her the pinch move.  Xena was delighted to be asked and realized that the gift of the Gitana was certainly worth the lesson of the pinch. 

     Then I interrupted Xena’s story for I was finding myself slightly jealous that Akimi had been taught Xena’s pinch move after only knowing Xena for a few short seasons while I had known Xena for more than six winters.  But as I argued this point with my bruised pride we were interrupted by the voice  of the ship captain declaring that he was going to have to turn around and go back out to sea.  Xena and I looked out over the waters in the night and saw that the city of Chuppa was illuminating the black waters as it burned to the ground.  The screams of its people could be heard from our ship in the sea.  The captain could not take the ship into port for the intense flames.  Xena and I could not ignore our duty.  We quickly acted jumping overboard into the water and swimming to shore.

     As we rushed to the aide the people of Chuppa the powerful blaze intensified.  It was like no other I’d seen before.  The situation seemed impossible yet it wasn’t really.  All we had to do was release the water from the tower across the way.  As the warrior princess formulated her plan she suddenly asked me what I would do.  For a moment I was surprised, but the moment passed as I began to tell her of the acrobats I had seen once.  Then she interrupted me and asked me not to tell her, but to show her.  It was a glorious moment for me for the warrior princess had never asked me to lead in this way before.  I had led armies, but always upon her command, and never in front of the warrior princess always behind.  This time she was asking me to take command of the situation.

     With pride and great confidence I began.  I ran across the fire into the grace of the warrior.  We grabbed hold of a rope together and swung around to knock out the legs from underneath the tower.  Then we flipped together in unison from the rope back across to the other side.  I then ran down into a burning building toward a ladder below.  At first Xena called for me concerned.  She had always worried for me and for my safety no matter the cost.  Xena could be facing an entire army alone still putting me first above all.  I reassured her with a smile appearing beneath upon the ladder.  I had made a simple contraption like the one she had used to save me when we met Callisto in her camp as I hung from a burning rope.

     I asked her to jump down as she hurled me back across onto the water tower.  Then I released one of the valves rejoining Xena upon the ladder.  We used the ladder the way that she had done while fighting Callisto.  We moved across the battle upon the legs.  It was art just like Xena created every time she came up with a battle plan.  Each plan she had ever used was never exactly the same.  Though I could paint a canvas in words Xena could always paint a better canvas in battle.  I would never have realized how beautiful a battle could be had I not traveled with Xena.  We were as one as our eyes met upon the ladder and then we arrived back at the tower.  I climbed up onto the tower with Xena right behind me to release the final valve.  It was a struggle to twist it around and though my own painting had been beautiful Xena could not resist adding the final brush stroke upon our canvas together.  She drew her sword and jarred the valve loose as the waters came rushing out, and the warrior princess had signed her final painting alongside the bard.

     We were triumphant once again.  Another adventure together had been a successful one.  We had saved an entire village and driven out the enemy as one.   The moment had been surreal.  Though feeling triumphant I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Xena had taught Akimi the pinch.  So I asked Xena once again to explain it to me so that I could understand.  Then she continued on.

     Xena was taken to the fortress and home of Akimi’s father.  Though Xena’s intentions for doing good had been for the wrong reasons this indeed was the gift that Akimi had given her.  She had given Xena her first adventure for the greater good.  Upon their arrival Akimi charged into her father’s chambers past the royal guard.  Xena did not understand what Akimi had set out to do.  She watched in horror as she could not control her student.  Xena had been so eager to prove Borias wrong that she had taught too much to her student too soon.  It made sense to me now why it had taken Xena so long to want to teach me.  She wanted to be certain that she would not give power to someone who was going to abuse it.  Yet Akimi had wanted to learn the ways of the great warrior so that she could avenge the deaths of her sisters, her mother, her brothers, and grandparents.  All had been killed by  Akimi’s father Yodoshi.  Akimi charged forward on a mission.  She used Xena’s pinch on her father and sentenced him with death declaring to him his last thirty seconds to live. 

     Xena was shocked at this action.  She was stunned and unable to move until the royal guard charged at her sending the warrior into battle mode.  As Yodoshi took his last breath he perished and Akimi’s personal  battle was seemingly over.  She had done what it was she had set out to do .  Vengence had been committed and now the penalty for killing one’s father had to be carried out.  Akimi took Xena back to the alter of her grandfather’s home and knelt down before it.  She spoke with him in silence as she had before receiving guidance.  Xena found herself still trying to understand what had just happened and what had gone wrong.

     Then Akimi pulled her hair back once again.  She instructed her teacher to give her the honorable death.  Xena could not believe what was happening.  For the first time in a long time she had begun to trust someone and had begun to love someone with her great loyalty.  This was asking too much.  She could not kill someone she loved.   And then as Xena refused Akimi pulled out a dagger and thrust it into her own chest.  Akimi knew that her loving teacher would not allow her to suffer.  She knew that Xena would do what she had been asked to do.  As the blood began to flow upon the purity of her student Xena watched in horror.  Akimi gave her last instructions to her teacher.   She struggled to speak her words as she told Xena that she must burn her body and take her ashes to the top of Mount Fuji.  Once there she was to take Akimi’s ashes to the family shrine on the island of Higutchi.  The distraught warrior princess realized what she mustdo.  She reluctantly drew the gift from her side and gave her student the honorable death requested. 

       It was in that moment of regret, and sadness that I realized what Xena had meant when she had said that Akemi had broken her heart.  Our joy together in triumphant battle had been short-lived as many things in life are.  We soon found ourselves interrupted as we were approached by the leader of the people of Chuppa.   His name was Harugota and it was clear that he was very angry with a lack of appreciation.  But this was a typical response whenever Xena and I would get involved.  Many people could never understand the beauty in what it is that Xena and I have done together.  Yet the reward is not in their reaction, but in knowing that good has won in the end. 

     Harugota was an older man who looked weary as if he had been fighting a losing battle himself.  And it was true.  He had been doing just that.  His anger was directed toward Xena.  He proclaimed her to be responsible for imprisoning over 40,000 souls.  These souls had once been people of this village.  And though lives were saved many souls were still lost.  I was confused for a moment and almost offended that he did not appreciate Xena.  But then the rest of Akimi’s story was painfully revealed. 

     After she had given Akimi her honorable death Xena had prepared to follow through with Akimi’s final request.  Yet as Xena tried to complete her mission word had spread like  fire through the lands in the east that Xena was honoring Akimi.  The one who had been responsible for the death of her own father.  This was very dishonorable for the people of Chuppa.  It would not be tolerated and so the people of  Harugota’s village fought to stop Xena.  And that was where she had committed her worst crime of all.  The villagers had succeeded in stopping Xena from carrying out Akimi’s final request.  Akimi’s ashes were lost forever in the stormy night as Xena avenged her loss with their 40,000 souls.  It was clear to me that Xena had come to join forces with this old warrior of the east, but he was not so trusting of her.  Something inside me told me that this situation was very serious.  I tried to reason in my mind how Xena could have committed such a crime.  All I could come up with was that it was an accident.   Yet that wasn’t good enough.  Xena had to convince Harugota of her desire to undo her wrong.   This was my greatest fear for I was unaware of what it would cost for Xena to redeem herself this time.

     As Xena and I stood upon the walls of the fortress in the village she contemplated what it was that she must do in order to succeed.   I always loved the peace that I felt when Xena was in deep thought.  It was a special moment for it always meant that her spirit was becoming peaceful inside.  For me she was always the brightest light in the morning sky.  And then she broke this silent moment and asked me to listen and tell her what I heard.  As I listened I knew that she was talking about the three massive armies approaching from the distance.  Though we could not see them their sounds were unmistakable.   And though I was right in my answer I had not heard everything for she asked me to listen to what I heard behind them.  I realized that she had been talking about the emotion, the intention, and their souls.  It was truly amazing to realize that one could hear the vibrations of all of these intricate details.  What I heard was quite serious.  These armies were of a dark intent and it was obvious what I must do.  I told Xena that I would warn the village and I left to play my role contributing my part. 

     Upon returning to Xena I found her in the Buddhist temple.  It was an unlikely place for her, but it pleased me to know that Xena was finally getting in touch with that part of herself which had been lost to her for so long.  It was that part of the warrior princess which had drawn me to her the very first time I had met her in  a battle.  My heart leaped with joy, but only for a moment as I began to listen to her.  What I heard was confusing.  It wasn’t as straight forward as the three armies had been.  I knelt down before her and saw a large tear welling up in her eye.  It was magnificent.  Her eyes were more blue than the most wonderful sea.  Those eyes had been the ocean that Poseidon could never have conquered.

     And then she asked me to put my hands upon her neck.  She guided me to the pressure points that have sent many to their agonizing deaths.  My heart pulsed with confusion and my spirit thrashed within my chest as she continued the lesson.  She asked me to feel the blood flowing beneath the veins beneath her warm skin.  I wasn’t certain that I wanted to learn this and I asked her why now after all of this time.  She never taught me anything unless it was of necessity.  I couldn’t find a need for this lesson no matter how deeply I searched my heart and listened to her soul.  Then she finished the lesson guiding me to use this move upon her.  I could feel the physical suffering yet I heard joy in her heart.  She was so proud of the eager student who had become her loyal best friend and soul mate.  And as the blood began to run out of her nose gently she said to me that if she had only 30 seconds to live that seeing me and being able to look into my eyes would be what she would want it to be like.  Softly she said that she would always love me as a gentle smile moved across her face.  Her tears fell and I could suddenly sense pain, but I didn’t understand.  And then she guided me to release her as she was about to take a final breath.  Her smile spread brightly across her face.  I felt something very strange about this moment.  As if the final moment had passed between me and my soul mate together as one in this life.

     And then as I was tuning into the music I heard emanating from her soul a new sound interrupted.  It was the sound of duty and preparation.  The  wise old warrior from the east entered reminding us that it was time.  And so as they united to do what it was they had been meant to do.  I took command of  his small militia leading them toward where they would most likely be engaging in battle according to the warrior princess.  As Xena and I parted on our separate paths I never knew that it would be our last.  As I listened to the soldiers around me I listened beyond and heard a faint song of memory.  It was soothing, and sweet.  This song was sad like the sounds that a harpist makes.

     I was very impressed with this new skill and new lesson and I knew that I would be able to use it much more effectively than I could ever use the pinch.  Listening to the universe in this way made me realize that I would be able to heal so many other parts of myself that were left to heal.  After hanging onto this thought for more moments than I can recall  my thought was interrupted yet again by the sounds.  First it was the sounds of a battle which were the easiest sounds to pick up.  There were the sounds of a waterfall, and of deer, and of leaves budding from the trees.  Then just beyond those sounds I heard Xena.  She was faint yet again, but  I could  still hear for it was her passion in battle that I could hear.  Many times I had felt it, but I had never heard it before.  It was like the sound of an Amazon ceremony only the beat was like that of the east.  It all melded together and I realized that these were all of the places, and people that she had experienced that made up this music. 

     Then I imagined in my mind what her battles must have sounded like in our early days together.  The progression of the music would have been even more brilliant than the sights and sounds could ever be.  The beat raced through my ears almost like a heart beating.  It was getting faster within each moment of time.  Yet time was not important.  Then I heard something that horrified me.  It was the sound of suicide, but I couldn’t believe that.  I was confused again for maybe I was over compensating and overly excited about this new discovery.  Then flashes from my memory flooded over me almost like a drowning sensation.  The first vision was of our most recent adventure together when Xena asked me what I would do.  I ran faster.  Then I saw once again the lesson of listening to the universe being replayed within my mind.  My pace quickened even more.  Finally the worst vision recalled itself within my mind.  It was our last moment together when she told me that her last 30 seconds of life should be spent looking into my eyes and that she would always love me. 

     Suddenly my mind was interrupted by a horrific explosion which came from the nearing battle.  The force was so powerful that it knocked me off of my feet like a twister in late spring.  Yet this violent sound calmed the mind and allowed me to tune in once again to Xena’s orchestra.  As I listened again I heard pain, but it was
physical pain and not emotional.  Immediately I knew that it was Xena who was in physical pain.  I called out to Xena though my voice could never have carried the distance that my soul could.  My spirit knew that Xena could hear me as I ran frantically toward the battle.  There were at least 1000 men though Xena had fought  five times that alone before when she had rescued me from certain death by a poison arrow, and saved Athens from falling to the Persians.  My worry was an overstatement as my mind tried to reason with all of the information that it had been receiving.

     Once again I heard memories, but they were pleasant ones.  These sounds were mixed in with the sounds of immense physical suffering, and passionate emotion.  It was so complex yet all so very simple.  Words could no longer describe  what I was hearing.  And then as the music climaxed I could faintly hear my name within the flowing depths of the sound.  Suddenly all was silent.  I struggled to hear Xena once again, but could not.  Maybe it had been because I was close enough to the battle that the physical sounds and atmosphere had drowned her out.  By the time I had actually reached the battle with the Harugota’s  militia it had come to an end.  There were hundreds of dead and the smell of death was quite stagnant.  It was as if these men had been here decaying for an eternity.

     Then I listened again and I heard a very faint vibration.  It wasn’t of organic origins.  It was the sound of Xena’s chackram as if it were soaring gracefully through the air.  This sound became louder as I followed into that direction.  And then it was so loud that I looked down to find it there resting peacefully upon the ground.  There it lied in the mud covered in blood like the way a dead man lies in peace after death.  It was only recognizable to me by its shape and by its music.  As I picked it up to examine it the young Kenji  implied the worst, but I could not give up hope for I had seen Xena live through worse than a decaying battlefield.  I had seen what she had been able to survive.  This had been nothing for her. 

     Then I saw Haraguta.  He was still fighting this battle, but he was fighting it within the realm of the spirit.   Kenji explained to me that he was doing his job and that he would fight for Xena’s soul in the same way.  I was not convinced that Xena would leave without me.  Alone I set off into the woods beyond the battlefield to find her.  Something inside guided me toward the sounds of that waterfall that I had heard earlier.  There was something mystical about this place as I stepped across the stones through the flowing water of life.  Yet there was something eerie.  It was almost like the feeling described by the young priest when he had seen Akimi.  There was definitely a presence just beyond the trees first behind me and then in front of me.  The presence was  familiar like the  comforting feeling of being home, but there was something distinctively different about it.  There was something missing from it. 

     Just beyond the waterfall into the woods there before me I saw something that made my heart stop beating for a moment.  There before me was Xena.  It was strange for she had just suddenly appeared as I turned around.  I reached out to embrace her so that I could feel that she was truly there.  My soul trembled with joy for I had been reunited with her once again as I knew in my heart I would be.  Despite all that I had seen Xena had returned to me.  Then I looked at her again and noticed that she was dressed in a strange red robe.  It illuminated of the warrior’s passion, but it wasn’t typical attire for battle.  Once again I was confused and uncertain.  Xena tried to ease my tension explaining to me that it was all part of her quest that she must complete with Haraguta. 

     Suddenly I realized that I was holding her most important weapon.  I reached out to give her the chackram that she needed to do battle.  What the warrior princess could do with this weapon was more amazing than the greatest verse ever written by Sappho.   It was in that moment of stillness that I realized what I had been denying for what seemed an eternity.  My heart was filled with disappointment, and my spirit with sadness for it had been real.   The great warrior princess had been killed in battle just the way I had heard it.  My soul wanted to weep, but couldn’t for the anger that boiled within from my stomach.  She left me without telling me that she was going to leave.  But I couldn’t stay angry at her for I realized that she had not left without telling me.  She had been telling me that she was leaving since we had landed upon Chuppa. 

    Then I realized that our last great adventure together had been at the water tower.  I tried to reconstruct in my mind what those final moments of sharing joy had sounded like, but I could only recall them through what I had felt inside.  She taught me those final lessons while telling me that she was going to leave without me.  Her noble responsibility to those 40,000 souls had been the reason, but she reassured me that she would return to me.  There had always been a way and there was a way.  Her spirit led me to the tea house where I met  the radiant Akimi for the first time.   Akimi’s light was brilliant.  My admiration for her was infinite for she had been the one that had reminded Xena of what it feels like to love.   

      The soul of the warrior princess was proud to introduce her soul mate to her first student.  The moment did pass as Haraguta warrior of the east reminded us all that time was growing short.  If Xena were to return to life and be reunited with me I had to set off on the most important journey of my life.  The wise eastern warrior asked me if I was ready for this journey and if I would give my life indefinitely for Xena’s.  I accepted my quest without hesitation.  He then revealed to me what I must do. 

     My quest was to find and retrieve Xena’s body and burn it.  Then I was to take her ashes to Mount Fuji where I would find the water of life.  There I was to pour them into the water and Xena’s soul would be brought forth back into life and the earth realm.  I had to accomplish this quest before the sunset two days after death.  A half day had already passed and the eastern warrior knew that I would have to confront the enemy in order to succeed with my quest and my journey.  They would stay within the spiritual realm and fight Yodoshi while I was to continue my journey through the physical realm.  Just as I was about to turn to go Akimi stopped me and offered me a gift.

       She took me into the sacred tea house where I was given a special mark upon my back.  It was the mark of strength represented by the dragon.  As I lied there listening to the tranquillity which had been described by Kenji Xena’s ghost was right there with me.  She stroked my hands softly lying next to me without words.  Words were not needed to feel her presence for she was warm and she was soothing.  I did not want to leave this place for it was even greater than the elision fields.  It was close to heaven like going home.

       Time was our enemy as it interrupted this peace and I was sent away to carry out my mission.  I was saddened to know that there was nothing I could do to help Xena , Akimi, Kenji, and Harugota with their battle against Yodoshi.  My battle was in the physical world while theirs was to be in the spirit world.  It was a lonely feeling welling up inside of me, but I knew that I must go.  I embraced with my friend tightly holding her in my arms for it was difficult for me to leave her side.  Just before leaving I promised Xena that I would find her body and get it back.  I guaranteed that we would meet again before the next setting sun upon Mount Fuji at the fountain of strength. 

      In the early morning hour I reached the camp of the enemy upon my hour of greatest darkness.  There was not a physical sound, but there were many dark souls present.  In this hour of greatest darkness I was confronted with something that would break my heart tearing my soul apart.  There hanging like a slaughtered animal was the familiar form of the warrior princess.  The sight was worse than a thousand crucified men and women.  It was more heart wrenching than the day Livia thrust her sword into the gentle hearted Joxer the Mighty.  Not only was her body hanging for all to see, but it was missing the center of its own identity.  It was missing its head.  Anger boiled within rising from my center and then I demanded from the enemy the head of the warrior princess.  There was no response as I looked at the broken arrow shafts protruding through every limb and piercing through all of the lungs in Xena’s body.  I could recall what it had sounded like when each and every arrow had struck like individual notes within a ballad.  My own spiritual pain was so great that my physical body could barely keep from purging itself of the emotional horror.  

      Upon gathering the pieces of my heart and soul back together I removed this valuable carcass from its resting place and wrapped it in the rags that I could salvage nearby.  As I knelt down to honor my fallen comrade the song of the enemy blared loudly through my ears interrupting the private ceremony.  I rose slowly and turned to face the enemy.  He was gloating with pride for he claimed victory and prize in being the one whom had defeated the legendary warrior princess.  As he gloated I was not impressed for I knew that she wouldn’t have allowed him to kill her if she had not wanted to find death willingly.  He was lost in his ego and all I could do was remind him that the odds of 1000 to one had not been upon a level field.  The enemy laughed in my face certain that he would defeat the student of the great warrior princess to add to his prize collection. 

     I prepared for battle.  After the music I had heard coming from his soul I knew instantly that my song was more beautiful and more graceful than his song would ever be.  That was my advantage.  It was my passionate love that would win the battle and not the ego overflowing with stale pride.  I drew my weapon and began to listen.  I heard the sounds of a nervous horse trying to break free to my left, and then the intense crackle of the fire behind me.   There were rain drops shattering through the mud.  The universe was crying for its own loss as the world was without its greatest warrior.  Then there was the sound of darkness approaching.   The enemy turned his ankle just slightly squishing the mud beneath him.  Each breath that I took sounded like waves crashing upon the shore.  Time stopped as my body moved acting upon what it felt.  The battle with the enemy lasted little more than five seconds within our physical world.  There was no fear, no thought only passion and love.  He had thrust forward toward me as I countered with the instincts of the warrior princess.  The coward found himself kneeling upon the mud with my Gitana at his neck.  My enemy begged for his honor, but I could not allow it for I could not honor the man who had taken my most valued gift in life.

      Upon thrusting a blow to the back of the neck with the handle of my weapon I demanded from his army the head of my best friend.  They did not challenge me, but instead honored me with respect.  As for myself I had no respect for the wicked.  My only comfort upon finding the missing piece of my best friend was in that her face was still beautiful and unblemished.  It had not been touched by a single blade or sustained a tiny bruise.  She looked peaceful with her eyes closed as if sleeping.  Yet I knew that she could no longer hear the sounds without her soul within. 

     Soon after I rode out of camp with the body.  I took it deep into the forest and honored my friend with the funeral fire prepared for all true Amazons.  When the last embers burned out I carefully retrieved each and every ash like the grains of sand within Egypt.  Each grain held an importance as did each and every one of the ashes that had made up the warrior princess.  I began to see the universe in yet another new light.   The universe has a funny way of answering your most complex questions.  But there was little time to contemplate all of these answers which I had seeked only weeks before.   I traveled through the night until morning by horse so that I would reach the final destination in time.    

     Finally in the late afternoon I had arrived at Mount Fuji upon a most tranquil and beautiful day.  I was caught off guard by someone lurking behind me through the night and into the day.  I hadn’t noticed that my enemy had followed me for my pain was so great and determination so fierce.  The enemy shot an arrow into my horse dropping me to the ground.  Xena’s ashes were taken from me as they rolled out of my arms.  I quickly retrieved them and then drew my weapon for battle.  My enemy had come back to claim his prize and his honorable death from me.  Yet I would not allow either.  He would never hurt Xena again and he would never be respected for his murderous act of cowardice.  It was then that I truly understood the honorable warrior code that Xena had always lived by.  Even in death I was still learning her lessons.

     The enemy robbed me of my sword quickly for I was unprepared for this moment.  I was nervous for the sun had passed its midpoint in the day hours ago and the evening was quickly approaching.  There was little time for this duel.  It was the distraction I least expected.  Upon losing my sword he quickly robbed me of the urn again which contained great value.  I watched helpless as it soared through the air beyond the boulders above.  I wanted to follow Xena, but realized that I had to focus to defeat the enemy.   Without my weapon I battled hand to hand knocking him off of his feet with a simple round kick.  Then  I ran up toward the boulders and he followed me.  My frustrations were building as I knew that this battle had to end quickly.  Suddenly he kicked the urn.  I heard it rolling down behind me.  One quick motion, two firm punches followed by another kick sent him rolling down to the bottom of the mountain.

      Then I ran for the urn rolling quickly out of my grasp over the cliff. below.  My heart sank for a moment as it landed softly upon a bird’s nest several feet below.  Suddenly, I heard Xena’s spiritual struggle behind me.  I ran quickly toward where the sounds had come from and there lying upon the rocks was my best friend.  She was injured and weak.  Her battle against Yodoshi was obviously not over.  She could barely speak to me, but she instructed me to go to the fountain of strength and drink from it.  Xena needed the water.  Quickly I ran to it and reached down into it to drink cupping my hands to bring it to my lips.  Just as I drank there was a violent jolt from behind which nearly knocked me into the fountain.  The jolt burned for a moment, but then passed as I felt the strength of the water pulsating through me.  Akemi’s gift of the dragon had protected me from Yodoshi’s wrath.

     Quickly I turned to catch my breath and then ran to Xena’s side for I knew that it had been Yodoshi that had jolted me with his awesome power.  I looked down into her eyes and then gave her the kiss of strength.  Upon this kiss I knew for certain that I would be able to complete my mission.  Though her ashes were far below I had great strength within me.  Suddenly, something of great power happened.  Xena’s strength was restored.  She was radiant in her leather uniform and her golden breastplate.  The warrior princess looked deeply into my soul with her bright light and was moved to speak.  She was about to tell me something when I looked to see that the sun was close to setting.  I had to get to her ashes. 

     While I battled to retrieve my best friend’s life from the spirit realm she battled lord Yodoshi above.  The sounds were intense like bolts of lightening sent down to earth by Zeus himself.  I could hear the power of her magnificent battle cry up against the roar of lord Yodoshi.   The warrior princess was certain to defeat him so that she could return to me in peace.  My challenge was in scaling down the steep mountainside toward the urn resting upon the bird’s nest.  The battle up above shook the earth making it even more difficult to reach the ashes.  I held on with one hand stretching my leg out as far as I could kicking the urn toward my arms so that I could capture it safely.

     It was a race against the sun as I climbed back up the mountainside back toward the fountain of strength.  It was there that I had to take the ashes to receive my best friend.  When I reached the top there standing before me was my enemy.  He again demanded of me his honor, but I refused him.  There was no time to battle him for the sun would be far west soon.  My next action was very natural and without thought.  The free hand reached down to my side and grabbed the mighty chackram which hung there and threw it out taking the enemy’s life with no honor.  He was struck in the head the way I had been struck while tormented by the furies.  The sound it made as it sailed through the air was like that of the soaring hawk.  It deflected off of the rocks beyond the lifeless enemy and floated gracefully back into my hand.

     I was astonished for I had only known of three others who had been able to tame the wild beast.  Callisto, Eve, and Xena the warrior princess.  Suddenly I looked there before me upon the fountain and  saw the setting sun reflecting upon the water.  I rushed over to the fountain to pour Xena’s ashes into it.  It was now time for me to be reunited with my soul mate once again.  Gingerly I opened the lid and slowly began to turn it upside down, but I felt her hand take mine preventing me from completing my quest.  She said that I couldn’t do this.  That I couldn’t restore her.  I didn’t understand why she did not want to come back to me.  The confusion rose within and my heart had been pierced by an arrow like those that had injured my friend during her final mortal battle.

     I wanted to know why she did not want to come back and she explained to me that if I allowed her to come back then the 40,000 souls that she had died to redeem would never be able to go to home to heaven.  She had been the one who had killed them and their deaths were only avenged by her own untimely death.  There was a wave of shock which flowed through me and then disappointment followed.  My own heart was truly broken.  It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair.   After all that had been sacrificed and all that I had done to bring back my most important reason for living , and now I had to let her go.   Xena knew that the choice was mine and that ultimately the fate of 40,000 souls was in the palm of my hand.  Yet I didn’t care.  I wanted to be reunited with her for how could I go on living without my other half.

     But then she told me that our time together was now complete.  My reason for being in her life had been to teach her about love and about making the right choice.  And in that moment I was reminded of my whole reason for wanting to travel with the warrior princess in the very beginning of our journey.  I had seen the light within her and longed to release it into the world for it had held so much power and so much love.  Any conflict that we had ever had was because of my desire to show the warrior princess the way.  It was why she always had told me that I was her light shining through the darkness of the world.  This was the moment in which I finally understood.  I realized with great sadness that I had to make the right choice and that I could not be selfish.   Returning one person to life only to condemn the souls of thousands was not the right choice no matter how much it cost and how much pain I would have to endure.  If I did not choose the light then all would be lost.  I would be responsible for leaving Xena’s soul incomplete, and that I could not bare.

     Looking out over the valleys I saw the great ball of orange fire.  It was  the sun setting in the western sky.  I looked back to Xena to see her deep blue eyes just one last time, and that leather with the golden breast plate.  Her silky long black hair and sharp cheek bones began to show the shadows of the approaching death.  I turned once again toward the sun and sat down next to the warrior princess lying my head down into her chest one last time listening for her gentle heart beating into my ear.  I felt her chest rise and fall as she stroked my golden locks and then as the sun began to fall between the mountains her memory shun through it for she was going home to the west from which she had come.

     For days I mourned my loss as I made my journey back toward home; Although, for me it would take much longer to get there.  With every sunset I was reminded that Xena was still with me if not in body within my heart.  Upon setting sail back toward Greece I found myself imagining what it would have been like if Xena were standing there with me.  I thought of all of the places that she had traveled and all of the journeys that had led her home traveling to the ends of the earth.  A smile spread across my face as I imagined I could feel once more her hand upon my shoulder.  My heart heard her ask where I would take us to next and I reminded her that we were going to Egypt.   For they still needed that girl who could use a chackram.  And then I asked her if she was going to join me and she said that she would always be within my heart.  I had known that all along for I knew that she would remind me.  She would always remind me.  Upon the end of everyday as she had been since she had left me for the sun always sets in the west.    

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll#132:  When Fates Collide

October, 14 B.C.

     Who can define the fine line between what is reality and what is only a wild story imagined within a nightmare.  We don’t really know if we are in life or if we are within something greater than our own existence.  Gabrielle awoke in a strange new world uncertain if what she had encountered had been just another wild dream or an alternate reality.

     It began with a simple success.  The humble writings of a great playwright of the Roman theater.  Yet really it began much earlier than that.  In fact, the time was really unaware of itself for existence made little more sense the than gibberish of a young child. 

      There was the great Roman Emperor whom they called Caesar.  He was the greatest of any emperor that had come before him, and most certainly would be the greatest thereafter.  He was known as the one who conquered the barbarian nations and expanded Rome to its greatest imperial boundaries ever.  Although the great Caesar did not accomplish this alone.  There was also his wife the great empress and conqueror as well. 

      Before her encounter with Caesar she had been known across the valleys as Lena the Warrior Princess.  Yet the day would come upon her when the fates would weave within their complex tapestries a time where the two great warriors would meet and unite to conquer all of Greece, Britannia, the Norse, the African continent, and finally they would set their sights on the great eastern country of Chin.

      These two had a passionate love affair together, yet a passion greater for the Roman empire itself.  In fact, it was a well-known fact that Caesar loved Rome even greater than he did his wife the empress.  The Empress was aware of this, but was secure in her position alongside Caesar.  Yet there was something very humble and mysterious about the great Caesar.  And the secret behind that was yet to be discovered by his faithful wife the conqueror, and a simple unsuspecting playwright who lived in a tiny villa by the sea.

     On opening night of a play titled “Fallen Angel” the playwright crossed threads with the great Xena for the first time.  It was a strange uncanny meeting.  There was something electrifying about the tall, stunningly beautiful, and powerful warrior woman.  She had the realm of darkness surrounding her yet there was a certain light that the playwright sensed within her trying to free itself.  The bard also felt a darkness within herself being lifted as she found herself conversing with the most powerful woman upon the earth.

      The woman was in awe over the playwright’s work on Fallen Angel and inquired of the bard’s great inspiration.  Gabrielle replied that she was unaware of how she received inspiration other than beyond the words that were mysteriously given to her within from a power greater than herself.  It was hardly explainable.  Yet as the bard was humble over her current success the warrior woman was very interested in the entire theme of sacrificing everything including one’s own life for the sake of  love.

      Xena brought up a specific scene in which the young man who was in love with his traveling companion sacrificed himself for the other.  During the scene the two had been crucified finding themselves within a place so beautiful that it could not be described with any human words.  It could only be performed from the soul emanating a compassionate love.  The place was called heaven though it was greater than anyone could have ever imagined the Ellisian Fields to be.  In this place loving beings known as angels existed.  There were good angels and bad angels fighting the wraths of good against evil as the people of earth do. 

     Actually both men had been in love with one another for many years upon a journey of friendship they had traveled together.  It had been a difficult life journey and in death they had been violently separated by mistake.  One of them fell down into the fires of hell while the other was taken safely to heaven.  And though Xenan went to heaven he was broken hearted for he was without Gabrial for eternity.  Xenan could not have this so he sacrificed himself and descended down upon hell with the wings of a powerful angel of light to rescue Gabrial from the wrath of evil.

      And that was what had touched the Warrior Princess.  It was the fact that a man had such a powerful love for another man that he sacrificed his own eternal paradise.  It had been an unselfish act.  The most unselfish act that one could ever perform for another.  Xenan not only helped aid in the rescue of Gabrial his eternal best friend, but he took on the pain and burden of one of his greatest enemies in life.  It was as if Xena had been breathing new life after being touched by the bard’s play. 

     And because she had been touched by the bard’s words she was intrigued that someone had that kind of insight to write about something that none of us upon the earth truly understand or have ever felt.  The bard felt very blessed to have been given these words by the greater force which guides the world and the souls which reside within it.

     Xena and Gabrielle spent several minutes chatting.  In fact, Gabrielle had explained to Xena where she had started.  She had been from a little village in Greece called Poteida, and there had been a time when her life had been less than successful.  Gabrielle described her days as a slave to warlords, and she spoke of how the day finally came when she had been freed by a great peaceful leader from the east known as LaoMao.

      Gabrielle explained how Lao Mao had seen her light and helped  her restore it after many years of being battered and torn apart.  The bard had been free for only a few short years and in those few short years she had made a name for herself in the Roman theater.  She revealed to Xena that she would be forever indebted to Lao Mao. 

     Xena realized that it was her touching stories performed for all to experience which had allowed the young playwright to succeed beyond her beginnings and hardships.  The empress only wished that she had crossed paths with this playwright sooner for she could have rescued her from all of the unnecessary harships that Gabrielle had faced on her path to the great Roman theater.  Xena also had come to another realization at that moment.  She realized that her plans with Caesar to betray Chin were not right.  For the first time Xena realized that to conquer all was not the right path.  She had spent her entire life in search of external power to fill her voids within, but it was this playwright that filled them just by being there before her.

     And just as Xena’s excitement made itself known Caesar stepped in to interrupt the two women reminding her of the reality of her duties to him.  Earlier that morning Caesar had ordered Lao-Mao’s peace messengers to be assassinated.  They had been executed by the great Shamaness Alti who possessed powers beyond those known to anyone.  She had the ability to see into peoples futures, their pasts, and beyond.  It was a gift yet Caesar had been warned by Xena that Alti was quite an ambitious ally.  However, Caesar took Xena’s warnings too lightly.

     Later that night after the play Caesar wanted to lie with Xena, but Xena refused for she had been touched inside and could think of nothing other than her encounter with the playwright.  Caesar could see that Xena recognized Gabrielle from some other time and place.  He became slightly jealous, but tried desperately not to show it.  Caesar then excused himself from their bed chambers to attend to the business he and his loyal servant Brutus had planned for Chin. 

     As Xena watched Ceasar leave she caught sight of someone across the way through the open window.  Her interest was sparked as she put her brush down onto the table and walked across to the window.  The night air was soft like the words of the playwright.  And there standing upon the balcony was the young playwright in deep contemplation.  The bard was still feeling touched by the chance meeting she had had with the empress.  She had felt something that she didn’t understand.  It was a strong force that drew her to the presence of the empress as if she had known her for a lifetime.  As Gabrielle stood upon her balcony of thought Xena watched her and wondered what the bard was thinking.  She wondered if the bard was feeling as strange as she was feeling inside. 

     The bard felt that wonderful glowing presence once more as she thought about it.  She felt it so strongly as if it were right before her like in the theater earlier that night.  And as she looked out across the balcony her eyes met those of the presence which she had sensed.  Fear grabbed her inside realizing that what she felt earlier that night had been real, but what kind of real she did not know.

     At first she gazed back in awe of Xena, but soon stepped back and away realizing that she was unworthy by class to be fantasizing about a friendship with the empress.  And just as Gabrielle cowered away Xena was about to speak out to her, but was interrupted by a dark force.  It was the force of the shamaness Alti.  She had taken the warrior by surprise.  Alti had grabbed Xena by the neck and lifted her into the air.  She was intending to kill the empress to take her place upon Caesar’s throne.  Neither woman was worthy of Caesar for neither loved Rome the way Caesar did.  Xena loved Rome only for the bloodlust it fed for her losses in life, and Alti loved Rome only for the sake of having all the power of the world in the palm of her evil hand.

     Alti was at the height of her glory as she revealed to Xena what she had already known.  She revealed to the Empress a lifetime of experiences that were supposed to happen, but never did.  Alti did not know why the tapestry of fate had been woven wrongly, but she knew what the tapestries were supposed to have patterned for Xena and the playwright.  And though Xena was at the brink of her own assassination she was intrigued by what Alti had revealed to her.  All of those feelings toward the playwright were beginning to make sense to her though she would not be able to share them. 

     Just before Xena was to take her last breath of life Caesar caught Alti in her act of betrayal.  She was taken by surprise and under the custody of Caesar saving Xena’s life.  Alti dropped her power over Xena who was barely able to breath.  Not only had Xena known the playwright, but she had also known Alti, and Alti began to realize her true connection to the Empress.  Caesar held a weapon to Alti demanding of her a plea of pardon for her actions against Lena, but Xena stepped in suggesting that the reason Caesar could not kill Alti was because she wanted to be the avenger of her attempted assassin.  It was ordered by Xena to be a public display for the next sun.  And thus Alti was taken by the prison guard to be prepared for crucifixion.

     When Xena awoke the next morning she was full of joy and excitement for she wanted to meet up with the playwright again.  And while Xena was fluttering with excitement for her new discovery Gabrielle was being fearfully escorted to the Roman prison for execution later that evening.  She had been arrested and implicated in the assassination attempt upon the empress though she had no knowledge of the attempt upon Xena the night before. 

      As Gabrielle begged and pleaded with the Roman guard Xena was speaking with her husband about the wonderful playwright she had met the night before.  Caesar was diligently at work on his plot against LaoMao and Chin as Xena spoke with great excitement and passion.  He knew something that she did not know as he did agree that the playwright had been talented.  And that was what stopped everything for Xena.  It was when she heard Caesar refer to Gabrielle in the past tense.  She looked upon her husband with alarm as he nonchalantly brushed over the subject.  He stated that he had hoped that Xena had not grown too fond of the playwright for her involvement with Chin and the plot against Rome. 

     Xena then knew what it was that Ceasar meant.  He was going to crucify her along with Alti.  As Xena turned away from Caesar she felt betrayed for a moment only to catch herself realizing that it must have been a mistake.  It must have been Alti who had implicated Gabrielle within her plot because she had been marked for death by Xena.  And after all that Xena had seen within Alti’s visions of her life that was meant to be with Gabrielle Xena’s heart sank deep into her stomach.  There had to be something she could do.

     First she went to Alti in the Roman prison to confront her upon the accusations which had been mistakenly bestowed upon Gabrielle.  Alti was clever yet because Xena knew in her heart that she would do anything in her power to protect the playwright even if it meant that she had to allow Alti to go free.  When she entered into Alti’s cell Alti appeared amused and hardly surprised at Xena’s visit.  Xena demanded of Alti angrily why she had accused the innocent playwright.  Alti was confused for a moment as if without knowledge of her action, but then her confusion came into a slight grinning laughter.  She had been amused by this situation.

     Then Alti responded to Xena’s accusations against her and stated that it was not she who had told the tale of the playwright, but her loyal husband the great Caesar.  Xena was in disbelief of this at first confident that her husband would never betray her in such a way, but Alti pressed the issue.  Alti knew the truth and told Xena that she could show her the life she and Caesar should have had together that never was.  Xena was deeply tempted by this for she wanted to know much more of the life that never was. 

     She thought about this trying to figure out how she could use Alti to save Gabrielle.  But Alti came forward and took Xena again to the place where Caesar had once betrayed her.  It had been along his journey toward becoming Emperor of Rome.  The betrayal had taken place early in their courtship.  It was the one betrayal that never happened in her current life for if it had happened Xena would have taken the other
path.  It had included self destruction and many other hardships, yet it had also been the event which sent her toward the path alongside Gabrielle. 

      Anger and frustration began to build within Xena as Alti released her grip.  Then Alti declared her freedom from Xena and Caesar for she had held up her end of the bargain.  She had shown Xena the truth of who she was meant to become.  But Xena did not allow Alti to go free after seeing these visions for they made her realize just how much of a threat Alti had been to Caesar, herself, and to Rome. 

      As Xena left Alti for her death Gabrielle was being prepared for crucifixion.  Her beautiful golden locks were cut from her head.  They dropped to the ground remorsefully as the young playwright prepared herself for her collision with fate.  It all felt so wrong to her.  She felt like her breath would be taken prematurely for there was so much left undone.  Gabrielle had for the first time been touched deeply within her soul and now death was about to steal that from her.

     As the demons left her side Xena came in to visit the playwright.  It was for a moment comforting to know that she was not alone for her soul would be with Xena one last time.  The Empress came in dressed with much status and power.  She looked to the peasant playwright and saw the disappointment and the sadness illuminating from her being yet she also saw something more.  It was that connection.  And then Xena spoke.  She wanted to know what had really happened as she sat down beside the condemned soul.  She wanted to know if the playwright truly was an assassin. 

     The bard answered with the purity of her own truth, but knew that it would never be enough to gather a pardon from the Empress.  She rose from her place in frustration turning away from the Empress and then turning back to face her.  Who would believe her anyway?  But just as her head sank down into despair Xena gently touched her face and looked into the bard’s eyes and said softly to the bard that she believed in her words.  Once again Gabrielle was touched by this magnificent person of whom she did not understand. 

     Then she knew that it was time for her to confess her feelings toward the Empress for she realized that she may not ever have another moment in life to express them.  She sat down beside the Empress once again and looked into her eyes.  Gabrielle stated that though she was a successful playwright and lived a humble simple life by the sea she had never felt full filled within.  She had always felt a void inside despite what she had accomplished and overcome in her life.  But then she told the Empress that whenever she had been in the presence of her new found friend she had felt a wonderful love inside.  It was like no other and like the love that she had always written so passionately about.

     Xena smiled softly and confessed that she too felt that power within during her recent encounters with the bard.  As the two felt embraced by each other’s presence the sound of crosses being built echoed just beyond the prison walls outside.  Gabrielle’s comfort turned once again to the fear which gripped her bright spirit.  Xena realized the seriousness of the situation as she quoted Caesar in confirming that Gabrielle had been correct about the observation of crosses being built.  Xena had seen many of Caesar’s crucifixions carried out and knew that she could not allow Gabrielle to suffer the same fate.

     She then said good-bye to the playwright promising to do what she could to help her friend.  Gabrielle watched as she knew in her heart that this would be the last moment that she would ever feel the comfort of the Empress in life.  She was saddened as Xena disappeared down into the darkness of the dungeon corridors. 

     Xena was determined to save Gabrielle and she knew that time was very short.  She seeked out Caesar in an attempt to get his pardon, but could not find him.  Then she went back to find Alti again, but the guard told her that she had been released.  He also stated that the young blonde that had been held earlier was also taken and released from the prison to face her crucifixion.  The Empress realized that the guard was giving up confidential information for the benefit of her friend and herself.  She realized that it was Caesar and not Alti who had implicated Gabrielle and that there would be no pardon by him.

     Xena then rushed to the public square hoping that she would arrive there in time to rescue Gabrielle.  She knew that her sacrifice was a great risk to her marriage and her own safety now, but that didn’t matter for she remembered the story of the Fallen Angel.  Upon Xena’s arrival to the square Gabrielle was being dragged out into the middle of the square dressed in only two simple white clothes wrapped around her body.  She struggled with the Roman guard, but was unable to obtain their mercy.  They were just following their orders from the great Caesar.

     Xena watched as they threw her down onto the cross and tied her wrists and ankles to the wooden cross.  She watched the bard’s chest rise and fall frantically and the fear gripping her within.  Xena pleaded with Caesar one last time as she saw him upon her arrival, but Caesar had no mercy.  Then Xena went against her husband as she saw the Roman soldiers prepare to put the first nail through Gabrielle’s right hand.  She screamed out for them to stop everything and Xena ran to Gabrielle’s side.  Every man stopped in his action as they had never heard the Empress speak out a command above that of her husband though she had the same power and commanded their respect greater than did Caesar.

     Xena was pushing the troops away from their next victim as she rescued the playwright from her fate.  Nothing else in life mattered to her anymore though she knew that she could never be with Gabrielle.  As the crowd dispersed she urged Gabrielle to leave Rome for it was no longer safe for her.  Gabrielle thanked Xena for saving her life.  She did not want to leave Xena, but Xena insisted that she go on without her.  And reluctantly the bard left Xena behind in Rome.

     Yet the story does not end here for Caesar was to have the last word.  He was disappointed that Xena was so infatuated with the playwright that she would go against his own power.  Caesar was threatened by this and Alti knew it.  Xena spit upon Caesar’s face as she left the square declaring that he would always betray her no matter what life it was.  Caesar stopped Xena as she prepared to leave the square and confessed to her that it was he who had rearranged the loom of the fates when he realized that his betrayal of Xena the first time was what led to his own demise.  She was not amused by this.  At that moment Xena had made a choice.  She would leave her life as the Empress to Rome and with Caesar to seek out a humble life with the playwright.

     Caesar realized that she did not appreciate his second chance for their love affair and success.  He was jealous of Gabrielle for he was the only man on earth who knew the entire truth of their fates colliding.  Alti read this within Caesar and had her own plan of action.  Her ambitions would dictate how the end would result in the lives of many.  She convinced Caesar to pursue Gabrielle’s life once more for that would not be the end of Xena’s obsessions.  Caesar knew this to be true, but realized that Gabrielle would never be a threat to him in this life.  Instead of seeking out Gabrielle he sent out his Roman guard to seek out and find Xena.

      Alti was not satisfied with Caesar’s decision though she had won his heart and loyalties in becoming the new Roman Empress.  She herself went to seek out and find Gabrielle.  It did not take long for her to find her prey out along the countryside alone.  When she approached the playwright she promised her the gift of visions that would satisfy her personal curiosities.  Gabrielle could not resist this putting her misguided trust into Alti.  Alti took advantage of the unsuspecting bard and showed her many visions.  There were good visions of her life that had been meant for Xena, yet there were also the visions of pain, of agony, and of despair.  Gabrielle’s life was on the brink of it’s end when her crucifixion came upon her through Alti’s visions, but Xena caught sight of this.

     She saw that Alti was about to take the one who meant the most to her in life and she rode down the valley vengefully.  Xena pulled out her bow to shoot Alti, but missed.  When Alti saw Xena approaching she could not resist the power she felt within.  It was not Gabrielle who could give her strength, but the great Warrior Princess.  She threw down the useless victim and charged forward for Xena.  Alti possessed supernatural abilities and used them in battle against Xena.  She was too quick for Xena to approach.  Alti would not allow Xena to fight her in hand to hand combat knowing that the warrior princess was much more skilled.  Instead she battled it out with the powers of a shamaness. 

     Xena quickly ran to the aid of Gabrielle who could barely breath.  Yet she was still intrigued by her visions.  She looked to Xena who looked into her eyes and saw the confusion.  Xena assured Gabrielle that she was her friend and that was the truth of their lives together.  Suddenly the Roman army was approaching them down across the hill.  Xena was still fighting Alti, but then Alti disappeared into the distance leaving Xena to fight 500 men alone.  Gabrielle was too weak to fight alongside Xena as she watched helplessly.  Xena was hit by several arrows in the chest and in the legs.  She fell to the ground in defeat knowing that her betrayal of Caesar meant her death as well.  The Roman guard took her to Caesar alive, but badly wounded.

     Gabrielle was taken with her, but upon their arrival was released by Caesar.  The Roman guard cleaned up the warrior princess for crucifixion and Gabrielle was mercifully allowed by Caesar to see Xena one last time before she was to be crucified.  This time the two knew that they would never be together again for Gabrielle could not battle evil with words alone, and Xena was the warrior in need.  But just when Gabrielle thought that she could do nothing to stop this final fate of her best friend Xena revealed to her that it was Caesar who had changed their fates. 

    She explained the revelation to Gabrielle of how in their other life they had destroyed the Olympic gods therefore carelessly leaving the halls of Tartarus without Hades to keep them safe.  Caesar had been killed by his loyal comrade Brutus, whom had befriended Gabrielle, and he never made it to his destiny of the great Emperor to Rome.  Caesar was bitter about his fate and escaped from Tartarus to visit the fates themselves.  He had changed one event between himself and Xena vowing to himself never to betray the warrior princess.  But some fates never change no matter how we try to tamper with them.

     This made sense to Gabrielle.  And Xena continued by explaining to Gabrielle that all she had to do was go to their loom and replace the thread which Caesar had taken and misplaced.  Gabrielle’s hope for love had been restored as Xena told her what she must do to carry out their plan.  And then it was time as Brutus himself was the one to escort Gabrielle out of the prison.  As they walked through Caesar’s palace Caesar stopped them asking of Brutus a moment of his time.  Caesar was very sly and obviously up to something.  Gabrielle warned Brutus, but Brutus had full trust and loyalty in Caesar.

     Caesar excused Gabrielle for this private moment and assured her that he would take her safely to the gates of Rome.  Gabrielle knew that this was yet another betrayal and as she listened in the room beyond she heard the two men conversing.  Caesar had asked Brutus his feelings of Xena’s crucifixion.  He was testing the loyalties of his right hand man.  Brutus stated to Caesar that he had the utmost respect for Xena as did the Roman army despite Caesar’s command to put her to death.  Caesar paused a moment before his response.  The response was shocking yet gruesome.  Gabrielle heard him pull a knife from a sheath and then heard it go into the flesh of another man.  Then she heard Caesar chuckle for a moment realizing that it was Brutus that had been betrayed in this reality. 

     She escaped the walls of Rome swiftly upon a horse as she took the money given to her by Brutus just before his demise.  He had been very loyal to Caesar, but more loyal to Xena.  That was why he had to die.  It wasn’t right and Gabrielle knew it.  She was the only one who could save the fates of everyone upon the earth.  She rode quickly to the temple of the fates traveling mostly by night to avoid being caught by the Roman guard for once Caesar found out about Xena’s plan against him he would most certainly come for Gabrielle.

     On the day of Xena’s death Gabrielle had arrived at the fates.  And on that same day Caesar was betrayed by another close to him.  While Xena took nails to the cross, Caesar was stabbed to death upon making love to the great and powerful Shamaness Alti who had the last laugh in all of this mess.  She was now in control of the entire world for she had become the Caesar.  Alti watched as Xena suffered, but though Xena suffered she thought of Gabrielle knowing that everything would be all right.  She sent out words of love to Gabrielle as she took her last breath upon the cross.

     When Gabrielle finally arrived at the fates temple she found it in ruins.  She looked upon the tapestries they had woven to find that they had been destroyed reduced to a pile on the floor and nothing more.  Gabrielle was angry for they had not kept it in tact.  But they were unable to for Caesar had chained them together for eternity to insure his fate as conqueror of Rome and of the world.  He had gone to so much trouble to reach his own destiny only to in the end reach the same result.  Only this time the world was left in shambles beyond repair.

     Gabrielle was angry for she could not carry out her mission.  She was unable to fix the loom which had gone awry.  It was a mess beyond repair and she was thrust into her own despair.  She knew that Xena was gone, and that Rome was under the power of a beast much worse than Ceasar could have ever been.  Gabrielle screamed in anger at the fates for allowing this to happen and they could see her sadness for the life that she missed and the good lives that were lost.

     Then Gabrielle realized that she wished that she had never existed.  She felt that life was futile and there was no real purpose to live it.  The world was all a lie and nothing more than a tapestry.  If that was all it was to be then it was not meant to be.  Gabrielle took a torch and lit it with fire.  The fates begged her not to do it, but she did not listen to their pleas.  Gabrielle approached the broken tapestry boldly and threw the torch upon it burning existence into nothing.  She was satisfied as the flames engulfed the entire universe.  And then suddenly it didn’t feel right.  All around her things started to change and then everything that was It was no more. 

     I awoke with a strange feeling like no other.  Then I saw Xena riding upon a horse approaching me as if she had known all along what I had known.  I told her that I liked this reality much better, and she didn’t disagree.  She invited me upon her horse and I accepted her invitation gratefully knowing that when fates collide who’s to say where the fine line is between what is reality and only a story within an imagined nightmare.  

#133 Many Happy Returns
February 13 BC

28 thoughts on “Xena Scrolls Volume #6

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