warrior awoke with the first rays of the sun that filtered in through the
window. She was surprised to find her physical strength renewed, the throbbing
in her head was greatly reduced; she still felt the loss and emptiness inside,
but somehow she felt ready to deal with it.
swept her gaze around the room and found Solari sleeping in a chair by the wall.
Obviously they had all taken it in turns to watch over her as she slept. The
scrolls and all of Gabrielle’s possessions had been returned to the satchel
which now hung on another chair along with her cleaned armour and polished
wanting to disturb the Amazon, or anyone else for that matter, she quietly
pushed back the covers and swung out of bed. She stood up and finally realised
that she was still naked, images of what she had tried to do the previous night
with Hercules flooded into her mind, followed by the oddly realistic dream of
Gabrielle. She did not have time to sort out the incident with Hercules now, so
she quickly got dressed in her full armour, with her weapons and grabbed the
satchel and silently left the room. She just missed the moment when Solari
cracked open one eye and watched her leave.
out of her bedroom had been the easy part, now she had to make her way through
the living area without disturbing the other bodies that were sleeping there.
Ephiny appeared to have gotten the best end of the deal, being that she had got
the rug in front of the fire; although it appeared that she had shared her
bedroll with Solari, Xena raised an eyebrow, not surprising really.
she picked her way through the sleeping forms and reached the door without
causing any sound. Slowly she opened the door to avoid creaking and slipped out
of the house unnoticed.
she breathed in the morning air and headed into the woods, bound for the
clearing where she and Gabrielle often camped when they were staying in
Amphipolis; from the first time to the last time.
awoke in what appeared to be a war zone. He bolted up, feeling all of his
muscles stiffen from a night of sleeping on a wooden floor. Hercules and Iolaus
were both up and eyeing the two Amazons as one might eye a poisonous snake.
do you mean she’s gone?” Ephiny screeched
mean she got up, she got dressed, she left.” Solari explained sarcastically
for the third time.
you didn’t stop her, you were supposed to be watching her?” Ephiny accused
was on my way, I thought one of you guys might have caught her, I mean there are
enough of you.” Solari defended herself. If she had not woken up it might have
been hours before they realised that Xena was missing.
everybody, let’s try to calm down.” Hercules interjected before blood was
spilled between the two female warriors. They were making enough noise to wake
everyone, proof arrived when Cyrene entered the room from her bedroom.
going on?” The older woman asked as she finished straightening her blouse and
smoothed back her hair.
gone.” Iolaus stepped closer to Xena’s mother, believing her to be the
safest person in the room at that moment. Although why he thought an irate
mother would be a safer bet over two fuming Amazons and a protective champion of
men was anyone’s guess. Cyrene to everyone’s surprise remained unphased at
can you say calm down, Hercules? Xena just lost her best friend, she’s hurting
and I’ve seen what her hurt and pain can do,” Ephiny waved her arm in front
of Hercules, “Gods know what she might do.”
probably gone somewhere quiet, to pay her respects to Gabrielle in her own
way.” All eyes turned to the person who had uttered these words and all eyes
found Joxer, he was still stretched out on the floor but was now propped up on
did you know that?” Hercules asked.
been there,” When eyebrows raised in his direction he felt that more of an
explanation was in order, “When she’s lost someone that she cares
sings.” Cyrene concluded for him, “It began with Lyceus.”
would she go?” This time his question was for Cyrene.
a clearing not far from here, in the woods, by a stream - a good camping ground.
Xena and Gabrielle stay there sometimes.” Cyrene remembered. She did not
mention that she had also camped there with them on the way back from the Furies
where she’ll be.” Ephiny concluded.
they readied themselves and left the house following Cyrene’s lead. They
covered the distance into the woods and moved quietly towards the clearing. As
they neared the area they could see Xena moving around, they did not want to
alert the warrior to their presence; they remained at a distance to give her the
privacy she needed but close enough should she need them.
clearing that she now stood in was where she had camped as a child and as a
warrior. Her father had brought all three of them here when they had been young,
he had taught them to fish, to ride, to hunt; later she and Lyceus had camped in
the same place and played pretend battles and pretend weapons. None of those
reasons were what brought her here now.
had been in this very clearing that a certain Warrior Princess had finally
relented and allowed the runaway Bard of Poteidaia to join her. Xena had tried
every trick in the book to rid herself of the tag-along; she had deliberately
scared the girl with her intimidating presence, had rejected her attempts at
friendship and had terrorised the poor girl about what she should expect in her
life with Xena. Gabrielle had remained unphased, insisting that she wanted to go
with the warrior and that she would face the dangers with her as a friend.
young bard had proved to be a loyal, trusting, determined and talkative
companion and she had kept her promise of friendship. At the time Xena did not
think that she needed anyone, but once again Gabrielle had proved her wrong and
somewhere along the line the bard had found a way into the warriors heart and
taken up residence there. She had watched Gabrielle grow from a young naive
village girl into a woman, and now she had to say farewell to that time and part
of her life.
turned towards the rising sun, she loved this time of the day; the feel of the
first rays of light bathing her body in a new day, one more than she felt she
closed her eyes and conjured up an image of Gabrielle, surprised that it was not
the vision of Gabrielle’s death. Instead she saw the time when she and
Gabrielle had been sat on the beach after returning from Illusia. Her hair hung
loosely, cascaded down passed her shoulders, a nervous smile twitched her lips
and reached her eyes, apprehension at what her friend might do to her. But the
nerves were replaced by pure joy at being reunited with Xena after what had
almost been their deaths. It had been at that moment that Xena realised she had
been so close to losing something that she did not want to live without, but
deeply Xena prepared to say her good-bye, to sing her burial song. As she was
about to sound the first note she heard the unmistakable sound of a God making
began to wake and her blurred vision focused on the form that was peering down
at her, “Xena....” She blurted out before she was fully awoke, then she
realised it was Artemis that was looking at her, whilst laying on the bed next
to her, “I was talking to Xena.”
was ‘Dite’s idea,” Artemis explained, indicating towards the Goddess of
Love who was settling herself at the end of the bed.
was a thank you present.” Aphrodite leaned over towards Gabrielle, “You were
actually talking to Xena, but she’ll remember it as a dream.”
I couldn’t tell her what I wanted to. About me not being really dead and about
the trial.” Gabrielle said.
are some rules that even I’m not allowed to break.” Aphrodite explained.
I wanted to give her a message.” The bard complained.
can do,” Aphrodite said, “The Warrior Babe will be here soon enough.”
decided that she liked the affectionate name that Aphrodite had for Xena - Xena
would hate it. She turned questioning eyes to Artemis, Xena was going to be
is being brought to Olympus for your Judgement, you do remember that?” Artemis
ruffled Gabrielle’s hair.
I could forget.” Gabrielle playfully pushed Artemis’s hand away, “What are
you going to tell Xena? She’ll never believe anything the Gods say.”
Athena appeared, startling Aphrodite, “Make an entrance, why don’t you
nerd.” Aphrodite tried to compose herself.
have a problem.” The Goddess of Wisdom and War announced. All three woman
looked to Athena, “Ares has decided to pay Xena a visit. I think it’s about
time that we went and broke the news to our warrior.”
giggled in pure excitement, she had been looking forward to this moment, “Come
on jock, I’ll race you.” She disappeared along with Athena.
smiled at her sisters and then turned seriously to Gabrielle, “What’s the
Xena’s and Ares’s Threads
blue flash appeared in front on her and materialised into the form of Ares. The
sound that came from Xena’s throat was a snarl, but carried a note of her
burial song with it and finished as a scream.
a wild animal she lashed out with a fist, her full body weight behind the punch
she lunged forward. Ares dodged easily, he moved forward and both pivoted to
face one another again.
don’t do that Xena.” He said smoothly as they began to circle one another to
return to their original positions.
could you?” The question encompassed everything that he had done in recent
times: his taunting, teasing, betrayal, “How could you?” She made a second
lunge towards him but this time strong arms enveloped her and held her back.
not worth it.” Hercules tried to convince her, never relinquishing his hold on
out of this pretty boy.” Ares warned his half-brother.
on Hercules. I’ll be okay.” She felt him release her and watched as he moved
back to join the others who had also appeared from the woods. She almost smiled,
grateful for their support at that moment. She returned her attention to Ares,
“What do you want? Haven’t you done enough?”
are you taking it out on me for? It’s not my fault that the irritating blonde
threw herself into the fire.” He growled into her face.
all your fault. If you hadn’t made the deal with the Fates, I would have
killed Hope and Gabrielle would still be alive. It’s all your fault.” She
not the way I planned it,” He began to explain, but he realised that he had
gone about it the wrong way when he saw the growing look of fury in Xena’s
the way you planned it. This was just a power quest for you?” Xena groped
blindly for words. She wished she had the Hind’s blood dagger in her hands
right now, she would gladly kill him, “Don’t you have any loyalty? Don’t
you care about anyone or anything other than yourself?”
do care,” Ares began weakly, trying to win one back for himself, but Xena cut
him down again.
you don’t. All you care about is power and your greed for it cost me the life
of someone I love. I love Gabrielle.” She did not realise that she had been
backing Ares up until she heard the water splashing underneath their boots.
I love Hope.” He retaliated, not caring that he was knee deep in the stream.
wanted to laugh but the shock prevented it, “You couldn’t love Hope, you
only needed her. The only decent quality she had was that she looked like....
her mother.” Realistation set in with her final words, “You never loved
Hope, you were in love with....” Xena could not bring herself to say the name.
seemed to deflate at this revelation; he wanted to deny it to himself, and the
others, but it was too late, and stood opposite to the person who truly loved
Gabrielle without reservation he found that he could not, “So now you know.”
He turned away, unable to face the warrior who had been his chosen for so long.
could you Ares?” Xena shook her head, trying to get a grip on what had just
been uncovered. “Did you really want to sire a new race? Did you want to be
Dahak’s slave for eternity?”
came to me and offered me a deal. A place at the head of his army, all I had to
do was give Hope a child. And when I saw her face.... I couldn’t refuse.”
Ares finally turned, he saw the others, they were all too stunned to say or do
anything except watch the exchange between the God and the warrior. “Gabrielle
could never love me, I know where her heart is.” There was no doubt about
where he referred to. “But Hope.... Hope....” Ares dropped his head
backwards, unable to finish his sentence.
even the God of War isn’t immune to the lurve thing.” Aphrodite’s voice
was clear even before she shimmered into existence.
are you doing here?” Xena snipped, she hated one God, but two....
looked up from where she was splashing her feet in the stream, “Well since
he’s talking about love, and you’re talking about love, I guess that’s my
territory,” a sly smile spread across her face, “Besides, I wouldn’t miss
this for the world.” She giggled taking in her brothers obvious discomfort.
then two more beings shimmered into the mortal plane - Artemis and Athena. Xena
was beginning to think all kinds of paranoid scenarios.
you told her why we are here?” Athena addressed Aphrodite in her usual clipped
I thought I’d wait for you guys.” Aphrodite replied.
approached Xena, “We need to talk.”
the sight of the Amazon Goddess Xena curled her lip, “She’s one of yours,
why didn’t you do something?”
wanted to, believe me.”
don’t believe anything that you Gods say.”
believe this,” Artemis took Xena’s face in her hands, “Gabrielle is not
eyes went wide for a moment, she wanted to believe what she had heard, but she
was wary of anything that the Gods said.
sensed the unease and the conflict, “She said if you didn’t believe me I was
to give you a message.”
the message?” Xena’s voice was hoarse, heavy with anguish and confusion once
‘Even in death I will never leave you,’ ” Artemis quoted the young bards
words exactly, “She said it would mean something to you.”
remembered when she herself had said those words; when Gabrielle laid dying from
the poisoned arrow and Xena had vowed they would see their destiny out together.
a stronger emotion hit her, Gabrielle, alive. It was too much for her to
take in and before she could stop herself her legs gave way and she landed on
her knees in the stream. Loud splashing was heard as Hercules raced to her side,
catching her before she sank any further. Leaning heavily on her friend, her
mind began to burn with questions, How? Why? Where?
was no longer before her, now someone dressed in blue leaned down and hooked a
finger under her chin and drew her face up. The Goddess of Wisdom gazed down at
the shaking warrior with compassion and understanding, “All of your questions
will be answered in due course. You are to come to Olympus to speak at a trial
for your friend.”
on trial?” Xena managed to stammer. She could not believe that Gabrielle could
be put on trial for anything.
The Gods are undecided as to what Gabrielle’s fate will be. This trial will
determine what happens to her next.” Athena watched as Xena tried to say
something, but after some moments of trying without success she gave up. Her
eyes began to wander, looking at the faces that surrounded her, with a jerk of
her thumb Athena brought Xena’s attention back to her, “I must warn you, if
Gabrielle is found guilty you will never see her again.”
closed her eyes tightly, stopping tears before they started, “Will I at least
have the chance to say good-bye?”
can not promise that. The Gods will allow what the Gods will allow.” Athena
her teeth Xena opened her eyes, full of determination - Gabrielle would be found
innocent, “What are we waiting for?”
go.” Xena stood up, water cascading from her leathers and skin.
coming too.” Hercules stated, once again stepping forward.
Hercules, you gave up your place in Olympus. Father will not allow it.” Athena
Zeus had better change his mind, I’m coming. Xena will need a guard at the
trial.” Hercules pointed out.
okay, ‘Cupie’ can do it,” Aphrodite added helpfully, then at the sharp
glance she received from her brother, “Actually he’s real busy with Psyche
and the baby, I think Hercules should do it.”
Athena, who else is going to be able to hold her back if something goes
wrong?” Artemis urged, they all failed to mentioned that any one of the Gods
could hold her back with a thought.
well,” Athena agreed reluctantly.
me in,” Everyone turned to stare at Ares, “You’ll need two people to hold
Athena screeched firmly, “Father has thrown you out of Olympus.”
all eyes turned on Ares, “He threw me out of the Judgement, not out of
makes you think I’ll have you at my back?” Xena glared at Ares.
glared back at her, “Because we both want the same thing.”
was about to argue back when she realised he was right, “This doesn’t change
we leave now?” Athena had tired of the endless chit-chat. She had intended to
come to the mortal plane, collect Xena and return to get on with the trial. Why
did brothers always make everything so difficult?
briefly went over to her mother and friends to say good-bye. It was obvious that
all of them wanted to go to the trial as well, even if it was only to say
good-bye to Gabrielle. Then Xena, Hercules and the collection of Gods left.
lay face down on the huge bed in Artemis’s hunting lodge. It seemed like an
eternity since the Goddess had left to speak to Xena.
soft hand stroked across her exposed back causing the tension to ease out of her
muscles. The owner of the hand sat close to her and Gabrielle rolled onto her
side to look at Terreis’s blue eyes and red wayward curls.
had only known the young Amazon briefly but she had developed an overwhelming
respect for her in that short time. Terreis had introduced her to the Amazon way
of life and the power of free thinking. Gabrielle hoped that she had been a
worthy successor to this bright young woman.
really,” Gabrielle replied and then pondered on the reason as to why she was
not, “I know that I’m on trial for what I’ve done, but I don’t know what
I’m on trial for, and what happens if I’m found innocent or guilty.”
I can’t help you with that,” Terreis stroked the side of Gabrielle’s face,
“but you’ll find out soon enough.”
on cue Melosa entered the room, “It’s time Gabrielle.”
two Amazons escorted Gabrielle through the lodge to the entrance hall where
Artemis was waiting for her, “Time to face your Fate.”
stalked around her empty cell, occasionally kicking or punching a wall; the pain
that surged through her arms and legs at the actions were welcome relief to the
pain she felt inside. Her entire life had been torn apart in front of her eyes
that mattered, everything that she had tried to destroy had all been a lie,
manipulated by the Punishers of the Gods. Callisto had longed for oblivion, to
at last find peace. Xena, the woman that she had hated for so long - yet still
admired - had tried to give her that peace, but that too had been taken away
she realised she would spend her eternity in torture; regret, anger and renewed
hatred would fill her every moment, unless....
heard crackling in the air and turned to find all three Furies - Alecto, Megaera
and Tisiphone - waiting.
time Callisto.” Alecto reached out a hand for Callisto to take.
I do this, if I defend Gabrielle, will I find peace?” Callisto asked as she
moved away from the offered hand.
withdrew her hand, “Let me put it to you another way Callisto,” Alecto fixed
her eyes on the blonde warrior, a hint of evil flashing in them, “If you
don’t do this you will never find peace.” She re-offered her hand.
since you put it like that,” Callisto gathered all the hate that she could and
put it into the one sentence.
forward she took Alecto’s hand and felt the tingling sensation that shot along
her arm and through her body as they began their journey to Olympus.
in Part 7