Three's A Crowd
Titanium & awatcher
Chapter 1 "The Stranger"
As the sun quietly, set Gabrielle went about her normal routine of setting up camp while
Xena went hunting unaware she was being observed by someone only a few feet away.
'Hmm' she thought, 'I wonder what Xena will bring back this time? She likes variety and
we already had rabbit twice this week and fish three times.'
With the blink of his eyes the stranger left the campsite and reappeared next to Xena.
Xena's senses went on full alert as she spun around searching the area but seeing nothing.
The stranger chuckled quietly but said nothing as Xena cautiously went back to stalking
'She has been gone a long time, I hope whatever she is hunting is worth it.' thought
Gabrielle who went back to daydreaming.
Suddenly a large deer landed at her feet. Gabrielle jumped back, right into somebody
standing behind her. Swinging her staff Garbielle shouted, "Yahhhh!" which was quickly
followed by a thump and "Oommph" as she landed on her rear.
"You are getting lazy." Xena she reached down to help her friend off the ground after knocking her feet out from under her.
"That is not funny!" exclaimed an indignant, but relieved Gabrielle. "As long as I have you
around I don't need to worry about people sneaking up on me. Besides I knew you were
out hunting nearby and wouldn't let anyone near the camp."
"You should always be aware of your surroundings. Even I miss things now and then and
two sets of eyes are better than one. While two is company..."
"three's a crowd?" interrupted Gabrielle.
"If someone's trying to kill you it is. I don't want to find myself traveling alone because you didn't pay
attention." lectured Xena as Gabrielle continued to prepare the venison for cooking.
Xena drew her sword and started looking around the camp. "You've made your point, Xena. I don't need a demonstration."
"Quiet!" whispered Xena.
"What's going on?" asked Gabrielle quietly, "I don't see or hear anything"
"Neither do I. That is what is bothering me, I feel eyes watching us but I cannot find
the source." replied Xena. She resheathed her sword but continued to scan the area as
Gabrielle started cooking.
After dinner, as Xena went about the usual task of sharpening her sword and polishing
armor, while Gabrielle went about organizing her scrolls
'Story time.' thought the stranger.
Gabrielle looked up from her scrolls and watched Xena work.
"What is it Gabrielle?"
"I was just thinking of a story."
Xena was tired but said, "Lets here it." Xena looked up trying to figure out why she had said that. She really was too
tired and not in the mood for a story.
I must be getting soft, she thought.
"I sing of Xena..."
The stranger smiled
'Yes' thought the stranger 'One about Xena.'
"Gabrielle," Xena interrupted, "do you always have to tell stories about me? I know what I've done and most the time you completely leave yourself out.
"I need to get the one about your saving Sparta from the ten
headed Hydra down before we reach the next village."
"All right, all right, go ahead but no making things up this time. And it only had 4 heads."
The stranger sat down on the log Xena was occupying less than a foot away as Gabrielle
launched into her story. Xena kept searching the area with her eyes, always returning to
the spot where the stranger was sitting , but saw nothing more than the log. The stranger sat
completely entranced by Gabrielle's story but never took his eyes off of Xena. Gabrielle
brought the story to an end with a dramatic wave of her hand that would have hit the
stranger but instead her hand passed right through him and Gabrielle felt nothing.
"At least you didn't have me beating him with both hands behind my back and standing on
one foot like last time." laughed Xena who laid back and closed her eyes.
Gabrielle stuck her tongue out, grinned and also laid down to sleep.
'No, but you could have my dear Xena.' thought the stranger, 'It has been a long road for
you but I think its high time you get what you have coming to you.' With that the stranger
slowly materialized into view briefly before returning to Mount Olympus. "And I am just
the one to see you get it."
"Hermes, where are you? I need a message delivered."
"Coming, Zeus," said the stranger.
Chapter 2 "A Favor"
Hades! Hades! I need a favor!" shouted Hermes as he walked through Hades' castle in
the underworld. He finally found the god of the underworld knee deep in scrolls
muttering to himself.
"Death by choking on a banana peel? What in MY NAME was he doing with a banana
peel in his mouth anyway? Here is another one, broke her neck while doing laundry.
How in Tartarus did she manage that? What are these mortals doing up there?" raved
Hades. "Oh, I didn't see you there Hermes. Can you believe this? Whatever happened to
plain old beheadings and stabbing?"
"Mortals will be mortals." remarked Hermes. "Sorry to bother you but I need a favor."
"I owe you a few but hurry up there is a battle starting and Athena is going to be sending
me some business in a few minutes." Hades said impatiently.
"Okay. There is this warrior women named Xena..." Hermes started to say.
"Hold it, I know all about Xena and I don't think Ares is going to take it lightly you
treading into his territory." Hades said interrupting Hermes. "Besides, what do you have
against her anyway? Did she kill one to many messengers bearing bad news in her warlord
"First of all Ares is avoiding Xena right now, Zeus is still ticked off about him and Strife
killing Hercules' wife in order to get her back so he is occupying himself with other tasks.
Second, I don't have anything against her. In fact I want to help her, kind of reward her for
all the good she has done and remind her that good things come to those who wait."
"You want to REWARD Xena, the same Xena that scorns the gods, that is constantly defying us?" Hades shouted, surprised at Hermes' request.
"Calm down Hades. If memory serves correctly, she has given you a hand or two or have
you forgotten about your helmet? What about the time she rescued your sister, Celeste,
from King Sisyphus?" Hermes replied as Hades paced back and forth kicking scrolls out
of his way.
Hades stopped his pacing and turned to face Hermes. "I guess I owe her. Before I dare to ask what you want me to do, tell my why you're doing this."
"I just told you..."
"A lie. What's your personal involvement?"
"As you know I'm the protector of travelers and the supposed protector of thieves."
"And I thought I had it bad with getting stuck with the underworld and all."
"No kidding. I'm trying to get rid of that title. I'm the protector of traveler's, right? Xena is a traveler. What does Xena do? She fights thieves and evildoers. Perfect match. I'm trying to boost my image.
"That is one of the stupidest reasonings I've ever heard."
"What exactly do
you want from me?" Hades asked.
"Her brother," Hermes replied simply. "I want Lyceus."
"Lyceus is dead," Hades pointed out.
"Really? Gee, I didn't know that. I guess I'll just have to talk to Hades. Wait a minute. You are Hades and I'm talking to you."
"Don't get sarcastic with me. Bringing back the dead is no simple task. Zeus blew a fuse after I allowed Callisto to be
brought back. Once for Ares and once for Hera. Not to mention I had to bring Marcus
back to help retrieve my helmet and that kid I helped Hercules with for a few hours and
that Iolaus guy who was killed by Hera's enforcer, then there was the first Enforcer I had
to bring back to give Hercules a hand......" Hades ranted.
"All right I get the picture but all I'm asking for is one guy who didn't have a beef against
anybody. Besides he might help keep Xena out of trouble, I hear he use to help keep her
anger in check." Replied Hermes, "Maybe she will even settle down and stop sending you
so much business."
"The Fates tried that already." said Hades, "What makes you think changing the past will
work this time?"
Hermes just smiled and said, "You leave that to me. Besides, I'm not changing the past, just the future."
Chapter 3 "Lost and Found"
Xena and Gabrielle got an early start the next day. It was a beautiful day, the sun was
bright with just enough cloud cover to keep it cool. Xena was still suspicious and kept
looking around, eyes searching for any kind of trouble.
'Xena is really getting paranoid.' thought Gabrielle. A bird chirped and Gabrielle spun
around staff at the ready. 'Geez now she has me doing it!'
Xena turned around and looked at Gabrielle. "You are getting better Gabrielle, no pigeon
in his right mind will try to sneak up on you." she said jokingly.
Fed up Gabrielle barked at Xena, "Will you PLEASE tell me what is going on and what
has you so edgy? You have been jumpy since last night, its no wonder you've me
doing the same thing."
Xena stopped Argo and dismounted facing Gabrielle. "You are right something is
bothering me. I can't place it. It is similar to the feeling I get when I know Ares is
watching but not as malevolent." Xena answered.
"I'll take that as a compliment." came from a voice behind Xena.
Both Xena and Gabrielle turned to face the intruder. Before Xena could pull her sword
out the stranger disappeared and reappeared behind them again.
"Take it easy. I just want to talk to you Xena. I am Hermes." the stranger said
introducing himself, grinning from ear to ear.
"What do you want Hermes?" asked Xena warily. Usually gods that appeared to her either wanted something from her or wanted to kill her.
"Want?" replied Hermes, "I don't want anything. In fact I am here to give something to
you, actually, return something to you."
"Return something? I don't recall losing anything so important that it required a god to return it." said Xena.
Hermes crossed is arms and rolled his eyes.
"Think back, oh, about twelve years ago. Its waiting for you in a cave about half a days
walk from here. I hope you like it." Hermes winked and then disappeared leaving Xena and
Gabrielle standing in the road alone again.
"Any ideas on what it could be?" inquired Gabrielle.
"No." replied Xena. "Twelve years ago I was beginning my time as a warlord. I've spent two years trying to forget what happened, there is nothing I want to remember.
"I don't think it is something bad." remarked Gabrielle, "I got the impression that Hermes
wanted to give you something good from your past."
"Nothing good came out of that time." Xena said thoughtfully, "Cortes attacked
Amphipolis, Lyceus was killed, mother practically disowned me, and I started building my
army. No, nothing comes to mind that I lost that bring back would make me happy."
Despite misgivings about the god's gift they started towards the cave. 'A family heirloom,
maybe a lost toy from her childhood or something.' Gabrielle mused to herself, 'Xena was
never much for material things from what I can tell. Even when she was a warlord she
kept her possessions to only a handful of things.'
Xena was trying to figure it out as well but her mind kept wandering back to the attack
and the death of her brother. They turned around a corner and could see the mouth of the
cave. She was so caught up in thinking she missed most of what Gabrielle was saying.
"...come on Xena think harder, there must have been something you lost around that time."
"I told you before," answered Xena, "nothing really mattered to me after I lost Lyceus...."
she paused as her eyes locked onto Gabrielle's, both sets wide suddenly realizing what she
had just said.
"Could it be?" Xena hoped out loud.
"Xena!" shouted a man's voice.
"It can't be." mumbled Xena, "It just can't be."
"Who is it?" asked Gabrielle as the man started to run towards them.
Instead of answering, Xena jumped down from Argo and rushed forward throwing her arms
"Lyceus!" Xena exclaimed not letting go of her little brother as he whirled her around in
"Lyceus?" Gabrielle shook her head in confusion. "Your brother Lyceus?"
"Its good to finally meet you Gabrielle." said Lyceus finally letting go of Xena and shaking
Gabrielle's hand, "I have heard some good things about you."
"I think you have some explaining to do Lyceus. Like how you got Hermes to bring you
back from the underworld." said Xena.
"Fair enough but I want hear all about you heroic exploits over the past twelve years.
You don't get a lot of news in the Elysian Fields. Your friend Marcus told me a little but
stopped short of telling me stuff of your early deeds, just the more recent ones. Oh yeah. You've thought about me a lot since I've died. I just wanted to say thank you." Lyceus
stopped as a dark look came over Xena.
'Past twelve years? I've only been doing good for the past two.' thought Xena, 'Gods!
Marcus didn't want to tell him about my warlord days. I guess he figured what he didn't
know wouldn't hurt him.'
"You alright sis?" asked Lyceus as Xena turned away from him.
"Yeah fine, you first. I want to know how Hermes talked Hades into letting you go."
replied Xena as they started to make camp.
"Okay, but then I want to hear everything you have been up to." said Lyceus as he started
After a quick meal Lyceus started to tell his tale of returning from the dead, "I really don't
know how Hermes convinced Hades to let me return. They both just showed up in the
Elysian Fields yesterday and told me I was being given a second chance as a reward. I
I appeared in the cave, walked out, and saw you and Gabrielle coming towards me. Now
that I think about it, I wasn't being the one rewarded, you were Xena."
"Thats it?" asked Gabrielle, "No conditions or special services required?"
"No. The last thing Hermes said was 'I hope you and Xena will be happy.' and then he
vanished." replied Lyceus. The fire started to die down and Xena got up to get some
"Hold on, your turn Xena." said Lyceus with a proud look in his eye. "Hermes brought me
back from the dead to reward you, you must be more famous than Hercules."
"Infamous is more like it." muttered Xena under her breath. "I need to stretch my legs.
I'm going for a walk." she said a little louder. She started to get up again but Gabrielle
gently pulled her back down and said, "He needs to know Xena. He has a right to know."
"Then you tell him. I can't." Xena walked stone-faced into the woods. Lyceus got up to go
after her but Gabrielle stopped him, "She needs to be alone for awhile."
"What did I say that upset her?" Lyceus asked, "She has no way of knowing how proud I
am of her, stopping Cortes and then becoming a hero for justice."
"Thats just it. She didn't become a hero after stopping Cortes. She became a warlord."
"No way! My big sister would never do something like that. She had the kindest soul of
anybody." shouted Lyceus.
"The key word is HAD. After your death she built a militia to protect Amphipolis with
her as the general. That militia turned into an army with her as a warlord." explained
Gabrielle as she poked at the fire. "She became known as the Terror of Thrace, Destroyer
of Nations to name just a few of the more civilized titles she went by." continued Gabrielle
never looking up from the fire. She could feel Xena just outside the campsite listening.
"That lasted for ten years during which she raided villages and conquered nations."
Lyceus just sat there stunned. Slowly he digested what he was being told and understood
that look Xena had given him when he praised her but something still bothered him. "That
is not the Xena that I just met again. She was almost like she was when I was alive
before, not the bloodthirty warlord you just described. What saved her? Was it you that
showed her back to the light Gabrielle?" asked Lyceus.
"She did come back from the darkness but it wasn't through me. It was Hercules who changed her. When I met her she was already starting to do good. She saved me and the other girls in my village."
"You'll never take the credit for anything, will you?" Xena asked stepping back into the campsite. She turned to Lyceus.
"Hercules started me
back on the path but she's the one who reminds me why I should stay on it."
"But for ten years! Xena I don't see..." Lyceus started to say.
"For the last two years Xena has been doing a lot of good." Gabrielle quickly said. "She
has freed kingdoms, stopped warlords, and saved quite a few gods. All the stories Marcus
told you in the Elysian Fields were true, only they occured in the span of two years instead
"Look, why don't get some rest and discuss this in the morning. You have a lot to absorb
and the rest of your life to do it." Xena said.
"No, Xena. I don't want to just brush this off and go to bed. I want to talk. Now."
"Then talk to yourself, I'm done for the day." Xena walked over to her bedroll and lie down. She shut her eyes and tried to ignore Lyceus.
Lyceus screamed in frustration.
Gabrielle had had enough. She took Lyceus by the arm and dragged him out of Xena's earshot.
The girl known as Gabrielle, warrior-bard, amazon queen, and most importantly Xena's friend, was trying hard to control her anger. She looked straight into Lyceus' eyes, her own shimmering with unshed tears.
"Have you ever thrown a pebble into a lake?"
"When you throw a pebble into a lake, the lake is disrupted sending ripples throughout it. Eventually, the ripples diminish, and the lake is calm again but the pebble is still there changing the lake forever."
"What are you talking about?"
"Twelve years ago a pebble was thrown in. It took ten years, but now the lake has calmed."
"I don't get it."
Gabrielle looked down at the ground thinking for a minute. Her fists were clenched and her knuckles were white. She had an increasing urge to flatten the man. Instead, she took a deep breath and licked her lips, preparing to speak again.
"You know, I once met this guy named Plato. Even though you've been in the Elysian Fields for the past twelve years you might have heard of him."
Lyceus' brow furrowed as he tried to remember.
"No no, don't try to think. I mean, why start now? I'll tell you who he is. He is one of Greece's most brilliant thinkers. He told me something I've never forgotten. Do you know what that was?"
Lyceus shook his head.
"He told me, 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.' I've tried to live by that. You'll be wise to do the same."
Gabrielle stalked off to join her friend by the campfire leaving Lyceus speechless.
Chapter 5 "If you judge people, you have no time to love them"
Eventually, Lyceus sat down where he had been dragged and fell asleep.
The next morning Lyceus approached Xena.
"We need to talk, Xena."
"You're really hung up on that concept, aren't you? Well, what is it?"
"Gabrielle talked to me last night."
"She said a lot of stuff to me. I didn't understand all of it."
"Now there's a surprise," Gabrielle muttered under her breath.
"I did get the gist of it though."
"Will wonders never cease?" she muttered again.
Xena gave Gabrielle a look.
"I think I'll pack up." Gabrielle walked off to get her things.
"I don't like who you were, Xena. I do know that. What I don't know is who you are. I'd like to find out." Lyceus shuffled his feet.
A smile slowly crept up Xena's face.
"It looks like we do need to talk."
"What you did is still a part of you. I don't want to know just what has happened in the past two years. Tell me about it all."
"I won't judge you for your past, Xena. I just want to know who you are. I'm not sure if your the same person I knew or not. I need to find out."
"And that's not judging?" retorted Xena. The smile had left her face.
"What? I come back to life to find you've killed thousands. What do you expect me to do? What do you expect me to say? 'That's okay?' 'Everyone makes mistakes?'"
"That's what I did." Gabrielle had reappeared. "Did you comprehend a word I said last night?"
Lyceus rubbed his eyes.
"This came out all wrong."
"You mean you didn't mean to tell the truth? Obviously, you don't trust me." Xena grunted in response.
"No, Xena. Please, let me try this again. I don't know what I feel or what I should feel right now. Please, talk to me and show me who you are. I miss my sister."
"If you're expecting to find the sister you left twelve years ago, you might be disappointed. I've been through a lot since then."
"I'm not looking for an exact copy. Just a hint of who I knew so I can go from there."
Xena threw her hands in the air.
"Fine. What do you want to know?"
"I guess I'll start with, how are things in Amphipolis?"
Chapter 6 "The hardest thing to carry--a grudge"
Xena and Lyceus spent the entire day catching up on Xena's life. Gabrielle made herself scarce and ended up talking to Argo all day.
"Well I'm glad I packed up this morning, considering we didn't go anywhere," griped Gabrielle.
Xena barely acknowledged that Gabrielle had spoken.
"Uh huh," was all she said.
"Okay Lyceus. I've told you practically all that has happened in the last twelve years. You haven't said much."
"YOU told HIM ALL that has happened?" Gabrielle was astounished.
"I've traveled with you two years. Getting any information out of you is like pulling teeth. Your brother shows up, is quite insulting, and you tell all. I don't believe it." Gabrielle shook her head.
"Gabrielle..." Xena began.
Gabrielle put up her hands. "That's okay, Xena. It looks like we all learned something new today."
"Gabrielle..." Xena started again.
"No Xena," said Gabrielle forcefully, " I couldn't stand to hear it."
"I'm going to go check on Argo." Gabrielle walked away.
"This is great, just great." Xena started pacing. "She chooses a horse, with whom her relationship is tedious at best, over me."
"Look at it from her view. You open up your past to a complete stranger while ignoring her."
"You're my brother!"
"Unfortunately, from what she's seen, I haven't been acting like it."
"This is great, just great," Xena said again.
Chapter 7 "Blank Page"
Xena found Gabrielle fussing over Argo. "At least you are talking to one of us."
"Drop it Xena." replied Gabrielle not turning around to face her.
"Look, its going to be the three of us traveling together. I want you and Lyceus to get
along if nothing else."
"I'm happy for you, Xena. I really am. I know how much he meant, means to you. As long as your happy, I'm happy," Gabrielle said.
'And the whole world is just freaking happy,' Gabrielle thought to herself. 'Why wouldn't you tell me about your past? I never wanted to judge you, just help you deal with it. You once told me we were family and shared a bond stronger than blood, yet you told him. Why?'
"Where are we heading Xena?" Gabrielle said out loud.
"Amphipolis." Lyceus answered.
"Where are we heading XENA?" Gabrielle repeated giving a Lyceus a glare.
"Amphipolis. Mother should know about Lyceus." Xena replied quickly stepping
between Lyceus and Gabrielle hoping to avoid any trouble. Something would have to be
done before Gabrielle got upset and smacked Lyceus with her staff.
"You know, Lyceus, we should really spar sometime. Xena always said you were good."
'Good,' thought Gabrielle, 'I look forward to slamming your butt to the ground.'
Xena was getting a bad feeling about this.
"I want to walk with Lyceus for a while Gabrielle. Would you mind holding onto Argo?"
"Sure, I think I'll ride ahead to see how far the next village is."
Xena raised her eyebrows but said nothing as Gabrielle mounted Argo and took off.
'She hates riding. I guess she just wants to give me and Lyceus some privacy.' thought
Lyceus watched Gabrielle ride off. He knew something was wrong. He was slowly
beginning to understand why she was upset but didn't know what or if he should do
anything about it. Xena grabbed his hand and started talking about their childhood hoping
to revive some more pleasant memories.
'She seems happier than I have ever seen her.' thought Gabrielle as she looked back and
saw Xena laughing. 'Maybe I was too harsh with her. It was his death that started her
down the wrong road, I guess she hopes that by getting him to understand and forgive her
it might ease some of the pain.'
Gabrielle gave Argo a gentle kick and they took off down the road at a gallop.
Xena looked at her brother who was deep in thought. 'He is never going to forgive me. I
have done too much for things ever to go back to they way they were. He must be
thinking what a cruel person I was, maybe still am.'
'Can I forgive her? I spent the better part of my life, short as it was, training to fight what
she had become. I can see a cold glare in her eyes sometimes and have to wonder if she
might go back to being a warlord.' He looked down the road at where Gabrielle was.
'Gabrielle defended Xena when she wouldn't defend herself. I wonder why she never told
Gabrielle the details of her past?'
"Xena, why don't you settle back down in Amphipolis with me and mother? Give up this
life on the road, the constant fighting and killing."
"Someday I might, but right now there is a lot of work to do out there and Gabrielle and I
are just scratching the surface. We make a good team I don't know what I would do
without her." Xena replied oblivious to her friend's growing battle inside.
"A good team maybe, but not Family."
"She is a friend, the closest I have ever had." defended Xena.
"Perhaps, but she's not Family." Lyceus went on to describe the kind of life they could
have in Amphipolis just the two of them. Xena remained quiet the rest of the trip. They
eventually reached the village and saw Argo outside the tavern. Gabrielle was sitting at a
table reading a scroll. Xena put on a smile before reaching the table.
"Xena this message just arrived for me. Its from the Academy in Athens, they want me to
teach a class on how to make a living as a bard on the road." Gabrielle pointed to the
scroll she was holding. "I have decided to go."
Xena sat down, stunned at the news. "For how long?"
"I don't know. They also want me to take over some of the regular classes. It seems I
have more practical knowledge than a lot of the instructors."
"Great. This is the perfect chance for you to come back home and stop all of this
fighting stuff." Lyceus exclaimed.
"Don't worry about me Xena. You and Lyceus return home together. I'll see you in the
morning before I leave. Goodnight." Gabrielle quickly walked up the stairs and into her
room. She threw the scroll down causing it to roll open revealing a blank page.
Morning arrived and Gabrielle was just finishing packing as Xena walked in.
"Are you sure about this, Gabrielle? It's all so sudden."
"I left The Acadamy last time because I felt I could help make a difference out in the world. Now, I feel I can make a difference to my students. Teachers can be some of the most influential people, you know. I could have an impact on some of the most brilliant minds. Can you imagine that, Xena? People don't really need me out here, Xena they just need you. I've always been a tagalong.
"You aren't just a tagalong, Gabrielle," Xena interrupted. "Hades, you can even fight now."
"When someone cries for help, what do they say? 'Help us, Gabrielle?' No. They say 'Help us, Xena.' I was along for the ride. It's been a great ride, but now, it's time for me to get off."
"No Xena. I didn't want to leave you alone. After Perdicus, I didn't want to be alone. Now, you have Lyceus and I can get on with my life."
"I see. Well, I'm going to miss you. You know that don't you?"
"Oh, Xena. I know. I'll miss you too."
Gabrielle and Xena were hugging when Lyceus walked in.
"Good-bye, Xena." Gabrielle walked out of the room.
She ran out of the inn and didn't stop running until she was out of the village. With tears streaming down her face, she leaned up against an old, gnarled, tree.
"Strike up another one for the bard," she told herself. "This lying thing could be come a habit." Slowly she picked herself up and smoothed out her clothes.
"Well, there's no going back now." Gabrielle gripped her staff tightly and started walking toward Athens.
Gabrielle had shut the door before Xena said anything.
"Geez," commented Lyceus, "you would think she would have the manners to at least tell me good-bye. Like I said, Xena, she's not family."
Xena just looked at Lyceus.
"Nothing. I'm going to get a drink." Xena walked out.
Lyceus just stood there for a moment.
"Well, hey, wait for me." Lyceus left to find Xena.
On the floor still lay the empty scroll.
A few hours after Gabrielle departed Xena and Lyceus started on the road to Amphipolis.
Xena fell into her usual routine and mounting Argo and expecting Gabrielle to fall in
beside her, instead she got:
"Hey, you expect me to walk the whole way!?!?" Lyceus exclaimed.
"Uhmm, no not really but Argo has a lame right front leg and can't hold our
combined weight" replied Xena.
'Actually what I have is a lame excuse. I just can't picture
anybody riding behind me but Gabrielle.'
"I guess we can trade off later today."
"That wouldn't be a good idea Lyceus, Argo is a trained warhorse and doesn't let just
anybody ride her."
"Come on, Xena. I'm your brother, besides she let Gabrielle ride her...."
"Gabrielle and Argo have been through a lot together. Argo trusts her just like I trust her."
"Fine, fine. I'll walk"
Suddenly, a bald man dressed in a priest's robe came running towards them. He stopped short of Xena.
"Are you the Warrior Princess?"
"Warrior Princess?" repeated Lyceus.
Xena motioned him to be quiet. "Yes. I'm Xena: Warrior Princess. What can I do for you?"
"I am a priest from the Temple of Hermes in Delos. Renegades from an outcast sect led by a madman named Anacreon are attacking in hopes of stealing the Crystal of Cyclades."
"Crystal of What?" asked Lyceus.
"Cyclades." Xena answered. "It gives the owner the ability to harness other people's anger
and fear and use it against them."
"How do you know that?"
"I know because I once thought of trying to steal it myself."
"You said you told me everything. Now, I'm no better than Gabrielle."
Xena's eyes flashed and Lyceus took a step back. "Don't you ever, ever say another thing
bad about Gabrielle. You do, you will learn more than just facts about my former self, you will experience the 'old me' firsthand. Understand?"
Lyceus gulped and nodded.
In a calmer tone she continued. "I didn't say anything about it because I never actually
went after it. There is a curse attached to it. Only a person with a pure heart can truly
control it, anybody else only unleashes its power and it will eventually destroy him and
everybody around him for hundreds of miles."
"Excuse me?", the priest interrupted. "Anacreon probably already has possession of the crystal. If you hurry you might be able to stop him before he tries to use it. Please, you have to prevent him from unlocking a power he can't possibly control." with that the priest continued his journey away from the temple.
"We better hurry. Come on maybe Argo can support both of us for a short period."
Gabrielle continued down the road to Athens wondering if maybe she had made a mistake. Friendships like that come once in a lifetime if you're lucky. She may never see her
"What's done is done," she told herself. She continued to trod down the lonely, dusty, road.
"Oh, great." Hermes was pacing and raving to himself.
"Xena's going off in one direction and Gabrielle's off in another. What's wrong with this picture? This was supposed to work out perfectly. Now, Xena's upset, Gabrielle's upset, and Lyceus is, well, he's completely clueless. Artemis is really going to be really pissed if she ever finds out about this. Those two are her favorites. Wait until Ares hears about this. I'm going to get it about.... Wait, no," Hermes reconsidered. "He's probably going to be quite happy. This is definitely not good. Definitely, definitely not good." Hermes sat down and sighed.
'She is really mad and it's not because I brought up her past.' mused Lyceus. 'It must have
something to do with Gabrielle. Maybe she really is Xena's closest friend. Here goes
"Xena, tell me about Gabrielle."
"I thought I warned you...."
"No no," he backed away quickly, "I really want to know about her. You went over what you did as a warlord but
not much afterwards. You said she kept you on the right path, tell me about it."
"It's kind of strange, actually," she began. "I met her while saving her and some other village girls from a bunch of slavers. She was so young then. It seems like that was twenty years ago instead of two. I've watched her grow up a lot since then. But you know," Xena stopped and looked Lyceus straight in the eyes, "she has never lost her appreciation for the little things, never lost her optimism."
Xena urged Argo and they started moving again.
"She's quite stubborn. She always has been, I guess. I tried to shoo her away in the beginning. She just followed me and ended up saving me from my own village."
"Does she regard you as highly as you regard her?"
"Yes, she does. Actually, sometimes it's on the verge of hero worship but she knows I'm not perfect. Gods, Lyceus, I don't think she realizes how brave she is. She almost got herself killed saving a little boy. She went out into the middle of a war for a child. I almost lost her. That still gives me nightmares." Xena shuddered before she started talking again.
"She's lost a lot following me. Her husband died because of my past. She doesn't let on but I know how much she still misses him. Yet she doesn't hold it against me. She also lost me for a time. That was hard on her as well. She's remained strong through it all, though."
"Sounds like you've both been through a lot together."
"More than you could ever imagine. I was willing to give up my sight permanently in order to save her after a wannabe warlord called Paelamon caused me to lose it while trying to figure out wanted he wanted to do with his life."
"You risked losing your vision for the rest of your life for her?" asked Lyceus knowing what it would mean for a warrior to lose his sight.
"I never gave it a second thought, she would have done the same in an instant."
Lyceus had listened intently to her sister. He began to have a new understanding of Gabrielle, how important she was to Xena's life and the role she played, a role he wasn't sure he could fill. He wasn't sure that he even wanted to fill it. It was a great burden to take on. His thoughts were disrupted as they reached the top of a hill. Xena halted Argo.
"Talk about devastation," Lyceus commented quietly.
"Devastation" was a major understatement.
"We're too late" said Xena.
Chapter 9 "A Heart of Gold"
What's that?" Lyceus asked Xena pointing to a small group of people.
"That's them," Xena replied. Xena's heels dug into Argo and she went racing down toward the men.
"I have got to get me a horse," Lyceus told himself before he started after Xena.
"It's Xena!," cried one of the men who started to run.
"You fool," sneered Anacreon, "She cannot possibly defeat us. WE have the Crystal of Cyclades. Let her come. Just stay back and watch this."
Xena halted Argo in front of the leader.
"Give it to me," she demanded.
"What, this?" he asked holding up the crystal. "I don't think so."
Anacreon shut his eyes and the white crystal started to glow. Suddenly thousands and thousands of people surrounded Xena. Some were warlords, some were soldiers, and some were peasants. All were crying out to her.
"You killed us Xena, now it is time for you to pay." They started to close in on her. Xena drew her sword and readied herself for the attack.
Lyceus had finally made it down the hill and saw Xena .
"I'm coming, Xena," he shouted, drawing his sword.
The crystal glowed again and a group of clowns appeared.
"Clowns. Why did it have to be clowns?" he muttered.
The clowns started coming at him.
"Oh geez. This isn't good." Lyceus started backing away slowly.
Somehow, Xena had made it to the edge of the crowd. She whistled for Argo. Once mounted she notice Lyceus having problems of his own.
"Clowns?" she asked herself, confused. "Lyceus, retreat."
"Where to?" Lyceus was preparing to fight an oncoming clown juggling three swords. While waiting for Xena's reply, he focused on his enemy.
"Why do I get the feeling you're not as innocent as you look?" he asked the clown.
The clown threw two of the swords at Lyceus. Lyceus dropped to the ground and heard the swords go flying over his head. He leapt to his feet. Sword in hand, he taunted his attacker.
"Okay, you can throw swords. Can you wield one?"
The clown rushed Lyceus. Lyceus easily blocked his opponent's sword and knocked his feet out from under him. He then gave him a swift kick to the head rendering the clown unconscious.
"Okay, who's next?"
Another clown moved forward, drawing its sword.
"I had to ask. Well come on then." The swords of the men clashed.
Xena was surveying the area for a safe place. She spotted the temple not too far away that had somehow managed to withstand the crystal's attack.
"To the temple!" she shouted to Lyceus.
He nodded, kicked a clown in the face, and high-tailed it to the temple which had become little more than a mound of rubble. The structure was, however stable enough to shelter the two of them.
From the inside of the temple, Xena and Lyceus peered out at the group of renegades who were falling over themselves in laughter. All the people that were attacking Xena, as well as the clowns, had disappeared.
"The crystal must look into the soul and find what the person is most afraid of," Xena commented. She thought for a moment, then asked Lyceus, "You're most afraid of a bunch of psycho clowns?"
"They've always scared me."
"Great. I've got an adult brother who still wears his virilis token and is afraid of clowns. How can you be such a good fighter?"
"I don't have to think about fighting, it just comes naturally. Besides, they weren't just clowns, Xena. They were vicious fighting machines."
"I'm sorry I brought it up," Xena interrupted.
"Xena, How do we defeat this thing?"
Xena thought for a moment.
"According to the legend, only someone with a braver and purer heart than the current handler can take the crystal away. I've got the brave part, but I still have too much of the past on my head. You've got the pure part, but you're afraid of clowns." Xena rolled her eyes when she said "clowns."
"But this Anacreon is just some raider, Xena. How can he be any more pure than you?"
"Remember earlier when I told you about Paelamon?"
"I think this is another case of a warrior wannabe."
"Great. So who we going to get, Hercules?"
"Do you want to go all over Greece looking for him?" Xena asked.
"No, I guess not. Who are we going to get, then?"
"Having a few problems? A blond haired man with blue eyes and bronze skin appeared.
Xena looked down and saw winged, gold sandals.
"Hello, Hermes. We're a little bit busy."
Hermes was wandering around, observing the inside of the temple.
"You know, I really don't like it when people destroy my temples."
"We've got bigger problems than a destroyed temple."
"I know, Xena," said Hermes. "That's why I'm here. I came to offer assistance."
"If you really wanted to help you could get that crystal away from that man and return it to it's proper place."
"Sorry, Xena. I gotta play by the rules. Only a mortal with a braver and purer heart can take it away."
"I never heard anything about it having to be done by a mortal," commented Lyceus.
"That part's usually left out of the legend. Most people assume the gods would never get involved so they don't bother mentioning it. Next request."
"What about Gabrielle?" asked Lyceus, "From what Xena has told me they don't get any braver or purer than her."
"I don't want to get her involved, she might get hurt." Xena started to say but was interrupted by Hermes.
"Hold on, got to talk to the other gods about this." Hermes disappeared then reappeared seconds later.
"That was fast," said Lyceus.
"That's why I'm the messenger of the gods. Oh, it's a no can do with the Gabrielle thing. Artemis and Apollo had a total fit when I mentioned it. Then Zeus said no. Seems they don't have too much faith in your ideas, Xena. Trust is so hard to come by these days. Sorry, Gabrielle maybe the only one who can do it but there is no way I can bring her here."
"There may be one way." said Lyceus. "What would have happened if you had never brought me back?"
"What are you talking about Lyceus?" cried Xena. "Sending you back won't change a thing."
"Hermes, please tell me!" said Lyceus ignoring Xena.
Hermes looked at Xena sorrowfully and then at Lyceus, "If you hadn't returned, the priest would have run into Xena and Gabrielle and they would have arrived instead of you and Xena."
"And Gabrielle would have been able to stop that maniac, right?"
"There has to be another way." said Xena.
"No, besides she should be at your side not me."
"What are you saying?"
"Are you that naive?" asked Lyceus. "Did you honestly think Gabrielle left because The Academy wanted her?"
"But she got a scroll saying..."
"The scroll was empty," Lyceus interrupted. "Didn't you see it laying on the floor in the room?"
"No, I didn't."
"Even I could see the pain in her eyes Xena. She is your best friend. The saying 'three's a crowd' runs true. Gabrielle knew it and, now, so do I. She just got mixed up who was the crowd."
"Well, come on Hermes." Lyceus looked at the god expectantly.
"Fine. This was turning out all wrong anyway." A bright flash erupted. Suddenly it was just Gabrielle and Xena in the temple.
"....so it looks like its up to me this time. Kinda weird being the hero." finished Gabrielle
"What?" asked Xena.
"Hey, you can't always be the one to save the world."
Xena just stood there staring at where Lyceus had been moments before.
"Xena, are you alright?"
"Yeah, of course." Xena said stunned.
"Okay then. Hope to see you in a few minutes." Gabrielle walked outside the temple.
"What's this, Xena? You sent a little girl to defeat me?" mocked Anacreon.
The crystal glowed. Two ghosts out of Gabrielle's past started to form, Velasca and Callisto standing side by side glaring at Gabrielle with looks that could kill. Gabrielle shut her eyes and concentrated. Watching from the ruins, Xena saw an image of Hercules appear. A brief moment later another form appeared. Xena gradually saw her own image developing but instead of her normal dark leather she was wearing golden armor that shined as bright at the sun and a look on her face that indicated nothing was going to get through her and harm Gabrielle, ever. The 'Phantom Xena' stood between Gabrielle and her enemies with Hercules at her side.
'Gods' thought Xena, 'Is this how she sees me?'
The four images ran towards each other. Two with nothing but evil on their minds and two willing to do anything to stop them. They collided with a bright flash. When the light died down Xena could see only one form left standing, her own image still shining brightly.
Suddenly the crystal burned the leaders hand. Wincing, he dropped it. The 'Phantom Xena' walked over, picked it up, then gently laid it in Gabrielle's hands. The 'Phantom Xena' gave the real Xena a small smile and then faded away. Gabrielle, for her part still had her eyes closed, unmoving.
The real Xena ran up to Gabrielle. Gabrielle's knees buckled and Xena grasped the back of her shirt just before the bard hit the ground. She laid her down gently, noticing the firm grip she still had on the crystal.
"You want to fight for REAL this time?" Xena addressed the renegades. The renegades didn't respond they just turned and ran away.
"Hey, Gabrielle, you okay?"
Gabrielle was in a daze.
"You got the crystal."
Gabrielle looked down and saw the crystal in her hand.
"Guess we should return this, huh?" Gabrielle asked.
"Uh huh. Come on." Xena put out a hand. Gabrielle took it and Xena pulled her up.
"Lets get back to the temple and return this. Then Hermes better get his little butt down here and explain a few things."
"Like what?" asked Gabrielle.
"You won't believe it till you hear it."
"Whatever you say, Xena."
Chapter 10 "Side by Side"
"Hermes! I know you are here somewhere." shouted Xena. They had returned to the temple and were ready to return the crystal, but this time not into mortal hands.
"No need to shout." replied Hermes as he appeared in front of Xena and Gabrielle.
"I think this belongs to you." said Gabrielle as she handed the crystal to Hermes. "Try to
take better care of it next time."
"Thanks. Gotta go." He turned and was about to disappear when Xena grabbed him by the front of his tunic and
yelled, "Okay out with it, you're not going anywhere until you explain everything that has
been going on starting with where Lyceus is."
"Take it easy Xena. I guess I you deserve an explanation. How much do you remember?"
"I remember everything from the moment he appeared days ago to when you made him
vanish and Gabrielle showed up."
"Showed up?" asked a confused Gabrielle. "I never left. I have been with you constantly
for the past several days. What is this about Lyceus?"
"Okay it looks like for whatever reason your memories are intact Xena, but to Gabrielle
this is all going to be new." replied Hermes. "But not even you know the whole story."
Gabrielle crossed her arms.
"What in Hades is going on here?"
Hermes started to explain. "I wanted to do something nice for you, Xena. In the past two
years you have saved countless travelers and done a lot to redeem yourself. I figured you
were past due for some reward so I talked Hades into letting me bring Lyceus back. What
I never anticipated was the wedge it would drive between you and Gabrielle causing you
to go separate ways."
"I left her?" asked a wide eyed Gabrielle and turned to look at Xena, "I would never leave
Xena simply stared at the ground.
"You would leave her if you thought it was for her own good." answered Hermes, "I
know because you DID leave her. You just don't remember doing it."
"Where is Lyceus?" growled Xena impatiently.
"He is back where he was when this whole thing started, the Elysian Fields. His request
that I make his return never happen changed history. Gabrielle stayed with you, Xena, and
was able to defeat Anacreon as you just witnessed. It was the only way, Lyceus knew
"Can you bring him back now that the crystal has been returned?" asked Xena hopefully.
"No. It was a one time deal, the gods won't let me do it again. I'm truly sorry. Look, I
can take away your memory of what happened the first time around and replace them with
what happened this time. You will never even know Lyceus came back."
Hermes was about to wave his hand over Xena's head when she stopped him. "No, I want
to remember. Can I at least speak with him again one more time?"
Hermes smiled, "That I can arrange."
Lyceus's spirit appeared in front of Xena. "Hi sis, long time no see." he smiled knowingly.
"There had to have been another way." said Xena.
"Maybe, but it is all for the best. The past is the past. You have you own future to think
of. I was never really meant to be here."
"We still have so much to talk about...."
"If you are referring to you past that's, if you'll excuse the expression, a dead issue. It's not
my place to judge you, but for what it's worth I finally think I understand. You're my
sister, there is nothing to forgive. I loved you twelve years ago and I love you just as
Lyceus looked at Gabrielle who was trying to comfort her friend. "I was wrong about
many things Gabrielle. I was wrong to try to judge her, I was wrong about changing her,
but most of all I was wrong about you. You ARE family, never forget that and never let
anybody tell you different."
"Time to go." said Hermes.
"Wait!" shouted Xena.
"Relax, Xena." Lyceus said with a smile. "We will have eternity to talk when you reach
the Elysian Fields, I have no doubts about seeing you there. Just don't get there too
soon. Keep thinking of me and tell me what's going on. I don't want to be totally clueless about your exploits next time I see you."
With that Lyceus slowly faded from view.
"I still owe you Xena. You stopped Anacreon from causing havoc with the crystal and I really do feel bad about this fiasco with you brother."
"Gabrielle stopped Anacreon, Hermes." replied Xena. "And I would rather you not do me
any more favors."
"Have it your way Xena." Hermes responded but thought to himself as he disappear, 'But
I still owe you big time, and I promise to do things right next time.'
Xena and Gabrielle headed out of the temple.
"Where to now?" asked Gabrielle as they reached Argo.
"Amphipolis. It's been too long since I've seen mother." responded Xena. She reached down and pulled Gabrielle up behind her.
"I still can't believe I left you."
"Three's a crowd, Gabrielle."
"Does that mean we're ditching Argo, now?" Gabrielle asked playfully.
"Never. You two are just going to have to work things out."
"Tell me about your brother." she requested.
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