by Dawn L. N. Dutra
Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Ares, Artemis and Argo are the sole property of MCA. This story is not intended to infringe on the copyright of MCA.
Violence Disclaimer: Yes, there is a bit of violence in this story. It wouldn't be a Xena story if there wasn't any violence in it. But its nothing too graphic or bloody.
Sex Disclaimer: There is no sex whatsoever in this story!
Subtext Disclaimer: There is no subtext in this story so don't bother looking for it, its not there.
Finally, this is my first attempt at writing fanfiction, so please be kind to me! Now, with no further BS, here goes.
"I don't know why you insist on traveling with that woman, she can't be teaching you anything good. You should be here and married, not following Xena around like a puppy. And why didn't she come with you, does she think she is too good for some lowly farmers?"
"No, I told her it would be better if she didn't come with me to visit, considering how father despises her. I didn't want any trouble on my visit home, so Xena went to spend some time with her family in Amphipolis. We agreed to meet back at the crossroads in two weeks. Mom, I really have to be going, I don't want to be late. Xena worries if I'm not on time."
"Your not going anywhere to meet that murdering bitch!" Gabrielle's father has just walked in and heard the last part of the conversation.
"Father! Xena is not like that anymore. She feels bad about what she has done and she is trying to atone for all the evil things she has done."
"You will not leave this house again. You are still my daughter and you will listen to me. You are not going to go and meet up with Xena. That is final." He starts to walk out of the door, but Gabrielle comes to stand in front of her father, blocking his way. "I am not a little girl anymore and I will do as I want! You can't make me stay and do as you wish anymore. I am going to go meet Xena and there is nothing more to discuss about this!" She turns around and starts to walk away from him.
Gabrielle's father grabs her by the arms and pulls her towards him. His face is red and he is shaking from anger. "You will listen to me," he slaps her across the face, "or by the Gods, I will lock you up until you come to your senses." Gabrielle takes the slap across her left cheek. She doesn't even flinch. Nor does she show any signs of fear. This only seems to anger her father more.
"ENOUGH!! Let her go! I will not let you strike out at her again." Gabrielle's mother is standing up now, trying to get between Gabrielle and her father.
"I am her father and she will listen to me, or I will beat her until she does listen." He raises his fist again to strike Gabrielle.
"You are NOT her father. Now let her go." Gabrielle's mother is now standing behind Gabrielle and pulling Gabrielle towards her. Gabrielle stands in shocked silence, her mouth open and eyes large. Her father is standing there with a complete look of shock on his face. "I AM NOT HER FATHER??"
"No, you are not. Just look at her. She doesn't look anything like you. She doesn't look Lila either. I am sorry to tell you like this, but I couldn't let you hit her anymore." Gabrielle's mother puts her hand on his arm, pleading to him with her eyes to forgive her. He pulls away and leaves the house.
During this whole conversation, Gabrielle has stood in silent surprise. She goes over to stand in front of the window, looking at the retreating back of the man, until a few moments, was her father. "Why? Why, haven't you ever told me? If he isn't my father, than who is? "
"Come, sit down, and I will try to explain everything to you. I didn't want you to find out this way, but what has happened, has happened," she pulls a chair out from under the table and sits down. Gabrielle also pulls out a chair and sits, looking across at this woman who she thought she knew so well. She silently waits for her mother to tell her story.
"When I was your age I was as beautiful as you. I could have any man that I wanted, but I decided to marry the man my father chose for me. It was not a marriage of love, it was a marriage of convenience. I didn't love him, but I knew I would grow to love him. And I have. Anyway, one day, the geese got loose from their pen and ran into the forest. I ran to catch them and in the process, ran into a dark man with the most compelling eyes I had ever seen. We sat and talked for hours and he seemed to really enjoy talking to me. Well, one thing led to another and we made love. Afterwards, he laughed at me and said that he had just sown the seed to my family's destruction. I didn't know what he meant by that, so I just went home and tried to be the best wife I could be. Soon, I found out I was pregnant. I wasn't sure if it was the dark stranger's or my husband's child. I prayed that it was my husband's. The answer came just after you were born. Late one night, the dark man appeared beside your crib and left a box. He said that only his daughter could open the box. All others who tried would die. I didn't know what to do, so I hid the box and later took it to your uncle's house. I'm sorry, Gabrielle, can you ever forgive me?" She finishes, sitting and crying into her hands. Gabrielle during this whole time, has just sat there, too confused and shocked to say much. She slowly gets up and goes over to stand behind her mother, putting her hands on her mother's shoulders. "Mother, I forgive you. This explains alot. I never felt that close to him, and it does explain the difference between me and Lila. I really think he knew somehow, that is why he always treated me different than Lila. I am going to my uncle's house and look at the box. I'll be back soon. I love you." She kisses her mother and hugs her, then leaves.
Gabrielle steps outside and turns to the left to go to her uncle's. It is a beautiful day, but she does not notice. Her mind is in turmoil. She just can't seem to digest everything that has happened. During her trip to her uncle's, several people have waved and said hello, but Gabrielle does not hear them. She finally reaches her uncle's and knocks on the door. The door opens and there stands her favorite uncle.
Her uncle smiles when he sees it his favorite niece, "Gabrielle, its good of you to come visit. It's been so long." His smile slowly turns into a look of concern once he sees Gabrielle's face. There is a bruise starting to show on her left cheek. And she seems to be in shock.
"Come on in." He moves aside to let Gabrielle come into the house.
"Sit down. So, what do I owe the pleasure of this visit to?"
"I came to get the box Mother gave you years ago," while taking a seat. Her uncle looks down at his hands and then back at Gabrielle.
"So, she finally told you? I take HE knows too, from the bruise on your cheek." She reaches up to touch her cheek and winces. She had completely forgotten about that.
"Yes. We got into an argument about Xena and me going to meet back up with her. He got upset and hit me. He said that he was my father and I would listen to him. Mother was trying to stop him from hitting me again and she said that he are not my father." All this is relayed with Gabrielle never lifting her eyes to look at her uncle.
"Where is he now?" he says, with concern and worry on his face.
"I don't know. He left the house without saying a word."
"Did your mother tell you everything?" he asks quietly.
"Yes, she told me everything. About marrying for convenience, about the dark man in the woods," she lifts her head up and looks directly into her uncle's eyes, "and she told me about the box that the dark man left for me."
"Where is the box? I want to see it, maybe it will give me a clue as to who this my real father is."
"Gabrielle, please, just let it go. I have this feeling that only bad can come from this," he looks pleadingly.
She just looks back at him, determinedly. "Please, I have to know. Where is the box?"
"Wait here, I'll go get it, just promise me to think long and hard about this before you open the box." he sighs, standing up and leaving the room. He comes back in a few minutes later with the box. He hands it to Gabrielle and then sits down. The box is covered with a dusty, black cloth. It feels heavy in her hands. She takes the cloth off the box. It is about 2 1/2 feet long and 1 foot wide. The top of the box is covered with swirls of bronze. She can make out no writing or familiar details.
"I need to be alone for a while. If Mother or Lila comes looking for me, I will be on my hill. Thank you. Thank you for being there for mother when she needed someone and thank you for keeping this for me." She stands up and walks over to her uncle.
Her uncle stands and looks at her. " Please be careful, Gabrielle."
"I will." She starts walking to the door, then stops and comes back to stand in front of him. She leans up and gives him a kiss on his cheek and a hug. "I love you." He returns the hug and murmurs, "I love you, too."
Gabrielle slowly starts walking the path that will take her to her hill. She doesn't notice the birds singing or the crickets chirping. She just walks. She finally makes it to her hill. It overlooks Poteidaia. From her hill you can see all the surrounding lands. But Gabrielle doesn't enjoy the scenery or the feeling of peace this place has always brought her. She sits down on a log and puts the box on her lap. She slowly runs her fingers over the bronze swirls. "What are you?" she whispers to the box. She starts to go over everything that has happened. She thinks back of the man she has always called father. She remembers some good times when he was kind to her. Like the pony rides. But these memories are pushed back by the many memories of the times he was unkind to her. The times when he would get mad and upset at her for the littlest mistakes. He would yell and hit her for the littlest things. If she didn't do her chores to his standards, or if he caught her daydreaming. Granted, he never really hit her that much, especially when mother was around, but he also wasn't a very loving father. There were no hugs and kisses for her. He was the exact opposite with Lila. He very rarely ever yelled at her and NEVER hit her. He smiled at her when he caught her daydreaming and he hugged and kissed her goodnight. "He must have known that I wasn't he daughter," Gabrielle thinks to herself.
Gabrielle has no idea how long she had been sitting there, when Lila comes running up the hill, screaming her name. "GABRIELLE, GABRIELLE, come quick. He's going to kill her!" Lila stops in front of Gabrielle and leans over, trying to catch her breath.
"What are you talking about? Whose going to kill who?" Gabrielle shouts, while grabbing Lila by the arms and pulling her up.
"Father. He came home from the tavern drunk. He started yelling at mother and calling her horrible names. Then he grabbed her and started slapping her. Please, come quick, I'm afraid he is going to really hurt her." Lila is in tears and shaking. She is pulling Gabrielle by the arm to get her to hurry up.
"Okay, lets go, but let me handle it," Gabrielle says. She picks up the box and starts running after Lila. They run into the village and there is a crowd standing around outside their house. "This isn't a good sign," Gabrielle thinks to herself. "Okay, just stay calm, talking is your best asset. Just talk to him and calm him down and everything will work out for the best," she tries to reassure herself.
Lila has already made it through the crowd, with Gabrielle not that far behind her. She breaks through the crowd to see her mother on the ground, bleeding badly from her head and face. She seems to be unconscious. Lila has gone over to their mother and is kneeling beside her, crying and trying to wipe the blood off her mother's face.
Lila looks up and sees her father, standing just outside the door. He is drunk and doesn't seem to see Lila. He just sees his wife on the ground bleeding and all he feels is hurt. Such deep hurt. She cheated on him. How dare she? Lila stands up and runs towards him. Just as she gets within reach of him, he swings. The blow hits Lila on the side of her head and sends her into the side of the house. Lila crumbles to the ground.
"LILA, NO!!" Gabrielle screams as she runs to her sister's body. She kneels beside Lila. There is blood coming out of Lila's ears and nose. But what tells Gabrielle that her baby sister is dead, is the angle her head is at. Her neck it broke. "Please, Lila, don't leave me," Gabrielle cries and holds Lila in her lap, rocking her back and forth. "You can't leave me. Please, breath and wake up, please." During this time, her father has gone into the house and has come back out with the fire poker.
"This is all your fault!" he screams at Gabrielle, with the poker in his hand and a look of blind rage and hatred on his face.
Gabrielle slowly stands and turns to face the man she has always called father. She doesn't bother to wipe the tears from her face. She steps to move closer to him and trips over the box. It has broken open and inside lay the most beautiful sword she has ever seen. She stares at it for only a second, then bends over and picks up the sword. As her hand closes around the hilt of the sword she feels a warmth come over her. With the warmth is strength and power. And rage. But she is not scared, she welcomes it. It feels SO good. Like an old friend returning after a long absence. In that moment, she also has the answer to her question of who her real father is.
"Ares! Ares is my father," she whispers, while standing there with his gift in her hand. She looks over and sees her mother. Her uncle is cradling her in his arms and crying. She knows without asking that her mother is dead. The rage burns. She looks back at her dear little sister also dead. The rage burns hotter. She slowly turns and sees the man who has killed the two most precious people in her life. The rage boils. She advances towards him. "This is my fault?", she says quietly, while slowly advancing towards him. "No, this is your doing. Your the one that got mad and drunk and decided to pay back her wife for having an affair. Your the one that swung without thinking and killed you ONLY daughter. And now, your the one who will pay for this crime," she says with a feral look on her face.
"Please, I don't know what happened. I am so sorry." he pleads, dropping the poker and backing away from this girl who was his oldest daughter, until today. He does not recognize her. Her eyes are not the blue-green they usually are. They are dark, almost black. She is smiling at him and it sends chills down his back. "Please, I am not armed. I will give up and stand trial for these crimes. Please, just don't hurt me." he pleads and drops to his knees in front of her.
"Your not armed? Was mother armed? Was Lila armed? NO!! And you still killed them," she says calmly as she raises the sword above her head with two hands. "You HAVE stood trial and I find you GUILTY!" she yells as the swords plunges down, into the chest of the man she called father.
Gabrielle looks at her sword sticking out of his chest. She feels no guilt. She feels no sorrow. In fact she feels nothing! But what a power rush! To have control over another person's life like that. It feels so good. She slowly pulls the sword out of his chest and wipes the blood off on his shirt.
She turns around and starts walking. She doesn't know where she is walking to, she just wants to get out of here. She has no idea how long she has been walking, but nothing looks familiar, when all of a sudden she realizes she is not alone. She brings her sword up as she turns to see who is following her.
"Ares. What do you want?", still holding her sword in front of her body.
"I came to help you."
"I think you have done quite enough. Just leave me alone." She turns to continue on her trip to wherever.
Ares appears before her, effectively stopping Gabrielle from walking away. "I am your father, Gabrielle. You can't deny that. Right now you are confused. You have many new feelings coursing through you and I can help you understand them. Please, I want to help you. You are my daughter," Ares says with a concerned, loving look on his face. "Come with me and I will help you through this terrible time in your life. Just take my hand," holding out his hand towards Gabrielle. Gabrielle just stands there looking at him. She slowly brings the sword down until it is at her side. She does not know why, but she really believes what Ares is telling her. "He is my father," she thinks to herself. She slowly raises her hand and grasps his hand. As she does, Ares smiles down at her and they disappear.
"Where is she? She knows we were supposed to meet here today. I really hate when she is late!", Xena is at the place that she and Gabrielle had chosen to meet up at. The warrior is pacing back and forth and ranting. She stops in front of Argo and looks at her, "Why can't she ever be on time?" Argo just snorts back at Xena. "Your a lot of help," Xena says to Argo, as she starts her pacing again. "Okay, I'll give her another candlemark and then I'm going to go get her."
A candlemark later, after much more pacing and ranting, Xena vaults into Argo's saddle and heads towards Poteidaia. She is beyond being mad. Now she is starting to worry. "Something must have come up. Maybe someone is sick. Maybe she started off late. I'll probably meet her on the path," Xena thinks to herself as she and Argo gallop towards Gabrielle's hometown. Xena arrives in Poteidaia late in the afternoon. As she rides in, people are refusing to make eye contact with her. "Warm welcome as always," she mumbles to herself. But she is also getting an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. She rides up to Gabrielle's parents house and dismounts. She goes up to the door and knocks. She waits and when there is no answer, she knocks again. Still no answer. She turns around to ask anyone if they know where Gabrielle is, but there is no one on the streets. Xena is really starting to get a sick feeling about this. So she decides to go to Gabrielle's father's store. On the way there, Gabrielle's uncle comes out of his house and approaches Xena cautiously.
"Xena?", he says, stopping in front of the warrior princess.
"Yes, I'm Xena. Who are you?" Xena answers.
"I am Gabrielle's uncle."
"Great, where is Gabrielle? We were supposed to meet today and she didn't show up, so I came here to find her."
"Please, come into my house. I need to talk to you," he says, walking towards his house. He holds the door open for Xena. Xena stands there for a moment. She really is not liking this. Something is definitely wrong. She moves towards the house and goes inside. Gabrielle's uncle follows her in.
"Please, sit down. May I get you something to drink?", he says, while avoiding eye contact.
"No, but I want to know what is going on and I want to know now," Xena says, tired of the games.
"Okay, but I don't know how to tell you this. So, I'm just going to say it," he takes a deep breath and starts, "Two days ago, Gabrielle and her father got into an argument. During this argument, he hit Gabrielle. To make her husband stop hitting Gabrielle, her mother told him something that made him extremely mad and killed her mother and then Lila. Gabrielle saw this, and in turn, she killed her father," he blurts out. Xena has turned white during this announcement and has sat down on a chair. She can not believe what his man has just told her. Gabrielle, killed her father? Her father, killed her mother and Lila? "Why? Why was her father so mad?" Xena whispers.
"He had just found out that Gabrielle was not really his daughter. He went to the tavern and returned to confront Gabrielle's mother. He was in a rage. Lila, poor Lila, ran up to him and he knocked her into the side of the house. Her neck was broken," he explains to Xena.
"Gabrielle killed him?", Xena says quietly, looking at him for confirmation.
"Yes, she was in shock that he was not her father too. I guess seeing her mother dying and her little sister killed, she just lost it."
"How? How did she kill him?" Xena asks.
Gabrielle's uncle starts to shift his feet. He does not want to tell her this part, but if he doesn't, someone will. "She used a sword," he says quietly.
"A SWORD!!!", Xena is now standing up and looking at him like he is out of his mind. "Gabrielle killed her father with a sword? Where did she get this sword? What aren't you telling me?", she starts to advance towards him, eyes flashing with barely controlled rage.
"Yes, there is more to this, but I think it is Gabrielle's story to tell," he tries to convince Xena.
Xena stands there for several minutes just looking at him. She is trying to comprehend what he has said. "Alright. I will let you off from telling me the whole story. One last question though. How was Gabrielle when she left here and in what direction did she go?
"She was okay physically. But mentally, she was not well. She took a step closer to the dark side of herself when she killed her father. Please be careful. She is not the innocent Gabrielle you left 2 weeks ago. When Gabrielle left here, she went west."
"Thank you for your help," Xena turns to leave.
"Wait," Gabrielle's uncle steps in front of Xena and looks at her. "When you find her, please tell her that she has a home here with me, if she wants it. I do not hold her responsible for what happened here."
"I will, thank you again," Xena leaves. Once outside, Xena walks back to Argo and just leans against Argo for a minute. "Gabrielle is in trouble. We have to get her out of it," she whispers to Argo. Argo, sensing her owner's distress turns her head and nuzzles Xena's neck. "Lets go."
Xena has been riding for several days. "There is no way she could have walked this far. Where is she? It's like she just disappeared," she mumbles to herself, bringing Argo to a stop. She jumps off and looks at the ground. "No footprints. Where is she?" Panic is starting to surface in Xena and she really does not like that feeling. "Okay, think Xena, think. If I was Gabrielle, where would I go? Back to the Amazons? To Athens? Where?" Xena sits down on a fallen tree and puts her head in her hands.
"Xena. I know where Gabrielle is," comes a whispery voice.
Xena jumps up and pulls her sword. She can not believe someone has just walked up to her and she did not hear or sense them.
"Whose there? Show yourself. NOW!" Xena hears a noise behind her and turns to see a woman in a Amazon battle dress standing there. She is taller than Xena and has blond hair.
"Artemis. What do you want? You know I don't like dealing with Gods," Xena says, sheathing her sword.
"I came to help you. I know where Gabrielle is." Artemis walks over to Xena and then sits down on the tree.
"Where? Where is she?"
"She is with Ares on Mount Olympus."
"ARES!! I should have known he was up to something. He kidnapped Gabrielle! He has gone too far this time," Xena rants.
"No Xena, he did not kidnap Gabrielle. She went with him willingly."
"Because Gabrielle is confused right now and he offered her something that she could not turn down."
"And what is that?" Xena is standing in front of Artemis now, her hands flexing open and closed.
"Xena, sit down and calm down. You need to keep a clear head right now. Gabrielle needs you to be calm and collected, not acting like a raving warlord," Artemis scolds.
Xena sits down and takes several deep, cleansing breaths. She finally opens her eyes and looks at Artemis expectantly. "What did Ares offer Gabrielle?"
"He offered Gabrielle a chance to get to know her real father," she states quietly.
"He knows who her real father is? But then why is she with Ares?" Xena looks at Artemis confused.
Artemis looks back at Xena, "Because Ares is Gabrielle's real father."
Xena sits there is stunned silence for several moments, trying to comprehend what Artemis has just said. Finally, she looks up. "How can I see her?"
"Just take my hand and I can take you to Mount Olympus and to Gabrielle," Artemis says while holding out her had to Xena.
Xena just stands there, looking at Artemis' hand. "Maybe this is a trick."
"Xena, what purpose would I have to trick you? I am trying to help the best friend of my chosen. You are the only one that can help her right now. Do you want to help Gabrielle, or not?" Artemis is starting to get frustrated with the Warrior Princess and its showing.
"Yes, I want to help Gabrielle," as she takes Artemis' hand. The instant that her hand touches Artemis', they disappear. They reappear on Mount Olympus. Xena removes her hand from Artemis'.
"Okay, now what?" Xena turns to Artemis.
"Now, we go visit Ares. Come on, his castle is over this way."
They walks for several minutes until they are standing outside of a huge, white castle.
"This is it. I will leave you to your business."
"What, you aren't going to go in with me?"
"No, you have to talk to Gabrielle by yourself. When you are done, call me and I will return up to earth." With this Artemis disappears.
"Great, just great. Oh well, might as well make myself known," she mumbles as she walks up the stairs to the doors. She knocks and the doors swing open.
"Come in, Xena, I've been expecting you."
Xena just stands there looking inside. She is unsure whether to go in or not. After all, she is on Ares turf.
"Come in, come in, I won't bite."
Xena walks in and as she passes through the doors, they slam shut behind her. The room she has walked into can only be described as definitely belonging to Ares, God of War. The walls and floors are made of polished bluish-white marble. The room is rectangular in shape and goes 30 strides long and is 20 strides wide. There were various weapons in the room. On the walls are large tapestries of great war scenes, some depicting a dark haired woman warrior clad in a black battle dress. Along one of the walls is a huge table covered with fruits, vegetables, meats and everything in between. But the most impressive thing in the room was directly in front of the door, on the far side of the room. Ares' throne. Its made of bronze and stands 6 feet at the back. It is upholstered with dark red leather. On the upper part of the back, is two swords crossed. There are swirling bronze designs on both sides of the arms, which looks very similar to the design on Xena's breastplate. On it, sits the God of War, Ares.
"So, what do I owe the pleasure of your visit to?", he stands up and walks behind Xena. "As if I didn't know," he whispers into her ear.
"I've come to get Gabrielle. Where is she?", she says, as she brushes at her ear, like you would to get rid of an irritating bug.
"You might be surprised, Xena. Maybe Gabrielle won't want to leave. But you want to see Gabrielle, so come with me. I'll take you to her," he starts walking away from Xena and towards a door on the far side of the room. "You coming, Xena?"
"Right behind you," she replies and starts following him.
"I have you this time, father." Gabrielle is standing at a table in the middle of the room.. On the table is a huge board and on the board there are various pieces facing each other. The pieces are made of marble and are in the shapes of warriors on horse, warriors on foot and warlords. Several of the pieces on Gabrielle's side are in an inverted "V" formation in the middle of the board.
"Your getting better, you felt my presence as soon as I walked into the room. Very good. Lets see if you really have me," Ares smiles, as he walks over to stand behind Gabrielle. He leans over her shoulder. "Better, much better, but not good enough. With that formation, my pieces can and will split into two flanks and come at you from the sides. Then, you lose!," he corrects quietly, while putting his hand of Gabrielle's shoulder.
During this time Xena has stood in the doorway, watching this interaction and taking in the room. This room is decorated different than the first one. The walls and floors are still made of the same marble as the great hall, but in this room there are rugs thrown onto the cold marble. The room is only 15 strides by 10 strides. The walls are covered in tapestries that tell pictorial stories of great heroes. On several of these tapestries, there is a woman warrior in dark brown leathers, doing heroic deeds. There are no weapons in this room, except for an amazon staff leaning against the wall. Against the far wall is a huge canopy bed with red and green coverings on it. Beside the bed is a table and on the table is a toy lamb. This room definitely belonged to Gabrielle.
"Gabrielle, you have a visitor," Ares whispers to her. He takes her shoulders and slowly turns her around to face Xena.
"Xena." Gabrielle walks to stand in front of her. "What are you doing here?"
The Gabrielle standing in front of her is not the Gabrielle she left a couple of weeks ago. In her place stands a powerful young demi-goddess. Gone is the amazon outfit Gabrielle usually wears. In its place is an outfit that Xena finds very similar to Gabrielle's Amazon Queen outfit. It consists on a long, black leather skirt that to just below her knees. It has a slit up to the hip on the right. Resting on her left hip is a sword that reaches to just below her left knee. In place of the green top she used to wear is a black leather halter top. She has bracers and upper arm bands of black leather on. Around Gabrielle's neck is a choker necklace with tiny daggers on it and in her left ear, she wears an earring that matches Ares, a sword. But the most disturbing thing about Gabrielle is her eyes. They were cold and hard looking. "Is this what my eyes used to look like?", Xena thinks to herself.
"I came to see you, Gabrielle. Are you okay?", with a concerned look on her face. She reaches out to touch Gabrielle, but Gabrielle moves before there is contact.
"I'm fine, now. There is no reason for you to worry about me, I am where I belong, Xena." Gabrielle states, while looking back towards Ares.
"Gabrielle, you DO NOT belong here. Ares is just taking advance of your mental state right now. Has he threatened you to make you stay here?"
"No, he has not threatened me. I am here because I want to be here. This is where I belong. On the side of my father." Gabrielle walks over to stand beside Ares. Ares has just stood there with his arms crossed in front of him and an extremely smug look on his face.
"You can't mean that Gabrielle. Granted this has been extremely rough on you, but you DO NOT belong here. Let me take you back and in a couple of weeks, you will see that you are wrong," Xena pleads with Gabrielle.
"Granted this has been extremely rough on you", Gabrielle mimics Xena. "You are so WRONG Xena, this has been an extremely enlightening experience. Why didn't you ever tell me it felt SO good to kill? Gabrielle walks over to stand behind Xena. "Were you trying to save all the fun for yourself? That's very greedy of you Xena," Gabrielle leans to whisper into Xena's ear. "I have never felt such a rush of power in my life as when I plunged my sword, this sword, into that bastard's chest", pulling her sword from the sheath. "It felt, GOOD!"
"Gabrielle, you can't mean that," Xena whispers. She turns towards Ares and screams, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER?"
"I haven't done anything to Gabrielle, this is all her. Don't you just love her?", Ares smiles with fatherly pride. "That's my girl."
"Xena, leave. I am where I belong, where I have a father that loves me. So just leave," walking back to stand in front of Ares.
"Gabrielle, please, listen to me," Xena starts to plead.
"How can I send her back?" Gabrielle turns towards Ares.
"Wave your hand and she will be returned back to where she left from," Ares whispers into Gabrielle's ear. Gabrielle lifts her hand, waves it and Xena is gone. "That was easy." Gabrielle walks back to the table and starts to rearrange her pieces.
"I will leave you to decide on your next strategy, Gabrielle." Ares leans over and kisses Gabrielle on the cheek. She just nods her agreement already planning strategies to beat Ares. What Ares doesn't notice is the brief flash of regret that crosses her face. And what Gabrielle doesn't hear is Ares murmuring "I love you, daughter," as he leaves the room.
"ARTEMIS!" Xena yells as soon as she reaches earth. She starts pacing back and forth furiously, awaiting the arrival of the Amazon goddess. "I can't believe she wants to stay there. Ares must have her under a spell or something. And I really can't believe she actually poofed me away. Wait till I get my hands on her. I swear to the Gods, she'll be sorry she ever learned that trick. She may be my best friend, but NOBODY makes me disappear," Xena rants.
"Xena, how did you get back here? And what are you ranting about? You look insane woman! Sit down and tell me what happened with you and Gabrielle," Artemis puts a comforting hand on Xena's shoulder, who in turn shrugs it off.
"What happened? What happened? Ares has her under some spell or something, that's what happened. And as for how I got back here, Gabrielle poofed me here. I swear to the Gods, when I get my hands on her!" During this explanation, Artemis stands there and on the last part, she covers her mouth with her hand. Xena looks at her and she quickly puts on a straight face.
"So, Ares has taught her how to 'poof' people away? I love that power. As for the spell, Xena. There is no spell. What Gabrielle said and did is of her own mind as far as she is concerned. The only force at work here is the sword that was in the box. The sword has the power."
"That doesn't make any sense, the sword has the power? Come on, its just a sword." Xena snaps back, still pacing back and forth and talking to herself.
"Don't you remember what happened to Ares when someone stole his sword? He became mortal because he had lost his sword. His sword holds his godhood and without it, he is no longer a god. Gabrielle's sword is made of part of Ares' sword, so therefore the same thing applies. The sword holds Gabrielle's demi-godhood."
Xena has a glint in her eye and is still pacing back and forth, much to Artemis' irritation.
"Stand still woman, your making me dizzy!"
"So, if I steal Gabrielle's sword," but doesn't finish because Artemis is shaking her head sadly, back and forth.
"No, Xena, the only way for Gabrielle to return to her old self is for her to give up the sword willingly. Stealing it from her will have no affect. She accepted it of her own free will and she has to reject it the same way."
"Great, so how do I get her to give it up willingly?", Xena looks up to Artemis.
Artemis slowly walks over to Xena with the beginnings of a smile on her face, "Don't you mean, how do WE get her to give it up willingly? I have an idea."
A week has passed, when one morning Ares knocks on Gabrielle's door. There is no answer. He knocks again. A muffled "what!", can be heard. He opens the door and steps in. He walks over to stand beside the bed and smiles. Gabrielle was definitely not a morning person. Shame to. He loved mornings. Mornings were the best time for battles.
"Come on, sleepy head, get up. I have a surprise for you." Ares walks over to the window and starts pulling open the drapes to the room. Sunlight bathes the room and he basks in it. Gabrielle on the other hand is definitely not basking in the sunlight. In fact, she has succeeded into crawling completely under the covers of the bed.
"Gods, what time is it?", Gabrielle grumbles under the covers of the bed.
"Its time for young demi-goddesses to get up and visit her first battlefield." At this, Gabrielle throws the covers off her head and sits up. "Really? Your taking me to a battle?", she is practically beaming now.
"Yes, as soon as you get up and get dressed. I'll wait for you in the great hall." Ares turns to leave, then turns back around. "Oh, and don't forget to bring your sword." He turns back around and leaves the room.
"My first battle! COOL!" Gabrielle jumps up and starts to dress quickly. As she leaves her room to join Ares, she passes her sword. She grabs it on the way out.
"That was quick. I guess your a little excited about commanding your first army, huh?" Ares is smiling from ear to ear, as he watches Gabrielle grab an apple from the table. She turns around and looks to him, surprised. "Your going to let me command one of your armies?"
"Yes, you will be commanding my army today. You have been doing extremely well in your studies of warfare. You even beat Strife this week. He's still upset about that. He says you cheated. But anyway, I think your ready. Today the warlord in charge of my army will listen to you, Gabrielle." He beams with pride at this woman that is his daughter. "Ready to go?"
"Oh yeah, lets go kill something!" Gabrielle mumbles around part of the apple in her mouth. She takes her place standing beside Ares and they disappear.
"Xena! Come on, its time," Artemis says before she has even appeared completely. It is early morning and Xena is just starting to get moving for the day. She looks up at Artemis from where she is sitting drinking tea. "What?", she mumbles groggily.
Artemis stamps her foot in frustration and comes to stand in front the warrior. "Wake up, get up and get ready. Ares is letting Gabrielle command his army today in a battle on the eastern side of Greece." Artemis hasn't even finished her statement and Xena is up and putting on her armor and boots. She quickly scatters the ashes to the fire, and packs her few belongings onto Argo. "Let's go," as she leaps into the saddle.
Artemis looks at Xena and waves her hand. Xena, Argo and Artemis all disappear. Xena and Argo reappear at the foot of a hill.
"Artemis?" Xena calls, looking around for the amazon goddess.
"I'm here. I am just not going to appear. Ares is here and its safer if he doesn't know I'm here, for now. Just remember, that I am here."
"Okay, well here goes nothing. All Gabrielle has to do is just up her sword willingly, right?"
"Yes, then she will be back to herself. Now go, Warrior Princess, and be careful. Gabrielle is not your friend right now. She is dangerous. Don't underestimate her."
Meanwhile, Ares and Gabrielle have reappeared on top of a hill overlooking the valley where the battle is to be fought. "This is your battlefield, Gabrielle. Make me proud." Ares stands with his arms outstretched, taking in the whole valley.
"How am I to command them? Do I go down there and just talk to them or what?" Gabrielle looks at Ares questionably.
"No, daughter, all you have to do is think of what you want done, and speak to the warlord. He will hear you in his mind. Let the games begin."
The battle has been going on for sometime when Ares glances over to Gabrielle. She is standing there, with a bored look on her face.
"What's wrong Gabrielle, your army is winning", Ares says, turning to face his daughter.
"I know my army is winning, but just standing here and watching the fighting is so boring. Can't I go play too?", she says while swirling dirt around with the toe of her boot.
"Normally, Gods are not supposed to interfere in mortal battles," Ares says, while putting his hands on Gabrielle's shoulders. She is looking down at the ground and still playing with the dirt. "But than again, you aren't a full God." She looks up to him and he is smiling. "Go ahead, go play. I'll wait here."
Gabrielle looks at him and smiles, "See you later!", and she is gone. She reappears in the middle of the battle and instantly becomes caught up in the fighting. She has knocked out several warriors with the flat edge of her sword, when she feels a presence coming at her from behind. She drops to her right knee and thrusts her sword backward, between her right arm and body. She feels the sword sink almost to the hilt in the unlucky warrior who had decided to attack her from behind. Gabrielle slowly turns her head around so she can see who her victim was. Her eyes connect with vivid blue eyes. Standing there, with Gabrielle's sword through her, is Xena. The warrior princess has a look of shock on her face as she slowly sinks to her knees, then to her side, in front of the bard. Gabrielle has not moved, except to turn to face Xena. She lifts Xena's head and puts it into her lap and just looks at Xena. She stares into the blue eyes of her friend and smoothes the hair out of Xena's face. The bard just sits there, looking at her friend, with a look of bewilderment and shock on her face. Xena smiles up at Gabrielle and mouths "I forgive you", as her eyes close and she lets out her last breathe. Gabrielle slowly puts two fingers against the neck of Xena. After a moment she closes her eyes. Tears start to stream from the corners. She starts to shake and then she throws her head back and screams. It is a primal scream. A scream from the soul. She leans back over Xena and cradles the warrior in her arms and rocks her, all the time crying and begging her to come back to her.
Meanwhile, on the hill, Ares has seen this whole drama play out in front of him. He starts to go down to the scene, when Artemis appears in front of him. He looks at Artemis with contempt and sneers, "What do you want?"
"Grumpy, grumpy. I just came to tell you that Zeus wants to see you. Now."
"Great, just great." He looks at Gabrielle one more time and disappears. Artemis looks down at the battle and then disappears.
Gabrielle doesn't know how long she has sat there, holding Xena in her arms. She finally stands up and looks around. The battle is over. Bodies are lying all over the place. She looks down at Xena and she sees her sword lying beside the warrior. Gabrielle starts to feel the anger building within her. She bends down and picks up the sword. The sword that killed her greatest friend. The sword that killed the man she always thought was her father. And instead of power, she feels revulsion. The bard looks back down at Xena, then back at the sword. She turns and starts walking. Gabrielle keeps walking until she gets to the lake on one end of the valley. There she stops and closes her eyes. The tears begin again. This time they are accompanied with sobs. Heart wrenching sobs. She stands there crying and sobbing and yelling. Then the bard slowly draws her arm back and throws the sword into the middle of the lake.
In the instant that the sword hits the water, Ares reappears and looks at Gabrielle. "What have you done? Why did you throw away your sword?", he yells at her.
Gabrielle looks back at him with tears in her eyes. "I don't want it. All I've done since I took that sword is kill everything that meant anything to me. I won't do it anymore."
"But, Gabrielle, your my daughter. Don't you want to rule with me?" Ares coaxes.
"Leave her alone, Ares. She has made up her mind", Artemis states. She has just appeared behind Ares.
"Stay out of this! This is between my daughter and me!" Ares is livid now and turns towards Artemis.
"Yes, it is between Gabrielle and you. But you have to abide by her wishes. She has given up the sword that you gave her willingly. Now, you have to live with that. Quit trying to confuse her!", Artemis is now standing nose to nose with Ares. Ares steps back and starts to pull his sword, but Gabrielle jumps between him and Artemis.
"No! Please, father. This is my choice and I don't want the sword. If you really love me, you will abide by my wishes", she pleads. Ares closes his eyes for a moment and when he reopens them, he slides his sword back into the scabbard. "I do love you and I will abide by your wishes. If you ever change your mind or need me, just call upon me and I will be there instantly." He raises his hands to Gabrielle's face, pulls her forward and kisses her on the forehead. And with that, he disappears.
Artemis walks over to Gabrielle and puts her hand on the bard's shoulder. "Gabrielle, come with me." She turns to walk back towards the battlefield. Gabrielle just stands there for a brief moment and then follows. When she finally catches up with Artemis, the Amazon Goddess is standing over the body of Xena. Gabrielle walks up to Artemis and then kneels beside the body of the warrior princess. New tears start to fall from her eyes. Artemis kneels down beside Gabrielle and wipes the tears from her eyes.
"I killed her", Gabrielle whispers.
"I know", Artemis acknowledges. She stands back up and raises her arms above her head and speaks.
"I Artemis, Goddess of the Amazons do hereby demand the presence of Hades, God of the Underworld and Apollo, God of the Sun." She lowers her arms and waits. Gabrielle in the mean time has recradled the body of Xena and is silently crying. She does not seem to care about what Artemis is doing.
Almost instantly, Hades and Apollo appear. They both look at the bard cradling and crying over the body of the warrior princess.
"Okay, we're here", Hades says looking at Artemis.
"Good. A bet is a bet. I win. Now give up your wager", Artemis says, smiling at Hades. Hades just looks at her for a minute, then smiles and shakes his head. "I would never have believed it, if I hadn't seen it. Ares backing down to a slip of a girl. You win. I Hades, God of the Underworld do hereby return the soul of Xena back to the land of the living." And with that he disappears.
"Okay, your turn Apollo. Do your thing", Artemis says with a smug look on her face.
Apollo kneels down beside Gabrielle and takes the warrior princess from the arms of the bard. Gabrielle looks about to protest, but Artemis bends down and helps Gabrielle to stand. She keeps her hand on the bard's shoulder.
Apollo straightens out Xena's body and then puts his hands over the wound. Slowly, a bright light starts to spread over the body of the warrior princess. It gets brighter and brighter, until Gabrielle has to turn away from the light. When she turns back to see what Apollo has done to Xena, she sees that the lethal wound is no longer there. Apollo smiles and disappears. Gabrielle turns a confused look to Artemis and Artemis just smiles, leans down and kisses the bard on the cheek and says "your welcome", then disappears. The bard stands there, completely confused with the actions of the gods, until she hears her name whispered quietly. The bard slowly turns around and standing there smiling, is Xena. Gabrielle closes and reopens her eyes, then proceeds into rubbing her eyes. Finally, she steps forward and puts her hand out. Her hand comes into contact with warm, real, Xena skin. She takes another step forward and puts both hands out. Xena grabs both hands and pulls the bard toward her, into a huge hug. The bard gladly returns to hug.
After several minutes, the bard pulls back and looks questionably at Xena. "How?", she whispers.
"Its a long story. Lets go find someplace to set up camp and I'll tell you all about it", Xena says, as she drapes her arm over the bard's shoulder and starts to walk off the battlefield.
"Will you ever be able to forgive me for everything I've done?", Gabrielle says quietly, looking at the ground.
Xena stops walking, turning to face Gabrielle. She puts her hand under the bard's chin and lifts until the bard is looking directly at her. "I have already forgiven you", she smiles down at the bard. "Now, lets go. We have lots to get caught up on." They start to walk again and then Xena adds, with an evil smile on her face, "Like her poofing me away. I really don't like being poofed away by a bard!"
Gabrielle glances at Xena sideways and starts to giggle. The giggle quickly turns to an "uh oh" when she sees the look on Xena's face. "I'm in trouble, arent' I?"
"You have no idea, my bard, you have no idea", Xena whispers and pulls the bard into another hug as they walk away from the valley.
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