Egypt was hot. The sand found its way into every nook and crevice on Gabrielle's
too thin, muscular body. She felt grungy and couldn't wait for the barge upon
which she'd sail back to Greece in search of the few remaining Amazons. She
needed a goal, a reason for existing. She hoped to find that reason as Queen of
the Amazon Nation, if there was still a Nation to be Queen of.
The journey was long and the nights were desperately lonely. The nightmare
returned; Xena's body brutally dismembered, the horror and repulsion she felt.
Then, Xena, as beautiful as ever, telling her she can never be with her again,
that their life together was over. She awoke with a start and reached for the
wineskin. It helped her to get some much needed sleep and deadened the pain in
her soul just enough to face another day.
It had been 12 moons since her soul mate chose to leave her and give 20,000
souls their redemption as well as her own. She'd tried to fill the emptiness
that was left with good deeds. She'd traveled to the land of the Pharaohs to
fight for the "greater good", but it no longer made life worth living. There was
no love, no warmth, no passion, just a constant ache in her empty heart. Even
death would not reunite her with her soul mate for she would go to the Amazon
land of the dead, where only Amazons may enter, to be separated from Xena for
* * *
The Amazon forest was still there, filled with saplings, new growth arising from
the scorched earth. Gabrielle smiled and her heart warmed to the joy of rebirth.
Much of the forest was unharmed by the fires set by Ares' men. It seemed so long
ago when her sisters wished to execute Eve for the crimes of Livia. 'Eve. . . I
wonder if she's still alive. Does she know about her Mother's fate? I hope our
paths will cross again. She should hear the story from me, not a stranger.'
Gabrielle ruminated as she lithely traveled through the forest, like a shadow,
quiet and deep. Whenever possible, she took to the trees, where she could better
peruse the area for signs of her sisters. Her instincts naturally brought her to
the edge of a small river at the base of a waterfall. Up in the high limbs she
watched as young Amazons filled water skins, while their sisters fished in the
brisk clear waters. She patiently waited until she recognized the features of a
young Amazon tribal Queen, with whom she'd faced the forces of Bellerophon.
Silently she dropped from her perch and approached the young Queen. "Zora, it is
so good to see you again." Gabrielle said as she held out her arm in greeting.
The young woman dropped to her knees, her head bowed in respect, then looked up
into green eyes. "We thought you were dead, my Queen. I am so happy to see we
"No, I'm very much alive, Zora. And what of the other Amazon tribal Queens? Who
have survived, and how many of these young ones have joined us?"
"There are only Varia, Gessupa and myself. But our tribe has grown. We are sixty
strong and free. We tell tales of you and Xena around our camp fires every night
and the young soldiers listen in awe and all wish to grow up to be as brave and
true as you. . . Where is Xena? Is she far behind?"
Gabrielle looked into dancing eyes with all the compassion in her heart. "Xena
is dead, Zora. She died for the greater good some 12 moons ago."
Shock covered the young queen's features and tears burst from her eyes. "Oh, my
Queen, I am so very sorry. I always thought of Xena as invincible, I . . . um,
don't know what to say. She was the greatest, most honorable warrior I have ever
known, or ever hope to know. Queen Varia will be devastated to hear of her
passing over. How did it happen?"
"She died in battle to save the souls of 20,000 innocents."
Seeing the obvious pain in her Queen's eyes, Zora quickly changed the subject
and escorted Gabrielle behind the waterfall to where her tribe had found shelter
to begin rebuilding their nation. The hideout was ingenious and Gabrielle was
dutifully impressed. "Who found this place and whose idea was it to live here?"
"It was Varia. She found it and gathered all the best and brightest minds to
find ways to dig out more of the mountain side to set up camps and then a
hospice and storage for the grain. There is even an irrigation network to water
the crops in the fields below. It has worked better than we ever hoped. The
harvest was plentiful and our people are living in peace for the first time in
many, many moons."
Gabrielle listened as she took it all in, awed by the pure logic and simplicity
of the whole operation. She laughed softly at herself. 'I guess my chakram won't
be needed here. Maybe I can swing a hoe instead.'
"What's so funny?" Zora asked a bit confused by her Queen's incongruous
"Nothing. Just laughing at my life. Take me to Varia."
"Yes, my Queen. She'll be so glad to see you."
* * *
Varia sat in one of the large chairs reserved for the tribal Queens. Her dark,
intense eyes stared blankly at the dirt floor, her tears creating patches of
mud. "I can't believe she's gone."
"I know. . . It was her choice." Tears filled the warrior bard's eyes. "I . . .
I had to honor her wishes."
Varia nodded. "We will have a feast to honor our fallen hero. I wish Xena had
allowed us to make her an Amazon. She was more Amazon than any warrior I've ever
known. She was my teacher and my friend." Varia looked up into Gabrielle's moist
eyes. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle, I'm upsetting you. Come on, let's gather the tribe
and announce your return. Zora, collect a work crew to build a comfortable hut,
while we celebrate Queen Gabrielle's return."
"It will be done." Zora quickly ran to complete her task.
* * *
The entire tribe participated in the feast, dancing and celebrating the return
of their long lost Queen. Gabrielle ate better than she had in moons. She
enjoyed the sweet wine and danced in the circles of life along with her sisters.
Later in the evening she was informed that her hut was ready. Water, a tub, a
soft pallet with comfortable skins and fresh fruit were all prepared. Varia
offered to escort her and see to her comfort and Gabrielle wearily accepted.
The two women sat upon the pallet with a half emptied wineskin, talking about
old times, telling stories of Xena and Gabrielle's many run-ins with and helping
hands offered to the Amazons.
"I didn't think I could live without her, but I have. I can't sleep at night, at
least not without help." She held up the wine skin. "I see her in every dark
corner and hear her voice on the wind. A moment doesn't go by that I am not
aware that she's gone, that I'll never ever see her again, feel her touch, hear
her voice, but. . . I'm still here." Gabrielle's tears ran down her cheeks as
she lost all composure and allowed Varia to pull her into strong arms. She
buried her face in the young woman's cleavage, crying out her grief and pain. It
had been many moons since she'd felt the warmth and comfort of another human
being. Varia's tears joined Gabrielle's and the two women cried until they fell
into a deep, dreamless sleep.
* * *
"Oh, my aching head." Gabrielle raised up from Varia's shoulder, trying hard not
to awaken the young woman, and crawled off the pallet into the early morning
air. Heading for the bathing hut, she tried to remember how she came to be in
such a compromising position in the first place. She soaked in the hot spring
fed bath until the fog lifted from her brain and the guilt from her heart,
knowing that Varia was simply trying to comfort her and they'd innocently fallen
into a drunken slumber. The warrior bard closed her eyes and allowed herself to
drift off into the land of Morpheus.
"Good morning, Gabrielle." Varia said cheerfully as she slid slowly into the
Gabrielle opened her eyes in time to see the long, muscular body of the young
Queen, her breasts full and firm, her flat abdomen and round sensuous hips
presenting a package to tempt the most solemn of souls. Gabrielle tried to look
away, but Varia's tanned skin and physique reminded her of Xena and the
pleasures they had shared and that she sorely missed. It seemed forever since
she'd enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh and the young woman was causing her to
feel things she'd always reserved for her soul-mate alone. She looked up into
Varia's dark, questioning eyes and guilt stole whatever joy she may have taken
in the young woman's presence away.
"You alright?" Varia asked as she let the water cover her assets.
Gabrielle shook her head of lascivious thoughts. "Yes, fine. I was just
wondering . . . have you seen Eve? Do you know where I can find her?"
Varia lay back, allowing her body to be buoyed up by the warm water, her dark
areolas peeking into the brisk morning air, causing them to contract and their
nipples to elongate and harden. "Last I heard, she was in a prison in Athens for
leading the followers of Ely and teaching the way of love and peace. I don't
know if she's still there or not."
Gabrielle wrenched her gaze from Varia's obvious attributes. "Um . . . I must go
to her. She deserves to hear of her mother's death from me."
Varia nodded in understanding. "I'll ask for volunteers. You'll need help
getting passed the guards. You do know that not many Amazons will want to fight
to free Livia."
Gabrielle's back straightened. "Her name is Eve and she has not been Livia for a
very long time. Why can't you accept that?"
"Gabrielle, I have accepted that. I know she's changed. But, you can't blame the
Amazons for distrusting one who has killed so many of our sisters." There was a
long pause while the two women looked deeply into each other's eyes. "When will
you want to leave?"
"This morning." Gabrielle stated.
Varia let out a sigh and nodded. "I'll call a Council meeting and get the ball
rolling. Why don't you eat something and get your things together."
Gabrielle reached out and touched Varia's arm. "Thank you, Varia. I appreciate
your help. I know there is no love lost between you and Eve. But, she is Xena's
Varia placed her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder, halting her words. "I understand,
Gabrielle. I do."
* * *
"Here are your provisions. We have six volunteers, all excellent soldiers. They
will follow your commands without question. I'm afraid they are a bit star
struck. You're their hero."
"Some hero." Gabrielle muttered. "Varia, I have something that I want you to
hold for me." Gabrielle reached into her travel sack and pulled out a leather
bag, within it lay a clay urn. "This contains Xena's ashes. If anything should
happen to me, please see to it that she is placed beside her brother Lyceus in
the family crypt in Amphipolis. I promised her. . ." Gabrielle couldn't finish
for the painful knot in her throat.
"I'll take good care of her, Gabrielle. But, you'll return to us." Varia stated
with confidence. "And, Gabrielle, if necessary, Eve may stay among the Amazons,
at least until she is able to travel. I will guarantee her safety."
Gabrielle gave Varia her warmest smile. "Thank you, my friend."
* * *
The Amazons walked among the other shoppers in the square, blending in unnoticed
due to the robes they had stolen from the palace laundry. The women listened
intently to any gossip they could find out about the prior "Whore of Rome". They
soon found out which cell she was in and that she would be publicly executed at
the full moon, three days away. A plan was needed, and needed fast.
When darkness fell, Gabrielle sat upon the shoulders of a powerful Amazon
soldier and observed the activity around Eve's cell. Hidden by shadows, she was
able to watch for as long as it took for her plan to unveil itself. She gave a
self-satisfied smile and disappeared into the night with her sisters.
"We should be able to free Eve without anyone getting hurt. There is an elderly
woman allowed to enter her cell at night to bring her meals and give her solace.
She is accompanied by only one guard. Tomorrow night we will see that they are
replaced by myself and Terran." She looked at the very large Amazon whose
shoulder she had sat upon earlier that evening. "I want the rest of you guarding
the prison doors so we shall not be disturbed. Now, get some sleep."
With the largest Amazon dressed as a guard and Gabrielle in the old woman's
robes, they easily slipped into Eve's cell. "Eve, it's me. Don't say anything,
just listen. We're here to rescue you. Put on these robes."
Eve hugged Gabrielle with all of her might. "It's so good to see you. I thought
you were dead." The young woman wiped tears from her eyes.
"Not hardly. Now hurry into these robes and let's get out of here."
"Gabrielle, I appreciate what you and my mother are trying to do, but I must
make a stand for Ely sometime. And here is as good a time as any."
"Don't argue with me, Eve. Now, get into these robes and let's go!" Gabrielle
demanded, forcing the fabric over the younger woman's head.
"I don't so much as get a letter from my mother for 12 moons, but as soon as I
am given the opportunity for martyrdom in the name of the God of Ely, she
decides to run my life. Well, not this time. This is my decision to make, not
hers." Eve stood her ground.
"Your Mother is dead! That's why you haven't heard from her. And I was too
absorbed in my own grief to contact you." Gabrielle stated loudly, her eyes
boring into Eve, her hands squeezing the slim woman's shoulders. She took in a
cleansing breath, reached out and pet the stricken woman's face. "I'm sorry,
Eve. I'll fill you in on the details later. Now, let's get out of here."
Eve looked on in shocked disbelief, but did as she was told as if she was
The Amazons, who stood outside the prison watching for trouble, became worried
when the rescue seemed to take much longer than planned. One of the guards got
suspicious and walked in just as the three women reached the door that led to
freedom. "You there, what do you think you are doing?" The guard demanded as he
pulled his dagger from his belt.
"Run, Eve!" Gabrielle commanded as she shoved the somnambulant young woman out
of the door. "Get her to safety!" She commanded, pulling out her sais to face
off the much larger guard. He was strong, but she was fast and nimble. There was
little space to move and his arms outreached hers. She fought valiantly. Knowing
she had no choice but to strike a fatal blow, she lunged for his chest, but he
managed to jab the point of his dagger deep under her right arm as she pierced
his heart with her sais. The pain was excruciating, but there was no time to
assess the damage. Gabrielle ran out of the prison into the darkness and caught
up with her sisters before collapsing in the dust.
Terran lifted her Queen into strong arms and carried her to safety. " I can only
staunch the flow of blood until we can get you to our healer." The young warrior
Gabrielle nodded, unable to speak without coughing up pink froth and throwing
herself into a world of pain.
The Amazons created a litter and carried their Queen quickly through the forest.
* * *
Varia paced outside the healer's hut, anxiously awaiting news of her friend's
condition as Eve prayed to Ely for a miracle.
"Alena, how is she?" Varia inquired of the healer.
"It's not good. If only Xena were here. . . She'd know what to do." The healer
sighed. "I've given her some herbs for the pain. I've stitched her from the
inside out. Now all we can do is wait and pray that her little body is strong
enough to fight back."
"May we see her?" Eve asked.
"Don't awaken her. She needs to sleep."
"We won't." Varia said as she took Eve's hand and led her inside to sit next to
"Both of them." Eve whispered as she wiped a tear from her eye.
"What?" Varia was pulled out of her own reverie by Eve's words.
"I've lost both of my mothers in one day." Eve said, then looked deep into
Varia's eyes. "How did my mother die? Did Gabrielle tell you?"
"Yes. Your mother died a warrior's death." Varia stated; then proceeded to tell
Eve the sad story.
Two nights passed. Varia and Eve stood vigil at Gabrielle's bedside. The warrior
bard's face was ashen grey and each breath a struggle.
"Gabrielle?" Eve called. "Gabrielle, please wake up. I need you to wake up."
Gabrielle heard her name being called in the distance. She tried to listen, but
the oblivion, the sweet oblivion, was so enticing, so comforting its call was
much greater. She gratefully slid into it's arms.
Varia took a short walk with Alena to discuss Gabrielle's condition. "If you ask
me, she doesn't want to live. She's given up. I've seen this before after the
loss of a life partner. She wants to join Xena."
"That's just it. She knows she can't join Xena. Xena never became an Amazon.
They'll be in separate eternities." Varia sighed. "It's just too sad."
"Oh my." Alena shook her head, her eyes filled with sorrow.
"Is there any way to make Xena an Amazon?" Alena asked.
"I don't believe it's ever been done before, posthumously that is. We can ask
our High Priestess. But, now that our goddess is dead, I don't see how we can. I
guess it doesn't hurt to ask."
* * *
"Yes, there is an ancient Amazon ritual that requires not only the ashes of the
deceased, but also their blood." The Priestess, Priscilla, said.
"How about the blood of her daughter? Would that be close enough?" Varia asked
"It could be. I'm not certain. It has been many winters since the ritual was
carried out, not since I was a child."
"But, you can do it, can't you?" Varia asked, anxiously.
"Yes, I have the ritual in the temple archives. It does not require the
intervention of the gods, but the intervention of the souls gone before. Only
they or Xena herself can help or hinder us. If the souls do not accept her or if
Xena's spirit refuses to yield, I'm afraid there is nothing I can do. Do you
wish to proceed?" The Priestess inquired.
"Yes. I will call a Council meeting, while you prepare. Thank you Priscilla."
"Queen Varia," Priscilla called to her. "It would be of great assistance if
Queen Gabrielle were aware of our efforts. Her soul is connected to the Warrior
Princess'. Her influence would be invaluable."
"I will try my best to awaken her. But, her condition is very poor." Alena said
as she shook her head.
"We'll do our best." Varia assured the Priestess, then went to address the
Council while the healer returned to her patient's side.
* * *
The Council agreed to reward Xena's support of the Amazons by including her
spirit in their number. Word was sent out to all members of the tribe to join in
the ritual prayers to the land of the dead, requesting that Xena's spirit be
* * *
Eve and Alena sat at Gabrielle's bedside, watching the struggle for each breath
she took. Her skin shown with fever and both women feared her time was
approaching. Eve wiped the little woman down with a cool wet rag, encouraging
her to open her eyes as Alena rubbed her chest with eucalyptus oil.
"Please, wake up, Gabrielle." Eve cried.
"Your Highness. You must wake up." Alena called to her.
Gabrielle floated in a world of darkness. It was quiet and peaceful. There was
no pain, just nothingness. She liked it there. She was so very tired, so tired
of living without her love, the other half of her soul. Oblivion seemed a viable
"Please, Gabrielle, my mother needs you. Xena needs you. Come on, you can't let
her down now. WAKE UP!" Eve yelled into the flaccid features of the warrior
'Xena? Xena . . . needs me?' Gabrielle's foggy brain began to register Eve's
words, which pulled her slowly from the abyss toward the sound of the familiar
Eve pet Gabrielle's face and kissed her forehead. "You have to help Xena. Help
my mother." The young woman pulled back as she noticed the flutter of fair
"That's it. She's waking up!" Eve exclaimed.
"Praise the gods! Queen Gabrielle, can you hear me?" Alena asked.
Bleary sea green eyes opened and tried to focus on the face so close to her own.
She took in a painful breath, "Eve?"
"Yes, it's me, Gabrielle. You need to help Xena."
Gabrielle's face filled with loss and confusion. "Xena's dead." She stated and
tried to turn her head away from the blue eyes so reminiscent of her partner's.
Eve gently held Gabrielle's head in her hands. "I know that. The Amazons are
performing a ritual that will make Xena an Amazon and allow her into their Land
of the Dead for eternity, but they need your help. They need your soul to call
to hers, to make her understand what's happening. Gabrielle, do you hear me?"
Gabrielle, opened her eyes and nodded. Smiling as a tear ran down into her ear.
"Yes . . . Thank you, Eve." Gabrielle felt the bandage on Eve's hand and looked
at her questioningly.
"They used my blood in lieu of Mother's. They used her ashes."
Gabrielle looked alarmed. "No. . . They were supposed to return her to
Amphipolis. I promised . . ."
"Sh . .sh, it's alright. It is all part of the ritual. I will take her ashes to
lie next to Uncle Lyceus myself, after it is all over. I give you my word." Eve
swore and again kissed Gabrielle's forehead. Gabrielle relaxed and closed her
"Find my mother." Eve beseeched.
* * *
'Xena? Xena, where are you?' Gabrielle's spirit called out for her soul mate,
who she often felt was near. 'Xena, I'm dying. I haven't much time. I know the
dead can hear our thoughts, so hear this. You must become an Amazon, so we can
spend eternity together. It's not too late. They have a way. Eve is here. Your
daughter is helping the Amazons to help you. How do you like that? Anyway, all
you have to do is want to become an Amazon and enter the Land of the Dead. You
said for the spirits of Yudoshi to be redeemed, you had to remain dead. You
didn't say anything about where you had to remain dead. You said even in death
you would never leave me. You gave me your word, Warrior Princess. I intend to
hold you to it.'
Gabrielle felt herself weakening. It was becoming harder to concentrate. She
knew her time was at hand. 'I love you, Xena. Come back to me.'
Eve held the small, road roughened hand in hers, kissed it and held it to her
"I'm sorry, Eve. She's gone." Alena said, softly, as she covered the dead Queen
and proceeded out of the hut to announce the sad news to the tribe.
Eve got on her knees and prayed with all of her might. She begged Ely to reunite
her parents in the Amazon land of the dead. For their love was eternal and it
would be beyond cruel to separate them for all time. She reminded Ely that Xena
had redeemed herself by her unselfish sacrifice for the trapped souls of Yudoshi
and deserved her eternal reward.
A golden light filled the room and forms began to take shape within. "Eve."
"Mother . . . , Gabrielle." Eve watched in awe as her parents stood arm in arm
before her, both dressed in Amazon garb.
"Thank you, Eve. Eternity's looking pretty damned good." Xena said as she hugged
"Mother!" Eve exclaimed at Xena's expletive.
"It's Ok. I'm already in." Xena chuckled.
"You'd better watch your mouth before they kick your feathered bumm out."
Gabrielle hugged her soul mate back with all of her might.
"Join the Amazons, Eve. Someday, many winters from now, you can be reunited with
your mother and I." Gabrielle said.
"Remember, Eve, I will never be far away. Just think of me and I will hear you.
Oh, and please stay out of trouble." Xena laughed her deep throaty laugh. "I
love you, my daughter."
"Thank you for bringing Xena back to me. We love you, Eve." Gabrielle said as
their images faded away.
"I love you too. Be happy. . ."
What do you think? JonyakaLena@webtv.net
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