The Love of Demons
The protagonists herein are based upon the characters of the television program Xena: Warrior Princess. Intellectual property in this show is presumably owned by Renaissance Pictures, MCA/Universal, Studios USA, Flat Earth Productions, and/or other individuals or entities. This story was not written for profit, but as fair use, and no copyright infringements are intended. All original material herein is copyright (2001) to me as author.
SPOILERS: None, although it presages some of the events in "The Fallen." Oh yeah, this fiction intimates that Xena and Gabrielle are lovers. If this is news to you I don't even know how you found this webpage.
VIOLENCE: Some not-too-graphically-nasty references to wicked acts -- probably nothing to get your toga all in a twist.
SEX: and subtext, you bet! Kiddies (under 18) and homophobes come back when you've grown up. Especially the homophobes, since the sex is somewhat nuanced as opposed to graphic, the damage to the kiddies is probably not a big deal.
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, AND HOPEFULLY, SOME APPRECIATIONS (please!) are welcomed. Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SETTING/TIME-FRAME: After Callisto went quick-sand diving but before Lucy Lawless breaks her pelvis.
ABOUT THE STYLE OF THIS STORY: This story is written as though it were an early scholar's translation of one of Gabrielle's scrolls, (from which the television show is supposedly derived or at least, thats the conceit, right?) So it is intended to read the way these dusty, medieval, academic translations read (only the sexy part isn't in Latin). To help achieve this flavor I have used the archaic second person singular (thee, thou, etc.) but I find that matching it with the properly inflected verbs (thou walkest, talkest etc.) was just too distracting so I have minimized doing this. I suppose what is left is annoying to those that know better but it was the best artistic compromise I could think of.
And now, a little fanfic
"The Love of Demons"
From the Xena Scrolls
(common designation: "Companion I," fl. 40 B.C.?)
I sing of the valiant heart of the Warrior Princess yclept XENA. For many years I walked with her as friend and companion. I write these words that others might tread in the steps of XENA in their souls, now and in future, to bear witness as I do to the path of redemption through fortitude, passion and strife.
In this narrative shall I tell how XENA was swept away to a woeful domain where I followed in the company of a Great Fiend.
Part I. WHEREIN XENA TELLS A SHOCKING TALE OF PAST WRONGDOING
This was in the second year of my travels at the side of XENA in her wanderings. She had decreed upon herself the harsh fate to follow her footsteps of old until she had redeemed the intemperate acts of her youthful hand, when her soul had been dark and vexatious.
So many had suffered by XENA's hand that she could not number them. I had come to know a certain pall that would descend upon XENA's face when we would pass a scene of her misdeeds. On this day had we passed by the yawning entry of a cavern. XENA's face shewed guilt and she quickened her pace. I pressed her with questions about the cavern and she said: "My friend, thou art still young and should not wish to hear of such evils and misfortunes! I fear that if thou knew these things of me thine heart will be frozen in the horror of it and thy regard for me will die!"
I said: "XENA, I have seen horror and misfortune! Have I not seen thee in combat with monsters and beasts and looked on the carnage of battle? And did I not stand while the lifeblood of my husband was ladled into my hands by thy foul enemy Callisto? Yet I follow thee still, do I not?"
XENA said: "Perhaps dost thou for now. "
These words filled me with anger. I said "I remonstrate with thee that thou holds my devotion too frail and cheap!" and I slackened my pace so that I walked no longer beside XENA nor listened to her faithless words. XENA and I spoke no more, not for all of the day, not for the making of camp, nor through our evening meal. Round the hearth I spread my bedding at the farthest diameter from her and retired without wishing her any blessing on her slumber. At least, I spake my blessing on her not aloud but quietly such that only I could hear it. Then I fell asleep.
I had been sleeping for only a short while when I felt XENA's hand upon my shoulder roughly summoning me awake. She said: "Rouse thyself, Gabrielle, I must speak with thee. I cannot let this silence continue to the morning knowing thy disappointment in me. I shall tell thee something of what thou wishes to know."
XENA was somber and a melancholy that she evades by day had settled upon her in the night. She said:
"Know thou this dreadful tale of my life when I walked with one so evil I shall not say her name and I pray thou dost never look upon her face. There is a place by Tartarus where evil ones such as she and I might gain power, and we resolved to make a pilgrimage there. That place is called "The Place of Breathing Nightmare" for it is a doleful land that the living can enter, although at great cost. The cavern we passed is an entrance thereto.
"One must pass through Tartarus to reach this Place, and the souls of the dead try to enter any who pass there. Should they possess the body, it shall be bound forever in the Underworld as hath commanded Hades. Then directly surrounding the Place are many demons who will attack the soul to destroy it. To sojourn to the Place of Breathing Nightmare one risks either possession by the dead or demonic insanity.
"Hear now how I did enter. As I said, I travelled there in company of one very evil who had, unknown to me, worked a spell to make possible the journey. She had stolen from a farm twin little boys, tender and innocent. She slaughtered one and kept his innocent blood as a charm. The second boy she forced to yon cavern where she had summoned me to meet her. She took my hand and then forced the boy to lead us within to The Place, for only one without bloodguilt can navigate the ways once one enters Tartarus.
"To avoid possession by the Dead as we passed through Tartarus we had to close our minds to any thoughts that concern the Dead, for that is their door of entry into thy body. Led by the second twin boy we successfully traversed Tartarus and came on the verge of the wicked surrounding demons. The evil one then smeared the blood of the innocent murdered twin upon her person and on my own to make us proof against the attacks of the demons long enough for us to enter The Place. I saw many wonders there and many sad things, for there were a large number there who were trapped within these confines forever because they had no innocent to lead them out.
But I and my evil companion were led back out to the land of the living by the boy. However, upon our return to the land of the living, we found that the small child had been so grieviously damaged by the attack of the demons he had endured, that his sanity was utterly lost. We abandoned him while he screamed in torment from the demons' voices in his young ears."
Part II. WHEREIN XENA SUFFERS A GRIEVOUS RETRIBUTION
When she finished her tale XENA said: "Now hast thou heard why yon cavern fills me with dread. Tell me now, Gabrielle -- am I still thine hero?"
"Thou art," I said, "I follow thee not because of what thou wert, but because of what thou art now."
And both XENA and I were startled that we heard another voice near us. A madman emerged from the woods in tattered clothes and bloody furs. So feral was he that XENA had first taken him as only an errant beast of the wild. But he spoke to us as he entered the circle of our camp and he said:
"Thou art not my hero, thou wicked warrior! Yet hath I followed thee since I saw thou pass the mouth of that odious cavern!"
"I knew thou followed but I thought thee only a beast," said XENA.
"I am no better," said he, "but thou art surely worse! Thou wert the friend of the one that disemboweled my brother and caused my mind to be lost in disarray as a plaything to demonic voices!"
XENA said: "It fills me with great regret that what thou says is true."
"Feels thou guilt? It shall thy downfall if thy regret gives me power over thee!"
XENA did not demur. "I cannot staunch the tide of shame sweeping over me at thy sight," she said.
"Then art thou mine!" said the madman, "I call upon all the just gods to grant me justice! At my aggrieved petition let them convey thee directly to that Place that cost me and my brother all the peace and life that was ours! Convey thee there alive to dwell out the remainder of thy years trapped amid the Breathing Nightmares!"
At his speech was there a great clap of thunder and many bright and eerie lights. XENA trembled and cried out as she was swept up and removed from the sight of the living. The madman screamed triumphantly and fled into the forest, leaving me alone with my face awash in tears.
PART III. Where I acquire a baleful companion
I had not blood on my hands, so I thought that I might navigate the underworld to find XENA in the confines of her prison and lead her out. However the odious charm that had originally protected XENA I would have none of even if I knew one so benighted as to have it. I feared less the dead souls of Tartarus for I felt sure my love of XENA could fill my soul to the exclusion of all else. But I feared the tormenting demons would so overcome my mind that I should collapse in madness long before I found my Princess.
Then did I think: "If I could be fixed upon XENA even though bereft of sanity then might I reach her!" At that minute there took shape in my mind a plan so filled with peril that, immediately as I thought it, I silenced it so that its full scope was never spoken in my brain. I took up my staff and returned to the mouth of the dreadful cavern.
When I reached the cavernous entryway to the underworld, I paused to remove a lock of hair I had kept of Perdicus, the man whom I had wed in anticipation of a loving hearth surrounded by our children. He had been lost to me when he was splayed open by the sword of the fiendish Callisto. I touched the lock of hair to my cheek to fortify me for the journey as I entered the cavern and the grim regions of Tartarus.
The filthy and fearsome environs of the cavern were lighted by a heatless mineral luminescence through which I could find my path. Somehow the byways were known to me as though I recalled them from some earlier shadow life. Around me heard I much baleful wailing that would have stung my human sentiment but that I had steeled my mind against it.
I proceeded with haste until I was brought up short by the shade of Callisto looming full before me. I clutched my head in my hands and moaned aloud. I cried: "Away! Away thou loathed sight!" as my soul became o'erflooded with unbidden memories of Callisto's twisting body and her bestial battle shriek. I recalled her cruelty that would sooner cleave the head of an infant than kiss it. I recalled her taunts, all laced with toothy smiles and lover's winks, as she devised for the discomfiture and death of all most dear to me.
I fought within me to no avail. The shade of Callisto became more imposing still and she threw her head back, suffused with insane joy, to find me vulnerable to her dead hand.
"I am visited!" she cried. "And by none other than the virtuous little handmaiden of the Warrior Princess! But alas -- I err. Thou art maiden no more, art thou? For did thou not sacrifice thy maidenhead to the cream-faced farmer thou wedded? Or did he not have time to spill his seed before I spilt his blood?"
"I grieve that Tartarus hath not burned thy visage to ashes!"
"How can my visage be damaged while it shines so brightly in thy mind? I am surprised again for thou hadst always dissembled that thou lovest me not! But here I find thee before me filled in all thy corners with thy passion for me. I am amazed! I am flattered! Thou shalt be the favorite among all my kill!"
"Stay thou away from me, fiend!"
"I am so sorry, dear one," said she. "I cannot stay away from thee for thou draws me too near to thee! I am falling into thee and thou, my puppy, my tiny bitch, art receiving me! I penetrate thee, I throb in thee, I possess thee!" And with that the fiend Callisto uttered her warlike scream with mine own lips. I was possessed by her.
Callisto reveled that my body was her own. She flung out my arms and danced without decency. "I have thee!" she cried. "I have thee and I shall make a brave usage of thee ere I deposit thy tattered remains at the feet of thy Princess! I shall force thee into degradations that thy farmer had never the wit to dream and thine Warrior had not the proper falchion! I shall fling thee from misuse to misuse till all thine innocence is leprous and distends like carrion upon thy bones! The while shalt I pose in the sapphire mirrors of thy Princess's eyes and view thy destruction reflected in her horror!"
At this did the fiend Callisto momentarily pause. In the brief silence I searched and felt mine own self only in the region of my heart; all of the rest of me felt alien and lost. Then spake Callisto; she said: "Where is thy Princess, my little pigeon? Where hides the Warrior XENA?" She paused again. "Aha!" said she. "I have searched thy mind and know XENA is lost into the Place of Breathing Nightmare! Thou wert foolish to attempt to find thy way to her through Tartarus without first purging me from thy thoughts. For now shall we be travelling together!"
Part IV. My travel Acquaints me Anew with Earthly Passion
The fiend Callisto occupied my body and controlled its movements, but then was she blind for she had not the innocence to navigate within the realms through which we must pass to meet XENA. So to me she yielded the left arm, the one nearest the heart, that it might point out the way for her. Thus did we travel on.
Other dead souls did try an approach while we traversed Tartarus but they shrank back when they confronted the wrath of the vile thing that now was occupied within me. As we walked I, who was wedged in the small space of my heart and my left hand, experienced in waves the heart-passions of Callisto. Over and over I witnessed Callisto's fondest prayer -- image over image washed upon me of Callisto and XENA in furious embrace expelling the life from one another, until, triumphant, would Callisto place her impassioned mouth over XENA's lips, made pliant and yielding by her defeat. Then wished Callisto to receive XENA's last, dying breath into her own lungs and then, in that very moment, with XENA's broken arms softly resting upon her neck, wished Callisto that time would discontinue and eternity begin.
And I realized that I was in some awe of the might of Callisto's passion, depraved and distorted though it was. For, against my will, I felt chagrin that in my innocence had I stinted upon the magnitude of feeling that was possible within a human. There was so much more to yield to XENA in my devotion than ever before I had known. Callisto's passion for XENA dwarfed all that I had ever permitted myself to feel, even though Callisto knew not XENA's most remarkable facets that she hath revealed to me.
However, my devotion to XENA was sufficiently proof that my left hand was a steadfast compass to XENA's whereabouts, and before long did we arrive at the boundary of The Place of Breathing Nightmare. About us swirled the guardian demons to attack all souls that sought unbidden to penetrate the place. Boldly did Callisto step within and immediately did the demons rain down upon us. With each shriek more dire than the last, flailed Callisto against the demons. The sword of her determined will sliced into them and threw them off in spiritual agony. Greater and more fearsome demons then descended upon us and I was sore afraid. Never had I been in the presence of such awful demonic malignance.
Yet Callisto's malignance, forged in the kiln of hard earthly life, was its match. Her hatreds transcended all the realms that mere demons could know. Yea, she had a hatred that would have disconcerted gods and whithered their inventions, for so petty and fearfilled is human life that its agonies surpass the imaginations of idle godlings comfortably nested upon their mountain peaks. With the force of a warrior's heart that had been broken asunder and filled up with earth's harsh gifts of betrayal, loss and pain, did Callisto vanquish all these tawdry demons and gain entrance to the forbidden realm and to XENA, who inhabited therein.
Part V. XENA Receives Unbidden Guests
XENA sat upon a stone, her expression one of pensive melancholy and regret. As I came forth from the guardian demons to appear in the Place of Breathing Nightmare, Callisto did call out to XENA. She espied me, with joy and despair alternating.
XENA said: "Gabrielle, Gabrielle! It is a balm to my eyes and a pain to my soul to see thee within this dreadful place!"
Then Callisto answered her through my lips: "Ah, XENA! I rejoice to greet thee in a place so appropriate for thee! Hast thou enjoyed thy stay in our loathsome nether regions? Let us ascend to the land of the living where I can properly kill thee, so that thou may reside amidst loathing and decay for an eternity!"
XENA stepped back and said: "I understand thee not."
Callisto said: "What is it thou understands not about death? Did thou not deal out enough of it in thy life? Or is it that thou understands not why thy favorite little minikin should be pronouncing thy doom?" Callisto laughed. "Know thou that I had to ride through Tartarus within this tiny donkey because thou didst despoil mine own mortal frame! But now is this body mine!" Then with her fist she bashed cruelly upon my ribs and said "It is a small body but I shall have fun with it ere I am finished with it. Indeed, I shall be sure that it is thou that deals it the most disfiguring blows!"
XENA said "Thou art Callisto! I can hear it is so! Release this body and return to Hades!"
"Oh XENA, thou are powerless to displace me, but I welcome thine attempts! Please, beat me! Crush me in thine hands! Thy tiny beloved still dwells enough within me to enjoy thy vengeful caresses!"
Then did I raise up my left hand and point toward the egress of the Place of Breathing Nightmare, through which we could achieve forthwith the realm of the living. XENA looked upon the hand perplexed.
"Trouble not thine head XENA. I merely point to the way out of these confines," said Callisto and she then made my feet to follow. Such did we tread toward the egress to the land of the living, where Callisto willed to possess me until she had expired all life from my frame.
Immediately before we came to the egress, I dropped down my left hand. XENA said: "How now, Callisto? Whither doth thine innocence lead us now?" Callisto paused and with my left hand seized I XENA and propelled her through the egress. To my surprise XENA could not fully emerge, but was her left foot stayed on the underworld side of the portal. Moreover, XENA had held on to my left hand firmly, while with her other hand did she block the exit for the remainder of my body.
"Move thou!" screamed Callisto. "How long thinkest thou to hold against me? In a time all too soon I shall come through to escape Hades and grant thee thy death while thy brat gives me life!"
XENA put my left hand to her lips and said: "Gabrielle, my innocent, fill thy soul with my love of thee that thou may add strength to expel all alien things!" With those words did I know that XENA had recognized what part was truly me and the joy of it filled my soul. Greater power radiated from my heart and I vied with Callisto for possession of my frame.
Our wills collided, and when my will flagged I felt XENA's hand holding my left hand, increasing my regard for the woman that I am. This renewed my drive to possess my own being utterly. At one juncture was I able to seize hold of my voice and I called out to Hades to enforce the discipline of his realm against Callisto escaping now by stealth. A sound of thunder indicated to all our ears that Hades had heard and would arrive soon.
Callisto regained the voice and screamed "Thy brat is a fool! Should Hades come to propel me back I shall take this body I possess with me!" But now was Callisto distracted and I renewed with great vigor my assault to displace her from all my being.
As Hades came he lay hold on the parts of Callisto that I had forced outside of my body and struggled to bring her within, while XENA struggled to pull me without. I managed to expel Callisto from all my left side and moved it through the portal. XENA said: "Come thou, Gabrielle, my light, my anchor! Come forth thou noble friend!"
With this last encouragement was I able to thrust Callisto from all my being save but my right hand. My hand and XENA's foot stayed fast within the nether realm until XENA, with a mighty effort of force wrenched our limbs free albeit amidst seering pain to us both. Untethered to us at last, Callisto fell with baleful shrieks into the arms of Hades and her shade's tormented curses upon us echoed as we heard her descend.
Part VI. We Achieve Our Reunion at a Future Cost
But now were we both returned to the land of the living and we smiled upon each other in our joy. We walked to our campsite where Argo waited patiently. As we walked we observed at some distance the madman, walking in the valley but now with greater normalcy. XENA said: "Perhaps because the gods granted him justice hath he been restored to some of his lost soundness of mind."
In that evening we sat by our campfire, and I tried to warm my right hand which did ache from our earlier ordeal. XENA said that her foot also ached. Said XENA: "That we wrenched thine hand free by force means that there is some part of thee still claimed by an unresolved portion of Callisto. I believe that thou hadst dispelled all of Callisto except thy resentment of her for her hurts upon thee and thine. Thus keeps she a hold upon thee."
"I fear thou art correct, XENA, for I execrate her even now and cannot let this go. So strong has it always been that I knew I could attract her when I descended to Tartarus. I kept the hope that the strength of her hatreds would prevent any other soul from entering me in Tartarus, as she did. I did gamble that no demon would be able to combat successfully her fixed obsession to be beside thee once she learned from me where thou dwelt."
"Thou hast used her and thou hast the residual that thou will be bound to her until thou releases in forgiveness thine resentments, in that they cause her to possess thee still in some small part."
"Then we will be bound through eternity for I cannot conceive of forgiving her. But thou art correct that I did use her. I trusted her to be the fierce warrior that she is."
XENA said: "Indeed that is so, she is at least equal to any master, including me."
"Which is why, XENA, I believe that she had a hold of thee too, that thou hadst to wrench free thine own foot."
"Think thou that I am jealous of her?"
"No XENA, I know thou art not." What I had to say next I had to say to her quietly. "I think, XENA, that the warrior in thee loves the warrior in her."
XENA said nothing.
"And moreover, I suppose the that likewise, XENA, she shall possess a part of thee too until thou unleashes in an act of love thy closeness to her!"
XENA sat quietly and poked the embers of the campfire with a stick. She said at last: "Art thou telling me thou likest that idea?"
"Indeed, I do not!" said I.
"Nor I," said she. "I would prefer that she chewed upon my sword should she encounter me again before the world ends!"
And thus did we seal our fates to future rendezvous with the Warrior Callisto.
This is the end of my song of XENA and the Place of Breathing Nightmare. No demons were discomfited in the telling of this tale.