Reluctant Goddess


Warning: For the most part there is little or no graphic violence except chapter 10. Sorry, it couldn't be helped. Other than that there is no foul language, sex, or other objectionable content. By the way bring your own hair dryer, Gabrielle doesn't provide them. The authors of the story would appreciate any comments readers might have, please send them to either or both authors.

Chapter 1 "Goddess?, What goddess?"

All the gods were assembled on Mt. Olympus, each involved in their little squabbles with one another. A few arguments were getting very heated and shouting ensued. Then, others started shouting to be heard over the others. Soon, everyone was screaming and no one could understand anyone else.

"Enough!" bellowed Zeus. He threw a lightning bolt into the middle of the pack. Several gods jumped back in surprise, all immediately quieted. "The decision is made; both Velasca and Callisto will be stripped of their godhood."

"About time." muttered Artemis.

"Quiet, daughter, it's partially your fault this mess occurred"

"My fault!" exclaimed Artemis, "How is this my fault?" She shifted the quiver that rested on her shoulder and was looking quite offended. "Callisto is one of Ares' toys and Hera allowed her to get immortality."

"And Velasca?" asked Zeus with a slight smile. He stroked his long white, curly beard and looked at the goddess with his pale blue eyes; waiting for her response.

Artemis lowered her head slightly and busied her hands by fiddling with her bow.

She mumbled almost incoherently, "All right, she was one of my Amazons." Speaking a little louder, she continued, "But then, she tried to kill my people. Besides, you are always saying to stay out of mortal affairs as much as possible."

"It doesn't matter now." replied Zeus, beginning to pace. "What matters now is what we are going to do with the power after we strip them of it."

"What are you talking about?" asked Apollo, entering the conversation for the first time. "Just wave your hand and turn them back into mortals."

"It's not that simple," explained the King of the Gods. "That kind of power cannot be
destroyed. It must be converted or channeled into another form. Call it a conservation of
energy. One of the godhoods I can disperse into the cosmos and allow nature to
transform it and gently merge with the rest of the world. The other must be deposited in
another living vessel."

"Whoa! Major brain overload, Pop." Aphrodite said holding her hand to her head. "Want to translate that into Greek?"

Athena sighed and shifted her spear into her other hand, impatient. "What he said, Miss Airhead, was that one of the godhoods can be released into nature but the other one has to be given to somebody else."

All eyes went wide and immediately arguments started over which mortal should become a

"Hold it!" roared Zeus. "First things first, the fate of Callisto and Velasca need to be
determined. Hades?"

"Without her godhood Velasca is dead, she never would have survived her wounds
without the ambrosia, let alone the lava she is trapped in now."

"What about Callisto?" questioned Zeus.

"Callisto is another story" Hades mused. "As an immortal the lava won't kill her but there
is no way she can get out, either. At least, I don't think she can."

"You think, Hades?"

"There is no way to be certain, Zeus. It's not like immortals get thrown into lava pits every century."

"So be it." declared Zeus. "Since Velasca should have died that shall be her fate. Callisto shall be trapped in the lava for eternity."

"Wait a minute!" shouted Ares. His hands rested on his sword that lay sheathed on his belt. Since losing it, he never let the weapon out of his sight. "Why leave her there, just let her go."

"No, Ares. Callisto got greedy, she needs to be taught a lesson."

Ares looked like he was about to argue but stopped. 'If I let her stay there
for a few years,' he thought, 'she might appreciate me a little more when I finally let her out.'

"Very well, father, let her stay there."

"Now all we have to do is decide who shall become a god." said Zeus knowing he was
going to spend hours listening to arguments.

The King of the Gods was wrong, WEEKS later the list had boiled down to a handful of
names with only one really standing out.

"NO!" shouted Poseidon and Ares. "No! No! NO!"

"Why not?" asked Artemis, "She has a good heart and is willing to stand up for what she
believes in."

"She is nothing but trouble," responded Poseidon.

"You're just ticked because she helped lift the curse you put on Cecrops. And you,"
Athena said looking at Ares, "are annoyed because she keeps getting in your way from
spreading death and destruction."

"That irritating blond has caused more trouble than either of you know. I will NOT stand for her being a goddess," yelled the God of War cringing as he spit out the word "goddess."

Athena and Artemis shared a smile. Since they had narrowed down the choice to the bard, Ares had refused to use her name, always referring to her as 'That irritating blond.'

"Gabrielle," continued Athena, purposely using her name, "Would make a good goddess. She doesn't have any REAL enemies," Athena smirked at Ares, "and all she wants to do is help people. Besides, we all know your choice."

"Well, what's wrong with Xena?" asked Ares indignantly.

"Nope", "Forget it", "I don't think so", "Are you out of your puny, little mind?" came assorted calls from the gods.

"I think its a good idea, I like it." Hermes said surprising everybody, but nobody as much
as Ares.

The room got quiet as all eyes turned on Hermes. He adjusted his silver, winged cap before continuing.

"Look, she is no longer the warlord she was. She fights for good and surely nobody here has anything against that. Besides..."

"Besides." interrupted Ares, "You owe her one. You know maybe you aren't so bad after
all." Ares put his arm around Hermes' shoulders, much to the messenger's displeasure.

Using thumb and forefinger, Hermes removed the arm. With much willpower, he suppressed a shudder.

"Forget it nephew." said Poseidon. "I will go along with you to prevent the bard from
getting her godhood but I will not allow Xena to become a goddess."

"Xena wouldn't agree to becoming a goddess, anyway. You already made the offer once when you were mortal yourself and she turned you down then, she will do the same now," commented Hades.

Ares mumbled something incoherent but nodded his head in agreement. Hera got up to

"I say no. She is friends with Xena and while I don't care about her, that makes her
friends with Hercules and I will not allow that bast..."

"Watch what you say about my son in my presence Hera," Zeus said. "Well, we know
your opinion, now what about you Aphrodite, Apollo, Hades?"

Aphrodite responded first, "I got nothing personal against the babe, but she is totally too naive to be a goddess. I mean, did you hear her dribble about love being gentle? Gag me." She put her finger in her mouth for emphasis. Then removed it, inspecting the nail.

"Do you think we could hurry this up a little? My hair is like, totally wilting with all the negatory vibes going 'round."

"I'll take that as a negative," said Zeus shaking his head.

"Gabrielle is a good bard but she could be the greatest. If she becomes a goddess now, that's all she'll be remembered for," Apollo remarked. "Can't we just wait until she finishes living her life as a bard?"

His twin sister Artemis gave him a withering look and started to walk towards him.

Apollo gulped. "Or maybe we could just make her a goddess now," he added quickly.

"Hades, your turn." Zeus said as he turned to his brother.

"Personally it makes no difference to me one way or the other but just to annoy Ares and
Poseidon," he looked over to the two and smiled broadly, "I vote yes."

Ares and Poseidon scowled in reply.

"Hermes, Xena is out of the picture so what is your vote on Gabrielle?" asked Zeus.

"Think about it Hermes." said Artemis, "Gabrielle is Xena's best friend and if Gabrielle is
made a goddess then Xena will be happy."

"Yeah, yeah. Put me down for a yes."

Chapter 2 "Getting the news"

It had been a long day and both Xena and Gabrielle were tired. Even Argo was showing
signs of strain and she had been walking without a rider since throwing a shoe several
stadias back.

"How far are we from the next town, Xena?" asked Gabrielle.

"A stadia less than when you asked me last time," replied Xena looking at the bard.


"Come on, we're not going to make it tonight so we might as well set up camp," said
Xena as she lead Argo off the path to a secluded glen near a small stream.

Nothing was said as they started to set up camp. The two had been traveling together
long enough to know the routine. Xena removed the saddle from Argo and started to take
care of the horse while Gabrielle set out the bedrolls and got a fire going.

After making sure Gabrielle had things underway Xena said, "Your turn to pick."

"Quail, I'm tired of fish."

"Wrong area of the country, wrong season, wrong....."

"Fine, how about pheasant?"

"Pheasant" muttered Xena. 'It'd probably be easier to find quail. First eel and now pheasant. Next time she gets to do the hunting.'

"Fine, I'll be back in a few hours. I want to scout the area while I am out there."

Gabrielle nodded her head and returned to setting up the camp. 'That will teach her to
want honey on her biscuits,' thought Gabrielle as she remembered yesterday's encounter
with the hive of bees. She inspected her hands and grimaced at the site of several large welts.

'I guess I deserved it after the eel incident though.'

Gabrielle smiled as she thought about it.

'I hope we can get a few days off without any incidents.'

After the camp was set up, Gabrielle collected the waterskins and headed down to the stream grabbing her staff on the way, Xena had lectured her time and time again about forgetting it. She had just finished filling the last of the waterskins when she felt a presence behind her.

She swung her staff around and shouted "Yahhhh!" which was quickly followed by a
thump and "Oommph" as she landed on her rear. 'She did it to me again!' thought
Gabrielle. A hand reached down to help her up, "Next time Warrior Princess, next
time...." Gabrielle's voice trailed off as she looked up and saw the Moon Goddess and
patron of the Amazons pulling her up.

"I take it this has happens all the time?" asked Artemis with a twinkle in her eye and a smirk on her face.

"No, only right before we get visited by gods," replied Gabrielle regaining her sense of humor.

"Ah, you must mean Hermes. Sorry about that, by the time I found out it was all over."

"We all learned something, but what brings you by and please don't tell me you want to grant a favor or gift. I don't think Xena and I are up to it." Gabrielle smiled and the two headed back to the camp.

"Actually yes," Artemis replied, "but this time its your turn and its something I think you
will like."

Gabrielle groaned.

"That's what they all say," she said but sat down and motioned for Artemis to join

Artemis smiled but continued, "First of all, Callisto and Velasca are no longer goddesses."

Gabrielle let out a breath. Artemis grinned, "I thought you would like that, but that is not all. When Zeus removed their power one of the godhoods was released into nature, but the other one has to be give to another mortal."

"Okay, I follow so far but what does that have to do with me?"

"You are that mortal," replied Artemis.



Gabrielle sat there stunned letting it sink in. "Why me?"

"Don't sell yourself short Gabrielle. You have many good qualities and are favored by many of the gods, not just myself. Relax, you will make a great goddess."

"Xena..." started Gabrielle.

"Xena has nothing to do with this. This is your gift, you are welcome to help your friend,
but don't feel bad that you are the goddess and not her."

"What I was going to say was that Xena doesn't really like the gods. She thinks you meddle too much. What am I going to tell her? How am I going to tell her? What will she do? What will she think?" Gabrielle started rambling as Artemis sat there watching the new goddess with an amused expression on her face.

"The first thing you need to know is that contrary to popular belief gods and goddess don't know everything, so don't ask me what to do about Xena," said Artemis.

"Oh just great," interjected Gabrielle.

Artemis continued, "What you do or do not tell her is up to you. If you want my advice though, tell her. You two have been through a lot, she is not going to let a little godhood come between you."

Gabrielle wasn't so certain but continued to ask Artemis questions, "How do I control my
powers? What if I can't control them? Can I bring back the dead?"

"Slow down Gabrielle, you have an eternity to learn but I will answer your last question first. No, you can only bring back the dead with permission from Hades or you have sufficient power to bypass him. Hades doesn't owe you any favors so don't expect the former and it will take you time to gain enough power to do the latter."

Gabrielle looked a little depressed.

"I know you are thinking about Perdicus, Lyceus and other lost friends and loved ones, but don't go around trying to change the past, think about the future," lectured Artemis. "Look, I have to go but remember this you can control your power by using your imagination, that is something you have in abundance. I will leave you to think about your
new life but cheer up, this is a good thing. I'll be up on Olympus if you want to talk."

"Do I have the powers yet?" questioned Gabrielle.


"How come I don't feel any different?"

Artemis shrugged.

"Beats me, I've been a goddess all my life." Artemis faded away leaving Gabrielle alone in the camp.

'Now what?' thought Gabrielle. She looked around the campsite and her eyes settled on the battered and worn pots and pans. A small grin crossed her face.

"I guess that is a good a start as any."

Gabrielle waved her hand as she had seen the other gods and goddesses do and concentrated on the pots and pans. A shimmering glow appeared above them. When the
glow disappeared the pots and pans appeared brand new.

"Won't Xena be surprised when she sees that?" murmured Gabrielle to herself. 'Oh Hades,
she will start to ask questions and I don't know if I am ready to tell her yet.'

Gabrielle waved her hand again and the pots returned to their previous condition.

'Maybe I better try something less obvious, but still something she will like...I know!'

Gabrielle held out her hand and closed her eyes. When she opened them there was a small
bag containing candied fruit, Xena's favorite. A snap of her fingers and a wine flask

'These should be easy enough to explain without causing too much suspicion.'

Gabrielle felt, more than heard somebody near the edge of the camp. A little concentration and Gabrielle knew it was her friend trying to sneak up on her as usual. She quickly hid the bag and wine flask in her satchel, picked up a small rock and threw it into the darkness.

"Ouch!" rang out from behind the trees.

Gabrielle grinned and called out, "Better luck next time Xena!"

Xena entered the campsite carrying a couple of rabbits. "You are getting better. Sorry,
no pheasant. These will have to do."

"No problem. I should have realized there wouldn't be any pheasant around."

The two ate their dinner quietly talking about simple things. As they settled back to
relax, Gabrielle asked, "Xena, when Ares offered to make you a goddess why did you turn
it down?"

Xena looked up from sharpening her sword, "Many reasons, but one of them was I didn't want to owe him."

"What if there were no strings attached?"

"There always are, Gabrielle."

"Let's just say that there weren't."

"Gabrielle, that kind of power was not meant for mortals. Look what happened to Callisto and Velasca. Can you imagine what kind of damage I could have inflicted as a goddess?"

"You are not like them, not anymore."

"Maybe, but power corrupts." Xena paused for a moment. "Why all the questions? It has been months since Callisto and Velasca fell into the lava and even longer since Ares made the offer."

"Just wondering." Gabrielle sat back and thought about what Xena had said and wondered if she would be corrupted as well. 'No. Callisto and Velasca were evil before becoming goddesses. As much as Xena thinks what that power would do to her,
I am convinced Xena would have made a good goddess. I will do the same with my powers. Only time will tell and I have Xena to help me keep my head on straight.' Gabrielle decided this was starting to get depressing and reached into her satchel.

"Catch!" said Gabrielle as she tossed the bag of candied fruit to Xena.

Xena barely caught the bag before the flask followed. Xena opened up the bag and
smiled. She uncorked the flask and took a long drink. Xena looked at Gabrielle.

"Where did you get these?" asked Xena. "You know I loved candied fruit, but how did
you know about my favorite port?"

Gabrielle was happy she had gotten the port part right. Right up until the time Xena had
uncorked it, the flask had contained nothing but water. She had changed it after picking
up on Xena's thought about what she had hoped it would be.

"I picked them up in the last village with the extra dinars I made telling stories at the inn. I
was going to wait until tomorrow but figured I owed you something after the rock incident."

"Consider us even," replied Xena, enjoying her gift.

They spent the rest of the night enjoying the fruit and port. Xena was so relaxed that she
didn't notice the bag was never empty and the flask always seemed to have enough for
one more swallow.

Chapter 3 "Secrets"

The first thing Gabrielle noticed that had changed about her was that she wasn't tired. She didn't even realize she wasn't until they decided to turn in. When closing her eyes, the realization came she was more energetic than at the beginning of the day.

Yet, the bard was afraid to move. She didn't want Xena suspecting anything as she wasn't quite ready to tell her about the goddess thing.

'She'll probably be mad when she finds out.' Gabrielle mused. 'Not that I had much choice in the matter. It was more like, "Hi. You're a goddess. Have fun. See ya.' Gabrielle sighed as another thought came to her mind. 'I have the powers of a goddess and I'm immortal but I still worry about Xena's opinions more than anything else.' Gabrielle kept her breathing steady as to not alert her friend that she was still awake.

The night passed on slowly, but Xena was up well before dawn.

'How does she do it?' Gabrielle asked herself. 'She gets little sleep at night and is then up way before dawn. No wonder I can never get up before she does.'

When hearing her friend stir, Gabrielle slammed her eyes shut.

Xena walked over to her, kneeled down and looked her over to make sure she was okay. Satisfied, she stood up and went to the nearby stream to fill the waterskins. A short time later, she was back. She packed up Argo then left again to go find breakfast. The minutes dragged on for Gabrielle, who was lying there motionless. Finally, Xena came back from the woods and laid two rabbits down. She started a fire and then skinned and gutted the rabbits. The warrior put them both over the fire and watched the dancing flames envelop the meat. Only when breakfast was done, did she call Gabrielle.

Gabrielle sat up immediately. She had grown quite impatient and was wondering when Xena was going to finally get to waking her. She stood up, folded her blankets, then packed them on Argo. She then took breakfast and sat down to eat.

Xena watched her friend who was acting rather strangely. Usually, it took Gabrielle several calls to get up. Today, she sat up immediately. She also seemed to be wide awake. Gabrielle had never been a morning person. Xena watched her friend eat, or not eat as was the case.

'That's strange,' thought Xena. 'Gabrielle is always ravenous. But this morning, she's barely taken a bite.' Immediately Xena started to worry.

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Fine," answered Gabrielle. 'Not being hungry must be another side effect of being a goddess,' Gabrielle guessed. 'I'm not going to be able to hide this from her long. She knows me too well.' Gabrielle sighed.

'Now's just not the right time to bring it up. Maybe tonight.' The bard knew she was procrastinating but she just couldn't bring herself to tell Xena. 'She's going to be even madder that I hid this from her.'

Xena interrupted Gabrielle's thoughts.

"Well, if you're not going to eat, we might as well get going."

"Where are we heading, anyway?"

"Where the road leads."

"Is there anytime you AREN'T cryptic?"

Xena shrugged.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes.

'You know,' she thought, 'it's going to be really hard not to zap her all the time.'

Xena mounted Argo and watched Gabrielle, puzzled at the strange grin she was wearing.

"What's up with you?" the warrior questioned.

Out loud she only said, "Nothing," but her mind continued to say, 'except I'm a goddess and I could zap the living daylight out of you.'

"See, I must have a different definition of 'nothing.' 'Nothing' means not a thing is going on, but something is definitely going on."

"NOTHING, Xena."

Xena grunted in response. She dug her heels into Argo and began to head down the road. Gabrielle followed closely behind.

Not far from where they had started the day, the two travelers were jumped. About 20 men ambushed them from the bushes. Xena unsheathed her sword and Gabrielle readied her staff. The ruffians began the attack.

The invaders were common raiders and were no match for either Xena or Gabrielle. In about five minutes, Gabrielle had rendered four unconscious and after several blows another had run away. Xena had taken care of ten, leaving five left. Three of them went after Xena and two went for Gabrielle. The warrior-bard easily took one down with a blow to the knees, knocking the man off his feet then a swift blow to the head sent him into oblivion. The other one after Gabrielle thought better of it and took off into the woods.

Gabrielle turned to Xena to see how she was fairing. She had already finished off one man and was working on the other two. A powerful kick to the stomach then face left just one attacker left. He was very large, but obviously not very skilled with the sword. He held his weapon with both hands and brought it high above his head, preparing to make a wild, downward swing at Xena's head.

As the raider's sword came down, Xena's went up for a block. The two swords clanged and Xena took a step back to brace herself from the impact. Unbeknownst to Xena, there was a large stone wedged in the road directly behind her left foot. When stepping back, the foot found the stone and Xena lost her footing. The sword remained in Xena's hand, but it had buried itself into the road. From Xena's position, lying on her back, she didn't have the leverage to pull it out.

The man grinned and raised his sword for the final blow.

Gabrielle concentrated.

Xena reached for her chakram. She poised her hand to let it fly, but for some reason, she couldn't let go of the disc.

The man started to bring the sword down on Xena, but suddenly it dropped from his hand. Xena kicked the raider in the gut, sending him flying through the air. A tree stopped his flight and he slumped to the ground.

Xena stood up and pulled her sword out of the ground.

Gabrielle sighed in relief. She knew Xena wouldn't have been hurt, that wasn't the issue when she used her powers. She used her powers because she didn't want the attacker to get seriously hurt.

Xena walked over to Gabrielle.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm good," Gabrielle replied.

"It was weird, Gabrielle. My chakram just stuck in my hand. And did you see that guy? He just dropped his sword for no reason. I'd bet my boots a god has something to do with this."

"A god? What would make you think this has anything to do with the gods?" Gabrielle laughed nervously.

Chapter 4 "Letting the cat out of the bag"

Xena raised an eyebrow. She sheathed her sword and walked over to Argo and picked up the reigns. With Argo in tow, the warrior started again down the well-traveled road.

"You coming?"

"Yeah, yeah. I guess you wouldn't feel like telling me where we are going?" Gabrielle began the trek down the dirt path and was soon at Xena's side.

"At the moment, we're heading toward Syria."

"Syria? What business do we have in Syria?"

"We're low on supplies, aren't we?" returned Xena.

"So that's not are final destination?" continued Gabrielle hoping to eventually get an answer.

"We're constantly traveling, Gabrielle. We don't have a FINAL destination."

"You're not going to tell me, are you?"

"Tell you what?"

"Where we're going."

"I told you. We're going to Syria."

"After that."

"I told you that too. Where the road takes us."

"So we don't have a specific destination?"

"I never said that."

Gabrielle pounded her staff against the ground in frustration. 'This is really starting to annoy me.'

"Fine. Are we close?"

"To Syria? Yes. We should be there by the end of today."

"To 'where the road takes us'?"

"You can't just let it go, can you?" Xena half-smiled. Their ultimate destination would be Amazonia.

Ephiny had sent her a message a few days ago explaining that a big party had been planned for the anniversary of Gabrielle becoming queen. Either Xena would bring her or she would be sent for. It was preferred that the warrior bring her because it was supposed to be a surprise. Xena had agreed to bring the queen and to keep it a secret. Eventually, Gabrielle would realize where they were going, but she wanted to hide the fact for as long as possible. Besides, she was having fun playing with the young bard's mind.

"If I didn't, would it get me anywhere?"


"Fine." Gabrielle walked in silence for a few minutes before speaking again. "I have a riddle for you."



"This isn't that Sphinx one, is it?"

"No, it's a different one."

"All right. I'm listening."

"Okay, here it is:

Often talked of, but never seen,
Ever coming, yet never been,
Daily looked for, never here,
Still approaching, coming near.
Thousands for it's visit wait
But alas for their fate,
Tho' they expect me to appear,
They will never find me here.

What is it?"

"Often talked of but never seen?" repeated Xena.

"That's what I said."


"No. It's just like you to think of something like that."

"Call it a character flaw."

Xena and Gabrielle reached the top of the hill and saw Syria below. To their horror, the village was in flames.

Xena mounted Argo and headed toward the village as fast as Argo's legs could take her.

Gabrielle ran as fast as she could, following her friend.

Xena reached the village and, by the collar, grabbed the nearest person she could find. It happened to be a man, probably in his late thirties. He donned a full, dark beard and was mostly bald. Obviously just a peasant, his clothes were worn and held many patches from old tears. He looked at the warrior woman with startled, pale blue eyes.

"What happened here?" she asked the man.

"It's b-b-been rather hot lately, and we've had a drought. So though w-w-we're not exactly positive that it's the reason, we th-think that it was just caused by how dry it has been.

"Great," Xena muttered. She went off to join a bucket line that had formed to try to put out the fire. Gabrielle also joined a few seconds later.

Eventually, Xena gave up trying to put out the fire. It had gotten way out of hand and they wouldn't be able to stop it. Besides, there was a more pressing matter. She ran over to Gabrielle.

"Gabrielle, see those houses over there?" Xena pointed to a group of about four different houses, all burning quickly. "I just talked to a villager and he says he thought he heard someone screaming from that direction."

"Lets go then," Gabrielle stated.

The two rushed into the first house and came out a minute later. They had two girls and their mother with them.

The second and third house proved to be empty. They rushed into the final house and found no one was there, either. When they turned to leave, the ceiling came crashing down in front of them; trapping them inside the burning inferno.

'Great. We're going to die and there wasn't even anyone in here,' thought Gabrielle. 'Wait! I'm a goddess. I guess in all the chaos I kind of forgot that. Okay, I won't die, but Xena will. I got to think of something fast.' She looked up and saw the sky where the ceiling used to be.

'Man, if only I could fly. Hmmm. Maybe I can do something better than that.' Gabrielle noticed the overcast sky. 'I'll make it rain.' She stretched out her arm and hand; palm down and fingers stretched toward the sky. She willed the water droplets to fall.

"Gabrielle? What are you doing? We gotta find a way out of here." Xena's eyes searched her surroundings for any means of escape.

"Just watch, Xena."

The clouds moved away, revealing a brightly shining sun.

"Oops." Gabrielle grimaced. Her mind was racing, trying to think of something else. An idea entered her mind and she hoped she had the power to do it.

Again, Gabrielle's arm was outstretched. This time, her palm faced upward. The flames around her started to swirl. They spun around as if a whirlwind. Gabrielle's hair was wildly blowing by some imaginary wind and only her tiptoes touched the ground. Xena stood watching, not sure what to think.

The fire from the house had all gathered into a small ball that was hovering above Gabrielle's hand. The house was charred, but any and all flames were gone.

As if in a trance, the newly-turned goddess stepped out into the middle of the village. All the flames were attracted to the ball of fire as if it were a magnet. They joined the ball and it grew until its circumference was the length of a man. Now, it hovered over Gabrielle herself.

The astonished town gathered around the girl and the fire ball. Not a whisper came from the crowd. Each waited in anticipation of what might happen next.

Gabrielle didn't notice the people. All of her concentration was spent on keeping the fire in a tight ball. She jerked her head upward and the ball flew skyward. Everyone watched it until it was out of site.

Gabrielle sighed in relief. For the first time she noticed all the people around her and blushed in self-consciousness. She then noticed the towering Xena striding purposefully toward her.


Chapter 5 "Sharing Secrets"

"Would you care to explain what just happened?" asked Xena, eyeing Gabrielle.

Gabrielle just looked at the ground, not really wanting to have this conversation. The
villagers started to head towards the two heroes, hoping for an explanation for the miracle
that they had just witnessed.

"Well Gabrielle?" continued Xena waiting for an answer, refusing to budge from her
position directly in front of the bard. The crowd was getting thicker and seemed to know
that one of the two women had an answer to what had just occurred.

"Let's talk about this some where else, Xena." Gabrielle finally replied and quickly headed
toward Argo. To Xena's surprise, Gabrielle actually mounted the horse and waited for
Xena to join her.

'Whatever it is, it must be big for her to want to get out of here THAT fast,' thought Xena who quickly mounted in front of Gabrielle and spurred Argo on, leaving the bewildered crowd in the dust. They rode for nearly an hour before Xena reined Argo and dismounted, indicating for Gabrielle to do the same.

Both stood on the ground now and Xena stood in front of Gabrielle, allowing no means for escape.

"Out with it. Now, Gabrielle!" Xena nearly shouted as Gabrielle poked at the dirt with her

"Why don't we set up camp first?" stalled Gabrielle.

"Quit stalling."

"Whose stalling?" asked Gabrielle innocently as she proceeded to take their gear off of

"You are. Now, tell me what is going on."

"Over near the brook looks like a good place to camp."

"Okay, fine. We'll make camp first. Then, you are going to tell me everything. Right?"

Xena waited patiently for an answer. She waited a little longer and then repeated louder,

"Right. Geez, you don't have to yell."

Xena set up camp in record time. Gabrielle tried to go as slowly as possible, but Xena wouldn't allow it. Any time she was caught dawdling, the warrior very strongly suggested she got moving unless willing to suffer the consequences. Finally, everything was completed and a fire was started.

"Aren't you going to hunt?" inquired Gabrielle looking for every possible chance to avoid
the upcoming confrontation.

Xena gave Gabrielle a dirty look but didn't move a muscle.

'I guess its now or never,' thought Gabrielle. She took a deep breath and said four simple, earth-shattering words.

"I am a goddess."

Xena's eyes grew very wide and she just stood there for a moment. Quickly, she regained her senses.

"Mind repeating that?" asked Xena, not sure if she had heard correctly.

"I am a goddess," Gabrielle said again, crossing her arms.

"WHAT? When? How? Why? Who? Where?" Xena stammered, not making much sense.

"That is pretty much what I asked when Artemis told me," responded Gabrielle as she
smiled, happy that, for once, she had caught her friend off balance. Her smile faded when
she saw the expression on Xena's face.

Xena was not happy.

"When were you planning on telling me this little secret of yours?" demanded Xena.

"I was waiting for the proper time."

"And when would that be? When Tartarus freezes over? When boars learn to fly?"


"Well, what? Don't you think I should know I'm traveling around with a goddess?"
shouted Xena.

"I didn't tell you because I knew you would be angry that I was a goddess and would want me to leave." Gabrielle shouted back. She turned away from Xena and started to run into the woods. A strong hand fell on her shoulder and spun her around. Gabrielle's hands started crackling with energy as she felt her anger rising. She looked into Xena's eyes, but instead of the anger she expected, she saw a hurt expression.

"I am not angry that you are a goddess, I'm just upset you didn't tell me."

"I know, I'm sorry." Gabrielle sighed. "I was afraid you would tell me to leave."

Xena pulled Gabrielle over to a log. She pushed her friend gently down forcing her to sit. The ex-warlord then sat down next to her.

"That never crossed my mind, I assure you. I wish you had told me right away, but now that its out in the open, let's hear the whole story."

"It maybe hard to believe, but there really isn't that much to tell. Last night, Artemis
appeared and told me the gods on Olympus decided that to punish Velasca and Callisto,
they would be stripped of godhood. Such power has to go somewhere. Half of it would go into nature, and the other half into a mortal." Gabrielle pointed to herself with her forefinger and let out a small smile. "She told me that I was chosen and if I had any questions to see her on Olympus. That's basically it."

"Let me guess, you conjured up the fruit and port to test your powers."

"Well, I started out with pots and pans, but I figured you would notice that right off."

"That explains why you got up right away this morning and didn't eat much. I was getting
worried you might be coming down with something. However, immortality never crossed my mind." Xena let out a little laugh.

"I spent the entire night pretending to be asleep. You took forever to wake me up!"
Gabrielle gave Xena a grin, knowing that it usually took three or four tries to get the lazy
bard up.

"At least you have control of your powers."

Gabrielle blushed, "Not exactly. I did all right with the fruit and port, but I think the fire
was more out of desperation than knowing what I was doing. You should have seen some
of my earlier experiments."

"Wait a minute!" exclaimed Xena. "Do you mean to tell me that we survived that inferno
by LUCK!"

Gabrielle shrugged and said thoughtfully, "I guess if I waved my hand the wrong way I
could have ended up turning everybody into candied fruit. I know I have that down cold."

Xena blinked and began laughing.

"Oh, you think that's funny do you, Warrior Princess? Well try this on for size." Gabrielle
waved her hand and a bucket appeared over Xena's head. Xena had enough time to look
up before the bucket tilted over. She closed her eyes, expecting to get drenched. When she opened them, a dry, empty bucket came crashing down and landed on her head. Xena looked over at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle gave Xena a nervous grin, "Oops, uh, I guess I waved the wrong hand. Ah, don't
bother to get up. Xena, let's talk about this." Gabrielle took off running toward the brook.

Suddenly she was flying through the air.

"I can fly! I can fly!" shouted Gabrielle.


"I can get thrown into a stream," muttered Gabrielle spitting out water. She looked at the
bank and saw Xena with a smug look on her face.

"Maybe you're related to Poseidon," remarked Xena, still grinning. "Truce?"


"Let's dry you off before you catch a cold."

Gabrielle nodded in agreement but then paused, "Wait a minute. I can't catch a cold."

"Oh, right"

She swam to shore. Once standing again on land, she decided to see if she couldn't get herself dry.

Gabrielle waved her hand and her clothes became dry but her hair was still a soaking mess.
She glanced at Xena, "Not one word."

Xena suppressed the smirk that threatened to creep up her face.

"How about this one? Dinner." She began to walk back to camp, but suddenly stopped. She turned back to Gabrielle. "Sorry, I forgot you don't have an appetite anymore."

"Actually, I figured out how to turn it on and off."

"That would have come in handy the past 2 years."

Gabrielle just shook her head not wanting to agree but couldn't really disagree.

"I guess I have time to go hunting. It's not too dark yet." said Xena looking into the

"My treat. Your turn to pick."

"Are you sure about this?" asked Xena, skeptical. She thought about Gabrielle shouting she could fly and the mess her hair was still in after being thrown into the stream.

"Just give me a second to concentrate."

Gabrielle pointed to a small clearing, closed her eyes and snapped her fingers. A big flash
temporarily blinded Xena, but when she looked again there was a small cabin in the middle
of what had been an empty field.

Gabrielle clapped her hands with glee and ran to the cabin, "Come on!"

"What about our stuff?"

"Already taken care off," replied Gabrielle.

Xena looked back at their campsite and saw nothing, not even the campfire. Argo trotted
up to her. Xena mounted and followed Gabrielle to the cabin. Xena left Argo outside and
entered the cabin.

"You forgot a stable for Argo," joked Xena.

"Did you check out back?" responded Gabrielle with a grin.

Xena shook her head and headed out to check.

'I know I didn't see one when I approached the cabin.'

Xena turned the corner and sure enough there was a stable big enough for Argo and
enough water and feed for the war-horse.

'That little...She did this on purpose to make me think I'm seeing things.'

Xena left Argo and reentered the cabin, "Real cute, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle just smiled. "What do you want for dinner?"

"Let's keep it simple."

"Simple? Come on, now is the time to get fancy. Name it, anything you want."



"How about starting with a big mug of ale the way my mother makes it back home."

"One mug of mom's ale coming up!" announced Gabrielle. She held out her hand and a
big mug of ale, complete with the initials of the tavern Xena's mother runs, appeared. She
handed it to Xena. Xena cautiously sniffed the contents of the mug and carefully tasted it.

"Not bad, not bad at all."

Far away at a tavern in Amphipolis, a customer shouted, "What in Hades happened to
my ale?"


"Since you are treating, how about a big roasted goose complete with stuffing and gravy,
some boiled potatoes, fresh garden salad, what else..."

"Slow down, let's see...a goose. My aunt makes the best roasted goose this side of Rome.
I don't think she will mind my borrowing her recipe."

Gabrielle waved her hand towards the table and a huge goose appeared smoking hot.

Near the outskirts of Poteidaia, an elderly woman's voice rings out "Who took my

Gabrielle and Xena spent the better part of the night trying out new things. They tried to get as much practice in as possible while enjoying the results at the same time. Needless to say, the cream croasus was wonderful but the pickled yak brains left something to be desired. Xena eventually went to sleep as Gabrielle created some scrolls and started to chronicle their latest adventure.

Chapter 6 "There's a new goddess in town"

"Wake up sleepy head, come on, waky waky," came from a woman's voice in hushed tones, as if convincing a small child it was time to get up.

A groan came from underneath the covers of a well worn blanket. The blanket was pulled up even farther to prevent any light from disturbing its owner.

"Let's go, it's a bright and beautiful day with all sorts of adventure waiting for us," continued the annoyingly cheerful voice.

Another groan and the body under the covers turned away from the speaker hoping that would be enough to discourage her.

"Come on, up and at 'em you lazy warrior," Gabrielle said in a normal tone of voice as she shook Xena's shoulder.

"Mlfhsthbm, mypthsonnth GO AWAY," was the garbled reply as Xena batted away Gabrielle's hand.

'Now I know how Xena feels trying to wake me up,' Gabrielle starting to think of some creative ways to get Xena up but thought better of it. She was still too unsure of the understanding between them and didn't want to betray Xena's trust by abusing her powers.

"Hey, you were the one who told me you wanted to get an early start. It's not my fault you had too much to drink last night."

At that, Xena pulled the covers off of her head and glared at the bard. "Yes it is, every time I finished my drink you conjured up another one."

With that Xena pulled the covers back over her head and closed her eyes praying Gabrielle would be quiet.

"Oh, and I suppose you only kept drinking them to avoid hurting my feelings?" Gabrielle said with smug look on her face.

Xena decided she better get up and looked at Gabrielle. She was already cleaned up and ready to go with everything packed.

"Let me get cleaned up. I must look a mess."

"Here, let me," replied Gabrielle and started to point at Xena.

Xena eyes went wide as she shouted, "NO! No, I think I can manage on my own."

It was too late, though. Before she could say anything, there were a series of consecutive flashes. The first one left Xena drenched from head to toe. In the second flash, she was all lathered up with soap. The final flash soaked her again before a brisk, warm breeze dried her off . Xena stood there cleaner than she had felt in a long time, in clean leathers and polished armor. Xena was about to say something to that effect when she felt her hair, completely soaked still.

"Do you have something against dry hair?"

"I'm working on it; I'm working on it. Mine had to dry out on its own this morning as well."

Xena sighed and packed up the rest of her things.

"What do you want for breakfast, Xena?"

"Something light, after last night I don't think I could hold anything heavy down."

"Here." Gabrielle handed her a glass of juice and some fresh bread.

The two headed out to the stable to get Argo and started back down the path.

"Are you going to leave the cabin up?" asked Xena looking back.

"Yeah, just need to add one thing," Gabrielle replied as she snapped her fingers. On the door to the cabin appeared a small sign with neatly printed letters:

All travelers welcome,
just clean up after you are done.

The two continued their journey down the well traveled path.

"Where are we going now that we have passed Syria?"

"East," was Xena's still cryptic reply.

"You know, I could just peek inside your head and find out," Gabrielle stated a matter a factly. As soon as the words word out of her mouth, she regretted saying them.

"I'm sorry, Xena. I would never violate your privacy like that."

"I know, Gabrielle. Look, I promise there is a specific destination in mind, but I can't tell you yet."

"Amazonia," Gabrielle responded knowingly.

Xena shot her a dirty look.

Gabrielle smiled, "It's the only place that makes sense within a couple days journey from here."

Before Xena could reply, a man came flying across the path and landed in the bushes next to them. Xena reached down to help him up. Her hand grasped a familiar gauntlet. She smiled as she pulled him up.

"Hercules, what have you been 'up' to?" Xena asked with a smile.

"You know me Xena, always finding trouble," replied the son of Zeus. "What brings you to these parts?"

"Avoiding trouble, but finding it none the less. What happened?"

"A hydra, big one."

Xena looked in the direction that Hercules had just come from and sighed. She hated monsters. She could handle warlords, raiders, slavers, thugs; anything but monsters.

"Let's get it over with then. Gabrielle, wait here."

Before Gabrielle could say anything, Xena and Hercules were running into the woods. She followed along at a slower pace, keeping track of her friends by picturing them in her mind. Finally, she made it to a clearing and saw them fighting a huge hydra. It was by far the largest hydra she had ever seen, of course she had only seen one other but that was beside the point. Its neck was the length of several men which gave it an advantage. What the head couldn't reach the tail at the opposite end could, swinging around to knock its opponents down. Both heroes were having a hard time staying alive, much less stopping it. The hydra would snap first at one opponent and then at the other. Luckily, Hercules never carried a sword so it only had one head and Xena knew better than to use hers. One head was enough, though. Gabrielle sat down on a log and watched the fight with an amused expression on her face. Hercules glanced back to make sure she was safe. He couldn't figure out why she was just sitting there.

'Gabrielle is usually jumping up and down yelling for Xena to be careful. Something is different about her, but I can't put my finger it.'

The hydra took a snap at Xena which she barely dodged. Hercules grabbed a large branch and brandished it like an oversized club and started beating the hydra back. Xena pulled out her chakram and threw it at the hydra.

"Xena! Don't cut off its head!" shouted Hercules.

The chakram flew by the head and cut open the belly of the monster causing blood to fly everywhere. The chakram bounced off a nearby boulder and returned to Xena's hand.

"I have dealt with hydra's before."

Before she was finished speaking though the hydra was already healed and moving toward her at a rapid pace. Xena dove to avoid it but not before it grazed her shoulder with its tail. The battle raged on for several minutes with neither side able to get an upper hand. The hydra was too powerful for Xena and Hercules to destroy and the heroes were to nimble to be easily killed.

Gabrielle was getting bored. 'Wait here Gabrielle. I am more than capable of taking care of myself. In fact...' a mischievous grin appeared on Gabrielle's face. She closed her eyes and concentrated. The hydra began to shrink in size, growing smaller with each passing second. Hercules just stood there not knowing what was going on. Xena took a quick look at Gabrielle muttered, "Show off," and stepped on the hydra that was now the size of a mouse.

Gabrielle jumped off the log and ran over to Xena and Hercules. Hercules was still trying to sort out what had just happened.

"What in the gods names just happened?" asked a bewildered Hercules.

"No, not gods just one little goddess," responded Xena.

"Which one?"

Xena pointed to Gabrielle who stood there looking innocent, picking dirt from underneath her finger nails.

"Do you want to tell him or shall I, Gabrielle?"

Gabrielle launched into the story about becoming a goddess and the past couple of days she and Xena had experienced.

As Gabrielle told the story, Xena made a mental reminder to herself to have a long talk about using her powers with out letting Xena know. She surprised Hercules, which could have been fatal had the hydra struck while he was standing in shock.

After it was over, Hercules gave her a big hug and said, "Welcome to the family."

"Thanks, but I don't think I qualify as a full goddess yet, maybe something like a goddess in training. I still don't have complete control over my powers yet."

"You took care of the hydra easily enough."

"Yeah, but don't ask her to clean your hair," interjected Xena.

Hercules gave her a confused look as Gabrielle giggled. The threesome walked back to the road and headed their separate ways.

"That was easy," said Gabrielle as they continued their trip to Amazonia.

Xena looked at her but didn't reply. 'Too easy. I know eventually Hercules and I would have been able to defeat that hydra but she did it without any effort. If she keeps this up, what will I do? How will I make amends for the past, if with a wave of her hand she can defeat whatever foe we face? Not to mention protect her from other gods with more power and experience.'

"Are you all right, Xena?"

"Yeah, just a little tired."

"Here, this might help," Gabrielle handed her a big mug full of chilled water and an apple.

"Thanks," Xena grabbed the apple but nearly dropped the mug as a shooting pain hit her shoulder.

"Xena!" shouted Gabrielle as she went to help her friend. "Why didn't you tell me your shoulder was hurt so bad?"

"It's just dislocated. It hurts but there is nothing I can do about that but wait."

"Maybe there is nothing you can do, but I can," Gabrielle touched Xena's injured shoulder. Her hands began to glow and Xena could feel the shoulder settling back into place and the pain subsiding.

"Thanks again."

"What are friends for?" responded Gabrielle as they continued their journey.

'She is really starting to get used to her powers. In a few days, it will become second nature to her, then what happens? I can't continue my quest with her along as a goddess and I won't ask her to leave. I better figure something out fast before she picks up on it. I'll talk with her this evening.'

"It's not even midday and look at all the fun we've had so far. I can't wait too see what happens next," Gabrielle said while starting to skip along the path. Xena just let out low groan and shook her head. It was going to be a long day.

Chapter 7 "Splitting up?"

"You know, Xena; I could just blink us both into the Amazon village and we wouldn't have to waste time traveling."

That idea quickly caught Xena's attention. "No offense, Gabrielle; but I don't think that you have a strong enough handle on your powers yet to be risking my life."

"It was just a suggestion."

Xena and Gabrielle trudged on all day. Gabrielle chattered on about her surroundings, beginnings of stories, and anything else that came to mind. For a moment, Xena could believe it all was business as usual. But, her heart knew that it wasn't and it was eating away at her. This situation was totally new to her and she hated being in an unfamiliar setting.

Gabrielle chattered away the whole day, but in the back of her mind dark thoughts lurked.

'Do I want to live forever?' she asked herself. 'Do I really want to live while all my friends and family die? I've lost Perdicus already. I still have nightmares about that.' Mentally, Gabrielle shuddered. On the outside, she was still talking away happily. Being a goddess, it was a lot easier to have two things going on in her head at once.

'And what about Xena? I don't think I can handle losing her again. She promised me she wouldn't die on me ever again but that was before I became immortal. What a mess! What am I going to do?' Gabrielle tried to shake her dismal thoughts but failed. The entire day was spent asking herself questions she couldn't answer.

As darkness approached, they stopped to make camp.

"Are we sleeping in a cabin again tonight?" Xena asked, half-sarcastic. This whole goddess thing had her in a really bad mood.

"No." Gabrielle replied not picking up on Xena's tone of voice. She waved her hand and the whole camp was set up. A fire burned brightly in the center with a rabbit roasting over it.

"I'm not hungry."

"Fine." Gabrielle waved her hand again and the rabbit disappeared.

"Do you have to do that?"

"Do what?" Gabrielle inquired.

"Do you have to use your powers to do everything?" Xena asked waving her hands in imitation of Gabrielle.

"You said you weren't hungry, if you want..."

"No, I'm not hungry. It's not just that. You made camp using them."

"What? You like making camp?"


"Then what's the problem?" Gabrielle threw her hands up in confusion.

"You're just a novice in the ways of being a goddess."

"It's just a rabbit and our belongings. I doubt I'd do anything to get you killed."

"What about with the hydra?"

"So, now we get to what's really bugging you." Gabrielle sighed. She sat down on a log and watched Xena pace around her.

"What if you messed up, Gabrielle? Giving baths and making a few campfires is one thing. Dealing with a hydra is totally different. If something went wrong, you could have gotten me or Hercules killed."

"Why don't you say what's really bothering you."

Xena stopped pacing and faced Gabrielle. "That IS what's bothering me."

Gabrielle jumped up and got in Xena's face. "Why don't you just come out and say it? You can't stand not being the hero."

"What?" Xena couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"The Warrior Princess didn't get to save the day and you can't stand it."

"That has nothing to do with it."

"Doesn't it?" Gabrielle asked crossing her arms.

"No, it doesn't. I just don't want to end up dead because of your little experiments."

"My experiments?!! I was saving your butt."

"And I'm thankful for that..."

"You have a funny way of showing it."

"Hercules and I would've taken care of that monster eventually. Was it really worth my life to prove that you had the power to defeat it all by yourself?"

"You were never in any danger!"

"You don't know that. I've seen you make mistakes."

"FINE. I'll keep my powers out of your little battles."

"GOOD." Xena walked off in a huff toward her bedroll. She laid down and tried to sleep.

Gabrielle sat back down on the log and tried to control her temper. She was mad at Xena, but she didn't want to hurt her badly or kill her and she could feel the energy welling up in her hands. She decided to get a few more scrolls worth of writing down.

The goddess could have just waved her hand and anything she wanted would have been written on the scrolls. But, for some reason, she chose to write it all down manually. It felt too weird not to. If she didn't write it herself, it didn't feel like it was hers.

Gabrielle was also trying to keep things as normal as possible. Gabrielle didn't like getting into arguments with her best friend and, from her point of view, being a goddess was tearing them apart.

So the girl sat by the campfire, cross-legged and squinting because of limited light, trying to write down all her thoughts as they came into her head.

Time seemed to stop and the night went on forever. Eventually, Gabrielle put quill and parchment down and stared at the blazing fire, crackling in the night. It was mesmerizing watching the fluid motion of the flames. Yet, frustration did not allow her to be released into serenity. She closed her eyes and deeply inhaled the cool, night air. Her mind started to wander.

'I think the novelty has worn off on this goddess thing. I wonder if I can get a refund?' She leaned back and stared at the stars, shimmering peacefully in the sky. 'Ah, but I can do so much good." The girl-turned-goddess sighed. 'And as long as others benefit, I can set aside my own problems.' She shook her head as she thought to herself, 'Practically everyone in Greece would love to have what I have. Talk about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Am I such a ninny that I'm afraid of a little change? Things won't have to be different. Wait, that's not true. We'll get better living conditions and Xena won't have to worry about me so much anymore.' She hugged her knees. 'Quit fooling yourself, Gabrielle. Things will never be the same again.' Only pride kept her from crying.

Sensing a presence in front of her, Gabrielle reopened her eyes and discovered Artemis standing before her.

"You look confused. Why haven't you come to Olympus?"

Gabrielle stood up and dusted off the back of her skirt.

"For one thing, I'm not really sure how to do that and I'd rather not blink myself into oblivion. Secondly, like you said, the gods don't know everything. Only Ares knows how it is to be a mortal and I refuse to take any advice from him." Gabrielle crossed her arms. "What do you want?"

Artemis raised her hands in surrender. "Whoa! Take it easy, I just came to talk to you. There are some discussions going on at Olympus, but no one really knows what to do right now. This is the first time we've had anything like this happen."

"What discussions?" Gabrielle inquired.

"Well, for one thing, what are you going to be?"

"Excuse me?"

"You are going to be the goddess of...what?" Artemis asked looking at Gabrielle for an answer.

"Oh. I hadn't even thought about that."

"Start. We could use some suggestions, believe me. I think Ares was the one who suggested you be the goddess of 'annoying blondes,' but personally, I think that Aphrodite already has that covered. Between Apollo and the Muses the bard department is all wrapped up and the Amazons are mine. Oh, while I'm thinking of it, I wanted to warn you that you must be careful. At this point, you don't have any god really hating you, but you've seen what Hercules has to go through with Hera."

Gabrielle nodded.

Artemis lectured on, "It's real easy to step on the others' toes and good temperament is not something the gods are known for. You must understand the gravity of the situation."

"I understand."

"Good. It seems that, until you can hold your own, I've been appointed your guardian."

Gabrielle's eyebrows shot up but she said nothing.

"Obviously, Gabrielle, you're not having fun down here. Though I've been putting it off so you and Xena could talk, you need to come to Olympus."


"Now would be preferable."

"Okay, let me just talk to Xe..."

Suddenly, Artemis and Gabrielle were gone from the camp.

Xena had awoken when Artemis appeared. Her sixth sense had told her someone else was present and she was immediately alert. Still angry at Gabrielle, she decided not to let her know she was awake. The warrior was listening to Artemis and Gabrielle's conversation when they suddenly disappeared.

Xena leapt to her feet and her sword was drawn, but the two goddesses were gone.

"Great. Everything's gone to Hades." She was starting to like her friend being a goddess less and less. It was too much responsibility to put on one person. Plus, she didn't like the idea of the bard having to deal with the gods on a regular basis. They couldn't be trusted. Worst of all for Xena, Gabrielle being a goddess put her in dangers that Xena couldn't protect her from. Mortal dangers she could handle, but what could she do to protect the girl from all the gods? She resheathed her sword and sat down. The only thing she could think to do was wait.

Chapter 8 "Two roads"

Gabrielle stood in awe at the sight before her. Myths, legends, ancient stories; none had prepared her for the things she was seeing on Mt. Olympus. The entire city seemed to float on the clouds. There were marble buildings as white as new fallen snow lining the main street. Artemis pointed to a nearby palace.

"That one is mine and I cleared a space next to it for yours for the time being."

Gabrielle looked at the palace Artemis had indicated.

"I get my own palace?" asked Gabrielle in wonder.

"It's temporary location, you can put your own up wherever you wish after you complete your training. First things first though, let's get your palace up."

"How do I do that?"

"Close your eyes and focus on a place that makes you comfortable."

Gabrielle closed her eyes and concentrated. A form slowly began to take shape. Gradually, it became solid. Gabrielle heard a muffled giggle and she opened her eyes. Next to Artemis's palace stood a quaint little country cottage resembling her parents' home back in Poteidaia. Gabrielle glanced at Artemis who was still trying to hide her amusement. Artemis composed herself and looked at Gabrielle. "Let me guess, home sweet home?"

"Good guess. Let me try again." Gabrielle closed her eyes again and pictured a castle similar to the ones she had heard in stories. Gradually a new building took the place of the small house. She opened her eyes to a large, beautiful palace standing next to the one Artemis owned. This time Artemis nodded in approval.

"Now that we have your place taken care of, we can move on to other things like your training."

"Let's get started. The sooner I'm trained, the sooner I can return."

"First, we need to see Zeus. Remember, you need to figure out what you are going to be the goddess of so we can fine tune you powers to that area." Artemis gently turned Gabrielle toward the large temple at the end of the main street and started walking. As they passed the various houses, Artemis pointed out the owners.

"That one belongs to Apollo," indicated Artemis. Before them stood a large structure with a gilded roof and radiant columns that seemed to glow. A large open garden could be seen between the columns. "You'll meet him later. He is looking forward to spending time with you. You are one of his favorite bards."


Artemis nodded and continued to walk. They approached another building. This one was as dark as Apollo's was bright. It wasn't so much that it was physically dark, but gave off a ominous aura that made it look out of place among the glittering palaces of Olympus. "Over there is Hades's place. He doesn't spend much time there. He says he's too busy in the Underworld and only keeps it for formal occasions. Persephone is constantly trying to get him to at least put in a garden, but he says it would be bad for his image."

They approached another palace even brighter than Apollo's, but decorated with all sorts of flowers. Glancing in the windows, Gabrielle could see more flowers and tons and tons of mirrors. Artemis quickly walked by without commenting on it. Gabrielle noticed and asked, "Who lives there?"

"Aphrodite," rapidly replied Artemis, who kept on walking.

"Is there some reason you didn't want to tell me?"

"You're a little young to be going in a place like that. Maybe when you are older, say a couple of centuries."

"Why?" Gabrielle asked innocently.

"Look, just promise me if you go there you'll close your eyes before entering."

Gabrielle gave her a look of complete confusion, but nodded her head.

They finally made it to Zeus's temple. Like most of the other temples or palaces that were on Olympus it was made of a white marble that seemed to glow on its own. It was by far the largest building Gabrielle had ever seen. It was several stories high and had wide steps cut out of the marble that made their way to enormous golden doors, much larger than on a normal building. As they neared the doors swung open without being touched and revealed a throne room. They entered and Gabrielle could see a throne at the end of the room. She took a good look at the throne. It appeared to be made out of clouds with lightning crackling all around it. On the throne sat the King of the Gods, Zeus himself. Gabrielle took the time during the long walk to the throne to take a good look at the most powerful of the Olympic gods. Gabrielle was surprised that he looked pretty much like she had always expected; old, but not too old, with a long white beard, and white robes. He was hunched over reading a scroll and apparently bored by its contents. She could hardly wait to meet some of the other gods and see what they looked like.

As they neared the throne a loud voice bellowed out, "Well, well, it's about time you decided to come up."

The King of the Gods put down the scroll and got up to get a better look at Gabrielle. He circled the young goddess as if inspecting her.

"Uh, sorry your godship, I mean your majesty, um...." Gabrielle fumbled for the right words, not knowing the proper use of titles between gods.

"Relax, Gabrielle. Zeus will do fine, we don't worship each other." Zeus stopped pacing and sat back down on his throne. Several of the other gods and goddess filtered into the room to meet the new goddess. General introductions were made with some being nothing more than a nod before leaving to do whatever gods do in their spare time. Eventually, only a handful of gods and goddesses remained.

"Have you decided what to be the goddess of?" asked Zeus.

Gabrielle thought for a moment. "People used to say I was always kind to others, so how about the Goddess of Kindness?"

"Not bad, not bad. But, you are entitled to other areas of influence. How about we start you off with two and you can work you way up? Suggestions anybody?"

Ares cleared his throat. "Yes, how about the Goddess of Irritating..."

"That joke is getting old," interrupted Athena. "How about the Goddess of Just Causes? You have fought for enough of them in you mortal life."

Gabrielle blushed and said, "I don't know about that, but I guess it will work."

Zeus nodded his head and proclaimed. "Good, it's settled. Gabrielle, Goddess of Kindness and Just Causes."

"Now that we have figured that out, I can work on my training and get back to Xena."

Ares snickered.

Gabrielle was about to ask what he thought was so funny when Zeus asked Artemis. "Didn't you tell her?"

"Not exactly," replied Artemis.

Gabrielle's face darkened and she turned towards Artemis. "What do you mean 'not exactly' ?"

"Your training will take over a century. By the time you are finished, Xena will be long dead."

"You never told me it would take THAT long!" Gabrielle shouted and stomped her foot on the ground. The other gods seemed amused until they felt the tiny tremors in the building.

"Calm down, Gabrielle. You just caused Mt. Olympus to shake with that little outburst. Think about what would have happened on earth if you had been down there." Artemis put her hands on Gabrielle's shoulders and waited until she calmed down.

Zeus walked over to Gabrielle and said, "Humanity can not afford to have an untrained goddess running around. Look at how much damage Callisto and Velasca caused. I'm sorry about Xena, but sometimes the needs of others take precedence over our own."

"Xena calls that the 'greater good'. I guess in the long run I can do a lot more if I know what I am doing."

"Xena can be pretty smart, for a mortal," Zeus replied with a small smile.

"I'll stay but only if you promise me that no gods will interfere with Xena."

"I can't do that," said Zeus as he shook his head. "The gods are free to do whatever they want as long as they obey certain rules."

"As long as I keep traveling with her no god is going to try anything. With me stuck up here, she is open game for any god with a grudge or personal interest in her." At that, Gabrielle looked over at Ares who stood there trying to look innocent.

"If you won't promise to protect her than at least agree that if any god tries anything I can intervene on her behalf."

Zeus stroked his long white beard and waited a moment to consider this request. "Very well, should any god try to influence her destiny, you may return to help her. I do this only if you agree that you won't leave Olympus until I say you are ready. I know how much Xena means to you, so I will allow you to return twice more. Once to say good-bye before you begin your training, and once when it is her turn to cross over to the other side."

"Unless somebody interferes," Gabrielle interjected.

"Yes, unless that happens first."

"All right, I agree," said Gabrielle reluctantly. "I don't like it, but I do agree."


Back in the land of mortals, Xena sat poking the campfire with a stick. 'I hope she comes back soon. We need to clear the air between us.'

"Miss me?" came from voice behind Xena. Xena spun around and saw Gabrielle in a dazzling white dress. Gabrielle seemed to glow in the firelight like the goddess she was.

Xena shrugged as if not caring, but Gabrielle could see her true feelings. "Yeah, well I just woke up. I figured you were answering the call of nature or something."

Xena walked over and gave her a hug which Gabrielle happily returned.

"We need to talk," Gabrielle said leading Xena back to the campfire.

"Do you mind?" Gabrielle asked and casually waved her hand to indicate she meant using her powers.

Xena let out a wry grin, but nodded her permission.

Gabrielle closed her eyes slightly and clapped her hands. Xena was more than a bit surprised when, instead of the small cabin she had expected, a large house appeared. The two of them headed into the house and before them was a table loaded with all of Xena's favorite foods. Gabrielle grabbed Xena's hand and pulled her into an adjoining room where they found a large bed and a closet full of supplies, enough to last for weeks.

"You got in a lot of practice for being gone only a couple of hours," commented Xena.

"Artemis gave me a few quick pointers on house building."

"You still need a lot of practice," Xena replied softly looking at Gabrielle.

"Yeah, I know. That's what we need to talk about, but first let's get some food into you. You didn't eat anything before, and knowing you, you were too worried about me to eat anything after I left."

Xena let out a small laugh and returned with Gabrielle to the main room. Xena began eating, but noticed Gabrielle spent most of the time watching her. Gabrielle seemed deep in thought and that was beginning to worry her.

"So, did you ever pick out a title?"

Gabrielle was startled out of her thinking. "Um, yeah, Goddess of Kindness and Just Causes. What do you think? Too corny?"

"No, I think it fits you perfectly. You are one of the kindest people I know and you have always fought for what you believe in."

Gabrielle beamed. "Thanks, you know your opinion means a lot to me."

Xena got up and moved to a large reclining chair near the fireplace. Gabrielle sat down on a nearby couch and handed her a glass of aged port.

"Okay Gabrielle, out with the bad news."

Gabrielle blinked. "Bad news?"

"Come on, you may be a goddess but you are still an open scroll. Let's hear it."

Gabrielle sighed and said, "There is good news and bad news. Zeus says I need to stay on Olympus until I have learned how to use my powers."

"That's good," interrupted Xena.

"Not when it is going to take over a hundred years to complete," finished Gabrielle. She took Xena's hand in her own and held it. "I can see you only two times, this is one of them."

Xena swallowed a lump that was forming in her throat. "And the second time?"

"I can come back again to be with you when you die." At that Gabrielle started to cry. Xena moved over to the couch and put her arms around her. They sat there silently for several minutes holding each other.

"I know that couldn't have been easy for you to accept but it's for the greater..."

"...good. Yes, I know, Xena. That is why I finally agreed to it. Maybe I can convince Hades to let me escort you across."

Xena gently disengaged herself from Gabrielle and wiped the tears from her friend's face. Gabrielle smiled slightly and reciprocated.

"If the bad news is we won't see each other till I'm old and gray, assuming I live that long, what is the good news?"

Gabrielle brightened a little bit and said, "No gods are supposed to bother you. If they do then I can come back and help you."

"It's good to have friends in high places," joked Xena. She became serious once more and asked, "Does that include Ares?"

"He was standing right there when Zeus said it. He has a choice, leave you alone or have me back in your life. If he leaves you alone he probably figures you will eventually go back to your old ways, but I know better than that. If he tries to influence you then he has to worry about me constantly being at your side. Either way we win."

Gabrielle looked up into the sky and gave a slight nod. "I have to go now."

"Before you go, can I ask a favor of my new favorite goddess?"

"Anything," replied Gabrielle on the verge of tears again.

"Awhile ago, you once promised that if I died you would take my body back to Amphipolis. Would you....."

"Consider it done. Right next to Lyceus."


"I'll keep the house here until tomorrow so you don't have to spend the night on the ground."

Xena simply nodded, not wanting her voice to betray her emotions. Gabrielle engulfed her in a tight hug and whispered, "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't want to see you for a long time."

Xena pulled back a little bit, gave her trademark grin and said, "And when I do see you, I want to see the best goddess on Olympus."

They gave each other a brief squeeze and Gabrielle vanished, leaving Xena alone.

Chapter 9 "Back to school"

Gabrielle reappeared on Mt. Olympus, in her palace. She paced the marble floors, rubbing
her arms as a chill overcame her. The goddess ran her hands through her hair and flopped
down on a couch. Leaving Xena with a simple good-bye felt extremely inadequate. The most important years of her life had been spent with her best friend. She had to let Xena know she was thinking of her and how much confidence she had in the warrior. Gabrielle summoned a scroll and quill. The young goddess let out a small grin and thought, 'Zeus said I couldn't see Xena, he didn't say anything about writing her.'

She picked up the quill and started to write a short message to Xena. Gabrielle looked it over and decided that, while heartfelt, it was a little too depressing. She added a couple of
short sentences to lighten the tone of the letter, rolled it up and tied a blue ribbon around it. 'I'll leave it attached to Argo's saddle in a small bag.'

Gabrielle clapped her hands and the scroll vanished from her palace and reappeared
attached to Argo's saddle, waiting for Xena to find it in the morning.

The goddess-in-training wasn't sure what to do next. She stood up, only to find herself sitting again in another couch right across from the first. The past day was finally catching up to her and, for the first time, she fully realized what the coming years would be like. Gabrielle's mind screamed for something to think about that did not include Xena. As a result, she found herself surveying her surroundings. Though in reality the room was quite dim, the light seemed to blind her eyes.

"It's too bright in here," she told herself. With a wave of her hand, all the candles were extinguished. The only light that pierced the room was from a lone window and
with a wave of her hand, she quickly did away with it leaving her in complete darkness.
The girl could deny her aching eyes no more and the tears began to fall freely.

She lay there, curled in a ball, for who knows how long. Being immortal, time seemed to
have no meaning. She wished she could escape from reality and into a merciful sleep.
But, gods didn't get tired and she was denied the small comfort.

Gabrielle sat up suddenly, sensing that a presence was near. She listened intently. Two
people seemed to be arguing in hushed tones.

"You go in there."

"Sure, right after you."

"No way. You're her mentor."

"You're the one that's supposed to be teaching her today's lesson."

"I'll come back later."

"Uh huh. Quit stalling."

"I don't want to go in there. She's an untrained, very emotional goddess. I'd like to live
out my immortality in one piece, thank you."

Gabrielle solved the debate. She put her hands over her face and, when she removed them
an instant later, red and puffy eyes as well as any other sign that she had been crying
disappeared. She briskly clapped her hands twice and appeared in front of the two

"Hello Artemis, Athena," Gabrielle said. The goddess-in-training looked quite formidable
all things considering. Her posture was erect and a slight smirk played on her face.

A calm and collected Gabrielle was not what Artemis or Athena had expected. But, there
she was; feet shoulder width apart, arms behind her back, and eyebrows raised.

"Oh, hi Gabrielle," Artemis started. "We were just about to call you."

"Sure you were." Gabrielle relaxed a little. Her hands now hung loose by her sides.

"I'm Athena." She took her helmet off and tucked it under her left arm revealing long,
curly, black hair. Her right arm was then extended to Gabrielle.

"I believe we met briefly the other day." Gabrielle took the hand and shook it.

"Well," Artemis interrupted, "she has come here today to start your training."

"I thought you were teaching me." Gabrielle turned to Artemis

"I can't teach you everything, Gabrielle. I have other things to attend to as well. Athena
will go over some of the basic rules of being a goddess. I will be back later to check in on
you." Artemis nodded to Athena and Gabrielle then disappeared.

"Shall we start then?" asked Athena.

"Ready when you are."

Athena carefully laid her helmet on the ground. She snapped her fingers and a pile of
scrolls appeared on the ground at her feet.

Gabrielle bent down and picked one up. She began to read the title aloud.

"'Choosing the Temple that's Right for You.'"

"Aphrodite will work with you on that," Athena responded.


"Yeah. She thinks you don't fully appreciate the value of temples. You know, after that
Joxer event? So now, she's on a mission to persuade you otherwise." Athena shook her
head. "Just suffer through it. You'll get used to her eventually."

Gabrielle dropped the scroll and picked up another.

"'So You Want to be a Goddess? Learn all the tricks of the trade in ten easy steps.'"

"You'll have to talk to Artemis about that one." Athena pointed her finger at the scroll
and it disappeared, startling Gabrielle.

"You know, you could warn me."

"Do you warn someone every time you begin to walk?" Athena smiled kindly. She felt
for the former mortal and knew this couldn't be easy for her.


"That's what it's like when I use my powers. It comes naturally and I don't even think
about doing it. Eventually, it will be the same for you." Athena pointed at a scroll, then
wiggled her forefinger. Defying gravity, it flew up from the ground and into her hand.

She began to read, "'The Gods: What They Know and Aren't Telling You.' Oops.
That's not it." The scroll disappeared from Athena's hand.

Another scroll flew into the veteran goddess' hand.

"Ah. Here it is. 'The Law of the Land: What Every God Should Know Concerning the
Rules of Mt. Olympus.'" Athena cleared her throat and began. "Rule one: No messing
with the Fates." She looked up from the scroll and directly into Gabrielle's eyes. "Clotho,
Atropos, and Lachesis are not to be messed with. Even the gods don't have any power
over them. If you try anything you will be severely punished. Understood?"

Gabrielle nodded solemnly.

Athena continued, "Rule two: No encroaching on other gods' domain. You remember us
having trouble finding you a title? None of us wants to have our authority questioned. Is
that clear?"

"Sort of." Gabrielle's face scrunched up as she tried to catch the full meaning of what
Athena was saying.

"For instance, you can't go saving people from tidal waves. Even though you're the
Goddess of Kindness, that's Poseidon's territory. And, you can't just stop wars.
Otherwise, Ares will get quite miffed."

"Is there anything I CAN do?"

"Well, there are always loop holes." Athena's grey eyes twinkled. "You can't directly
interfere with anything. You can, however, influence things. Say, you want to stop a war
that Ares has brought on. Going down to the mortals personally and forcing them to
settle things peacefully would be against the rules. But, if you sent some mortal to the
area on a mission of mercy, you are completely legal. If that mortal just happens to stop
the war, it's not your fault. You aren't responsible for the actions of mortals. They're too

"Tell me about it."

Athena chuckled at the girl's comment.

" rule."

"How long is this list?"

"Oh, there's about a hundred different rules."

Gabrielle's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "Would you care to repeat that?"

"Would you care to pick up your mouth? Yeesh, Gabrielle. That brings us to rule number
three. All gods will act in a dignified manner when around mortals. Looking like a bunch
of sissy's and whiners wouldn't be good for our image."

The bard giggled. "Next?"

"Rule four: Gods will restrain from making constant visits to mortals, except for their

Gabrielle's eyes brightened.

Athena caught the look in her eye and said, "I'm sorry but it doesn't apply to you and Xena
because of your agreement with Zeus. You have to wait until your training is complete or
she dies before you can see her. Otherwise, you would be able to see her almost daily."

Gabrielle's eyes dropped to the ground, and she kicked at the ground. Her hands covered
her eyes so the tears wouldn't show.

"Come on, Gabrielle. Artemis will get really ticked off at me if she finds you like this.
You'll be seeing Xena again before you know it."

"Not until she dies." Gabrielle's spoke quietly, removing her hands. This time, she didn't
use her powers. Her face showed every bit of the heartache that Gabrielle felt. "That's not a very comforting thing to say."

Athena put a hand on her shoulder to offer support.

Artemis appeared. She noticed Gabrielle was upset and eyed Athena suspiciously.

"We'll be right back," Artemis growled to Gabrielle. Artemis and Athena disappeared.
They reappeared inside Artemis' palace.

"What on Mt. Olympus did you say to her?"

"I was just reading rule four."

"Good choice," Artemis said sarcastically.

"How was I supposed to know she'd get upset?"

"You're the Goddess of Wisdom. Did you even think about what you were saying? She
just lost her best friend; a mortal she's not allowed to visit. So what did you do? You read
her a loop hole and, then, tell her it doesn't apply to her. Did you think that that wouldn't
remind her of her friend? Geez, Athena. Could you be a little more insensitive?"

"I'm sorry. It's not as if I've had to deal with this sort of thing before."

Artemis threw her hands up in the air in disgust.

"Great. This is just great. Tell Gabrielle you'll continue later. Aphrodite wants to talk
with her. So not only is the girl upset, but she has to put up with the blonde bimbo."

"Maybe I should tell her about rule five first. You know the one about not killing or
disembodying any..."

"This is Gabrielle we're talking about, she can learn about that later," Artemis snapped. "I
think you've done enough for one day."

"Fine." Athena disappeared then reappeared in front of Gabrielle.

The goddess-in-training had sat down and her head rested on her knees. More than ever,
she wished Xena was with her. Her friend had probably just gotten up and was reading
the scroll she had sent earlier.


Gabrielle looked up.

"We'll finish this tomorrow."

Artemis appeared. "Aphrodite would like to talk with you."

"Joy," stated Gabrielle. She picked herself up and said good-bye to Athena. Reluctantly,
she followed Artemis to Aphrodite's palace.

Artemis stopped at Aphrodite's door. "Well, there you are."

"You mean you're not coming in with me?"

"Uh, no. I have...stuff to do. I'll see you later." Artemis disappeared.

"Deserter," Gabrielle mumbled.

A moment later Aphrodite appeared.

"Heelloo. Are you just going to, like, stand there all day or what?"

"No. I was just about call you."

"WhatEVER. Don't frown, babe. It'll give you wrinkles."

Gabrielle gave a forced smile. Through gritted teeth, she asked, "Better?"

Aphrodite took a step back, picking up on Gabrielle's foul mood. "Like, chill. We are
about to embark on a wonderful journey. This is going to be so exciting; your first

'Help," Gabrielle's mind cried out.

"So, where do you want to start? I hear you're supposed to be doing, like, the goody two
shoes thing; so we gotta find some, like, happy village or something to start out in."

'HELP,' Gabrielle's mind screamed.

"Uh, Aphrodite? I'm not really picky about my temple. Let's just pick some place and
get it over with."

"As if. Listen Gabrielle. There are goddesses. And," Aphrodite flipped her hair, "There
are GODDESSES. If you want to be in the 'in' you have GOT to have the right temple.
And having the right temple all comes down to three things."

"And they are?" asked Gabrielle, cringing.

"Location, location, and location." Aphrodite pounded the palm of her left hand with the
fist of her right every time she said 'location.'

"Of course," Gabrielle stated. 'Of course,' her mind thought, 'this would happen to me.'

"I need you to work with me, Gabrielle. I can't do this alone. Well actually..." Aphrodite
tilted her head thinking.

"Good. It's settled. You take care of the temple thing for me. Just let me know what
decide. Thanks." Gabrielle disappeared before Aphrodite had a chance to say anything.
She then reappeared in her own palace.

Aphrodite just stood there, staring at the spot where the goddess-in-training had been.
"That girl is like, majorly clueless." She walked away shaking her head, "I have GOT to talk to her about her wardrobe." A shudder went down her spine.

Back in her palace, Gabrielle took a few steps toward a bunch of scrolls laid out on a
table. In a small note on top of the pile was the instruction by Artemis to 'please read
these.' Gabrielle suddenly stopped her advancement toward the pile and she leaned up
against a great, marble wall. A frustrated sigh escaped her lips.

Suddenly, Artemis appeared before her. "There you are. I was looking for you. You
weren't at Aphrodite's."

"Would you stay there any longer than you had to?" Gabrielle asked incredulously.

Artemis had to choke down a laugh. "Uh, no. Anyway, we have another matter to


"This isn't so bad. I just need to know what you want people to give you as sacrifices."


"Yeah. You know? Fruit, wine, the occasional sacrificed animal..."

"Animal? I have to have people give me bloody bunnies? I don't think so. As for wine, I
don't drink the stuff. Why on Mt. Olympus do I need any of this anyway? Trust me, the
people down there are having a lot harder of a time then I am. People are starving and I have to take their food?"

"It's in the rules. Number twenty-three clearly states..."

Gabrielle put her hands up to silence her. "That's okay, I don't need details. Well, like
Athena said, for every rule there's a loop hole."

Artemis rolled her eyes. "I am going to have a talk with that goddess."

Gabrielle's brow furrowed in thought. She snapped her fingers and shouted, "I got it.
People will sacrifice to me, but instead of bringing it to my temple, they'll give it to those
who need the food. It makes perfect sense. I'm the Goddess of Kindness, right?"

"I'm REALLY going to have to have a talk with Athena."

"Well," Gabrielle questioned, "are there any rules saying I can't do that?"

"No," Artemis admitted reluctantly.

"Then it's settled. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like some time alone."

"As you wish." Artemis clapped her hands once and she was gone.

Gabrielle sat down with quill and parchment and began to write another letter to Xena.
This one would at least have a little better news, maybe learning the rules wouldn't be so
bad. After all, she had already found a loophole to keep in contact with her friend. The bard carefully tied a blue ribbon to the scroll, just like the last one. She clapped her hands
twice and the scroll disappeared. Hopefully, it would be in Xena's saddlebag where the
warrior would find it later.

Gabrielle stood up and decided to seek out Athena. She wanted to get her training over as quickly as possible and that wouldn't happen if she avoided taking lessons.

Chapter 10 "A new beginning"

Xena pulled herself out of bed and scanned the room. Gabrielle had taken care of
everything. In the closet was hanging her leathers, cleaned and neatly pressed. She
looked at a nearby table and saw her armor, all polished and laid out with her sword and
chakram resting in the corner. Xena quickly got dressed and packed all the supplies that
she had noticed from the night before into Argo's saddle bags.

'Now what?' thought Xena. 'I haven't really been alone for over two years. I know I can
take care of myself, but it won't be the same.'

She exited the house and loaded Argo. Xena turned back to the house and saw it slowly
fade away. Xena returned to preparing Argo and saw a small pouch hanging from the

"I don't recall owning a pouch like that," mused Xena. She reached into the pouch and
pulled out a single scroll with a blue ribbon attached. Hesitantly she pulled the ribbon off
and unrolled the scroll. Written in Gabrielle's handwriting was:


Right now you must be feeling kind
of lonely. I know I am. We may not be
able to see each other for a long time, but I will
always be watching you from Olympus. The
dead aren't the only ones that can hear our
thoughts, so can the gods. I'll listen in when you
think of me. Just remember to follow your
heart and keep on the right path.

Your friend forever,


P.S. Now hit the road you lazy warrior. What
do you think you are, immortal?

Xena rolled up the scroll and tucked it into her left gauntlet. She wiped a small tear from
her eye, mounted Argo and started on down the road.

'Where am I going?' Xena asked herself. She had ruled out going to Poteidaia, she didn't
want to explain Gabrielle's godhood to her family yet. Amphipolis would likewise bring back memories she didn't want to think about, as would the Amazons.

Up on Mt. Olympus, Ares watched Xena and said, "Now that the blonde is out of the
way, you're mine."

"Uh, Uncle, what about Zeus's little promise?" asked Strife as he played with his dagger.

"Give me a break! You think I'm worried about that little brat?"

"Zeus said..."

"Zeus said," said Ares, imitating Strife's whining, irritating voice. Ares continued in his
normal tone, "Zeus doesn't care what happens to Xena. Gabrielle can only get involved if
she finds out, and I don't plan on her doing so. Even if she does discover my plan, there is
nothing she can do to stop me. Goddess of Kindness vs. the God of War, no contest.
Now beat it, I have some work to do."

Strife exited and Ares sat down to figure out how he would get Xena back.

"There have been several times I almost had her, but every time that blond screwed
everything up," said Ares to himself. He picked up a few darts and threw them one at a
time at a picture hanging on the wall. Ares smiled as he nailed one right between the eyes
of the picture of Gabrielle. "I came so close when she went up against the Horde. She
barely got away from me that time."

Ares let out a chuckle that grew into a deep laugh. "Perfect, I know exactly what to do."


Just before noon, Xena reached the city of Europos. The people were scurrying about, as
if the end of the world we approaching. Xena took a closer look and saw the city walls
lined with soldiers. She grabbed a traveler who was preparing to leave the city. "What is
going on?"

The young man looked at her terrified, jerked away and quickly headed out the gates. She
attempted to stop several others leaving, but each one was too busy trying to escape the
city to answer her. She noticed a small group of soldiers heading her way led by an
elderly, but obviously experienced veteran. They stopped, the leader looked her over
before a flash of recognition came into his eyes. Xena saw his eyes and slowly started
reaching for her sword preparing herself for a fight.

The leader's hands came up to show he was not going for a weapon. "Xena, Warrior

"Yes," Xena slowly replied, keeping her hand on her sword.

"Little Xena from Amphipolis, who use to pester me into letting her ride my horse?"

"Who are you?" Xena took her hand away from her sword, but remained vigilant.

"You don't remember me, do you?. I'm Themistocles. I use to ride with the Athenian
garrison. Part of our patrol range was Amphipolis and we use to stop at your mother's

Xena thought back to the time before she was a warlord. Slowly memories of Athenian
soldiers coming in from a hard ride came back to her. One soldier in particular, a young
lieutenant who was patient with a rather hyper, young child who wanted to be a warrior.

"Themistocles, it's been well over twenty years since I last saw you." Xena smiled and
stuck her hand out to grip the old warrior's wrist. Themistocles ignored the hand and gave
her a hug, much to shock and horror of Xena and the amusement of the other soldiers.
That amusement died fast when Xena turned and stared at them. Themistocles let go and
a worried look came over his face.

"You shouldn't be here."

"What is going on? The city looks like it is preparing for a siege and people are running
like scared rabbits."

Themistocles uttered one dreadful word, "Horde."

Xena froze for a second, recalling the last time she had faced them. It had been only a few
months back, and she had barely defeated them.

"How many?"

"From what our patrols have discovered nearly a thousand."

"A thousand? Are you sure?" asked Xena, wanting to make sure she had heard correctly.

"Yes. We only have two hundred soldiers plus several hundred civilians who refuse to
leave the city. I had heard you fought them recently. Will you help us? I am getting too
old to command."

Xena didn't hear his request. Something was bothering her, but she couldn't place it. A
thousand Horde warriors was more than she had fought at the Athenian outpost, but well
within the normal amount they fielded. "I'm sorry Themistocles. What did you say?"

"I want you to take command of the city garrison," repeated Themistocles.


"Please, I'm no match for them and none of my other officers have ever seen a major battle
before," pleaded Themistocles.

"You don't understand. I can't do it again. I'll lend my sword, but I won't lead."

"A sword is useless without direction," returned Themistocles. "I will have TWO
HUNDRED useless swords if you don't take command."

"The answer is no."

"Look, I know about your past and your attempt at redemption. How will you feel about
yourself if you allow hundreds of civilians to get slaughtered because you are too
cowardly to lead?"

The soldiers around Themistocles and Xena took several steps back. Nobody in their
right mind would call the Warrior Princess a coward. All eyes turned on Xena. She stood
there with her eyes closed, contemplating her choices. Suddenly, her eyes popped open
and took on a defiant glint.

"You, get those civilians away from the wall. You, assemble all of the officers. I want to
meet them in one candlemark in the command post."

"Thank you Xena," said Themistocles quietly.

"Don't thank me yet. We have a lot of work to do."

With that Xena took off with Themistocles in tow to inspect the garrison. She spent the
rest of the day setting up traps and drilling the soldiers to make sure they would handle
themselves appropriately when the time came. At first, most of the soldiers grumbled
about taking commands from an outsider, but word spread of who she was and of her
victory against the Horde. From that point on, soldiers snapped to attention when she
passed. Xena took it in stride, constantly reminding herself not to let it go to her head.
As night came upon the small city, Xena stood on the wall hoping it would not be a repeat
of the last time. Victory had come at a price, a price she wasn't sure she wanted to pay
this time. Her thoughts turned to Gabrielle and she was glad the little bard was not
around to worry about, if she did lose her temper and reverted to her old ways, at least
Gabrielle wouldn't be around to witness it.

Themistocles joined her on the wall. "Thinking about the old days?"

"Yeah, hoping they don't come back."

"Why? You were a force to be reckoned with, one of the best in the known world."

"I was one of the bloodiest, cruelest..."

Themistocles held up a hand. "I was talking about your martial abilities, not what you did
with them."

Xena let out a small sigh. "One comes with the other."

"Not necessarily, tomorrow when the Horde attack, don't hold back. We'll deal with
whatever happens later."

Xena was about to respond that it wasn't that easy, but Themistocles started talking again.
"Remember how you use to vault onto my horse? You would jump up and ride like the
wind with you hair flowing behind you."

Xena thought back, she was very young then and only remembered bits and pieces.
Something bothered her, both about the number of Horde, and Themistocles's little side
trips into the past. She couldn't put her finger on it and instead concentrated on the


Dawn came too quickly for the beleaguered city and with it came the Horde. Xena could
see two distinct lines forming. The Horde were preparing for a two wave attack, not a
siege. Xena barely had time to warn the soldiers nearest to her to duck before a hail of
Horde battle-axes came showering down at them. The garrison returned fire with arrows,
cutting down Horde warriors as they started to run towards the city walls. The Horde
kept coming until they had reached the wall and started placing ladders, while others
pounded the city gates. The Horde swarmed over the wall and engaged the defenders in
close combat. Xena's sword took on a life of its own as she fought her way along the
wall, engaging Horde left and right. She could see the second wave approaching the wall
and ordered a general retreat into the city itself.

Suddenly, Xena heard a cry for help and turned around to see Horde warriors pouring
through a breach in the wall that lead directly to a building where civilians were being
sheltered. Xena jumped from the wall and ran towards the building. Xena engaged
warrior after warrior killing one only to have another take its place. She heard a scream
and looked to see a Horde warrior decapitating a small child. A red haze came over
Xena's eyes and she let out a blood curdling battle cry and began hacking away at anything
that moved. Despite having the numerical advantage, the Horde warriors fell before an
irresistible force as Xena struck blow after blow. The Horde warriors had seen enough,
they broke and ran from the building. Xena pursued them, stopping only long enough to
kill when she got close enough. She looked for more victims for her bloodlust and was
rewarded by finding a group of wounded Horde trying to retreat. The red haze blinded
her from seeing them as wounded warriors trying to leave the field of battle, only an
enemy that needed to be killed. She charged forward, but stopped when something fell out of her gauntlet. In her desire to continue with the killing, she started to step on the object when it unrolled itself. She looked down and, despite the bloodlust that still blinded her, made out a single line on the parchment:

Just remember to follow your heart and keep on the right path.

Xena picked up the scroll and realized it was the one Gabrielle had left for her. She
examined herself and saw blood covering her, making her look every inch like the Warrior
Princess stories of her past spoke of. She looked up and saw the Horde retreating across
the entire city, hoping to regroup for one final attack. Xena stuffed the scroll back into
her gauntlet and found the closest soldier and ordered him to find and assemble the

As she made her own way to the command post, she thought about their situation. 'There
are still too many of them!'

Something clicked in the back of her mind. 'The Horde are from the north. Gabrielle and
I passed a large Spartan garrison less than a week ago. They would have had to
have passed through them to get here. There is no way a thousand Horde warriors could
have penetrated this far into Greece without raising the alarm. Something is definitely not
right here.'

Themistocles ran out of the command post towards her. "Xena! The Horde are preparing
for an attack. You must lead a cavalry charge, now."

"It's no good, Themistocles. We have less than fifty able-bodied warriors. We would be
killed before we could do enough damage."

Themistocles shook his head adamantly. "No! I saw you fighting the Horde in the
building. All you need to do is unleash that rage and the day is ours!"

"What you saw was me losing control, something I won't let happen again."

"Come on, Xena. Vault up on that horse just like you remember and lead us to victory.
Nothing can stop you!"

Xena paused and suddenly the memories of being with Themistocles came back
completely. 'Not remembered, dreamed of!'

"Forget it Ares, it won't work. I nearly lost it a few minutes ago, you aren't going to get
me to do it again." Xena turned on Themistocles and pointed her sword at him.

"Xena, what are you talking about?" asked Themistocles as he started backing away from
her. "The Horde is preparing to attack again. We don't have time for this."

"You messed up, Ares. There is no way that many Horde could have gotten around the
Athenian and Spartan defense without alerting the entire country. It took a while for me
to realize that. If you had lessened the number or chosen a different enemy it might have
worked, but then it wouldn't have had the desired effect on me, would it?"

"Xena..." started Themistocles.

"Nice try with Themistocles, though. A person from my past that I would help, but long
enough ago that I wouldn't remember too clearly. You made a mistake when you tried to
use my memory of him to distract me."

'Themistocles' stopped backing away and stood his ground. "You said it yourself. You
remember me allowing you to vault on my horse and ride."

Xena let out a dark laugh and asked sarcastically, "Since when do three year olds 'vault' on
warhorses? Those 'memories' you found were dreams of a little girl desperately wanting
to be a warrior."

Themistocles's face darkened. The air shimmered around him and Ares appeared in his
place. The Horde vanished leaving the weary soldiers of Eurpos astonished, but

"How did you breakaway from me after what happened in the building? You went on a
rampage just like old times, I could see the bloodlust in your eyes. I had you and you
know it." Ares pointed his finger at Xena.

"Yes, you had me," admitted Xena. "You just couldn't keep me."

Xena reached into her gauntlet and pulled out Gabrielle's scroll. "Gabrielle was always
around to keep my dark self in check. She may not be around now, but she must have
known eventually you would try something and she wouldn't be able to stop you in time.
This scroll is a constant reminder of her faith in me. I refuse to let her down."

"This isn't over yet."

"Yes it is. You better go back to Olympus before Gabrielle realizes you came down here.
She may not show it, but she has a temper to match mine when something gets her angry

"I'm not afraid of her," said Ares before disappearing.

"You should be," returned Xena quietly to the fading form. Xena went to check on Argo,
silently wondering what Gabrielle was up to. She reached into her saddlebag to find some
dried jerky when her hands felt a familiar object. Xena smiled and pulled out another
scroll with a blue ribbon neatly tied around it. She read the scroll,

Dear Xena,

I know I'm not allowed to see you, but, as I'm
learning, there are ways to get around every
rule. There's nothing against me writing to you;
at least, nothing to my knowledge. I just wanted
to let you know I'm doing okay and that I'm here
for you. Did I ever tell you that Aphrodite's a
real ditz? Anyway, you're in my thoughts as always.



Xena let out a chuckle, 'Leave it to Gabrielle to find away around the rules.'


"I can't believe she did that!" shouted Ares. "Not only did she manage to ruin my plan,
she had the nerve to point out the flaws in it."

Strife sat quietly in his uncle's castle. He was not going to try to reason with his uncle.

"Stupid scroll," muttered Ares. "That blond wasn't even there and she managed to screw
up my plans."

Gabrielle stood silently beneath the window. She had just finished a long lesson with
Athena and was hoping to record more of the recent events when she had passed Ares's
place and heard voices. 'That little... I am going to Zeus. It hasn't even been two days and
Ares is up to no good. Now Zeus will have to let me stay with Xena at least part of the

Gabrielle gently tiptoed away from the window and headed toward Zeus's temple. She
failed to hear Ares's last remark.

"I am done with being nice to Xena. I'm going to teach her a lesson she will never forget.
After she recovers from the beating I'm going to give her, she'll beg to come back to me."

Chapter 11 "Keeping a promise"

Gabrielle strode purposefully to Zeus' palace. She wanted to run, but decided that she should look dignified when approaching Zeus. The goddess-in-training wanted to be taken seriously. Gods weren't always known to keep their word and, no matter what, Gabrielle was determined that Zeus would live up to what was promised.

The palace was in sight when a blonde-hair figure appeared in her path.

"Out of the way, Aphrodite," Gabrielle growled. She had absolutely no time for imbecilic conversation.

"Ex-quease me? Did you--a little goddess wannabe--just say what I think you said? Are you blind? Don't you know who I am?"

"Do you really expect me to answer that?" Gabrielle tapped her foot in impatience.

"Are you ever in a good mood? I came to talk to you. Your making a way nasty fashion statement. That shirt has GOT to go."


"Fine, just be that way. I'm not going to stand here and take this." Aphrodite disappeared.

"And that's supposed to hurt" Gabrielle asked herself as she started again toward Zeus' residence.

Just before she reached the steps to the impressive structure, a blur flew past her. Instantly, Hermes was in front of her, hovering slightly above the ground.

"Hello," he spoke, tipping his hat.

'Geez,' thought Gabrielle, 'do I have to go through all the gods on Mt. Olympus before I can see Zeus?'

"I see you're planning on talking to Zeus about Ares' little scheme." Hermes' face remained solemn but if Gabrielle would have taken a close look into his eyes, she would have seen the laughter that resided there.

"How did you know about it?" Gabrielle's brow furrowed and her eyes squinted, puzzled.

"News travels fast."

Gabrielle gave a sardonic smile and shook her head. "Fuunny."

"I thought so." Hermes paused then cleared his throat. "Actually, Artemis sent me."

"Artemis knows about this too?"

Hermes nodded. "She ran into Aphrodite, who whined to her about you. Artemis had a sneaking suspicion that something was up with Xena and a quick visit to the warrior confirmed it. She figured you would run to Zeus about Ares and, before you did, she needed to talk to you. Unfortunately, an emergency came up at one of her temples and Artemis knew she couldn't get to you in time. So, I was asked to catch up with you, seeing how I AM the fastest god and all. "

"Modesty suits you," Gabrielle replied sarcastically. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to talk to Zeus." Gabrielle side-stepped Hermes and began up the steps.

"Wait!" Hermes shouted.

Gabrielle stopped mid-step and turned to face the god.

"I need to talk to you, remember?"

"No, you needed to catch up with me. You did. Now, leave me alone."

"It's a message from Artemis. Don't you think it's important that you find out what she needed to tell you first? She is on your side, you know."

"FINE. Just make it quick, I'm in a wee bit of a hurry over here."

"She wanted me to tell you not to go in there."

"WHAT? I thought you said she was on my side? This is absolutely ridiculous." Gabrielle turned and began to climb the steps again.

"Gabrielle, you can't just barge in there! He doesn't allow visits during this time."

Gabrielle didn't stop. "I thought time didn't have meaning to gods? We're immortal, remember?"

"But time does have meaning in the mortal world."

Gabrielle was at the top of the steps now and advancing toward the door. "So?"

"You know his son's down there! You've met him for pity's sake!"

Gabrielle's hand raised to knock on the door. Just before her knuckle made contact with the door, she hesitated. Slowly, she lowered the hand. "He's watching Hercules?"

"Every day at this time. He really, REALLY, hates to be disturbed. It won't do your cause any good if you go in now."

Gabrielle whirled around. "Well, what am I supposed to do?"


"Wait? How long?"

"He should be finished any time now." Hermes was a blur, then behind Gabrielle. Before the bard could even turn around he had her by the back of the shirt. In less then a second, Gabrielle was at the bottom of the steps.

"How will I know when he's finished?"

"He'll send for me."

"If he doesn't hurry up, I'm going down there without Zeus' permission."

Hermes shook his head. "Rule number 17, don't disobey Zeu..." Hermes cocked his head, listening.

"What? I don't hear anything?"

"Shh." He listened for another few seconds. "That would be him. If you'll excuse me." Hermes tipped his hat then disappeared.

"Does that mean I can go in?"

She never saw Hermes, but heard his voice clearly say, "NO!"

Gabrielle threw up her hands in exasperation.

The girl must have been pacing for a whole...two minutes before Hermes returned.

"What were you doing in there, having a picnic?" she asked. "And do you have to hover like that? It's really annoying."

Hermes grinned and floated slightly higher. "Hey sunshine, you can go in now."

Gabrielle ran up the steps.

'To Hades with dignity,' she thought as she flung open the door.

Zeus immediately stood up from his thrown.

"I understand you wanted to see me," he said in a regal tone looking every bit the king of the gods.

Gabrielle took a deep breath, calming herself. 'Why does he have to be so darn intimidating?'

"Yes, I did." 'Oh, there's a great beginning, Gabrielle,' she chided herself. Well, it's too late to change it now, just have to continue.' "Our deal has been broken."

Hands behind his back, Zeus strode over to Gabrielle. "May I ask in what way?"

"Ares has gone down to the mortal world and interfered in Xena's life."

Zeus raised an eyebrow. "Was he successful?"

"Of course not."

"Then what's the problem?" Zeus sauntered back to his throne and sat down.

"Whether or not Ares was successful doesn't matter. We had a deal. If any god TRIED anything I got to go back down. Ares tried something, now I get to go back down."

"Do you have proof of what you say?"

"Ask Artemis, she knows the words I speak are true.

Zeus closed his eyes for a moment. In seconds, Hermes appeared.

He stood before Zeus, cap in hand. "You called?"

"Please send for Artemis."

Hermes gave a quick nod of the head. He then turned to Gabrielle and winked. "See ya, Sunshine."

Hermes was gone before Gabrielle could reply.

It wasn't long before Artemis appeared.

"Hello Gabrielle, Zeus. What do you need?"

"A verification," Zeus replied. "Does Gabrielle tell the truth? Did Ares truly mess with Xena?"

"Yes. He tried to get her back and failed."

"What was it this time?" Zeus inquired, sighing.

"He made up a group of Horde to attack a city."

"How tacky." Zeus shook his head. "He could have at least used real horde. I think the God of War may be losing his touch."

Gabrielle put up a hand. "Excuse me? I'm still here."

Zeus turned to Gabrielle. "I am a god of my word. You may return. However, I hope that you will consider staying. You were brought here for your own good."

"Thanks, but no thanks, Zeus. I want to return."

"As I said, I will not stop you. I do ask that you refrain from abusing your powers. It could get real messy down there if you do. Remember, If you hang around people too long they will notice that you aren't aging."

"I'll remember the warnings and I promise to return every few years for a couple of days as well as for good after Xena dies."

Gabrielle faced Artemis. "Thank you for everything. I've learned much."

Artemis gave Gabrielle a hug and the warning, "Be careful."

"Now, if you'll excuse me," Gabrielle began, smiling broadly, "I have to go."

Two quick hand claps and Gabrielle was back in the mortal world. She was exactly where she wanted to be, in Xena's camp. Gabrielle tilted her head back and inhaled the cool night air.

"Oh, how I've missed this. But there's one thing I miss more. Hmmm...Xena?" She noticed that her friend was nowhere in sight.

Gabrielle heard the faint sound of clashing metal. She snapped her fingers and was instantly at the source.

Xena was fighting a dark, cloaked figure. Gabrielle had arrived just in time to see Xena disarmed. The person removed the hood to reveal himself.

"Ares," Xena muttered. She tried to punch him in the face only to have the hand caught and her arm painfully twisted.

He hit her in the face with the hilt of his sword and then kicked her in the stomach.

Gabrielle's anger boiled over as she saw her friend doubled over in pain.

"ARES," she roared. "I suggest you leave, NOW!"

Ares round-house kicked Xena in the face, sending Xena flying, before turning to Gabrielle. A wicked grin slowly crept up his face. The grin became a laugh and he stood there, just chuckling at the goddess.

"LEAVE, Ares."

"Or what? Don't threaten me little girl."

"This is your final warning. Leave Xena alone."

"So the Goddess of Just Causes wants a face-off with the God of War. Take your best shot, weakling." Ares crossed his arms, waiting for a response.

The ground began to quake. Xena had to dive out of the way of several falling trees.

'He should not have done that,' thought Xena. 'Now, she's mad.'

Gabrielle's hands outstretched and a staff appeared in them. Wasting no time, she charged Ares.

Gabrielle was excellent with the staff as a mortal and becoming a goddess seemed to have increased her skill many times over. The God of War was finding that Gabrielle was actually a powerful force to be reckoned with. Though she never got an advantage, Ares couldn't seem to land any major blows.

"Give it up, little girl. Xena is mine." He brought his sword downward, powerfully; aiming for her head.

Gabrielle brought up her staff for a block then kicked him in the gut, backing him off. "Not without a fight."

"That's what this is." Ares swiped at her midsection.

Gabrielle made a quick jump backwards and avoided the blow.
She advanced toward Ares and again wood collided with metal.

The battle waged on for hours. Xena watched helplessly, knowing there was nothing she could do that Gabrielle couldn't.

A day passed and the two gods were still at it. Xena was starting to get worried. Not at the length of the fight, but there had been more and more near misses as time went on. Gabrielle was still holding her own, but at the rate things were going she wouldn't last much longer.

Finally, on the night of the second day, Ares managed to disarm Gabrielle. He put his sword to Gabrielle's neck.

"Kneel," he commanded.

Slowly and deliberately, Gabrielle did so.

Xena picked her sword up off the ground and headed towards the gods.

"Don't even think about it, Xena. Try anything and your going to have chopped goddess."

Xena froze.

"Go back to Mt. Olympus, Gabrielle," Ares commanded. "And, as long as Xena lives, never return."

"No." Gabrielle spoke quietly but with authority.

"Deny me again and you will live out eternity in a hundred different places."


"You're stupid, I'll give you that." Ares smiled, still holding the sword at her neck. "Don't you get it? Xena is MINE. It's only a matter a time before she will again pledge her allegiance to me. And there is nothing, NOTHING you can do to stop it."

Gabrielle's rage grew. Her frustration and anger became overwhelming. The helplessness of her situation, her failure to help Xena and defeat Ares, as well the humiliating act of having to bow before this arrogant god burned inside her.

Without warning, a bolt of energy, seemingly to have come from Gabrielle herself, knocked Ares backward.

Gabrielle was surrounded with a light brighter than the sun. Even Ares couldn't look straight at her.

"You couldn't just leave her alone, could you Ares? You couldn't have just found someone else to torture? I will NOT let you mess with her. Never again.

Ares wasn't impressed; if only he knew what was coming next.

All the light that surrounded Gabrielle suddenly shot off toward Ares. It struck him square in the chest. Xena went wide-eyed, as she watched the God of War being shattered into pieces.

Gabrielle snapped her fingers and the ground quit shaking. Peace was again restored.

Xena looked down at Gabrielle's handiwork. It looked as if thousands of black marbles were scattered across the ground. She made her way over to Gabrielle trying to step on as few pieces of Ares as possible.

Xena looked down and then at Gabrielle.

She picked up a piece between two fingers and commented, "We're gonna need another Ares."

Gabrielle just stood there, trembling.


Gabrielle didn't respond. She staring at the ground and trying, without success, to control her quaking.


Gabrielle looked up, shocked to find Xena there looking straight into her eyes. She quickly broke the eye contact and stared off into the distance; someplace where none of this was happening, where all was calm.

"Gabrielle, what did you do?"

"I...I...I'm not exactly sure." She returned her focus on the ground. "I th-think I k-killed the God of War."

Xena's eyes went wide.

"I didn't mean to. Honest. He was only supposed to get knocked over." She buried her head in Xena's shoulder.

Xena hugged her in return. Though muffled now, she heard Gabrielle continue to talk.

"He wasn't supposed to die, Xena. I wasn't supposed to kill him."

Xena rubbed her eyes with a hand, still holding on to Gabrielle with the other.

"What a mess." A little quieter, she repeated, "What a mess!"

Chapter 12 "Getting what's coming"

Xena and Gabrielle looked up to see a huge flash of lightning cross the sky followed by a thunderbolt that threatened to deafen them. A small flash caused them to return their eyes to the ground. Artemis stood there with a pale expression, "Gabrielle, do you know what you have done?"

Gabrielle didn't reply. She hugged Xena even tighter and started crying. Xena continued to hold onto her, but turned to Artemis. "She knows. It wasn't her fault. Ares was after me, she was just trying to protect me."

"Xena, it doesn't matter why she did it. The fact is Gabrielle killed a god."

Athena appeared next to Artemis. "All of Olympus is in an uproar. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Gabrielle you have to come with us. Zeus is putting you on trial for violating the rules of Olympus."

Gabrielle didn't move from Xena's embrace. Athena reached to touch her arm, only to have Xena bat her hand away. "She did it in self-defense. Leave her alone."

Athena grabbed Xena's shoulder and said, "Look..."

That was all she got out before the Goddess of Wisdom went flying across the field. Gabrielle stood defiantly next to Xena. "Nobody, I mean nobody, is ever going to hurt Xena again. Touch her and you'll end up like Ares."

Xena gently placed her hands on the girls shoulders. "Gabrielle, get a hold of yourself. Athena is your friend. She wasn't going to hurt me."

Athena reappeared next to Artemis and walked towards Gabrielle and Xena again, this time keeping her hands at her side. She looked at both of them and said in a defeated voice, "Look, it's not my choice. Gabrielle broke the rules and she is going to have to stand trial. Zeus's orders. I'm just the messenger."

"Why you and not Hermes?" asked Xena still trying to find a way out of this mess.

Athena let out wry grin, "He was afraid Gabrielle might send him flying across a field."

Gabrielle glanced up and stammered out an apology, "I.. I'm sorry...I mean I didn't..."

"It's all right," interrupted Athena, "You thought you were protecting your friend. Unfortunately, you went a little too far when protecting her from Ares."

Gabrielle took a moment to compose herself, nodded to Athena and Artemis and said, "I'm ready, let's go to Olympus."

"No!" shouted Xena, "I'm not letting you go without me."

"I wish I could take you, but rule forty-something says no mortals on Olympus."

Athena let out a small smile, "You forgot one of the most important things about the rules Gabrielle."


"There's always a loophole. You're right, rule forty-eight says no mortals are allowed on Olympus, but the sub-clause of rule fifty-two says that any god or goddess may have witnesses in the event of a trial. It doesn't specify mortal or immortal, and Xena is the only witness to what happened."

Gabrielle took Xena's hand and a moment later they appeared in Gabrielle's palace on Olympus. Gabrielle looked around with a confused expression on her face. Xena raised her eyebrows and took a moment to ease the tension, "Wrong turn?"

Gabrielle was about to reply when Artemis appeared. "It's not her fault, I diverted you here. Zeus wants to wait until all the gods are assembled and that may take awhile. Take some time to relax. Gabrielle needs some time to think about what happened and you don't look to hot yourself, Xena." With that Artemis disappeared.

Xena looked at herself in a nearby mirror. She was covered with mud and traces of blood from the beating she had received over a day ago, courtesy of the now deceased God of War.

Gabrielle shook herself out of the shock she had been in. "You're a mess Xena. How bad are you hurt? When was the last time you ate? Don't just stand there, sit down."

Xena smiled at the rambling goddess and said, "Why don't we start out with 'hello' first?"

"This is no time for jokes," said Gabrielle indignantly, stomping her foot.

"Relax, nothing major was broken. I have a split lip, some bruised ribs, and an awful headache, but that's it."

Gabrielle let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, "I was worried he might have done some real damage."

"I think he would have, but you arrived before he got passed toying with me," replied Xena.

"After I overheard him ranting about you ruining his plans, I reminded Zeus about the agreement and came as quickly as I could. Besides, I knew you couldn't keep out of trouble without me."

Xena smiled, but quickly became somber. "I haven't had a chance to thank you. If you hadn't come along when you did..."

"Wait, we can talk about this later. First things first, let's clean you up." Gabrielle's eyes took on a slightly wicked glint. This time Xena caught it before Gabrielle could wave her hands.

"Oh no you don't, not again."

Gabrielle put on an innocent face and started to pout. She stared at Xena with pleading eyes that finally caused Xena to cave in. Xena shrugged and motioned for her to go ahead and use her powers. This time there was no flash or sudden down pour of water, one minute she had blood and mud caked all over her and the next was completely clean. Xena slowly reached up to touch her hair and found it not only clean, but dried and brushed. As she pulled her hand away from her head her fingers felt something mixed in with her hair. Xena turned to the mirror and saw several bright pink ribbons in her hair. She looked over at Gabrielle, who was trying to stifle a giggle.

"Sorry, I couldn't help myself." Gabrielle waved her hand and the ribbons disappeared.

"Thanks," said Xena sarcastically.

"I wish I could do something about the injuries, but since a god inflicted them I can't heal them."

"It's all right. The don't really hurt that much, except the headache."

"Now that I can fix since Ares didn't cause that directly." Gabrielle touched Xena's forehead and her hand glow slightly. When she removed it, Xena's headache was gone.

"It's time we talked about you now, Gabrielle." Xena lead her over to a couch and sat down.

Gabrielle sighed and tried to hold back the tears and she replayed her fight with Ares over in her head. Finally she turned to Xena. "I didn't mean to kill him. I just got so angry that I couldn't do anything and when he kept saying you were his, I just snapped. Everything that I normally would have kept bottled up exploded and 'Zap' he was in a million pieces."

Gabrielle broke down and Xena put her arms around her. "All I wanted to do was protect you.

Xena gently patted Gabrielle's head and whispered, "I know, I know."

Hermes appeared several paces away from the duo. "Zeus sent me to summon you to the main temple."

Gabrielle and Xena stood and slowly faded away. They appeared in the main temple in front of the throne. Gabrielle glanced nervously at her new peers expecting to see anger at killing one of their own. She wasn't disappointed, various gods and goddesses had looks of pure hatred on their faces. Gabrielle was surprised that quite a few didn't seem to care one way or the other and a few were actually smiling. She heard a few voices shout, "Nice shot," "That'll teach 'em", "He had it coming."

"SILENCE!" shouted Zeus as he materialized on the throne with a crash of thunder.

Gabrielle grabbed Xena's hand, but stood proudly. Xena looked about the temple and realized for the first time she was truly powerless to do anything to save her friend. It was up to Gabrielle to save herself.

"Xena? Who let this mortal up on Olympus?" asked Zeus scanning the crowd. His eyes eventually fell on Athena who just shrugged and pointed to a scroll. Zeus closed his eyes and sighed. His daughter wasn't known as the Goddess of Wisdom for nothing. He lowered his head and rubbed his nose and let out another sigh.

"Gabrielle, Gabrielle, Gabrielle, a goddess less than a week and you already managed to break one of the most important rules of Olympus."

"But he..."

"What Ares did is irrelevant. I warned you about controlling you powers. Now you are going to have to pay for your actions."

Gabrielle took on a defiant tone, "Now wait one minute. Ares was beating up a mortal and you say I lost control, what's wrong with this picture?"

Gabrielle took a deep breath and continued, "Look, I'm sorry I about what happened to him. I have never done anything like that in my life and I'm not proud the first time I did it was against a god, but I refused to sit back and be blamed for something he started."

Zeus sat back and listened, but Gabrielle's words were falling on deaf ears. "You don't seem to understand young one, it's not what Ares did that matters. He hurt Xena, yes that's true, but he did so while staying in the rules. You may not have liked him, few on Olympus did, but this time he did nothing wrong, you did."

Zeus paused before continuing, "The penalty for your crime is death."

"NO!" shouted Xena.

Zeus ignored her. "Do you have any last words before sentence is carried out?"

Gabrielle gave Xena's hand a small squeeze. She looked up at Zeus and said, "I'm truly sorry for killing Ares. I never..."

Zeus interrupted her, "Kill? Who said anything about Ares being dead?"

Gabrielle looked at him, then at Xena, and finally at Artemis and Athena before returning her gaze to Zeus.

"I blew him into a million pieces," she stammered, "both Athena and Artemis said I killed him."

Athena and Artemis looked at each other and then up at their father. Artemis finally spoke, "She's right. When I felt what had happened I immediately went to Gabrielle and there was Ares, scattered about the field."

The assembled gods and goddesses of Olympus murmured to themselves. Gabrielle stood there uncertain of what she had done, she knew she had cut loose with everything she had and the results were obvious, one dead God of War.

Zeus finally spoke, "My daughters are very powerful, but they still have a lot to learn. Ares wasn't killed Gabrielle, you don't have that kind of power. You managed to spread his life force across all of Greece, but not kill him."

"I didn't kill him?" asked Gabrielle with hope in her voice.


"He's not dead?" Gabrielle asked again to make sure.

"No, he's not dead, scattering his life force across Greece is close, but no you didn't kill him."

Xena had had enough, "They why this crazy trial and sentence Gabrielle to death?"

"She still broke the rules, Xena. You above all mortals should know the consequences of one's actions."

Gabrielle looked puzzled and asked, "No killing other gods, that's a given and I agree, but what rule did I break then?"

This time Zeus was puzzled, but responded, "Rule five of course."

Gabrielle thought to herself, 'Rule five, rule five, rule five...rule...FIVE?'

Athena shot a nervous look at Artemis which was returned.

Gabrielle suddenly shouted, "Hold it! Nobody ever told me about rule five. Sure, twenty-three here and fifty-eight there, but this is the first time I have heard anything about rule five."

Zeus looked at Gabrielle in confusion and said, "What do you mean you never heard of rule five? Rule five: No god or goddess of Olympus shall kill or disembody another god or goddess without the expressed consent of Zeus. Scattering Ares all over Greece comes under disembodying. It's very clear and just because you don't remember the rule, doesn't mean you won't pay for breaking it."

"It's not a matter of not remembering it, nobody ever told me about it," argued Gabrielle sensing she had finally found her loophole.

"Ahem." Athena cleared her throat.

Zeus looked at her. "You have something to say, daughter?"

Athena looked at her boots and slowly said, "Gabrielle is telling the truth. I never got around to telling her about rule five."

"YOU WHAT?!?!?!?" exclaimed Zeus.

Artemis interrupted Zeus's screaming, "It's not Athena's fault, father. Athena was going to tell her, but I thought Gabrielle was upset and told her not to worry and that we could tell her later. I mean this was Gabrielle we were talking about, not some psycho like Callisto or Velasca."

Zeus put his face in his hands and just mumbled, "What have I done to deserve a family like this?"

"Um, I don't mean to interrupt, but what about me?" asked Gabrielle quietly, not wanting to set Zeus off again.

"What a mess," mumbled Zeus echoing Xena's earlier words. He paused and looked back up at the assembled gods and goddess and returned his attention to Gabrielle. "I have been called many things; cruel, greedy, womanizer, but never unfair. I won't punish you for something you didn't know about, but I don't see how I can let what you did to Ares just slide by."

"Can't you just put him back together?" inquired Xena. "I realize I'm new to this god stuff, but if a god did it, a god should be able to undo it."

"It's not that simple, mortal," responded Zeus. "It's like destroying a building. It is much easier to destroy it than put it back together. It would take many centuries for a god to accumulate the extra power needed to bring back Ares, without draining his or her reserves completely."

Gabrielle thought about the situation and realized it would be unfair to let her get away with blowing Ares to bits. She didn't really meant to do it. This goddess thing wasn't all it was cracked up to be. 'Blast! Things were a whole lot simpler when I wasn't a goddess.'

Suddenly a idea came to Gabrielle. The other gods were all arguing back and forth about who would replace Ares and Zeus was sitting on his throne mumbling about family problems. Gabrielle approached Athena who stood there apologetically. "Athena, what would happen if a god used up all his powers to bring back Ares?"

Athena thought about the question and responded, "If a god used up all of his powers he would be mortal forever. He might still have above average abilities, but no immortality or true powers. Why?"

Gabrielle's face lit up with the first true smile since this whole mess had begun. She let out a long whistle that silenced all the gods, even Zeus looked up from his private musings. Gabrielle walked up to Zeus and said, "I think I have a way to solve this problem."

"I'm listening," replied Zeus, hoping that somebody would say something useful.

"Okay, If Ares were brought back now, it would require a god to give up his godhood right?"

"Right, and nobody is going to do that." Zeus nodded and saw various other gods and goddesses do the same.


"Excuse me?" asked Zeus, "Did you say 'wrong'? What god or goddess would be willing to give up their godhood to bring back Ares?"

Gabrielle smiled and pointed to herself, "Me."


"Me," repeated Gabrielle, still smiling.

"You're the one who did this in the first place. Why would you want to bring him back?"

Gabrielle became somber. "I thought I killed him. I didn't, but I came so close it still frightens me. I don't want this kind of power, where I can do something like that without thinking. As a mortal at least I have a few seconds to think things through before acting. This time Ares was the only one to get hurt, what if next time mortals become involved? I realize that using a staff might eventually lead to losing my blood innocence, but it won't compare with what could happen if I use my powers."

"So you are willing to sacrifice you godhood to bring back somebody who might do harm to you and your friend?"

Gabrielle let out a small grin, "Hey, I may be naive, but I'm not stupid. Since you like conditions so much I have a few as well. First, Ares can't directly interfere with Xena again. I know he'll hatch some scheme or find some stooge to do his dirty work, but nothing direct from him. Second, I expect all the gods present to keep an eye on him to make sure he lives up to that. Third, if he breaks the agreement he forfeits all his powers and godhood to Xena."

Xena had been mentally agreeing with Gabrielle right up until the last condition. "No way, Gabrielle. I told you before I don't want to be a goddess. Ares already made the offer once and I turned him down."

Gabrielle put her hand on Xena's shoulder. "Relax, Ares wanted to make you a goddess in order to spend eternity with you. I don't think he would look forward to living with you as the goddess and him as the mortal. Besides, think of all the fun you could have bothering him for the rest of his mortal life. I know you're worried about what you might do, but you are used to having power and have a tighter control over your emotions than most people. I don't think you'll have to worry though, Ares doesn't want to lose his godhood, he had a taste of mortality once and didn't like it."

Xena wasn't entirely convinced, but what Gabrielle had said made sense. She solemnly nodded.

Gabrielle returned her attention to Zeus, "Well? Do we have a deal? I use up all of my powers to return Ares and you all agree to keep him line with regards to Xena."

Zeus nodded his head and was about to speak when Gabrielle added one more condition."

"One more thing, no loopholes." She looked over at Athena who quickly nodded in agreement. "If he tries anything, I mean anything, he loses his godhood for good."

"You have a deal young lady."

"Great," she paused and thought a moment, "Anybody care to share with me exactly HOW to bring him back?"

Artemis walked over to Gabrielle and said, "Give me you hand. Let your power flow through me and I'll direct it."

Gabrielle took Artemis's hand and concentrated. When it felt like every part of her body was about to explode, she unleashed her power. A large whirlwind appeared, and when it dissipated there stood the God of War.

Ares walked over to Gabrielle. Xena stepped in between them. Ares paused and turned slightly to face Xena. "Believe it or not, I'm sorry I lost my temper. You can be so frustrating, but I realize I can't physically force you to return. I won't lay another hand on you, in fact I owe you for the beating. Now if you'll excuse me I have a few words to say to the irritating blond."

Gabrielle slowly pushed Xena aside so she stood face to face Ares. The God of War's face was unreadable, he just stood there glaring at Gabrielle. Suddenly he grabbed Gabrielle's hand and gently kissed it. Gabrielle stood there in shock, Xena's jaw dropped to the ground and she stared at him. Ares let go of Gabrielle's hand and stepped back, enjoying the confusion he had created. "You have guts, I'll admit that. I didn't think you had it in you. You gave up your powers to bring me back. I won't forget that. Maybe you aren't so irritating after all...nah, you're still irritating, but maybe stronger than I thought."

Ares faded from view and the collected gods and goddesses began to disperse. Zeus came down from his throne and joined Artemis and Athena who had stayed behind.

Gabrielle looked relieved. "I'm glad that's over with."

"Gabrielle," Zeus smiled at her, "despite what happened, I want you to know I think in time you would have made an excellent goddess. Athena and Artemis were right to chose you. I have to go tell Ares about the conditions on his return."

Zeus vanished with a clap of thunder.

Athena walked up to Gabrielle. "I'm sorry about all of this. Artemis and I only had the best of intentions."

Gabrielle smiled to let them know there were no hard feelings. She took one last look around Olympus and asked, "Could one of you give us a lift back? I seem to have misplaced my map."

Artemis and Athena chuckled, glad all was forgiven. Artemis waved her hand and as Gabrielle and Xena began to disappear they heard Ares voice shouting, "YOU AGREED TO WHAT??????"

Chapter 13 "If tomorrow never comes"

The two travelers, now both mortal, were again standing on earth in a campsite. Their own campsite, they found out as Argo trotted over to greet them.

Gabrielle smiled.

"Thank you Athena and Artemis," she whispered, staring at the surroundings around her. A fire was burning and food was laid out. Argo had been brushed and, after assessing her mistress was fine, was nibbling contentedly on some nearby grass. Their waterskins were full, Xena discovered. And, they had been re-supplied as well as given 50 dinars.

Xena looked up at the sky. The moon and most of the stars were covered by clouds but the fire gave ample light.

"Perhaps the gods aren't so bad after all," she commented.

"Psh. You didn't have to live with them."

Xena grinned.

"I'm telling you Xena, being a goddess was not at all what I thought it would be like. I don't see how they can live with each other. Hermes thought he was the greatest thing since parchment...and Aphrodite! Oh, man! She even drives the other gods crazy. And, well, you know Ares."

"Well, I'm glad you had fun." Xena plopped herself down by the fire. She picked up a loaf of bread, broke it in half, and offered half to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle seated herself beside Xena and took the proffered bread. She bit a piece off and, slowly, began to chew. "So, how did you do without me?"

Xena raised an eyebrow at the question. "Ares coming after me was definitely a downside."

Gabrielle let herself smile for a moment before becoming somber again. "Seriously, Xena. How was it traveling alone?"

"Lonely. After awhile, you get used to someone constantly badgering you all the time."

Gabrielle shook her head and gave up on trying to get a solemn answer.
She stared into the fire as she spoke, "Huh...It's weird, Xena." Gabrielle paused a moment before continuing. "Up there, I had everything anyone could want. Yet, the entire time all I wanted to do was be down here. Isn't that crazy? Half the time we're starving, sleeping on hard ground, getting rained on without any cover, waking before dawn, being raided by thugs, and having little or no money. Still, all I could think of was coming back." Gabrielle bit off another piece of bread signaling she was finished talking for the moment.

"Just remember that the next time you start grumbling to me about how awful things are." More serious, Xena added, "Paradise is what you make of it. This is your life, Gabrielle. You knew that when you first started to travel with me. From the very beginning, you made it clear this is what you wanted. Besides, on Mt. Olympus, you had every THING. All those you loved were still down here. Possessions can be bought and sold, friends and family are priceless."

Gabrielle looked up at Xena. "You know, you don't talk much but when you do, you can be very wise."

"I don't talk much so when I do it sounds important."


Gabrielle and Xena were quiet for a moment, both staring into the fire. As usual, Gabrielle broke the silence.

"I guess we're going to be late getting to Amazonia."

"Ah, Hades!" Xena pounded her thigh with a fist.

"It's okay, Xena. I think Amazonia will still be there when we get there."

Xena waved a hand to silence her friend. "No, no. It's not that. They were going to have a celebration for you and I was supposed to get you there on time."


Xena was shaking her head in frustration. "Oh well. They might be mad, but it's not as if we didn't have a good excuse."

"That's for sure...Oh, while I'm thinking of it, have you figured out the answer to the riddle?"

"What riddle?"

"The one I told you before all this stuff got started."

Xena thought for a minute. "I remember you telling me it but I can't remember it. Repeat it if you will."

Gabrielle took a deep breath and repeated the riddle.

Often talked of, never seen,
Ever coming, never been,
Daily looked for, never here,
Still approaching, coming near.
Thousands for it's visit wait
But alas for their fate,
Tho' they expect me to appear,
They will never find me here.

"And your sure there's an answer to this?" Xena got up and put out her bedroll. She laid down but didn't close her eyes.

"Mm hmm," Gabrielle said sleepily as she laid her bedroll next to Xena's.

A few minutes passed without a word being spoken. This time, Xena broke the silence.

"Oookay. You win. What's the answer?"

"I'll tell you...tomorrow."

"Why do I have to wait until tom--Gabrielle!" Xena heard her friend
chuckle. "Until tomorrow," Xena promised with a grin.

"Until tomorrow. G'Night Xena."


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