Soul Searching


Note: This story builds off FIN...this is what happened afterwards.

As our story begins, Gabrielle is standing looking out over the Nile with Xena’s spirit standing at her side. They are discussing what is going on, and how Gabrielle is trying to protect the Pharaoh’s daughter from an unknown assassin. However, during their talk, Xena disappears in mid-sentence. Gabrielle just smiles, and says, "I hate it when she pops in and out like that."

Time passes and Gabrielle continues her search for the assassin, but suddenly realizes that she has not seen Xena in a few days. This is very bizarre behavior, because she usually sees her at least once a day. Maybe Xena got side tracked with Solen or something, she wonders, time does pass differently in the underworld. She begins her rounds through the palace when Joxer appears. Gabrielle is completely surprised, because he has never visited her before, only Xena, but she is happy to see him nonetheless. Joxer explains that Xena’s soul has been taken hostage by Alti, and that she plans to spend the rest of eternity tormenting Xena. Gabrielle remarks, "How can this be? We banished Alti’s soul after she tried to steal Eve’s soul."

Joxer replies, "Gabby, what really happened was that you prevented Alti from bothering the living, but that had no effect on her power in the underworld. Her magic has become so strong that she was able to surprise Xena, and capture her. She really needs your help."

"Of course I will come to help Xena", Gabrielle replies, "I could never live one more minute of my life knowing that she is suffering." Joxer vanished, and now Gabrielle must explain her situation to the Pharaoh, and find a way to travel to the spirit world.

The Pharaoh was very understanding of her situation. He did plead with her to stay for the sake of his daughter, but he said he would not force her to remain in Egypt. Gabrielle thanked him for his kindness, and explained that Xena was her soulmate, and that the thought of her suffering, made each moment of her life more difficult than the one before.

Gabrielle realized that in-order to make it to the underworld, she would need a little divine assistance and guidance. So, she returned to Greece to seek out Aphrodite. Inside one of Aphrodite’s temples, she called out for her to appear, and of course the goddess did not disappoint.

"What can I do for, you kiddo?" she said with her most beautiful and happy smile.

Gabrielle replied, "I need to go to the underworld. Xena’s spirit is being held hostage, and I must free her. I don’t know how to get there, and I need your help." Gabrielle then continues to relate the whole story to Aphrodite as it was told to her by Joxer. Aphrodite agrees to help, but she explains that the process is long and dangerous.

"Well, since Hades is gone, things with the underworld are a little more complicated. He used to just kind of whisk the people off in his chariot, and that made life, or I guess in this case death, a lot easier. In order to get there now, there is a cave not far from Mt. Olympus that you must follow down to an underground lake. In the lake, there is a boatman that will take you across the sea of lost souls to the underworld. You must be careful not to touch the water, or get too close to the side of the boat, for the souls will try to pull you under. These souls are people that could not accept death, and tried to escape from Hades, and they wind-up there. Plus, make sure to have a dinar for the boatman, that is the price to cross the lake. I can show you were the cave is, but I’m not going in, that place gives me the creeps."

Aphrodite then tells Gabrielle to grab her hand, and they vanish and reappear at the opening of the cave. "Wow!" Gabrielle remarks, "It must be nice to be able to travel like that." The goddess just smiles, and wishes Gabrielle good luck, and with a blink of an eye, she is gone.

Gabrielle enters the cave, and finds a lit torch to her right. She removes it from the wall and continues on into the darkness. She sees a pair of spiral stairs, and proceeds to follow them down to a lake, just as Aphrodite said. Although, she neglected to mention that the boatman was a skeleton, which shocked Gabrielle. He stretches out his bony fingers, and she places the dinar in his hand. With that, they were on their way. Gabrielle could hear the screams and moans of the lost souls. The sound was so terrible that she tried to cover her ears to block it out, she needed to focus on the task at hand, and that was to free Xena from Alti. She began to think back to all the adventures the two of them had together, and all the tight spots they had managed to escape. Gabrielle’s heart began to pound harder, she wasn’t sure if it was due to the oncoming battle or the fact that she would be able to see and touch Xena again. Gabrielle longed to give her soulmate a hug, and not have to worry about her disappearing on her again. She missed all their talking and late night chats, now Xena only appeared for a short time every day. Just then the boat had reached the shore, she had not been able to see the spirit world from the boat due to the dense fog surrounding it. As she stepped onto the land, she could see the whole landscape, and it was beautiful! Lush green fields and trees as far as the eye could see, and the sun was was just unbelievable. Waiting to meet the boat were all her friends and family, Joxer, Solen, Xena’s mother, Ephiny, and her other Amazon sisters. It was wonderful to see them all again, and they all shared a warm moment, hugging and talking, just like at a giant family reunion. It was as if Gabrielle had been out of town for awhile, and now she was returning home.

Ephiny began to discuss what was going on with Xena, "What we know so far is that Alti has built some kind of fortress on the other side of the mountain where she is holding Xena. Her magic is very powerful, she draws her strength from fallen warriors she is able to cast her spell on. We had no idea she was even here, and then one day, the sky just filled with flames, and we heard this laugh and a voice said, ‘You’re mine, Xena!’ and like that Xena was gone. Myself and some of the other Amazons have been investigating things, and we were able to find out that Alti was behind all of this."

"Thanks for all your help, Ephiny, and to all of you. We are going to have to come up with some kind of plan to break into that fortress and find Xena.", Gabrielle replied.

Gabrielle thought long and hard, wondering what Xena would do in this situation. Then it hit her, "A group of us will attack the castle head on as a diversion, while myself and a few others will be able to sneak in another way and find Xena. The first thing we need to do is figure out how to get in, where are all the exits and entrances. Ephiny, you take a group of Amazons with you, and check out the castle. Hopefully, we will be able to plan our assault for tomorrow night."

The fortress was heavily protected, and a full frontal attack would definitely be difficult. So, some of the Amazons dressed as dancers, and Joxer came along with them as their master, so to speak, to entertain Alti’s soldiers. This made it easy for them to get into the castle, what man is not going to open the gate for a group of beautiful women. Once inside, they began to dance around to distract the men, while Gabrielle, Ephiny, and a few others climbed over the outer wall, and entered into the upper level of the fortress. The ladies just needed to distract the soldiers for a few moments, and when the time was right, they swiftly and quickly knocked them all out. Their job now was to secure a way out for the other group, and to stand guard against any additional support for Alti.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle and the others began their search for Xena. Gabrielle decided that they would be able to cover more ground if they split up. The faster they find Xena, the better. She decides that she will go off on her own. Ephiny replies, "Won’t you need some extra help?"

"I have this, and it is all that I need," Gabrielle says pointing to Xena’s Chakram.

Gabrielle heads for the basement, while the others head to check out the towers. As she reaches the dingy basement, it looks like she has stumbled upon some sort of dungeon. Peaking into each room, she finds nothing but hay and chains. As she looks into the last room, there is Xena, chained to the wall. Her heart races with excitement, but she can see that Xena looks worn and tired. Surprisingly, the door is unlocked; Gabrielle enters and is able to break Xena’s chains with her Chakram. Xena collapses into her arms, and they share a loving embrace. Xena remarks, "How did you get here?" She was worried that maybe Gabrielle had taken her own life to try and save Xena.

Gabrielle replies, "Aphrodite showed me the way. You know that if you needed me, I’d be here. I could never let anything happen to you."

"I know. I just knew that you would show-up, but I thought maybe it was a dream, that you were a dream."

"No, Xena. I am really here, and we are together, but I can explain everything later. The most important thing is that we get you out of here before Alti finds out."

"Gabrielle, the only way for us to end this is to face and defeat her. If not, this will just continue to go on and on."

"Are you sure you have the strength to face her?"

"I’ll be ok, and we should be able to defeat her together."

Gabrielle and Xena head out of the dungeon, and begin their search for Alti. Unfortunately, as they enter the kitchen area, they are confronted by a group of Alti’s warrior slaves, who are no longer men, but skeletons.

"More skeletons," Gabrielle remarks, "what happens to people over here." Just as the battle is about to begin, Gabrielle turns to Xena, "Here, you might need this," and she hands her the Chakram.

The battle rages on with Gabrielle and Xena doing their best to take out the skeletons. A kick here and toss of the Chakram later, and they are continuing in their quest to find Alti. As they enter the throne room, there sits Alti with her legs swung over the arm of the throne, just kind of relaxing.

"I knew the minute I captured you Xena, that the little blonde would show-up. So, I’ve just been sitting and waiting, this way I can torture both of you. It isn’t fun to have one without the other."

"It’s not going to be that easy, Alti," Xena replies.

"Oh yes it is, Xena. I’ll just have my warriors take care of you, and I’ll sit back and enjoy the show." Alti summons her warriors, but no one appears. At that point, Ephiny and the rest of the Amazons, with Joxer, come walking through the door.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but your soldiers seem to be occupied right now. I’m sure they’ll be waking up in a few days or years," Ephiny says with a smile.

"No matter, I can still finish you off without them."

Alti begins to work her magic, picking Xena up and hurling her across the room. She has focused all her strength on Xena, and this give Gabrielle a chance to attack her from behind. The problem for Alti is that she has become so powerful that she can only control her magic by focusing on one thing at a time. This makes Gabrielle’s and Xena’s tag team plan work beautifully. They continue to fight back and forth, Alti trying to attack one and then the other. However, all the confusion has caused her to lose her focus, and she is starting to lose control. Xena recognizes that Alti’s power is starting to slip out of her control. Xena calls out to Gabrielle, "If we continue to come at her from different sides, she won’t be able to handle us both. She’s become too powerful for her own good."

The two of them continue their assault plan, and it works just like Xena thought. Alti begins to spin out of control. Fire and lighting begin to pour out of every orifice of her body, lighting up the room in an amazing blaze, and just like that, she is gone.

"Xena, is she gone for good?"

"Well, her powers consumed her, but I doubt that they destroyed her soul. Although, I don’t think we will be hearing from her anytime soon."

The rest of the group comes over to congratulate them on a battle well fought, and Xena thanks them for all their help. All of a sudden a large chunk of the ceiling smashes against the floor, and the castle begins to crumble.

Xena remarks, "Alti’s magic built this fortress, and without her, there is nothing holding it together, let’s get out of here."

So, everyone runs out of the fortress, and they begin to head home. Xena and Gabrielle are walking arm and arm together, and then Xena stops and turns to Gabrielle, and they share a long and tender embrace, neither one of them wanting to let go of the other.

"Xena, I’ve decided that I am not going back to Egypt. You are my soulmate, my life, I belong here with you."

"Oh Gabrielle, I would love you to stay. These days without you have been hard, but I just can’t allow you to give up your life."

"Xena, it’s my life and my choice where I stay, and I’m staying here."

Then they hear a voice say, "No, you will be returning to the land of the living.’ It is Michael, as he appears at their side. "However, you will not be returning alone, Xena will be going with you."

"But what about the 40,000 souls?" Xena wonders.

"They have already been received into a state of grace due to your sacrifice. Plus, they never needed to be avenged because their deaths were accidental. You never meant to start that fire. Xena, if you go back and continue to strive for good, then these souls, along with all the others will be better off because of you."

Xena and Gabrielle head back to find the others, and tell them what has happened. They are sad to see Xena go, but they know she can do so much more good in the land of the living. Plus, they will see her and Gabrielle again some day. So, Xena kisses Solen goodbye, and Michael returns them to Egypt. So, Xena and Gabrielle are once again looking out at the Nile together, but this time there will be no leaving nor time apart, for they are together, and ready to go on with whatever adventure is next.

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