By CJ Wells
Disclaimers: See Chapter One.
"Who are you?" Lindsay asked of the man standing before her. "And where the hell am I?"
"I’m almost offended that you don’t remember me‚ Majesty‚" the man replied in a self-aggrandizing tone. "I know that it’s been awhile‚ but I’d like to think that I have a face that’s not easy to forget."
"Well‚ I don’t know you‚" Lindsay shot‚ "and stop calling me ‘majesty.’"
"By your will‚ my Liege."
"Knock it off‚" Lindsay demanded. "I’m dreaming‚" she concluded. "This has to be a dream‚ right?"
"Well‚ not exactly‚" the man replied. "Yes‚ your physical form is presently sleeping‚ but your inner being is in a different level of consciousness."
"My inner being?" Lindsay folded her arms in disbelief. "What a crock of shit you’re spewing."
"I’m sure that you’re finding this hard to believe‚ but trust me‚ you are not dreaming."
"Okay‚ what is this then‚" Lindsay asked‚ "if it’s not a dream?"
The man slowly approached her. "Look around the room‚ Lindsay‚" he said. "As you look around‚ look within. The answer to your question is right here with me."
Although dubious‚ Lindsay complied. As she looked‚ she did not find anything recognizable until her eyes fell upon a small desk with an open scroll. At that moment‚ feeling as though she had been pinched‚ she returned her attention to the man. "Do you remember me now‚ my Liege?" he asked.
Lindsay looked deeply into his indigo eyes as a word broke through her throat. "Palaemon‚" she said. "Your name is Palaemon."
"How do I know that?"
"Because you know me‚" Palaemon said.
Stunned‚ Lindsay sat down on the bed behind her and then noticed the strange attire that she too was wearing. She extended her arms to feel the fabric of the robe‚ looked down to observe the sandals on her feet and then reached up to remove the dressing from her head.
She looked at the laurel wreath and sighed deeply as a flood of emotions overtook her. "My God‚ Dad was right. I am Xena the Conqueror."
"No‚ you’re not‚" said Palaemon. "You’re Lindsay Alasdair. But a couple of thousand years or so ago‚ yes‚ you were her."
"And you were somebody important in her life‚" Lindsay said. "It’s strange‚ but for some reason I remember you as her right-hand man or something."
"That’s correct‚" Palaemon responded. "I commanded her elite Imperial troops. That’s why I threw in the honorifics‚ to help jar your ‘memory‚’ for lack of a better word."
"So‚ are you someone different now too?"
"Nope‚ I’m still ol’ Palaemon."
"I don’t get this‚" Lindsay said.
"I haven’t fully been briefed on the situation either‚ Lindsay‚ but this is what I do know. I’m here to congratulate you‚ so to speak."
"Congratulate me on what?"
"Reconnecting with your soul mate‚ of course‚" Palaemon announced.
"Look‚ I’ve been dead since before Jesus Christ was potty trained‚ and yet here I am‚ speaking to you in good old Americanized English‚ even though your language didn’t exist when I was around. Couldn’t very well speak to you in ancient Hellenistic Greek. You wouldn’t understand me."
Lindsay continued to give Palaemon a look of confusion. "Soul mate?" she asked.
"Yup‚" Palaemon said as he walked over and sat down next to Lindsay. "I don’t know if you recall that I wasn’t the most religious or scholarly of your commanders. I was just good at killing people. But if you were to ask me‚ I’d suspect that your situation is about transmigration. Perhaps you were in Elysium and drank from the banks of the Lethe to return again to the world above. Perhaps Plato’s or Pythagoras’ theories on transmigration are at work here. You do seem to have retained some characteristics of your former lives."
"Personally‚ I believe that what you’ve been experiencing is Samsara‚" Palaemon continued. "Since the time that you were Xena‚ your soul has returned periodically‚ searching. The bottom line is you kept coming back in order to reestablish that special bond that you had with your soul mate...but restore it correctly."
Lindsay returned her attention to that desk and scroll. "Rejeanne... Gabrielle‚" she whispered. "She’s my soul mate."
Lindsay smirked at the smug grin on Palaemon’s face. "I still don’t get this‚" she said. "What do you mean by former lives? Are you saying that this reincarnation thing is real?"
"I don’t know if it’s real for everyone‚" Palaemon said. "I would totally dig being reincarnated into Russell Crowe. But I’m certainly not sailing on a yacht in Monte Carlo with some young hottie right now. Before you two‚ however‚ the souls of Xena and Gabrielle have interacted on three occasions since their deaths almost two millennia ago. The problem was that‚ in those past lives‚ those two souls never made the level of a connection that Xena and Gabrielle had... until now."
Lindsay anxiously ran her hands through her hair‚ trying to make sense of what she was absorbing. "So‚ when did these other meetings occur?" she asked.
"Well‚ let’s see‚" Palaemon began as he dramatically rubbed his stubbly chin. "The first time was about five hundred or so years after Xena and Gabrielle’s deaths. Thanks to Xena’s assistance in the battle between the Germans and the Persians as led by that whack-job Shaikheti‚ the Germanic tribes became a formidable confederation over the next few hundred years. They sacked both the Romans and the Celts before they began to implode around A.D. 500. You were Valentina Xerxes‚ the daughter of a powerful Avar warrior from east of the Black Sea‚ who led his army to invade the dismantled tribes of Germany and the Balkans. Of course‚ Valentina was a warrior as well‚ and it was during one of her battles that she met the returned soul of Gabrielle‚ one Gisela of Naissus‚ who was the daughter of an Ostrogothan farmer."
"What happened between them?"
"Nothing really‚" Palaemon said. "They met and the attraction was obvious. They did manage one heavy-duty make-out session in Valentina’s tent one evening‚ but she was too focused on defeating Germans and Gisela was too focused on staying alive. She fled to the Carpathian Mountains before the two could go on their second date. They never met again."
Lindsay looked down at her hands. "The second meeting?" she asked.
"Your souls were dormant for a long time after that. Over a thousand years. They didn’t return until the era currently known as the Italian Renaissance. Did you know that the word renaissance literally means rebirth?"
"Spare me the commentary‚ Palaemon‚" Lindsay retorted.
"Right‚" he said. "But you have to admit that it is kind of symbiotic‚ given the fascination that the Europeans of the era had toward Ancient Greece and Rome."
Lindsay impatiently folded her arms. "Okay‚ okay‚" Palaemon said. "For the second reunion‚ the two souls met in 16th-century Florence. Xena’s was Marcella Erasmus‚ the daughter of a Florentine banker of Greek descent. He was very powerful and she was very smart‚ so it was a great combination.
"The soul of Gabrielle returned as a Venetian philosopher and humanist by the name of Angela Delia‚" he continued. "Her writing reflected her beliefs that people were rational beings‚ possessing within themselves the capacity for truth and goodness. She was an oddity because she was a woman in a male-dominated vocation. But here’s something interesting. Angela was particularly interested in ancient Greek manuscripts and likely studied the unearthed scrolls of Gabrielle of Poteidaia. When Marcella heard about the woman philosopher‚ the two met through her interest in Angela’s writing. Afterwards‚ your soul seemed to have developed a passion for the arts‚ because Marcella began contributing generously toward showcasing Angela and other up-and-coming Italian artists and literary figures. Marcella promoted Angela’s work for years."
"Years?" Lindsay asked.
"Yes‚" Palaemon replied. "It’s quite interesting the durations of your crossed paths from existence to existence. Xena and Gabrielle bonded in union and remained together for several years afterwards‚ until Xena’s rather untimely death on the battlefield. The returned souls in Germany knew each other for less than a week. But the friendship during the Italian Renaissance lasted for almost fifteen years‚ until Marcella’s death from peritonitis."
"That’s a nasty way to go‚" Lindsay commented.
"No worse than the way Xena checked out‚" Palaemon responded.
"Good point‚" Lindsay said‚ reflecting. "But seriously‚ I still don’t get this. Our souls found each other then. They were friends until death. Why didn’t that count?"
"I’m assuming that your true path as soul mates involves a profession and consummation of romantic love‚" Palaemon replied. "Marcella and Angela were both married... to guys... and again‚ although the feelings were strong and the physical desires intense‚ neither one acted on them. They never even conveyed to each other how they really felt."
"That sounds tragic‚" Lindsay said. "Even Xena didn’t even allow herself to suffer indeterminately."
"Yeah‚ it was a bummer. But hey‚ it’s cool that you remember that little tidbit about the mighty Conqueror."
Lindsay allowed herself to crack a smile. "So‚ my loyal commander and soul historian‚ what were the circumstances of my third chance meeting with my soul mate?"
"Ah‚ the third time should have been a charm‚" Palaemon began‚ "but alas‚ it was during a dark period in history. Your souls reunited in 1860 at a cessation rally in South Carolina. Yours was Margaret Needham‚ and she was there to support her father‚ who was a very prosperous plantation and slave owner. Rejeanne’s soul was Bronwyn Forbes‚ a Boston Quaker on an anti-slavery mission. She was there with a group of abolitionists to protest the rally."
"Yeah‚ that sounds like her‚" Lindsay said with a smile.
"Well‚ Maggie wanted to shoot little Bronny right then and there‚ but of course that cursed animal magnetism got in the way and the two became fast friends. Bronny educated Maggie on the sins of slavery and‚ once she trusted Maggie‚ introduced her to the folks who ran the Underground Railroad. Not only was Maggie transformed into an advocate for emancipation; by 1863‚ she was working as a spy for the Union Army. Both women risked their lives time and time again to free slaves and capture Confederates. Needless to say‚ their lives were quite adventurous during that time‚ Lindsay."
"So what happened?" Lindsay asked. "Were they captured by Stonewall Jackson and hung or something?"
"No‚ worse‚" Palaemon said. "Over the course of their friendship‚ the two often held hands‚ caressed each other and even slept in the same bed. They would use the lamest excuses to be together and pined for each other when they were apart. I guess what they had could be categorized as one of those 19th-century romantic friendships. However‚ after the war and in the dawn of Reconstruction in the American South‚ the two shared a long and passionate kiss in a carriage in Charleston. It was 1866‚ Lindsay‚ the height of the Victorian Era. The exchange freaked both women out so much that Bronny returned to Boston the next day. Not only did those two never see each other again‚ they both died bitter and alone."
Lindsay gasped. "Oh my God‚" she said. "That is worse."
"Yeah‚ it totally blows. And you know‚ it’s ironic that in the end‚ it wasn’t the evils of war or slavery that tore the two apart‚" Palaemon lamented. "It was the fear of homosexuality in a repressive era."
Lindsay sat for several moments quietly reflecting what she had been told. "Have Rejeanne and I always looked the same during these returns?" she asked‚ breaking the silence.
"Pretty much‚" Palaemon said. "Same faces‚ hair and eye colors‚ body structures and height differences. You’re both taller than in your earlier lives... better diets and health care and all. Perhaps your souls needed the familiarity of resemblance. I’m totally speculating here‚ but I suspect that if you were to get a hold of Val’s or Marcy’s or Maggie’s DNA‚ there’d be a match to yours."
Lindsay’s eyebrows raised.
Also‚" Palaemon continued‚ "you might find it interesting to know that in each life‚ you were six-years-eleven-months apart in age with you always being the elder. However‚ your souls have never been the same age at the introductions. Xena was twenty-seven when she purchased twenty-year-old Gabrielle. Valentina and Gisela were even younger; twenty-three and sixteen respectively‚ while Marcella was approaching forty when she met Angela. Maggie and Bronny were the closest in age to you and Rejeanne at meeting. They were twenty-nine and twenty-three respectively. And you’ll be happy to know that their ages at death won’t predetermine yours. Xena and Marcella died relatively young‚ but Valentina‚ despite her violent youth‚ and Maggie far exceeded the life expectancies of their eras."
"Fascinating‚" Lindsay said.
"Individual life experiences and circumstances have produced whatever scars or illnesses they may have suffered. For instance‚ neither Rejeanne‚ nor the subsequent souls after Gabrielle had the whip marks that she had."
Lindsay shot up. "Ohmygawd!" she exclaimed. "Okay‚ I am so not this Xena!" she exclaimed. "There’s no way in hell that I would ever... EVER... whip Rejeanne or anyone for that matter!"
"Of course not‚ because you aren’t Xena as the person she was. Your soul has evolved‚ but you still possess many of her basic nature and instincts. And it’s notable that you recall that Xena whipped Gabrielle. Karma is what brought you two together‚ I believe."
Lindsay sat back down. "So what happens now?"
"I dunno‚" Palaemon said. "I guess you’ll just go back into a regular sleep‚ wake up in the morning and live happily ever after with Rejeanne."
"Right‚ Palaemon‚" Lindsay smirked. "It’s that simple‚ huh?"
"Well‚ I’ll give you a little piece of advice‚" he responded as he casually draped his arm around Lindsay’s shoulder. "That yacht that you have docked at your mom’s place in Florida..."
"I wouldn’t rush in taking Jeannie on that thing. The reincarnated soul of Gabrielle still gets mighty seasick."
Lindsay laughed as she threw her arm around his shoulder. "Dramamine‚ Palaemon‚ my dear friend‚" she replied. "Works much better than cucumbers and cherries."
* * * *
Rejeanne opened her eyes and saw flowers of almost every species finely landscaped in a tremendous garden. She sat with her legs crossed and in front of her was a rolled parchment. Stunned‚ she stood up and looked around the garden until her gaze fell upon a slight‚ somewhat older woman wearing a simple tunic.
"Hey‚ where did these flowers come from?" she asked the woman. "It’s‚ like‚ the middle of winter now."
"It’s not the middle of winter here‚ my Lady‚" the woman responded.
"Oh‚ I forgot‚" the woman responded. "You’re not one to care for honorifics."
Rejeanne approached her. "Excuse me‚ but do I know you?" she asked.
"In a manner of speaking‚ yes‚" the woman replied.
Rejeanne looked around the garden again. "Everything feels strangely familiar‚" she said. "But I must be dreaming or something‚ because when I went to sleep... after having the best damn sex ever... it was snowing outside. Here‚ it’s frickin’ hot. And why are we both dressed like Socrates or something?"
"Well‚ you’re not exactly dreaming‚" the woman said.
"Perhaps‚ but I’m also not in Kansas anymore either‚ Toto‚" Rejeanne responded.
"You were never in Kansas‚" the woman said. "My understanding is that you reside in Wisconsin."
"It’s a figure of speech‚ lady‚" Rejeanne said before extending her hand in greeting. "I’m Rejeanne Piscard. What’s your name?"
"So‚ where am I?"
"On what?" Rejeanne asked.
"Well‚ although your body gives the appearance of sleeping soundly in your bed‚" Mia responded‚ "your inner spirit is standing here talking to me."
"What have you been smoking?" Rejeanne sneered.
"Nothing‚" Mia replied.
"Okay‚ so what is this ‘inner spirit’ crap‚ then?"
"I know that you may find this preposterous‚ but there’s more to your reality than just being awake or asleep‚" Mia started. "Your inner spirit is composed of several plains of reality that are united by the mind. One reality is what you experience when you’re awake‚ while another is what goes on as you dream. The thing that these realities have in common is your awareness of them."
"You are on a different level of reality right now‚" Mia continued. "Not awake‚ but not asleep either. If you need to categorize it‚ think of it as a conscious sedation in a spiritual realm."
Rejeanne folded her arms and chuckled in disbelief. "Yeah‚ right‚" she grimaced. "And why is my ‘inner spirit’ here hanging out with you‚ Just Mia?"
"I think that you know the answer to that question‚ Rejeanne‚" Mia responded. "Just allow the deepest recesses of your soul to surface."
"Look at me‚ Rejeanne. Look into my eyes and remember."
"Oh‚ I don’t think so‚" Rejeanne turned away from Mia‚ purposefully avoiding the other woman’s gaze. This is the weirdest fucking dream‚ she mused as she wandered around the garden. Hmm‚ pretty flowers. She picked one. Smells good too. Golly‚ it’s hot here. Yo‚ someone turn down the thermostat. She returned to the rolled parchment. Okay‚ whoever is in charge‚ I can wake up anytime now.
Eventually overcome by curiosity‚ Rejeanne also returned her attention to Mia. She approached and looked into Mia’s deep brown eyes‚ and seeing her own reflection‚ a name came to her lips. "Gabrielle‚" she whispered.
Mia smiled. "May I offer you congratulations on your great achievement?"
"Congratulations for what?" Rejeanne asked as she stood dumbfounded. "And what does all of this mean?"
"The soul of Gabrielle‚ your soul‚ has searched far and wide for over two millennia to find your mate and consummate your love‚ and now you have done it. You and Lindsay."
"So‚ let me get this straight‚" Rejeanne said. "I was Gabrielle of Poteideia in an earlier life. Lindsay Alasdair really is the reincarnation of that maniacal Xena the Conqueror... oh‚ and she’s gonna love that... and I’m the reincarnation of her little love slave."
"That sums it up so far."
"Those two fell in love‚ although if you consider the history books‚ I don’t know what Gabrielle ever saw in that evil twat."
"Forget the history books‚ Rejeanne‚" Mia said. "What does your inner spirit tell you?"
There she goes with that ‘inner spirit’ crap again. Rejeanne closed her eyes‚ and feeling her heart beat faster‚ she reflected for several minutes. "Xena was damaged and lonely‚" she finally said. "Gabrielle offered her a world outside war and bloodlust. She also taught Xena to listen to her heart‚ and once she started doing that‚ Gabrielle chronicled her good deeds in a series of scrolls." Rejeanne opened her eyes.
"Exactly‚" Mia said.
"Most historians claim that Emperor Augustus defeated Xena‚ but that’s not how it actually went down‚" Rejeanne continued. "The scrolls told the true story‚ but they were stolen and eventually destroyed‚ I believe."
"They were stolen‚" Mia said. "But not destroyed. They have been in the possession‚ either physically or by inspiration‚ of each of your subsequent souls."
"Lin and I have been down this road before?"
"Oh‚ several times together‚" Mia replied. "But not to the degree of love and intimacy that Xena and Gabrielle‚ and now you and Lindsay‚ have experienced."
Rejeanne sat back down on the ground‚ taking in all she had been told. Mia sat beside her. "You look troubled‚ Rejeanne‚" she said. "Why?"
"Okay‚ like this is so totally freaky‚" Rejeanne said. "I mean‚ why is it that‚ all of sudden‚ I have all these fragmented memories of pre-Christ Corinth‚ of this garden‚ this palace‚ and of Xena and our lives together‚ but I don’t have a single memory of those so-called subsequent lives?"
"I’m not really sure‚" Mia responded. "Maybe because your destinies together were unfulfilled in those later lives. Maybe because you and Lindsay have evolved into individuals somewhat removed from those past lives. Regardless‚ even if neither you nor Lindsay possesses any distinct memories from your prior beings‚ you have taken things from them."
"Well for example‚ Lindsay’s earliest life after Xena was a warrior as well. But unlike Xena‚ that second warrior walked away from fighting at a young age and lived to be very old. Her following life wasn’t a warrior at all. She was an aristocrat who became a philanthropist. And the following life after that was originally a slave owner who later fought feverishly against slavery. Lindsay herself has given millions of her own fortune to women and children’s causes in America and to impoverished families living in developing nations.
"As for Gabrielle‚ her influence on Xena and the influences of her subsequent lives on Xena’s have been profound. Gabrielle managed to turn Xena’s violence into crusades for good. In her next life‚ although she only knew Xena’s next life very briefly‚ Gabrielle’s soul managed to pierce the heart of a warrior and turn that warrior away from fighting altogether. It was Gabrielle’s soul that truly brought out the giving nature of Xena’s next life‚ and in the life after that‚ it was Gabrielle’s soul who turned Xena’s soul from that slave owner to a leader in the abolitionist movement. Gabrielle was always the consummate prophet‚ and her influence on Xena was immeasurable."
"How do you figure?" Rejeanne asked.
"Well‚ Lindsay has been a philanthropist for years‚" Mia said. "You just met her a few weeks ago."
"So‚ your point being that I as me‚ not the reincarnation of Gabrielle‚ have had no influence over that‚" Rejeanne said.
"Right‚ but in her evolution as the soul of Xena‚ your evolution as the soul of Gabrielle‚ her teacher and bard‚ has had a profound influence on who the person of Lindsay is now."
"If that’s the case‚ what I can offer Lindsay?" asked Rejeanne. "Other than her being a Republican‚ Lindsay seems pretty damned perfect now. It appears as if Gabrielle’s work is done."
"Not exactly. Perhaps now you can offer her the one thing that has eluded you two in your earlier lives after Xena and Gabrielle‚" Mia said. "That being the ability to accept the level of love that you have for each other on your own terms rather than society’s."
"Oh‚ I get it‚" Rejeanne said. "I’m supposed to teach her how to be a better lesbian."
"Something like that."
Rejeanne stood up‚ feeling strangely rejuvenated. She dramatically stretched out her arms before looking down at a smiling Mia.
"Have I relayed to you all that you need to know for now‚ Rejeanne?" Mia asked.
"Actually‚ I have one more question‚" Rejeanne said.
"Where in the world are MY scrolls?"
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER ELEVEN
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