© 2005 By C. J. Wells
Disclaimers: See Chapter One.
THE PRIDE OF ARTEMIS
Lindsay opened her eyes and took a deep breath. Was that a dream? she thought to herself before turning her attention to the still sleeping Rejeanne nestled next to her. Taking her lover’s hand in hers‚ Lindsay waited quietly for Rejeanne to awaken.
Minutes later‚ Rejeanne stirred. "Good morning‚" she said tentatively to Lindsay.
"Morning to you‚" Lindsay responded.
"Okay‚ you have this weird look on your face‚" Rejeanne said. "Are you regretting what happened last night?"
Lindsay’s eyes widened. "Oh‚ hell no‚" she replied. "You’re not‚ are you?"
"Shit no‚" Rejeanne responded before planting a gentle kiss on Lindsay’s lips. "I’m hopin’ for a repeat."
Lindsay blushed. Rejeanne responded with a chuckle. "So why the weird look?" she asked.
Lindsay hesitated. "I‚ uh‚ I had this strange dream last night."
Rejeanne rose. "So did I‚" she said. "What did you dream about?"
Lindsay rose. "Look‚ it was totally freaky‚ but it seemed real‚" she stated. "I dreamt that I was Xena the Conqueror."
Rejeanne’s jaw dropped.
"Well‚ not that I was her‚" Lindsay continued‚ "but I was being told that I was her in a previous life."
"No fucking way!" Rejeanne exclaimed.
"I know‚ it’s scary that I’m‚ like‚ the reincarnation of her‚ but…"
"No‚ no‚ no‚" Rejeanne interrupted. "You don’t understand. I dreamt that I was the reincarnated Gabrielle of Poteidaia."
Lindsay gasped. "No way!" she cried out. "Was there this guy named Palaemon in your dream feeding you information?"
"Wasn’t he Xena’s imperial commander or something?" Rejeanne asked.
"Yes‚ he was."
"No‚ he wasn’t there‚" Rejeanne replied. "The person that spoke with me was this woman named Mia."
"Mia?" Lindsay asked. "Xena’s chambermaid?"
"Yeah‚ but how would you know that?" Rejeanne queried.
"And how would you know that Palaemon was Xena’s commander?"
Both women jumped to their knees. "Jesus H. Christ!" Rejeanne shouted.
"Holy-Mary-Mother-of-God!" Lindsay exclaimed.
Both women began looking each other up and down. "No way‚" Rejeanne said.
"Way‚" Lindsay replied as huge smiles overtook both women. Overcome with emotion‚ both women gripped each other in an intense embrace as tears came to both sets of eyes.
"I can’t believe it‚" Rejeanne whispered. "This is real."
"I know‚ baby‚ I know."
After several moments‚ Rejeanne released Lindsay. "Let me look at you‚" she said.
The twosome grabbed hands and lifted their arms in order to "inspect" each other. "Look at you‚" Lindsay said. "Your body is as hot as ever… without those nasty scars."
"Yeah‚ those scars‚" Rejeanne responded.
"Hey‚ I didn’t do it‚" Lindsay protested.
"I know‚ silly‚" Rejeanne said. "I see that Xena’s nasty scars aren’t anywhere to be found on you either."
"Nope‚ no pillaging and murdering on my end‚" Lindsay replied. "Only this one nasty scar from when I jumped that fence."
Both women chuckled. "Wow‚ this is still so very bizarre‚" Rejeanne said.
"Yes‚ it is‚" Lindsay said before turning her attention to Rejeanne’s hair. "Gabrielle’s hair was much longer for a time‚ I think."
"Xena’s was longer too‚ and darker." Rejeanne replied. "And her skin was darker too."
"Well‚ Xena was a beautiful Greek goddess‚ not the pasty WASP that I happened to be."
"Perhaps‚ but I bet you tan good in the summer‚" Rejeanne smirked.
The two lovers spent the next several minutes caressing‚ touching and reacquainting‚ before Rejeanne broke away and looked over at her wall clock for a moment. Returning her attention to Lindsay‚ she cocked her head to the side. "What all did Palaemon tell you?"
For the next hour‚ the women talked about the inner spirit and transmigration‚ about unfulfilled lives and combined destinies‚ about profound influences and the evolutions of their souls. The talked about Valentina and Gisela‚ Marcella and Angela‚ Margaret and Bronwyn‚ and of course‚ of the Conqueror and the Bard.
"Did Mia say anything else?" Lindsay asked.
"She told me that the one thing that ties us together with all of those long-gone women‚ besides our souls‚ are Gabrielle’s scrolls."
"Did she tell you where they are?" Lindsay asked. "Do they still even exist?"
"She said that they do and gave me clues‚" Rejeanne replied. "I think that she wants us to find them together. The former lives are the key. Did Palaemon mention the scrolls?"
"Briefly‚" Lindsay said. "He didn’t elaborate too much on the scrolls‚ but he did suggest that others in our current lives are likewise reincarnations of folks who interacted with Xena and Gabrielle. I got the impression that he wanted me to figure out who they are as well."
"Perhaps there’s a connection. Perhaps both are the keys to finding those scrolls and learning the truth about what ultimately happened to Xena‚" Rejeanne said. "That final betrayal that cut her life short and took her away from her beloved Gabrielle.
"Yeah‚ they both have to be tied together somehow‚" Lindsay reflected.
Rejeanne stroked her chin. "So‚ who have we met in our lifetimes that are possible reincarnations of those from Xena and Gabrielle’s lives?"
Both women considered. "Well‚ I don’t have any brothers‚ so that’s out‚" Lindsay said.
"Yeah‚ and my sister is way too young to be a reincarnated Lilla‚" Rejeanne said. "Hey‚ maybe its my step sister."
"Keith may be Toris or Lyceus."
"No‚ wait!" Lindsay exclaimed. "Heather!"
"Heather Courtney from college‚" Lindsay said. "You know‚ my first female make-out partner. She was a year younger than me‚ she had blond hair and brown eyes‚ she was skinny‚ a fearsome fencer and she was a major smart-ass. She has to be the reincarnated Callisto!"
"Oh‚ come on Lin‚" Rejeanne smirked in disbelief. "You told me that you and Heather were good buds. Callisto was a psycho-bitch who hated your… I mean Xena’s… guts."
"Yeah‚ but Xena was no prize either‚" Lindsay replied. "Even Callisto’s soul could have evolved too‚ ya know."
"Hmm‚ good point‚" Rejeanne replied. "So‚ have you kept in contact with Heather?"
"We drifted apart after college‚" Lindsay advised. "She was an anthropology major. She minored in photography and landed an internship at National Geographic after she graduated. Did that for awhile. The last I heard‚ she was doing some lost civilization digging in East Africa or the Middle East somewhere."
"Dude‚ you’re right!" Rejeanne exclaimed. "She’s gotta be the key. Between Heather and our past… I dunno… lives… there’s gotta be the answer to where those scrolls are hidden."
"So‚ where do we start‚ Jeannie?" Lindsay asked. "I have private investigators on retainer that I can place on the job."
"Hmm…" Rejeanne thought for a moment. "Man‚ it would help if Palaemon had told you the last names of those past-lives women."
"I do know their last names‚" Lindsay chimed. "Palaemon did tell me."
"Great!" Rejeanne replied. "Let’s hold off on the private investigators for now. Why don’t we start by ‘Googling’ those women?"
"Yeah‚ you know‚ Google‚ Yahoo‚ M-S-N‚ whatever‚ do a search engine on the internet. You can find pretty much anything on the internet."
"Hell‚ it can’t hurt‚" Lindsay agreed. "And it is cheaper."
Both women chuckled.
* * * *
Lindsay and Rejeanne stepped into the running shower together. "The water feels great‚" Lindsay said as she wrapped her arms around Rejeanne’s midsection and drew the smaller woman closer to her. "God‚ I cannot get over how so very sexy you are‚" she said.
"Imagine what Xena and Gabrielle could have done to each other had they had access to hot showers then‚" Rejeanne replied.
"I don’t need to imagine‚" Lindsay said. "I have you now and we can make our own history." Lindsay began kneading Rejeanne’s rear as she ran her tongue around Rejeanne’s left ear. Excited‚ Rejeanne began sucking Lindsay’s breast while Lindsay moved her hand in between Rejeanne’s legs and began sensuously stroking her clit. Rejeanne backed Lindsay up against the shower wall and pinned Lindsay’s right leg in between her thighs as her thrusts responded to Lindsay’s stroking. Rejeanne began stroking Lindsay’s clit as their lips met in feverish kisses.
"I am going to come so hard on you‚ Lin‚" Rejeanne whispered.
Lindsay moaned dramatically. "Give it to me‚" she said. "I want it. I want you."
Within minutes‚ both women screamed their climaxes simultaneously before nearly collapsing on the shower floor.
* * * *
After their sensuous shower together‚ Lindsay and Rejeanne strolled arm-and-arm downstairs where Rejeanne plopped her laptop on her living room coffee table and turned on her television set. The latter caused Lindsay to shoot her a perturbed glance.
"Call me weird‚ but watching ‘Meet The Press’ gets my juices flowing."
"Ah‚ the liberal media‚" Lindsay joked.
Both women looked at each other with lust-filled eyes for moments before returning their attention to the laptop.
After a search engine web page booted up‚ Rejeanne typed in her first search request. It was nearly an hour before something of substance was found.
Valentina Xerxes and Gisela of Naissus
From a Hungarian university website:
It is widely believed that Xerxes of the Tian Shan‚ a fierce Euro-Avar warrior‚ was singularly responsible for the successful campaigns that the Caucasian Avars led against the Slavs‚ who had previously battled the various Germanic clans north of the Balkans around 500 A.D. Rarely chronicled‚ unfortunately‚ were the campaigns of his two children‚ a son‚ Csokas‚ and a daughter‚ Valentina.
Xerxes’ army pillaged almost every Slavic-controlled Germanic territory along the central Lombard principalities. After the last territory along the Frankish Gaul border was defeated‚ Xerxes established a khanate and sent his 28-year-old son‚ Csokas south toward the Balkans to expand their stronghold. Valentina‚ who was an adolescent girl of approximately 17 years of age at the time‚ accompanied her older brother.
As the siblings neared the Balkans‚ they were attacked by both Slavic armies and Visigoth raiders. Csokas and Valentina defeated every foe in their path as they pressed southward. Two years into their various campaigns‚ differences in their individual fighting styles began to emerge. While Csokas used sheer brutality to win battles (for example‚ disemboweling his enemies in front of their families and kinsmen in order to weaken their morale)‚ Valentina proved to be a more effective fighter. She actively recruited disenfranchised Slavs‚ Germans and various nomads into her ever-growing army and displayed efficient control rather than violent bloodlust during her raids.
At the end of the third year of their campaign in the Balkans‚ Csokas was taken prisoner and executed by the Visigoth chieftain Satala. When Xerxes learned of his son’s death‚ he ordered Valentina to return the armies that both she and her brother had assembled to the khanate. Valentina refused‚ vowing vengeance on the man who murdered her brother. For the next three years‚ Valentina’s exploits rang terror throughout the Balkans.
However‚ for reasons still unsubstantiated‚ the Avar army that Valentina successfully assembled disbanded in almost a whimper. Xerxes himself was soon after betrayed by members of his own khanate. Why Valentina literally walked away from battle has been the subject of rumor and innuendo‚ but most historians have accepted that she ended up settling in the area that is part of modern-day Austria‚ where she lived quietly until she died in her nineties.
From an Austrian Blogger:
There’s this old story that’s been handed down my family on my mother’s side about this 6th Century woman who unearthed the legendary Xena scrolls. The woman’s name was Valentina. Her last name was either Xerxes or Naissus. I’m not sure. Anyway‚ Valentina was this fierce Avar warrior in her youth‚ easily comparable to Boadicea‚ Joan of Arc or Xena the Conqueror. Originally an enemy of the Germans‚ she gave up fighting sometime after her brother was killed by one of her enemies. It’s been speculated that she quit because she was unable to avenge the brother’s death. However‚ it’s been equally speculated that she was a probably a lesbian‚ fell in love with a German woman and simply lost the taste for blood.
In any event‚ she was nearly sixty when she met an Axumite trader who told her about a sarcophagus that had the mummified body of an Egyptian who was a soldier in Xena’s Greek Guard. Also contained in the sarcophagus was a bunch of scrolls written by Xena’s female consort‚ a woman named Gabrielle.
The sarcophagus was originally buried in the guard’s homeland in southern Egypt‚ but it had been unearthed and stolen by a Syrian shortly after Gabrielle’s death and moved to somewhere in Pontus near the Black Sea. Valentina was able to convince the trader to tell her the whereabouts of that sarcophagus. The story goes that once she was in possession of the scrolls‚ she had them translated before reburying them somewhere in either Greece or Italy. What happened to the scrolls after that is anybody’s guess.
"Very interesting‚" Lindsay said.
"That’s an understatement‚" Rejeanne replied.
"Okay‚ but it was also a total bust‚" Lindsay smirked.
"Maybe not‚" Rejeanne said. "We’ve tied Valentina to the scrolls and narrowed locations where the scrolls could have ended up. Syria then is still Syria now‚ and your pal Heather is digging somewhere in the Middle East. Maybe she’s in Syria."
"But the scrolls were never in Syria‚ according to this blogger."
"Well then‚ I say we move on to researching Angela and Marcella‚" Rejeanne said. "They were the Renaissance women‚ so there’s the Greek influence‚ and they were Italian. Let’s see what we find."
Marcella Erasmus and Angela Delia
From an Italian historical website:
Cosmo Erasmus (1423-1492)‚ a Florentine banker and ally to the Medici clan‚ was rumored to have exhumed the long lost "Xena Scrolls" close to his birthplace in the Po Valley near Venice around 1455. Erasmus chronicled that the scrolls were contained within a coffin with the mummified remains of a Greek soldier. The coffin‚ with the remains‚ was reburied in the Po Valley. Erasmus allegedly took the scrolls back to his estate in Florence where it is believe they were placed in a secret vault somewhere on the estate grounds.
* * * *
Andreas Erasmus‚ VI (1446-1527)‚ was a Florentine architect and banker of the Italian Renaissance era. The son of the wealthy power-broker Cosmo Erasmus (1423-1492)‚ Andreas inherited a vast fortune that rivaled the Medici.
* * * *
In 1470‚ Andreas married Padua Cavalieri‚ who bore him three children‚ Cosmo II‚ Andreas VII and Marcella.
From a women’s history website:
Marcella Erasmus (1479-1533) was a well-known woman philanthropist of the Italian Renaissance era. The daughter of the very wealthy Florentine banker‚ Andreas Erasmus the VI‚ Marcella used her father’s vast resources to finance fledgling writers‚ artists‚ musicians and philosophers. She was particularly interested in those who espoused the Humanist philosophy‚ a more secular social consciousness‚ despite the fact that her father and her husband‚ Giancarlo San Marco were staunch Roman Catholics.
* * * *
The artist that Marcella most often promoted was a poet and philosopher named Angela Delia (1486-1562). Female artists during the Renaissance were rare‚ so this pairing is of particular note. It should also be mentioned that it is widely speculated that the Erasmus family of this era was in possession of the legendary Xena Scrolls‚ which were the voluminous writings of Gabrielle‚ Bard of Poteidaia (by today’s standards‚ she would be considered Xena the Conqueror’s domestic partner). If the Erasmus family were in possession of the scrolls‚ there should no doubt that Marcella shared the information in them with Angela Delia.
From a closed college forum site:
Tatutoo82: A Renaissance era female philosopher by the name of Angela Delia wrote a poem in 1522 about a warrior woman who falls in love with a farmer’s daughter. Although the poem was entitled "Gisela of Naissus‚" I believe that the poem was really about the notorious Xena the Conqueror‚ the Greek despot who fell deeply in love with her concubine about five years after conquering Greece and Rome. Before being taken into slavery‚ the concubine was a farmer’s daughter. In any event‚ why a 16th century‚ thirty-something‚ married mother of two would write a poem about lesbian love is anyone’s guess.
DaxLenara4Evah: I don’t think that the poem was about Xena the Conqueror. The woman warrior of the poem was from the Balkans and she only knew the farm girl for six days. If the poem was about Xena‚ it would have said it was about Xena.
Tatutoo82: Sure it was. Angela Delia‚ who lived from 1486 to 1562‚ was born and raised in Venice‚ near the Po Valley‚ where Cosmo Erasmus was born and raised and where it is widely believed he found the scrolls in the mid 1400s. Cosmo was the grandfather of Marcella Erasmus‚ who funded Angela’s work for years. Marcella had to have shared the scrolls with Angela.
DaxLenara4Evah: So what. The Erasmus family was filthy rich. Marcella had access to tons of historical literature. Maybe Angela was inspired by the stuff written in the Xena scrolls‚ but I still don’t believe that "Gisela of Naissus" was a poem about Xena the Conqueror. Other than the warrior factor‚ the verses in the poem don’t remotely jive with the life of Xena.
Tatutoo82: Well‚ it still doesn’t explain why a thirty-something‚ married mother of two would write a poem about lesbian love.
DaxLenara4Evah: Maybe Angela Delia was a closeted dyke herself.
"Now that’s an understatement‚" Rejeanne said as both women chuckled. "Do you notice how some of the facts change as we read more‚" she continued.
"What do you mean?"
"Well‚ one historical resource claimed that the body in the sarcophagus was an Egyptian‚ the other stated Greek."
"What do you think?" asked Lindsay.
"What do I think?" Rejeanne started. "Well‚ the soul of Gabrielle ain’t providing me with any important flashbacks right now‚ but I think that she buried her scrolls with the body of her friend‚ Bahri of Napata‚ after Bahri died in order to throw people off. Someone who was an enemy of Xena’s was after those scrolls. Gabrielle must have known that and figured that burying them with Xena or having them buried with her own body after she died would have been the kiss of death to the existence of the scrolls."
"But the scrolls were still stolen after Gabrielle died‚" Lindsay remarked.
"So‚ maybe the person who stole them wasn’t an enemy‚ well at least not an enemy of Gabrielle. That’s why the scrolls weren’t destroyed. He…or she… wanted Gabrielle’s story to live on. Maybe the thief was an Amazon‚ since the coffin was concealed in Pontus."
"The believed birthplace of the Amazons‚" Lindsay chimed in.
"Correct‚" Rejeanne continued. "The thief was a Syrian‚ and most historians accept as true that Xena died in Syria. I believe that Gabrielle took Xena’s remains back to Amphipolis. The thief must have followed Gabrielle in order to know where Gabrielle took both Bahri and Xena’s remains.
"We’ll probably never know why the Axumite of five hundred years later would divulge the location of the coffin to a sixty-year-old Valentina of all people. Maybe he was pissed off that Bahri’s body and the scrolls were stolen from the Kingdom of Axum‚ which‚ in the 6th Century‚ had gained control over the area where the city of Napata was once situated. Perhaps he had hoped that Valentina would return the coffin and the scrolls to Axum. But it is interesting that she would rebury Bahri’s body and the scrolls in the Po Valley as opposed to‚ say Amphipolis. The Po Valley was closer to where Valentina lived and having had the scrolls translated‚ she had to have learned that Xena and Gabrielle both loved that area of Italy.
"As for Angela‚ if Cosmo did find the scrolls‚ he found them in her home valley 30 years before she was born. Here’s a girl who probably grew up being told about the rich Erasmus from her hometown who unearth the scrolls of the most famous woman warrior in history. She probably had a life-long fascination with Xena. And I bet that before reburying the scrolls‚ Valentina added her own life in writing. That’s where Angela learned about Gisela of Naissus. I think that Valentina may have also taken the name of Naissus as her own. The poem was about Valentina and Gisela‚ the reincarnated Xena and Gabrielle. So‚ both of those college students were right."
Lindsay nodded in agreement.
"Dude‚ that’s some wild and freaky karma‚" Rejeanne added.
Lindsay laughed. "I’m impressed with your knowledge of history and geography‚" she said.
"I read a lot." Rejeanne responded. "Anyway‚ my love‚ that is what I think‚" she concluded.
"That’s what I think as well‚" Lindsay agreed. "So‚ the accuracy of these sites is irrelevant if we know the truth."
"Good point‚ Lin‚" Rejeanne remarked. "I do know one thing."
"What’s that?" Lindsay asked.
"Girl‚ we need to read that poem."
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER TWELVE
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