Technically it helps if you read part 1 and also if you’ve watched the Chakram episode on Xena. It’s set 7 years after Xena’s death in FIN.
It’s part of a series that I’m writing, If you like it let me know at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m new at this so helpful criticisms and encouragement are welcome.
P.s there’s a lot of dialogue in this part so actions are sometimes in brackets – I found it easier that way
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, Alti and any other characters mentioned from Xena’s series belong to Rob Tapert and Co. Not me!
The Dark Soul
The Ancient Port
The snowy mist has risen. It has become a dense fog that now covers an eerie moon, the air is like ice and it is not yet the Winter Solstice. The fires have been lit in every home, leaving thicker wisps’ of smoke snaking their way skyward.
Inside the occupants huddle for warmth and protection, like all creatures they seek comfort by the light of their fires and in the arms of loved ones. No soul dares to venture out in such weather and as if to remind any fool who feels brave enough to leave his sanctuary the wolves howl in chorus from a distant peak. Only the crunching of boots on twig and stone echo loudly from nearby as a guard patrols the main gate.
As he looks along the only route into the town he sees no one.
No mortal dares travel alone this evening leaving, and he feels as though all the world and not just roads must be deserted. He stands to ponder this only for a short time until he starts to feel uneasy, there were many tales of monsters and demons that walk in the night and he did not wish to think of them.
No mortal indeed, but one figure in a long cloak which slowly glides up to the main gate of the large town as if it was not bound by the earth.
It circles the source of the footsteps, the helpless ‘protector’, the way a hunter stalks its prey. Ominously closing in, the essence of pure darkness flows from it. The snow swirling around it as if it was primed to strike, Dark swirling mist emanating from it as though they were talons but as it remains unnoticed, this ghostly being stops and visibly relaxes, allowing itself to be discovered.
But the Watchman still remains oblivious to its presence and he patrols the outer wall lazily, whistling cheerily as he tries to keep himself from thoughts of what lurks in the night, blissfully unaware of the creature that stalks him. But as the figure grows closer he starts to become agitated, scorning himself for feeling afraid.....
Ever closer and he tightens his grip on his weapon.... yet still he doesn’t notice.
The figure shakes its head and coughs loudly.
All at once a sudden panic grips the guard turns to face it with his spear raised.
The guards voice full of panic is and unnaturally high octaves
“Who goes there!?”
A rich low female voice drifts soothingly towards him “Is this Naupactus?”
The man nodded and lowered his spear noticeably relieved and relaxed by the voice.
He stops and gathers himself; this must be a traveller who may be in need of shelter. He must be confident and re assure her, it is his duty after all
“Yes ma’am it is, whatever are you doing travelling alone? These roads are dangerous”
“I have nothing to fear.” The figure watches the guard tense and happy at the effect, she speaks further “I am in need to visit a temple of Ares do you still have one here?”
With a look of disgust on his face he snorted at her
“We only worship one God here”
He puffed out his chest proudly “we’re Elijians.”
The figure sighs at the indignant response, times have changed since her last visit, and the world is a different place now, she patiently continues
“Very well do you know where the nearest temple to Ares is? Or has the whole of Greece forgotten their Gods?”
The watchman stood scratching the stubble on his face in thought, the desperate need to please the hooded woman, whose face he hoped matched her voice made him eager to answer.
“I think the nearest temple would be Athens, you know in Agora... Pardon me for saying ma’am but why would you need to seek the God of War, maybe if you meet with one of our priests?”
The voice grew cold “I wish only to speak with Ares; no priest of yours can help me”
The icy tone snapped the guards mind back to reality and sent a shiver down his spine, He composed himself well
“Do you have any business here? You see I’m not supposed to let anyone in tonight.”
The figure slowly moved towards him but still keeping her face obscured
“Oh and why is that?”
He felt dreamy and flexed his muscles in an attempt to impress
“The best men were sent to keep watch”
He puffed himself up proudly once more and continued emphasizing his words to give greater effect
“Gabrielle of Potidaea sent word, that there may be..... An attack”
A claw shot out from under the cloak spearing the man straight through the heart
He dropped heavily to the floor
Angana stepped effortlessly over the man and strolled through the main gate,
“Well, well Gabrielle of Potidaea... you were right...”
She felt no need to assume her silent stalking and yet still her footsteps made no sound, her shadowy form against the walls bore no resemblance to the figure that any curious eyes would see. Although in every street she entered the occupants of the houses suddenly felt the need to huddle a little closer to light. Angana walked for a short time and as she approached the tavern which brimmed with life behind the closed doors, she turned right and headed through the village square and down towards the beach;
What see saw there made her stop and she spoke aloud to the cold night air.
“Hmmm.... Well this complicates things a little”
In front of her now stood a high defensive wall that hadn’t been there when she had last visited. When she had last been here, it was a grave yard and temple grounds. Apparently at some point the town must have decided that old temples were not needed.
She raised her hand and the wall crumbled, sending dust and stone flying through the air. Admiring her work she smiled to herself.
Unnatural sounds began to pierce the night air, sounds of something being woken from its rest, then through the cloud of dust trotted a horse; black like the night and with red eyes that glowed as fiercely as her masters. The horse was on edge at her reawakening and was unsure of the creature that stood before her.
“Here Boy, it’s me“
Angana smiled. Closing the distance between them carefully, she lowered her hood; Dark hair spilled free and rolled over her shoulders and red eyes glowed through the darkness, she raised her hand for the horse to investigate allowing it to understand that all was safe.
Angana smiled and fussed over her now nuzzling friend
“That’s it pyrrhos, It’s been a long time hasn’t it? Well we have a lot to do. But first we must travel to Athens – I need to visit Ares temple, are you coming?”
Pyrrhos nodded enthusiastically and allowed her rider to take her place in the saddle.
Angana patted the equestrian’s neck, causing Pyrrhos to rear and both creatures exited at great speed out of the gate.
As the Snow swirled in amongst the dust that had not yet settled, the Chief Guard stepped out of the shadow he had been hiding in; he had seen both the events but yet could not quite believe his eyes. He had followed Gabrielle’s instruction that no one should approach the hooded figure and shook his head at the body of the watchman
‘Who knew she would enter through the main gate?’
The chief guard motioned to an officer and spoke quietly
“Send word to Gabrielle, The Dragon is on her way to Athens. She seeks Ares temple.”
New Life, New Outfit
Amphipolis was buzzing, their lost daughter had returned. All who saw her in the street cheered and greeted the two women with vigour. Gabrielle was enjoying herself; she had dragged Xena around every stall in the town looking for new clothes, and the warrior hated shopping.
‘It’s just her way of welcoming me home...’
The Warrior grumbled as she was dragged back and forth being made to try on so many different clothes that she was starting to feel a little tired.
‘Maybe it’s just me getting old, you’d think after being dead for 7 years that I would feel better’
Gabrielle turned to her friend holding a garment and noted the grimace that adorned her features
“What?.... You don’t like it?”
“I don’t know. If I do, can we go eat? I’m starving!”
“Xena, we have to get you new clothes or people are going to think I resurrected a corpse!”
Xena examined her leathers and had to admit that Gabrielle was right, but there was only one place that she wanted her new clothes to come from. Xena spotted the open door and motioned to her friend to follow
“I know just the place”
They entered the shop and Xena smiled, there was a smell of leather in the air. Gabrielle studied all the garments on display, while the older woman strolled towards the counter and banged loudly three times.
“I just hope he’s kept it in the family”
An old man hobbled out of the back and beamed at the tall woman as though he was expecting her arrival, he carefully studied the drab leathers that adorned her and tutted as though assessing the damage.
“My, my; those leathers need to be changed! I gave you a lifetime guarantee but I wasn’t expecting you to take them to Tartarus and back!”
Xena laughed and feigned shock
“Praise the Gods... you’re still alive! You must be older than the hills by now!”
The man tutted again playfully
“Maybe you should take a piece of my papyrus and you wouldn’t look like something my dog brought home!”
Gabrielle stood with an amused expression on her face ‘It feels good to see her smiling again.... Hey, it feels good to see her solid again!’
Xena bounced on the balls of her feet as she always did when she was excited by meeting an old friend motioning to Gabrielle she put her arm on the bards shoulder
“This is the guy who made these! He makes the best armour in Greece. ....He made all the Gods armour y’know”
The man nodded in agreement
“Although it didn’t seem to do them any good either”
Xena studded her shoes
“Um... well if it’s any help it wasn’t the armour that let them down, just their egos”
The comment earned her a chuckle
“Well, in that case what can I do for you?”
Xena looked to Gabrielle and then turned back to the man
“Olgler, any chance you can make me some new ones?”
Olgler clapped his hands together in a fit of delight and started to measure her at once, Xena turned to see Gabrielle looking highly amused
“He’s enthusiastic isn’t he?”
“He’s the best; hey Olgler! Maybe you could design something for the battling bard here too?”
(He turned and clasped his hands over his face.)
“Oh, I’d love to!”
He busily set to work, removing their garments and wrapping them in sheets but Gabrielle frowned looking worried
“Xena, handmade armour is expensive... how are we going to pay for them?”
Xena laughed at her friend “I made a bit of money in the market this morning”
(She placed a large bag of dinars on the counter causing Olgler to nod enthusiastically)
“Don’t worry it wasn’t anything unsavoury, I...er... gave lessons to some of the villagers”
( Olgler was now placing pins skilfully as if he was used to how Xena fidgeted)
Gabrielle folded her arms across her chest
“Uh...huh... lessons in...?”
“Fighting! 5 dinars gets you a lesson in swords, 10 dinars in hand to hand and for 25 you get a duel!”
(The bard shook her head and grimaced as Olgler pulled a sheet across her stomach)
“And of course who wouldn’t want to duel with the warrior princess?”
Xena looked pleased with herself “exactly!”
Olgler nodded and removed the sheets and then scurried off into the next room.
“Xena, why did he measure us in sheets?”
The warrior adopted a knowing smile and rolled her eyes
“They aren’t just sheets! That’s the material of Briareus – you know one of the children of mother earth? .... anyway he forges it into armour, Zeus gave him the stuff”
The bard looked impressed more so at Xena’s grasp on mythology
“Wow, you’ve had a lot of time on your hands huh?”
The warrior turned to her looking serious
“I guess, but you remember me telling you how my Grandma used to tell of the Gods and their stories...”
Gabrielle nodded “of course.... I guess that grandmother wasn’t Angana hey?”
Xena quietened her immediately
“You can’t talk of her here, it’s forbidden”
Before Gabrielle could ask why, the tailor appeared with their new armour.
The Blonde woman began to smile knowingly as she quickly put hers on
“How’d he know..?”
Xena looked up from busily fastening her new wrist plates and raised her eyebrow
“How’d he know what.... oh that.... yeh well everyone knows you like to expose your stomach to innocent people!”
Gabrielle laughed at her bare midriff
“Oh yeah... well you can talk, at least that’s the only part I expose!”
Xena looked down at her own armour and shrugged “You got me there”
Gabrielle poked the warrior playfully “Too right I did”
The playful bickering had just got into full flight when the door flew open and a messenger arrived in breathless form
“Gabrielle.... I have a message from Naupactus.... The Dragon is on her way to Athens. She seeks Ares temple”
The tailor dropped his scissors loudly
“What!? The Dragon has returned?”
Xena sighed ‘Oh boy... here we go’
The old man continued
“We’re all doomed... no one can stop her now....” he started to panic and the warrior took hold of his hands
“We will stop her”
He looked at her in disbelief “No one can kill her, not even Zeus if he were alive”
“Have I ever let you down before? We’ll find a way... I promise”
He smiled sadly at her
“I’m afraid that you will try in vain child...even if she was once of your blood, now she is a monster”
Xena tried to comfort him “She is still my paternal grandmother Olgler, I was once a monster too and yet I was saved.”
He stood and held her face in his hands
“Yes child, but you had a soul to save”
He turned and left the shop, the messenger took this as a cue to leave too.
In silence of the empty shop Gabrielle and Xena stood alone
“He’s right Gabrielle; there’s a good chance we’re not coming back from this mission”
The bard smiled “yeh, like I haven’t heard that line before!”
“I’m going to Athens, maybe I can head her off there, you can....” She was stopped by a hand on her mouth
“Wherever you go...”
Xena didn’t need to hear the rest, smiling at her friend she answered
“....I thought you might say that, we’ll leave tonight”
Chakram of the Mist
Ares temple was dimly lit. Candlelight flickered wildly in the draft as the door swung closed. Angana stood in her black long robe and made for an impressive sight, her height automatically gave her an air of power but her face and the beauty it held masked the soulless demon that lurked within.
She glided elegantly toward the altar; the swishing of her cloak was the only sound that echoed eerily off the empty temple walls. The woman placed her hands on the altar and whispered very softly
“What was mine, must be replaced”
Fire erupted silently from her hands and snaked its way through the stonework beneath it. The flames grew and turned to black before the form of a Chakram appeared.
“You see Ares you had the Chakram all along, you just didn’t know it”
The light danced along the blades which were jagged and it pulsated with evil, it was black in body with an engraving of a dragon etched into its middle. Angana reached and her hands perforated the seemingly indestructible metal, it glowed and turned into solid form fitting her hand perfectly.
She examined her new weapon and spoke loudly
“It’s a shame you’re too much of a coward to come down here Ares... I wanted to show you my new toy!”
She laughed at the silence
“Not to worry, I’ll try it out on a few of the villagers..... Oh and Ares, I wouldn’t try and steal this one if I were you, the thief might get a nasty...shock”
Angana laughed softly to herself and walked towards the door, she stopped and turned to the room. Sweeping her hand a flame slithered toward the curtains and decorations, setting them ablaze. She spoke again this time her voice filled with derision
“Thanks for the hospitality”
A lone priest ran out from the shadows attempting to run from the flames and caught Angana’s attention; she unleashed her new Chakram which whistled as it flew through the air.
It made contact with the man’s waist, turning into a black mist and once through him it returned to solid form once more, leaving nothing but a pile of ash on the floor where its victim had stood. Angana lazily held out her hand and caught it.
She challenged the empty temple
“See that Ares? The Chakram of the mist... its mine!”
The now laughing woman raised her hood, sheathed her weapon and with one motion of her hands the doors flew open, and the Dragon walked into the swirling snow.
A Message from Love
Xena stood in an opening among a heavily wooded area, she was pacing frantically through the snow back and fore listening to the worst news she could ever have gotten
“Ok sweetie... Now there’s no need to panic....” Aphrodite was trying to console a now visibly anxious Xena
“Panic... I don’t panic... I’m the warrior princess... I DONT PANIC!”
The Goddess of love raised her hands in a gesture of submission
“Ok... Gee, keep a lid on it will ya, cos if Gab hears you she’ll...”
Unfortunately he sentence was finished by none other than the bard herself
“....She’ll what? Aphrodite, what are you doing here? What’s going on?”
The Goddess folded her arms across her chest
“Now sweet pea, is that anyway to talk to me huh? I don’t need a reason to come and say hi!”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean.... it’s nice to see you, but what’s going on?”
Xena shifted uncomfortably and studied the trees surrounding them
“Oh come on Xena... just tell me, I can’t be bothered to interrogate you”
This made the warrior fidget even more and caused Aphrodite to laugh
“Wow, the little bards got you cornered! I’d love to stay and chat but gotta go.... things to do, mortals to love”
And she disappeared before either woman could object
“Great! Just when I need a little backup... Ok Gabrielle you want it straight down the line ... well Aphrodite was just relaying a message from Ares that Angana has the Chakram of mist which not only kills but drains the victim of their blood, life and humanity”
It seems the bard was a little confused on the details
“There’s more than one Chakram?”
(Xena chewed her bottom lip)
“Uh huh...you see there’s four complete Chakrams altogether;
The Chakram of elements – which Angana has one half
The Chakram of time – That should still be on Olympus
The Chakram of stars – Which controls the stars in the sky
The Chakram of souls – which is the one we have, y’know light and dark but we’ve balanced it by making it whole now.”
Gabrielle tried to make her friend feel better by being calm and logical
“Ok well, why are there two halves to each Chakram?”
(Xena sighed looking close to tears)
“I guess I’d better start from the beginning... You see the earth came with 4 protectors, the protector of souls, the protector of elements, the protector of time and the protector of the stars. Each had a Chakram as their symbol and each gave it their own unique power.
Ours will protect us from someone like Angana harming our souls, it won’t protect our bodies but our spirits will be safe...”
(Xena motioned for Gabrielle to sit on a nearby rock)
“Well, that sounds like a good thing!”
“....Wait! That’s not all. Don’t you remember the Chakram I had originally? It was the dark one? I had to join for it to be balanced again?”
(The bard nodded and Xena continued)
“A massive disaster happened and split the Chakrams, each half dangerously unstable but also very powerful”
(The warrior sat rubbing her temples)
“It’s not as if we can even steal it from her” before Gabrielle could ask why Xena continued
“You see if we touch it, we’ll burn. If you have a soul you can’t touch the thing”
‘I never remember feeling so much all the time’
Gabrielle put a comforting hand on her shoulder
“Hey, we can do this. We’ve never failed before”
“That’s what I’m afraid of, Gabrielle we have to be careful. Angana won’t stop and we can’t just keep joining all the Chakrams together”
“because not everything in this world is meant to be balanced, everyone has a light and a dark side but one side is generally more prominent, that’s what makes us individuals, when all four Chakrams are joined we just ‘exist’ no desire to do either, no good, no bad, just balance”
Gabrielle shifted “So I guess you’re not a fan of it huh?”
“No, because as humans we can’t exist that way and so we will rebel and cause the Chakrams to split again.... and let me put it like this it’ll be chaos.... and it’ll take us centuries to recover”
(Xena rose and started to pace answering Gabrielle’s questions through deep thought)
“Why does Angana want balance?”
“She wants her soul back, that’s only way she’ll get it”
“Well why does this evil Keara want her to balance the world?”
“When the Chakrams split the world will swing heavily from good to evil, its instability means that evil has a good chance of winning the war over good and vice-versa”
(Gabrielle frowned and got up)
“But why take the risk, good might win?”
“Simple, it’s a war any move is risky”
“So...are you going to tell me how we balance the Mist Chakram and where we can find its other half?”
Xena ignored the question
“Why won’t you tell me?”
“.....Because Gabrielle, she’s afraid that I’m listening”
Both women spun on their heels to see Angana standing beside her horse in front of them, Xena reached for her sword but was stopped by her grandmothers voice
“Come now child, I’m not here to fight”
She waved her hand and a campsite appeared, with a fire crackling loudly away in the middle. The woman motioned for them to sit and as they complied, she joined them
They sat in silence for a few moments, Gabrielle shifted uncomfortably as she hated awkward silence. The bard gathered that she would have to be the one to speak first
“So why have you come here?”
(Angana looked at her and smiled)
“Can’t I visit my granddaughter?”
(Xena again looked close to tears)
“Are you here to take the Chakram?”
“No, I’m here to warn you. You are of my blood and although you think me a monster, I don’t wish you to come to any harm. My path is chosen for me but yours need not end by my hand.”
(Gabrielle looked into the red eyes that glowed)
“Can’t we find some other way to get your soul back? There must be a way that doesn’t involve the Chakrams”
“You have a good heart, but there is no other way.”
(She turned to Xena)
“You have questions for me I believe?”
“Why did you leave your sons?”
“Why did you leave yours? For the same reason, when you had tasted only a fraction of the darkness I walk in, you gave your son to another so that he wouldn’t end up as you were.”
(Xena studied her feet)
“If you had stayed, you wouldn’t have become a monster”
(Angana smiled at her kin)
“Unfortunately, I made the choice to leave”
Xena lowered her head
“Don’t you feel anything for your family?”
Angana smiled again
“Of course, why else would I visit your dreams and warn you? You and I both know that we can never meet as we have done now. Please heed my warning child, I wish you no harm.”
The realisation that she was in fact dreaming dawned on her, the world started to blur and drift slowly away as the scene disappeared and she became aware of the world around her, she lay there still able to hear the voices in her dream
“I will try to stop you”
A voice floated in her consciousness as she opened her eyes
“Until then child...until then”
To be continued................
Disclaimer: "Xena and Gabrielle’s uncanny ability to avoid hypothermia even wearing flesh bearing garments was not harmed during the making of this story... although the messenger did catch a cold"
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