The Warrior's Journey
General Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and all others are the sole property of USA/Universal/MCA, Renaissance Pictures and/or all other powers that be. No copyright infringement is intended with this story presented only as fan fiction.
Violence/Content Disclaimer: This story involves the driving mental thoughts of Xena, Warrior Princess following events and emotions between she and her companion, Gabrielle. Only persons of legal age to view the television production Xena, Warrior Princess (PG rated) should read further.
Spoiler Alert: This story takes place after the conclusion of the show's 5th season and the episode, Motherhood. It contains spoilers for the 5th season and the final episode.
Author's email: EpTalk's email addy: email@example.com webpage: http://shortcut.to/EpTalk
(Diary # 1)
"Well girl, it's just you and me on this journey," Xena told Argo II as she finished brushing her mane, gave a lonely sigh and placed the currycomb next to the saddle. "Tomorrow I'll teach ya some more of your moms special tricks. You're a quick learner and so much like her, uh " Xena said but stopped her sentence short as the memory of Argo swelled inside and additional sadness grew in her heart.
Xena gathered her thoughts but realized she was feeling increasingly sad and lonely since leaving Eve to study with the Baptist and Gabrielle to spend time at Aphrodite's temple writing new scrolls. The Warrior Princess didn't like giving into her emotional side but so much had happened in such a short time, she was very vulnerable now.
As night covered the camp and the light from the fire gave a golden glow on Xena's armor, she placed her fighting wares beside her. Her body felt free as she removed the breast armor and slowly took the gauntlets from her wrist.
Xena lie alone looking into the stars and trying to turn her mind off, wishing for peaceful slumber since it had been too many nights her thoughts had deprived her. Like a dream however, her mind was busy with questions and memories. Xena tossed and turned in her mind all through the night:
Why couldn't Ares just have accepted my death when I drank the tears? The plan was good, but it failed Eve and Gabrielle. I should have known to give more thought to what Ares might do after witnessing my suicidal action. If only Octavius had arrived sooner and stopped Ares from carrying Gabrielle and I to those tombs of ice. The why and if are useless and do little to relieve the guilt and pain.
I had a better choice than Gabrielle about my bad and good memories. My choice was only to lose the dark memories and keep those that were the goodness and kindness buried deep inside of me. After all these years of guilt for my past, now I'm more guilty and regretful for leaving Eve and being wrongly unfair to Gabrielle.
This ache inside is much larger and hurtful than the pain I felt before. The broken legs, severed arms, brain swelling or spikes in my hands during crucifixion pale in comparison to how my heart feels now. I'm increasingly becoming bitter because I never asked for any of this. I chose the path of a warrior to fight for a greater good. I took joy and pride in the opportunity to have a second child. Maybe it would have been better if I lost all my dark memories forever and if I had never joined the two Chakrams that restored me completely.
After all, her mind continued:
I wasn't unhappy with who I was without my darkness. Gabrielle, Amarice and the others needed me more than I needed myself. Gabrielle once said without my dark-side, we would both have been dead long ago. Perhaps our next life would have offered both she and I a better chance than what this one has given to us both.
If only I could have shared my pregnancy more with Gabrielle or we had more time with Eve.
If this is the path to my redemption and karma, I have to continue the way of the warrior and fight for the greater good. I have to do this the only way I know how. I couldn't let Zeus kill Eve and his persistence is what luckily led me to correct Solan being in Tartarus. When I saw Gabrielle stab Eve, I felt for that brief moment a mother's rage and a warrior's instinct for revenge. Gabrielle is the purest and best thing in my life and I nearly killed her in an instant.
Maybe I was only a vessel to deliver the messenger for the god of love. But where is that god when the one I love most on this earth almost lost her life by my own hand? Oh sure, The Furies drove Gabrielle to her actions but it was my dark-side that drove me to mine. As much as I wanted Eve, I never thought it would lead to the distance between Gabrielle and myself. Somehow I thought it would all be different with us, as a family and I would at last have what I never dare imagine. A family- a real family of my own.
I know I can't go back. I cannot change what has been done or the hurt that I have caused. I have chosen my path and although it's the hardest thing I've ever done, I need to travel alone now. I can't get back the years and time I lost with Eve and I won't risk hurting Gabrielle ever again. I'm sorry to be so late after letting Gabrielle follow me from Amphipolis, so long ago. I've done nothing but hurt her ever since. I should have never let someone as innocent and good as Gabrielle join me on such a dangerous path in the first place. She thinks I saved her and I know I almost killed her.
I told her I would come for her but I will send rumor of my death instead.
Xena finally slept as at last, her mind rested.
(Diary # 2)
A listless warrior broke camp and rode toward Amphipolis as her mind was completely consumed with apprehension. Along the way, Xena had had given some instruction to Argo II on the meaning of her different tugs on the reins. With a gentle kick to Argo II's side they reached the hilltop overlooking the fields where the women of Amphipolis should have been gathered. The fields however appeared unattended with high growth and there was no one in view. Xena paused for a long period of time as memory of her mother's joy to see her granddaughter passed in her mind. Cyrene had been robbed also of both her daughter and the love of a grandchild these past twenty-five years. Xena feared what fate and time had bestowed upon her mother as she faced the front of Cyrene's tavern.
Xena walked slowly into the tavern to behold only two peasant looking men sitting somber in the ragged looking room. The first older man gave a slow glance in Xena's direction as he asked, "are you lost?"
"Yes, yes I am," Xena replied. "I'm looking for the woman who use to operate this tavern. Do you know of her?"
With a rattled cough the man gulped a drink from his mug and answered, "There hasn't been a woman run this place since word of that warrior woman's death was told."
Xena's heart sank and began to feel heavy again as her hope it would be simple to find her mother more aged but still tending tables and smiling at the patrons' was now destroyed. A vision of her mom's smile clearly flashed in her mind and a brief feeling of warmth passed through her. " Well, do either of you know where she went from here?"
The second man lifted his head, spoke with a mumble at first but then suddenly shouted, "she has a place north of town. No one speaks of her or her daughter anymore! Her child killed too many gods. Even that nice lady couldn't tolerate such blasphemy. Her heart was eaten alive from the bilious stories and names they called her own flesh and blood. You best not bring that up around here if you expect to stay alive!"
Xena's anger at the man's tone was brief since correction of why she killed any gods seemed useless. Xena exited the tavern feeling relief the man did not say her mother was dead but felt more apprehensive than before.
Xena's tug of the reins kept Argo II at a slow gallop. There seemed to be little rush to ride north as Xena's mind wandered:
I wish Gabrielle were here now. She has the words mother will need if she is alone and shunned in her own homeland. I didn't choose to kill anymore gods. Once Athena released her siege on my home and Eve was safe for a time, I only wanted them to leave us all alone. My fight for the greater good didn't have to include their twilight. They had choices. Even gods have choices. They chose to fight and ignore the people had already turned to a new worship. If only they hadn't ruled with such fear and total demand that they be worshiped completely.
Poor mother suffered from what must have been tormenting tales of what happened at Mt. Olympus. Her aging could have not been easy, thinking I was dead and then hearing I massacred the Greek gods. I suppose I made the Olympian order martyrs to some as Ares did with Eli.
I don't think I can take anymore hate in anyone's eyes right now. The hate I feel for myself and for what all this has done to Eve and Gabrielle plus mother must be all I'll ever feel.
With that thought, Xena gave a strong jerk on the reins and turned Argo II in another direction. She gave a hard kick to the horse's side and rode swiftly away from the direction of what might have been the home where her mother lived.
Xena realized during the reckless ride this day that she couldn't take anymore hurt and certainly wasn't going to face anymore hate. Only anger remained in her heart and dark thoughts began to grow in her mind.
(Diary # 3)
Just on the outskirts of Thrace, Xena came upon a group of men working in a small field. Xena slipped her coat on over her armor hoping not to be recognized. She halted Argo II with a quick pull of the reins and asked the nearest man, "have any of you heard of Xena? Xena, the Warrior Princess. I hear she's from this area?"
A worn and tired looking man raised his head from his work to look toward Xena and replied, "Everyone has heard of Xena. Her mother lives alone not far from here. It's best not to speak her name in these parts, lady."
"Well, I heard Xena is really dead this time. She was killed fighting alongside Ares in battle near the ancient ruins. Her mother should be told but I haven't the time," Xena blurted out as she tugged on the reins again and turned quickly to ride away before the man could reply.
Xena rode hard and fast until darkness began creeping across the sky. She had put the region of Thrace behind her before stopping to make camp.
Xena felt tired as if she had been in battle, as she removed Argo II's saddle and put away her gear. Quickly, she began thinking strongly of Gabrielle. Like a picture, Xena saw a clear image in her mind of Gabrielle's gentle but hurting eyes piercing through her as if she knew Xena would never return. The picture faded and her mind screamed out:
Just once! Just once! I should have told Gabrielle how much I love her. I never wanted her thrown into battle with a weapon to draw blood. My greatest pride was protecting her while she comforted me by acting only in defense. When did it all go so wrong? Why did it all go wrong?
I couldn't kill Ares because he made me who I am and I couldn't erase my dark memories of being a warrior. If our death in Rome was destiny and our souls were to be together forever then coming back was a mistake. It's all been a mistake. Eli's preaching and way of love pulled us both in different directions. I may not have agreed with Gabrielle's way but I understood it. It was right for her and writing is her true destiny. Every since I learned I was with child, I haven't seen Gabrielle content with her quill. Her life was consumed with desire to protect my child and make a better world yet she still hurts for her own child. Things like that don't just go away because you have sword in hand and you fool yourself to thinking it's all for the greater good.
Xena felt completely numb as she prepared a fire and placed a blanket near it's burning glow. She was beyond tired tonight and her mind turned from Gabrielle to thoughts of her mother:
Mother will have peace for her remaining days to accept word again that I am dead. The people of Amphipolis will stop their scorn surely with the news. If she survived hearing of my crucifixion, she will survive hearing again that I am not alive. I'm sure those men were from Amphipolis and word should reach mother before a second sunset. She will accept that I died in battle with Ares.
Convincing Gabrielle won't be so easy.
I can do one last thing for Gabrielle and find her family. If her parents lived these twenty-five years or if Lila has survived, surely I can get news of them in Potaedia.
Herodotus was wise to know Gabrielle would never be the same after traveling with me. Gabrielle was overly kind to say I brought out the best in her. She brought out the best in herself in her scrolls. I am only a hero now in her writing. If I cannot be a warrior without hurting her then her new scrolls will leave her with the memories of the warrior I should have been. I can atone for killing thousands including gods who ruled with fear of their own twilight but my heart cannot forgive hurting the best thing in my life.
Xena's mind repeated images of Gabrielle with her face shining bright with the excitement of words and her heart filled with joy once again. She was able to sleep but it was very restless as her thoughts drifted between Gabrielle and her mother. Early raindrops awakened Xena as her eyes opened to see only gray clouds covering the sky.
Xena quickly cleared the fire and saddled Argo II as she readied for another long day's journey. This time she rode in the familiar direction of Potaedia. The rain slowed and the sky opened up to glare on the endless forest, along the way. Each path or turn reminded Xena of the time she first saw Gabrielle:
The courage, the innocence and the youth she had when I gazed upon her at a time I needed someone so badly. I felt so alone and the light in her eyes filled my emptiness. That seems so many lifetimes ago and yet the light only left her once. If I had only stayed nearby when she wed Perdicus, Gabrielle would have been loved and had her own family. The road is a hard life. Not knowing where you will sleep or where your next meal will come from. I should have never let her follow me this long. There were so many times I could have told her she won the battles just by giving me the strength I needed. Gabrielle will find her comfort in writing again and peace with Aphrodite. Maybe I can find the one family she gave up for me. There is still time for her to be loved and not suffer from fear of my darkness or hurting because of my children. I cannot go back and change these things, but I can put a stop to the hurt.
(Diary # 4)
It wasn't quite dark before Xena realized she had ridden all day and without pause for any nourishment she felt extremely weak and tired. Argo II had kept a steady pace on the journey but needed fresh water and rest on her weary back as well.
Xena made camp only one more days ride away from Potaedia and dozed off from her weariness just after taking care of Argo II and having only a morsel of cheese and bread for herself. Xena's mind did not sleep through the night completely however as she had visions of Gabrielle and the good and sad times they shared. Her mind strongly recalled:
It was shocking to realize Gabrielle's instant change after delivering her child. The torment Gabrielle suffered from Dahak's fire was eating her away from the inside out and that baby's beautiful face and warmth in Gabrielle's arms was more than I anticipated. I very much wished and wanted Gabrielle to have her hope and her child. Gabrielle and Hope was certainly a beautiful family picture if it had only been a pure child without the evil purpose. How could I possibly have thought to raise my sword to that baby before Gabrielle? How could I not? The child was destined to be a vessel of violence and evil for Dahak but how regretfully I wished that wasn't who or what she was.
If only I had protected Solan. All the plans to keep him safe and I failed. I managed to save all the other children but failed my own son. At long last I was ready to take him with me and perhaps tell him that I was his mother. I failed at that twice and if hesitating with my own child cost both Gabrielle to live with killing Hope and me to live with failure to save Solan, I knew I would not hesitate to react if my second child were ever harmed. My reactions are just too dangerous for Gabrielle. I can't risk her ever again.
Xena quickly awoke to the sound of stirring in the nearby bush. It was only a wandering rabbit who signaled the sun had risen and it was time to complete the ride to Potaedia. Xena gathered fresh water for she and Argo II at a nearby stream and readied to continue on her journey.
The day was quite warm and Xena barely noticed a brief rain shower as her mind repeated the same visions and thoughts that visited her during her sleep the night before. Only stopping three times to give Argo II rest and some of the fresh water to drink, Xena arrived just outside of Potaedia and halted in the woods nearby Gabrielle's home.
There was no one stirring around the house that was aged and showing wear in its appearance from the weather's elements. Xena became concerned if Gabrielle's parents, either one had survived the past twenty-five years. Obviously someone was living in this home as there were animals heard stirring in the barn and the small field out back appeared to have been well tended. There were lovely trumpet shaped lilies in pots on the back porch blooming along side of lilac's which offered a nice fragrance in the evening's breeze.
Xena kept well hidden as she watched the house until darkness had covered any view of the field and her hiding place. Candlelight alerted Xena to someone being inside the home as unexpectedly she noticed a burning lantern moving in the direction of the barn. Within moments a loud noise of fighting reached Xena's ears as she rushed into the barn not knowing what she would encounter.
Xena quickly saw a man attacking an aged and stooped Herodotus who stumbled to grab hold on a nearby stall door. Xena threw her Chakram and knocked the man's sword from his hands as he raised it toward Herodotus. The man turned quickly and ran out of the front doors of the barn as Xena went to help Herodotus to stand on his own.
"Oh, it's you" spoke Herodotus.
"Yes," Xena replied as she then asked about the man attacking and why.
"You should know Xena," Herodotus barked out and went on to say, "people are crazed without their gods. They have turned to worship everything in sight to include a field of grain or the blood of our animals. I've lost all but these few animals for rituals caused by your actions."
"Alright Herodotus," Xena responded and added, "I know you don't care much for me. I haven't come here about that. I'm quite sure I can't explain the death of the Greek gods to you. I've come here about Gabrielle."
"What about Gabrielle?" Herodotus quickly said as he slowly turned to look directly into Xena's eyes from his bent over position.
"You were right Herodotus. Gabrielle needs a family. As much as I wanted that for she and I it's not going to work. Gabrielle needs to be safe, always. She is with Aphrodite at one of her temples I'm sure. If Lila or Hecuba is here, someone should send word to Gabrielle, " Xena stated.
Herodotus sensed the sincerity in Xena's eyes and quickly realized Xena was offering them back their daughter without condition. He only paused briefly before explaining, "Hecuba isn't well really but Lila is home to care for her. They need not know you are here. Gabrielle will never stay in Potaedia with you alive."
"You're right again, Herodotus" Xena interrupted. "I've thought of all that and my own mother has been sent word of my death. I'm sure you will find a way for the same word that I died in battle along side of Ares recently, to reach Gabrielle."
As soon as Xena completed telling Herodotus the story about her pretense to be dead, she turned and left the barn from the rear just as she had entered.
(Diary # 5)
Xena did not ride too far away from Potaedia as the darkness covered the path before her. The moonlight was fading as clouds moved overhead and the night sounds reminded Xena she was alone on this journey. Realizing Argo II would need a few hours rest before one last visit to complete her plan, Xena made a quick small fire, ate some bread and fruit from her pack and bedded down to await morning light.
Xena tossed and turned and soon gave up on any real sleep during the few hours remaining before dawn. She felt better to sit up and take the sharpening stone to her sword. She paused her scraping motion as her mind thought:
I remember trying to bury my weapons and longing to just be a person who didn't find so much pleasure in fighting. I could have stayed lost when I met Gabrielle. Even in those few moments, I felt almost dead as if breathing had no meaning. I love the challenge of a fight and after true death in Rome, I now know my dark-side controls my lethal skills.
I have to travel far if I am to insure the name Xena isn't heard of by mother or Gabrielle. As soon as I stop to inform Eve on all of this and explain her destiny is to follow the message from Archangel Michael, I will go as far north as was that ice tomb Ares created.
This darkness that sleeps so close to my heart still can be used for the greater good. I know this emptiness and hurt can never get any greater. There is only one great opportunity to have a Gabrielle in a person's life. There is still a chance someone will appreciate her in ways I never could.
I'm sure Herodotus will loose little time to get word to her somehow. At least she and Lila have time with their mother as I can only hope time is kind to mine. I've caused so much pain and grief for the one's I love most.
Eve is my great hope now. Her path and destiny can pave the way for this god of love that Michael speaks of. It's not my way but the world changed a lot in those twenty-five years. When people worship fields and animals are sacrificed, it's as much turmoil as the carnage warlords brought upon the Greece or rulers upon Rome. Is there never an end to the pain and suffering?
At that thought, Xena sensed someone approaching on her left. She continued to slowly scrape on her sword with the sharpening stone while also pulling her Chakram toward herself. Almost like a dream, Xena could see the image of a cloaked figure just standing stiff only paces away.
Ready to throw the Chakram in an instant, Xena realized the figure was out of her sight as quickly as it had appeared. She stood and turned to check north, south, east and west with no sign of the figure or a shadow.
It couldn't be Ares Xena thought, remembering he had traveled to Rome for the protection of Augustus and because Ares had lost his powers when the people had quit worshipping him. This figure was different she quickly realized as she sensed the presence of it again.
Xena more slowly turned to confront whatever she sensed but only the distant shadows of the trees were before her, in the darkness.
"Who are you?" Xena asked in a growling tone.
She realized she wasn't speaking to a mortal and she would not get a spoken reply. Xena's mind readily accepted she had been visited by her own darkness. The thought of eternal damnation passed in her mind and it's appeal seemed frightening for only a moment.
Xena walked carefully around the camp area without any sign of a mortal presence. She found Argo II secure and not stirred by anything that would normally follow an intruder.
Xena shook her head left and right in an attempt to clear her thoughts, telling herself she was too tired and should lie back down and await the morning.
Xena held her weapons close as lying down did not rid the thought that eternal damnation was what she deserved and was her new destiny. The thought gave her peace long enough that she was able to fall into a restful sleep.
(Diary # 6)
Xena awoke with the sun and rather hastily cleared her campsite and saddled Argo II. As she rode this early morning, Argo II sensed strange tugs on the reins combined with the tug encouraging a gallop as if they were under attack. Xena kept this pace much of the morning as the tugs became more anxious and Xena clinched the reins extremely tight in her hands.
Xena's mind was racing like something was driving her to ride with this much fury and she felt her anger swelling inside. She did give thought to her need to visit Eve before word Xena was dead traveled and could foil her plan. Pulling back strongly, Xena halted Argo II after jumping her over a rather wide stream.
The sleep Xena thought she enjoyed had been extremely short in duration. Without the breeze to fold her hair back from her eyes, Xena walked near the stream and she suddenly felt numb. She dropped to one knee and was completely consumed with anger and bitterness that had formed so strongly inside of her during the night.
While letting Argo II drink from the stream, her thoughts came one after another:
How could a god of love give me so much power and leave so much scorn and hurt all for the same purpose? This god had left Gabrielle in the wake of my maternal need to insure no one would harm a second child of mine. My mother probably didn't understand the hate in people's eyes as I have grown to become accustomed.
I don't think this is a god I want to control my destiny any further. I can take hurt and pain and I watched Gabrielle accept her own crucifixion yet her eyes kept light and love. I cannot take Gabrielle's life lying in my hand and the vision of her blood flowing from the blow of my own Chakram. The gods can be damned for their attack but Gabrielle did nothing to deserve what the gods and fates offered to her.
The Persians were suppose to be a strong army and I defeated them. The Horde was a challenge but their leader's pride governed their actions and he was weak. What exactly was it that kept me from killing them all when I had the chance?
It was Gabrielle that thought love was the way once and yet she knew my path was that of a warrior. I could have killed my own child and Joxer would have lived. Ares trusted I would not kill him while Gabrielle was driven to stab the child I very much needed to save for myself and for some god I don't even know.
There is a funny thing about hate. It seems to belittle the hurt inside of my heart. I can make it my enemy or I can embrace it as the only friend I have now. If there is to be no more light in Gabrielle's face or my heart then I must face my darkness at last.
Xena drank only a palm full of water from the stream and mounted Argo II as she gave the fast gallop tug on the reins. She didn't let up on the pace until she had reached the temple where Eve had remained to study with the Baptist. Xena cleverly took out one of the holy men with one swift punch to abduct his robe allowing her to move about in disguise.
She entered with a group all in dressed in the same robes as she had changed into and did not see Eve gathered at the front of the main hall. Xena was not noticed as she traveled down a hallway to find Eve alone in the last open room.
"Eve," Xena spoke in a whisper.
"Mother!" Eve exclaimed with surprise that Xena had returned so quickly.
"Listen, I don't have much time" Xena said as she only put her arm across Eve's shoulder, "my mother is alive but she is shunned because I killed the Greek gods. Gabrielle is with Aphrodite and I'm hoping she will find peace, happiness and above all safety now. While you prepare for your destiny, rumor will say that I am dead but I only going to fulfill my true destiny."
Eve stood quiet for several moments noticing the tone in her mother's voice wasn't expected and she felt a very strong concern for the unusual look in Xena's eyes.
"Mother, why are you doing this now?"
"Don't ask questions, Eve. I was gifted you for a purpose that didn't give back what I needed. I'm going to change my own destiny. If that leads to eternal damnation, then I'm ready," Xena stated as Eve was really in shock by Xena's words.
"Mother wait, don't go!" Eve exclaimed as Xena removed her arm and acted as if she had to leave without further explanation.
When Xena turned back around there were Eve, Gabrielle and Aphrodite standing before her looking saddened as they circled Xena to block her exit. As if it were instinct, Xena began to reach for her sword but Eve stepped forward to touch her mother's arm.
"Mother, I know you're in pain. If you cannot understand the message by the god of love then you need to understand you have not lost Gabrielle. She won't let you do this and we have just been waiting for you to come back."
"Come back?" Xena questioned as she felt anger that Gabrielle had not accepted that she was on a journey to find their families and give them time before rejoining each other.
"And just what makes you think I want to listen to you now?" Xena asked Gabrielle in a very bitter tone.
"Xena, come sit down, you're tired and we need some time to talk. I was with Cyrene when you turned away from your home. She doesn't question your killing the gods and she knows you weren't killed in battle" Gabrielle softly told Xena as she embraced her with both arms and led her to a nearby chair.
"Darkness and hate are my friends now Gabrielle. You can't change who I am or what drives my heart to hurt you. I've faced my darkness finally and I'm not opposed to accepting the damnation for it. Let me go, Gabrielle," Xena insisted as she pushed Gabrielle's arms away and gave a very threatening look toward Eve and Aphrodite.
"Xena, please please wait, "Gabrielle shouted in panic as Xena stood, pulled her sword pointing it toward Gabrielle as her hand motioned Eve and Aphrodite to stand back.
"Don't even think of following me!" Xena ordered as she turned to exit into the hallway.
"No! " screamed Aphrodite as she grabbed her heart watching both Gabrielle and Eve run to halt Xena and stop her from this self-destructive path.
(Diary # 7)
Xena ran to reach outside still unnoticed by passing groups dressed in the same robes as the one she had taken from the holy man. Her continued path however, was suddenly blocked when Aphrodite appeared in front of her. Beside Aphrodite stood death, herself. Xena halted quickly as both Gabrielle and Eve also joined and stood behind Aphrodite and Death as they all faced Xena's scorned look.
Xena started to reach for her sword but was immediately wrapped in Hephaestus' chains, restraining her arms to her side.
"You've all become suicidal" Xena scowled loudly as she struggled with the chains that completely embraced her. "I've got the power to kill you all" she screamed.
Aphrodite extended her arm to block Gabrielle or Eve from walking closer to Xena speaking in her determined voice she said, "Xena, how kind of you to leave my husband's chains behind. I suppose I should use them for something more fun but oh well. Since they are rightfully mine, I wish you would just calm down and listen."
"Oh, am I in trouble again?" Xena asked with sarcasm in her voice.
Aphrodite ignored Xena's question and continued speaking. "It's your mind Xena that seems to be wanting to make a choice between love or death. Celesta has had quite enough to do lately and goodness knows I could use some peace and quiet. Gabrielle is quite a talker when you are the subject."
"Xena please, please hear her out" Gabrielle begged as Eve looked on with tears forming in her eyes and to herself, she whispered, "this is all my fault."
Aphrodite turned only a moment to tell Eve, "this is no one's fault really. It's a tragedy. Just a sad, sad tragedy."
"Oh, I know whose fault all this is," exclaimed Xena. "It's my darkness that makes me who I am. All this craziness about a greater good and just look where it leads, " she continued. "I'm the only one who can change my destiny now and if you think putting me in chains will stop my journey, think again!"
Aphrodite seemed suddenly brave with Xena restrained in her husband's chains and approached to place her arm on Xena's tightened shoulder.
Responding to the fury in Xena's eyes, Aphrodite looked at her sadly and proceeded to tell her, "Xena, I hate to sound like a prophet but it's not you who determines what god or hero people honor or worship. Even wisdom failed Athena. She led the battle to stop the god of love fearing people would no longer be subservient only to Greek gods. You have two choices now yourself, Warrior Princess. You can choose the way of love completely or follow that darkness that leads to death alone this time. I don't think you really want eternal damnation all alone even if you think it is deserving."
As Aphrodite was talking, Xena's mind seemed to hear arguments from two voices. Both were strong with encouragement as one loudly shouted for her to break loose and attack while the other whispered, you love Gabrielle and Eve, don't do this!
Xena shook her head back and forth trying to organize the thoughts and make one choice for her reply to Aphrodite's plea.
Before Xena could speak, Gabrielle walked around Aphrodite to place her arm on Xena's other shoulder. Speaking softly she said, "Xena, I understand. I've always understood what is in your heart better than you have. Don't you remember? I'm begging you, Xena. Listen to what's in heart not your mind. Come with Aphrodite and me now and tell death you don't really need her. Xena, I need you! "
As if an uninvited visitor departed from her thoughts, Xena felt calmed by Gabrielle's words. She relaxed her movements and the chains fell onto the ground beneath her feet. Death's presence was gone as Celesta suddenly disappeared.
Eve stepped forward and looked directly into Xena's eyes revealing a flow of tears from her own.
"Mother," Eve added. "You've completed your maternal destiny. My purpose has been revealed to me. It's up to me now to articulate that the god of love isn't a guise without honor and is worthy to heal all the wounds this war has caused. You and Gabrielle have a course to follow of your own. Please go with her. I know in my heart that you will find the real destiny for you both."
As Eve completed her words, Xena heard only one voice telling her Gabrielle had once again forgiven her. Gabrielle's purity had defeated the darkness inside of her once again. Xena relaxed and realized she needed to accept Eve's explanation and Aphrodite and Gabrielle's pleas.
Xena lowered her head, resting it on Gabrielle's shoulder. She raised her arms to place them tightly around Gabrielle. Xena surprisingly wept openly.
After moments of silence, Xena raised her head and turned to give Eve a very loving expression with both of her eyes also filled with tears. Xena turned to give a nod of acceptance to Gabrielle and Aphrodite.
Suddenly, Xena, Gabrielle and Aphrodite vanished.
Aphrodite took Xena and Gabrielle to one of her finest temples where they at last would have some time together, alone.
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