Gabrielle focused on the white eyes of the former Amazon, her mind suddenly returning to that day at the lava pit. She had just watched Callisto and Velasca pull each other off the rope bridge from which she was barely hanging on
Her arm felt like it was being pulled from the socket. She could hear Xenas voice calling to her, but couldnt make out her words. Gabrielle felt the heat of the molten lava burning her legs and tried desperately to swing herself onto the bridge. Every movement tore at her already over-tired muscles. She glanced up to find Xena preparing to jump. Her fingers could no longer hold on and Gabrielle simply let go.
Her body was falling for only a few seconds before being pulled to the edge of the chasm. The hard rock wall slammed against her back and her wrists felt like they were on fire. Daring to finally open her eyes, Gabrielle gazed up into the most amazing blue eyes. They were eyes that she could so easily get lost in. Eyes that had long ago captured her heart and now held tightly to her soul.
Without a word, Xena pulled Gabrielle up and out of that chasm and into the safety of her arms. It was the day Gabrielle had recognized the other half of her soul.
Emerald green eyes narrowed with a renewed sense of determination. She would only need a few seconds and she was sure that Velasca would give her just that.
"Time to go, My Queen." Velasca pulled back the chakram to deliver the killing blow.
As Velasca reared back slightly, Gabrielles hands were freed. The bard reached up and took hold of the chakrams edges before Velasca realized what was going on. The warrior-bard pulled the weapon in two, and then brought both ends to bear against Velascas throat, making two clean slices across it.
Blood spurted everywhere as Velasca desperately tried to stop it. Gabrielle used the goddess moment of confusion to shove her away. Rolling in the opposite direction, Gabrielle managed to get to her feet and attacked with a vengeance. The chakram halves wove and intricate pattern across Velascas chest, spurting even more blood upon Gabrielle.
Using both halves, coming in from opposite directions, Gabrielle cleanly severed Velascas head.
Lillith turned from the mirror in disgust. She had seen the Amazons quick defeat at the hands of the bard. "Once again, you have underestimated your opponent, Velasca. Only this time, I will not be there to put you back together. I have more important things to do."
"Mistress!" Stavros staggered into the cavern, and fell to his knees before his mistress. "I beg your forgiveness. The Amazon "
"You fought well against her, Stavros." Lillith placed her hand on the head of her loyal follower. "You have my forgiveness."
He glanced up at her, a smile on his face. "Thank you."
"But you have also out-lived your usefulness." Without hesitation, Lillith pressed against the mans forehead with her fingers. In seconds, he was dead. Her long gown trailed across his still form as Lillith floated over the body and out of the cavern.
Gabrielle found Eve kneeling beside Hercules, gently rocking back and forth, her words too soft to be heard. As Gabrielle got closer, she realized that Eve was praying.
"Eve, we must get out of here."
Eve kept her eyes closed, placing her hands over Hercules chest. She continued to chant as a soft glowing light surrounded the legendary hero. Seconds later, Hercules was opening his eyes.
He carefully sat up with Eves help, looking around to find both his friends were okay. "Hey, did either of you get the name of the wagon driver that ran over me?"
Gabrielle chuckled, tears slowly rolling down her cheeks. "Yeah, but I already took care of it."
The body of Velasca was still moving around on the ground, arms outstretched as it searched for its missing head. "Where "
"Dont ask." Gabrielle directed Hercules inland. "Lets just get to Mt. Olympus."
Xena executed a spinning back-kick that sent Ares flying across the room. She followed him by doing a series of back flips, landing next to him. She had a grip on his shirt and was hauling him to his feet before Ares realized what was happening. The Warrior Princess shoved the god against a wall, creating a crack that reached the ceiling.
"Youre going to regret this, Ares. For the rest of your immortal life."
"Wait!" He sputtered, grasping at the strong hand that held him off the ground. "Xena, I can explain!"
"Too late, Ares. Im tired of you and your games!" Xena tossed him across the room again, this time walking to where he ended up, which happened to be at his sisters feet.
"Aphrodite, tell her!" Ares staggered to his feet, trying to hide behind the goddess.
"No way, Bro. You got yourself into this mess, you get yourself out."
"Xena, you dont need your ashes. You can be immortal "
"I dont want immortality, Ares," Xena growled, backing him into a corner. "I want to return to Gabrielle. Its where I belong."
Ares shook his head in frustration. "What is it that you see in her anyway? Or do you just have a thing for irritating little blondes?"
Xena started for him again, but stopped herself. There was no point in continuing to fight Ares. Not much point in anything if she couldnt go back to the one person she needed. The one person she had always counted upon. The one person she had hurt the most.
She turned from him and walked toward the viewing pool, leaning over the water. Her hands gripped the edges so hard that the rock began to crumble. Tears fell from her eyes, mixing in with the dark liquid and forming yet another vision.
Aphrodite stood beside the Warrior Princess, her hand gently resting on Xenas shoulder. "Do you want to see her?" At her nod, Aphrodite continued. "Then think of her."
Xena watched as the image of her soulmate formed in the dark liquid. Hercules and Eve walked alongside the bard as they hurried along a very familiar stretch of road. It only took Xena a few seconds to realize where they were headed. She shot a look toward Aphrodite, who merely nodded.
"But the urn without it "
"You dont need the urn, Xena." Ares had joined them, stepping back when Xena straightened and started toward him. "Settle down and Ill explain." When he was sure that Xena wasnt going to start another fight, the God of War proceeded. "I didnt think you would choose immortality, but I had to try anyway."
"Naturally," came Xenas dry reply. "Get to the point, Ares."
"The point is, the urn was empty when I dropped it."
It felt more like days than hours by the time they reached Mt. Olympus. Gabrielle stood at the foot of the mountain, her heart beating wildly in her chest. In a few moments they would find out if Aphrodite had been right.
Hercules put his arm around Gabrielle, not surprised to find her shaking. "Ive got a good feeling about this."
"This has to work, Hercules."
"It will." He hugged her briefly, and then led his friends to the home of what remained of the Olympian Gods.
Xena stared at Ares, trying to decide if she believed him or not. So many times he had lied to her; so much of what he had said was simply for his own gain. Should she trust him this time?
"You have to trust me, Xena." Ares could always read her mind. He moved closer to his former protégé, gently taking one of her hands in his. He leaned over and brushed his lips across her knuckles. "Shall we?"
Xena glanced over at Aphrodite, who nodded. "Go on. Gabrielle will be here soon. Ill keep her here until youre finished."
"All right." Xena pulled her hand back from Ares, and then followed him out of the room.
Aphrodite crossed her fingers, and then turned her attention to the main doors as Hercules, Gabrielle and Eve entered. "Welcome to Olympus!" She spread her arms wide, looking around at the havoc that Xena and Ares had wreaked upon the room. "Or, whats left of it."
"Aphrodite, what happened here?" Gabrielle asked, her voice full of concern.
"Oh, just a little misunderstanding." The goddess slipped her arm around Gabrielles shoulders. "Dont worry about, Sweet Pea."
"Is Virgil here?" Asked Eve.
Aphrodite kept her gaze away from Xenas daughter, realizing the woman would be able to see through her answer. "Um, no. He was delayed."
"Here I am!" As if on cue, Virgil burst through the doors, shoving past Hercules and Eve to stand in front of Aphrodite. "Did you miss me?"
"Virgil?" Gabrielle started forward, immediately noticing that something was not right with her friend. As she got closer, she recognized the look in his eyes it was the same look that Hercules had had. "No," she whispered.
Eve had sensed it too and was immediately at Virgils side. She grabbed her friends arm, spinning him around to face her. Placing her hand over his heart, she quickly uttered the words she knew would free him from the evil that was taking hold of him. "In the name of Eli, and all the powers of Heaven, I command this evil be cast out!"
A bright light enveloped Virgil. His body jerked against Eves hold, then the light disappeared. He would have fallen if not for Gabrielle being there to help steady him. "What happened?"
"Yes?" Lillith answered them from the open doorway. She floated toward the group, her gaze fixed on Eve. "So, youre the one that has been causing me all this trouble? Youre the one who follows the one true god."
Eve stepped forward, ignoring Gabrielles pleas otherwise. "Yes. I am the messenger of Eli. My name is Eve."
"Ares, I dont have time for this." Xena glared at the god or war. "Where are you taking me?"
"Patience never was your thing." Ares sighed. "Look. I told you that I knew youd want to go back to the blonde, right?"
"So, I figured out how to make that happen."
"And here it is." Ares waved his hand over a section of wall, standing back as it slowly disappeared, revealing the body of a woman.
"Ares " Xena started, but speech failed her when she recognized the long raven hair and pale blue eyes.
"Thats right, Xena. Nows the time to choose." Ares stepped toward her, gently cupping her face with his left hand. "Join me or join her, but decide now. You time is almost up."
Lillith laughed so suddenly it made them all flinch. "Eve? Oh, how fitting."
Realization dawned on Eve in that moment. "Youre the one?" She questioned the woman, daring to step closer. "Youre the one who defied Adam."
"Adam was a fool!" Lillith lunged for Eve.
Instinctively, Gabrielle reached for the chakram, sending the deadly weapon directly at Lilliths neck. A second before it struck, the chakram was deflected by the enigmatic woman, causing it to ricochet off the wall before it landed in a very familiar grasp.
Everyone turned toward the one who had caught the weapon. Gabrielle suddenly found herself weak in the knees at the impossible sight before them.
Xena held her favored weapon tightly in her hand, turning it over a few times as if to inspect it for damage. With a feral grin, she threw the weapon, aiming it for Lilliths chest.
Lillith again deflected the weapon, aiming it back at Xena.
Xena was already on the move, flipping through the air and catching the chakram as she did. Gabrielle jumped into action, matching Xenas movement until she was at her partners side. Green eyes met blue and for a moment, time stood still.
Xena reached out to touch the side of Gabrielles face as a tiny smile played on her lips. "Ready?"
Gabrielle nodded, letting her eyes say more than she ever could. As one, they turned to face Lillith.
"Youll wish that Velasca had killed you, Gabrielle."
The bard did not acknowledge Lilliths taunt. Instead, she spun the sai in her right hand around, making sure the lethal end was pointed at her opponent.
Lillith scoffed, holding out her hand, palm up. With a twist of her wrist, she sent Gabrielle flying into a wall.
In almost the same instance, Xenas boot swung around and connected with Lilliths face. The warrior followed it up with a spinning back-kick, then a straight kick that should have shattered Lilliths rib cage. Neither hit seemed to affect her at all. Xena brought the chakram around, surprised as much as everyone else in the room when she missed.
Lillith had disappeared from in front of Xena, reappearing directly behind her. "Youre getting slow in your old age, Xena. Perhaps you should have chosen immortality."
Xena swung back with the chakram, just barely missing as Lillith disappeared again. The warrior stood perfectly still, trying to sense where the woman would appear next. Too late, Xena realized that Lillith was already in front of her.
A strong hand suddenly wrapped itself around Xenas neck, lifting her off the floor. It tightened as it lifted, closing off her windpipe.
Xena kicked out with both legs, trying to break contact with the grip that robbed her of breath. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Gabrielle stand up and for a moment she was relieved her partner was okay. Then the grip tightened and blackness started to creep around the edges of Xenas vision.
"Xena!" Gabrielle rushed forward, her weapons still held firmly in her hands.
Lillith moved her attention from Xena to Gabrielle for only a second. It was all the time Eve needed. Jumping forward, Eve placed on hand over Lilliths heart.
"In the name of Eli, and all the powers of Heaven, I command this evil presence be cast out!" The words echoed through the chamber as Eve continued to repeat them.
Lillith howled in anger as she felt the darkness pulling away from her heart. It was the only thing that held her together; the only thing upon which she could exist. Lillith released her grip on Xena, trying to pry the hand away from her chest. She fought desperately, but Eves grasp was too strong. The world began to spiral as the very thing that had created Lillith ceased to exist. Without the darkness, she was no more.
By the third chant, Eve was left standing over a dark spot on the floor. It was the only remnant of the woman known only as Lillith.
Eve turned around, a smile lighting her face when she saw her mother standing just a few feet away. "Hello, Mother."
"Eve, Im so proud of you." Xena moved forward to embrace her child.
Hercules joined them, giving Xena a quick hug. He whispered something in her ear, to which she nodded. "Good to hear it." Hercules gathered Virgil, Eve and Aphrodite, and herded them out of the room, telling Virgil he would soon explain everything as he shut the doors to the room.
Gabrielle slowly stepped forward, not really trusting her shaking legs to continue to hold her up. She pointed to the weapon in Xenas hand. "You caught it."
"Yep." Xena smiled, tilting her head slightly. "It is mine, ya know."
"Well, technically, its mine. I mean, you did give it to me in Japa."
"Did not!" Xena took a step toward Gabrielle, hooking the chakram to her belt. "I just let ya hang on to it for a while."
"Oh, is that so?" Gabrielle gave Xena a shot in the stomach with a resounding "oomph!" from her partner.
"Whats that for?"
"For leaving me." Gabrielle blinked back the tears that threatened, afraid to believe what was happening. "Xena, are you did you the urn "
Xena placed her finger across Gabrielles lips, letting them slowly trail across her jaw line. "Im here, Gabrielle. Flesh and blood once again."
"Youre really alive?" The words came out as a soft whisper, which Xena barely heard.
"Yes," she breathed the word across Gabrielles lips. "Im alive."
Gabrielle let the tears go then, reaching up to wrap her arms around Xenas neck. Their lips met in a kiss that said more than words ever could. When the kiss ended, Xena pulled back just enough to be able to speak, staying close enough to feel Gabrielles breath against her skin. "I love you, Gabrielle. And Im sorry."
"Dont be sorry." Gabrielle held Xenas face in her hands, allowing herself to get lost in those amazing blue eyes. "Just stay with me. Please."
"Forever. I promise."
"I love you, Xena." The bard pressed her lips to the warriors once more, welcoming home the other half of her soul.
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