By Paully ‘Abbaspice1’

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures; just borrowing for this story. The rest of the story and other characters are mine. Please contact me before using any of my stuff. Thanks.

TIMELINE:  Some things that were shown on the show NEVER took place in this alternate universe (i.e. Xena’s pregnancy and the Fall of the Olympians.)  Otherwise, it is up for grabs.

VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.

SUBTEXT/MAINTEXT:  Xena and Gabrielle are married in this universe.

SERIES: This story takes place after “Rising Phoenixa” in the Beginning Again Series, which follows behind the “Sins of the Father Series.”


Phoenixa and Xena drew their swords.  Time and time again the swords engaged in battle, neither woman being able to overtake the other.

Gabrielle watched as the swords clanged once again.  Every fiber in her being dictated that she should be fighting by Xena's side.  But because of the nature of the battle, she was forced to watch from the sidelines, causing each moment to be sheer torture.  *Come on Xena.*

"Getting tired?"  Phoenixa sneered as their swords locked once again.  "Thinking about giving up?"

"Don't waste your breath Najara, you'll going to need it."  At that moment, Xena connected a strong knee into the Co-Regent's stomach, causing the woman to double over, gasping for air.  "See?"

However, the fight was far from over, which Phoenixa proved when she shot straight up and connected with a blow to the jaw.  

Both women quickly brought up their swords.  Finally, Phoenixa's sword struck flesh as the blade sliced through Xena's armor and into her side.  "First blood Xena."

"Won't be the last," the Warrior Princess dryly commented.  Within moments, her sword gashed the Co-Regent in the thigh.  

Phoenixa grimaced as the pain ran through her leg.  She glanced down at the gash and saw blood pouring out.  She instantly knew that her leg wouldn't hold out much longer.  Hoping to use Xena's temper against her, she boasted,   "Well Xena, if that's the best you can do, Gabrielle will indeed be mine."

A deadly smile danced on the Warrior Princess' lips.  "That's not, and she won't be."  With lightning quick reflexes, Xena ducked and swept Phoenixa's legs, causing the former Crusader to crash into the ground.

But Phoenixa was not done.  She quickly grabbed a handful of sand, threw it into Xena's eyes and watched as the Warrior Princess fell to her knees, blinded by the tiny grains.   Leaning on her sword, Phoenixa rose to her feet.  Silently she stalked Xena, sneaking upon the Warrior Princess’ back. 

Gabrielle watched as the co-regent elevated her sword above her head.  Without thinking, Gabrielle placed a thought in Najara’s mind.

*Say goodbye to Xena.*

The co-regent smiled a deadly smile.  *Not this time my queen.*  Without hesitation, Najara thrust her sword downward. The blade entered the hard flesh. 

“NO!”  Gabrielle woke up with a start.

The scream woke up the Warrior Princess.  She quickly sat up, glanced around the room.  Sensing no danger she looked over at her soulmate.  Seeing Gabrielle in turmoil, she reached out, placing a hand on Gabrielle’s shoulder.  “Are you alright?” 

Gabrielle looked over at her consort and nodded.  “Just…just a nightmare.”  The young woman gently caressed her wife’s face, then got out of bed and headed towards the window which faced the center of the village.  Her gaze focused on the funeral pyre.  Gabrielle picked up a pair of soft deer skin trousers, pulled them up and tucked in her night shift.  “I’ll be right back.”  Without another word, she walked out of their hut and headed towards the village center.

Gabrielle walked until she reached her target.  In front of her was the funeral pyre of Najara.  Gabrielle closed her eyes and released a breath. 


Gabrielle opened her eyes and stared at the pyre.  “Hey yourself.”  She remained silent for a moment. “How did you know I would be h...”

Xena interrupted.  “I know you.”  She glanced at the pyre.  “Like it or not, she was an Amazon.  And you always take an Amazon’s death to heart.” 

“A part of me wishes she had truly changed.”

“No point in wishing for something that can never be.”  Xena reached out and held Gabrielle’s hand.  “You gave her a chance.  We all did.”

“Doesn’t make it any easier.”

Xena wrapped an arm around Gabrielle, guiding her away from the pyre.  “Come, let’s have some breakfast.  We have a long day ahead of us.”


During council meeting, Gabrielle looks over at the empty co-regent’s seat.  The Council convened to pick a member of the Northern tribe to take Najara’s place.  “Does anyone have any suggestions?”

Lila spoke up.  “How about Yakut?  She is the shamaness and the women respect her.”

Gabrielle smiled at her sister’s suggestion.  Since her initiation, Lila had grown into a fine Amazonian princess.  “Any objections?”  No one spoke up. 

Gabrielle then looked over at Yakut.  “Would you do us the honor of accepting the role and responsibility of co-Regent?”

Yakut bowed her head.  “I would be honored.”

“The honor is ours.”  Gabrielle looked around the table.  “If there is no other business, I think we will adjourn.  Chilipa, may I have a word with you?”

Chilipa and Gabrielle watched as the others filed out.  Then Gabrielle turned to her regent.  “Is everything prepared for tonight?”

“Yes.”  She placed a hand on the petite woman’s shoulder.  “Are you ready?”

“No.”  Gabrielle looked down at the table.  “I don’t know what to say.  I honestly cannot say that I’m sorry that she is dead.”  She looked at Chilipa.  “Maybe you should lead tonight.”

Chilipa refused.  “Najara was Queen of the Northern tribe and your regent.  I know she challenged Xena and almost killed her…”

“But I have to put that aside, don’t I?”  Gabrielle sighed.  “I don’t want to insult our Northern Sisters.  I’m not sure I can hide how I feel about Najara.”

“I know that some of them know how hard this is for you. Yet it will show them that you are their Queen and how much you respect them as part of this tribe.”  The ebony beauty placed a hand on Gabrielle’s arm.  “As Queen, you must put aside your personal feelings and do what is best for your people.  I am willing to help anyway I can, but the Northern Amazons will be looking to you.”

Gabrielle nodded.  “Okay.”  The Queen headed for the door.  “Please inform everyone that the pyre will be lit at sunset tonight.”


As she stood upon the dais, Gabrielle glanced around the crowd.  Every Amazon in the Nation gathered together to say final goodbyes to the dead regent, the woman that they knew as Phoenixa and as Najara.  Xena stood to the right of her, behind her shoulder while Chilipa stood to her left and Lila stood to the left of Chilipa.  In her right hand, Gabrielle held the torch that would light the pyre.

“Phoenixa came to our sisters, became an Amazon and led them during a time of profound struggle and pain.”  Gabrielle paused for a moment.  “She always wanted to do the right thing.”  She eyed the right side of the gathering, where most of the Northern Amazons stood.  “She saved many lives.  Now may her spirit join with our sisters who have gone on before us.”  Gabrielle stepped down from the dais, and walked to the pyre.  She looked down at Najara’s face.  “Goodbye Najara.  Hope you find peace.”  With that, Gabrielle lowered the torch to the pyre and watched as the flames took hold of the pyre.  Once she was sure it would burn, Gabrielle walked back to her spot on the dais.

The drumming began, a slow and deep rhythm that filled the air.  Soon the dancers began to chant and formed a circle around the pyre.  The grieving ceremony had begun.  The rulers of the Nation watched and listened as the drums grew louder, the beat faster, and the chants become wails.  Tears ran down Gabrielle’s face as she witness the sorrow of her people.  Xena wrapped an arm around her soulmate, giving her much needed support.  Once the flames died down, the couple walked to their hut and entered inside.

Xena watched as Gabrielle’s rolled her neck around.  “Let me get that for you.”  Xena began to massage the Bard’s neck and shoulders.  “You have lots of knots.  How about you take yourself a hot bath and afterwards I give you a massage.”

“Sounds good.”  She turned around and faced Xena.  “But let’s make that a bath for two, hmm?”

A smile danced upon Xena’s lips.  “Whatever Gabrielle wants, Gabrielle gets.”  She gave her bard a small peck on the lips.  “You get the bath ready; I’ll go get our bathing supplies and shifts.”

Gabrielle nodded, and walked into their bathing chamber.  She started the fire in fireplace and placed several buckets of water near the fire.

“Trying to wash away your guilt, my queen?”

Gabrielle spun around.  No one could be seen.  “Xena?” she whispered.

The voice spoke.  Yet again, it came from behind.  “It’s amazing how quickly one forgets.”  Gabrielle slowly turned around; trying to keep her knees from shaking. 

Najara stood there, a thin smile on her face.  “I would still be alive if it wasn’t for your interference.  It should have been Xena’s funeral pyre you burned tonight.”

Gabrielle’s eyes became icy. “I warned you.”

“Yes, you did.  I figured you wouldn’t really do it.  I was wrong.”  Najara shook her head.  “All the talking about opening up a hospice to save people, to heal the hurting,” she crossed her arms, “can’t believe that same person is a murderer today.”

Gabrielle ignored the jab.  “What do you want?”

Najara laughed.  “Want?  I got what I want.  I’m closer to you now than I could have ever been while alive.”  She closed the distance between her and Gabrielle.  “I’m inside your dreams, inside your head. You will be seeing me everywhere, hearing me in every one of your thoughts.”

Gabrielle closed her eyes, her brows furrowed together in concentration.  After a few candledrips, she opened them once more.  The specter was gone.

Gabrielle tried to take a step toward the door, but her knee buckled.  It was at that moment Xena walked through the door.

“Are you ready…” She stopped speaking when she saw Gabrielle.  The young woman was very pale and looked like she could barely stand.  Xena rushed to her side and grabbed hold of her soulmate.

Gabrielle’s eyes rolled to the back of her head.  Darkness overwhelmed her.  The last thing she remembered was Xena yelling for the guards.


  Gabrielle awoke in the healer’s hut.  Looking up, she saw several pairs of eyes looking down at her with concern:  Garona, Hecuba, Lila, Sophia and Xena’s.  “Wow, what did I do to deserve all this attention?” she asked, a small smile graced her lips while a cute crinkle appeared on her nose.

Seeing Gabrielle attempt to bring some humor to the situation, they all relaxed.  Garona explained.  “You fainted and Xena rushed you over here.”

Xena gently caressed the Bard’s face.  “How do you feel?”

“Just a little light-headed.”

Garona nodded.  “I couldn’t find any physical reason for you to lose consciousness.  I do believe it is probably due to stress.”

Lila agreed.  “There has been plenty to be stressful over.”

Garona looked at Gabrielle.  “Well, you are to rest for a week.  No council meetings, no trainings, just rest my Queen.”

Gabrielle sighed.  “I can’t just ignore my responsibilities.”

“You’re not.”  Sophia clasped Lila’s shoulder.  “All the major stuff is done:  all the new huts are up and running, the dining hut has been enlarged, as well as most of the common areas.  The Northern Amazons have adjusted well.  Chilipa and Lila can take over from here.”

Hecuba chimed in.  “Splendid idea!” 

Gabrielle did not what a lot of time to think.  She wanted to keep herself busy and her mind from wandering.  She looked around.  The Queen was about to use her bardic skills to convince everyone that she was alright.  That was until she met the eyes of her soulmate.  Xena’s gaze was stubborn and determined.  “Fine, if that is what everyone thinks, I guess I have to rest.”

Finally a smile appeared on the Warrior’s Princess countenance.  “Good choice.”


I can’t just sit around and do nothing Xena.”  Gabrielle sat down in a chair inside their hut, her leg bounding up and down.

“Why don’t you write another story?”

“Haven’t done anything inspiring to write about.”


“Read every single scroll in here.”  The Bard pointed to the wall which held the favorite weapons of past Queens.  “Counted every weapon, identified them as defensive, killing or maiming.  I’m so bored Xena that I could count how many threads it takes to make our bed sheets!”

A slow, calming breath left the Warrior Princess.  It had only been a day since Garona ordered Gabrielle to rest, but the Queen was growing restless and very irritable.  “I know you don’t like being stuck here.  But you need your rest.”

“I get plenty of rest.” Gabrielle lied.

“No you don’t.  I live here too, remember?  When you do finally come to bed, you toss and turn all night.”  She bent down on one knee in front of her wife.  “I’m worried about you Gabrielle.” 

“Ahh…isn’t that sweet?”

Gabrielle quickly looked to her right.  Najara stood there with a smile.  Gabrielle quickly turned back to Xena, fear shining from her eyes.

“What’s wrong, Gabrielle?”

“Nothing.”  She glanced at her former regent, as Najara made her way behind her.  She then focused on her soulmate.  A thin smile appeared on her lips.   

“Then why is your heart racing?”

Gabrielle took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves.  “You are right, I need to rest.  Just not here.  Do you think we can camp out tonight?  Near the lake?  Just us?”

Xena slowly nodded.  She knew Gabrielle was hiding something.  *But what?* “I think that’s a good idea.  Let me inform the Guard and Chilipa that we will be gone for a few days.”

“A few days?”

“Yes.  It will give you a break from this hut.  A time for us to rest…and talk.”  With that Xena walked out of the door.

Najara made her way towards the Bard.   “Trying to get away from me Gabrielle?  You can’t.  I’m a part of you.” She bent down and whispered in Gabrielle’s ear, “Now and always.”

Gabrielle closed her eyes and focused.  She opened them and looked behind her.  Najara was there with a twisted smile upon her face.  “Told you.”  With that, the former regent stood straight, and slowly faded from Gabrielle’s view.

Gabrielle shook with fear.  *I must be going mad.  What am I going to do?*


Chilipa nodded.  “I think it is a great idea Xena.  To tell you the truth, she hasn’t been herself since the challenge.”  Sophia nodded her agreement. 

“I know.  I thought things would get better after Najara’s spirit was released.  But it hasn’t.”

Chilipa shrugged her shoulder.  “Maybe it’s guilt?”

Xena’s protector mode kicked in.  “Why should she feel guilty?”

“I didn’t say Gabrielle should feel guilty.  But you know Gabrielle.  Najara fought you because she refused to respect your union.  She tried to use our laws and traditions to drive a wedge between you and the Amazons—including Gabrielle.  Even though Najara was crazy, Gabrielle probably blames herself for being the object of Najara’s obsession.”

Xena remained silent as she thought about Chilipa’s words. *Maybe it is guilt.* “We should be back in a few days.”  She smiled jokingly at the pair.  “Can you two stay out of trouble?”

A Chester-cat grin appeared on the Guardian’s face as she winked at Chilipa.  “I don’t know what you are talking about sis.  Of course we can stay out of trouble.  Chilipa and I are models of decorum.  Right dear?”

Chilipa remained stoic.  “Oh I think we can manage.  Besides, it not like you two won’t be within riding distance.  Tell Gabrielle I hope she feels better soon.”

Xena watched as Sophia continued to grin at Chilipa.  Finally a tiny smile tugged at the corners of the Regent’s lips.  Xena shook her head.  *Hmm, someone has finally gotten Chilipa to loosen up.* “See you soon.”  With that, Xena headed out of the door and back to her hut.


The sun was in the lower half of the sky by the time they arrived at the lake.  The pair settled into the familiar routine of getting the area ready for camp.  Even after setting up camp and gathering wood, Gabrielle was still on edge; she kept finding things to do.  Xena finally grabbed her wife.  “Gabrielle you are supposed to be resting.  Let’s sit by the fire and talk, okay?”

Gabrielle looked at her Warrior.  “You?  Want to talk?  You haven’t even sharpened your sword yet.”

Xena smiled.  “You better take me up on this opportunity.  It may not come again for a while.”

Gabrielle went over and sat on their bedroll.  “What do you want to talk about?”

“You.”  Xena sat down by the Bard.

“I rather talk about something else.”

“Gabrielle, don’t avoid this.  You have been bouncing off the walls lately.  You haven’t slept.  And all of this started after the challenge.”  She reached out and held Gabrielle’s hand.  “It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes it was Xena.”

“You did nothing to encourage Najara.  She tried so hard to come between us.”

“Xena, you don’t understand.”  The young Queen sighed.  “I see her everywhere; in my dreams, during the day, whenever I’m not focusing on something.”

“It’s your guilt.  But you don’t have any reason to feel guilty.”

Gabrielle stared out towards the woods.  “I killed her Xena.”

“No I killed her…”

“Only because I interfered.”  Xena waited for Gabrielle to continue.  “She had blinded you.  She got behind you and lifted up her sword.”  The bard looked over at her wife.  “I couldn’t lose you.  I entered her mind and told her to tell you goodbye.”

The Warrior lowered her eyes as she thought back to the challenge.  “I remember her giving away her position.  I thought I was strange, but I just wrote it off as overconfidence.”  She focused her attention on her Bard and reached out for her hand.  “Gabrielle, you saved my life.”

“I betrayed the Amazons.”

“You did no such thing.”

Tears welled up in Gabrielle’s eyes.  “Xena, I’m an Amazon.  I’m the queen.  And I turned against all of that.”

Xena shook her head.  “If she had lived she would have eventually destroyed you and the amazons.  You did what was best…”

“For who?”  Gabrielle interrupted.  “The Amazons were the last thing on my mind.  The only thing that was on my mind was saving you.  I couldn’t let her kill you.  You always come before the Amazons, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But I can’t be a good queen for the Amazons if you come first.  And that is where I want you.”

“You are a good queen.  The Amazons are becoming a strong nation.  You have made the blending of two distinct tribes go as smoothly as anyone could have hoped.”

“What if someone challenges you again, or if we are negotiating with our enemies, and even during council meetings and I want to make sure things go my way….”

Xena stopped her.  “You are not selfish like that Gabrielle.  You are torturing yourself for no reason.”

Gabrielle took a breath, trying to calm her nerves.  “I never told them about my mind-controlling powers.”

“There is no need to tell them.  I understand that they are your people, but they don’t have to know everything about you.”  

Gabrielle looked away. “But I do need to tell them what I did to Najara.”

“No you don’t.  Listen to me. No good can come from you telling them.” 

“Xena, the Amazons are a sisterhood.  We are willing to fight for each other; to die for each other.  Amazons don’t betray each other.” She looked Xena in the eye.  “And that is what I did.”  The young woman lowered her head in shame.

“Did you plan on controlling Najara’s mind?”  Xena didn’t wait for a response.  “Of course not.  You relied on your instinct,” she tilted Gabrielle’s chin, forcing her wife to look her in the eyes, “your instinct to protect me.  You can’t second guess yourself Gabrielle.  Najara planned everything out.  We both were ambushed by her challenge.  You did what you had to do.  If you start questioning your instinct now, what are you going to do during council meetings or negotiations?  On the battlefield?”  Xena took a deep breath and placed her hands on the Bard’s shoulders gripping lightly. “Life isn’t planned out.  Your instincts are good Gabrielle.  If you stop trusting them, you will hurt the Amazons or yourself.  You might even get yourself killed.”  The Warrior shook her head.  “And I’m not about to let that happen.”

“Xena, how am I supposed to look at any of the amazons in the eye after this?”

“By remembering all the good you have done so far.  And thinking about the good you are going to do.  The Amazons need a good leader—a leader who knows when to fight and when to negotiate.  And that person is you.”

Gabrielle sighed.  “I don’t know about that Xena.”

“Well I do.  And I believe there’s a whole village that agrees with me.”  Xena stood up.  “How about I fix us some tea and then we’ll turn in for the night?”

A small smile graced Gabrielle’s lips.  “Sounds nice.”  Gabrielle watched as her wife made her way to the fire.  “I feel sorry about how things ended, and I feel guilt for keeping this secret.” She paused as she carefully chose her words.  “But if I had to, I would do it again.”

Xena gave Gabrielle a small sad smile.  “I wish you didn’t have to, but I’m glad you did.  And I love you for it.” 

“Isn’t that sweet?  She’s encouraging you to become a killer.”  Gabrielle tried to ignore the voice coming from behind her. *It’s all in my mind.  She can’t be real.*

“You always did choose her over us,” Najara leaned over and whispered into Gabrielle’s ear.  The Bard tensed as her nemesis continued, “It could have been us who ruled the Amazons.”

Gabrielle whispered.  “There was never an ‘us’.”  She could feel Najara’s smirk. 

“There is now.  Where you go, there I will be.”

Gabrielle spun her head around.  No one was there.

“Gabrielle?”  Xena looked at her wife with concern.  “Did you hear me?  I asked you if you wanted some herbs to help you sleep better?”

Gabrielle turned her attention back to Xena.  “Yeah, that would be perfect.”

The warrior poured the tea.  She walked back to her wife.  “There you go.”

“Thanks”.  Both women drank their tea in silence.  Soon the tea had the desired effects on the young queen.  Xena gathered the dozy woman in her arms.  “Get some sleep, okay?”

Gabrielle nodded as the spiked tea took over.  “Goodnight Xena.”

“Goodnight.”  Xena listened as Gabrielle’s breathing became deep and rhythmic.  *Sweet dreams* Xena softly kissed her bard’s forehead and closed her eyes.  She was about to fall asleep when a strange sensation filled her.  It was then she noticed that Gabrielle’s heartbeat began to race.



Gabrielle opened her eyes.  She slowly scanned the area trying to make sense of her surroundings:  everything was shadowy and colored different shades of grey.  Fear filled her core.  “Xena?”

“She’s not here.”

Gabrielle spun around.  There stood Najara, in her Amazon leathers, a smile on her face.  “Welcome my queen.”

Gabrielle tried to remain calm.  “Where am I?”

“I like to call it home.”

“Home?  Why haven’t you moved on?”  Even after all the former regent did, Gabrielle still felt pity for her.  “There’s nothing left here for you.  You would be happier if you would go to the Amazon Land of the Dead.”

A not so nice grin appeared on the former crusader’s face.  “You don’t realize what has happened, do you?”  She slowly stalked around Gabrielle, as a predator circled its prey.  “Our minds were linked when Xena killed me, leaving an open door for me to come and go as I please.  And if I was still alive, you could close the door by letting me have control again.  However, I’m dead.  My mind is still linked with yours and you are the anchor that is holding me here in this realm.”  She watched as Gabrielle followed her every move.  “What’s the matter Gabrielle, don’t like it here?  I admit, it could use some coloring.”

“How did I get here?”

“This is a dreamscape Gabrielle, a land between two worlds.  You got here due to lack of sleep, exhaustion, stress and then to top it all off, sleeping herbs.  You’re dead to the world in a matter of speaking.”  She crossed her arms.  “But not really.” 

“Najara, why can’t you let this go?”  Sadness filled the Bard’s voice.

The Amazon ignored the question.  “While I’ve been here, I have had lots of time to think.  I realized something.  Xena has blinded you all.  Neither the Greek Amazons nor you can see how dark the path is on which she is leading you.  You are so blinded by love that you can’t think straight.  And the Amazons trust you so much; they don’t question Xena’s motives.”  She stared at the young woman.  “And I was so blinded by my love that I refuse to give up on us.  That was my downfall.  I realize I can’t save you Gabrielle.  But I can save the Amazons.  I will save them from Xena.  Tell Xena that she will meet me here. This will be our final confrontation.  And she will agree to meet me, or I swear I will torture you everyday until she does.”

“I won’t tell Xena anything.  This is madness Najara.”

She walked up to Gabrielle until she was face to face with the Queen “I’m sorry it has come to this Gabrielle, but you don’t have a choice.”  With that, she delivered a wicked backhand across Gabrielle’s left cheek. 

Gabrielle dropped to one knee.  She looked at the former regent, venom filling her eyes.  “You can do whatever you want, I’m not playing your game.”

“What the mind experiences, the body will show.  And when she sees that bruise, she will come.  Her pride won’t let her do otherwise.”

“It isn’t her pride you have to worry about,” Gabrielle sneered as she quickly delivered an uppercut to Najara’s gut.  A small smile graced her features as she watch the woman double over in pain.  “It’s my stubbornness.”  The she delivered a side kick to Najara’s ribs, hearing the sound of ribs crunching.  It was then she felt herself being pulled away.


“Gabrielle, wake up!”

The queen woke up with a start.  “What?  Where am I?”

“By the lake, remember?  You feel alright?  Your heart began to race…”

“It was another nightmare.  That’s all.”  Gabrielle gave Xena small smile.  “I’m fine.  Nothing to worry about.”

“Really?”  She gingerly touched Gabrielle left cheek.  She watched as her wife winced; anger filling Xena’s very core.  “So where did that come from?  Nightmares don’t leave bruises.”

Gabrielle sighed.  She knew Xena was waiting for an answer.  “Najara.”


“Does it matter?  I can handle her Xena.  In fact, she probably won’t be able to bother me much for a while.  Her ribs won’t let her.”

“It doesn’t take the dead long to recover.”  She eyed her wife.  “Gabrielle, I need to know exactly what happened and what she said.”

“No.  She’s setting a trap for you Xena.  And I’m not helping her to spring it.”

“I’m not going to stand by and watch her hurt you.”  She gently grasped Gabrielle’s arms.  “I’m going to confront her.  Let me know what she said and what you saw so I can avoid her trap.”

Gabrielle took a breath and slowly released it.  She told her about all that she experienced.  “She wants you to meet her.”  Her eyes turned misty.  “I don’t want you to do this.  From what you told me, Alti nearly killed you in that realm.”

“Najara is not a shamaness and doesn’t know how to manipulate her environment.  I will have the advantage in that realm.”  Xena reached over and caressed Gabrielle’s cheek. “After I cross over, I will need for you to watch over my body until I get back.”

Gabrielle shook her head.  “No way.  I’m going with you.”


“I’m not going to let you face Najara by yourself.  The only times we have been able to defeat her is when we work together.”

“Gabrielle, you are not a shamaness.”

Stubbornness filled the Bard’s voice.  “Then teach me.”  When Xena wouldn’t acquiesce, Gabrielle played her last card.  “Either you take me with you, or I’ll go to Yakut and have her teach me.”

“Things are not always as they appear in that realm.  I need to be totally focused on Najara, not worrying about you.”

“And I don’t need to be left behind, worrying about you.”

Xena sighed.  “We are going to need Yakut’s help anyway.  Let’s go back to the village.”


“How’s the ribs?”

Najara narrowed her eyes as the figure appeared out of the shadows.  She eyes the tall brown-eyed brunette dressed in black.  She felt the evilness flowing from the woman.  Najara swallowed her disgust.  “They are fine.  Thanks for asking.” 

Alti crossed her arms.  “She obviously learned to fight better.  Maybe it is best that I handle her.  You treat her with kid’s gloves.”

Najara stood up.  “You just take care of Xena.  Remember, keep your hands off of Gabrielle.”

“I have no use for Xena’s bitch.  All I want is Xena.”  Her eyes became distant.  “I have searched the karmic circle time and time again, looking for Xena.  I will once again control the Destroyer of Nations.”  A twisted smile graced the witch’s lips.  “You and Gabrielle can live happily ever after in that Amazon graveyard along with all the other dead Amazons.  You will give them my greetings, won’t you?”

Najara watched as Alti turned and walked into the shadows; disappearing from view.  She then released a shiver.


Xena and Gabrielle stood in their cabin.  The Warrior Princess held a bladder containing a foul liquid.  She and Gabrielle worked all morning on Gabrielle’s shamaness outfit.  It was very similar to Xena’s:  Leather and fur, with an ephod made from the teeth and bones of a deer.  The pair turned to the shamaness Yakut. 

“Are you two ready?”

“As ready as one can be to cross over.”  Xena turned to her wife and gripped her arms.  “I really wish you would reconsider going with me.”

“Where you go, I follow.”  She turned towards Yakut.  “Are there any final instructions?”

“Just remember, whatever happens to you in that realm affects your body in this realm. You will be able to take more damage, but if you die there, you will die here as well.  The best thing is to defeat Najara as quickly as possible.”

“Trust me, we won’t dawdle.”  Xena looked at Gabrielle and grabbed her hand.

“But we will take time to visit the Amazons.  I have a message for them.”

Xena and Yakut looked at each other, both mirroring the confusion in their faces.  “And what message are you going to give them?” Yakut asked.

“It is a decree.  Dead Amazons are not allowed to bother the Queen.  First Ephiny, now Najara.”

Xena chuckled as she remembered Gabrielle seeing and communicating with their dead friend. 

“You have seen dead Amazons before?”  Yakut asked.

“Yes, doesn’t everyone?”  Gabrielle asked stonily. 

Xena shook her head and smiled.  “Let’s get this over with.”  The Warrior lifted the bladder to her lips and swallowed.  She then passed it to Gabrielle, who also drunk from the bladder.

A new state of consciousness took over the women.  A violent series of light and sound invaded their being.  They could feel every drop of blood race through their veins, and feel each pulse as it squeezed out from their hearts.  And yet, a feeling of numbness swept through them.

Yakut watched as the women fell to the floor.  “Safe and successful journey for the both of you.”


Xena came to, opening her eyes and scanning her surroundings.  She laid in an open field covered in high grass; a tree line several hundred feet in the distance.  The wind blew through the savannah.  The sky was an eerie shade of grey.  She reached out her right hand, feeling for her soulmate’s hand.

Gabrielle groaned.  “We made it.”

“Yes we did.”  Xena stood up and helped Gabrielle to do the same. 

Gabrielle scanned the area.  “This is a lot different than what I remember.  None of this was here before.”

Xena narrowed her eyes.  “Najara couldn’t have done this alone.”  She looked intensely at the Bard.  “Stay close.  Until we figure out what is going on, expect the worst.”

Gabrielle nodded.  It was then that a memory flashed through her mind:  Mavican throwing an arrowhead into her arm, damaging her shoulder.  Gabrielle grabbed her shoulder & bit down on her lips, trying to keep herself from screaming in pain.  She looked down at her shoulder and saw the blood, but no weapon.  “Xena?”

Xena quickly turned around, looking in all directions.  “Alti!”  she screamed.

“You rang!”  Alti stood just outside of the tree line. “It seems you have some new memories.  Fresh ways for me to torture you.”

“Where’s Najara?”

“Always to the point.  I miss you Xena. My accomplice is right behind you.” 

Xena slowly turned around and saw Najara standing on the opposite side, also near the tree line.

Alti continued.  “You see, she is a bit greedy.  Najara wants the bard.  She also wants you dead.  Not in that particular order, mind you.  Me, I just want you.  So after Najara is done killing you, I will take your soul and she will take Gabrielle.  And you will finally be my Destroyer of Nations.”  Alti pointed to Gabrielle, “And she will no longer be in the way of your true destiny.”

“You are crazy.  I have found my path.”  She glanced at Gabrielle.  Determination filled her voice, “And there is nothing you can do about it.”

Najara spoke.  “It is quite simple Xena.  Through those trees and over a ridge is a plain.  There you will fight me one on one.  If I win, you will die and Alti gets your soul.  Gabrielle will also die, but she will go to the Amazon Land of the Dead, where I will join her.  If you win, you will return here and face Alti for round 2.  Again, if Alti wins, we will get what we want.  If you win, well you won’t so we don’t have to worry about that.”

Xena looked at Gabrielle and then back at Alti.  “How do I know you won’t kill her the minute we are out of sight?”

“You don’t.  But if it will make you feel better, I promise on all the evil in me that I won’t harm a single hair on Gabrielle head until my battle with you or until Najara defeats you.  Whatever comes first.”

“Why can’t they fight here?”

Najara responded.  “Because, my queen, you like to interfere.  And I have a feeling Alti is the same.  Therefore, to make sure it is a fair fight, we will go to a place that neither of you can know what is going on.”

“You have thought it all out, haven’t you?”

Najara smirked.  “Of course Xena.  You keep me on my toes.”

Xena looked at Gabrielle.  The Queen gave her a small smile.  “Go.  I’ll be alright.”

Xena nodded.  “Let’s get this over with.”  She waited until Najara headed towards the battleground.  Then she followed.


Once the combatants were out of sight, Alti gave Gabrielle a dirty smile.  “So, killed anyone lately?”  When Gabrielle did not respond she continued, “I must say I was a bit surprised when Najara told me how she died.  I didn’t know you had it in you.  You do have quite a bit of darkness inside of you.”  She slowly strolled towards the Bard.  “I wonder how deep it goes.”  She stopped when she came face to face with the young woman.  “Aren’t you afraid that I will break my promise?  Aren’t you afraid of dying?”

Gabrielle stared at the older woman.  “Dying?  Been there, done that, several times.  And as far as you breaking your promise, you are going to have a tough enough time killing Xena as is.  Do you really want to add fuel to the fire by her finding me dead?  And even if Najara wins, if she finds me dead, do you think she will hand over Xena’s soul to you?  That wasn’t part of the deal.”

I really don’t care what Najara thinks.  She won’t survive.  Xena will win.  And when she comes out from the tree line, that very moment will be your last.  I want to see Xena’s face as she watches you die.  And then, I will kill her and take her soul.”  Gabrielle continued to stare at Alti, her face an emotionless mask.  “You are hiding your fear.  Oh, a challenge.  You do realize I’m going to have to dig deeper into your subconscious to pull it out of you.  Which means a lot more pain for you.”

As Gabrielle continue to stare, Alti could feel her anger start to swell.  Only one person ever defied her in such a matter.  “You have learned a lot from her.  Too bad it will be all for nothing.”


Najara faced the Warrior Princess.  “Gabrielle protected you from me twice.  Now, you will die.”

Xena looked at her right hand.  A sword materialized.  She gave a small smirk to Najara. “Where’s your weapon?”

“How did you…”

“I’m a shamaness Najara.  In this realm, I am more powerful.”  She twirled the sword around.  “When we fought at the tavern, in the back of my mind I was worried about what Gabrielle would think if I killed you.  She was fond of you after all.  Then, I fought you again and defeated you.  For some reason, you forget about that battle.  No matter.  The third time, when you challenged me, again, in the back of my mind I worried about how the Northern Amazons would react.”  She watched as Najara kept her eyes on the sword.  “Now, I have no reason to worry.  Whatever affection Gabrielle had for you is long gone.  The Northern Amazons have accepted your death.  This means I don’t have to hold back.”  Xena stopped turning the sword.  With a flourish, she threw the sword at Najara’s feet.  “But there is no need to kill you.  You’ve lost.”

Najara looked at the sword and then back at Xena.  “What do you mean?”

“Try to contact Gabrielle.”  She watched as surprise filled Najara’s face.  “You gave yourself away.  You told Gabrielle as long as she was alive and you were dead, she couldn’t close the link between your minds.  The minute you appeared from the tree line, she closed the link.  You have already lost; there is no reason to fight you.  Go on to the Land of the Dead, be with the other Amazons.”  Xena took several steps backwards.  “Now if you will excuse me, I need to fight Alti.”

“You can’t win, the minute she sees you, she will kill Gabrielle.”

“That is why she won’t see me.”

Najara’s anger began to boil.  She had been outsmarted.  She looked down at the sword, picked it up, and rushed towards Xena’s back, screaming her rage.

Xena shook her head.  *No more chances.* Within moments, a chakram appeared in her hands.  She threw it with all her might. With the first past, it sliced through Najara’s raised sword. On its return path, the chakram hit Najara’s back, producing a sickening thud. 

Xena watched as her foe fell to the ground and the chakram slowly dematerialized.  She turned her attention to reaching Gabrielle in time.


“Hear that?”  Alti turned from the tree line and faced Gabrielle.  “The battle must be nearly over.”  She walked over to the Bard.  “I wonder what would cause the most pain, Xena watching you die,” she circled the bard, “or you watching Xena die.”

Gabrielle tired not to react, but it was too late.  Alti smiled as she felt the emotional wave run over her.  “Hatred; pure unadulterated hatred coming from you.  You keep surprising me.”

Gabrielle breathed deeply.  “You will never win Alti.  Whatever you do, you are destined to lose.”

Alti crossed her arms.  “You know, I promised not to kill you.  I never promised to not torture you.”

Gabrielle felt the pain of a blow to her throat as Alti forced her to relive their first battle.  She dropped down to the ground in searing agony. 

“I love physical pain.  But there is nothing like emotional pain.  What darkness lies in those corners of your mind Gabrielle?”

The Bard could feel Alti invading her memories, digging up the events she had buried, memories she had build walls around:  her childhood, her first kill…

“How wonderful!”  Alti exclaimed as she watched Gabrielle writhed in pain.  “You were pregnant!”  She laughed as she made Gabrielle relive that moment.  “Fear, pain, anger, confusion all rolled into one moment.  But no joy.  I thought motherhood would have agreed with you.”  She could feel Gabrielle trying to fight against the mental daggers.  She reached over and picked Gabrielle up by her throat.  “I want it all!  Give me all of your pain!”

Gabrielle tried to fight it.  As her eyes rolled back into her head, she finally gave Alti what she wanted—all her emotional pain concentrated in one source of energy that traveled from the Bard to the witch by the link Alti had with her mind.

The force projected Alti away from Gabrielle.  She landed with a thud against a tree.  Gabrielle fell to her knees, staring at the fallen witch.


Xena heard the impact and ran as fast as she could.  Before she broke through the tree line, she leaped into a tall tree and looked across the savannah and saw both women.  She saw Alti lying on her back, her arms and hands curled under like claws.  She jumped down, and ran towards the witch.  Black and grey ooze flowed from Alti’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears, her face contorted in sheer horror and pain.  Her body stiff, as if she had been dead for days, instead of minutes.

Xena looked up and saw Gabrielle still on her knees.  Xena ran to her, got on her knees and reached out, placing her hands on Gabrielle’s cheeks.  She noticed red blood leaking from Gabrielle’s left ear and nose.  “Gabrielle?”  The young woman continued to stare.  Xena gentle shook her.  “Gabrielle, come on.  It’s over.”  No response. “What did she do to you?”  Xena whispered. She pulled the Bard into her arms.  “It’s alright, it’s alright. We won.  We are going home.  Stay with me Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle closed her eyes and moaned.  A smile lit Xena’s face. 


After receiving final instructions from Yakut for bed rest, the two stayed in their hut.  Gabrielle had remained uncharacteristically quiet.  Xena looked at Gabrielle, concern shining from her eyes.  Gabrielle, about the Amazons…”

Gabrielle held her hand up.  “Xena you were right.”  She saw Alti’s body in her mind.  “There are some things they don’t need to know about me.  They won’t find out about my mind power, at least not from me.”

Xena nodded and released a breath.  Xena wrapped an arm around the Bard’s midsection, gently rubbing Gabrielle’s abs with her thumb in a circular motion.  Gabrielle then laced their fingers together.

“You okay?”

Gabrielle simply nodded.  “You?”

“Once I saw that you were alright, I was perfect.  I’m just glad it is over.”

“Me too.”

“I’m sorry I had to leave you alone with Alti.”

“Don’t be Xena.  There was no way we could have defeated both of them at the same time.”  Gabrielle tilted her head back and looked into the cerulean eyes of the one she adored. “Besides we won.”

“How did you manage to defeat Alti?”

Gabrielle paused as she tried to find the most concise answer.  “I didn’t, she defeated herself.  How about Najara?”

“Same.”  Xena gently ran her fingers through Gabrielle’s hair with her free hand.  “When I found you, I feared the worst.”

Gabrielle turned around to face the Warrior.  “Xena, I won’t lie to you.  It was hell.  She dug up memories I wish would stay buried.  But everything is okay.”  She buried her head under Xena’s chin and wrapped her arms tightly around her wife.  “I love you Xena.”

Xena kissed Gabrielle’s forehead.  “And I love you.”  She then bent down further and gave Gabrielle a heartfelt kiss.  After the kiss, the couple continued their embrace.

Xena continued to move her fingers through her mate’s blond tresses as her other hand gently made small circles onto Gabrielle’s lower back.  The Bard finally fell into a deep slumber.

Xena listened to the smooth pattern of Gabrielle’s rhythmic breathing.  She then joined her love and they traveled to the realm of dreams.

The End


The final story of the “Beginning Again” series is coming soon.  And a new series will begin.

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