TITLE: The Man Who Killed Xena
AUTHOR: R. Franke
SPOILERS: A Friend In Need (Series Finale)
SUMMARY: The ancient Celts feared a Bard’s wrath more than almost anything. A samurai discovers why.
DISCLAIMER: Gabrielle, Xena, et al. are the property of Rob Tapert, Renaissance Pictures, MCA/Universal Television, the actors, writers, and all other persons or legal entities known or unknown with a lawful claim upon the characters. This is a story of fan fiction, written for the purpose of personal satisfaction and the enjoyment of others, and monetary or other compensation is neither expected nor desired.
ARCHIVE: Permission is given to archive this story, provided it is archived without alteration, including this disclaimer and copyright notice, and the author is contacted at RFrankeUS@yahoo.com
COPYRIGHT 2001 by R. Franke
THE MAN WHO KILLED XENA
I am Isoruku, son of Masaharu. The son and grandson of noble samurai, I am descended from an ancient and honorable line, a line founded in the time when Amaterasu Herself dwelt among us as our Most Gracious Empress. And I am the man who dealt the deathblow to Xena, the gaijan warrior woman once called The Destroyer of Nations.
Yes, she was wounded, but she was still standing, sword in hand and moving forward when I struck her down. Struck her down, and set my feet upon Gakido, the Demon Road.
When first I heard the Warrior Princess had landed upon the sacred soil of Nippon, I rejoiced. I had prayed to the gods and to my ancestral spirits, pleading with them to set me a task that would prove to my father, my brothers, and all else that I was indeed a true samurai. Or if by chance she should defeat me, then I would have died in honorable battle, and my soul would be content.
I had thought Xena to be a demon in human form, but I found the true demon was the one who traveled with her, the one who stole from me my honorable death and condemned me to a life of shame. The one called Gabrielle.
When first I learned of Xena’s presence, I begged my father for the use of a portion of his army. He granted my request and I hastened to join with Lord Yodoshi’s army at the siege of Higuchi. How my heart leapt when Xena appeared before me and, after a long and fiercely fought battle, I struck her down, severing her head from her body with one mighty blow.
I hung Xena’s corpse upon the gibbet, warning and boast combined, and displayed her head before the door of my tent. That night, through the roar of an unnatural, out of season downpour, I heard a terrible voice cry out "Bring me her head".
I emerged from my tent to find Xena’s companion before my trophy, her sickeningly pale hair plastered to her skull by the deluge. I challenged her, and she accepted.
She defeated me, and when I demanded honorable death, as was my right, she struck me a blow with the pommel of her sword, sending me sprawling to lie in the mud as if I were no more than the lowliest peasant.
Shamed before the men of my father’s army, I tracked Gabrielle to the sacred slopes of Mt. Fuji where again I challenged her, demanding the honorable death that was my right.
We fought once more, and she fled from me. I rejoiced, seeing the chance to regain my honor and erase the shame of my defeat when she turned and came back. I prepared myself to either meet her charge or pursue her fleeing form when she flung out her hand and, using her chakram, a most foul and dishonorable weapon, struck me down from a great distance.
Of what happened next I caught only glimpses, as in a fever-dream. I saw Gabrielle shrug off a blow from Yodoshi that would have destroyed any mortal creature, and two great beings of fire battle to the death upon the sacred slopes of Mt. Fuji.
When my senses at last returned I found Gabrielle standing above me, my very own katana clutched in her hand. "Who are you?" she demanded. "Tell me your name."
"I am Isoruku, son of Masaharu," I spat out. "And you don’t frighten me, demon."
She smiled thinly and raised an eyebrow at me "I don’t?"
"No. Whatever tortures you may inflict upon me, I will go to my grave knowing that History will remember me as the man who slew Xena, the Warrior Princess."
Her smile grew. "Yes, History will." She brought my katana down, and I watched in horror as it shattered upon the rocky ground. "History will remember the samurai who cowered behind an army of peasant archers, emerging only to strike down a wounded and dying woman." She knelt beside me and grasped my collar in her fists, hauling me up so that her terrible visage filled my sight. "History will remember Isoruku, son of Masaharu as an ignoble coward." Her voice lowered to a hiss. "You don’t deserve the privileges of death." Then she shoved me back, my head striking a rock, and I knew no more.
When I awoke, I found myself alone. I gathered up the shards of my katana and stumbled down the mountain until I came to an inn. "Wine," I demanded.
The tavernkeeper gave me an insolent look and spat at the floor between my feet. "Get out, craven pig."
"You dare, you insolent wretch," I roared. "Do you not know who I am?"
"We know exactly who you are," he replied as two hulking brutes emerged from the shadows and grasped my arms. "You’re the treacherous scum that killed the great Xena." He buried his fist in my stomach, and rained a great many more blows upon me before his minions cast me out to lie in the street.
I crawled off to nurse my wounds in private, and when I emerged, it was to find my dream, the dream of having my name upon the lips of every taleteller in these islands, turned into a horrible nightmare.
The story they tell is the tale she told, and now my family has disowned me, no lord will take me into his service, and even death will not erase the stain of dishonor from my name.
I am Isoruku, son of Masaharu. I am The Man Who Killed Xena.
Comments? Questions? Opinions? RFrankeUS@yahoo.com