Standard Disclaimer: Please see Episode 19 for all disclaimers. These stories are writing just for fun, and entertainment. No copyright infringements intended.
Violence: Yes! This is Xena!
Subtext: They are best friends, and love one another very much. It's extremely obvious really, but beyond that I was rather ambiguous with it. You decide how you want to see them.
Misc.: My email addy is firstname.lastname@example.org feel free to contact and make comments or whatever.
June 8, 2000
Episode 20 Season 6 continued from EP. 19 Forced Encounters
In the late morning sun, in a somewhat concealed area. Were two horses hobbled so they couldn't get far calmly munching on some grass. One was a palomino with almost a pure white mane and tail, and the other was a dark sable brown. Just pass them a few steps thru some bushes, and a tree or two was a clearing. That had saddles, sleeping furs, and a fire all neatly laid out and organized. A small of stature woman with short blonde hair paced back and forth restlessly. There was a desperately angry look, yet a hopelessly lost look on her face. You could tell she was in pain.
'I can't believe Xena wouldn't let me stay with her? Three days ago when she told me this plan I was speechless. But then I jumped in with every argument I could to get her to let me help her. She said me stay here, and waiting would be helping her.'
The bard stopped and stared in the direction she had come from just that early morning and she willed Xena to appear on the horizon. She turned and went to pacing again. 'I hope she's right and that sarcophagus will hold Ares body. I know she still has the power to kill Gods, but she shouldn't be doing this alone.' Gabrielle kicked a rock to emphasize that thought.
Gabrielle altered course, and grabbed her unfinished scroll from there saddlebags. She found a lightly shaded spot under a tree and decided to follow Xena's advice. Find something to do when you're waiting for someone, and they're sure to show up while you in the middle of it. 'And boy didn't that happen to them often enough.'
With a discipline Xena would have been proud of. Gabrielle wrote until the late afternoon sun creeped lower in the sky. Almost four candlemarks had passed when with a flourish Gabrielle signed and dated her scroll. Carefully drying it, then rolling it up. She added it to the others. 'That's another thing. Why did Xena tell me to bring my scrolls? What are we gonna do with them.'
Sighing audibly Gabrielle scanned the campsite. Knowing Xena wanted her to stay here, but wanting, no needing to be with her. Gabrielle decided she'd go to the intricate caverns, and just see about Xena, regardless of Xena being mad at her. With much speed and haste Gabrielle gathered her and Xena's supplies and packed everything away on both horses. Putting out the fire and clearing the pit. The little clearing looked like it never had been touched. Except there was a slight difference in one area were the boot impressions had worn down the grass some. Apparently the after affects of pacing.
In less than a half candlemark Gabrielle was on her way to the tomb. It was really an awesome display of caverns that had been shaped and molded into rooms, and stairs by mans hands, or Gods.
Xena said that with the help of a deceased God she could defeat Ares. She always said, "Where there's a will, there's a way."
Looking over at Argo the 2nd from her perch on her sable horse she spoke to Argo the 2nd. "Well Argo the 2nd I think we can make it before dusk if we hurry." Argo the 2nd's head turns as she snorts bobs her head, then neighs. As if she understood what Gabrielle said. With that Gabrielle attaches the lead from Argo to hers, and started both horses into a cantor, then a gallop. Silently telling Xena she was on the way.
"Alalalalalalala" Xena's yell echo's inside the cavern, and even causes Ares to flinch. The sounds of swords clashing, grunts, and heavy breathing permeate the air. Sounding slightly dulled in the torch lit cavern. Ares and Xena's mortal combat had been raging for quite awhile, although neither knew for sure how long they'd been at it. Mere minutes, or candlemarks. And neither Warrior showed any signs of battle fatigue.
This wasn't one of their casual differences that they'd had through out the years. This was a get down an dirty death match. Nicks and cuts marked both of these fierce fighters. Nothing substantial enough to stop either of them. Just small stings to be ignored until a later time. At least one would check there's at a later time.
" Come on Xena, you know you can't kill me. I'm in your blood. I'm a part of you" Ares' over confidant and arrogant comments caused Xena's teeth to grind.
" That part of me you claim. The Warrior, who still enjoys a good fight. She fights for the greater good Ares. Something you'll never understand!" A mad gleam sparkled in Ares black eyes as he growled at Xena and stepped toward her to defeat her.
Metal met metal, as sweat and blood glistened on both their bodies. Xena's expressive blue eyes were as cold as the arctic, yet burned with the flame of determination. This was her most important mission. For people depended on her. Not in the least was the newest addition to the family to come. And that reason alone was enough to make her fight Ares, but because this was Gabrielle. That sealed the deal so to speak.
The cavern seemed to shake with each clash of metal. Lunge, thrust, parry, over and over again. Overheaded, behind the back, by the knees. Suddenly Xena jumped over a slash at her knees. Tucked under the back swing towards her head. And as Ares was straightening up and coming back around. Xena sent a sidekick with the force of a mule behind it. Picking Ares up and sending him flying about ten feet. Before he could roll into a back flip, and stand up. Xena was on him with a forearm to the left side of his face that snapped his head back. It would have broken an ordinary man's neck. She twirled her sword and thrust towards Ares unguarded stomach. Just piercing the skin, when Ares recovered and jerked back, and knocked the sword away.
Enraged Ares yelled, and attacked. Wanting desperately almost to end this battle. Xena his most desired possession. He knew there was something between them. Why couldn't she give into that again? Going in an X formation tightly across his body Ares drove Xena back around the cavern. " You could end this Xena. Bear me a child, and this fight can stop."
Xena wasn't really shocked by the offer. After all this was Ares. He'd try anything. "Never!" She spat out.
Black eyes narrowed into pinpoints of flames. Ares in a flash backhanded Xena across her face. Blood flew from a cut on her lip. That was caused by her teeth ripping it, which caused her to stagger back to regroup. But before she could Ares took a running jump. Power kicking her the entire length of the cavern.
Head over heels she flew landing off balance, so she couldn't right herself and fell on back. Dazed Xena made it to her knees. Breathing heavily, and watching Ares warily, but with a knowing gleam as he approached. Xena twirled her sword and re-sheathed it. Then closing her eyes to focus her energy inward.
Ares smiled triumphantly at Xena's seemingly meek submissive posture. Ares re-sheathed his sword also. Chuckling silently to himself as he praised his superior strength.
" Well Xena I knew you couldn't defeat me. I'm a God! My power is infinitesimal to your 'I can kill Gods while Eve lives' power" Throwing his head back and laughing out loud. " Ha, ha, ha, I knew giving up my immortality to save Gabrielle, and Eve was only temporary."
As his speech ended Xena's eyes opened. Ares paused uncertainly as it seemed her eyes, which had always fascinated him with that icy blue color. Were glowing almost, and pulsed with an inner power. But because his arrogance was so much in himself he dismissed what he saw as nothing.
Xena's lips moved as she spoke almost inaudibly. " The entire world is driven by a will blind and ruthless. In order to transend the limitations of the physical world. One must cease desiring, and become what we desire." Slowly she stood. And she seemed to grow with some inner power. The blue eyes were so bright against her bronzed skin. Ares couldn't look away. " To conquer others is to have power, To conquer yourself is to know the way." As she spoke energy built up around her hands and as she said the last word. Xena threw a powerful bolt of energy at Ares striking him in the chest. The force propelled him thru the air like a rag doll. He landed partly across the sarcophagus. " Small people hate loneliness, but the master makes it her home, her source, her mother. For she knows it allows her to be one with the Universe."
Xena walk towards Ares. Who appears to be regaining awareness and trying to stand? " Ares I can't allow you to leave this cavern. The world would be a much better place without you."
Ares stands to his full height. Eyebrows drawn together over obsidian eyes like thunderclouds. An ugly sneer curled his lips. 'He was a God! No mortal would beat him, not even this Warrior whom he made the most feared fighter in Greece. How dare she think that because I love her, she could do this'
Taking a deep breath, and exhaling, then again letting the pain he had felt fade away. He spoke. " The power you learned in Chin, from Lao Ma! Will defeat me!" He tried to move her physically with just a thought, but her mental fortitude was strong. He was impressed, but never the less. He was a God! After all. 'I'll just zap her with the power of the God of War!' He focused in energizing the large flame ball in his hand.
As Ares was concentrating on empowering his flaming ball. Xena continued speaking. " The master knows no expectation therefore, no disappointment, and thus she stays young forever." Xena could feel the force in her strengthen and multiply. Obliterating any depleting energy supply's in her body. With calm intensity Xena watched Ares.
When Ares was satisfied with his power ball. He stared at Xena then shook his head. Slowly he drew his arm back. A low rumble started deep in his chest, and as he released the might flame ball his voice rose in a growling cadence. He sent that ball right at Xena's chest with all the fury he possessed.
She met it with two raised hands. A feral smile curved her lips, as she just seemed to absorb all that intensity. Pleased with the slacked jawed stare of the God of War. Xena decided to give him his own medicine. " Knowing the way is like being a child laughing and crying all day without being hoarse." Her eyes sparkled some. " Catch this!" As the last word died down in the cavern Xena sent a one, two punch of the kinda power she packed.
His body flew back into a stone pillar of sorts, and at the top was the eye of Hephaestus.
The anguished look of pain on Ares face was not feigned. 'I'm A GOD...How?' As Xena approached Ares tried to move and couldn't. It was like his arms and legs moved, but not by his command. Some force seemed to be wrapped around his whole body.
Xena was able to lift Ares up, and lay him in the sarcophagus. "Why...Xena?" The words barely whispered out of Ares mouth. Xena Straightened and looked at Ares for a long while then spoke.
" Ares this to be your Tomb for eternity. With you out of the way, love can be the guiding force behind the people. Your manipulations of people, and goading have caused enough trouble. Once I recite the prose I have to, your physical self, and spiritual self will separate. And until someone digging thru these ancient caverns happens upon this sarcophagus, and can lift this lid you'll not be able to get out of it. But ONLY my descendant can free you from this cavern. The eye of Hephaestus will hold you here. You Godly powers will be impotent against the door to this your tomb."
"No! No! Xena I...You can't...We make a great team...Xena...Nooo..." Ares struggled to move and get out of the sarcophagus, but to no avail. Xena closed her ears to him as she recited the prose the Fates had unintentionally given her.
The Fates decree, for all to see.
The God of War apart he must be.
To separate this body and being.
Is only on the back of words with wings.
The Eye of Hephaestus holds you here.
Your time to come, some future year.
Once at rest, old you'll not grow.
Again will you breathe, and face this foe.
Only the descendants of mine can release this spell.
Because the Chakrams toss, will hammer the nail.
Cautions words at the door.
"All ye who enter beware the wrath of the God of War!"
With the words spoken Ares lost all animation, his eyes closed, and his chest rose no more. Xena was able to push, pull the lid to the sarcophagus completely shut. It settled into the groves like a skin, and sealed tight.
Xena straightened and pulled her Chakram off its place at her waist. She paused for a moment, then threw it. It ricocheted off the cavern walls and with precision hit the Eye of Hephaestus, causing a sliding stone slab to descend towards the floor. As Xena's Chakram hit the eye it broke into two pieces. One in each of Xena's hands. She looked at it confused for a moment, then turn and dove thru what was left of the doorway out of Ares Tomb.
Gabrielle was glad she saw the cavern come into site. She was anxious about getting to Xena. Worried about the possibility that somehow Ares could pull off winning. Even if Xena said the fates told her in so many words that she would be the victor.
Gabrielle settled the horses not too far away around some trees. She wanted them out of sight.
Cautiously Gabrielle made her way into the maze of caverns. About a half candlemark had passed when she was sure she heard voices. Or at least a voice, still being careful she moved in the direction she thought that the sound was coming from. After going down some stairs, and walking down a corridor, and around a corner. Gabrielle saw a sliding stone slab closing a cavern off. Instinctively Gabrielle knew Xena was in there. Just as she took of running a tall, dark haired, leather clad women came rolling out onto her feet almost directly in front of Gabrielle. " Xena? Are you okay?"
" Gab-ri-elle? I thought I told you to stay at our campsite! " Xena's face broke into a tired grin right after she said that. Then in an impossible moment she collapsed into Gabrielle's arms.
The bard having foresight had brought into the cavern with her a full water skin, and her saddlebags. She even put Xena's healer kit in it, knowing she'd need it to. Gently Gabrielle lowered Xena to the ground then proceeded to care for the knocks and abrasions on her arms, legs, face. Although that was fairly abrasion free. Just that bad split lip. As Gabrielle mopped Xena's brow her eyes fluttered, and opened. Those blue eyes were as sharp as ever.
" Hey...You're back"
" Hi... How long?" Xena sat up and peered back at the doorway that was now sealed.
"Oh, just about a quarter candlemark" Gabrielle stood up as Xena indicated she wanted to get up. Xena spotting the saddlebags poked thru them grunting when she discovered the scrolls. By now Gabrielle looked at Xena curiously, then spotted her Chakram, broken held in one of Xena's hands. Before she could ask what happened Xena spoke.
" Gabrielle, I'm glad you brought these in with you. Now it's time to put these in another cavern. Come on I found the perfect spot to preserve these, then will booby trap the room, so that they aren't touched for a long time." Xena drank some water then draped her arm around Gabrielle's shoulder as they walked down the corridor, up the stairs, which were booby trapped already luckily Gabrielle had missed the mechanism that tripped it. As Xena turned them down another corridor into an another cavern.
Gabrielle couldn't stand it. " Xena what happened? Apparently it worked, but..." Gabrielle trailed off as Xena shushed her.
" I'll tell you everything later. For now let's put these up then set the room up, and leave to make a campsite. All we're doing now is putting your scrolls in here, because my bard your words should be heard by generations to come. Not just now, You are the best bard Greece has ever known, and..." Here Xena placed her hand on Gabrielle's abdomen. " Your children's, children's, children deserve to here them too." A pleased blush colored Gabrielle's face and ears at Xena's words.
" Our children's, children's, children Xena" Xena's smile for Gabrielle alone, triggered Gabrielle's own version of that special smile. As they both set about removing only twenty-four scrolls of Gabrielle's.
There was a area about the size of a standard window with a bench type seat curved out of the cavern wall. There was a round shield designed on the outside of a round stone the size of a mine, if they had them then. <g> with holes through it that the rolled, and tied scrolls fit perfectly in.
Quickly they finished there task then Xena set the booby traps. Silently they walked out of the cavern when they reached the doorway to the outside. Xena turned and put her right had on the dial on the outside wall. There were several precious stones that circled the dial. Xena twisted and turned her hand until a slab stone slid into place. Sealing everything in until someone found the correct combination of stones that would unlock the secrets that the cavern held.
Once they got a camp set up and dinner out of the way. Xena in an economy of words told Gabrielle what happened. With only a few questions to Xena Gabrielle didn't interrupt her until she finished. Her bardic mind already forming a picture as to what happened, so that this too she could get on a scroll.
" But Xena we still don't know how I got pregnant. " Gabrielle was still perplexed as to how that happened. 'Why couldn't things be normal with her or Xena? It was always something.'
With a mischievous gleam glittering in her eyes Xena told Gabrielle her theory. " Well my bard that other substance was monkey dust, and all it took was some wayward thoughts of children in your mine, Palaemons, and mine. And now you're expecting the give birth in about six months.
Both women stared at one another. Then burst out laughing. A good tension reliever after such a stressful day.
" Funny Xena, I need to know, because if Palaemon is the father he needs to be told."
Both women pondered the dilemma until Xena's super sharp instincts kicked in to tell her there was an intruder. A voice she never wanted to hear again spoke as it walked towards them into the light of the campfire.
" I'm the one that bestowed that pregnancy on you."
Gabrielle and Xena both stood with weapons at ready. Both women could only stare in disbelief at the person before them.
To be continued in Episode
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