Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and Amarice all on horseback, rode out of the mountains, across the valley and reached the border of Macedonia by nightfall.
As they made a quick stop at one of Aphrodite's temples they found that Aphrodite had laid out their spare supplies, but the goddess of love was no where to be found. Xena quickly traded the fur for her leather warrior garb and Gabrielle once again donned her two piece, green and brown outfit that she had wore for several years before meeting up with Eli. After they gathered their supplies, they rode for several more hours by the light of the near full moon.
Once the moon reached the western sky Xena decided to make a temporary camp along the banks of a river to give everyone a chance to rest before sunrise.
As Joxer and Gabrielle rested by the warmth of the campfire, Amarice, well away from the others, stood along the banks of the river as she gazed up at the night sky.
As the moonlight cast Amarice's shadow on the sandy shoreline, another shadow appeared as a voice softly whispered, "It's a shocker, isn't it?"
Amarice quickly drew her sword and turned around and saw Callisto standing before her.
Amarice lowered her sword as tears streamed down her face. The young Amazon slowly shook her head and stuttered. "Callisto? Is, is it really you?"
Callisto took a deep breath as she gazed into her sister's eyes. "Yeah," Callisto then noticed the tears in her sister's eyes and as she shook her head regretfully Callisto said, "Amarice. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you had to find out that Xena was the one who destroyed our lives."
Amarice looked at Callisto, sadly chuckled in disbelief and said, "You think I'm upset because of what Xena did?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, you thought she was your friend, only to find out that . . . ."
"She is my friend. Amarice interrupted. "That's not why I'm so upset. I upset because my sister became a monster."
Callisto's eyes widened in anger. "What? Don't believe what Xena tells you. She's trying to warp your mind. Xena's the enemy. She's just trying to convince you that she doesn't have to pay for what she did."
Amarice shook her head. "OK. tell me that it's not true."
Callisto looked at Amarice curiously as her younger sister began to pace back and forth. "You tell me that it's not true. Tell that you didn't slaughter women and children. Tell me that you didn't kill Gabrielle's husband the day after they were married . . . You tell me that you weren't responsible for the death of Xena's only son."
Amarice stopped pacing and took a deep breath. Then through her tear filled eyes, she gazed into Callisto's eyes and said, "You tell me that what Xena told me is a lie, and I'll believe you."
Callisto silently stared at Amarice. She wanted to tell her that it wasn't true. She wanted to tell Amarice that Xena was a liar, but she couldn't lie to her sister. So, Callisto swallowed her pride and as she shook her head she whispered, "I can't Amarice. It's true. I did those things. I did those things, and much more . . . but I did them for you. for mom. And now, I'm here to protect you from Xena.
Amarice shook her head in disbelief. "For me? For mom? How dare you Callisto. I thought you were dead too, you know? I was raised by total strangers, by Amazons. I was younger than you were. I needed you then more than I ever did. Where were you when I needed your protection. Because I sure don't need it now!"
Amarice then turned her back to her sister and began to walk away.
Callisto shook her head in anger as she said, "Amarice. Don't go with Xena tomorrow. Don't help her save Eli. You stay as far away from that tomb as possible. I have a job to do. And I will do it. But I don't want you there. Do you here me?"
Amarice stared at Callisto for a moment before she answered, "You have a job to do? So do I. I have to help my friend."
Amarice then began to slowly walk away again as Callisto screamed, "No Amarice! you listen to me! Xena may be your friend but I'm your sister!"
Amarice's eyes' widened as she looked over her shoulder towards Callisto once more. "My sister? . . . You're not my sister. Oh sure, you look like her, but you're not her. The last time I saw my sister was the day my mom died . . . that was the day you died too Callsto."
Amarice then turned and faded into the underbrush of the woods.
Callisto watched as her sister left her by the river banks. The blonde warrioress, shook her head in disbelief, then gazed upwards and violently screamed, "Noooo!!!"
Further down stream, where the waters ran slower, Xena sat quietly on the banks of the river. As she stared at the glassy surface of the water she contemplated on how to save Eli, and defeat Callisto once and for all. She knew she needed help, but she didn't trust Ares. Nor did she think Ares was telling the whole truth about the Chakram.
As Xena gazed upon the surface of the water, from behind her, Ares silently appeared and in a soft, but firm voice he said, "The time is at hand!"
Xena quickly stood up, turned around and looked at her former mentor. "Ares!"
Ares then slowly approached Xena and stopped only inches from her. "In just a short time Xena, you will have to make a choice."
Xena looked at Ares with a confused tone said, "What choice?"
"The choice between your friend, the fate of the world and your soul."
"What in Tartarus are you talking about?"
Ares grinned as he explained. "Callisto doesn't want Eli Xena. Callisto doesn't even technically want the Chakram! Callisto wants your soul."
Xena said, "How woud you know that for sure?"
Ares grinned. "let's just say I know Callisto's master pretty well. And I know what he does, and doesn't want."
"And what do you want Ares?"
Ares chuckled as he reached for Xena and brushed his hand against her cheek "I want what i've always wanted Xena."
Ares then stepped back, turned, waved his hand and instantly an image appear of a younger Xena, on horseback, with her sword drawn, leading her army into battle.
"I want my Warrior Princess, living as my Warrior Queen!" Ares then waved his hand once again and the image vanished. Ares turned back towards Xena and continued, "Once we reform the Chakram, just call upon my name and I will guarantee you victory over Callisto."
"And If I don't call upon your name?"
Ares grinned.as he once again approached Xena, and placed his hands on her shoulders."Xena," Ares lustfully whispered "You can't deny me Xena. I'm in your blood . . . even with the Chakram broken, our essence is still one. Nothing can change that."
Xena smiled. "You didn't answer my question."
"Well, if you don't rejoin me, then you're on you own against Callisto and helping Eli!"
Ares then stepped away from Xena and grinned. "But no preasure." Ares laughed then, in a flash of god-fire, disappeared.
As Ares reappeared in his chambers on mount Olympus, he saw an angry Aphrodite standing with her hands on her hips. Behind the blonde goddess was an image of Xena standing by the river.
Ares shook his head as he sarcastically asked, "Eve's dropping Aphrodite?"
Aphrodite's eyes narrowed as she stared at Ares. She then gazed back at the image of Xena and shook her head in disgust. "Ares, what are doing?"
Ares nonchalantly waved off Aprhodite's question as he said, "None of your business."
"Uh . . . like, Xena is my friend. And my friends are my business."
Ares rolled his eyes. "Aphrodite." Ares then began to walk towards the goddess as he continued. "Xena is my business, not yours."
Aphrodite turned and looked at the image of Xena who was now waking Gabrielle. "You're going to just let her fight Callisto alone unless she rejoins you?"
"She can't defeat Callisto, at least not while she's anointed by the enemy."
Ares grinned and nodded. "i know!"
Aphrodite jaw dropped in shock as she shook her head. "You had all this planned out, didn't you?"
Ares shook his head. "Of coarse not. But it couldn't have worked out better if I had."
Aphrodite looked at Ares in disgust. "Ares. You know what will happen . . . Callisto has every right to take Xena's life, or her soul. Xena's going to lose her soul if you don't do something."
Ares said, "I will do something . . . ."
"If she rejoins you?"
Ares nodded. "That's right!"
"Huh," Aphrodite sighed. "You call that a choice? . . . either she loses her soul to Callisto's lord, or she corrupts her shoul by rejoining you . . . Why would you do that to her?"
Ares stared at the image of Xena for a moment, then looked at Aphrodite.and said, "Little sister, When Xena rejoins me, she will be unstoppable. She will be my Warrior Queen, and she will rule the world."
Aphrodite shrugged her shoulder in disgust. "What are talking about? You're worried about Xena rullng the world when she's about to face he darkest hour?"
"What do you expect? I am the god of war. I have to fulllfill my sprit, my destiny. And my destiny is war.
"Besides, it's not as if I have much of a choice, none of us do. >From the moment we're born these mortal spirits are burning within us. They shape us, mold us into who we are. It drives us to fulfill it. We can't stop it, it's within us. We're born to fulfill our sprits. Zeus fulfills it by cheating on his wife, you fulfill it by making everyone love each other, and I fulfill it with war. Everything that I've ever known came from that sprit of war."
Ares paused and then took a deep breath as he continued. "Oh, but when I lost my godhood because of Hades, I felt what it was like to not have the sprit of war. You've never felt that."
"I've lost my godhood before."
"Your godhood, yes, but not the spirit of love. I have lost the spirit of war. I no longer had control of it." Ares chuckled. "Control of it. We don't control our spirits, they control us. and where do those sprits come from? Mortals."
Aphrodite looked at Ares with a bit of regret. She then softly said, "What you see as a burden, I see as a great responsibility Ares. They aren't burdens, they're gifts. We can help change the world. We can influence it and help mortals see that there is more out there than just what you can see with your eyes . . . there's what you can see with your heart."
Ares shrugged his shoulders. "Oh sure, you have an easy one. Love."
Aphrodite chuckled. "Huh, easy? Easy? Apparently you don't know just how complicated Love is."
Aphrodite then looked at the image of Xena. "But if you did . . . .?"
Ares rolled his eyes in disgust. "Oh please. Compared to war, love is easy. You just snap your fingers and poof, you have love. But war . . . the spirit of war demands everything that I am. it drives me to do things I may not necessarily want to do. Like I said, I don't have choice. Just as you have to fulfill the spirit of love, I have to fulfill the spirit of war. What you call a responsibility, I call a curse."
Ares then looked at the image of Xena once again and said, "She has her choice. She has her destiny. Now all she has to do is choose it."
Aphrodite shook her head as she looked at Ares once more. "Ares, our spirits may guide us, but they don't control us. We do have a choice. We're not 100% of our spirits. I've felt greed, and hate before, so there is at least a part of us that does have a choice. Those choices may be hard, and may go against what we feel, but we do have a choice Ares . . . I guess You just have to choose what's more important . . . yourself," Aphridite then glanced back at the image of Xena, "or her."
Ares then gazed over at the image of Xena once more. He then took a deep breath, turned is back to the image and said, "She has her choice. I can always find another!"
Ares then exited his chambers leaving Aphrodite standing in the silence.
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