Part Ten

Black and still bright, winding up her legs and around her hips. It is like a serpent, slithering and silent. And voices, so many voices, chanting and worshiping.
Hands, hoisting and holding her... I am reborn.

And inside, a tiny room in the mind, reserved for one bard. Where she sits, dazed and blank.
I can rest. He will take over. And I can rest. I can see her again. He said so.
The skin is the same, the face is similar - but everything is different.
Her movements are graceful, her eyes are sharp... I am perfect.

Gabrielle's lips quirk slowly, spreading into a satisfied grin. Anyone looking, anyone who didn't know her, would think she is happy.
And I am. Very happy... And Gabrielle's smile becomes wider as she is put down upon the ground, facing the humble upon their knees in reverence.
She hears her new name and loves it.


Her fingers find purchase within a followers hair and jerks him upward.

"Yes. I have returned. And those of you here, the faithful to the Gods... You will be rewarded for your servitude. But first, we have enemies to face."

The cloaked figures remained silent. The one she had her hand upon, he kept his eyes on her at all times... waiting, eager...

"Raise your arms in battle. We have a world to win back." And with that, she let him drop.

Such power. It is intoxicating.

If anyone were looking and didn't know her, they would say Gabrielle is a leader, a warrior, a force to reckoned with. Deep down, the bard keeps quiet.


The warrior princess is having several problems at once. And I don't like problems.

Firstly, Varia cannot stop looking. Staring. It is starting to really bug me...Can you blame her? She thought you were dead. Xena growls audibly and moves faster, getting some distance from the rest of the Amazons.

And the trail Gabrielle left is not cold, but it is certainly not warm. Dammit it all! ...Calm yourself, Xena. Focus.

"Focus? I've done nothing but focus! Where is she? Why can't you just find her?" Xena yells suddenly. She can feel eyes on her. The warrior turns an angry glare toward the woods and the eyes look away.

"We are taking a break. Rest now, because you won't get another chance anytime soon!" Xena shouts to the Amazons with her back turned. Then the warrior princess walks away slowly, finding somewhere hidden and slumps down to the ground.

Do not lose hope. She will be found...You are very optimistic for an immortal. Thought you didn't care for the concerns of humans...I think you know that is not true. I love my Amazons.

"I need time alone." Xena says quietly, cradling her head in her hands. And Artemis is silent.

She lets her eyes close and turns her hearing to the path ahead. Birds, wind, very distant horse hooves upon the dirt. Even without Artemis, in her former life, Xena could do this. That was one reason why she never felt the need to be a god - she had honed her body and her senses to such a level that all an immortal could offer was eternal life.
And I have lived long enough.

Or, at least, that is what Xena used to believe. She got oblivion. And I didn't want it anymore. I wanted to come back, to have...

A flood of memories assail her, of the girl Gabrielle used to be and the woman she became. Of who I used to be. Of who I am without you, Gabrielle.

"I will find you, just in case you can hear me...out there somewhere. I will find you and make things right." Xena whispers.

She gets up soon after and rallies the Amazons once more. They keep a wary distance, except for Varia. Can't let me out of her sight.


Ares is suspicious. If what Xena says is true, then does that mean Zeus is returning?
So, hearing the rumors of attacks and such, he goes to the temple at Mount Olympus. Since I didn't inspire the attacks...

"Fresh ash and incense... well, it wouldn't be the first time good ol' dad kept me out of the loop. Right, Zeus?" Ares said aloud.

A light chuckle graces the god of war's ears and he turns around, expect the ghost of Zeus to be standing there. What the...?

The face he is greeted with is very familiar and is lit up with mirth at Ares obvious shock. The god of war smiles uncertainly.

"Didn't expect to find you here, Gabrielle."
"I'm sure."

And the bard circles Ares slowly. Xena's words are echoing in his ears now. They find new bodies, eh? Dad has a real sense of humor.

"I do, don't I?" The bard laughs from behind Ares. The god of war spins around.

"So, it is true? The mighty Zeus in the body of Gabrielle... What are you planning?"
"As if I would tell you, my son." The last bit, though in Gabrielle's voice, is spat out with no affection.
"What? Still haven't forgiven me?" Ares questions.

Gabrielle walks to the entrance of the temple and snaps her fingers. The twenty figures, no longer cloaked, come out. Shining armor and sharp weapons, ready for battle and for death.

"These are my warriors."
"What? A handful of followers? Come on..."
Ares doesn't get to finish his comment, however, as slender hands pick the god of war up by his neck. Unlike with Xena, this grip is much stronger. And deadlier.

"You have no vision, Ares. I intend to take back what is rightfully mine. The time of the one god is over."

Ares feels Zeus, beyond the bard, gazing at him with a fond expression.

"" Ares chokes out.
The glint in those green eyes gets colder.

"No. I just suspect that even peaceful Gabrielle here wouldn't mind if I snapped your neck."

She lets him drop and Ares mutters about that not being the first time today that that has happened.

"You see, Ares, there is no way I cannot win. Xena must either kill this body and me with it. Or she must die. The Amazons must die. Anyone not loyal to me must die."
"You might have some surprises in store for you."
"What? You mean, Xena getting help from Artemis?"

Gabrielle laughs heartily at this. Ares, again not for the first time today, stares in wonder.

"Not sure I like you as a god either." The god of war says.


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