Synopsis: In this post-FIN story, Gabrielle journeys to Egypt to continue the fight for good. However, she encounters more trouble than she bargained for but also receives aid from a most unexpected source. In the meantime, Xena finds that being dead isnt all its cracked up to be.
Copyright disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series "Xena: Warrior Princess" are the sole property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended by this fan fiction.
Sex/Violence: There is no explicit sex in this story (sorry) and the violence is no more than one would see in many episodes of the series. However, what romance there is mainly involves women for other women so if that sort of thing bothers you, turn back now, you have been warned.
Authors Note: This story takes place a few months after the last episode, "A Friend in Need". It draws on a number of the episodes from the series and the story will be best appreciated if you have already seen the entire series. Thanks to my beta readers for all their help. Contact me at StarryGlyph@aol.com
A Girl with a Chakram in Egypt
Snow melts, flowers fade, but time, love and certain stories go on.
"Gabrielle, wake up! Weve almost reached the harbor."
"OK Xena," Gabrielle said groggily. She had fallen asleep while sitting on the deck in the warm sun. She hadnt been sleeping very well on the voyage. She never did much care for travelling by sea. Then there were the dreamsthe dark rainy night, Xenas body hanging, naked, headless.
She awoke to the somewhat bemused stares of her fellow passengers, wondering for just a second why Xenas face was not among them. But then she remembered and the jar of her ashes that she was carrying helped to bring Gabrielle back to reality. Xena was dead but still with her. She couldnt see Xena except when they were alone and then only occasionally but Xena could make herself heard quite frequently. Still, "I need to be careful about talking to Xena when others are around. They will think that Im hearing voicessort of like Najara."
Now there was someone that Gabrielle hadnt thought about for a long time. She was the only other person that Gabrielle had ever seriously considered spending her life with. Their last meeting had gone badly as Najara had suffered a complete mental breakdown and when Gabrielle had last seen her she had been seriously wounded and in a coma. "And that was twenty nine years ago. She could easily be dead by now." Certainly rather old. With both women that she had ever cared about out of the picture, Gabrielle knew that whatever the future would bring, it wouldnt be romance.
Still, she had work to do. Just before they had gone to Jappa, they had heard that some Amazons were being kept as slaves in Egypt. They had been on their way to investigate when unfortunately they had gone east instead. Now Gabrielle was coming to Alexandria to do the job herself.
The ship was getting close to the dock, which was unusually crowded with a large group of agitated people being held back by some Roman soldiers. Instinctively Gabrielle, who was now as much a warrior as a bard, sized up the threat posed by this crowd and decided there was none. They were simple townspeople who were scared but not panicked.
The crew tied up the ship and Gabrielle was first down the gangplank. Getting back onto solid ground was always a great relief for her. As Gabrielle prepared to wade into the crowd, she saw that it was only with some effort that the soldiers could hold the crowd back. Gabrielle asked a nearby soldier, "Whats going on?"
"Oh, these are just some refugees from the South," the soldier replied. He was somewhat older than the rest of his compatriots and the exertion of keeping the crowd back had turned his face quite red. "They talk of a great terror attacking their cities down river."
"What kind of terror?" Gabrielle asked.
"I cant say. By the time these people get here, they are so dazed they cant give us a straight answer. But I wouldnt worry little girl, the provincial governor just sent a full cohort of our best men south to investigate. Whatever the problem is, Im sure theyll take care of it. Still, these people cant wait to get on to the next ship out of Egypt."
"Thank you," Gabrielle replied though she could have done without the "little girl" comment.
"Say," said the soldier. "Dont I know you from somewhere?"
"I dont think so," replied Gabrielle. "Ive only been to Egypt once and that was a long time ago."
The soldier stared after Gabrielle as she started to force her way though the crowd. The soldier wasnt the only one interested in her. A slender hooded figure had been watching Gabrielle ever since the ship had come alongside the dock. The figure moved skillfully through the crowd, getting close to Gabrielle. The crowds jostling made it easy for the figure to grab the jar of Xenas ashes out of her bag and to replace it with an identical-looking ash-filled jar without Gabrielle noticing and then quickly disappear back into the crowd.
"Gabrielle," Xena cried. "Look behind you" as her voice faded away.
Gabrielle turned but with her short stature and the dense crowd, all she could see were the people right around to her. "Xena Xena. Whats wrong? I dont see anything." But she heard nothing more from Xena. "Maybe if I get out of this crowd and to someplace quiet, I can have a real conversation with her." With that, Gabrielle continued to push her way past the crowd.
Xena found herself standing with the hooded figure at a secluded spot on the riverbank. A gloved hand pulled down the hood revealing---Najara! And while this was surprising in and of itself, the real surprise was that she wasnt any older than when Xena had last seen her. Najara knelt down and raised her hands and head skyward while closing her eyes. It was a pose that Xena had seen her take on several occasions. After a moment she rose, turned toward Xena and said matter of factly, "Hello Xena."
"Najara, what do you think you are up to?"
"There is no use trying to talk to me Xena, I cant hear you. Only our fair Gabrielle can do that."
" Then how did you know "
"The Djinn told me that you are here. Theyve told me quite a number of interesting things. I cant say that Im sorry that youre dead Xena. Indeed, there was a time when I was sorry that I hadnt done the job myself when I had the chance. I would have given you an easier death than the one you got. One quick thrust and it would have been over. And since you were already unconscious on the floor, you wouldnt have felt a thing."
"Youre all heart, Najara." Xena knew that Najara couldnt hear her but the impulse to talk back was just too great.
"And I would have given you a decent warriors funeral instead of stringing you up naked as a trophy for Gabrielle to find. I dont think you know how hard it was for her to see you like that. But then you dont think of her when you do these things, do you Xena?"
"You leave Gabrielle out of this." Xena angrily moved to strike Najara but stopped in frustration when she remembered she couldnt.
"Oh well," Najara said, smiling as she often did. "This way it has worked out so much better. Youre dead and I had nothing to do with it. Nothing to come between Gabrielle and me. But your spirit hanging around Gabrielle makes things kind of awkward, dont you think? We need to put you to rest Xena." With that she took the jar of ashes and sprinkled them into the river while saying some incantation too softly to be heard.
The world around Xena faded a bit but she remained standing near Najara on the riverbank. "It will take more than that to get rid of me, Najara."
"Youre probably saying that Ill need to do more to get rid of you, Xena and youre right. Ive had to enlist the aid of one of your former lovers from the underworld. I had some interesting choices: MLila, Lao Ma, Anokin, Akemi. And those were just the women. There is a fellow named Julius, who would really like to help you into the underworld but I dont think he would be very gentle about it. Just to show you that there are no hard feelings Xena, I picked a nice one." With that she raised her arms and recited another incantation. Xena suddenly was aware of a presence next to her. It was a short woman with long dark hair.
"Hello Xena, Ive missed you." Akemi hugged Xena and immediately the world around Xena started to fade once more as she began to be pulled into the underworld.
"I think this one is rather sweet, Xena. Hard on her father but sweet none the less. And her love for you is quite sincere."
Xena could barely hear Najaras last words. Then the world disappeared.
Najara knelt down again and raised her arms and head skyward once more. After a moment she said, "Shes gonegood." Lowering her head, she added, "Besides Xena, the happier you are in the underworld the less likely you are to cause trouble. Now, lets go see where Gabrielle has gotten to."
Gabrielle was walking down a narrow street on her way back to her lodging. The trip to the slave market had been quite successful. She had discovered that the Amazons had been sold to a gladiatorial school in Comarum, four days travel west of the city. Not surprising, given their fighting talents. Still, it angered her to think of how they must be being treated.
As Gabrielle moved around the city, she saw more and more refugees from the South. She had spoken to a few of them and learned that they were now coming from cities only a few days walk south of Alexandria. They talked of death and destruction though they still werent very clear about what was causing it. It seems that anyone close enough to see, wasnt among the survivors. Even Alexandria was starting to be affected. The slave market had been half empty. Many owners had already moved their "merchandise" out of the city for safe keeping. As much as she disliked the thought, Gabrielle was beginning to think that she might have to go south to investigate before she went west to free the Amazons.
Gabrielle would have liked to ask for Xenas opinion but for some reason she hadnt heard her since that time on the dock yesterday. This was strange because since Xenas death, she had never gone for so long without being able to talk to her.
Gabrielle didnt initially pay much attention to the group of soldiers walking down the street towards her until one of them exclaimed, "Youre right, its her!"
"How is that possible?" said another.
"I told you it was her," said a third. Gabrielle recognized this last one as the soldier she had talked to on the dock.
"Look boys," Gabrielle started, trying to defuse whatever the problem was. "I just got here yesterday."
"Oh yeah, what about 28 years ago," said the third soldier.
Gabrielle stared at the soldiers intently and thought, "Twenty eight years ago?"
"We served with Brutus during the Civil Wars. We were just young recruits but we remember the blow that you struck killing him. Even then I couldnt believe that such a little thing could kill Brutus but now it all makes sense. Here you are just as young as you were then. Clearly youre some kind of demon or witch. That is the only way you could have beaten Brutus. Now its time for us to avenge him." With that he drew his sword. The other soldiers followed suit and they attacked.
Gabrielle deftly parried the soldiers thrusts. She hit one in the face with the handle of her sword, knocking him to the ground. A second she kicked in the stomach, achieving the same effect. Gabrielle didnt want to kill them unless she had to. She decided that it would be easier to simply outrun these old and somewhat out of shape soldiers and she took off down the street. A soldier fired an arrow at her back as she ran. Gabrielle heard the whine and too late started to turn. Just before the arrow hit her, a hand reached out of a nearby doorway and caught it. Gabrielle was stunned to see that it was Najara. This was not a good time for Gabrielle to be in shock since the soldiers charged her once more. However, Najara drew her sword and in what seemed like no time at all, the soldiers lay dead.
Najara then turned and smiled. "Hello Gabrielle."
"Najara! How is this possible? How is it that you havent aged at all?"
"I might ask you the same question. It is something of a long story. Let me buy you dinner and tell it to you."
Gabrielle hesitated, "Well, ummmm Najara "
"I know that things didnt go very well between us last time. I want a chance to make it up to you. Can you please just hear me out? I just saved your life. All I want in return is for you to hear me out over dinner. You owe me that much."
"OK, dinner, but Im not promising anything else."
They were seated in a quiet corner of the tavern. The entry of the two attractive women with short blond hair had drawn a number of interested stares from the other patrons but none were foolish or drunk enough to try to approach them. This tavern wasnt the one where Gabrielle was lodged. Indeed, she had taken Najara to a tavern that was in the opposite direction. She wasnt at all sure how this was going to turn out. For the same reason Gabrielle let Najara sit against the wall, while she sat across the table with her back to the rest of the tavern. She wouldnt have normally sat in such a vulnerable position but she didnt want to be trapped against the wall with Najara between her and the door. Besides, Najara had shown that she would protect her back.
The tavern owner came over to offer them food and drink but they waved him away.
Gabrielle looked at Najara expectantly and after a moment Najara began. "You dont know how good it is to see you again." As Najara spoke she reached across the table and put her hand on Gabrielles arm.
"It is good to see you too," Gabrielle said, a little surprised that she meant it. She felt the rising tide of her attraction to Najara and pulled her arm away from Najaras hand so as to try to keep her feelings under control.
"I want to tell you how sorry I am about how I was the last time we were together. I know I was acting crazy. Eli attempted to turn me onto his path and I wanted to follow it because I thought it was your path. But the Djinn knew that I was meant to be a warrior. Eli and the Djinn unfortunately picked my mind as their battleground and you saw the result."
"It was only a few months after you last saw me that I was able to throw off the last of Elis influence. Ive been better ever since."
Najara seemed fine but Gabrielle had been fooled by her before. On the other hand, Gabrielle knew what supernatural beings could do to ones mind. The Furies had driven her mad enough to cause her to attack and mortally wound Xenas daughter Eve. "How did you get here and how is it that you havent aged?"
"My physical wounds healed about the time that I regained my sanity but I was in despair." She paused for a few seconds. "As you probably know, I was strongly attracted to you from the moment I first saw you."
Gabrielle nodded. She did know but hearing Najara say it sent a surge of excitement through her. She did her best to ignore it.
"Initially, I didnt think I had a chance since you were with Xena. However, when Xenas visions of your deaths led her to want to leave you with me, I had hope that we could be together. Even when she returned and imprisoned me, I continued to believe that only I could save you from such a fate. Im glad at least, that her vision didnt come true."
"Actually it did."
Najara was genuinely puzzled, "Then how "
"We died together, but were restored to life. But one long story at a time. Why dont you go on."
"As I said, after I had recovered physically and mentally, I despaired of ever being able to win your heart. Not only were you back with Xena, but I was sure that my craziness had driven you away forever. But then the Djinn gave me hope. They told me that the day would come when you would travel to Egypt from Jappa--alone. And they knew that even though I would have to wait twenty nine years, you would not have aged. They showed me how to put myself into a trance so that I wouldnt age either. Normally there would have been great risks to being in such a helpless state for so long a time but I received very good care from the sisters at the institution where you left me. They simply thought I had suffered a relapse. When I regained consciousness recently, they said it was a miracle."
"Then you escaped, I take it."
"Not at all, I had already served my twenty five year sentence. They gladly released me." Najara paused for a moment and then asked, "How is it that Xena could be restored from the dead once but not a second time?" There was malicious intent behind this question since Najara already knew the answer.
"She could have!" exclaimed Gabrielle bitterly, tears starting to well up in her eyes. "She wouldnt let me restore her. She choose to save strangers over our being together."
Najara reached over and put her hand on Gabrielles arm again. Gabrielle didnt pull away this time.
"Gabrielle, I want us to be together for the rest of our lives. I love you and I think you could love me. I know you find me attractive. We are both warriors fighting the evil of the world. We were made for each other. And I promise you that I will never choose anyone elses welfare over yours."
The Djinn had chosen the moment well. The pain of Xenas death, Gabrielles months of physical loneliness and Najaras desirability made it a hard offer to refuse. But it wasnt as simple as that.
"Najara, Im not sure. There are other issues to consider, like Xena."
Najara knew where this was going but again she feigned ignorance, "You mean your need to get over her, I understand, Gabrielle."
"No, more than that, her spirit is still with me, she talks to me."
"Sort of like my Djinn?"
"Sort of," Gabrielle said with a faint smile.
"And you think Xena wont approve."
"I have my doubts."
"Has she objected thus far?"
A pained look came over Gabrielles face, "Thats the strange thing, I havent heard anything from her since yesterday."
"Well maybe she has finally gone to rest. The spirits of the dead dont roam the world forever."
"Remember, there was a time when Xena felt that I was the one to take care of you when she was planning to leave you. Maybe she feels that way again and has found her peace. After all, I sure she doesnt expect you to be alone for the rest of your life."
"I dont know," Gabrielle said quietly, tears starting to return to her eyes.
Najara gently squeezed Gabrielles hand. "We dont need to decide everything now. Why dont we agree to travel together and fight for good. We can wait and see how the rest works itself out."
Gabrielle paused for a moment, and then said, "OK, I want to accept, but there is something else we need to discuss. You know that I think that you kill far to quickly and easily. Even today, Im not sure that you needed to kill those soldiers."
"And by not killing them when you could have, you almost got yourself killed. There are times when killing cant be avoided."
"And does that apply to unarmed prisoners as well?"
"Gabrielle, the people I killed were evil and would have eventually committed more crimes had I not killed them."
"You never killed anyone innocent or who might have been capable of being reformed?"
"I gave my prisoners three days to reform and a few did but the truth is that very few wanted redemption. Im sure that occasionally I killed someone innocent, but I think that the crimes I prevented by killing these evil doers far outweigh the harm I caused by a few mistaken killings."
"Najara, I dont think that I can travel with someone who believes that."
"Look Gabrielle, I dont want to argue with you about this or let it come between us. You may recall that at one time I turned command of my army over to Xena to earn your trust. Let me make a similar offer now. I will place myself under your command and will do nothing to any prisoners without your approval. And I will TRY to kill as little as possible in combat. Is that good enough for you?"
This time it was Gabrielle who put her hand in Najaras and said quietly, "Yes it is. Thank you."
"There is no need to thank me." Najara looked deeply into Gabrielles eyes and added, "It is my pleasure."
With this finally settled, both women began to relax.
"Maybe its time to order that dinner you promised me," said Gabrielle.
"By all means, order whatever you like."
After ordering Najara asked, "So what brings us to Egypt?"
"What, the Djinn didnt tell you?" Gabrielle teased.
"They dont tell me everything."
Gabrielle explained about the need to rescue the Amazons.
"Great!" exclaimed Najara. "You know what I think of slave traders."
"However, there is something we may have to do first. Have you heard about this trouble in the South? I think we may need to go investigate it."
"Whatever you say Gabrielle, I am under your command."
The rest of the dinner was spent in lighthearted conversation. The trials of the last few months made it all the more pleasant to Gabrielle. She hadnt been this happy since she lay on a blanket under the stars with Xena many months ago, just before going to Jappa.
Xena was walking quickly down a corridor in the underworld. The place was somewhat chaotic. Not only was there no longer any separation between the Elysian fields and Tartarus but the barriers between the Greek underworld and some of the other underworlds were breaking down as well. Not like when Hades was in charge but since she was the one who had incinerated him, she couldnt really complain.
It had taken her sometime before she could excuse herself from Akemi. Najara was right. Akemi was deeply in love with her and could be very accommodating as well. It was all very nice but she wasnt Gabrielle.
Her prior visits to the underworld had given her a good sense of the layout. She was headed to a quiet corner of the underworld where Hades castle was located. She found it, swam the moat and climbed the walls. It wasnt very hard when there werent Harpies protecting it. She had the place to herself. No one else had either found it or managed to get in.
She went to the Pool of Knowledge. This was a still pool of water that allowed one to see and hear what went on in the land of the living. All one had to do is to think of what or who you wanted to see. It was how Hades had kept track of events outside the underworld.
Xena sat down and soon saw Gabrielle fighting against some Roman soldiers. She couldnt help screaming "Look out Gabrielle" when the arrow almost hit her in the back. She was grateful Gabrielle wasnt hurt but wasnt surprised as to who had caught the arrow. Xena was concerned as to how Gabrielle could get away from Najara without getting hurt. Initially, she had no doubt that Najara was just as crazy as ever. But as Gabrielle and Najara talked in the tavern, a greater concern began to affect Xenathat Najara WASNT crazy. Xena knew that Gabrielle had always been drawn to Najara and if she were really sane, there was nothing to keep them apart. By the time they were eating dinner and enjoying easy conversation, Xena could stand it no longer. She broke the surface of the water and the image and sound ceased.
Xena sat there for some time, torn by conflicting emotions. On the one hand, it was hard to see Gabrielle with someone else--especially Najara, for whom Xena had developed an intense dislike. On the other hand, she loved Gabrielle and wanted her to be happy. Unfortunately, Najara had raised a very good point. Did Xena really expect Gabrielle to spend the rest of her life alone? As they had been eating dinner, Xena saw the joy on Gabrielles face, a look that she had seen before when Gabrielle had talked to Najara. She might actually be able to make Gabrielle happy. And since Gabrielle was now a warrior, having Najara at her side would help Gabrielle have a long as well as happy life. Xena knew that the love between herself and Gabrielle was strong and that one day they would meet again. Until then, could she deny Gabrielle the chance to seek solace with Najara as she had with Akemi?
Xena continued to sit there as she slowly let the need to temporarily let Gabrielle go overtake her. Her mind began to wander a bit and she thought about the conversation she had overheard between Gabrielle and Najara. They were planning to head south to fight some trouble. What was that about? As soon as she thought this, an image began to appear in the pool. Xena hadnt really intended for this to happen but if the pool was going to show her, she was curious enough to look.
Xena turned cold as she saw the image appear.
Gabrielle and Najara didnt stand a chance. And it wasnt just death they were facing; it was a long agony of torture. Xena jumped up and started to run. She had to find a way out of the underworld so she could save Gabrielle.
Xena was running along the banks of the river Styx. She saw an old man seated near the rivers edge and hurried over to him. "Charon, just who I was looking for."
"Xena, Im glad you finally realized that the underworld is for the DEAD. When you were alive you were always using my boat to enter and leave whenever you wanted to. You didnt pay me either."
"I need your boat again, Charon."
"It isnt so easy to leave when youre dead, Xena. Not that it matters, my boat was sunk some time ago."
"Yes, in the great earthquake that occurred right after you killed Hades."
"Oh, you heard about that."
"Yes, even down here we can hear things from time to time. Ares told me himself."
"Ares! How often does he come here?"
"Not very often, but occasionally he likes to come and talk to one of the few surviving Olympians."
"Could you get him a message for me?"
"I suppose I could but since youre the one who made a mess of everything down here, why should I?"
"Maybe because you would like to remain one of the few surviving Olympians." This was a bluff since her power to kill gods had ceased sometime ago but Charon didnt know that.
"OK, OK, sure, anything for you Xena. Here, Cerberus, here boy." The three headed guard dog of the underworld came running up.
Xena quickly wrote out a note and tied it around the neck of the center head.
"Ares, Go to Ares, Fetch!" shouted Charon. The dog took a running leap and easily cleared the river. It landed and kept running as it disappeared into the distance. "Well Xena, you may as well have a seat. This could take awhile."
"Thanks Charon but I need to keep searching to see if there is a quicker way out of here. Ill stop by from time to time to see if Cerberus gets back." With that Xena took off running back into the underworld.
"Suit yourself, Xena but I dont think youll find anything."
Gabrielle and Najara met the next day and headed south out of Alexandria. Gabrielle had been a little concerned after dinner that Najara would try to force the issue when it came time to part but Najara just hugged her and cheerfully agreed to meet the next morning. It hadnt been as easy for Najara as she made it seem but with her goal so close, she wasnt going to blow it now. She knew that Gabrielle wouldnt be hearing from Xena anymore and it wouldnt be that long before she won Gabrielle over completely. She had waited so long for Gabrielle, she could certainly wait a little longer. And if it took Gabrielle some time to grieve for Xena, it just showed what a good heart Gabrielle had. It just made her that much more desirable.
They made good progress to the South, slowed only by the steady stream of refugees heading in the opposite direction. As they traveled along, they enjoyed seeing the varied birds and other animal life as well as the strange Egyptian plants that grow along the river. It was too bad they couldnt take more time to explore but they had a job to do. Still, for Gabrielle, it was quite a change after traveling with Xena.
On the afternoon of the second day, they stopped passing refugees and entered into an area from which everyone had already fled. It was ominously quiet. A few hours later, they saw the dust from several horses being ridden hard towards them. As the horses came closer they could see that it was a group of Roman officers. Gabrielle and Najara tried to flag them down as they rode past but they wouldnt stop. However, one horse stumbled as it went by and the rider fell off. They ran over to him.
"Are you alright?" Gabrielle inquired.
"Theyre all dead." The Roman officer was obviously panic stricken. "She killed them."
"We have to get out of here, NOW!" With that the officer got up and started running after the other officers. Najara went to bring him back but Gabrielle stopped her.
"Let him go." Gabrielle thought for a second. "This must be whats left of that Roman cohort sent to stop the terror here in the South. I guess its up to us now. He said that "she" had killed them. I wonder which "she" it is this time. It would be nice to find out who were up against. Najara do you think you could ask the Djinn?"
"Of course," Najara smiled. She knelt down and communed with the Djinn. After a few minutes she got back up and had a perplexed expression on her face. "Thats strange."
"What, the Djinn arent with you right now."
"No, they are but they say they cant see who it is. Something is blocking them. This has never happened before."
Gabrielle pointed into the distance. "Well even without the Djinn, I think were going to find out pretty soon." Near the southern horizon, smoke was billowing up.
The smoke was coming from the city of Naucratis. The city was deserted and scattered fires were burning. Gabrielle and Najara moved apart and slowly began to work their way into the city. As they got closer to the city center they began finding the bodies of the Roman soldiers. From the contorted expressions on their faces, their deaths hadnt been easy. As they got near the City Square they heard repeated agonized screams. They soon found the source of the screamsa Roman officer hanging upside down with a rope tied around one leg. A woman was peeling off his skin with a knife. The woman was someone all too familiar to Gabrielle.
"Valasca." Gabrielle didnt say it very loudly but Valasca immediately turned towards her.
"Queen Gabrielle," Valasca said contemptuously. "How nice of you to pay me a visit. Well with Queen Gabrielle here to play with, I wont need you anymore." She turned and with a quick motion, slit the soldiers throat. Najara, who had been concealed not far from Gabrielle, took this opportunity to attack. She leapt into the air with a summersault giving out her war cry. She landed right in front of Valasca and ran her through with her sword. Najara was chagrined to discover that the only effect that this had was to make Valasca smile at her. "My, what a pretty Amazon. Too bad you only brought one, Gabrielle. There is so much that I need to repay to the whole Amazon nation." Najara attempted to strike her again but Valasca grabbed the sharp end of the sword, pulled it out of Najaras hand and threw the sword aside. "I know you. Youre the one who sent the Djinn to spy on me. As if such puny spirits could spy on a GOD." A bolt of energy came off of Valascas hand, hitting Najara, sending her flying across the square.
"Najara!" Gabrielle cried.
"Oh dont worry, shes not dead. She doesnt get to die that easily. What do you say I crucify her? It will be fun to watch. It can take people days to die up on that cross, though I have to tell you that my favorite part of a crucifixion is the leg breaking. After shes dead then I can think of something for you. Dont worry, Gabrielle, I wont crucify you. I intend to make your death something truly special.
"How did you "
"Escape from the lava you and Xena were kind enough to drop me into. Well it took me quite a long time. About six months ago, I finally found my way out of a volcano far to the south of here. It was near a large lake, in a strange land where everyones skin is quite dark. Ive come north along the river, enjoying myself as I go. Where is Xena anyway?"
Gabrielles expression clouded.
"Oh, shes dead. What a pity. I was so looking forward to seeing her again. At least youre here. Why dont you come a little closer." Valasca raised her left arm and began to exert a force, which began to drag Gabrielle towards her.
At that moment Najara emerged from the pile of debris she had been thrown into and charged Valasca, while at the same time emitting her war cry. Valasca turned and raised her right hand so as to send off a bolt of energy. Najara suddenly cut to her left and Valasca followed her around with her hand. Just as Valasca fired, Najara tumbled out of the way and the bolt missed her. However, Najaras motion had drawn Valasca around so that the bolt hit the base of a large burning tower near the edge of the square. It collapsed onto Valasca burying her under a pile of rubble.
Najara looked at the rubble pile in satisfaction. "That wasnt hard."
Unfortunately, her satisfaction was short-lived as Valascas voice boomed out, "YOU THINK THAT THIS WILL STOP ME. IT WONT HOLD ME FOR LONG." A rumbling sound started from deep inside the pile.
Gabrielle ran over to Najara and grabbed her arm. "Come on, lets get out of here. Well head south and draw her away from the refugees."
Xena walked away from Charon after yet another fruitless conversation. It has been two days since she had sent the message but still she had not heard from Ares. Xena had tried to find another way out of the underworld but though she had talked to many people, she hadnt had any luck. By now Gabrielle might have caught up to Valasca. Xena wasnt sure. She had been putting off looking again into the Pool of Knowledge. She had been afraid of what she might see, of what Najara and Gabrielle might be doingtogether. But she couldnt put it off any longer. She had to make sure that Gabrielle was safe.
She was about half way back to Hades castle, when there was a sudden flash of light. Right in front of her materialized the god of war, wearing the same half smile, half leer that he often greeted Xena with. "Well if it isnt the Warrior Princess. I heard you wanted to see me. What, isnt the underworld to your liking?"
Xena became sultry and slowly said, "No it isnt. I miss you." With that Xena leaned into him and began a long slow kiss.
This went on for about thirty seconds. Ares was thoroughly enjoying himself. Then suddenly, he pulled himself away from Xena. "No you dont. Ive fallen for this trick before. It is always some ploy so you can get back with that irritating blond."
"Nothing you have to worry about this time Ares. Ive only been dead a few months and she has already taken up with someone elsethat nutcase Najara."
"Gabrielle always did have a thing for those warrior women." Ares eyed Xena up and down. "Not that I can blame her." After a moment he continued, "I always admired Najara as a warrior but all that preaching about the lightit was a real turn off."
"Thats certainly something we can agree on." Xena leaned into Ares again, "This whole business with Gabrielle and Najara has made me appreciate your loyalty."
"And I suppose youd like me to restore you to life?"
"Well, do you want to hang out down here? This place is a mess."
Ares thought for a second. "You do have a point. Maybe we can work something out."
"I thought we might. There is one other problem, Ares. Do you have any pull with the gods of Jappa?"
"There are these 40,000 souls that think that they wont be redeemed if I come back to life. Can you work something out so that they can stay at peace?"
"Let me see." Ares disappeared in a flash. About an hour later he returned. "There, thats all taken care of. It turns out they owed Poseidon a favor for some storm he came up with to sink a fleet of invaders from Chin. Fortunately, they hadnt heard of what you did to him and most of the rest of the Olympian gods."
"I knew I could depend on you. Lets get out of here."
"Well, there is one more thing that you should know before we go. Im setting things up a little differently this time. Ill bring you back to life but Ive arranged it so that I can send you right back to the underworld if I find out this is just another one of those tricks of yours to get back to Gabrielle."
"Still dont trust me, Ares? Its just as well. I would probably kill her and Najara if I got the chance."
"You almost make me want to see what would happen." Ares paused for a moment, lost in this pleasant thought. Then he said, "OK, lets get out of here. I was thinking of starting with a visit to Sparta. Those people know how to treat the god of war."
"I was thinking of Egypt."
"Now Xena, you dont want me to have to send you back before you even get out of here."
"Oh Ares, this has nothing to do with Gabrielle. She is up in Alexandria. I was thinking of visiting this place down south. I heard that its just outside of Memphis."
"You dont mean "
"It sounds interesting. Ive never been there before."
"I hate that place."
"Oh, come on Ares." She then added seductively, "Ill make it worth your while."
There was another flash and suddenly they were standing in a deserted Egyptian town. Xena looked down and found that she was dressed in her old leathers and breastplate. She had her old sword---and her old chakram. It felt very good to be alive once more. She pulled out the chakram and balanced it on the end of her finger. "Thanks Ares, this is great."
"I am the god of war. Cant let you go around without your weapons. Sorry I couldnt make that new chakram of yours but that whole light and dark thing gives me some problems."
"Well I always liked this one anyway." Xena looked around at the town. "Where is everyone?"
"They had a little problem here. Nothing to concern us."
Xena got her bearings. "Come on Ares, I think it is this way."
Xena and Ares approached a temple on a hill west of Memphis. On it was inscribed "Temple of Xena and Gabrielle."
Ares started a rant. "These Egyptian cults! They have no respect for the real gods and instead worship mortals."
"Not just any mortals, Ares. Come on, lets go in."
As they began to go in, Ares asked, "How did you find out about this place, anyway? Last I heard, you were in Jappa."
"Oh, when I was in the underworld, I ran into a priest who had worked here. He told me quite a bit about the place."
The temple contained an amazing collection of artifacts from Xenas and Gabrielles lives. One room contained a wide variety of clothing: the outfit Xena had worn as Miss Amphipolis, her leathers from when she was pregnant with Eve, a green top of Gabrielles that brought back fond memories.
When Xena went into the next room, she beheld a horrifying sight that made her exclaim, "By the gods!" There in front of her was Argo, on display, stuffed.
"Now you see Xena, no respect. Youre lucky it isnt Joxer."
Xena quickly moved on into the next room, which contained a wide variety of metal implements. Xena found Gabrielles frying pan and picked it up. "This is something that I might be able to use."
"Xena, I didnt bring you back to life so you can cook."
Xena leaned close to Ares and caressed his face. "When I get done with you, youll have quite an appetite."
"Now thats what I like to hear. I saw an abandoned villa not far from here. Lets check out its bedrooms."
"Patience Ares. Let me see the rest of the temple and then Im all yours. I heard that there are some interesting things in a few chambers below ground. I think these stairs here lead down to them."
The torches in the underground chambers were out but Ares made them immediately burst into flames. In a niche in the wall was a large group of scrolls. Xena looked at them with great interest. "Gabrielles scrolls. They must have gotten them after Joxers death."
"Her again," Ares said in annoyance.
"Now Ares, she recorded all my exploits. They are really quite interesting."
"Xena, can we get out of here? Something about this place bothers me."
"OK Ares, Ill come back and read them later. I think that there is just one more chamber and then were done."
They entered the last chamber. Sunlight streamed into the room from an open doorway at the other side. In the middle of the room was an empty sarcophagus. "Xena, I had no idea that you and Gabrielle were so kinky." There was no response from Xena. "Xena?" She had started to move quietly towards the doorway. Suddenly, Ares saw it on the wall to his left----The Eye of Hephaestus! Ares angrily turned, looking for Xena. "Xena! Im sending you back right now!" The whir of the chakram could be heard coming towards Ares head. He instinctively fired a bolt, which hit it and broke it in two. The pieces went flying into different parts of the chamber. The distraction allowed Xena to reach the doorway. She used the frying pan to reflect light onto the jewel at the center of the eye. A beam of light came out of the eye and hit Ares. He fell to the ground, stunned and unconscious.
Xena went over to Ares, took off his sword and threw it aside. She picked him up and placed him in the open sarcophagus. "This sarcophagus is much older than the rest of this temple," Xena said to Ares unconscious form. "This is just whats needed to hold you." With some effort she managed to move the lid onto the sarcophagus, sealing it. Suddenly, Xena noticed that it was getting darker in the room. Once Xena had placed the lid on the sarcophagus, the door to the chamber had started to close. Xena ran to the door and at the last moment, dove and rolled under the door just before it closed. "That was close!" Then the thought hit her, "Gabrielles scrolls!" Xena ran back up and around to the front of the temple and went inside to the stairs but that passage had sealed as well. "I cant risk reopening the chamber. It might revive Ares. Oh well, Ill make it up to her." Then she remembered the urgency of the situation. "Starting by saving her life! I think I saw some horses in an abandoned stable nearby." Xena was off and running once more.
Gabrielle and Najara had stopped for a rest. For two days they had managed to keep in front of Valasca---barely. They could only afford to stop for brief moments and the lack of rest and sleep was beginning to take its toll.
Najara had just finished communing with the Djinn. "The Djinn cant tell me anything about Valasca but they have told me some interesting things about the city of Terenuthis, which we will reach in another couple of hours. I suggest making our stand there, before we become so tired that we cant fight Valasca at all."
"Najara, I dont think anything that we do will be able to defeat Valasca. Not unless the Djinn can tell you of where we can find a volcano nearby."
"No, they say the nearest one is many weeks away." After a moment Najara said, "Look, if nothing else, we might be able to provoke Valasca into killing us quickly."
Gabrielle paused and then said, "Najara, Valasca is after me. If you were to cross the river and head north, Im sure you could get away. There is no use for both of us to die."
"Xena tried to leave you behind on several occasions. Did you ever agree with her decision?"
"Then dont expect me to either. Gabrielle, we are in this together, no matter what happens."
Gabrielle smiled, "Thank you."
Najara squeezed Gabrielles hand and smiled back at her. After a moment, Najara got to her feet and pulled Gabrielle up with her. "Come on, Gabrielle. We need to get going if were going to arrange a surprise or two for Valasca."
Valasca entered the deserted Egyptian city. Not quite deserted. She could hear two hearts beating, hidden somewhere nearby. She fired a few random bolts to see if she could flush them out but all she accomplished was to start a few fires. The streets were littered with the corpses of those she had killed when she passed through this city some days earlier.
As Valasca approached a large square, she knew that she was getting close. Suddenly, a rope was pulled and a large stack of jars containing olive oil fell over onto Valasca. The jars broke and she was covered in oil. Najara appeared on the top of a building across the square and fired a flaming arrow, igniting the oil. Valasca just walked out of the fire. "FOOLS", she shouted, "THIS IS COOL COMPARED TO LAVA." She fired a bolt, hitting the side of the building Najara was standing on. It collapsed, taking Najara down with it. Valasca started to move towards the remains of the building when Gabrielle sprang out of a nearby barrel and using the long thin blade that she had acquired in Jappa, took off Valascas head in one clean motion. As her body fell over, Gabrielle took off her four limbs as well. Valascas body lay motionless.
Gabrielle ran over to the ruins of the building where Najara lay but before she could find her, there was a sudden flash of light behind her. She turned to see Valasca whole and restored. "NICE TRY GABRIELLE BUT I DONT THINK YOU KNOW WHAT IMMORTAL MEANS." Valsasca started to advance on Gabrielle but a voice behind Valasca shouted, "Use the chakram, Gabrielle."
"Xena!" Gabrielle thought. "Its about time your spirit returned." Gabrielle had almost forgotten that she had the chakram. She grabbed it and threw it towards Valasca.
Valasca had turned at the sound of Xenas voice but turned back when she heard the whir of the chakram. She moved to avoid it but it nicked her arm as it went by. Much to Valascas surprise, there was pain and blood associated with the wound.
Xena caught the chakram as it flew on for some distance behind Valasca. "I think youll find that this chakram is no respecter of gods, Valasca," she taunted.
"Xena." Valasca replied. "So youre alive after all. Thats what I get for trusting an Amazon queen."
Xena threw the chakram at Valasca once more. Valasca fired a bolt, hitting it. Despite the power of the bolt, the chakram remained intact but it fell to the ground between them. Xena ran to pick up the chakram as Valasca ran towards her. Xena would have gotten there first but she slipped and fell.
Valasca stood over Xena and picked her up with her left hand. "Lets see what Gabrielle thinks of you with your hair burned off, Xena." A ball of fire appeared in Valascas right hand. She started to move it towards Xenas head. Xena pulled a dagger out of her boot. "Oh Xena," Valasca said with scorn, "That cant " Xena plunged the dagger into Valascas heart. A surprised look came over Valascas face. "This isnt right," she said. The ball of fire in her hand went out and she fell over dead.
"The hinds blood dagger!?" Gabrielle exclaimed, half as question, half as a statement.
"Thats the second so-called god that Ive killed with it," Xena said with satisfaction.
It had all happened so fast that it took a moment for Gabrielle to take it all in. But then she realized what it meant that Valasca had been able to hear, see and touch Xena. "Xena, youre alive!" she exclaimed in joy.
Xena smiled at Gabrielle. "Why, yes I am. Feels good too." She started to walk across the square to Gabrielle but then Xena stopped as she saw Najara stagger from the ruins just behind Gabrielle. Her smile was replaced by a grim expression.
"Xena?" Najara said in disbelief. "Youre alive? How could the Djinn not know?"
"So they didnt see this coming?" Xena mocked. "It turns out Ive got my own supernatural helpers." After a second she drew her sword. "Whats it to be, round four?"
For Gabrielle, it was one of her worst nightmares. She had just been reunited with both the women she had ever loved and now once more they were going to fight to the death over her. "Xena, NO! she pleaded. She turned to Najara, who was now almost right behind her, "Please, Najara."
Najara looked past her to Xena and started to draw her sword. Then a strange smile came over her. She stopped and put it back. Both Xena and Gabrielle wondered if perhaps Najaras sanity had deserted her once more. But Najaras dilemma had nothing to do with her sanity. She realized that killing Xena was the one sure way of losing Gabrielle forever. Allowing Xena to kill her wouldnt help either. What was worse, she knew that the bond of Gabrielles life with Xena was too strong to be broken by anything but death. Perhaps if Najara had been the one to meet Gabrielle first, things would be different. As it was, her only option was to wait and hope that the hazards of Xenas life could come to her aid once more.
Xena and Gabrielle were watching her intently. Najara turned toward Gabrielle, smiled and said, "Till next we meet." She then made the one move neither of them had anticipated. She leaned forward and kissed Gabrielle. For just a second, Gabrielle experienced the pleasure of her first kiss with Najara, before that pleasure was extinguished as she remembered that it was occurring in front of Xena.
In that same second, Xena was too surprised to move. But then she charged across the square, yelling her war cry. However, before Xena reached them, Najara broke quickly away from Gabrielle and scaled the wall of a nearby building.
As Xena passed Gabrielle, intent on pursuing Najara, Gabrielle grabbed her arm. "No, Xena. Let her go." Xena hesitated for a second but then relented. As Najara reached the top of the wall, she turned, gave Gabrielle a wistful look, then disappeared across the roof.
Gabrielle staggered over to a low wall and sat down with a dazed look on her face.
"Are you alright?" Xena asked, concerned that she might have been injured in the fight.
Gabrielle wasnt all right. It was just too much for her. She had faced death before but the relentless pursuit of Valasca had worn her down. Then suddenly Xena had appeared, alive and had vanquished that threat. But before she could even take that in, Gabrielle faced the prospect of having to watch one of the two women she loves kill the other. Now, just as suddenly, Najara was gone and she was back to a life with Xena. Not that she would have it any other way, and she was glad that Najara had gotten away safely but her emotions seemed to be pulling her ten different ways at once. Slowly, one thought began to break through this tumult and started to dominate all others. Xena was alive!
As Xena came over to her, looking for wounds, convinced she must be injured, Gabrielle suddenly jumped up and leapt into Xenas arms, kissing her. If she werent so much smaller than Xena, she would have knocked her over.
"Ill have to come back to life more often," Xena quipped, letting Gabrielle down so that her feet reached the ground.
"Dont you dare, I cant take much more of this," Gabrielle said seriously. "How did you what about those 40,000 souls "
"Oh, Ares took care of it all for me."
"Ares." Gabrielles voice was tinted with jealousy. "What did you have to do to get his help?"
"Not what you think, Gabrielle. I just had to sweet talk him a little."
"Still, I dont like you being beholding to him. You never know when he might show up looking to collect."
"I dont think hell be doing that. I left him in his tomb."
"Xena, you didnt "
"What, I thought you didnt like the guy."
"Well, I didnt want you to kill him."
"Dont worry, hes not dead. I left him some place safe but it could be hundreds if not thousands of years before anyone sees him again."
"Where did you get the hinds blood dagger?" Gabrielle asked.
"Its quite an interesting place. I should take you there sometime. Well need to go there anyway to give Argo a decent burial." Then, after a moment, Xena added, "The hard part was getting close enough to Valasca to use it. I thought my fake fall was rather convincing."
"Well, youll have to show me the place later since right now we need to go rescue some Amazons. Oh Xena, it is great to have you back."
"It is great to be back, Gabrielle."
They turned hand in hand and walked out of town.
"Gabrielle, about your scrolls "
Return to the Academy
Authors Note II: Some of you may have noticed that I moved Ares tomb depicted in the episode "Xena Scrolls" from Macedonia to Egypt. I could have written the story using the Macedonia location but I think that Egypt is more in keeping with the Indiana Jones character of the "Xena Scrolls." At the same time, moving the tomb to Egypt resolves the problem of WHEN the "Xena Scrolls" takes place. It is variously said to be either 1942 or 1940. However, in 1942 Macedonia was part of Nazi occupied Europe and Americans wouldnt be doing archaeological work there. If it took place in 1940, then Jacques/Jacks (Ted Raimis character) draft status wouldnt have been 4F. These problems are solved by having the episode take place in Egypt in 1942.