The Cause of Rage
Disclaimer: All original characters from X:WP are owned by Renaissance Pictures and Universal. Copyright is not intended.
Subtext: Yes, duh. Actually in this story it is turning into
maintext. Though there is nothing explicit, be aware that these two characters love each other very much.
Summary: With Solstice and Xena’s birthday on the way, Xena and Gabrielle are both excited to make it to Amphipolis to spend the time with the warrior’s family. After everything works out wonderfully in the duo’s lives, terror strikes, only because of a mishap of the God of War and his sword. Will these events ruin the perfect Solstice?
It was a cold winter night, snow gently falling onto the thick layers of powder already packed on the ground. The gray sky continued to spit the droplets of frozen rain with no indication of stopping. We see a small cave sheltered from the weather, smoke lifting from the opening.
Inside, the pale headed bard cuddled under her warm blanket close to the fire, soaking up the warmth it supplied as the raven haired warrior laid beside her. Embers from the small campfire continued to flicker, fighting in its height toward the rocky ceiling of the cave.
Over the trees surrounding the cave outside, the faint light of the rising sun could be seen. Dawn was soon approaching. Rustling from inside the cave can be heard as the warrior awoke from her slumber, covering the sleeping bard in her blanket. She smirked as the blonde sighed contently, nestling closer to the added warmth of the heavy wool.
Xena stretched, yawning as she picked up her sword and chakram that had been resting at her bedside. Stepping toward the fire, she clipped her chakram onto her hip and nudged another log into the small fire, watching as the embers grew. Leaving Gabrielle to sleep, Xena quietly stepped outside into the deep snow, fastening her warm cloak over her armor. She continued to march away from the cave, keeping her legs from dragging in the deep powder.
The only sounds that filled the warrior’s ears as she continued to march were the sounds of the ice droplets falling off of the frozen tree branches and the slight gust of wind that chilled her. Only when she heard a sound out of place did she equip her chakram, pausing all of her movements. The sound of a branch cracking under a footstep. Silence soon started to become deafening until the sudden slice of a chakram filled the air, contacting with its target. Breakfast.
Back at the cave, Gabrielle was awakened by the familiar footsteps crunching in the snow outside. Ridding the frozen droplets from her mane, Xena smirked, noticing the dazed look from her partner’s eyes as she awoke, “Nice to see that you’re awake. I got us breakfast.”
Gabrielle smiled at the sight of the large rabbit displayed in the warrior’s hand. Quickly uncovering herself from her cocoon, the blonde reached for the necessary pans and spices and was soon cooking the food, “It’s beautiful out there.”
“Nah,” Xena grumbled, “it’s just cold and wet… I’ll take the hot sun any day.”
“Winter was always my favorite time of the year,” Gabrielle commented, smiling as the warrior popped a piece of cheese from their pack into her mouth, “Lila and I would always sneak into the living room after Mother and Father would fall asleep and sit by the warm fireplace and just talk. Everything was so simple at that time.”
“Mmm Hmm… is the rabbit ready?”
“Xena, ya’ know they say that patience is a virtue.”
“Yeah well I bet they weren’t sitting in a cave to keep away from the snow, starving.”
Gabrielle chuckled, handing Xena her share of breakfast, “Well one good thing about snow… there’s always a good supply of water.”
“Unless it’s yellow.”
“That’s gross, Xena!”
A candle mark later, after they allowed their food to settle and gathered their belongings, the warrior and bard were on the road. Solstice would be arriving in a few days with delicious foods waiting for them in Amphipolis. Gabrielle smiled to herself knowing how good Xena had felt when her mother had invited her.
Toris had moved in with Cyrene after the ordeal with Cortese, helping her with the things she needed. He was still the same cocky person, though. Gabrielle couldn’t wait until they reached Amphipolis.
“What in Hades are you thinking about to cause that weird smile on your face?” Xena smirked.
“Guess I’m just excited about Solstice and going back to Amphipolis,” Gabrielle smiled.
Oh yeah… Solstice was also Xena’s birthday.
It had been a while until they reached the next town. Akanthos was a small village. In the winter it was always …homey… for a lack of a better term. Not a lot of activity took place outside, most families snuggled inside by the fireplace. The warm aromas of food from the local inn could be smelled as you walked through the town’s gates. As they entered the inn, though, total chaos took place before them.
“Boy, what are you doing here?! No son of mine is going to skip on his chores!” a man shouted, approaching the teenager who backed away cautiously. Two soldiers backed the man up, glaring at the boy dangerously.
“You’re not my father,” the boy quietly responded, “now take your drinking buddies and leave.”
The man snarled, roughly snatching the boy’s arm, “You don’t talk to me that way, Boy!” He was met with cold blue eyes glaring at him as a sharp pain lifted in his arm.
Xena growled, snapping the man’s arm. She smirked at the look of agony on his face, “I suggest you leave this kid alone before I snap all of your limbs.”
The soldiers charged, hoping to snatch the boy before the warrior could reach him. They never expected the appearance of an angered bard with a staff or an unsheathed sword from the boy. Xena smirked, brandishing her sword before her enemy. He hesitated, giving her the perfect opportunity to strike. She took advantage of it, slicing a small wound onto his shoulder as she turned, tripping him. He grunted as he collided onto the ground, wincing from the sting of the cut on his bicep. He soon fell into darkness when the side of the warrior’s sword crashed into the side of his head.
Gabrielle grunted, twirling her staff as she blocked the down slice of her attacker’s sword as it approached her stomach. Swiftly she moved to the side, allowing the attacker to charge by her before she swung, knocking the man behind his kneecaps. He yelped, groaning in pain as one snapped. He collapsed onto the ground, refusing to take part in the fight anymore. The warrior and bard both turned, somewhat shocked as the man that attacked the boy fell to the ground clutching his stomach. Crimson trickled from between his fingers and Xena knew that it was fatal. But the boy ignored the dying man, approaching the two.
“Thanks for helping… maybe my so called father will leave me alone now,” he thanked smiling.
“Uh… you’re welcome… didn’t know you could protect yourself, though,” Gabrielle smiled.
The boy sighed, “Living in the hell home I’ve had to live in for years kinda’ requires knowing how to defend yourself. Anyway, I’m Cybris.”
“I’m Gabrielle. That’s Xena.”
Cybris stood in awe, “Wow… the Xena?”
“Yeah I get that a lot,” Xena rolled her eyes.
“You live in Amphipolis don’t you?” the boy questioned.
“It’s where I’m from… how do you know?”
“I live there. How could you leave when Cyrene’s there cooking?”
“Then why are you here?” Gabrielle asked.
“To get away from that man. Let’s just say that he’s not that loving… never was really. He‘s not my real father, but he drank so much that I guess he saw me as ‘his‘,” Cybris answered, walking out of the tavern with the two, “speaking of which I better start heading back there. Someone’s waiting for me. Maybe I’ll see ya’ sometime.”
Night was soon falling upon them as the warrior and bard attended their daily routines. Gabrielle sat at the small wooden table near the corner of the room writing in her scrolls while Xena sat at the foot of the small bed sharpening her sword. Gabrielle smiled, always enjoying the nights like these. She could always tell what kind of mood the warrior was in just by how hard she would sharpen her blade. Slow, gentle strokes usually meant that she was calm, but whenever the sound of the stone scratching against the blade echoed too much, it usually meant that Gabrielle shouldn’t talk to her. She always did though.
Tomorrow they would be heading to Amphipolis, and Gabrielle was excited. She loved Cyrene and Toris. Well… when he wasn’t being an ass that is. She smiled, remembering when Cyrene told her that she should call her Mom. Xena had been secretly eavesdropping from behind the wooden door, ecstatic that her mother was in her own way accepting Gabrielle into the family. Not that she wasn’t already considered family anyway.
Xena chuckled. The first time her and Gabrielle had visited, Toris had pitched a fit when he discovered that Gabrielle had become a queen. Skeptical, he had jumped Gabrielle one evening in the market only to come home with a bloodied nose and an upset bard. Xena remembered thinking about killing him, but it was all very comical. He cursed the whole time after the incident.
Well, tomorrow would be another day. Slipping her sword back into her scabbard and placing both it and her chakram near the nightstand on her bedside, she slipped under the covers, inviting the bard. The blonde had laid in her usual sleeping spot, resting her head on Xena’s shoulder and soon fell asleep. Many candle marks passed, though, where Xena just laid there staring blankly at the ceiling in thought. Not a snowball’s chance in Tartarus did she ever think she would ever be considered a daughter in her mother’s eyes. And now they were being invited to celebrate Solstice with them. It was almost like old times.
She sighed, remembering many Solstice mornings when she would be awakened by a cheerful shriek as Lyceus would charge into her room early in the morning just to show her the new Solstice present that he had discovered resting on the foot of his bed. Even though their mother was the owner of the inn, they were never actually wealthy people. They were lucky to get at least one thing every Solstice and usually Xena always gave her presents to her little brother.
Xena was pulled from her thoughts as Gabrielle snuggled closer in her slumber, sighing contently, “Love you, Xena.”
“Love you, too,” the warrior whispered, smiling as the blonde smiled in her sleep… “more than anything in this world.”
“At least the snow stopped,” Gabrielle smiled, trailing behind the warrior.
Xena chuckled, “It’s funny how you say that after I had to pull you out of the two holes you fell in out here.”
“Hey this snow is deep!” Gabrielle whined.
Xena smirked, slowing her pace a bit to allow her companion to catch up.
“So… tomorrow is your birthday,” Gabrielle smiled.
“Yeah… don’t go planning anything,” Xena growled.
A few candle marks passed and more snow started to fall as the two entered Amphipolis. Even in the cold weather the usually small village was booming. Venders spread out all over the roads selling their products for Solstice.
“Xena! Gabrielle!” a voice shouted, rumbling over the chaos in the streets.
“Mother,” Xena smiled, accepting the hug, smiling as one was given to the bard as well.
“What are you doing out here in the cold?” Gabrielle questioned.
“I uh… was just looking for some extra supplies. The inn has been pretty packed since the snow started and now Solstice,” she directed her attention to her daughter and whispered, “Happy Birthday, by the way.”
Gabrielle chuckled as Xena rolled her eyes.
“C’mon let’s get you two inside and into a warm room,” Cyrene smiled.
As Gabrielle walked into the inn behind the warrior and her mother, her senses were overwhelmed by the wonderful scents of different foods. The place was actually pretty packed, people drinking the cool ale and discussing plans for their Solstice holiday. Everything was actually pretty peaceful. Until Toris snuck up behind his younger sister. Clatter erupted in the room, silencing all of the customers as they watched the man suddenly being flipped over the warrior’s shoulder. Before Xena could realize who she was defending herself against, her brother was already on the ground fighting against the darkness that threatened to take him.
“By the gods!” Cyrene exclaimed, helping her oldest son up from the wooden floor, “haven’t you got any sense?”
“Ouch,” he groaned, unable to meet the glare he knew was directed at him from Xena, “at least you’re still in shape.”
Xena growled, “You better be glad too, otherwise you could be dead right now.”
Toris inhaled deeply, attempting to regain his composure, “I should have known better… welcome home, by the way. You as well, Gabrielle.”
“Alright, show’s over!” Cyrene announced, smirking as the customers carried on with their activities, “now Xena, you and Gabrielle go on up to your room and I’ll get Toris to bring up some food.”
“Thank you,” Xena smiled, leading Gabrielle into her old room. Walking into her old room always took the warrior’s breath away. Even though they stayed in her room the last time they visited, walking back into it, calling it “her” room always brought back many memories. Memories of her and Lyceus writing about their adventures, and dreams. Xena sighed, sitting comfortably on the foot of her bed as Gabrielle joined her.
“Are you alright?” Gabrielle questioned, “old thoughts?”
“Yeah,” Xena answered, “many memorable things happened in this room.”
“Mmm,” Gabrielle grunted, deciding to lighten the conversation, “well, if you get too wrapped up in your nostalgia then can I have your food?”
Xena glared at the blonde, growling mockingly, “Don’t push it, Bard.”
Gabrielle chuckled, her attention moving to the sudden knock on their door as their food was delivered.
“Thanks, Toris,” Xena smirked, taking the platters of food from his hands as he smiled.
“It’s nice to see you home, Xena,” he left, leaving the warrior slightly startled at his words.
‘The food was great,’ Gabrielle thought, leaning back onto the bed with a full stomach, “I don’t think I could eat anymore even if I wanted to.”
“Xena smirked, her eyes gleaming mischievously, “Never heard that come out of your mouth before.”
A knock interrupted the two. They watched as Cyrene slowly entered, “Someone is here to see you. His name’s Meleager.”
Gabrielle’s eyes brightened at the sound of her close friend’s name. She darted out of the room cheerfully, “Meleager!”
“Gabrielle,” the old man smiled, enveloping her in a warm hug, “by the gods you become more beautiful each time I see you.”
The bard blushed, “Well… it was a stressful time the last time we saw each other.”
“I agree… being hanged wasn’t on my list of achievements at the time,” he smiled, directing his attention to the oncoming warrior, “Xena, it’s good to see you as well.”
“Meleager,” Xena greeted, clasping his arm in a shake, “what brings you around here?”
“I passed through Akanthos hearing about a certain warrior and bard heading in this direction.”
Gabrielle smiled, “I’m glad you came.”
“Ahh, you’re like a daughter to me… I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit.”
Xena smiled slightly, “Well, while you’re here, make yourself comfortable. My mother owns the inn.”
“You have a mother?”
“And a brother,” Gabrielle added.
Xena rolled her eyes, “Yeah, it’s a shock isn’t it?”
“Damnit, Zeus… how could this happen? It’s impossible for anything like this to happen!” the God of War roared, rumbling the Halls of Olympus.
“It’s your own fault this happened, Ares. You’ve meddled into those mortals’ lives too much… you knew something like this could happen!” Zeus replied, glaring at his son.
“But… how could this happen? How could my sword chip?”
Zeus sighed, “It doesn’t matter how it happened. Just that small piece of your sword can let off enough rage to affect everyone in Greece.”
“Fix it!” Zeus growled, “or a new God of War will be appointed.” In a flash of blue, Ares disappeared, his feet landing on the soil of Greece; his mission focused.
“Xena,” he murmured. He smirked as his plan developed.
“Xena I… I know that you didn’t want me to do anything for your birthday, but it is Solstice and I… well… just here,” Gabrielle stuttered shyly, handing the small Solstice present to the quiet warrior.
The blonde watched Xena gazing at the small silver bracelet in her palm, her thumb outlining the small, green stone in the middle, “I… I know you don’t wear much jewelry… with the fighting and everything, b… but you don’t actually tell me what you want…”
“It’s beautiful,” Xena gazed into the emerald jewel of the bracelet.
The bard blushed, “Happy Birthday, Xena.”
Blue eyes that rarely shined with deep compassion rested upon the blonde, “Thank you, Gabrielle.”
Night soon fell, stars sparkling in the sky. The inn was becoming more and more empty, civilians exiting, heading toward their homes. Inside their room, Xena smiled, resting comfortably on their bed as Gabrielle approached, crawling in beside her. The bard smiled, resting her head on Xena’s shoulder as they soon fell asleep…
Many candle marks later, deep into the night, Gabrielle dreamt, snuggling closer to the warm body of the warrior. She sighed in content, grinning in her slumber, “I love you, Xena.”
Blue eyes gazed at the sleeping bard . Quietly she whispered, “I love you, too.”
Morning soon arrived, the two sleeping in late as the sun rose overhead. Xena still woke first as usual, staring at the small blonde still sleeping comfortably in her arms.
‘I love her…’
“Xena?” her mother questioned, poking her head cautiously through the door.
“Mother,” Xena smirked, acknowledging her.
“You two slept late… everything alright?” Cyrene smiled, catching the sight of the blonde in her daughter’s arms. She acted like she didn’t notice the blush of the warrior.
“Guess we were just tired from our travels.”
“I understand. Your breakfast will be waiting when you two are hungry,” her mother informed as she closed the door behind her. Xena waited for the footsteps to fade before she directed her attention toward the still sleeping Gabrielle, “Gabrielle, c’mon… Gabrielle, it’s late.”
Xena rolled her eyes in amusement at how the bard could sleep through anything… almost anything…
Slowly, Gabrielle’s eyes fluttered as she awoke, shocked to find the pleasant pressure of Xena’s lips upon hers. In surprise and bliss, she froze but soon added pressure of her own as she continued the kiss. Two halves of a whole connected. The feeling shooting straight down to their toes. They were both breathless and definitely awake when they broke away.
“Xena?” Gabrielle questioned, dazed from what had just happened.
“I love you,” Xena felt like bolting. She once promised herself that she would never allow anyone to become close to her, and she was losing control. But the love shining toward her in those two pools of green made her decision. For once she enjoyed losing her control.
“Happy Solstice, Gabrielle.”
The two new lovers smiled at each other, their fingers intertwining as they walked into the lobby of the inn. They entered chaos. Mugs of ale, plates of food, and bodies themselves were being slung all over the room. The couple watched, shocked as they watched people beating the Hades out of one another for no reason at all.
Cyrene ducked, dodging a flying mug, her eyes lighting up when she noticed the warrior and bard darting in her direction.
“Mother, what is going on here?” Xena growled, glaring at the event taking place before.
Cyrene chuckled bitterly, “Do it, Xena… kill the bastards!”
Gabrielle’s eyes widened, gazing upon Cyrene, “Excuse me?”
“Ya’ heard me! My daughter was the Destroyer of Nations… so destroy them!”
“Mom, what is wrong with you?”
“Uh, I may have an answer for that,” Ares suddenly appeared, clutching a man by the throat and tossing him across the room like a rag doll.
“What do you want, Ares?” Gabrielle glared.
"Not a hello? ...ok I guess I'll get straight to the point but you used to
always want to talk first, Gabrielle...your mistakes changing who you
are?" Ares questioned sarcastically.
“These people are acting like the time when… you lost your sword,” Gabrielle enlightened, “when you were a mortal.”
"Yeeeahh see I don't like to think of myself as being a mortal...it gives
me an itch.”
“Get to the point,” the warrior snarled.
“Alright geez...no patience. Ok I know this is going to be silly but it
has to do with the sword," Ares replied unsheathing it, "it's chipped."
"What?" Gabrielle questioned. This was getting ridiculous.
Ares sighed, "Yeah I'm not real happy about it either...you see there’s
a piece missing from my sword and my guess is that it's around here… somewhere.”
"So?" Gabrielle asked.
"Mortals...so clueless, look Gab- the whole sword is not completed.
Every single piece of my sword contains my godly power.
Sooo there's a piece missing so that’s an unused power
just surging to be owned."
Xena glared at him in bewilderment, " So you're saying that a tiny
piece of your sword can send off a vibe of power, blinding people by
their anger...that's silly."
“Is it?” he mocked, “when Sisyphus stole my sword, people that couldn’t control their emotions acted in rage… you should know Gabrielle.”
“So if it’s just a piece of your sword then how could it affect people more than your sword altogether?” Xena asked, crossing her arms.
“Ya’ see, that is where it gets interesting,” Ares started, “it’s hard to explain really, but as I told you… every piece of my sword contains the power of war. When the sword was stolen it affected everyone, but the power didn’t get worse. Just a piece could continue to spread the feeling of rage all over the world, the power permeating throughout the world… are you getting my point here?”
“So why don’t you just … get it?” Gabrielle questioned, rising her voice over the fighting.
“What would be the fun in that?!”
Xena scoffed, rolling her eyes, “So you expect us to do your dirty work? We’re not your lap dogs.”
Ares chuckled, “Oh, what a sight that would be. But no… I know you two. You’re going to need a little… help.”
“Xena!” Toris rushed in the tavern along with Meleager, “there’s a huge army outside.”
“What in Hades do you think you’re doing?!” Xena glared at the god.
He smiled innocently, “Just having a little fun, Xena.”
Screams erupted outside in the town of Amphipolis as men, women, and children were slaughtered. The army on horseback was enormous, covering the ground in seconds. Arrows shot through the air, impaling their victims, their screams of pain echoing in the sky. Crimson painted the ground.
Xena, Gabrielle, Toris, and Meleager rushed outside into the battle. Xena charged, leaping in the air as a soldier on horseback darted in her direction. She smirked at the sound of the man gasping in surprise as he fell from his horse. Disoriented, he picked up his sword in means to kill the approaching warrior. Foolishly, he charged, widely swinging the sword toward Xena’s bosom, only to find his attack blocked by the warrior’s sword. He never knew that death was approaching him until he noticed the woman’s sword protruding from his chest. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he fell to Tartarus.
Toris grunted, slashing his sword at an oncoming attacker, grinning as he knocked the man onto the ground, blood flowing from the soldier’s bicep. Toris knew that he wasn’t a great fighter, but there was no way he was going to run this time. For Lyceus. He screamed, impaling the soldier and watched as he groaned in pain. He immediately blocked an oncoming mace…
Meleager ducked under the mace heading toward his head. His attacker had leaped off of his horse and was now advancing upon him. The soldier didn’t hesitate, soon thrusting the sword near Meleager’s stomach. The attack was blocked, though, Meleager shoving him away. ‘I’m getting too old for this,’ he thought as he swung his sword, knocking the man out with the flat of it.
Gabrielle rushed out into the fight, protecting a bundle of children that had walked into the village only to be surrounded by the attacking soldiers. She brandished her staff, twirling it as the man on horseback galloped toward her, a murderous look in his eyes. She prepared for the attack by his broadsword, blocking it with the end of her staff. Becoming frustrated, the man galloped toward her once again, leaping off of the horse toward the bard at the last minute. Gabrielle had not been expecting that and she fell, dropping her staff. The man grinned, approaching her, his sword gripped in his hands.
She scooted away from him, searching for her staff. She knew that she had no chance of reaching it as the man quickly advanced upon her, swinging his sword. She closed her eyes tightly, awaiting for the strike that would possibly kill her, only to find it blocked by a sword. Cybris.
“Get your staff,” he calmly stated, holding off her attacker. The group of children were all huddled behind the two fighting, tears streaming down their face. The bard snatched her staff from the ground, accompanying Cybris as he knocked the sword from the soldier’s hands with his own. Gabrielle swung her staff, the end of it colliding with the back of his kneecaps. The man yelped in pain as he fell, soon to be silenced when a sudden kick from the boy grinning at him knocked him into darkness.
“Can you get these children to safety?” Gabrielle questioned quickly.
“Yeah,” Cybris replied, gently reassuring the children as Gabrielle searched around for Xena. She smiled, spotting her warrior in combat against two men, easily holding them off. It was when she heard an alarmed voice that panic froze her heart. A soldier on horseback had darted after her from behind and was now directly behind her. Suddenly, she was pushed out of the way, cringing at the crunch she had heard as a mace contacted with its target. Its target being Meleager.
“No!” she screamed, rushing toward the fallen man. She was tripped, though, finding herself blocked by another soldier. He grinned at the anguished expression on her face, swinging his sword. Gripped in rage, the blond swung the staff wildly, knocking the sword out of his hands as she swung around, rendering him unconscious. She ran faster, dodging oncoming attackers.
Meleager rose slowly, his face contorted with pain. He turned slowly, gazing upon Gabrielle as she ran toward him. Everything became a blur to him, things blending into one another like a painting smudged with several colors. He recalled seeing Gabrielle point at him in warning, but he wasn’t sure. A sudden pain conflicted in his chest. And another one. With no strength left he fell onto his knees, dirt clouding around him. He gazed down wide eyed, now noticing the two arrows that had embedded themselves inside his chest. His breathing erratic.
“Meleager!” Gabrielle shouted, sliding onto her knees as she approached her friend. She whispered, “Gods… Meleager-”
“Gab…” the man weakly replied, chuckling softly, “I told myself that I was going to retire-” He choked, struggling to breathe.
“Just hold on… Xena!” Gabrielle screamed, searching helplessly for someone… anyone to help. Her palm laid upon Meleager’s chest, feeling his strained breathing. Tears quickly rose to the surface, falling as she gazed back down at her friend.
“Don’t cry over an old man, Gab,” Meleager, weakly rose his hand, wiping away the tears from her face.
A sob erupted, “Please… Meleager, just hold on!”
No answer came. The man exhaled, his movements stopping. Frantically, Gabrielle placed her fingers to his neck, searching for a pulse, but finding none. Above, she heard chuckling. She rose her eyes to the laughing man that clutched his crossbow. Meleager’s killer. Rage filled her heart, blinding her of everything around her. She clutched onto Meleager’s hand, closing her eyes in anguish as tears continued to flow. Glaring at her friend’s killer, she screamed, allowing the rage to grip her. Time seemed to slow down.
Xena smirked, enjoying the battle lust she was experiencing. Time didn’t seem to matter when she was gripped in the battle, her blood pumping through her veins. She knew that Ares was smiling down upon her. She remembered gazing upon Gabrielle, smiling when she saw her bard easily take down her opponents. But where was Gabrielle now?
“Xena!” Cybris called, disabling a soldier approaching him, “it’s Gabrielle!”
Fear burst through her heart, causing her to forget everything about the battle lust she had been experiencing. The only thing that mattered to her was her bard. Now more than ever.
“Gabrielle!” she screamed, searching the battlefield for her bard, but she couldn’t see through all of the chaos. She continued to search, killing anything blocking her way as Cybris followed quietly behind her. It was when she saw Gabrielle that her heart stopped. The time that had no meaning to her soon slowed, her eyes widening when she saw Meleager’s dead body lying on the dirt and Gabrielle’s slumped figure sobbing above him. Her heart leaped into her throat. She watched, shocked as Gabrielle gripped her staff, glaring furiously at the chuckling man who looked down upon her. Swiftly, Gabrielle swung, knocking the man on the side of his head. He groaned in pain, dropping his crossbow as he crumbled to the ground. It was when Gabrielle continued to pound on the injured man that Xena panicked.
“Gabrielle!” Xena screamed once again, attempting to gain the angered bard’s attention, but failing. The staff swung downwards, colliding once again with the man’s skull over and over again. It was when Gabrielle noticed the blood on her chipped staff when she stopped, gazing down upon the dead man below her. The man she had killed.
Realizing what had happened, Gabrielle limply dropped her staff, screaming toward the sky as she threw her rage upon the gods. Tears continued to drop, mixing with the splattered blood on her face. Salty tears became tears of crimson. Anguished green eyes met piercing blue, the eyes dropping in disgust and hatred. Ares chuckled, appearing beside the distressed bard. He smirked at the shocked glare from Xena, feeling the sadness from the warrior as she gazed at her bard.
He gently placed his fingers under the bard’s chin, forcing her to look him in the eyes. Holding out his hand, she hesitantly placed her smaller one upon his, both disappearing from sight. The surviving civilians shivered in fright as Xena screamed for her bard into the sky, cursing Ares for what he had caused. Peaking from the small crack from the door of the tavern, tears dropped from the eyes of the warrior’s mother, dreading what was to become of her two daughters.
When I first met you, you barely had the skill to skip a rock. I guess Xena's been a positive influence on ya after all." — Ares: Seeds of Faith
A temple of Ares greeted the two as the god and bard appeared near the altar. The blonde pulled away from him, dropping to the floor. He smirked, grasping her arm as he pulled her onto her feet.
“Now I see what Xena sees in you,” he commented.
“What?” she gasped, slightly disoriented from the teleporting and still shocked from her own actions.
“I wonder now why I never paid more attention to you. You certainly have great potential to be a warrior.”
“I don’t want to be a warrior!” Gabrielle growled, her voice husky from her emotions.
“You blame yourself for Meleager’s death,” Ares stated.
“He died because of me… I would trade places with him if I could.”
“You did what you had to do,” Ares growled, “enjoy it.”
“Enjoy it?” Gabrielle questioned, enraged, “enjoy the fact that my friend is dead? Enjoy the fact that I murdered someone in anger? Enjoy that Xena is out there somewhere most likely hating me?! You’re telling me to enjoy being here with you?”
A sudden pain erupted on her right cheekbone as the God of War’s fist collided into it, sending her airborne, “You do not talk to me that way mortal! I could kill you… so easily right now.”
Tears rose once again, “I wish you would…”
Ares chuckled, “I guess you’re just going to have to suffer then. Don’t fight this… tell me that you didn’t enjoy that feeling. The feeling of bloodlust. Knowing that for that second, you were invincible.”
“I didn’t enjoy it,” Gabrielle quietly replied.
Ares growled, "I can see into your heart, Gabrielle. Meleager died as a warrior should. But imagine how it could be… if you had the power to save him. Let me show you what it feels like…” Ares hands moved silently over Gabrielle’s tense body. She closed her eyes when a feeling of strength and power surged through her. It excited her, almost placing her in a state of ecstasy. Made her feel like should could do anything she wanted to. That anything was possible. Ares continued, “That is how I feel every moment of every day. It is the power of the gods, and with it… you can change the world. Isn’t that what you always wanted?”
Gabrielle closed her eyes in defeat, ‘Forgive me, Xena,’ “Yes… I want to change the world.”
“Xena, stop pacing!” Cyrene exclaimed, “you’re going to wear a path to Tartarus.”
Xena sighed, “This can’t be happening… everything was going so well…”
Toris entered the tavern, moving a broken chair from his path, “I uhh put Meleager’s body in your room, Xena.”
Xena nodded, gazing solemnly toward the floor, “I have to find Gabrielle… what she’s going through…”
“How are you going to find her?” Toris questioned, “Ares took her… and she didn’t put much of a fight about it.”
Cold eyes glared at the man, “Are you trying to say that Gabrielle wanted to go with him?”
“She killed someone, Xena… that changes people.”
“Don’t you think I know that!? She’s… she is grieving. All of this is Ares’ fault, with the sword … none of this is Gabrielle’s fault!”
Cyrene sighed, enveloping her daughter in a hug, surprised when she succumbed to the comfort, “Gabrielle is in a very vulnerable position. Ares knows that… I’d be more afraid at what he’d do to her.”
“I know… that’s why I’m going after him.”
They turned when a figure walked through the door.
“I know I shouldn’t be here, but… I want to help,” Cybris quietly said, surprised when the warrior nodded. Right now the only thing that Xena was concerned about was getting Gabrielle back. Whatever the cost.
“Pick it up!” Ares growled, tossing the sword in the blonde’s direction. Slowly, she picked it up, grimacing at the inept feeling that was placed upon her at the feeling of the hilt of a sword in her hands.
“A little piece of wood won’t help you much when you’re trying to change the world… you’re going to need something better. Something sharper.”
“You’re wanting me to kill… why?”
“Because it’s your destiny… can you imagine how powerful you could be after I teach you how to fight with a sword? You and I both know that… words don’t stop situations. Words don’t change the world… words don’t stop soldiers from shooting arrows into your friends.”
Gabrielle charged at the god at those words, the anger and sadness from Meleager’s death boiling. Ares chuckled, sparks flying as the two swords connected, “That’s right, get angry! Give in to that feeling… it’ll help you.”
Gabrielle screamed, charging once again, the sword brandished in front of her.
The funeral pyre burned, the orange fire lighting the close distance surrounding it. Xena, Cybris, Toris, and Cyrene all stood silently as the warrior performed the usual funeral song. Xena sighed after the last note had been sung, watching the smoke rise from the pyre. But instead of mourning for the dead warrior she only thought of Gabrielle. What was she doing? Was she okay? …Was she even alive? Xena closed her eyes, ridding that thought from her mind. In her life as a warlord she had seen many of her soldiers’ first kills. Some even falling on their own sword in their grief. Killing changes people…
"I don't want to learn to kill, I want to learn to survive,’ Gabrielle stated.
"Alright, the rules of survival: #1. If you can run ... run. #2. If you can't run ... surrender ... then run. #3. If you're outnumbered, let them fight each other while you run. #4 ..."
“Wait ... more running?"
"No, four is where you talk your way out of it, and I know you can do that. It's wisdom before weapons, Gabrielle. The moment you pick up a weapon you become a target. And the moment you kill..."
“’And the moment you kill ...' what?"
“Everything changes, everything…”
A sudden feeling erupted in her gut, enveloping the warrior of the familiar presence of her partner. Gabrielle stood a good distance behind her, Ares perched behind her, his hands laying upon her shoulders. The green eyes were bloodshot from crying, the blank, lifeless gaze terrified Xena.
“Gabrielle,” she whispered, stepping slowly toward the distressed girl and the smirking god. Cyrene, Toris, and Cybris watched from the pyre silently. The god chuckled, glaring into Xena’s concerned eyes, “Strange isn’t it… out of the two of you I would have never thought that this little blonde would catch a place in my heart.”
“A black hole, Ares… you have no heart,” Xena growled. She couldn’t stand seeing Gabrielle in such pain. She longed to hold her in her arms to comfort her, to tell her that everything would be okay.
“That stung, Xena… are you sure that you’re not the jealous one here? Jealous for the fact that Gabrielle will become a better warrior than you?”
Xena glared at the god, “What have you done to her!?” Gabrielle’s eyes gazed solemnly at the burning pyre.
“She did what she had to do… and so did I,” Ares replied, “I told you that you needed a small push, and I need my sword’s piece… Gabrielle here is going to get it for me.”
“Gabrielle,” Xena pleaded, ignoring the god, “I can’t express how sorry I am about what happened, but you can’t blame yourself. None of this was your fault.”
Gabrielle remained silent, unable to look the warrior in the eyes. Ares chuckled, “Your lovely speeches aren’t going to help, Xena. Gabrielle doesn’t need a heartfelt speech… she needs vengeance… justice.”
“Gabrielle… Gabrielle, let’s just walk away from this… let’s go home,” Xena continued to plead, “we can work together to get the piece back, me and you… please.”
Emerald eyes finally gazed at azure, glimmering with unshed tears. Xena grinned persuasively, holding out her hand in hopes that the blonde would catch home. Her eyes widened when the bard leaned back into the god’s arms slightly.
“I’m sorry, Xena,” she whispered so soft that only the cold wind carried the sound to the warrior’s sensitive ears.
“No… no wait-”
In a flash of blue the two were gone, Gabrielle’s Amazon staff resting silently on the cold ground, leaving the warrior to grip it tightly, knuckles turning white. Xena knelt on the ground in her anguish. She felt her control slip away as her heart leapt into her throat, but she allowed it, tears beginning to fall freely for her bard. For her other half.
Outside the snow started to fall once again, its wind chilling the bodies that stood outside. The gray sky reflected the feelings in sympathy, the sun hiding behind the clouds. Flecks of white powder settled in the raven hair of Xena as she watched her brother obtain Meleager’s ashes from the dead pyre. The smell of smoke and blood filled the air, dead bodies from the battle still being collected.
Unable to watch anymore, Xena slowly turned, walking into her mother’s inn. Inside, she stepped into her room, sighing as she set on the bed, beginning to unclasp her heavy breastplate. She laid on the soft bed, gazing at the lonely Amazon staff that rested in the corner of the room. The end had been chipped from the deathblow, splinters poking from the edges. In so many ways did that staff describe the blonde. Strong enough for battle, but never sharp enough to kill. It symbolized her innocence. The innocence that was now gone.
Tears slipped from the blue eyes as Xena hid her head in the fluffy pillow. Gabrielle’s recognizable scent from the pillow filled the warrior’s nostrils, causing her emptiness to increase. She longed to hold Gabrielle in her arms again.
Swords clashed, sparks fell, grunts filled the air. The sounds of the battle echoed off of the stone walls of the temple. The deep rumble of Ares’ chuckle provoked Gabrielle, her scream filling the air as she swung her sword toward the god.
“That’s it! Give into your feelings, Gabrielle. Relish in them. C’mon…again!” The battle continued, Gabrielle trying to get through the god’s defenses. She yelped in pain, suddenly as the tip of her opponent’s sword grazed her knuckles that held the hilt of the sword. She dropped the weapon, its contact echoing the floor as she gazed at the blood trickling from her knuckles. She grimaced when the god grabbed her hand, wrapping it in a small bandage.
“Armor,” he murmured, smirking at the bard’s hiss of pain.
“Armor… a warrior doesn’t wear peasant clothes… I’ll come up with something.” Gabrielle watched as he disappeared, reaching down to pick up her fallen sword.
“Xena,” she whispered, “I’ve messed up… gods… I love you…”
“Xena?” Cyrene questioned, knocking on the door of the warrior’s room.
“Come,” Xena answered, rising from the bed as her mother entered.
“There’s food waiting for you in the kitchen… you need to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Xena, you need to eat. You can’t help Gabrielle if you don’t help yourself,” her mother persuaded.
Slowly, she rose, walking down to the kitchen with her mother. The building was empty, broken furniture littering the wooden floor. Toris and Cybris sat silently at the bar, eating their meals. Xena sat beside her brother, gazing at the plate of food that was presented to her.
“How are ya’ doing?” Toris questioned.
Xena sighed, “I’ve been better…”
“So, what are we going to do?” Cybris sipped his cider from the large mug.
“I don’t know,” Xena sighed, “but I won’t rest until I find Gabrielle.”
They all turned when the creak of the door sounded, a teenage girl walking inside slowly.
“Callia,” Cybris smiled, greeting the stranger.
“I heard about what happened,” she directed her attention to Xena, “Cybris is my best friend… and I knew Gabrielle. I’d like to help if you’ll let me.”
Xena gazed at the small girl, taking in her appearance. In some ways she reminded her of Gabrielle, small but muscular. She carried no weapons, but yet she had a powerful aura surrounding her, wisdom further than most kids her ages stared at her with blue. Her blonde hair barely passed her shoulders pulled back from her eyes.
“How do you know Gabrielle?” Toris asked, scrutinizing the girl.
“I met her at the academy in Athens… I was surprised when she left… she made an impression on all of us.”
“You tell stories?” Cyrene asked.
“I like to write the stories… I freeze when I start telling them,” Callia answered, smiling, “that’s why I left.”
“That and she causes too much trouble,” Cybris interjected.
Callia blushed slightly, “I study the fighting of Chin… it caused a few problems.”
“You’ve been to Chin?” Xena questioned, becoming slightly interested.
“I have ancestors there… I’m just interested in their cultures.”
Cybris interjected, “She also experiences empathy.”
“Empathy?” Cyrene stood puzzled.
“It means that I can feel other people’s emotions,” Callia explained.
Toris snorted, “You must be getting a huge headache in here then.”
Callia sighed, gazing at Xena as she changed the subject, “Look, my gift can help us find Gabrielle. I can feel her where I stand right now she… packs quite a punch.”
“Alright,” Xena stated, “everyone get packed up with the things they need… we leave in the morning.”
“So, how did you chip your sword?” Gabrielle questioned, ridding the silence in the temple, “
Ares smirked, “A little mishap actually. I was challenged by a egotistical army commander. He was a little too cocky for my taste.”
“So you fought him,” Gabrielle added.
“Gabrielle, when a god is challenged, punishment is required,” Ares replied, “anyway, I soon figured out why the creep was so confident.”
“What was it?”
“His sword had been created by Hephaestus… it was indestructible.”
Gabrielle nodded, “It was strong enough to chip your sword.”
Ares sighed, “Yup… and now you’re going to get that piece back for me.”
“Why?” Gabrielle questioned, “there has to be a catch to this otherwise you’d get it yourself……you know where the piece is.”
Ares smirked, “I always knew you were the smart one… warrior bard. Yes I do know where the piece is. It’s somewhere near a temple of mine near Opus.”
Gabrielle stared bewildered at the god, “But that’s on the other side of Thessaly.”
“I’m a god, Gabrielle… it’ll take us only a few seconds to get there.”
“Why are you really using me for this?”
“It’s simple… I’m in need of a Goddess of War…”
Early in the morning everyone was packed and ready to travel, horses waiting for their masters out in the snow. Xena sighed, gazing at her breath as it disappeared into the sky. It was freezing. Cyrene helped her son load everything onto his horse as Callia and Cybris trotted over to the warrior, all prepared for their journey.
“Xena, be safe,” Cyrene hugged her youngest child before the warrior hopped onto Argo, “bring back my other daughter as well.”
Xena smiled at her mother’s comment, trotting off in front of everyone following her.
“Where are we headed?” Toris questioned, breaking the silence.
“We’re going to need help,” Xena gazed at her brother, “we’re getting Ephiny.”
“Gabrielle’s …regent?” Toris hesitated, not fully believing that his sister’s soulmate could actually be the queen of the Amazons.
“That’s all the way in Thessaly,” Cybris commented, pulling on his horse’s reins slightly.
Callia thought for a moment, “We’ll be passing one of Ares’ temples on the way there… it’s a long shot but…”
“We’ll stop there,” Xena finished, “Ares probably already knows that we’re headed there.”
“Goddess of War?!” Gabrielle stood bewildered, “I… I’m not fit to be a goddess…”
“It’s simple,” Ares smirked, “you’re the queen of the Amazons after all.”
“I don’t care! I don’t want that… anything but that.”
“You’d rather it be you than say for instance… Xena.”
“Leave Xena out of this!” Gabrielle growled.
“Touchy… anger becomes you… Bard.”
It had taken many candle marks to reach the edges of Thessaly. The group all decided that it would be best to obtain Ephiny from the tribe before any of them encountered Ares. Or Gabrielle. As soon as they reached Amazon Territory, the women from the tribe leaped down onto the cool ground from the trees, recognizing the warrior.
“Xena, it’s been a while,” Eponin smiled, removing her mask. The three guards beside her did the same.
“Is Ephiny in the village?” Xena questioned, hopping off of Argo.
“Yes,” Eponin answered, “what’s going on?”
“I’ll explain when we get to the village.”
Everyone was admitted into the village, guards both following Toris and Cybris because they were both males. The cool wind chilled everyone even though there was no snow because of the towering trees.
“Xena,” Ephiny greeted, stepping out of her hut.
“What happened?” Ephiny asked, becoming concerned.
Callia spoke up, “Have you been out of the village lately?”
“A piece of Ares’ sword is missing causing everyone to act blindly in their rage,” Xena explained.
“And this is about Gabrielle how?”
“Chain mail,” the blonde whispered to herself, as she attempted to adjust to her new style of clothes… Or armor.
Ares shrugged as he appeared beside her, “I think it’s elegant enough for my Goddess of War.”
“I’m not your goddess, Ares.”
“Oh but you will be, Gabrielle,” he smirked, “you need me… and I need you.”
Gabrielle snarled, “You don’t need me, Ares! This is another lame attempt to get to Xena…”
“Don’t ruin your chances with this, little girl! It’s not everyday I choose someone to be the Goddess of War.”
“Then find someone else, Ares.”
“You will regret this,” Ares growled, approaching the blonde menacingly.
“What?” Gabrielle stood up to the god, “is that a threat? Do you want to kill me? Then do it! You could try. Do it and brag to Xena about it. See if she would ever want you after that!”
“I knew that was your real motive,” Gabrielle quietly replied to his silence, “you’re sick and obsessed.”
Ares smirked, watching the blonde walk out of the temple, “You will regret that… Bard. No one challenges the God of War in any way and gets away with it…”
‘Amphipolis,’ Gabrielle thought as she rushed from the temple, ‘Xena.’
“We’ll camp here for the night,” Xena said, obtaining her bedroll from her saddlebag. As much as she wanted to continue… as much as she wanted to find Gabrielle, everyone was tiring. And so was she, even though she wouldn’t admit it. Not even to herself. And so with dinner cooking on a spit over a warm fire, the warrior laid in her bedroll.
Gabrielle continued to run, her legs heavy from running. Sweat dripped from her forehead, burning her eyes as she leaped over fallen logs and branches in her path. She had no idea why she was running, but she had a terrible feeling in her gut. The weather was warmer than it had been, there was no more snow falling from the sky. But the cool wind still chilled her to the bone, leaving her aching for the warm glow of a fire. ‘A fire?’ Gabrielle thought as she smelled the familiar scent of smoke in the air. There indeed was a campfire.
She smiled, beginning to run faster. It was when she saw the familiar pale horse in the distance when her heart felt as if it would pound out of her chest. She had found Xena.
“Nu uh,” Ares growled, blocking the blonde’s path, “I can’t let you see your precious little Xena right now.”
“Get out of the way, Ares. The deal is over,” she growled.
“There never was a deal,” he glared, “you became mine when you… ‘wanted to change the world.’”
Gabrielle sighed, glancing over at Argo in the distance. She knew that she would never make it if she ran. But if I scream…
“XENA!!!” Gabrielle shrieked, catching the god of guard. She knew that she had succeeded when Argo snorted, startled by the sudden sound that erupted through the trees.
“Smart lil’ bard,” Ares smirked. Gabrielle suddenly found herself dodging a fireball from the God of War.
The warrior shot up from her bedroll, startling her companions as they too awoke from her sudden movements.
“Gabrielle,” she whispered, snatching her sword. After making sure that her chakram was at her hip, she charged into the darkness, desperate to reach the one that meant the most to her. Cold anger ran through her heart when she saw her beloved leaping out of the way of oncoming fireballs, “Ares!”
Gabrielle winced as she hit the cold ground, her arms covering her head as branches fell upon her from the tall trees. But she knew that she had to keep moving. When she heard her warrior’s voice, a smile stretched across her face unconsciously, a safety blanket seemed to cover her. As long as Xena was there she was safe.
“Gabrielle!” she heard Xena scream. Suddenly her skin was scorching, as pain erupted throughout her back. Darkness welcomed her with open arms.
Xena silently gasped as she watched a fireball collide into the blonde, sending her airborne into the side of a tree. Her anger boiled, every part of her wanting to kill the God smirking in front of her for the pain he had caused to both her and her bard. With a scream she charged, her sword brandished in front of her. Toris, Cybris, and Callia watched wide-eyed as the warrior began to fight the god. Callia rushed over to Gabrielle’s side as the fight continued.
“Ya’ know, she almost made it back, Xena,” Ares grinned as he blocked a strike from the enraged warrior, “but she’s not your little bard anymore.”
“She’s not yours either, Ares,” she growled, “you’ve lost. Get your little sword piece and walk away.”
He chuckled, slicing a small cut onto the warrior’s thigh, “Nice try, Xena. Do I see jealousy? Knowing that it’s not you that I’m after this time?”
“No, I’m not buying it,” Xena smirked, “I know you. You know where your sword piece is… you have all along. What were you planning on doing? Handing a piece of Ambrosia and a sword to her and expect her to willingly be your ‘Goddess of War’? Artemis will have your head for messing with her chosen.”
“You do get it, then,” Ares backed away, his sword hanging limply at his side, “then why go through all of this? Just walk away with me now, Xena and I’ll promise to never bother Artemis’ precious chosen.
“I will never be with you Ares. Never.” she growled.
“Be smart, Xena. If I don’t have you then I will have your little bard… I wonder if she’ll be able to tell stories ever again. Being a killer and a bard doesn’t combine well,” Ares smirked at the warrior’s glare as he backed away. Ignoring the god for now, Xena rushed over to the unconscious blonde, checking her pulse in the process.
“She’s alright… just scratched and exhausted,” Callia spoke.
Xena felt tears rise to the surface as she moved a few stray strands of hair from the bard’s face. She was thrilled just to be able to touch her, to see her. She couldn’t live without her. Everyone’s attention turned toward the God of War as he chuckled.
“What a wonderful reunion, but now we have to go. Gotta’ get to Opus where the piece rests.”
“You’re not taking her,” Xena snarled, standing protectively in front of the unconscious woman. She smirked when Toris, Cybris, Callia, and Ephiny did the same.
Ares laughed, “A small group of mortals are going to keep me from my prize?”
“Walk away, Ares. She’s not yours,” Ephiny replied, the others nodding in agreement.
“Fine,” he attacked.
Xena unsheathed her sword, blocking his strike as the others moved in at the same time. Toris hesitated slightly, remembering that he was up against a god, but he swung only to slice air as the god twisted from his attack. Cybris charged from behind as Xena fought in the front, slicing a large cut down his back. If he was human it would have killed him, but Cybris watched in shock as the wound disappeared and Ares laughed, backhanding him. He flew back, barely missing a tree. Xena ducked, dodging a clever strike from the god, she twirled into a crouch swinging her right leg toward the back of the god’s knees, but he jumped. She groaned in pain as his foot met her ribs, sending her airborne.
Callia dodged a sword strike, catching the hilt right above his hand. Disabling him for a moment, she kicked, striking him in the abdomen and again behind the knee, sending him to the ground. She smirked, rushing toward the god, only to be painfully knocked back by a fireball. Cybris rushed to her side, helping her onto her feet as Ephiny joined them, nursing a slash above her right eye.
Smiling, Ares disappeared in a flash of blue, leaving the group extremely uncomfortable. Xena knew that something was wrong. Ares never left without some sort of remark. She turned in time to see the god reappear and cradle Gabrielle in his arms.
“Well,” he smirked, “it was fun, but the blonde one and I have to get to Opus.”
“Gabrielle!” the warrior screamed as she watched her beloved flash away with the god once again.
“I’m guessing we’re going to Opus then,” Ephiny heaved, trying to catch her breath.
Gabrielle shot up from her slumber, sweat drenching her forehead. She winced as she slowly rose from the cool stone that she rested on. ‘Stone?’, she wondered. Fear clogged up her throat, her eyes burning from tears when she remembered Ares. She had almost made it back to Xena. She had almost made it home. Ares. Anger and rage burned inside of her, the feeling fogging her mind, causing her to only think about revenge.
“Welcome to Opus,” Ares smiled, lifting up the glowing sword piece in his hand. She glared at the god angrily.
“Why in the world is the weather getting hotter?” Ephiny questioned, wiping sweat from her forehead, “weren’t we walking in snow just a few candle marks ago.” The sun seemed to shine directly upon them, making them parched as they got closer and closer to where Ares’ temple resided.
“It’s the sword piece,” Callia answered, taking a sip from a waterskin that her and Cybris was sharing.
“How do you know that?” Toris asked, walking along beside his sister who remained quiet.
“I can feel it,” Callia responded, “we’re almost there.”
“Let’s keep moving,” Xena spoke, slightly moving ahead of the group. In a few candle marks, the group had finally reached Opus. They stood staring at the entrance of Ares’ temple. Inhaling deeply, Xena entered, the others following behind her.
“I see you’ve made it,” Ares voice echoed.
“Where is Gabrielle?” Xena questioned.
“Oh… she’ll be here soon,” Ares answered, appearing in front of the group, “in the meantime have some fun with my guys.”
A large group of Ares’ soldiers suddenly surrounded them, blocking the doorway.
Xena charged, her war cry echoing throughout the temple as she easily killed her first attacker. She leaped in the air, flying over three soldiers who stayed hot on her trail. Smirking slightly, she jumped, kicking one of the soldiers into the others. She approached them as they tumbled to the ground. One of them swung his legs out, attempting to trip the warrior, but she saw it coming, easily knocking him unconscious with the hilt of her sword. The other two soldiers knew they were in trouble, both leaping from the ground to run. But Xena was not having any of that. She unclipped her chakram, tossing it toward the two cowards. It ricocheted from their helmets, knocking both out. Xena grinned, catching the chakram as it flew back toward her.
Ephiny grunted, kicking a soldier in the stomach, causing him to stumble into one of his buddies who was hiding behind him. The two leaped from the ground, both charging the Amazon with their swords drawn. She easily dodged one slash, but she wasn’t fast enough from the other one, a long gash sliced into her thigh. She twirled, her sword twirling with her, easily handicapping her two attackers. They would never be able to fight again.
Cybris and Toris fought side by side, holding off bundles of soldiers as they attacked. Cybris winced as a fist of a soldier met above his eye, blood dripping from a small cut. It disabled him for a moment, giving the soldier a perfect advantage to strike which he did, but his strike was blocked by Toris, who easily buried his sword through the soldier’s heart, sending him to Hades. Cybris smiled, silently thanking the older brother of the Warrior Princess as he blocked another strike.
Callia jumped, kicking a soldier as he swung his sword toward her knees. The kick disoriented him for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure, charging once again. She ducked under a strike toward her head, and charged at the soldier, tackling him to the ground. She winced as part of the blade sliced her right forearm, but she held him down, delivering a rough punch to his temple that sent him into darkness.
“Xena,” a familiar voice erupted from the entrance of the temple. Xena stood shocked as she gazed at her bard, all dressed in glimmering chain mail, a long sword brandished in front of her. The blonde’s eyes were almost completely black, her smile deadly. She charged, catching the warrior off-guard with her attack. Xena found herself in a deadly fight against her beloved.
“Meet my Goddess of War,” Ares voice sounded once again, startling his soldiers as well as the other occupants inside the temple. Blood pooled on the ground, causing everyone to slip, crimson painting their feet. Toris, Ephiny, Cybris, and Callia watched in shock at the fight that was taking place between the warrior and bard, their swords barely visible as they parried against each other.
Xena hesitated when she found an opening in Gabrielle’s defense. There was no way that she could hurt her bard. She would kill herself before she would allow that to happen, “Gabrielle, this isn’t you. This is all Ares’ doing!”
Gabrielle grinned, shoving the warrior back some as she attacked once again, cutting a hole under Xena’s armor. A trickle of blood appeared through the brown leather, Xena wincing from the sting of the minor wound. Gabrielle wasn’t listening to her screams and pleas. It was like their roles were changed. Gabrielle the killer, and Xena the one trying to get to her. The warrior jumped over a kick, delivering a kick of her own to Gabrielle’s forehead, causing the blonde to fall backwards.
She moved toward the blonde, attempting to pin her to the ground, but Gabrielle knew her intentions and quickly rolled away. She leaped to her feet charging once again toward the warrior. Xena suddenly flipped over the bard, the soles of her feet knocking Gabrielle forward, but the blonde kept her balance, easily twirling toward the warrior to deliver a deep slash in Xena’s right thigh.
Xena stumbled slightly, the blood loss beginning to affect her. The others watched as the warrior grew pale, sweat pouring from her black mane. But Gabrielle didn’t stop. The hilt of the blonde’s sword connected with the warrior’s head, knocking her painfully to the ground. She watched silently as the blonde approached her, her sword raised for the kill.
“I love you, Gabrielle,” Xena whispered, gazing into the black eyes of her beloved. Of her killer. Darkness welcomed her with open arms. She knew that she would meet Hades soon.
Pain numbed her. In the background she could vaguely hear concerned voices, she could feel something cool on her forehead. Her eyelids fluttered, her head pounding. Her vision was blurred as she opened her blue eyes. She recognized the soft mattress of a bed under her, and the comfortable cushion of a pillow. She was home. She was in Amphipolis.
“Xena?” she heard, her hand enveloped in a loving embrace. Emerald eyes filled with tears peered down toward her. She was highly disoriented, only remembering Death that had reached for her. It had held her in its arms, but yet she was still here.
“Gabrielle?” she croaked, her mouth dry from no drink. Cool water met her chapped lips and she drank greedily, obtaining as much of the liquid that she could.
“Easy, you don’t want to choke,” Gabrielle whispered, setting the cup on a small nightstand near the side of the bed.
“Gabrielle… how?” Xena questioned, confusion written all over her face. She could feel tears that fell from the green eyes.
“This is all my fault,” the bard cried, “it was after you were knocked out when I lost my nerve. I could hear Ares’ laughter ringing in my ears, and I thought you were dead. Toris carried you back to Amphipolis on his horse. There was so much blood… so much…” Her eyes were haunted.
“Hey,” Xena grimaced as she slowly sat up, “I’m alright. Gabrielle, none of this was your fault. You can’t blame yourself.”
“How can’t I?” Gabrielle questioned, stifling a sob that threatened to escape, “it was my fault that Meleager was killed … he was killed saving me and when I saw him go down I … I just lost it. I wanted his killer dead. After I had realized what had happened, I couldn’t face you. I didn’t want to see hatred directed toward me in your eyes… I would rather die.”
Gabrielle stopped a remark from Xena as she continued, “When Ares took my hand, I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t even think I was. As soon as we got there we started training. I never knew that I could kill out of anger…”
“Gabrielle listen to me,” Xena started, “I could never hate you. Never. None of this was your fault. I’m… I’m just glad that you’re back. I almost died without you.”
Gabrielle sniffed, “I’ll always feel guilty, Xena. I’ll always feel guilty for Meleager’s death… and I’ll always feel guilty for yours.”
Xena gazed at Gabrielle puzzled, “What?”
The glint of a dagger appeared in Gabrielle’s hand as she thrust forward. Xena gasped, unable to dodge the inevitable.
“Nobody fights the Goddess of War and lives…”
So… did’ja like it??? If you did then send me a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sorry for leaving you hanging… some of you probably hate me for it. I don’t know if I’m going to write a sequel or not… maybe I will if I get enough pleads from the readers. Thanks for participating in this journey. And if I don’t make a sequel then I guess yall’ will just have to suffer tremendously and think of your own ending!!! CYA LATER!
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