Down in the valley where Spring had already taken hold, a depressed Joxer silently poked at his evening campfire with a stick. As Joxer stirred the hot embers, he silently stared into the crackling flames in an attempt to forget his thoughts. After a few minutes Joxer took a deep breath, then in disgust, threw the stick into the fire.
Joxer then began rustling through his pack which sat next to him. After a moment he pulled a scroll from his pack, nervously unrolled it and began to read. As he looked at the scroll he shook his head in disgust then rolled it back up.
Aphrodite then silently appeared before him and softly said, "Hello Joxer."
Joxer, startled at the goddess's sudden appearance, jumped to his feet and said, "Aphrodite? What are you doing here?"
The goddess took a deep breath as she sadly looked at Joxer. "Um . . . Maybe you better sit down."
A look of concern crossed Joxer's face as he said, "What? . . .Why?"
Aphrodite nervously bit her lower lip as she looked at Joxer. She then softly whispered, "Just sit down Joxer."
Joxer reluctantly sat back down on the rock as Aphrodite slowly approached. The goddess slowly knelt down next to Joxer as he asked, "Something happened, didn't it?"
Aphrodite nodded. "Yeah."
Joxer shook his head as he looked down at the scroll he held in his hand. He then handed it to the blonde goddess as he closed his eyes.
Aphrodite curiously opened the scroll and as she read it, saw that it was the reward for Xena's head that Caesar had decreed just days earlier.
Joxer swallowed nervously then said, "I uh . . . I saw that reward and I figured Xena and Gabrielle would be headed to Rome. I had an awful feeling about it . . . like something terrible was going to happen. So I decided to head to Rome and try and help them."
Joxer then opened his eyes and looked at Aphrodite. "Her vision came true, didn't it?"
Aphrodite placed her hand on Joxer's shoulder as she nodded. "Yeah."
Joxer took a long deep breath as his eyes welled up with tears. "I knew it. I knew something was going to happen. Damn that Caesar."
Aphrodite slowly stroked Joxer's cheek in an attempt to comfort him as she softly whispered, "I'm sorry Joxer "
Joxer pushed Aphrodite's hand away as he stood up. Joxer turned his back to the blonde goddess then wiped the tears from his eyes as nonchalantly as he could. "I should have been there with them Aphrodite."
Joxer then swallowed in an attempt to fight back the pain.
Aphrodite slowly rose to her feet as she silently stared at Joxer wishing she could do something.
Joxer then took a deep breath, turned around and looked at Aphrodite. "Do you think you could, uh . . . take me to them. I mean I can find my way but . . . it'll take me a few days, and by then . . . ."
Aphrodite nodded. "Sure Joxer."
Aphrodite slowly extended her hand as she said, "take my hand."
Joxer picked up his pack, helmet and sword then slowly placed his hand into Aphrodite's.
She then snapped her fingers, and they both disappeared in a scattering of gold-dust.
As screams of torment echoed throughout darkened flame filled caverns, a beaten, bruised and tortured Callisto sat in a corner, rocked back and forth, and screamed, "Where are you?!?"
"Why Callisto I'm right here," Xena said as she walked out from behind a rock.
Callisto got up and as she fumed with hatred said. "Oh Xena. I will never let you rest for what you've done to me!"
Callisto then growled and charged Xena. Xena however quickly side stepped Callisto and caught her by the throat. Xena's hand immediately morphed into an inhuman form as she lifted Callisto off the ground. As Callisto struggled to free herself, Xena's voice voice lowered to a deep resonant base as she said, "Callisto. You have failed me. I gave you a simple task and you failed me yet again. This is the last time your hatred for Xena will interfere with my plans."
Xena then violently threw Callisto through the air and into the wall. Callisto fell to the ground and as as she coughed and gagged in an attempt to catch her breath, she slowly rose to her feet and fearfully said, "You."
Xena began to pace back and forth as her hand returned to normal and her voice returned to Xena's tone once again. "I hope you like the form I chose to appear to you in?"
Callisto didn't say a word as she silently stared at this phoney image of Xena who continued. "We had a deal. You help me get Xena's soul, and in return I release your debt to me . . . but now, Xena's dead. And I don't have her soul."
Callisto raised her voice as she interrupted "But it wasn't my fault, I . . . ."
"Silence!!!" Xena screamed.
"Not your fault? Did you not strike her down with the Chakram? . . .You were told to not physically interfere! That you victory must be a spiritual one. Why do you think I gave you that rule?"
Callisto swallowed in fear as she shook her head.
Xena shrugged her shoulders in disgust. "And now," Xena said as she gazed upwards, "you've brought . . . him, into all this."
Callisto looked at Xena with a confused look on her face and asked, "Him?"
Xena glanced back at Callisto for a moment then began to pace back and forth. "But, I always have a backup plan. I still may be able to use your disobedience to my advantage."
But Callisto shook her head in defiance. "No."
Xena then stopped pacing, and glared at Callisto. "What did you say?"
Callisto swallowed as she slowly backed away from Xena. "I said no . . . I did what you asked. All I ever wanted is for Xena to pay for what she did to my family. But instead, I'm here . . . where all I ever get in return is a nice beating or a vision of my family burning alive. Xena has won, she's beaten me, just accept that she's beaten you too. "
Xena angrily glared at Callisto as her eyes began to glow red and her voice lowered to a resonant base once again. "I never accept defeat Callisto . . . and no one, not even you, backs out of a deal with me without paying the consequences."
Xena quickly shook off her demonic stare as her voice returned to normal. "Ah, but Callisto, I suppose I can make an exception for you . . . after all you have made me happy in the past."
Xena then turned her back to Callisto and began to walk away. Callisto's eyes widened in shock as Xena began to fade away. Xena then stopped and looked back at Callisto once more. "I'm sure your sister will be much more willing to cooperate."
Xena then faded away as Callisto screamed. "No Wait!!"
Xena reappeared with a sinister grin on her face. She then turned around and faced Callisto who shook her head, "What do you mean my sister?
"She was only a child when she died. She would be in Elysian Fields, or Paradise or something."
Xena, knowing she hit Callisto's one soft spot, smiled as she approached. "I never said your sister was dead."
Callisto's breathing became heavier as she shook her head. "What? Of coarse she's dead!"
Xena chuckled. "Oh no Callisto, she's not!"
And with a wave of Xena's hand an image appeared before Callisto. "Is that not your sister? Oh sure she's a little older and dressed differently, but . . . that's her."
Callisto's pulse began to race as she stared upon an image of young woman who looked very much like her sister. A young Amazon in fact. Callisto stared at the image of Amarice standing over the bodies of Xena and Gabrielle.
Callisto shook her head. "My sister is not an Amazon."
Xena chuckled. "I know, neither is Amarice."
Callisto's eyes widened as se looked at Xena and stuttered. "Did you say, Amarice? I never told you her . . . name!"
Callisto then looked back at the image of Amarice mourning over Xena's body. As Callisto gazed into the young Amazon's eyes, she deep down knew, that was truly her sister. Callisto began to tremble uncontrollably at the realization that her sister survived the fire in Cirra. "No!" Callisto whispered as she shook her head in disbelief. "No, it can't be. She's . . . she's alive? . . . No!"
Callisto then screamed. "Noooo!!!! How can she be alive!?!"
Xena chuckled. "Not only is she alive, but she friends with Xena."
Xena then laughed sinisterly as Callisto looked upon the image of Amarice once again. Callisto looked at the phoney image of Xena and screamed once again. "Noooo!!!!"
The phoney Xena then began to seductively circle the blonde warrior. "Like I said, I'm sure your sister will be much more cooperative in helping me."
Xena then turned and began to quickly walk away. Callisto shook her head as she screamed, "No! Wait!!"
Xena stopped and smiled as Callisto yelled at the top of her lungs. "You leave her alone! You hear me!?!"
Callisto then gazed upon the image of her sister once more. Callisto then reluctantly nodded as her voice softened. "I'll do whatever you want. Just leave my sister alone."
Xena gazed back at Callisto once more and smiled. "Excellent!"
Xena then waved her hand and faded away.
Callisto quickly glanced back at image of her sister, but the image was gone.
Callisto then fell to her knees as she moaned, not in physical pain, but emotional pain. Callisto then looked around the empty chamber, and for the first time since before the destruction of Cirra, a single tear rolled down Callisto's cheek.
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