Studios owns these characters. Thank you to Rob Tapert, Lucy Lawless, Renee
O’Connor and a cast and crew of favorites for entertaining us for 6 wonderful
years. I wouldn’t have ended things THAT way. I would have done it this
way as, hopefully, you’ll read. ‘We never really die because we were
never really born’ – I think Gabby put it best.
This is the final story in the Bonding of Souls Series set after Friend
In Need. Let me know your thoughts if you would.
have to eat Gabrielle. You need your strength.”
had been urging the bard repeatedly to take nourishment but it continued to fall
on deaf ears. She always loved Gabrielle’s independent nature but at times
like this when they would butt heads it was also what she liked the least.
not hungry,” the bard answered. She rolled away from Xena on the small bed
she’d been laying on in the cabin, the urn tight in her grasp.
it’s been three days.
telling me how to live!” The bard darted from the bed coming nose to nose with
the warrior. “You are the LAST person to offer advice on survival.
Xena sat in a chair in the ship’s cabin, unmoving.
Besides, what could she do? What could she say? As always, Gabrielle had a
point. Who am I to offer tips on living?
She made the choice not to return in her solid form to the bard. Once more she
chose the ‘greater good’ of others over herself; over Gabrielle
“I guess I deserve that,” Xena muttered.
Gabrielle didn’t reply. She simple clutched the urn
tighter and made her way above deck. As Gabrielle walked to the rail Xena
appeared in front of her, startling the bard.
“Listen to me Gabrielle. Please.”
“Stop doing that! Quit popping up in front of me!
A few of the shipmates looked on as Gabrielle talked to
the wind. They noticed on the first night of their journey to Chin that the
young woman sat up all night talking to herself – laughing and crying, her
voice rising occasionally but becoming even again. But just her voice – no one
else. The small warrior woman didn’t seem to be a threat at first but on this
last leg of the journey, the more yelling they heard, the more they feared for
their safety. It was obvious that the young woman had lost her senses.
One of the deck hands pointed this out to the captain who
now took an interest in what his sailors had told him. He watched Gabrielle
carefully as she paced his deck, having a heated conversation with no one but
“I’m worried about you,” Xena told her.
“What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t eat
Xena? Death? Obviously death can’t be too awful. You seem to be handling it
Gabrielle turned to see the captain walking toward her.
Her mood calmed a bit. “Yes, captain. Can I help you?”
“Well that depends…my men have noticed that you
often…talk to yourself. They fear for their safety. Since the first night-.”
Gabrielle stopped him by holding up a finger. She knew
where he was going with the chat but she turned to Xena first. “You see this?
They all think I’m nuts. Are you happy now?” The captain looked to see to
whom the bard was speaking but saw no one. Gabrielle quickly turned to the
captain. “My bondmate was killed on Japa,” she told him.
“I’m sorry,” he answered quickly.
“Well don’t be,” Gabrielle answered. “She’s
dead but she’s not gone. I had the chance to restore her but because of some
misplaced guilt for an ACCIDENT years ago,” Gabrielle said, making sure to
flash Xena her ‘look’ of displeasure, “she decided death was the best
route for her. Of course when ‘I’ accidentally killed someone in Africa it
was perfectly FINE to see that I stayed alive. But SHE, however, has to be the
MARTYR, choosing the ‘greater good’ over US yet again. She told me years ago
she was DONE paying for her past. She said I was all that MATTERED. But
OBVIOUSLY she still has debts ALL OVER the world she feels the need to repay!”
Gabrielle calmed down a moment after her rant, closing her eyes. When she opened
them she turned back to the captain, “I know you might not believe it but
please tell your men not to worry. I’m no threat to them. I’m only a threat
to myself at this moment.
“Well thank you young lady. I hope you work through
The captain didn’t add more - he just walked away.
Gabrielle turned toward the railing to watch the waves sailing by. “You see
that? You’ve got everyone thinking I’m a nutcase.”
“It wasn’t my intention, Gabrielle,” Xena answered.
“No, but leaving me a widow was,” Gabrielle retorted.
Again, Xena couldn’t argue so when Gabrielle’s
stomach began to grumble the warrior changed the subject. “Now I know you’re
hungry. Will you please eat?…For me?”
“Oh for love of Eli….Fine!” Gabrielle yelled up to
the captain. “Got any food around here for the slightly insane? My ghost
friend thinks I should eat,” she added pitching a thumb to Xena, totally aware
of the fact that no one could see her. No
reason I can’t have a little bit of fun with my descent into madness.
The ship docked not more than a few hours later.
Gabrielle walked through the port. Any other time she would have stopped and
haggled here and there, rounding up supplies along with some things they didn't
‘really’ need, much to Xena’s frustration. They’d laugh, they’d
banter. But this time Gabrielle made her way through the marketplace in silence
until she came to a merchant stand.
“Excuse me,” she began.
“Yes, ma’am. Care to trade today?”
“No. Actually I’m wondering if you’ve heard of
someone. Her name is Eve, she’s the messenger of Eli.”
“Gabrielle,” Xena warned. “Don’t do it.”
“Well, perhaps, if we make a trade I could tell you,”
Gabrielle ignored Xena’s comment and concentrated on
the vendor. “I’ll make a trade if you tell me what I want to know,”
“No. First you buy. Then we talk.”
Gabrielle turned heel. “Thanks anyway.”
“Hold on! Hold on!” he said starting after the bard,
who had turned toward the next stall.
“What do you know?” Gabrielle asked.
“Tall woman? Long dark hair? Very pretty eyes? Your
“You’ve seen her?!” Gabrielle answered.
“Came through town two days ago. Headed North she
“Do you have the name of a town?”
“Look, we make a trade and I’ll give you town’s
Gabrielle considered it a moment. “Deal.”
When all was said and done she had the name of a town and
a beautiful red silk scarf around her neck. Of course she was sure it cost her
more than what it was worth but if his information was correct on finding Eve
then it was worth it.
“I’m not sure this is a good idea,” Xena
interjected as they walked along.
“Oh I think it’s a very good idea. I think Eve should
know how her mother senselessly martyred herself.”
“You know, I promised that even in death I wouldn’t
leave but I’m starting to wonder if I stayed too long,” Xena quipped.
“Then go,” Gabrielle answered. “Go fly off with all
the other souls you freed. Go find your ‘first poet love’ Akemi. Not like
you’re doing much good here besides making everyone think I’m crazy.”
“Do you really mean that?” Xena asked sincerely, not
taking a step further.
Gabrielle stopped and faced Xena as she considered the
question. “I’m not sure. I love you Xena but this hurts so much. Having you
here but NOT here…Besides, how do I know you’re not just a figment of my
imagination? How do I know that I’m not really crazy with grief here? It’s
obvious that I’m the only one who can see you. What if you’re just an
“I’m not an illusion Gabrielle. I’m still very
“Oh yeah. Then take your Chakram back,” Gabrielle
said pulling it from her hip.
Xena looked at it sadly and then the bard. “You know I
can’t touch anything in the physical world except you.”
“Then you can’t be as real as you claim.”
A small silence passed between them. “I’m hurting
here too, Gabrielle. I did plan on growing old and gray with you, as idealistic
as that sounds.”
“Yeah I remember. But I also remember people in our
line of work don’t live to be that age...I guess I’m just not ready to
travel alone. And don’t tell me I’m not alone Xena because that’s how it
Xena heard the pitch in her bard’s voice and she knew
better not to argue. Gabrielle was close to her breaking point.
“Fair enough,” Xena nodded. “Should we continue
Gabrielle gave a small grin and put the Chakram on her hip. “Come on warrior princess. Let’s go find the messenger.”
The bard started to walk, heading north. At nightfall she
made it to a little tavern where the town seemed to be gathering for a meeting.
Quietly she crept inside and heard a man asking a question.
“So you’re saying you should just walk away?” he
As Gabrielle moved deeper into the candle lit room she
watched her daughter on a small stage.
“Yes,” Eve answered. “It’s far too easy to let
your rage make your decisions. But sometimes the best form of action is to turn
the other cheek.” As Gabrielle took a seat, Eve noticed her. “I would love
to continue this but I have an unexpected visitor. But please feel free to see
me tomorrow. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have then.”
As Eve moved from the stage over to her smiling mom, the
townsfolk went back to their conversations and their meals. She rushed over and
wrapped herself in Gabrielle’s embrace.
“I can’t believe it,” Eve began. “You came all
the way to Chin to visit me?”
“Well, not exactly, but since I was in the area I
thought I should stop by.”
Xena watched the two embrace and for the first time since
her death she realized just how truly distant she was from the real world. Eve
couldn’t see her. That was obvious. Xena couldn’t talk to her. She
couldn’t hug her or kiss her. She was an outsider, looking in and for the
first time she ached for her mortality.
Gabrielle knew the question would come up. “She’s
here,” Gabrielle told her beginning to tear up. “…In spirit,” she added.
Without saying more she pulled the jar from her travel bag, setting it on the
“I don’t understand,” Eve said starting to whimper.
Gabrielle knew that Eve understood but couldn’t bring
herself to say it. “I don’t think I understand it all yet myself, Eve,”
the bard offered. “But she’s gone. This jar is what’s left.”
Eve’s fingers covered her mouth in shock. At first she
didn’t cry. She was too floored by the news. Her mother was the best of the
best. How could she be dead? But soon
the fact Xena was dead took hold of her and she began to sob. Gabrielle pulled
Eve into her arms and kissed her on top of the head.
“It’s okay sweetheart,” Gabrielle told her. “You
have me. You’ll always have me. And a part of your mother will always be with
Xena couldn’t touch Eve no matter how much she tried. Her hand just slipped transparently through girl’s head so Xena did the only thing she could. She put her arms around Gabrielle and wept softly into her back.
Later that night, as Gabrielle dressed for bed, she heard
Eve call out behind her.
“Did you get that in Japa?” she asked.
At first Gabrielle wasn’t sure what Eve meant but then
she remembered. Ahh, the tattoo. Yes, my
artistic scar for life to remind me of losing Xena.
“Yes, it was a gift to help me in my task…Do you like
“It’s very interesting. Beautiful in fact,” Eve
said stepping closer to examine it.
“Thank you,” Gabrielle answered.
After a small silence, Eve spoke. “So you can still see
“Yes, I see her. I can hear her. I can touch her.”
“Tell her I’m here Gabrielle,” Xena coached from
one of the beds.
“She’s here now actually,” Gabrielle replied.
“She’s sitting on the bed.”
Eve looked over. “I can’t see her…Hello mother.”
“Hello Eve. You’ll look beautiful sweetheart – you
glow like you’ve found your calling.”
“She says you’ve found your calling. You look
beautiful,” Gabrielle answered.
“That’s amazing,” Eve replied excitedly as she
smiled. “Think of all the people that lose those they love. Those that never
see each other again. It’s a gift Gabrielle. It’s a gift that you can see
her in your times of trouble.
“Glad you have such an optimistic appraisal of the
situation,” Gabrielle sighed making her way to the bed.
“What? You don’t?”
Gabrielle considered the question. “I suppose there’s
a benefit to having her with me but…I still miss her…It’s not easy to
describe. And the looks I get when I speak to her,” Gabrielle chuckled. “I
wonder if everyone else is right and I’m wrong. I wonder if I’m losing my
“I believe,” Eve answered.
“What?” Gabrielle chuckled. “That I’ve finally
“No,” Eve responded in like with a small laugh. “I
believe you can see her…The love that mother has for you is undying Gabrielle.
It will always be that way.”
Gabrielle sighed. “I suppose so.”
“You don’t seem convinced,” Eve remarked.
“At some point I’ll be without her. I guess I’m
just waiting for that time to come and not being sure when that will be so
it…makes it difficult.”
“But that’s true with everyone Gabrielle. We never
know when we’re going to lose the ones we love.”
“Well for most people death is the answer. But for me
– I’m in limbo…Xena’s dead. But she’s not gone and I have the feeling
that one day I’ll wake up and she’ll be gone. She’ll never return again
and I’ll spend my time wishing and hoping for something I’ll never have
again. Like I said before, it’s difficult. It’s like there’s no finality
to it and there should be.”
“So you’re not glad she’s here?”
The question stung Xena because it took her back to the
conversation in the marketplace. Maybe I
should go. Gabrielle could live her life in peace; perhaps move on with her
“No,” Gabrielle answered. “I do want her here. I
just want to know when I’m going to lose her for good.”
“Well, like I said Gabrielle, no one knows that for
“I suppose you’re right Evie…Look it’s late.
We’ll talk more in the morning before I head out.”
“You’re leaving so soon?” Eve replied.
“Yes, I was going to head to Egypt but…I think I’m
just gonna go home instead. Maybe visit Lila and Sarah…Goodnight sweetie.”
Eve could see that Gabrielle was exhausted so she didn’t press. “’Night Gabrielle.”
Eve and Gabrielle bid a tearful farewell to each other
but promised that somehow, someway they would get together again in the next
year. Before she left, Gabrielle wrapped her new scarf around Eve’s shoulders
and kissed the girl goodbye twice; once for her and once for Xena.
The warrior and bard walked all day long arguing,
laughing, teasing…just like old times. But still, something was missing.
Gabrielle couldn’t put her finger on it. She didn’t understand but she
couldn’t shake the feeling that Xena SHOULD be alive.
Night was beginning to fall and they decided to search for a place to
“You were right,” Xena admitted
“Telling Eve. I’m glad you told her. She deserved to
A small silence passed between them. “You know Xena,”
Gabrielle answered. “She’s a lot stronger than you give her credit for.”
“So are you,” Xena replied. “I have to say
Gabrielle you’ve been taking all this better than expected. I honestly mean
“Yeah well, life goes on, right?” she replied bumping
her shoulder into the warrior.
Suddenly a glittering shower appeared in front of them
and Gabrielle grinned as she saw the shape form within.
“Aphrodite!” she called as she ran up the path to
greet her. The bard and Goddess embraced.
pea, I’ve been looking for you. I knew you headed east but I wasn’t sure
where. I got the god thing going on but it doesn’t click quite as well in
parts where I’m not widely known. But I’m glad I found you…Hey there
warrior princess, what’s shakin?”
Xena and Gabrielle’s happy expressions dropped and they
looked at each other.
“You can see her?” Gabrielle asked.
“Well duh! I’m not blind you know.”
Xena smiled. “See?! You’re not crazy Gabrielle!
It’s just other mortals who can’t see me."
“Why? You a ghost or something?” As soon as Dite said
the words a torch lit behind her eyes. “That’s it! The tremors I felt! I
knew something really bad had happened to you but I couldn’t pin point what it
was. That’s why I started looking for you Gabby. But I had no idea that…”
Dite stopped as Gabrielle pulled out the urn. “Xena’s
in here. But her spirit’s stayed at my side.”
Dite got a little misty eyed. “Awww that is soooooooo
sweet. You promised her huh? That even in death you won’t let her go? That’s
just so romantic.”
“Well, her demise was far from pretty,” Gabrielle
answered. “And the reason she CHOSE to stay dead is another story
“You know the love goddess IS on the clock so you can tell me all about it. So grab an elbow
toots we’re outta here.”
Gabrielle and Xena both hooked Dite’s arms and moments
later they were in a temple in Greece.
“Ah, home sweet home. So,” Dite began. She snapped
her fingers and suddenly a huge bed appeared. She transported herself onto the
bed getting comfortable. “Tell me alllllllll about it.”
“Well, one night we talked about leaving Greece when a monk showed up…..”
Having to tell the tale of Xena’s death, yet again,
drained Gabrielle – emotionally and physically. The bard slept with a light
snore that brought a grin to Xena’s face. Dite noticed as the warrior, ever
watchful, kept a close eye on the bard.
“You never struck me as an idiot Xena. But after that
story tonight,” Dite began, “I have to wonder just WHERE you see your guilt
in all this.”
“It’s for the best,” Xena answered.
“For whom? For you? For her? For those 40,000 souls?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” Xena answered.
“Well make me understand. My best mortal bud is in
tears here. She might not show them on the outside Xena but I can feel her pain
– far worse than you are imagining at the moment. But she loves you, so she
supports you. She puts on a brave front…So tell me how you could feel
responsible here? Those townsfolk that attacked you got what they deserved. That
man was a monster that your friend Akemi killed. I’m surprised they didn’t
have a banquet in her honor instead of stopping you from your task. And how are
all those souls on your shoulders when you were just defending yourself against
them? Now call me the dumb blond if you like, but it doesn’t add up. It
doesn’t make sense. You freed the souls so I still can’t see why you
“Let’s just say I died for Gabrielle and leave it at
“No, it’s not okay. You know why? Because Gabrielle
is dying inside, Xena. Every day. Every hour. She’s dwindling away. She needs
you in her life, not just in your death. Do you understand?”
“Do you understand that if I could come back I
would?!” Xena hissed. “I couldn’t let her revive me on that mountain
Aphrodite! She would’ve….It wouldn’t have worked.”
Dite knew the warrior well. She knew she was hiding
something and her eyes scrunched in examination. “Out with it,” she ordered.
“Out with what?” the warrior replied evasively.
“There’s more to this story than what you’re
telling me. And more than you’ve told her. So what is it?”
“I can’t tell you,” Xena answered. “I don’t
want her to know.”
“I won’t say anything,” Dite answered. Xena
didn’t look convinced. “Goddess’ honor,” she said holding up her hand
“The honor of a god means little to me,” Xena
“Oh come on Xena. What’s the catch? You can tell me.
Perhaps I can find a way to help.”
Of all the gods they dealt with Xena had to admit that
Dite was the most honest. Sure she made a few mistakes here and there but never
anything that was malicious. Xena sighed, What
“When I died, the ghost killer asked if Gabrielle would
give her life to save me, like I had done for her by battling the army alone,”
she began. “Her answer of course was yes but he failed to give her all of the
information. I found out later from Akemi, after Gabrielle and I parted ways,
that if Gabrielle revived me, her soul would perish. She would live the rest of
her life with me but after that her soul would…disappear…And I couldn’t
let that happen.”
“So, in truth, you died twice for her. Once when you
faced the army and the second time by not letting her bring you back,” Dite
remarked. “You decided to stay dead because it wasn’t about 40,000 souls. It
was about Gabrielle.”
Xena nodded sadly. “If she knew it was just about her
she might have done it. She would have dumped those ashes. But if I made her
believe it was about someone else, about helping the innocents, she’d honor my
choice. So I -.”
“Lied to her?” Dite interrupted.
Xena hung her head. “Yes, I lied to protect her…To
save the one spirit that means everything to me. I love her so deeply and one
lifetime is not enough to show her how much. I’ll need thousands more.”
“I’m touched Xena,” Dite answered honestly.
“Truly…You really died for her.”
“No greater gift a teacher can give a student I’ve
been told…. Well anyway, I need her spirit to go on. Her spirit deserves more
than just this life and her past lives. THAT’S the greater good in all of this
– insuring that Gabrielle’s spirit keeps going and going, brightening the
Dite paused taking it all in. “So let me make sure I
understand this. Those souls are free-no strings attached?”
“Gabrielle couldn’t bring you back because it would
mean her end - literally?”
Xena nodded again.
“But there’s nothing to say you can’t come back by
“I’m not sure. I suppose so but without a set of lips
it’s not real easy to eat ambrosia,” Xena grinned.
“Hmm,” Dite considered. “You gals stay put. I’ll
be back in a flash.” She prepped herself to snap her fingers but Xena stopped
“Wait! Where are you going?”
“Well I can’t bring you back. I don’t have THAT
kind of power. Besides, if I tried you might come back missing a leg or an arm
or an eye. I think I might have someone that could lend a hand, though.
There’re lots of deities around Xena. And you came to the right goddess
because I’ve got connections. Let me do some diggin. See what I can find,
okay? I owe you guys that much. Agreed?”
Xena smiled. “Thank you, Aphrodite.”
“No trouble. But no promises either Xena. I’m a
goddess but I can’t do ALL miracles. Athena could…but we both know what
happened to her, don’t we?”
Xena looked guilty as she played with her fingernails.
“It was a joke, relax. I’ve gotten over it. They went
after my gal after I asked them not to. They got what they had coming to them.
But like I said, I know lots of gods so give me a few. I’ll be back by
Without waiting for a reply Dite snapped her fingers and vanished leaving the warrior to sit with the sleeping bard.
Aphrodite transported herself to a grand banquet hall.
Casually, she strolled up to the large table.
“Oh no! Not you!”
“Ohhhh come on,” Dite began. “I need a favor,
goatee god. It won’t take long. It’s about Xena.”
“No,” the god rumbled, rising from his throne.
“Just a few moments of your time Odin. That’s all I
ask,” Dite said following him down the length of the table in front of his
Grinhilda overheard the conversation and walked over to
Odin’s side. “Perhaps you should hear her out,” she suggested. “After
all, Xena did help both of us, you know.”
Odin gave a reluctant sigh. With the two of them ganging
up on him he knew his options were limited. “What is it?”
“Xena’s dead and I need to bring her back to life.
Got any of those ‘room’ things that might do the trick?”
“Runes. They’re called Runes,” he corrected her.
“I might. Where’s her body?”
“In a little jar,” Dite replied with an unsure grin.
“You mean she’s been cremated?” Odin asked.
Dite gave a quick nod.
“Sorry. Can’t help,” he answered, starting to walk
“Hey look pal!” Dite said angrily. Odin stopped and
turned around as the room grew quiet. “I owe her and I owe Gabrielle. If I’m
not mistaken she lent you and winged hat gal over there a hand, too.”
“She’s got a point,” Grinhilda told Odin.
“You’re darn right I got a point! If you can’t do
some RUINES then perhaps you can lead me to some other gods who might have more
‘expertise’ with reviving the dead from ashes.” Dite was actually
breathing hard as a result of her anger. Damn
this is turning into much more work than I expected. “Are you gonna help
“There might be someone who can help,” Odin finally
answered. Dite watched as Odin and Grinhilda conversed quietly between
themselves. Grinhilda nodded and turned back to the love goddess. “Grinhilda
will accompany you but first you’ll need Xena’s ashes.”
“Where are they?” Grinhilda asked.
“Back in Greece with Gabrielle. She’s crashed at my
pad. Huge temple on the highest hill in Athens. Can’t miss it. Big statue of
yours truly out front.”
“Okay,” Grinhilda nodded. “Let me round up my steed
and I’ll meet you there in the morning. Okay? It’s not more than a few hours
travel by air.”
“Well I can just zap you there,” Dite offered.
“We might need my steed for this mission but I’ll
make sure I’m there before the sun is high.”
Dite gave a sigh of relief. “Thanks so much. Really. I
“They mean a lot to you. I can see that,” Grinhilda
smiled. “Let’s try our best, okay?”
Dite gave a giggle and in a matter of seconds disappeared into a glittering shower.
Gabrielle sat up with a yawn as she rubbed her eyes.
“Where’s Aphrodite?” she asked Xena.
Xena walked to the bed to sit beside Gabrielle. “She
had some goddess things to take care of,” Xena replied with a grin. “She
should be back shortly…How did you sleep?”
“Cold,” Gabrielle answered. “You always kept me
warm. I miss that.”
Xena could have sworn she heard her heart break at the
confession. They learned the first night that spirits don’t generate much body
heat and they don’t require sleep either.
“I’m sorry,” Xena whispered sincerely.
Gabrielle looked at the warrior and mustered a grin. “I
know you are Xena. I know.”
A brilliant flash filled the room. “Okay, I got things
in motion,” Aphrodite announced walking over to the bed. “Glad Sleeping Beauty is up…Now, an old friend of yours
will be stopping by today and we’re going to see if we can get this whole
ghost warrior thing taken care of for ya.”
Gabrielle was obviously confused. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve been sworn to secrecy,” Dite told the
bard. “I promised Xena I wouldn’t say anything so I won’t. However,
there’s nothing that says SHE can’t explain things to you. You got a few
minutes to kill tall, dark and …dead…So you better give her the low down,”
she added motioning to Gabrielle.
“Aphrodite!” Xena hissed. “You said you’d keep
your mouth shut.”
“I did,” Dite answered. “And I will…because
you’re gonna tell her – not me.”
Gabrielle rose from the bed. “Tell me what?”
Aphrodite made a zipping motion over her lips and folded
her arms across her chest, not saying a word.
“Son of a baccaee,” Xena swore. Gods, I KNEW I shouldn’t have trusted her.
“Ah, but trust me you did Xena,” Dite replied reading
her thoughts. “And believe me, it won’t be a mistake.” The goddess walked
over and put her hand on Xena’s shoulder. “She deserves the truth – the
whole truth,” she added sincerely.
“What is going on?!” Gabrielle was past the point of
“Well I gotta bolt. Catch ya later!” Dite vanished
without a trace.
Gabrielle spun Xena around to face her. “What is she
“Calm down Gabrielle. I’ll tell you…I didn’t want
to tell you but she hasn’t left me much choice.”
“Tell me what Xena?”
“Those souls are free Gabrielle. I chose to stay
“Please hear me out Gabrielle,” the warrior answered.
The bard began to pace back and forth shaking her head.
“Why?” she asked. “Why didn’t you choose to come back to me?”
“Because if you dumped the ashes then your soul would
have been condemned. You would have lived out your natural life with me but
then…you’d never exist again because you revived me. I couldn’t let you do
that so…I tried to protect you the best way I could.”
“By lying to me? By making me think your soul was
“Be honest Gabrielle. If you knew it was about you and
you alone would you have dumped the ashes anyway. Be honest.”
“Why should I be honest? You weren’t,” Gabrielle
“Don’t be evasive. Please answer the question. Would
you have dumped them anyway?”
Gabrielle was still mad but she considered the question a
moment. “Honestly, I don’t know Xena.”
“Well I don’t know if you would have done it or not.
But what I do know is that I want more than just this life with you. I want as
many as I can get. But if you brought me back…I would lose you forever. I
couldn’t take that chance.”
“So you died for me?” Gabrielle answered.
“I died for you. And I’d do it in every life from
here to eternity if need be.”
Gabrielle didn’t know whether to kiss her or slap her.
She sat down on the bed. “Why didn’t you say anything?” she asked.
“I didn’t want you to live with any guilt over it. I
didn’t want you to think that you had the power to bring me back but didn’t
Gabrielle wrung her hands together in frustration.
“I’m not sure if I should feel honored that you’d sacrifice your life for
me Xena or if I should be devastated by your not trusting me to make the right
“I do trust you Gabrielle,” Xena answered. “Please
don’t doubt that.”
“Then you should have told me the truth Xena. You
should have ‘trusted’ that I would have made the right choice and live out
this life alone until we could meet in the next one.”
“Well…hindsight is perfect vision,” Xena answered.
“I see that now…At the time I was just too worried that you’d…”
“Do something stupid?” Gabrielle offered.
“Do something out of love,” Xena replied. “I
don’t think you’ve ever done anything out of stupidity.”
Gabrielle gave a small grin of thanks and was about to
say as much but the doors of the temple opened. They both looked over to see
“Looks like I finally made it,” she told Gabrielle as
she walked inside.
“Grinhilda! What are you doing here?” Gabrielle said,
giving the woman a hug.
“Aphrodite came to see Odin. She said you had some
problems with Xena.” She looked over at the urn on the nightstand and pointed.
“I’m assuming that’s her,” she grinned.
Gabrielle gave a nod and watched as Grinhilda picked up
the urn carefully. The bard wasn’t sure why the Valkerie had a smirk on her
“Don’t worry,” she told Gabrielle. “We’ll find
a way to fix this. Where’s Aphrodite?”
“I’m not sure,” Gabrielle answered. “She was here
Before she could finish Dite reappeared behind them,
making them turn.
“Nice timin’ toots,” the goddess told Grinhilda.
“Are we ready to roll yet?”
“Just say the word,” Grinhilda said, handing
Gabrielle the urn.
“Awesome,” Dite winked. “Just tell me what you
Grimhilda nodded. “We need someone to stake things out.
Kristna’s palace is heavily guarded. Very few make it passed Mara’s soldiers
that he has in place out front. We’ll have to find a back way inside. That’s
where my steed will come in handy. I’ll get Gabrielle to the top and we can
work our way in from there.”
“What should I do?” Dite asked.
“Check it out and wait for us a mile due south. We’ll
see you there and you can tell us what to expect – how many men, where they
are located, everything.”
“Check!” Dite answered. “You take blondie and
I’ll bring the warrior with me. Got it?”
Grinhilda looked at the urn.
“She’s still here,” Gabrielle answered pointing to
Xena who was standing beside the goddess. “Her spirit hasn’t left me but she
can’t – look it’s a long story. Just trust us. She’s still around.”
“Okay then,” Grinhilda answered. “Give us about two
days to travel. We’ll meet you by sunset tomorrow night,” she told the
“Good luck,” Dite nodded.
Grinhilda started to make her way out but stopped when
Gabrielle didn’t follow. She turned and watched as Gabrielle wrapped her arms
in a wide circle, resting her head to one side.
“Take care,” Xena told her, kissing her on the
“I will,” Gabrielle told her. “And don’t worry.
We will succeed. I promise.”
“I know you will. You were trained by the best,” she
said with a wink as she pulled back.
Gabrielle broke away and began to follow Grinhilda.
“Let’s go. We’ve got a warrior to revive.”
That night Grinhilda and Gabrielle made camp in a
secluded area. Gabrielle released a long sigh as she poked the fire with a
“What’s on your mind, warrior bard?” Grinhilda
“Warrior bard, huh? How did you know I write?”
“Oh, there’re plenty of stories around about you, you
know. They call you the battling bard in some parts,” Grinhilda smiled.
Gabrielle returned it with one of her own. “Yeah and it
always surprises me when I hear that. I'm not sure why. I wanted to be a warrior
and I loved being a bard – guess I got everything I always wanted.”
Gabrielle looked far from happy and Grinhilda knew what
was weighing on her mind.
“Well not everything,” Grinhilda replied. “But
we’re working on getting your warrior princess back,” she added.
“Do you think it will work?” Gabrielle asked with
sincerity. “Do you think Kristna will help?”
“I’m not sure,” Grinhilda answered. “But based on
what you’ve told me…it sounds like if anyone CAN help it would be him. I
don’t think it’s Xena’s time and if Kristna thinks that’s the case then
I’d say yes. He should restore her…But getting there will be the problem.”
“What do you know about Mara?”
“Mara means ‘death’ in that region. He’s an evil
demon with an equally evil following. I’ve heard that some of his soldiers are
hideously grotesque with thousands of eyes. Their mere appearance has been known
to scare men to death. He tried to battle Budda but failed…So now he’s after
“Well I’ve seen some scary stuff in my time. I
don’t frighten easily,” Gabrielle grinned.
“You don’t think you’ll get scared, huh?”
“No,” Gabrielle answered firmly. “I know what I
fear most - losing Xena. And I’m living with it now.”
“I’m glad you’re confident. Make sure you keep that
mind set when we go in there tomorrow.”
“Good…Because you’re gonna need it.”
The concern in Grin’s voice made Gabrielle falter for a
moment but she’d never let it show. Grin rose and walked over to the woodpile,
throwing another log onto the fire.
“Let’s get some rest. It will be a long day
tomorrow,” Grin offered.
As they both climbed into their bedrolls, Gabrielle
cleared her throat. “Thank you,” she said softly. “Thank you for helping
“It’s my pleasure,” Grin answered. “I just hope
it won’t be our deaths.”
Gabrielle didn’t answer and Grin didn’t add more. The
bard stared at the flames dancing in the fire until sleep finally over took her.
and Grin sat under cover in the trees watching Kristna’s temple. Mara’s
demons surrounded the place like locus drinking, eating, and laughing.
looks like they’re having a good time,” Grin gave a light chuckle. “Think
we should crash the party? I haven’t seen Aphrodite around yet.”
give them a little more time.”
soon as Gabrielle spoke the words Dite appeared beside her.
shaken, toots?” she grinned at the bard.
planning a route.”
warrior babe is on the roof top now. She’s found a way in but that pesky
problem of not being able to touch the physical world has left her unable to get
a solid grip on things,” she answered. “She thinks the south is the best
option – least guarded.”
explain why you can’t just zap me in,” Gabrielle said.
you. My god thing doesn’t work that well in other lands. I’d never get past
Kristna’s mystical block. I can only walk in like you guys. And since that’s
the case, Xena thinks it’s best I wait out here until you ladies come out. So
who am I to argue?”
smiled. “Well thanks for everything you’ve done so far Aphrodite.”
I’m always here for ya. You’re one of my favorites you know,” the goddess
we ready?” Grin asked the bard.
she answered. “Let’s get that steed and do some traveling”
climbed out of the tree and walked a short distance to where Grin’s flying
horse was waiting. After they both mounted, Grin motioned the horse onward. They
took off through the air as quickly as possible. As they made their descent
toward the top of the building Gabrielle spotted Xena. But the demons had also
spotted them. They tried to move into position up the walls to stop them from
entering. Gabrielle directed Grin on where to land. Once on the roof top and
dismounted, Grin sent the steed away to safety. She pulled her sword as
Gabrielle pulled her sais.
the entrance?” she asked Xena.
motioned her over as Gabrielle called to Grin.
here,” she answered as she pointed. It looked like a trap door but it was
securely fastened with a lock. “It must have a magical power or these ghouls
would have busted in.”
back,” Grin told the bard. With a mighty swing her mystical sword she severed
the lock in two. But before either
of them could open it five of Mara’s demons managed to make it up to the wall
and charge them.
sucked in a breath at their appearance. Grin
wasn’t kidding. They were uglier than Gabrielle imagined and she heard
Xena call out behind her to ‘focus’. With that she tightened her grasp on
her sais and charged to meet them. They had thousands of eyes with warts and
moles all over their faces. Their hands were made of fur with the sharpest claws
she’d ever seen. And they were tall, too. The smallest one of the group had to
be as tall as Xena, if not taller.
of them surrounded Gabrielle while the two others went to take on Grin. She took
them down with ease and went to aid Gabrielle. The bard took on the first one
head on – charging into him until she landed on top of him. Her sai plunged
deeply into his chest and a green goo erupted from the wound.
the bard exclaimed jumping off of him. The smell was disgusting. And she thought
she might actually vomit for a moment but Xena’s word came back to her –
focus. As she began to focus she realized….these monsters could be killed.
They weren’t just evil spirits but actual beings.
that Gabrielle had things in hand, Grin went to the ladders where more were
trying to make their way up. She used all her strength to tip the ladders back,
making the climbers tumble to the ground.
the second demon charged Gabrielle she dropped on her backside. As he tried to
grab her she rolled back and kicked him over the ledge to his comrades below.
Only one remained. He wasn’t about to fall for the same trick as his fellow
demon and he used his reach to his advantage. He swung out, slashing open a gash
in Gabrielle’s arm.
bard cried out in pain and dropped one of her sais to clutch the flesh wound. He
reared his hand back and backhanded her across the face. That move sent
Gabrielle flying into Grin’s path, knocking the two of them down. Grin
scrambled to her feet first and charged him.
were coming up. They could both hear them and Gabrielle struggled to her feet.
As Grin went blow for blow with the demon Gabrielle used all her strength to
pull open the door.
Gabrielle called out. “Now!”
tried to work around the demon but he clotheslined her with his arm, sending her
flat on her back. Gabrielle knew she had to go back out as he raised his hand
for the deathblow. Without thought to her own safety Gabrielle jumped onto the
demon’s back. But before she could get the sai around to slice his neck, he
tossed her over his shoulder. Grin and Gabrielle now lay next to each other,
each trying to catch her breath and move. And
all Xena could do was watch.
the demon closed in he seemed to taunt them, flicking his razor nails and giving
off what could be considered a laugh. Gabrielle managed to rise to her elbows
and reach one of her sais but she still couldn’t get a grip on it.
too damn close to give up now,
she told herself.
Xena had enough of watching. She closed her eyes and
summoned up all the energy she could. As the monster reared back to strike the
deathblow she grabbed his arm and swung him around with such force that he lost
his balance. He teetered close to the edge but didn’t fall. Xena fell
instantly to her knees. Her spirit was totally spent. Gabrielle couldn’t
believe that Xena could actually ‘touch’ something but she soon pushed her
surprise aside to finish the job. Scrambling to her feet she jumped up in the
air delivering a solid kick that sent the demon over the edge. She landed hard
on her hip and Xena winced as she watched her fall.
okay?” Xena asked short of breath.
get inside,” Gabrielle said hauling herself to her feet. Grin managed to get
her footing at this point and pulled Gabrielle along until they were inside the
got to block it,” Gabrielle answered. “Otherwise they’ll get it.”
considered that,” Grin answered. She reached into her boot and pulled out a
lock and chain. Odin’s lock. No way would they be able to break it. They tied
the inside latch to the frame with the chain and she secured the lock. Seconds
later they could hear the banging on the door but it wouldn’t budge.
“That’ll hold them,” she said hopping down from the table.
took in her surroundings. “It’s beautiful in here,” she commented.
of many brilliant hues lined the walls as candles burned throughout the temple.
A small statue of the god Kristna sat in the middle of a table. They walked
deeper into the room taking it all in when suddenly they heard a voice behind
to what do I owe this visit,” they heard.
turned to see a man, blue as the sky and the sea, watching them. There was
merriment on his face as he held a wood wind instrument.
Kristna?” Gabrielle bowed.
didn’t reply at first. He gave a simple bow and a grin. “You are under much
distress. I can see.”
lost my soulmate Kristna and I’ve come to ask you to restore her. Her name is
Xena and you helped her many years ago. I ask-.”
you the one who killed her? Did you bring about the death of your soulmate and
came here in remorse to change it?”
Gabrielle answered. “I would never harm Xena. She was killed by a Samurai and
she could not return to the land of the living. She trusted a woman who did
nothing but betray her in times past. I sense this woman has betrayed your
the three women said in harmony.
She’s a selfish woman. She wanted your soulmate to stay with her. She was the
first bard you loved, was she not Xena?
she is not the bard you love best?” he said with a teasing grin.
gave a broad smile in response. “No Lord she is not…She told me Gabrielle
would be lost if she restored me.”
you ever think that this girl had lied to you yet again? Just as she had done
during your first journey with her?"
did,” Xena answered. “But I wasn’t going to take that chance with
studied them a moment. He strolled around the three of them. “It is not your
time,” he told Xena. “Where are your remains?”
Gabrielle said opening the pouch she had on her hip.
Compact. Easy to carry,” Kristna teased as he took the bag. “I’ll restore
your soul to your body Xena."
you,” she sighed.
know this…when it’s your time to go you must accept it. You must both accept
it,” he told Xena, as well as Gabrielle. “If not your Karmic cycle won’t
continue and you could be lost to each other forever. Do you understand?”
how will we know when that time comes?” Gabrielle asked.
me,” he grinned. “You will know.”
that he took the ashes and spread them over the altar. A brilliant light filled
the room, making Gabrielle and Grin turn their heads. Xena felt herself begin to
swirl around in the air along with the ashes that were beginning to rise. An
instant later it was over and she felt herself lying against the table. She
opened her eyes and quickly felt her body. She was back. She was together. But
she also realized…she was naked. Kristna grinned at the warrior who suddenly
seemed bashful and snapped his fingers. Suddenly she was dressed in her warrior
leathers again. But something was wrong. There was dirt all over them. Xena
wasn’t sure what was going on at first. She didn’t much care when she felt
Gabrielle wrap her arms around her in a tight hug.
time,” Kristna told Xena. “Don’t bury them.”
had to chuckle. Not often that a god makes
“Oh I’d let you ladies use the front door but I’ve
got a small demon problem I’m sure you’re aware of,” Kristna told them.
as a way of saying thanks why don’t we do a little house cleaning?” Xena
grinned as she pulled away from Gabrielle.
not sure if I can go through anymore roof top battles just yet,” Grin spoke
we’re got gonna go through the roof. We’re gonna open the front door and let
gonna do what?”
had a look of confusion that mimic Grin’s question but soon she started to
smile. “The Persians,” she muttered.
demons are Persians?” Grin asked. “I get the feeling I’m missing something
battled the Persian Army in an armory,” Gabrielle began. “She couldn’t
battle that many men in an open field but in an enclosed space-.”
had the advantage. Only so many
could enter at once,” Grin answered with a grin and a nod. “I get it. So
what do we do?”
with Kristna’s blessing we have him lift any mystical blocks he has on the
place and let them through the front door. Only so many can enter at a time and
when they do-.”
take them out,” Grin finished.
nodded and grinned. “That’s exactly what we do…if that’s alright with
Kristna,” Xena added looking to the god.
smiled. “You’re a noble warrior Xena. You’ve found your way and that’s
the best any mortal can achieve. You have my blessing.”
then,” Xena said giving her companions a feral grin and pulling her sword.
“Let’s get to it, shall we?”
and Gabrielle went to the double doors and each grabbed a handle. When Xena
nodded they both flung the doors open. Immediately two entered, just squeezing
through given their size. Grin and Gabrielle took advantage of it and stabbed
the trespassers quickly, making them tumble to the ground lifeless. Quickly the
two women darted behind Xena, waiting for the next wave to come.
two more followed suit. Then two more entered. And two more. Pair by pair the
three women worked until demon upon demon lay at their feet. When no more
entered, Xena motioned Gabrielle and Grin to stand back while she went outside
to inspect. Carefully Xena looked around. Nothing was in the area and she
listened carefully. She didn’t see anything but someone was on the roof.
Perhaps a few demons in fact but she couldn’t pinpoint an exact number.
one way to draw them out I guess.
She walked outside backward, leaving the safety of the building, making sure to
face the structure. Grin and Gabrielle waited inside the doorframe. An instant
later, Xena watched a group of archer’s stand up and take aim on her.
no! Not again!” she muttered.
after arrow narrowly missed her as she zigzagged her way back toward the temple.
Enough of this, she considered.
Instead of bolting back inside, she gave a powerful warcry and leapt up to the
wall. From there she dove on top of the archers, creating a domino effect before
she scrambled to her feet.
rolled her eyes and let out a sigh before grabbing Grin’s hand. “Come on!”
she said, leading her inside and up to the door they had used to get in. Grin
unlocked it and the two hoisted themselves up on the roof. Xena was already in
the heat of a battle, having taken on the archers that managed to right
themselves. Grin and
Gabrielle jumped into the action.
roof was not part of the plan,” Gabrielle shouted to Xena.
be flexible,” she answered before striking down another demon.
Yeah, yeah. Comes with the job,” Gabrielle mimicked her, taking out the last
looked around at the litter of demons at their feet. “Well, I think Mara might
think twice before going after Kristna again,” she grinned. She gave a whistle
and her steed came to her, stopping on the roof. She walked over and hugged
glad you succeeded,” she told her.
wouldn’t have without your help,” the bard replied. “And if you need
won’t hesitate to ask,” she grinned.
offered Xena her hand and the warrior took it, pulling her into an embrace.
“Thank you,” Xena told the valkyrie.
very welcome. One good turn deserves another. You two be good to each other.”
will, I promise,” Xena replied.
mounted her horse and smiled down to the women. “I’d offer to take you home
but I can only fit one at a time. And I’m sure you two don’t want to be
by a long shot,” Gabrielle replied. “Take care.”
too,” she nodded. With a twitch of the reins and a click to her cheek the
horse was off and flying.
don’t we go find that goddess friend of yours?” Xena offered before she did
a sommersault from the rooftop to land on the ground.
you mean friend of ours?” Gabrielle answered, following suit.
nodded her approval of the bard’s jump. “Nice form. Landing was a little
wobbly, though. But don’t worry - we can work on that,” she grinned as she
took the bard’s hand and went into the forest in search of Dite.
woman on horseback raced through the forest as if the Grim Reapper was on her
heals and gaining fast. When a group of amazons stepped into her path from the
trees she brought the horse to a halt. She leapt from the mare and gave the
symbol of peace, placing her arms high above her head with her hands locked.
the masks went up.
I too late?” the young woman asked.
Not yet,” the amazon guard answered. “Varia waits for you,” she answered.
“Hiloto, please lead the princess to the quarters at once.”
nodded and whistled for her mare. As the horse emerged, the stranger to the
village jumped back onto her steed to follow. Moments later they were in front
of the queen’s hut where Varia waited.
the young woman called as she dismounted.
was 70 summers old now but her mind was still has sharp as ever, even if her
reflexes were not. She took the young woman into a warm embrace. “She’s
inside. She’s been waiting for you,” Varia told her.
woman nodded and pulled away. She
walked inside the hut, making her presence known as soon as she entered.
“Grandmother,” she called out.
old woman that lay on the bed gave a brilliant smile and summoned the girl
closer with a wave of her hand. “That’s great grandmother to you,” she
teased. “I didn’t think you would come Little Xe,” she smiled.
came as soon as I got word,” she answered.
your mother?” the old woman asked.
she answered. “She’s still running the tavern in Amphipolis after Grandma
Eve couldn’t handle it alone. In fact she’s on her way here now.”
about you? How are your studies coming along?"
Not as interesting as your stories but…I’m doing okay at the bard
old woman smiled but a coughing spell took over. She pointed behind the young
woman to a vial on the window ledge. “Be a dear and get that, would you?”
young woman did as she was told and handed it to her great-grandmother. The gray
haired woman settled back and motioned the girl closer.
want to tell you a story,” she began. “The story of how your Grandma Xe
died. It’s a story I’ve never told anyone before."
I’ve heard the story,” the woman answered. “Grandma Eve said she got an
infection after a fight with raiders and she didn’t get better.”
that’s the story that’s out there,” the old woman said. “But that’s
not the real story. Do you want to hear the real story?”
young woman gave a curious nod. Slowly the old woman cleared her throat and
began to speak.
was a harsh winter and it wasn’t getting any better. The food supply in
Amphipolis was getting smaller and smaller every week it seemed. When they
expected the weather to break more snow arrived, making it difficult to hunt any
game that was still in the area. Gabrielle, however, wasn’t as concerned about
their next meal as she was with getting the drugs she needed from the chemist.
made her way into the tiny house behind the tavern that Eve now ran with her
eldest child, Mary, as manager. She hurriedly took off her winter coat and boots
to the sound of Xena’s moans through the bedroom. The trade routes were slower
than normal given the weather and the opium that Xena had come to depend upon
Gabrielle made her way to the bedroom with bottle in hand. She paused in the
doorway looking at the bottle and at Xena’s turned back. The warrior was
curled into a tight ball, crying from the pain that flooded inside her. The
healer said that it seemed something was eating Xena from the inside out but he
didn’t know what it was and he didn’t know how to cure it. The odd part was
that Xena looked healthy for much of her illness but she was actually weighing
less and less. Gabrielle could almost pick her up on her own without any help.
the warrior cried out.
sound of her name startled her and the bard moved out of her thoughts and over
to their bed. She pushed her long honey and white hair over her shoulder as she
made her way down to Xena.
Xena,” Gabrielle told the warrior. “Here. Drink this.”
hesitated at first, giving a slight sniff. She looked to Gabrielle and gave a
tiny grin before downing the bottle.
you lay with me?” Xena asked softly.
course,” Gabrielle replied. She walked around to the other side and settled
herself against the headboard, pulling Xena into her arms.
looked lost in her thoughts but said nothing. Xena knew she’d have to start
any conversation between them.
still out there?” Xena asked.
and it feels like it’s going to start snowing again,” the bard replied.
joints?” Xena asked.
know it,” Gabrielle grinned.
I got you off the road sooner you might be in better shape,” Xena replied
was the one who wanted to keep traveling,” Gabrielle retorted. “How soon we
forget warrior,” she teased.
paused and she licked her lips. The taste and the smell were very familiar to
her. She wondered if she should say something. After a few moments she knew she
had to get it out in the open. “Remember what I told you years ago in Japa?
That if I only had 30 seconds to live I’d want to spend them looking into your
eyes. Do you remember that?”
could I forget is the better question,” Gabrielle answered.
only got a few more minutes, don’t I Gabrielle?” Xena mentioned
off-handedly. The tone surprised the bard. She didn’t think Xena could tell
there was a difference in the medicine she’d just given in relation to all the
bottom lip started to quiver. But Xena hushed her with soft tones of sympathy.
“It’s okay,” she told the bard. “I know this last mix has nightspain. I
know it’s time to go. I’m not going to get any better and being here just
hurts you more each day.”
you in my life has never brought me pain Xena . . . But seeing you like this . .
. it’s hurting you,” Gabrielle explained.
gave a brief nod and snuggled in closer to her lover. “Thank you.”
what?” Gabrielle answered.
spending every day showing me what’s good in life. For raising a family with
me. For everything . . . Even for this: For taking me out of this world and
having the courage to do it since I don’t have the courage myself.”
began to cry and she tightened her hold on Xena. The warrior, for her part,
tried to hold the bard with all the strength she had left inside her.
Xena teased. “Of all the kings, all the warlords, all the warriors throughout
the known world – you were the one that did it. You ‘offed’ the warrior
princess,” she chuckled.
shook her head fiercely. “Don’t even joke about that Xena,” she warned as
she continued to sniffle. “It’s not funny.”
come on,” Xena grinned. “You know I’m not going to leave you. I’ll be
back. In every lifetime I’ll come back to you and I promise I’ll always be
with you. Always. This body, this identity of the warrior princess – it’s
just one of many that I’ll use to find you. There have been other times
we’ve come together. There will be many more ahead of us.”
Gabrielle asked, stroking Xena’s face.
promise,” Xena replied. “It’s time I moved on – completed the circle as
Kristna said years ago . . . He knew it would come to this someday. That’s why
he asked if you killed me. Remember? And that’s why he brought me back . . .
He said we’d know when the time really came – and we both know that this is
teared up but she wasn’t going to cry. Instead she smiled down at Xena,
planting a soft kiss on her forehead. “You are the best thing that ever
happened in my life,” she whispered.
love you Gabrielle.”
eyes were open but Gabrielle felt the body go limp beside her. The warrior
princess was dead and on her journey to her next Karmic leap.
that was 25 years ago,” old Gabrielle told Xena’s namesake – the daughter
of the son of Eve. Upon hearing all his mother’s tales about his grandmother,
Xena, he knew he had to make sure that this name lived on in his family.
“And no one has heard that tale until now,” Gabrielle added.
Little Xe couldn’t believe it. She couldn’t even
imagine loving someone so much that you’d be willing to take her life. But
then she often thought of the animals on the farm. The pets she’d had
throughout her life where it was best to ‘put them out of their misery’
instead of watching them suffer. The longer she thought about it, the more she
considered that perhaps her great-grandparents had done the most humane thing of
all for each other.
there is a reason I tell you this . . . I, the battling bard of Poteidaia, took
out the Warrior Princess. And now you, the scholarly bard of Amphipolis, have to
help take out the woman who killed Xena.”
Xe was confused at first but then she looked at the vial that she had just given
Gabrielle. Oh no, Little Xena
considered. I’ve got to get Varia!
I’ve got to-.
reached out, sensing the young woman’s distress. “It’s okay,” she told
her. “It’s my time. Just like it was Xena’s . . . After Xena died –
about 10 years later – I came back to the Amazons. Varia had just lost a
bondmate a few summers prior. We connected and I loved her tremendously. She’d
grown into a fine woman and a great leader . . . But she was never ‘Xena’ .
. . And she understood that. She could never be my true soulmate, nor I, hers.
So it worked out . . . We had fun . . . We had fights . . . We loved and laughed
. . . We enjoyed the grandkids and the great-grandkids,” Gabrielle said
winking. “I’ve led a good life Little Xe, but now it’s my turn. Now I have
to jump and I know that Xena will keep her word. She’ll find me in the next
life. Just like she did in this one. Just like she will in many. So please
don’t be sad. We can never die because in a way – we are never born.”
Xe let out a deep sigh. “Well . . . Is there anything I can do?”
nodded her head, “Two things – first help me sit so I can drink.” Little
Xe hesitated a moment but she realized that this was what her great-grandmother
needed. When that task was finished and the vile drained, Gabrielle made her
second request. “Tell me one of the story ideas you’re working on.”
Little Xena asked. “I mean, all things considered Grandma Gab-.”
doesn’t stop for anyone,” the bard warned pointing a stern finger. “So
come on, tell me. What’s going on in your life? What’s your new story?”
Xe licked her lips before clearing her throat. “Well, it’s about a young
virgin who frees the Titans on accident,” she smiles mischievously.
like it already,” the old bard nodded. “Go on…”
little Xe started to recite her latest work she rose and began to pace the room.
Gabrielle smiled as she watched. She often paced, too, when she told a story and
she could see so much of herself in the young girl. But little by little, second
by second, her eyes grew heavy and she found them closing, unable to stop.
Xe was working up to the climax of the piece when she turned back to get
Gabrielle’s reaction. That’s when she saw the old woman’s eyes were closed
and slowly she crept over. She pulled the blankets away and watched the bard’s
chest. No movement. None at all. The young woman tried to hold back her tears
but failed. She wept hard and long, wrapping her arms around the old woman,
stroking the long gray hair. She knew what she had to do now. She had a long
journey home to Amphipolis. She knew it was Gabrielle’s wish to ‘go home’
and home is where she’d take her. She said it herself. She belonged with Xena
and that’s where she would stay . . . for eternity.
not going over this again!” The loud male voice boomed through the palace.
sorry but I just don’t understand it Shantese,” the small Indian adviser
told his ruler. “You could have any woman in this kingdom-.”
Shantese replied pointing his finger. “I choose this one!”
the mother of peace is twice your age. There are many beautiful women who would
be happy to do your bidding. They would make obedient wives for years to come.
This woman is -.”
finest in mind and spirit I’ve ever known. I’ve searched my entire lifetime
for her, Raul. You have to trust my judgement. I choose to wed her today not
because of power or status. I asked for her hand because she’s a part of me.
Haven’t you met someone that you’ve known forever? That’s what I feel when
I look at her . . . She’s the one.”
just shook his head and scratched his beard. “I hear what you’re saying
Shantese. I do. But-.”
nothing,” Shantese interrupted. “I love her. And as my friend that should be
enough to gain your support. There’s much more to love than appearance. For a
young virile man like myself I know it seems odd. But trust me when I say that
she is the one for me. She’s my destiny.”
looked into Shantese’s eyes. He was dead serious. He knew he couldn’t
persuade Shantese’s decision and for the first time since the wedding
announcement he realized he shouldn’t. Shatese truly did love Arminestra. He
wanted to join his life with hers and who was he to say differently.
a warm grin and a nod Raul agreed. “All right my friend,” he said
confidently. “Your bride is waiting.”
love my God. I love my Country. I love my King.”
love them too. But I’d trade them all to have you,” the soft feminine voice
Lancelot turned from Guinevere’s light embrace, making his way to the window.
He gave a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his short, curly blond locks. He
looked out over Camelot where the torches were still burning bright in the
evening sky, desperately hoping for some sign to show him what he should do.
are my queen,” he told her in a half-hearted argument.
Guin stepped closer behind him, running her hands
seductively down his back before wrapping them around his hips. She was a tall
woman, nearly his height. Their bodies seem made for each other. “You are my
champion,” she whispered.
because you are the King’s wife and I his first knight,” Lancelot retorted
in another weak attempt to dissuade the woman he had grown to love.
knights loved the ladies whose colors they wore into battle but never did they
bed them. The honor that they fought for was often the honor of other men’s
wives and not their own. The code of Chivalry was highest in all knights. And
Lancelot knew he was the highest knight of them all. He had never been bested.
Not even by Arthur himself with the help of Excalibur. But as he turned and
looked into the crystal blue eyes of his queen he knew his resistance was
weakening day-by-day, hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. He did love his God. He
did love his Country. And he did love his King.
he also knew his passion for this dark haired beauty was great. He admired her
from the moment he agreed to escort her from the neighboring village to become
Arthur’s bride. Arthur – his king, his leader and even his best friend. He
couldn’t love Arthur any more than if he were blood. But this woman, this
queen, this wife . . . was more tempting with every moment he spent with her.
was already talk in the circle. Other knights and court members could see the
shy smiles and longing looks that Lancelot and Guin often gave each other when
they thought no one was watching. They learned that some folks had been watching
and talk was spreading throughout the kingdom. They had committed no evil toward
anyone other than themselves - just two souls who had no right being apart.
had asked the queen to his chamber high above the city so they could discuss
their attraction. He had to lay it to rest. He had to tell the queen his
feelings but make sure they understood the consequences of the actions if they
were to go any further in their attraction. The longer Lancelot stood and stared
into those aqua globes the more he realized what a mistake bringing her there,
to his bed chamber, had been. His reasoning was it was private, secluded from
listening ears. He failed to realize that yes it was very private and very far
from listening ears. No one would hear their cries of passion.
tenderly ran the back of his fingertips down Guin’s cheek. The woman soaked up
the gesture by closing her eyes and letting her head fall back as if begging him
to work his hand farther south. Lancelot, against his better judgement,
fulfilled the request by letting his fingers linger down Guin’s neckline and
travel down to her breast. Instinctively, Guin’s body surged forward begging
for more contact.
sight was too much for Lancelot. He had to have this woman and the consequences
be damned. One hand hooked into Guin’s long black lock’s pulling her head
back, further exposing her throat. The other hand took possession of her hip
pulling her closer. Guin moaned upon feeling Lancelot’s excitement. And as
Lancelot’s lips captured the flesh of his queen’s neck, Guin expelled a
primal noise that only fueled Lancelot more.
only a few kisses, the queen was begging Lancelot to take her. She told him she
was his – that it would always be that way, no matter what. She would love him
for all eternity, come what may. That was all Lancelot needed to hear. He told
her he would protect her. He would champion her for all her days. He would die
for her if that was what she wanted. Besides, a life without her would be
useless he told her.
night they made love for hours and fell asleep exhausted. A pounding noise woke
them up from a sound sleep. They knew the voice. It was Arthur. He yelled about
someone stealing the queen. Yes someone had stolen the queen. And it would not
have a happy ending.
the pretext of study we spent our hours in the happiness of love, and learning
held out to us the secret opportunities that our passion craved. Our speech was
more of love than of the books, which lay open before us; our kisses far
outnumbered our reasoned words – Peter Abelard
was a tall, dark scholar - a handsome man of mind and body. His insight was
known over Europe and few had an intelligence that could rival his own. However
in his student Heloise, he found a soulmate and a rival. She was bright and
young and beautiful and everything that Peter could want as a man. She could
make the perfect companion had he not dedicated himself to his studies – the
studies of which he was willing to give up for this woman.
will not marry you Peter,” Heloise sobbed.
belong together. Your uncle be damned. The city be damned. The church be damned!
I care not what they say or they do. You carry my child because of the love and
passion we found. I refuse to walk away for anyone’s sake.”
your own?” Heloise questioned. “You know as I do Peter that if you were to
marry your standing as a scholar would fall. You have so much to gain by not
taking me as your wife. I can’t have that burden on my shoulders. I can’t go
on knowing that I held you back.”
make me strong – of mind and body and spirit. Can’t you see that Heloise?”
if you lose your position at the University? Then what Peter?…Besides, your
life is your studies. You are a thinking man – a warrior of wisdom. I urge you
to think about what you’re asking.”
logic shouldn’t prevail,” he told the small woman. “Sometimes you have to
follow your heart. I didn’t go looking for a mate Heloise. I went looking for
experience – the need for physical love I’d never felt before. But what I
have now is so much greater. I’m begging you please…marry me, raise our
child together…and let logic float to the winds.”
can’t,” Heloise cried. “Because I love you far too much Peter. With time
you’ll see it’s for the best.”
quickly turned heel and began to walk away through the outskirts of the Parisian
neighborhood. Peter called out to her once but didn’t follow. She’d made her
choice. She’d sacrifice all for him, even the idea of having him all to
herself because it would hinder his success.
I’ll never be much without you,
he thought silently as he watched her walk away. I’ll never be complete with you gone. And someday, I will win your
favor Heloise. I promise.
the young woman’s voice called. “William?” She watched as the man sat
quill in hand writing feverishly. “WILLIAM!”
got his attention and he nearly knocked over his ink blotter before turning
around. “Yes my dearest Anne,” he said putting down the quill and turning to
face his wife of two years.
dear husband, do you work on that has you so engrossed…this time?”
gave a bashful smile. Many nights he found himself engrossed but Anne had come
to expect it. It was the price she had to pay for living with the ‘First
Bard’ and she accepted with a bit of amusement – even today.
some notes at this moment. A play about a Prince…From Denmark. He returns to
find his father, the King, has been murdered by his uncle.”
BEFORE the first act? Moving up a few acts aren’t we?” she teased.
think everyone will be gone by the end…except for the student and the solider.
They will live on."
seems fitting for some reason – the scholar and the warrior,” he shrugged.
“What did you need dearest?”
things actually,” she began. “First, I’ve heard rumors about you and the
“You heard me. She’s a patron of the arts and some
folks say much more. You remain faithful to me, don’t you William?”
my dear,” he said reaching out to stroke his wife’s stomach, which was nine
months round with their first child. “I can assure that Queen Elizabeth’s
interest in me is strictly professional.”
wondering,” she said casually.
was the other issue my sweet?”
must pause your writing for this evening.”
ever for?” he said looking concerned.
need to fetch the mid-wife.”
face went from shock to a large smile in a matter of moments. “Right away my
dear,” he said shooting up from his desk. He started to look around the room
sporadically. “You should lay. Come off your feet. I’ll get some sheets. We
need some fresh water. And a larger fire. I’ll get wood. And-.”
gently put her hand on his shoulder. “First you need to relax and get the
mid-wife dearest husband.” She reached up and placed a delicate kiss on his
course,” he nodded. He started to make his departure but stopped and walked
back to his wife. He pulled her closer and gave a light kiss to her lips. “I
love you Anne Hathaway.
love you William Shakespeare.”
– Monticello Plantation, Virginia, United States
Mr. Jefferson? Why me?”
young black slave was at a loss as to why her company was being requested to
accompany him to Paris. He was one of the most powerful men in the newborn
country and to travel at his side as an ambassador confused the young woman.
That’s not to say she didn’t want the opportunity. It would be a thrilling
adventure – no doubt. And as for Mr. Jefferson himself he was a tall, proud
man; widowed and not looking for remarriage. He had a confident edge to him and
many skills. Aside from that she found their conversations engaging – many of
his true thoughts and views he kept hidden from most of Virginia, especially
those of slavery.
me Thomas,” he told her. “I need someone I can trust to look after my
affairs for me while abroad. I trust you Sally Hemings.”
sir-.” The American statesman gave a disapproving look and Sally quickly
corrected herself. “Thomas,” she began again. “There are many people far
more qualified than myself.”
not whose company I enjoy as much . . . I can’t define it. I can’t explain
it. But there’s something here I don’t want to leave behind in Monticello.
Please say you’ll accompany me. I could make you come but I would never want
to force you into anything.”
a slave Mr….Thomas. You could face sharp criticism from the party if-.”
hell with the party.”
you don’t mean that.”
I do,” he countered with a nod. He rose from his desk and walked over to where
the young woman stood, nervously flexing and releasing her fingers at her side.
Without a word his fingers traced the line of her jaw until coming to her chin.
With two fingertips he raised her head so he could meet her deep brown eyes.
never been a more lovely woman in mind, body or spirit. I have met many in all
my travels but none quite like you,” he told her softly. “Please do me this
honor. I cannot court you – we both know that. But if you let me, I’ll
devote my life here at Monticello serving you as I try to serve the people of
this new nation. So I’m asking Sally, please say you’ll travel with me to
Paris…away from prying eyes and party games.”
felt lightheaded and gave a small grin. “I don’t know what to say Thomas.”
Her smile widened in pride for remembering to use his first name.
simple. Say yes,” he grinned.
knew if anyone were to discover his offer it could mean the end of everything
for him – perhaps even is life in some parts. But she also understood what he
meant about a ‘connection’. She could feel it too. “Yes,” she answered
firm yet softly. It was her destiny.
7th, 1966 – Mercy Hospital, South Carolina
Pappas opened her eyes to find Janice Covington sleeping in the chair beside her
hospital bed. She gave a light smile. I
told her to go home but she doesn’t listen. She never listens. The smile
soon faded as a coughing spell took over waking Janice from her slumber.
blonde quickly opened her eyes and shot to her feet, coming over to the woman.
As it subsided Janice pushed the bangs away from Mel’s forehead. In doing so
she could feel how warm the woman was. She quickly went to the bathroom for a
washrag and rinsed it with cold water. Without hesitation she returned and began
to wipe Mel’s brow.
takin’ care of me?”
the archeologist grinned. “Always will.”
reached out and pulled Janice’s hand down to her lips. She placed a delicate
kiss on the back before releasing her embrace. “Thank you for staying but I
did send ya home if I remember correctly. Ya need your rest Janice.”
need me more,” the blonde countered.
can’t stop it Janice. We both know how sick I am.
is why I’m staying. I’m going to spend as much time as possible with you.”
told ya. We’ll find each other again. We always find each other.” Mel
smiled, resolved in her fate but knowing that this end would be just another
beginning. Janice tried to match her smile and have the same confidence but
couldn’t muster it. Mel reached out again and squeezed the small woman’s
hand. “You’ll be okay Janice. You were a strong woman when I met ya.
You’re stronger now than ever.”
of you. You make me strong Mel. When I do things I think I’m not capable of
it’s you that gives me that strength.”
keep being strong for me Janice. Keep the faith that we’ll be back together
again someday. Promise me?”
plea was too much for Janice to take and she felt herself starting to tear up. I’d
give you the world if I could sweetheart. “I promise,” she whispered.
moment passed and Mel felt a chill pass over her. “I’m cold,” she told the
archeologist. “Will ya come keep me warm?”
had spent 25 plus years keeping Mel warm. But never in a public place. Their
love was always kept behind closed doors or closed tents, depending on where
they were. To the scholar society they were the best of partners. To a few close
trusted friends they were also the best of lovers. But at this point Janice
didn’t care about appearances. She took off her bomber jacket and climbed into
the small bed pulling Mel into her arms. Slowly she began a rocking motion as
she stroked Mel’s hair.
made all the right choices,” Mel said softly. “If I had it all to do over
again…I wouldn’t change it.”
neither sweetheart…Me neither.”
continued to hold Mel in silence when she felt the body on top of her go limp.
didn’t get a response. She knew she wouldn’t. Her partner. Her best friend.
Her soulmate was gone. And she felt the familiar ache her ancestor felt
millenniums before. Mel Pappas was dead. But one day…she’d be back. And
somehow Janice knew that she’d find her again.
16th, 2000 – First Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California,
Reverend held out the bible before them. “The rings?”
each turned to the best man and maid of honor, getting the rings for the
exchange and placing them on the bible before turning back to each other.
the reverend began. “Please repeat after me: I Harry.”
Xena- Harry.” Harry gave a brief shake of the head to clear his thoughts as
the room gave a small chuckle. Only a few of their close friends were in
attendance but that didn’t matter. They had what they need – each other.
“Sorry,” he whispered in an apology along with a bashful grin to the
reverend and his bride.
reverend simply smiled, knowing how nervous some grooms can be, before
continuing. “Take you Mattie to be my lawfully wedded wife.”
you Mattie to be my lawfully wedded wife,” Harry echoed.
richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall
richer for poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall
live,” Harry said as he slipped the ring onto Mattie’s finger.
reverend then turned to Mattie. “Mattie repeat after me-.”
he could finish Mattie began. “I Gabrielle-Mattie. Take you Xena-Harry to be
my lawfully wedded husband – for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health
for as long as we both shall live.”
reverend tried to hide his surprise and Mattie felt the overwhelming need to
explain. “We’ve done this quite a few times,” she said casually. “With
each other,” she clarified quickly when she realized how terrible that sounded
out loud. “I mean this is the first time in THIS lifetime though…I’m gonna
shut up now.”
chuckled silently. When he saw the
blush on Mattie’s face, he leaned over and kissed her softly out of pure
hem,” the reverend said getting their attention. “I didn’t say you could
kiss her yet.”
quickly dropped his hands, which were cradling Mattie’s face, and stood
upright again. “I’m sorry.”
the gun like always,” Mattie teased with a wink and an air kiss. Harry gave
her a smile and a shrug.
reverend knew he should just wrap this up as soon as possible.
the power vested in me and the State of California, I now pronounce you husband
and wife…Now you may kiss the bride,” he teased Harry before gesturing to
the bride with his hand.
the kiss ended Harry pulled back. “I promise I’ll make you happy Mattie.”
took his hand in hers and faced the small gathering as the reverend announced
‘Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cavender’.
know you will,” Mattie told him with the playful grin he’d loved through the
ages. “You haven’t let me down in 2000 years – you won’t start now.”
Note: Want to read a little more about the uber Xena and Gabby’s listed here?
You might find these links interesting.
http://historymedren.about.com/library/weekly/aa020500a.htm Peter Abelard and Heloise
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/1567/guinever.html Lancelot and Guinevere
http://www.monticello.org/plantation/hemings-jefferson_contro.html Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings
http://www.scr.org/season/00-01season/snl00-01/snlms6.html William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway