**COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER** Xena: Warrior Princess and its characters are copyright to MCA/Universal Television and Renaissance Pictures. This story is meant for entertainment purposes only. The plot is copyrighted to Jennifer Zellers. This story may not be sold. This story cannot be uploaded to another archive without the written consent of the author.

Violence: What you would find in a normal episode, maybe a little more gory.
Hurt/Comfort: Definite hurt/comfort. May need tissues.
Subtext: None
Rating: PG-13 because of the violence and language
Title: The Spirit Warrior
Date Written: 02/10/99 Completed: 02/18/99
Author’s Name: J.L. Zellers (aka Aria -- the good Aria)

Synopsis: Xena and Gabrielle, en route to the Amazons, split up when road raiders (aided by an army) attack them. Both wish the other were there to help. A spirited sole helps out both, but Xena is cautious of this figure. (Takes place in season 4.) Xena learns the real identity of the warrior, but it is too late... (ALL NEW XENA FAN FICTION)

NOTES: * I created the city of Arepolis (It may have existed, who knows?)
* I also created the burning of Arepolis
* I’ve done my best to keep ‘in tune’ with the series (minus subtext)

Many other characters

The Spirit Warrior

The Spirit Warrior

Gabrielle is walking beside Xena as they make their way to the Amazon hideout. Ephiny has sent word of trouble with a rouge band of centaurs, endangering the peace treaty between two nations. They aren’t more than a few days from the Amazon’s camp. Gabrielle is telling a story to pass the time by. Xena is looking around and wasn’t paying much attention to Gabrielle.

Xena suddenly stops in her tracks, alerting Gabrielle to the trouble ahead. They both stop to see three men running at them. Xena climbs off Argo and sends her away. She draws her sword, poised for a fight. Our two heros take their stances when three road raiders come their way, yelling and brandishing their swords.

It was a short-lived battle. The raiders were no-match for the Warrior and the Amazon Princess. The raiders fell the ground. Xena approaches the sole conscious raider, with the intention of finding out they attacked.

“I’ve cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You’ll be dead in thirty seconds. Why did you attack us?” Xena asks.

Gabrielle is keeping a watchful eye on the surroundings. Her attention is quickly turned to the thunderous role of horses. “Xena!” She turned to her friend with great worry.

Xena turned to the oncoming army, galloping at full speed. She turned back to the raider.

“Too bad I didn’t kill you,” he said. He died.

Xena whistled for Argo, who came out from hiding in the woods. Xena placed her sword back into its scabbard. Xena then climbed onto Argo, “Gabrielle, get on Argo.” Xena helped her friend up on the horse. Gabrielle placed her arms around the warrior’s waste. They didn’t out run the army, thinking that they were after the raiders. They slipped away quietly, only to be followed by the army.

“Why are they after us,” Gabrielle asked. She looked back to see the army was getting closer. “They’re gainin’!”

Knowing the danger, Xena didn’t exactly want to stop and ask questions. The two headed into the woods, hoping they can escape at night, under the cover of darkness. At least the forest could provide them with some cover for a while at least, but not for long. Xena took the roughest, hardest terrain route, hoping it would slow the army down for a little while. She recognized that a few of the soldiers as well as the clothes they wore around their arms. It was her ‘color.’ This gave the warrior a slight pause. She opted not to Gabrielle about this piece of information.

They went deep into the forest. “We’ll stop here until sundown,” Xena said. She helped Gabrielle off the horse. Xena then followed. Xena looked around, to make sure they weren’t followed. “It might be a good idea if we split up.” She didn’t look at Gabrielle. Xena grabbed one of the saddle bags off Argo.

“Split up,” Gabrielle asked. “Why?” Gabrielle sat down on a tree stump. She was concerned. They just barely got away from the army.

“One of us has to make to the Amazon nation. We lost a half of days travel because of the army,” Xena said. She continued to check around. Her senses were on full alert. She was fully aware of her surroundings.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea,” Gabrielle asked. “We just barely got away.”

“I know that. That’s why we have to split up. There is no sense in both of getting captured or worse. We’ll rest for a few hours then take off after sunset,” Xena said. She left to be alone for while, she walked into the woods.

Gabrielle knew better than question Xena when she got like this. She knew her friend was thinking of some sort of plan to get out of this and get safely to Ephiny. But when Xena got like this, she usually ended up captured, hurt, dead or just plain crazy. This was giving Gabrielle great worry. She knew that it was better if Xena worked it out alone. Gabrielle sensed Xena knew which army is was as she had that look in her eyes. Why she wouldn’t tell her, didn’t bother as much as the concern for their safety did.

The Army Camp

“We lost them,” the soldier said. He had just arrived back from the scouting detail. He was still trying to catch his breathe.

“They’ll try to get out tonight,” Sirius said. “Are the paths blocked?” He was a scruffy looking chap who hadn’t had a bath in weeks.

“All of them but one, like you requested,” Margolis said. He was standing behind Sirius.

“Knowing Xena, they’ll split up. She wants to use up as many of the men as possible. She herself will have them follow her more than the Amazon Queen. She’ll protect her friend no matter what the cost. By leaving one path open, Xena or her friend will surely take it. There’ll be no escapin’ us this time,” Sirius said. He turned to face Margolis. Both of them were wearing purple clothes around their arms.

“Why would they split up,” Margolis asked. He was not exactly the brightest person in the world, but he was one vicious soldier. He couldn’t figure out the reasoning. Surely Xena would realize that the path would be a trap. She wouldn’t fall for it.

“I trained under Xena. We don’t know where the Amazon’s are hiding out – but Xena does. Sure, we’ll follow Xena, but Gabrielle will be the one joining up with the Amazons. Xena will do her best to keep us away from them for as long as possible. Even putting her own life before hers. Determined. That is the Xena I once knew.”

“Stylous is here,” a soldier said.

“The Amazons have fled their land, went to higher ground,” Stylus said. He was one of the evil centaurs. “We are tracking them.”

“Good, this may be easier than I thought,” Sirius said. “The thought of finally getting Xena will make more me powerful than I could have ever imagined. People will fear me. I’ll be able to finish what Darfus wanted, Xena dead!! Not to mention the down fall of the Amazon nation.” He laughs sadistically. He continues his ranting.

His soldiers cheer. They call out his name and chant “Death to the Warrior Princess!!”

The Camp

Xena was sharpening her sword. The sun was setting behind her. She could feel the warmth of the sun. Gabrielle was taking a short nap before they head out of the forest. Xena suddenly gets a strange feeling. She walks out into the woods. She knows who is about to appear. “Show yourself Ares, I know you are here, I can feel ya!!”

Ares appears, “You are the only mortal that can do that.”

“What do you want Ares,” Xena asked. She rested her sword on her left arm. She did her charming smile that Ares adores so much.

“One of your former soldiers is about to pick up where you left off . . . or shall I say where Darfus left off,” Ares said. He approached Xena. It is obvious that there is some sort of attraction between the two. He pushed back the hair from her face. He did his charismatic smile. He obviously wanted Xena to rejoin him.

“What do you really want,” Xena asked. When Ares came into play, there was always something. Usually he was trying to get Xena to succumb to her dark side again. She had built her defenses up pretty good over the years when it came to Ares. She had no intention of ever taking up an army again in his name.

“I want you to stop him,” Ares said. “While he isn’t as good as you, he’ll disrupt the flow. And I can’t have that.”

“Why should I bother helping you,” Xena said. What happened in Dahak’s Temple is still fresh in her mind.

Ares laughs. He moves back away from Xena. “You’ll find out.” He then disappears.

Xena is suddenly haunted by the ‘vision’ Alti had given her during her search for Gabrielle. Xena returned to the camp. She has doubts as to whether or not they should split up. When she looks at Gabrielle, she is again haunted by the vision. And realizes that if Gabrielle stays with her, the vision will come true. Gabrielle woke up and looked into her eyes.

“Xena,” Gabrielle asked. She looked into friend’s eyes. She could see it. “The vision again? Can you just forget the vision?” Gabrielle stretched and slowly got up. She started to walk over to Xena.

Xena ignored the question. She went back to getting Argo ready. “I want you to take Argo. You can get there faster.”

“Get where,” Gabrielle asked. Gabrielle was also having doubts about splitting up.

“To Ephiny and the others,” Xena said. “Go . . . now.”

“Xena I think we should . . . ,” Gabrielle started to say.

Xena forced Gabrielle onto the horse. “No time to argue.”

Gabrielle complied, it was the only thing she could do at that point. Xena gently talks to Argo, giving her a few instructions and to watch out for Gabrielle. Xena slaps the rump of her horse. Argo races off with Gabrielle atop him. Xena watches them leave.

Soon after Gabrielle left, Xena headed out of the camp. She went into the same direction as Gabrielle, only parallel to her. This gave Xena the advantage just in case anyone would follow her friend. She also wanted to make sure no one would cause trouble for Gabrielle. Xena kept her distance, constantly looking behind her to make sure no one was there.

By days break, Gabrielle had made up for lost time. She was tired and hungry. She was near where Ephiny and the other Amazon’s were holding up after the rogue Centaurs attacked and ran them out of their village. Argo suddenly stopped and Gabrielle’s attention was turned to four soldiers who coming from behind, with swords and staffs ready. They were snickering. They thought this was going to be an easy fight.

She climbed off Argo and sent her away. She was ready to fight. She stood there, with her staff in tow waiting for them. The first soldier came at her, twirling his sword quickly. She took her staff and hit him the gut and then sweep the staff around his legs, taking him off his feet. He fell backward, moaning.

The second soldier, came at her with a spear. She twirled her staff and knocked his feet out from under him. She then whacked him on the head to make sure he stayed down.

The third soldier came from behind her, but Gabrielle quickly twirled her staff into his gut and hit him across the face with the Amazon war staff. He tried to keep his balance but was knocked off his feet when the second soldier made a lunge for Gabrielle. The second soldier’s sword went into the third, killing him.

The fourth soldier was coming at her when Gabrielle’s attention was turned to three more soldiers on horses with spears and swords. She whistled for Argo to return. She climbed aboard Argo to make a quick exit. Argo saved Gabrielle just in time. She was able to get away from them this time. She wasn’t sure about the next time. This incident gave her quite a scare. Her heart was pounding fast as she and Argo made their way out of there. She never looked back.

“She has her horse, clever,” Sirius said. “Don’t just lay there and moan . . . GO AFTER HER!!” He ordered. “You are pathetic excuses for soldiers!”

“Sir,” a messenger said. “Xena is traveling parallel. The scouts picked her up. She’s about a mile behind us.”

“Good. Just as I thought she would.” Sirius said. He rode off. He was ready to claim his first victim, Xena. And to fulfill a promise.

“What about the other girl,” Margolis said. No one knew who Sirius wanted more: Xena or Gabrielle.

“Continue to follow her. Neither one of them must reach the Amazons,” Sirius said. He made a diabolical laugh and headed toward where Xena was at. He had one thing on his mind, the death of Xena.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Creek in the Woods

“We can’t rest for long,” Gabrielle said to Argo as she petted his mane. “Get some water.” She took a deep breath. The fresh air made her more awake. Her great feeling was disrupted with the sound of soldiers approaching. She turned to look into the woods and she spotted men moving amongst the tress and brush. She was about to get on Argo when three soldiers come running towards her. Do these guys ever give up, she thought. She was ready for the fight.

The first one was successful in knocking her down, and she was quick to return the favor. He fell back into the creek, unconscious. Gabrielle, still recovering, made her way back to Argo when she was trapped. She suddenly wished Xena was there. As more soldiers arrived, the wish was getting only bigger. They were begging her to fight them.

Gabrielle decided to make a run for it; suddenly, a figure appeared. At first Gabrielle thinks it is Xena. The spirited figure attacks the soldiers, Gabrielle joins in the fight and the two dispose of the soldiers just like if Xena was there. Gabrielle turns to the spirited figure, “Who are you,” she asks.

The spirit just smiles then vanishes. Gabrielle didn’t want to waste time so she got out of there before more soldiers arrived. She was appreciative for the help but wondered who it was.

Gabrielle was stunned by the way this person fought, exactly like Xena. Gabrielle doubled her tracks to make sure no one was following her. But somebody was already doing that for her. The last thing she needed to was to bring her new traveling campions with her to the Amazon hideout.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Spirited Woods

It wasn’t before too long before Xena encountered a few of the soldiers as well. She knew she was being followed. She was careful not to let her guard down. She heard a noise and stopped when she sensed a person coming from behind her on a horse.

“Did you lose your horse,” the voice said.

Xena turned around, “Sirius.” She recognized the voice and the person. She then noticed the colors he was wearing, her old colors. That didn’t cause much alarm as the soldiers did behind him did. They were also wearing her colors as well as carrying her banners.

“You remember my name,” Sirius said. “Take her!” He motioned for his men to charge Xena.

Soldiers came out from behind him, brandishing their swords. Xena was quick to draw hers. She fights them off one by one. Xena wishes Gabrielle was there. Xena was clearly out numbered. Surrendering was not option, so she continued to fight. This was going to be quite some battle for the Warrior Princess.

Xena does a back flip and her battle cry. She twirls her sword around and slashes two soldiers with one swipe. Xena is hit in the back of the head with a sword hilt, knocking her to the ground and the wind out of her. The blow was fast, hard and stunned the Warrior Princess. Just as Xena is about to be overtaken, a spirited figure appears to help in the cause. The spirited sole fights with a staff, leading Xena to believe that is Gabrielle but it is not.

The two warriors fight side by side, Sirius charges Xena only to retreat. “I’m not finished yet.” He wanted to make sure Xena knew his intentions. He wanted this to be a game with her. He wanted to make her afraid of him.

Xena was thankful for the help. When she turned to thank the person, they had disappeared. Xena didn’t exactly want to spend anymore time in this place. She went on head.

Xena suddenly felt dizzy. She paused for a moment, leaning against a tree. She tried to regain her sense of balance. She passed it off as being tired and most likely stemming from being hit in the head. After her brief rest, Xena continued on ahead at a faster pace. She had to catch up with Gabrielle no matter what. Splitting up was looking more and more like a bad idea. Xena had hoped Gabrielle didn’t encounter the same trouble, but was sure she had. Xena knew her senses to well for this not to be true Trouble had a tendency to find Gabrielle. When someone she cares deeply about was in jeopardy, bells go off. This gave her all the more reason to forge ahead, despite her aching head.

The Land of the Amazons

Ephiny greeted Gabrielle with open arms, “Where’s Xena?” She looked around and could find no sign of Xena.

“We had to split up. Soldiers, from I don’t know where, chasing after us. She’s not too far behind.” Gabrielle said. She followed Ephiny into her hut. At least she hoped Xena wasn’t too far behind.

“You were attacked,” Ephiny asked with concern.

“Not once, but twice, by the same soldiers,” Gabrielle said.

“You are all right,” Ephiny asked. Ephiny noted some facial bruises and a few cuts on her friend and fellow Amazon.

“I’m fine . . . if it wasn’t for someone who appeared from nowhere, I’d be dead now. It was weird, the moment I wished Xena was there, this person appeared. Fought exactly like her too.”

“You mean Aria, the spirit warrior,” Ephiny said. Ephiny knew who Gabrielle was talking about.

“Aria,” Gabrielle asked in confusion. She’s never heard of this person. The story intrigued her.

“Aria, a female warrior from the village of Arepolis,” Ephiny said. “Her village was ravaged by likes of Draco, Cortese and others, including Xena. Only Xena spared her life.”

“Tell me more,” Gabrielle asked. Forgetting about what happened for the moment. Xena’s past always intrigued her for some reason. Perhaps it was wanting to help Xena overcome her past that fueled it. Gabrielle was always trying to get a better understanding of Xena and her quest to help her over come her past and find the goodness that lied within her.

“As legend goes, Aria was killed by Callisto. Aria returned to world as a warrior spirit, appearing only when people are in need and the need has to be great. I’ve never seen her, those who have, are blessed with her greatness. It is an honor to be helped by her.”

“I’ve never heard of this,” Gabrielle said. Throughout her travels with Xena, Gabrielle has met some strange people. Heard some pretty far out stories, but Aria’s intrigued her.

“Not many people have, we know of it because she has appeared before some of the others, helping them in time of need,” Ephiny said. “What did she look like?”

“Not like a warrior if that is what you mean,” Gabrielle said.

Ephiny went on to tell Gabrielle more about Aria and her story. Gabrielle listened carefully. For the moment, it looked as if Gabrielle had forgotten about Xena.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Spirited Woods, 2

“Who are you,” Xena asked as she approached the person standing in front of her. Xena was cautious of this figure.

“I’m Aria of Arepolis,” the spirit said. “I’m returning a favor.”

Xena’s mind starts to wonder. She remembers Arepolis, in clear detail. “For what?” Xena relaxes a bit, but she doesn’t let it show. Arepolis was the early bloodbaths in Xena’s warlord career.

“Sparing my life,” Aria said. “Your friend is great danger. You must go to her.”

“Gab-rielle,” Xena stuttered. She started to move closer to the spirit, but it fades away. Xena is again troubled with the vision of Gabrielle on the cross. She was horrified by the vision.

Xena gets another wave of nausea and a her head starts to hurt more. The pain was so intense, it made her drop to her knees. She struggled to get up, but she was shaking. The pain almost unbearable. Somehow, in someway, Xena managed to keep her balance as she struggled to her feet. Her vision was a little fuzzy. This is not good, she thought to herself.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Spirit of Aria

“Aria, the warrior spirit,” Gabrielle said. She looked at the person standing in front of her. She was worried. Xena should have been here by now. She continued to pace around the floor of her hut. “I’ve never heard of you.”

“I only appear to those whose needs are great,” Aria said. She walked towards Gabrielle. “Your spiritualness means a lot you. But it troubles your friend.”

“Thank you for earlier today,” Gabrielle said. Gabrielle was most appreciative of Aria’s efforts.

“Your friend, Xena, is troubled by a vision,” Aria said. “I can see it in her eyes. It is great conflict from within her. She battles it constantly.”

“Xena,” Gabrielle asked. She had seen Xena, Gabrielle thought.

“She should be here soon,” Aria said. “She has her own troubles following her, a warlord named Sirius.”

“What does he want with her,” Gabrielle asked. The named didn’t ring a bell. She suddenly remembered the army from yesterday. The colors, she thought.

“It’s not so much you as it is her,” Aria asked. “I must go.” The spirit disappeared through the door.

“Wait . . . ,” Gabrielle asked. She approached the door, hoping to find her new friend. She practically ran into Xena.

“Wait for what,” Xena said.

“Xena! I’m so happy to see you,” Gabrielle said. They exchange a few hugs. Gabrielle was relieved to see her friend.

“Who were you to talking too,” Xena asked. She looked around, but didn’t see anybody.

“You wouldn’t understand,” Gabrielle said. Gabrielle knew how much Xena loathed the whole spiritual thing. Xena said she didn’t mind, but Gabrielle knew that did bother her sometimes..

“Someone named, Aria, I suppose,” Xena said.

Gabrielle is astonished. “You’ve heard of her?”

“She saved my life,” Xena asked. Xena didn’t tell Gabrielle that she has seen the vision again. “Sirius is the one that has organized this fine little mess we are in. The centaurs, everything.”

“What about the centaurs,” Gabrielle asked.

“They know nothing of the battle,” Xena said. “Sirius is using the rogue Centaurs to pit the Amazons and centaurs against one another, just like Krykus did. One of the centaurs mentioned to me that the rogue Centaurs have set up a parameter around the village. No one can get in or out, if anyone is still alive. Sirius is handling the finer details. No one knows of the real prize except for Sirius and a few of his key soldiers.”

“What does he have to gain by this,” Gabrielle asked. “Real prize?”

“Land, slaves and money,” Xena said. “He trained under Darfus and me. He has no code. He’ll kill anyone. He doesn’t care.” Xena didn’t bother answering Gabrielle’s question. Xena knew who the prize was, it was her. Darfus may have wanted her dead, but Sirius want to be the one to kill her.

“How do we stop him,” Gabrielle asked. Her enthusiasm was vivid.

“How do I stop him. You are staying here with Ephiny and the others. Help them should the soldiers find the camp,” Xena said. “It is your duty to protect your people.” It was the first time in which Xena had told Gabrielle to take her position as Amazon Queen. This kinda shocked Gabrielle.

“Aria told me you are in danger,” Gabrielle said with concern. She look into Xena’s eyes. She wanted to go with her. Her eyes were pleading with Xena to let her come along. “She said something about a conflict.”

“Funny, she said the same about you,” Xena said. “I made Sirius into what he is. I’ll un-make him. It is my responsibility.” Her head started to hurt again, she shook if off. Hopefully Gabrielle didn’t catch on that she was hurt. The nausea was something that was sure to give her away, but she was able to hide it.

Gabrielle and Xena hugged and said their good-byes. “Be careful,” a teary-eyed Gabrielle told her friend. She wanted so much to go with her, but knowing Xena and this vision she keeps getting, isn’t helping the matter. Gabrielle reluctantly agreed, even though it was against her better judgement. Gabrielle sensed Xena had a plan.

Gabrielle could also sense that something was nagging at her friend. She wanted to help. She wanted to help her friend desperately, but she let it go. When Xena put her mind to something, she had every intention of completing it. She never gives up.

Their reunion was short lived. Xena left the camp. Before she left, she told Ephiny to make sure Gabrielle stayed behind. Ephiny complied by placing guards (a customary already in place because of Gabrielle being the Amazon Queen) outside Gabrielle’s hut. Ephiny knew Gabrielle would somehow find a way out.

Xena galloped away on Argo. Lost deep in her thoughts. She was feeling guilty for leaving Gabrielle behind, but it had to be done, to protect the vision from becoming true. She knew Gabrielle wasn’t going to stay. She knew Gabrielle to well to not stay behind. This was one conflict she had to face.

Sirius’ Army’s Camp

“We lost both of them,” Margolis said. “It’s like they didn’t leave any tracks. No boot prints, no horse prints. All gone.”

“I’m disappointed in you Margolis,” Sirius said. Sirius struck Margolis in the gut with a staff. Margolis fell to the ground in pain. “Get up!” He stood over him, looking down upon him.

Margolis staggered to his feet. He straightened himself. He took a deep breath and stared into Sirius’ eyes. He knew he was going to die.

“Find the Amazons,” Sirius said. “They’ll make good slaves.”

Margolis started to leave, but Sirius launched a knife into his back. He screamed out in pain. He slowly fell to his knees, then fell to the ground.

“Get him out of here,” Sirius said. He yanked the knife out and wiped it off. He place the weapon back in his belt and headed out of the hut.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Spirited Woods, 3

“It pained you to leave her behind, so why did you,” Aria asked. She appeared across from Xena.

“She could get hurt,” Xena said. She looked into the spirit and saw Gabrielle. It made feel even more guilty.

“So could you,” Aria said. “You seemed troubled by a vision of your friend’s death. You seemed troubled by the fact that you maybe the one responsible. Does that explain why she isn’t here.” Aria was pumping her for more information.

“Who are you,” Xena asked again. She’s seen the face before. She can’t place it. Xena is overly cautious of this person, as she asks too many questions. It was just her natural instinct kicking in.

“I’m Aria of Arepolis. A village your army burnt to the ground, but spared the lives of the women and young children. You killed my father with your own sword.”

Those words haunted Xena. Xena envisions the ravaging of Arepolis. She remembers seeing a young girl holding a doll, hovering over a man’s body, sobbing and shaking the lifeless form at her feet. She remembers turning away to attack another poor farmer, slicing him open. Xena just stares into the fire, contemplating her past crimes. Why was this person here? What did this person really want? This questions were racing through Xena’s mind.

Xena looked up again, only to find the spirit gone.

Xena’s head started to throb again. She tried to soothe the pain by rubbing her temples, but it didn’t work. The increasing pain went throughout her body. She winced at it, then it went away. She went back to staring into the fire, deep in her thoughts.

Ever since India, Xena has been real cautious of spirits and weird religions. She kept a watchful eye out. She did realize that her spirited friend was right, it did pain her to leave Gabrielle behind like it usually did.. Xena was intent on making that vision not come true, even if it meant leaving Gabrielle behind on a few adventures. She felt what she was doing was for the “Greater Good.” Or least that what she thought. She closed her eyes to see if it helped the pain.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sneaking Out of the Hut

Gabrielle’s hut was guarded. She was after all the Amazon Queen. Gabrielle couldn’t let Xena go in alone into Sirius’ camp. She would be killed for sure. She knew Xena could hold her own in battle, but this was different. Sirius could predict Xena’s every move.

“You are worried about your friend,” Aria said. “She is worried about you, that’s why she told you to stay here.”

“I can’t stay here,” Gabrielle said. “I have to help her.”

“She is troubled by her past,” Aria said.

“You know of her past . . . ,” Gabrielle said. “...then you know why I have to go.”

“She killed my father with her own sword. I seek no revenge,” Aria said. “She is troubled by what she has taught others.” Aria was trying to be calm. She to gain the confidence of Gabrielle. Showing any type of anger would not be good.

“I need to help Xena,” Gabrielle argued. She was more intent on helping her friend.

“I can help,” Aria said.

“How,” Gabrielle asked.

“By you staying here,” Aria said. “If you truly want to help her, then you must stay here.”

“How can you help her,” Gabrielle asked. Her curiosity was getting the better of her. She waited for answer, but the spirit disappeared.

Gabrielle, despite what Xena told her about her past always looked at it as a disease, but that wasn’t the case. For if it wasn’t for that past, she and Xena could most likely be dead. Gabrielle knew going after Sirius was suicide. This gave her even more cause to go after her friend. Gabrielle gathered a few items together before she left the hut to join up with Xena.

* * * * * * * * * *

Xena’s Camp

“You never listen do you,” Xena said. She knew Gabrielle was behind her.

“How did you know it was me,” Gabrielle asked. She sat down next to her friend.

This generated no response from Xena. “Why did you follow me?” She threw a couple sticks into the fire. She stirred it around a bit. She didn’t look at her friend. But she was glad to see her friend.

“I can’t let you go in alone, he’ll kill you,” Gabrielle said. She tried on comfort herself with the fact that what she was doing was right. She sat down on the log next to Xena. She tried to read Xena’s expression, but there was nothing there. Just emptiness. Gabrielle hated this look because she could never think of what Xena was going to do next.

“I can’t let you come with me,” Xena said. She continued to look away.

“The vision,” Gabrielle said. “It’s the vision isn’t it?” Gabrielle look at Xena, trying to look inside to see what was causing the turmoil.

Xena just looked at Gabrielle. Body language is sometimes more than words. Xena didn’t have to say anything, Gabrielle knew.

“I’m not letting you go in alone,” Gabrielle said. “That’s final.” She let out a sigh. She wasn’t going to let Xena give her the shaft. She has every intent of fighting side by side her friend.

Xena was about to voice her displeasure, but decided to let it go. It was probably better in the long run. “If you are going to come with me, get some sleep.”

“You should too,” Gabrielle said. Almost as an after thought, “ . . . are you okay?”

Xena finally looked at friend, “I’m fine.” Xena’s smile was weak and looked as if it was in pain.

Getting Xena to talk about her feelings was a battle in itself. Gabrielle decided to let it go. Gabrielle nestled onto the ground for some sleep. Xena kept a watchful eye over her friend. Gabrielle knew she wasn’t going to get much sleep. Her mind was just active.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ares Tells Xena

Xena wondered off into the woods, “show yourself Ares.”

“Aria of Arepolis, I remember that. That’s when you self-invoked your ‘don’t kill women and children code.’ She’s just like you know,” Ares said. “Only she doesn’t act out on revenge. Or does she?”

“I killed her father,” Xena said. Xena was remembering Arepolis.

“You killed many fathers,” Ares said. “She’ll try to keep you from killing Sirius.”

“Aria is not an illusion to Gabrielle,” Xena said. She knew that Gabrielle had a strong feeling towards, spiritualness. It was something she learned from being with the Amazons.

“That should concern you. Ever think that Gabrielle is here to stop you from killing Sirius?”

“Gabrielle knows what kind of man Sirius is,” Xena said. “She knows what needs to be done. She won’t try to stop me.”

“Like Hope right? Xena when will you ever learn why Gabrielle prevents you from killing from sometimes,” Ares said.

“She is concerned,” Xena said. She beginning to think Ares was trying to get her to give into her ‘dark side’ again.

“You want to believe that is the case, but I think otherwise,” Ares said. He laughs then disappears.

Xena is plagued by a memory of the burning Arepolis. For the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what side Ares was on. Or what he was really trying to do. Did Ares really want her to kill Sirius or was it some diabolical plot to get her back. Gabrielle’s sudden appearance made her think twice. Maybe Gabrielle was here to stop her from killing Sirius.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Morning

“Wake up Gabrielle,” Xena said. She nudged her friend with her boot to wake her up.

“Did you sleep at all last night,” Gabrielle asked her friend. Her eyes slowly drifted open.

“No,” Xena said. “We have a lot of ground to cover.” She gets on Argo and starts to head off.

Gabrielle is slow to get up, but moved quicker once she realized she’ll be left behind, again. Xena was obviously intent on getting Sirius and was in a hurry to get it down. Aria appears only to Gabrielle, “You must prevent her from killing Sirius Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle realizes that only she sees her, “Why?” She stops and turns to Aria.

Aria notices that Xena doesn’t see her, “She has lost faith. I’m in danger. I must go.” Aria fears those who don’t believe or suddenly lost their faith. Xena was one of those that had faith, but lost it. This was not good for anyone. If those who believe lose faith, they turn into somebody that is to be feared.

Gabrielle sensed in someway, Aria was afraid of Xena. “How far away are we?” Gabrielle caught up with Xena. Gabrielle was worried. Gabrielle has seen the look in Xena’s eyes before. This look scared her. Xena’s dark side was emerging.

“The camp is just over the ridge,” Xena said. She climbed off of Argo. “Take Argo.” She looked towards the ridge. She climbed off Argo. Her head started to hurt again, but she quickly concealed herself from Gabrielle.

“We aren’t separating again,” Gabrielle said. “We both almost got killed the last time, remember?” She sensed a sudden change in Xena. She took the reins willingly.

“Figment of your imagination,” Xena said. She opened up one of her saddle bags and took out a knife.

“Figment?...Wait!....No. You aren’t ditching me,” Gabrielle ordered. “You aren’t doing this.” She was concerned. This was unlike Xena. Yeah sure she changed her mind every once in awhile, but this was a mood change not a mind change. Gabrielle could do nothing but look on.

“I’m doing it now,” Xena said. “Get on Argo and head back.” She wanted Gabrielle to be safe.

“I’m not moving,” Gabrielle said. “I’m either coming with you, or I’m staying here.”

“Okay, then stay here.” She started to walk off.

“I’m still going to follow you,” Gabrielle said. She started to follow Xena.

Xena stopped and walked back towards Gabrielle. “Good point.” Xena walked over to Argo got some rope then proceeded to walk towards Gabrielle.

“What are doing,” Gabrielle asked. She started to walk backwards. She walked into a tree. She was scared.

“Making sure you don’t follow me,” Xena said. She took the rope and started to tie Gabrielle up. “I’m doing this for own safety, trust me on this.” She didn’t look at her friend.

“You’re tying me up to a tree, AGAIN?” Gabrielle was in disbelief. She was no longer concerned for Xena, she was scared of her.

Xena had a sudden appearance change. Her look was that of evil. There was no preventing her this time from completing the task. The old Xena was back. Something prevented her from killing those who got in her way this time; it was what goodness she had left in her. It was the goodness Gabrielle showed her. Perhaps that is why she tied her young friend up.

“Xena!!” Gabrielle shouted. She was about to be sick. She struggled with the ropes, trying to the loosen them up, but she got no where.

Xena simply ignored her. She continued on ahead, never looking back.

Aria appears before Gabrielle, “she is doing this for your own safety.” Aria walks around Gabrielle.

“How am I supposed to stop her if I’m tied up,” Gabrielle said. Gabrielle continued to struggle with the ropes.

With a motion of the wrist, the ropes disappeared. “Go quickly. Be careful for you do not know what your friend is capable of.” Aria then disappeared.

Gabrielle retrieved her staff and head off to follow Xena. She was concerned for her friend. “I do know what she is capable of,” Gabrielle shouted. “That’s why I have to stop her!”

Xena was walking, cautiously along the trail to the camp. Darkness was setting in. She had taken the long route to throw off any warning of her attack or just in case anyone was following her.

“You can’t kill him,” Aria said. She walked besides Xena. “I won’t let you!”

“You are an illusion,” Xena said. Xena shrugged it off again. Her head was throbbing more than what it was before. Her vision went slightly awry but she was able to refocus.

“You can’t kill me this time,” Aria said. “I have other plans for you...” She was directly in front of Xena. Aria was ready for a fight. Her motions, her stature was familiar to Xena. There was something about her that triggered something in Xena...

Xena suddenly felt dizzy again. She took out her sword and charged Aria. Xena yelled out her battle cry. She saw Aria not as an ally, but as a feared enemy. One that must be killed. Xena couldn’t put her finger on it, but she knew person. She knew this person very well.

Xena promptly flattened Aria who was quick to recover and kicked Xena in chest, sending her backwards to the ground. Xena jumped back to feet, charging Aria again. Aria again, kicked Xena sending her backwards. Xena decided to forget the close combat technic and used her chakram. She threw the chakram, only to have it caught by Aria. Aria hurled the chakram back at Xena. Xena caught it and was about to throw it again . . .

Aria this time charged Xena, with swords aloft, the two clashed. They fought like seasoned warriors. They had the same strengths, the same strengths. It was like fighting a mirror image of one’s self.

“No revenge you said,” Xena said. She twirled her sword around a few times. She made a lunge for Aria who quickly deflected it. Xena fought hard to keep a grip on her sword.

“You are the one that charged me my friend,” Aria said. Aria managed to get Xena down.

Xena kicked Aria, sending her backwards. “But you are the one who continues to fight.” Xena jumped back to her knees, intent on killing Aria.

“So are you,” Aria said. She charged back at Xena, she just barely misses stabbing her. Aria manages to disarm Xena by kicking her sword from her hand. Aria kicks Xena few times in the stomach sending her back to the ground, in pain.

Xena quickly recovers her sword and comes back after Aria who was waiting for her. Xena again charges Aria, yelling her battle cry. There was something familiar about all of this...

Gabrielle hears swords clashing, she runs as fast as she can towards the fighting. She stops dead in her tracks when she sees who it is that is fighting. “Xena?” Gabrielle is confused. She watches the two warriors battle with each other.

“Stay out of this Gabrielle,” Xena shouted.

“It’s time Gabrielle,” Aria said. She turned to look at Gabrielle.

Feeling like it is the ultimate betrayal, an already delirious Xena charged towards Aria screaming her battle cry.

Gabrielle cries out “Xena!” Gabrielle runs closer. She can only watch what is unfolding in front of her. Something that she has never seen in quite full detail, the person that made people run and hide when they heard the name, “Xena.”

Aria quickly turns and stabs Xena in her left side she made no sound. Gabrielle is shocked, she couldn’t tell who stabbed who. Xena falls into Aria, she looks into her eyes. Xena mumbled something to her attacker. Xena knew who it was... Aria pulls the knife from Xena. Aria lets her rest there before stepping back. Xena falls to the ground, she is motionless. Aria only smiles. She turned to look at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle hurls her staff towards Aria, but she disappears before it hits her.

Gabrielle runs to Xena’s side. She turns the semiconscious warrior over. Blood was pouring out of the wound. “Xena?” Gabrielle put her hand over the wound. She looked at her hand, it was covered in blood.

No response. The only thing that stared up at Gabrielle were a pair of blue eyes that didn’t look normal. Her color was off, she was going into shock.

Gabrielle whistles for Argo. Argo loyally comes to the aide. She struggles to find some rags to put into the wound, she forced them into the gapping hole. Xena cried out in pain. Gabrielle struggled to get Xena up onto Argo, but somehow managed. She steadies Xena as she climbs up behind her. Gabrielle heads off to find someplace safe. Xena needed immediate attention, traveling back to the camp was out of the question.

Gabrielle spotted a cave and decided to head there. At least they could be hidden. Gabrielle was covered in blood.

She was confused of the situation before her. She couldn’t make sense of why Xena and Aria would be fighting. This was a question for Xena later. Right now, her major concern was to tend to Xena.

Gabrielle rode Argo into the cave. She fudged a little bit, but she soon calmed down. The cave was dimly lit. She slid off Argo while continuing to hold Xena on the horse. Then slowly, she helped Xena off the horse. The weight was almost too much for Gabrielle. She propped Xena up against a rock. Xena yelped out. The pain was almost getting to be to much for her. Xena relinquished her urge to be in control and let Gabrielle help her.

“Stay with me,” Gabrielle said. “Hold these here.” Gabrielle placed Xena’s hands over the rags. “Hold it tight.”

Xena again yelped with pain. Xena looked confused.

“I need to get a fire started,” Gabrielle said. “You’re going to be okay.”

The reassurance didn’t help much. Xena started to feel light headed. The loss of blood was catching up her. She let herself succumb to the pain, it would be better in the long run. It would be easier on Gabrielle. Xena slowly drifted to an unconscious state. She was at peace for the moment.

When Gabrielle returned, she quickly started the fire. She retrieved Xena’s medicine pouch, a blanket and the water skins from Argo and placed them beside Xena. “You’re going to be okay.” At this point, it was more for her reassurance than her patient’s. She was nervous about whether or not she could get the blooding to stop.

Gabrielle let the unconscious head rest on her shoulders while she removed the torn leather. There was so much blood. Gabrielle gently placed the woman on the ground and removed the rest of the tunic. Gabrielle worked over her patient for what seemed to be an eternity. The wound took several stitches to close. Gabrielle’s only hope was that this wasn’t a wasted effort. The wound itself wasn’t that deep.

A few hours later, the bleeding had finally stopped. Gabrielle was finally able to properly dress the wound. Xena was regaining some level of consciousness. It was just enough for Gabrielle to help Xena drink some water.

“I need to get some more water...and clean....up,” Gabrielle said. She didn’t want to leave her alone, at least not for very long. Gabrielle scooped up the waterskins and headed towards a stream she spied earlier. She made sure her trip was quick.

Gabrielle returned to find Xena a little more alert. “Hey...,” Gabrielle said. She kneeled down beside Xena.

Xena’s eyes drifted open, unfocused and confused. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what was going on. She found it hard to breath, much less easier to talk. She decided not to waste what energy she had on something trivial as talking at the moment. She knew it would be better if for her in the long run if she conserved her energy to get well. She would get about faster if she let her body recover from the what appeared to be a traumatic injury. She just looked into Gabrielle’s eyes.

“You need to drink some more water,” Gabrielle ordered. She lifted Xena’s head.

Xena complied. She drank the water. She started to feel weak. While she didn’t pass out completely, she relaxed just enough to let Gabrielle know that she wasn’t completely up to drinking water at the present time.

This concerned Gabrielle even more. Xena felt as if she was on fire. Gabrielle expected a fever, but not this high of one. Given Xena’s state of mind over the last day and the attack, Gabrielle was worried as to what the next few hours would bring. High fevers can bring out some strange things in people. Sometimes it’s nothing, sometimes it can dangerous. Xena was already dangers. Gabrielle could only hope that Xena would sleep through most of it.

In her haste of taking care of Xena, Gabrielle had completely forgotten about Argo. The patient mare waited her turn. The war horse didn’t seem to be to upset about being ignored. In away, the horse understood. “I’ll get some water for you.” Gabrielle poured some water into a rock depression. “I’m sorry I forgot about you.” The horse snorted and drank the water. Gabrielle patted the horse and then looked back to her friend, who was resting. After feeding Argo, she promised to clean her later on.

Gabrielle kneeled down beside her friend. She pushed back the hair, “Your fever is really high...” Gabrielle took some rags and poured water on them. She started to wash the warrior down. “I need to try to cool you down.” Gabrielle continued to wash down the skin. It didn’t seem like it was doing any good, but it was.

“Better...,” the warrior mumbled.

Gabrielle’s heart broke. Xena was obviously in pain. She broke into a little grin, knowing that at least Xena was appreciative of her tireless efforts.

Gabrielle knew she had to get some sleep, but couldn’t bring herself to get any. She was concerned for her friend. She let out a sigh and started to drift off to sleep. She caught herself falling asleep, she quickly regrouped.

After changing Xena’s bandage and making sure she was asleep, Gabrielle tended to Argo. Argo was more than happy to have the saddle off. Gabrielle started to take to Argo down the stream, but she stopped. Almost as an after thought, Gabrielle took Xena’s chakram and placed the warrior’s limp right hand on top of it. This kind act generated a weak smile from the warrior. This gave Gabrielle a little bit of reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

Gabrielle returned to find Xena had moved a little. This was a good sign. Gabrielle took one of the rags and watered it down. Gabrielle knelt beside Xena and wiped off her face. “Your fever is still high...” Gabrielle took the rags she just recently soaked and started to wash down Xena again. The attempt to cool Xena down may have been futile, but if it made Xena feel better...it made her feel better.

Gabrielle could no longer fight the sleep. She found herself slowly drifting off to sleep.

The Search

“They are no where to be found,” Epinon said. She looked at Ephiny and Tyldus with great concern. “I did find this...” She handed Ephiny a rag with blood on it.

“There’s not much more we can do tonight. It’s too dark,” Ephiny said. “Whoever’s blood this is...couldn’t have gotten very far.” Several things started running through her mind. Could it be Xena’s? Could it be Gabrielle’s?

“We’ll help you search,” Tyldus said.

“Thank you,” Ephiny said. She was grateful to her centaur friend. “We’ll start at first sign of sunlight.”

* * * * * * * * * *

“What do you mean you can’t find them,” Sirius said.

“We heard fighting...when we went to check it out...who ever it was gone,” Artelous said.

“You heard fighting...,” Sirius said. “Find them or it’s your head!” He kicked Artelous in the butt and sent him on his way.

Sirius was most displeased with his troops. He knew he wasn’t that far away from Xena. She couldn’t have gotten far.

“I can deliver Xena to you,” the voice said.

“How did you get in here,” Sirius asked the woman standing before him. He couldn’t see her. He was about to call for his guards, but didn’t feel threatened.

“I know where she is at,” the woman said. She was careful not to let herself be known or seen. “She isn’t that hard to find you know...”

“What am I supposed to do in return...,” Sirius asked. It had to be something. No, one would just turn over the Warrior Princess and not ask for anything in return.

“Get rid of the Amazons,” the woman said. “I’ll bring you Xena. As an added bonus, I’ll even throw in the annoying bitch sidekick.”

“Why would you do this for me,” Sirius asked. He could smell a rat, he was starting to smell one now.

“Oh because I want to see Xena suffer. She already is you know...she’s wounded,” the woman said. “Is it a deal?”

“Xena for the Amazons...I think we can broker a deal,” Sirius said. His plan was going to be easier than he thought it was. Xena and her friend, in a nice little package...

* * * * * * * * * *

Gabrielle suddenly awoke. She sensed someone was in the cave. She looked around and saw that it was only Argo walking around. She started to drift back sleep when she noticed a figure standing directly across from her.

“Too bad she’ll live,” the voice said. She started to walk around the cave. “She’s the one who attacked me you know.” It was Aria or was it...?

Gabrielle was speechless. She looked into the eyes of her new enemy. Gabrielle didn’t care who attacked first. “What do you want?” Gabrielle glanced over at Xena, who was sleeping.

“You do realize that if you stay with her, it will mean own death,” Aria said. She looked down at Xena.

Gabrielle felt hatred. She felt the same hatred Xena did. She would die for Xena. “Your point is?”

“You could have killed me today. Too bad you are too green to kill,” Aria said. She did a familiar laugh. She looked at Gabrielle in a certain way.

Gabrielle recognized the voice, the mannerisms. But it couldn’t be...she is dead. Xena killed her... Gabrielle walked over to Aria. They were face to face. “What do you want?” She was determined to get answer out of her.

“Testy aren’t we,” Aria said. “Oh, nothing really.” She started to walk around the cave again.

Gabrielle wasn’t pleased with this answer, “nothing?”

“Actually, I just wanted to make sure she was still alive,” Aria said. She started to walk towards Xena.

Gabrielle was quick to get in the way. She grabbed her staff and was poised for a fight. “I thought you meant us no harm?”

“I meant you know no harm at first, which is quite the irony of the situation,” Aria said. Realizing that Gabrielle was about vanquish her with her staff, she vanished. She couldn’t deliver Sirius her present if she were trapped...

“It can’t be...you are dead...Xena killed you with the Hind’s Blood Dagger,” Gabrielle muttered. She knew who the spirit warrior really was....it was CALLISTO!

Gabrielle knew things were going to be more complicated. Callisto was back... But how?

* * * * * * * * * * *

“Do you ever die,” Ares asked.

“Can’t keep a good girl down you know,” Callisto said. “Admit it, it would be fun watching the two of them die.” She knew Ares hated Gabrielle.

“You can’t really think you’ll succeed do you,” Ares asked. He hated Callisto. Callisto hated him. It was a perfect match.

“You’ve been a witness...Gabrielle’s precious Xena has gone nuts. Too bad I didn’t finish the job. It would have been fun watching her die,” the blonde one said.

“Too bad for you,” Ares said. For some strange form of reasoning, he was going to protect Xena and Gabrielle.

“Ares..You aren’t going soft on me are you,” Callisto said. “I thought you hated Gabrielle. She did take Xena from you after all...”

“Get out of my site Callisto,” Ares said. “You aren’t going to stop my plans this time.” He was about to attack to Callisto.

“Very well then,” Callisto said then disappeared.

Ares was most displeased. Having Callisto involved only complicated matters.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The Next Morning...

“Gab-rie-lle,” Xena muttered. Her eyes drifted open.

“What...what is it,” Gabrielle said. She moved closer to Xena.

“Callisto...she’s alive,” Xena said weakly. Her eyes opened to look at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle just looked at her. “She’s dead...” She knew Xena wasn’t awake.

Xena started to get up. As much of a struggle as it was for her, she did managed to get almost upright.

“Hey...,” Gabrielle said. She forced Xena to lie back down.

Xena grimaced in pain. She wanted to get up.

“You’ll tear your stitches,” Gabrielle said. She looked at the wound to make sure Xena didn’t tear any. Gabrielle was relieved she hadn’t. “Here, drink some water.” Gabrielle lifted Xena up and held a protective hand to the back of Xena’s head. Xena drank. “Rest...”

Gabrielle retrieved the empty waterskins and went down the stream. Gabrielle started to walk back towards the cave when she ran into Ares.

“This is no my doing. I would personally wish she just die...Callisto that is...,” Ares said.

Gabrielle walked past him. Ares followed her.

“Xena didn’t tell you? Of course not, you would have probably found someway to stop her from killing Sirius...just like in Chin,” Ares said.

Gabrielle turned back around in disbelief. “What?”

“Xena was going to stop Sirius,” Ares said.

“The God of War trying to stop a war,” Gabrielle asked. She found this hard to believe. She found it even harder to believe that Xena would actually do something for Ares. “You trying to stop a war?”

“Believe it or not, if you hadn’t followed her...Xena would be dead,” Ares said. “And you would be at the mercy of Sirius.” He may have hated Gabrielle, but he did have this respect for her. Gabrielle never gave up. Xena had taught her well.

“I seem to remember someone telling Xena that she had to kill Hope...only to be told later that if she did she would die,” Gabrielle said. Gabrielle shouldn’t have brought that up, but it was inevitable.

Ares ignored her comment. “You’ll need my help to get out. Sirius is just over that ridge.” Ares pointed to the a spot just above the cave. He disappeared.

Gabrielle returned to the cave to find Xena awake and a little more alert.

“Callisto is alive,” Xena asked. It was pure instinct, the look in Aria’s eyes.

Gabrielle knew there was no denying it. “Yes.” She placed the waterskins beside the fire. She sat down next to Xena. They’ve been in this situation before.

“We have to leave here,” Xena said. She tried to get up.

Gabrielle was quick to stop her. “Are sure you can move?” Gabrielle wasn’t sure that Xena should be moved.

“If we stay here...we are sitting ducks,” Xena said. She tried to get into a more upright position. The pain was a little much, but she managed. She tried not to alert Gabrielle that she was in pain.

“Are sure you can move,” Gabrielle asked.

“It’s either that or you leave me here,” Xena said sarcastically.

Gabrielle didn’t find much humor in that statement. “You must be better, you are trying to be funny,” Gabrielle kidded. “If we are going to leave soon, I have to get Argo ready.” She got up.

“Gabrielle...thank you,” Xena said.

Gabrielle looked back she couldn’t think of anything to say. She just smiled and got Argo ready for their departure. Gabrielle did know one thing, Ephiny would be out looking for her.

After getting Argo ready and getting Xena somewhat dressed, Gabrielle carefully helped Xena up onto Argo. Gabrielle got on behind. Xena was still weak. Gabrielle didn’t want to chance Xena falling off Argo at a most unexpected moment. They were off and on the trail in no time.

Gabrielle knew this was a mistake, but she had no choice in the matter. Xena was right, if they stayed there, Sirius would most surely find them.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It didn’t take Ephiny and the others too long to find Gabrielle and Xena. Xena had told Gabrielle to head back to the camp. Ephiny was a little mad at Gabrielle for running off. But was relieved to find out that everyone was pretty much in one piece. Even Xena was starting to feel a little better.

The Amazons and the Centaurs were ready to go after Sirius. Xena warned them that another party has taken interest in this war. This person wants both Nations destroyed. Xena was in no condition to fight. But she knew Sirius. He uses her tactics. She could predict him. That is the only reason she was able to go along with them, much to Gabrielle’s disapproval.

“Fighting Sirius will be like fighting a ghost Gabrielle,” Xena said. Gabrielle was walking beside Xena who was riding Argo.

“Are you sure you are up to this,” Gabrielle said. She was concerned. Xena wasn’t at full strength. She wasn’t even at half-strength. In someway, some how, Xena always managed to come through.

“I’m fine,” Xena said. She knew Gabrielle was concerned about her. Even she was concerned about herself. Was she really up to this?

“Promise me you’ll run if you get out numbered,” Gabrielle said. She meant it as a joke. Xena didn’t catch on.

“I promise,” Xena said. They continued on ahead.

The War

“Sirius!! Sirius!!,” the army shouted.

Sirius rode in front of his troops. They waved their swords and continued to shout his name. He turned to look at the opposite end of the ridge. “Centaurs and Amazon’s standing side by side! Willing to die for one another!!” He back to his commanders.

“When should we start the attack,” one of his lieutenants asked.

Sirius turned to look at his enemy. “They won’t attack first. Attack!!”

With that order, Sirius’ Army commenced forth. They were yelling with swords, staffs and spears aloft. The ran towards the front of line of centaurs and amazons.

With bow and arrows aimed, they fired. The amazons and centaurs managed to take out several of the soldiers. But it soon became a hand to hand combat war.

Sirius was at the front, taking out his enemy with the swift move of his sword. He was obviously well trained. He looked around for Xena. He couldn’t find her. He fought his way to the back of the line. He still couldn’t find out. He climbed off his horse and continued to pick off his enemy one by one.

“Looking for me,” Xena said. She had her sword in tow. She felt up to this fight.

Sirius stopped and turned around. He did a smile and twirled his sword around and made a lunge for Xena.

Xena was quick to deflect his aim. The swords clashed.

“You are going to die,” Sirius said. He made another lunge for her.

“Not today,” Xena said. Xena kicked him, sending him backwards. She twirled her sword around and did her battle cry.

She lunged for Sirius this time. This made her side surge in pain. This only fueled her more. She suddenly became stronger.

Sirius kicked her away. She fell to the ground, but quickly sprung back up.

“She said you were hurt,” Sirius said. He couldn’t believe the way she was fighting. This should have been an easy kill. “You never give up do you?”

“Never trust those who appear from out of no where,” Xena said. She swung her sword at Sirius. The only way Sirius knew where they were at was from Callisto.

“I told you I deliver her to you,” Callisto said. She no longer appeared in the form of Aria. Appalling as it may have been, Callisto appeared as herself. “It’s payback time Xena!!”

Just as Callisto was about to disarm Xena, Ares appears. “Not this time Callisto...” Ares and Callisto engage in a short-lived fight of which Ares wins.

“Ares of God War...,” Sirius looked on. He let himself become on unfocused. His attention was quickly restored when Xena tried to impale him with her sword. He deflected her blow. He knocked her to the ground.

“Is on my side,” Xena said. She never thought of herself saying that about Ares. It seemed out of the ordinary. Xena leaped back to her feet. She twirled her sword around.

Sirius twirled his. He made a sadistic laugh.

The two warriors stood staring at one another. Waiting for one of them to make a move. Sirius made a charge for Xena. Xena twirled her sword around. He fell right into her sword. He fell dead to the ground.

Xena was weakened by the fight, but managed. She held onto her side.

She looked back to see Sirius’ army retreating. The Amazons and Centaurs were rejoicing. They defeated a deadly army.

Gabrielle went in search for her friend. “You okay?”

“I’m fine,” Xena said. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Gabrielle said. She spotted Sirius. “You killed him?”

Xena just looked at Gabrielle. Expressions were more than words.

“You didn’t break any stitches did you,” Gabrielle asked with concern. She went to look at Xena’s wound.

“Nope,” Xena said. She started to walk off towards Ephiny.

“Good. I was worried there for a moment,” Gabrielle said. Gabrielle knew her friend was fine.

* * * * * * * * * *

Back at the Amazon Village
Several Days Later...

The Amazons and Centaurs were celebrating the victory over the warlord Sirius and the return of their lands to proper owners. Once again, they owed the Warrior Princess a debt of gratitude.

Gabrielle and Xena sat on a log, watching their friends celebrate. They didn’t say much too each other.

Gabrielle finally mustered up enough courage to ask Xena about her little partnership with Ares. “Why did you help Ares?”

Xena had expecting the question. She hadn’t really thought up a suitable answer, “It just seemed right...he didn’t want anything in return.”

Gabrielle nodded and accepted the answer. “This is going to be a habit is it?”

“No,” Xena said with a smile.

Gabrielle’s thoughts drifted back to Aria. “She seemed helpful.”

Xena knew her friend was referring too. Xena thought for a moment. “Aria was real. She is who said she was. Aria is a spirit warrior.”

“So why did you attack her,” Gabrielle asked.

“The real Aria wouldn’t challenge someone whom she had saved...It goes back to having faith in each other. It was that made her appear,” Xena said. “Callisto, somehow...someway...used that faith against us. I realized it when she said she couldn’t let me kill Sirius. When you showed up, she tried to use you against me. She had hoped you would do something. You lost your faith in Aria...that’s what saved our lives.”

“So Callisto had to go to alternative,” Gabrielle said.

“Yes. Sirius was her key,” Xena said.

The two chatted some more.

Gabrielle didn’t fully understand what had happened. She wasn’t sure Xena did either. Gabrielle realized that if she had kept her faith in Aria, Xena would be dead. That is what Ares meant. If she hadn’t showed confusion, hadn’t poised a threat to Aria/Callisto...things would not have turned out they way they did.

* * * * * * * * * *

A Week Later...

With Xena almost completely healed and anxious to get on their way, Gabrielle said good-bye to her Amazon friends.

“I have this idea....for this story,” Gabrielle said. “A warrior who lives in the trees. She watches over people and comes to their aide...what do you think?”

“Sounds like a good story,” Xena said. Xena looked back up into the trees, she gazed for the moment. She no longer felt dizzy.

The two warriors headed off into the sunset.



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The author was not harmed in the writing of this story. However, the filing cabinet was mortally wounded with a war staff.