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.