The Next Morning
Xena had already left Amphipolis. She only told her mother, who was already up. Xena had apologized for coming and seeing her, but that she would make up for when she returns from her newest mission. She only told her mother was important and left out where she was going. Xena didn’t want Gabrielle to follow her. Xena had to confront Callisto without any extra baggage.
“Where’s Xena?” Gabrielle asked.
“She said you knew,” Cyrene said.
“Knew what?” Gabrielle asked with concern.
“She left early this morning,” Cyrene said. She judged Gabrielle’s reaction and it wasn’t good. Xena was heading for trouble.
“She didn’t say,” Cyrene said. “Is something wrong?” She knew she should have made Xena stay for breakfast.
“She went to Rome,” a voice said.
Both Cyrene and Gabrielle turned to look at the stranger sitting in the corner.
“Rome? Why?” Gabrielle asked.
The person got up and left the inn.
“Who are you?” Gabrielle asked.
“Rome? Why would she go to Rome?” Cyrene asked.
“That’s what I’m going to find out,” Gabrielle said.
“Go get ready, I’ll prepare some food for you,” Cyrene said.
Gabrielle retreated back to Xena’s room where she kept a chest of clothes. She pulled some clothes she’d never thought she ever wear again. It was her Amazon war outfit. She knew that when she put it on, she was making a conscious decision to take up arms if she had too. She also retrieved the staff Ephiny had given her. She may not have felt completely right about her decision, but it is what she had to do. And she was going to do it alone.
“Where are you going?” Amarice asked Gabrielle. Amarice followed Gabrielle into the stables. She was perplexed by this sudden change of costume in Gabrielle. And the fact that she was carrying a staff and sword, made things much more complicated.
“Going to Rome.” She was packing her things on the horse.
“I’m coming with you,” Amarice stated.
“Amarice stay here.” Gabrielle was saying more out of concern for Amarice than she was for herself. She didn’t want the extra baggage.
“Xena said to be your friend. I’m going with you. Besides that, I want to kick some Roman ass. And since you seemed to join the real world . . . ”
Gabrielle went against her better judgement and agreed to take Amarice with her. Eli stayed behind, it wasn’t his place.
“Why would she go to Rome?” Amarice asked.
“I don’t know. And that is what has me concerned,” Gabrielle said.
The former Amazon Queen and the amazon headed off towards the direction of Rome.
“Xena, just what do you think are doing,” Callisto said. “Oh well, at least you’ll fall right into my trap.”
“Think again,” Xena said.
Callisto turned around, startled. “Well, we meet again.”
“What is it you want?”
“My sister of course. You, well no one cares about you anymore. Gabrielle well, her momentary loss of control back at that prison raised some eyebrows. Seems Gabrielle might have place where you could have,” Callisto said. She walked around Xena.
“Whether or not your sister goes with you is none of my concern, at least not yet. As for Gabrielle, she had a reason for what she did. She wouldn’t have done anything if you hadn’t interfered. So in a way, you caused it,” Xena said. She drew sword from the scabbard. She looked at Callisto with ice-cold blue eyes.
“Here we go again. Always wanting to fight,” Callisto said. She took her sword out. “You know, this is getting quite old. You can’t kill me. You can’t hurt me . . . You know, it’s a been there, done that, tried that, didn’t work thing that you always seem to forget.”
“I like a good fight,” Xena said.
“Oh I know you do,” Callisto said. Callisto made the first move. She took a jab at Xena who deflected the blow with ease and grace.
“Can’t you do better?” Xena asked.
“You trying to egg me into a fight? So unlike you. And here I thought you were on this goodness kick. Guess that didn’t last long,” Callisto said. “Oh well, if you insist on a fight, then so be it.”
Callisto charged at Xena. Xena deflected the blow.
“Come on Callisto. Fight!”
“Are you angry at me because I broke your chakram?”
“That ain’t the half of it!”
This time, Xena charged Callisto. Not taken by surprise, Callisto deflected the thrust and got in a kick to the stomach. Xena fell to the ground, the wind knocked out of her, she struggled to get up. Callisto thwacked Xena on the head, keeping her on the ground. “You’ll forgive me, I haven’t much of a chance to work out recently. Been busy you know,” Callisto said. “Not much to do there except the torments.” She managed to keep Xena on the ground by continuing to stomp her on the back.
“Tell me how you really feel Callisto?” Ares asked.
“Ares. I never thought I’d see you again,” Callisto smirked. She turned her attention away from Xena for the time being.
Xena got up and turned to face to the Gods about ready to square off with each other. Xena regain her normal rhythm of breathing and was able to regain some strength. She had to be ready just in case Callisto might try something.
“Same could be said about you,” Ares said. “You know, I never did get the chance to get even for you killing Strife.”
“Bring it on Ares,” Callisto said. “I’ve been wanting a good fight.”
“Not with me you don’t,” Ares commanded. “I promised not to interfere with your little scam, which will fail of course. You’ll always let your feelings cloud your judgement. Just like Xena.”
“Are you just here to torment me?”
“You could say that,” Ares said. He turned to Xena. “My offer still stands.”
“Deal?” Callisto asked. “Xena: Warrior Princess making a deal with Ares, God of War? How so unlike you Xena. Going to the person that has tried to kill you . . . ”
“No deal Ares,” Xena said. “This is my fight.” She was willing and ready to fight Callisto again. She was willing to die too. She had a job to do, put Callisto back where she belonged.
“Then I guess we fight,” Callisto said.
“Not here we don’t,” Xena said. She whistled for Argo. The golden mare came out from the trees.
“Heading to Rome Xena?” Callisto asked.
Xena stopped and turned around to face Callisto.
“Why are you going to Rome?” Callisto waited for Xena’s response.
“If you know I’m going to Rome, then you know why I’m going there.”
“Oh Xena, I don’t think you know what you are doing. If you go to Rome, your friends will suffer. You have my sister you know.”
“I don’t have your sister Callisto. She joined us on her own free will.”
“Does she even know who you are?” Callisto asked. “Of course not, you try to avoid talking about Cirrah. Painful isn’t?”
“Go away Callisto.”
“Just remember Xena, my Lord still has a conquest to be won. And it is your dear friend Gabrielle that he’ll win it with.”
“Gabrielle wouldn’t even give you the time to talk,” Xena said. “Remember Perdicus?”
“If you think about that hard enough dear, it might come true. See, Gabrielle’s little outburst shows a weakness for control. My lord likes weaknesses. It’s His way to win over people.” Callisto disappeared.
Xena continued onto Rome.
“What could there possibly be in Rome,” Amarice asked. She rode beside Gabrielle. Amarice found it hard to look her new friend. Gabrielle was a different person now, especially when it concerned Xena.
“I don’t know.” Gabrielle was in full Amazon war regalia. She never thought she’d be wearing it. She had also taken up the use of an Amazon War Staff. She liked the feel of it in her hands. It felt right. She felt right. She made the conscious decision to protect her friends. If it meant using violence, then so be it. She was at peace with her decision.
“Something doesn’t feel right,” Amarice said. She jumped off her horse and looked around.
Gabrielle followed. The two Amazons stood side by side. They heard the rustling of leaves and quickly turned to the direction the sound came from. The two women stood in shock.
“You,” Amarice said. She drew her sword. She had longed the day she could finally meet this person in battle. It was for revenge for the death of family. Her parents, her sister . . . She remembered what Xena told her about not finding her answers at the end of a sword. That didn’t matter anymore. She finally was able to take revenge for her family’s death.
Gabrielle couldn’t speak. She knew there was trouble. She remembered what happened at the prison courtyard. She knew Callisto was responsible. She knew what Callisto wanted.
“Amarice don’t!” Gabrielle shouted. She grabbed a hold of Amarice’s arm.
“Yes, Amarice don’t. You wouldn’t want to hurt me,” Callisto smirked.
Amarice broke free of Gabrielle’s grasp. “You killed my family!”
“Oh no, that was Xena,” Callisto warned.
“It wasn’t Xena anymore than it was me!” Amarice charged Callisto. Amarice did not know this person. She only knew the hatred she had for her. She didn’t know the real identity of this person either.
Gabrielle tried to stop her, but it was hopeless. Gabrielle could only stand by and watch what was unfolding in front of her. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She tried to prevent Amarice from making a terrible mistake, but it wasn’t going to work. She didn’t want Amarice to make the mistake that she made, that Xena made, that even Callisto made — giving into the anger. “This is not the way Amarice!”
Amarice continued her charge on Callisto when Xena dropped down from a tree.
“No!” Xena dropped down in between Amarice and Callisto. She moved in closer to Callisto.
“Why do you that? You are always getting in the middle of everyone’s business.” Callisto grabbed a hold of Xena.
“It’s a part of who I am,” Xena said. She grabbed a hold of Callisto as well and threw her to the ground. She didn’t want to fight, but if it had to come to that, she was ready. She knew beating Callisto would be difficult enough.
“Let me do this,” Amarice said.
“No Amarice,” Xena said. She gave Amarice a very stern look. Amarice slyly moved backwards towards Gabrielle. “Don’t do it,” Xena warned her friend. “It’s not worth it. She’s not worth it. She’s paying for her mistakes, just I like have.”
“I won’t kill her. Stay with her and you’ll get killed.” Callisto said looking Amarice. She held out a hand to Gabrielle. “Come with me Gabrielle.” She was going to take Gabrielle with her. Her Lord needed a servant, Gabrielle was going to be the person.
Gabrielle looked at Callisto. Gabrielle was under some sort of trance. Something was pulling her towards Callisto, some sort of hidden force. She couldn’t resist it. She didn’t want to resist it.
Xena knew what was going on. Callisto was going to use Gabrielle against her. Gabrielle was going to be the chosen one.
Gabrielle started to approach Callisto.
“No Gabrielle!” Xena shouted to her friend. Xena leaped in between the two women.
“Will you go away,” Callisto said. She tried to force Xena out of the way, but it was no use. Xena was too powerful. “What is happening?” Callisto was turning into a mortal.
Xena threw Gabrielle out of the way.
Gabrielle was in shock at what just happened. Gabrielle took a brief moment to regain herself, then realized that Xena just saved her life.
“This time is for real Callisto,” Xena said.
“Oh please,” Callisto said. Callisto threw the first punch. Callisto’s fist went through empty air. “I’m not interfering!” She yelled into the afternoon sky. “She started it first. I was just defending myself!” She knew what was going to happen to her. She thought she had an advantage over Xena.
“Behind you,” Xena said. Xena quickly moved to the other side of Callisto.
Callisto swung yet again, hitting only empty air. Callisto stopped momentarily. She realized that Xena was just toying with her, trying to wear her down. “Will you stop with these silly games,” Callisto said. She hated this moving around, play with your enemy Xena sometimes did.
Amarice helped Gabrielle up and moved back to let the two sworn enemies fight.
“Time for a battle of the fates Callisto,” Xena said. She planted a jump kick into Callisto’s back, sending Callisto hurling forward.
“Oooh . . . ” Callisto howled. “That’s going to leave a mark!”
“So will this.. Yiii-Haa.” Xena planted another jump kick, directly into Callisto’s chest, sending her backwards to the ground.
“This will too!” Callisto jumped to her feet and drew her sword. “Let’s see how much damaged we can do this time.” She kicked Xena in the stomach.
Xena felt the blow. Xena drew her sword. She twirled it around and making constant eye contact with deadly foe, reading her opponent for the first move. She was eagerly anticipating Callisto’s first move.
“Trying to read my move aren’t you Xena?” Callisto lunged for Xena. Xena deflected the sword attack.
Xena made a swift move and managed to cut Callisto.
“You can’t hurt me ... ,” Callisto said in disbelief as she looked at the blood coming from her left arm. “You can’t . . . ” Callisto was shocked. She was mortal again. She realized that she now had no choice, she had to kill Xena.
“Apparently, you aren’t immortal anymore . . . ”
“Then so be it,” Callisto said. She made a swipe, Xena jumped back. Callisto had an advantage over Xena, it was Gabrielle. Put Gabrielle in harm’s way and Xena becomes prime for defeat. Callisto kicked Xena in the chest, then thwacked her on the head with her sword hilt, making Xena fall to the ground. Callisto continued to pound on Xena.
Xena managed to free herself return a few of the punches to Callisto.
Xena and Callisto traded blows with both their swords, hands, arms and legs. Each one of them getting lucky with a kick or two. Callisto managed to get a cut on Xena’s left arm and left leg. Xena managed to do more damage to Callisto. The fight was going to go to a stand still. Each fighter was of equal strength and skill. Callisto saw her chance, she did a forward flip and planted herself in front of Gabrielle. She shoved Amarice aside and grabbed a hold of Gabrielle.
“Trying to use her against me? It won’t work Callisto, not anymore.” Xena said. Xena moved in for an attack. She blocked out Gabrielle. It was the only chance she had.
Gabrielle took a free arm and jabbed it into Callisto’s side. Gabrielle scurried away, taking Amarice with her. She and Amarice went to a safe distance.
“Will you just die already,” Callisto said to Xena. She got lucky with last parry. Xena was caught off guard. Her sword plunged into Xena’s right side. The pain was quick, the loss of blood was quick. Xena didn’t even mutter a sound. Xena looked directly into Callisto’s eyes. Callisto did the same. Callisto felt the warmness of Xena’s blood rushing down her sword and on to her hand. She liked the feel of it. But she didn’t feel any different after killing her opponent. It didn’t feel like it was supposed too. She didn’t care if she interfered. She didn’t care if she was to be forever tormented in Hell. It made no difference to her. She couldn’t stand the thought of her sister being with Xena. Callisto noticed Gabrielle moving towards her.
Gabrielle took her sword from her scabbard and raced towards Callisto with every intent to kill her. It was for Xena, for Perdicus for all those other people who lost their lives to Callisto.
“Xena’s out of the way, Gabrielle is mine, and I get my sister back . . . it is a good day,” quirked Callisto. She may have interfered, but getting sweet Gabrielle would be a definite plus. Who would suspect someone as innocent as Gabrielle to be an instrument of evil. With Xena gone, the task would much easier.
“You are going to die,” Gabrielle yelled. She charged Callisto.
Callisto held out her hand and stopped Gabrielle. “Oh please. Little warrior girl, lets talk before we fight, shall we? This whole, violence thing, killing out of hatred I knew it was in you. Come with me . . . You and Xena can live happily ever after.”
“You are going to die,” Gabrielle said. Her eyes reeked of killing determination. She knew what she had to do. She moved closer, the sword was ready to impale Callisto. She never was frightened. She was making the decision to protect her fallen friend. She momentarily blocked Xena out.
“You don’t have the guts to kill me. You can’t kill me because of Perdicus. You’ve forgiven me for that. Hmm . . . Ah Xena . . . Of course, you’d do anything to protect your precious Xena. I saw you in that prison courtyard, impressive.”
“Yeah . . . Xena,” Xena said, slowly rising behind Callisto.
Callisto slowly turned around. She and Xena locked eyes. Callisto knew Xena should be dead. The two warriors stood, staring into each other’s eyes. Reading them. Judging them. Predicting the opponent’s next move. Neither one of them gave their move away. Callisto suddenly saw her fate. Her fate resided in what she fear most, Hell. Xena saw her fate too. It was her and Gabrielle’s death. The crosses, the Romans, the nails . . . all where there. Xena took her sword from behind her back. Callisto was never expecting this move. Xena plunged into Callisto’s chest. Xena kept plunging it in. It went in so far that it came out the back. Callisto looked into Xena’s eyes. Xena did the same. Xena removed her sword from Callisto. Callisto slowly fell the ground and her body disappeared.
Xena slowly started to fall to her knees. Gabrielle and Amarice grabbed a hold of Xena’s arms to prevent her from collapsing any further to the ground. Gabrielle knew from look on Xena’s face what was the wrong. Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief that Callisto was gone and that Xena was alive. She was also happy with herself that she didn’t have to give into the hate again.
“What’s wrong?” Amarice asked.
“She knows her fate,” Gabrielle said.
“Is she going to be okay?” Amarice asked.
Gabrielle was knelling beside her fallen friend. “The wound wasn’t that serious. She’ll be okay. Sore, but okay.”
“Who was that person?” Amarice asked. “She acted as if she knew me.”
Gabrielle decided this would be a task better suited for Xena. Xena should be the one to Amarice about Cirrah and Callisto. She should be the one to tell Amarice who Callisto really was. Gabrielle looked at Amarice, “I don’t know.” Gabrielle looked up into the star filled sky. There were many times when Gabrielle starred up into the stars, thinking. Xena began to stir.
She moaned ever so quietly. “Hey,” Xena weakly said. She was slowly regaining consciousness. She was out for what seem like days, but in reality it was only hours.
“You’re going to be okay,” Gabrielle said. “A little sore, but okay.”
“How are you?” Xena asked her young friend.
Gabrielle looked as if she hadn’t slept in days. Or even eaten a decent meal for that matter. “I’m fine. Get some rest. We are heading out in the morning.” Gabrielle was now the protector.
Several Days Later, In Amphipolis
On a Hilltop
Xena and Gabrielle stood together on a hilltop over looking the horizon. The sun was setting in front of them. The mixture of colors brought out a peacefulness in the horizon. Everything seemed calm. It even felt that way.
“You were never were going to Rome were you?” Gabrielle asked. “You knew Callisto would try to stop you.”
“You weren’t supposed to follow me,” Xena said. She looked at Gabrielle. “What happens in Rome now, as long as it doesn’t concern me, I won’t concern myself with it. Caesar is gone, that’s all that matters now.”
“Xena, I think you should know by now, that you shouldn’t leave me behind,” Gabrielle said. She put her hand in Xena’s hand.
Xena let out a small laugh. She grimaced at the pain. “Don’t do that.”
“You saw the vision again didn’t you?” Gabrielle asked. She had to know.
“Yes. And Callisto saw hers. I saw it in her eyes.” Xena continued to look out on the setting sun.
“So it’s true,” Gabrielle somberly said. She stared out into the setting sun with her friend.
The sounds of the river could be heard beneath them. It was a serene sound. It made everything seem right. Maybe they were finally at peace with themselves. At peace with the decisions they made.
Xena took a deep breath. “We can’t run from it. We already know that. We can’t hide from it, ” Xena said. She tried to comfort Gabrielle. But it was of little or no use. This vision would be forever returning. It was their fate together, they had to accept it. It was how it was going to end.
“I know that now. Was it supposed to happen? Back at the prison . . . was it supposed to happen?” Gabrielle needed to know.
“Maybe it was, but maybe not in the way it happened,” Xena said.
The two watched the sunset from the hilltop.
Ye, though the won the battle, the couldn’t change their fate. Fate is something
you can’t change. Xena had always tried to protect Gabrielle from danger, from death.
This is the one time of which neither one of them can do anything to prevent it. They
could try to change it, but it would always fail. Their deaths together were written. And
what is written you can’t erase.