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RACE AROUND ANCIENT GREECE: THE STORY
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"Then I suggest you hand it here," said Xena calmly as she strode over to Eli.

"You see how primitive the workmanship is....this is the ancient, the oldest..."

"It's only a week old!" exclaimed Livia impatiently. "Hephestus forged for me when Alti took mine away and gave it back to Xena."

Xena's lip curled disdainfully, "Not one of his better efforts."

She tossed it lightly into the air shaking her head. "Balance is horrible. No wonder it didn't come back to you, Eve."

"Livia. My name is Livia." Xena's daughter scowled. "And I meant it to stay in his chest a good long time."

"Sure you did," Xena said as she hid a grin and hurled it over to Livia. Turning to Xenan she said, "Look here. You've got issues. I've got issues. The difference between you and me is that I have a snowball's chance in Tartarus of actually working 'em out. Or I would if you people would stop interfering."

Xenan opened his mouth to protest, but instead reared back on his hooves in preparation for charging Livia. Xena cooly eyed the joint where his foreleg connected with his body suddenly struck at a point. The centaur cried out in pain and fell down rolling over on his side.

"Sorry, I don't have time for this." She shot a look over at Minya, Joxer and Paulina. "Go to the inn over there. You look like you'll pop any day now."

"But we're here to help you!"

"Swell," muttered Xena under her breath. She was beginning to realize that she had indeed gone wrong somewhere after Cirra. How the in Hades had she picked up this band of sincerely deluded fools? Xena offered a wordless prayer of a thanks to the goddess that had intervened. Whatever her motives had been, she truly had granted a great favor.

"You can best help me by staying safe," she said injecting her voice with the proper note of concern. "Minya, you've got a ...um...child to worry about. I couldn't bear it if you endangered your little one for me."

Minya's eyes filled with tears, but she held them back. Eli nodded--a mistake he realized, as his hands failed to catch his head and it rolled across the market square coming to a stop at Alti's feet.

*******
"Hmm...." Alti grabbed Eli's head by its hair and held it up. "I'm so glad my little experiment worked on you. You aren't immune to my power of suggestion. Perhaps with your 'help' I'll be able to convince Xena that we are lovers too."

Reflecting that she had several rituals to prepare, Alti strolled out of the square and decided to return to her lair. The moral outrage of a holy man was powerful stuff and could be very useful if properly harnessed. If she could just figure out how to keep him quiet.


*****

LIvia was growing restive. While she was more than willing to take on every single pathetic idiot there, it would take too much time and it might endanger her greater plan.

I'll take care of my old mount later when he's got his strength back, she thought. She signalled her troops and they quick-marched out of the square.

"Let's do this later." Livia added as an afterthought, "mother."

Before Xena could react to Livia's departure Dite's Afro was suddenly beside her pulling her away. Taking a scroll out of her ample bosom, she handed to Xena and began to chatter excitedly.

Xena didn't make out much of it. Something about her father, Zeus and Hades' helmet of invisibility. Dite whooshed away and Xena heard the sounds of Joxer and Minya approaching.

The helmet of invisibility....Xena executed a perfect backflip and landed beside her horse...who had inexplicably changed colors. Quickly donning the helmet of invisibility, she disappeared from view and fled from the square.
 
Posts: 55 | Location: Amphipolis, Thrace | Registered: 18 December 2004Report This Post
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It was getting chilly on Mount Olympus. Hera pulled her cloak tight. The decor wasn't the warmest to begin with. It might be best to have a chat with that Odin fellow. He had some fine decorating ideas. With a few fire places and some horns of some description, the halls might feel a lot more comfortable.

Hera picked up her copy of The Daily Scroll and flicked through it. Hades was having a fire sale. The flames of Tartarus made that a regular occurence for him. Dite was trying to flog a second hand afro. Smelly.

Now, here was something new. Hera read the headline with interest. The Power of Three. Three. She read further. There were now three chakrams in existence. Hera rested the paper on her lap.

As far as she had known there were only two. The chakram of darkness and the chakram of light, merged by Xena into the famous split chakram. Someone had made a third. The door would be opened if the three were ever combined. Xena's soul would be vulnerable.

Well, that put a spin on recent events. Would any of the mortals figure out the significance of the third chakram? Only time would tell.


~~~~~~~~~~

 
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Visit THE LOUNGE.


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Posts: 5337 | Location: Oz | Registered: 22 June 2003Report This Post
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Alti walked along in a mist of her own making. The hate and anger she had felt all her life had become like a shroud, not even entering the light of day. Eli watched their progress from where his head had been tied to the saddle bag. In his mind's eye He could see her as a child, the fragile little darling, such a long time ago:

She played in the garden, happy to find a flower, she ran to show her dad. He slammed her to the ground. It was nothing she had done, yet she thought it must be.

He began to tear up. And the stream of salty tears ran down the horse's leather and onto her leg.

"AGH! What is this? You're ruining my gear!" She rasped loudly. "Cut it out!"

"I - I can't, he said weakly," I have no hands, I can't even wipe my own eyes."

"Alright, hold on," she said impatiently.

She reached over to him and propped a rag under his head. "Here! Cry into this," she demanded.

Those words took her off somewhere. She had heard them so many times herself. "What a pitiful pair they were…" she thought."…should have never been parents."

"None of them are perfect," said Eli softly.

"Shut-up you moron!" And don't read my thoughts! Sheesh I don't care what you think of my life!"

It would have been easy for her to kick that head from here to eternity. She felt like it too, but just being near him seemed to make her want to open up to some things she had been keeping in for a long time.

They rode in silence for a while. Alti avoided thinking of her plan- that might reveal too much to this weird holy head. But she did think about her life; about all that she had worked for. She had done everything her heart desired. She'd become the best at everything she tried. It was a life of accomplishments! So why, at this very moment when her destiny would soon be fulfilled, did she feel so empty?

Eli sensed that Alti was feeling low. It was a rare moment, and he sought to take some advantage of her mood. "Hey, let's go in there," he said, spying a tavern by the road. "We could have some good ol' fashioned pilsner."

"What, with you! A severed head! PLEASE!"

Alti road away, enjoying the disappointment she could feel in him. Then turned around, deciding it could be some fun. "Anyway, these thoughts are not going to help one bit, might as well drown them out with some suds."

They entered the tavern and found a dark corner. Alti set up the head, over a barrel so the fluid could run out of Eli's neck, and yelled for a pitcher. They stayed there late into the night. They even made a few friends. Eli didn't feel like an outcast, they had all seen mutilated bodies living on, and accepted him as he was. In fact they even drank several toasts to the man who couldn't hold his beer!

As the night wore on Alti and Eli realized they had a lot in common. The less profound of these was that their names both end in "i" but moreover, they recognized that they both had felt different from others all their lives. This became a bond between them, for that night at least. And there was a kind of peace in the ethers of the universe for a while.



LOVE IS THE WAY...

Enter The Higher Realm Here

 
Posts: 78 | Location: Everywhere | Registered: 06 December 2004Report This Post
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INTERLUDE

A long time ago there were two gods called Zeus and Hera. They spent a lot of time talking together and enjoying eachother's company.

One day they decided to organise a Race Around Ancient Greece. They invited people from all over the world to participate. People came from as far away as Sweden, America and Australia to take part in the Race. They even came from Indiana!

Zeus and Hera kicked off the Race and had lots of fun watching as it took place. Then, they came up with a devious plan. They decided to swap two of the players, without telling anyone.

So it came about one week that Nora was told to race for Xena and Heitie was told to race for Xena. Since Nora had gotten the most Race points in the same week, and Heitie had forgotten to complete one of her tasks, this meant that Callisto was dispatched from the Race. It also meant that Xena got immunity and an extra post.

There was much anger, confusion, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from the other Racers. Why, oh, why, they lamented, did Nora get dispatched from the Race after doing so well? What is the use in running the Race any more? Is there any reason to go on living?

After some time, things settled back down.

Now is the season to thank Heitie and Nora for playing along with the gods' devilish scheme, and to let all Racers know to keep expecting the unexpected, while racing through Ancient Greece.

Carry on.

Love Zeus and Hera xxxxx


~~~~~~~~~~

 
Posts: 5337 | Location: Oz | Registered: 22 June 2003Report This Post
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"Alti! ALTI! dammit you hag...make that head shut up!" Ehpiny had endured many inhumanities lately, but this topped it. she was cracking up. "Alti PLEASE! make it stop!"

though it had been amusing, taking the head to a tavern and enduring the "look how much we share in commom" drivel it seemed incapable of suppressing, Alti had become bored with controlling Eli's disembodied mind. making him sing bastardized Solstice carols and recite randy limericks had grown as tiresome as the constant "Way of Love" spoutings that spewed forth whenever she relenquished control it.

she had hoped the head would have value to her plan, perhaps taking the place of the bard's head on the altar. but regretfully, the head of the undead Love prophet was useless. perhaps if she could kill it...but obviously that wasn't going to happen. and now not only was she stuck with the thing, but the Amazon had started wailing for it to shut up. enough was enough.

"Alti, look inside you...deep into the nightmares that haunt your rare and fleeting dreams...deeper still into the tattered memories of a day when your soul still possessed a tiny essence of Light...it's in you still. in the name of Eli and the Way of Love, i entreat you, go to the Light, Al... mmphghmmphml..."

the craggy shamanness crammed a varmit pelt into the prophet's pie-hole. "in the name of me and all that's evil, shut the hell up."

Alti retreated to the recesses of her lair to contemplate recent events and try to salvage her plan before the full moon passed--then she'd have to wait another month for it to come to fruition. and that would never do.

Ephiny slumpd to the floor of her confines. i've gotta get the hell out of here was her only thought.


WHAT WOULD XENA DO?

are you sitting on the soap?

sometimes, you just have to say 'what the f...'

 
Posts: 5103 | Location: Austin Texas, baby | Registered: 22 June 2003Report This Post
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Livia had returned to her palace after all the rabble had dispersed.

She hated house guests who didn't clean up after themselves. This whole "No one can die" scenario was becoming unbearable.

"Still," she mused quietly, "it has come in handy."

A smirk crossed her face as she watched a headless cadaver bent over on the floor, cleaning up blood stains. She'd found the former body of Eli roaming around mindlessly.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when you can torture it or put it to good use.

The body was now performing menial tasks about the palace. Needless to say, it was great fun to watch the prophet of the Way of Love's body clean up entrails and marrow and bits of flesh.

Livia sighed. True this was an interesting diversion, but there were other things to attend to. She was sorely vexed at the gall of that pathetic Caesar's attempts to take back over Rome.

Rome had but one mistress and that was Livia. Xena would have to be dealt with soon enough she supposed, but first to exterminate the irritating bugs that kept interfering. Like Minya and Joxer and Caesar.

"Hey, you missed a spot!" Again she sighed, good help was so hard to find these days.


____________________________


I <3 4 foot 11, blonde, operatic wonders from Oklahoma.

There is no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness
 
Posts: 2157 | Location: Seattle, WA | Registered: 22 June 2003Report This Post
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"No, I promise you I won't hurt you. Much!" screamed Draco as he neared his victim with sword raised high. This will be an easy bag of dinars, thought Draco, I'll just stab the fellow once, he'll live to see another day, maybe not again being so dumb as to enter these woods with all that mullah, ha!

"Mercy, please, don't stab m-" pleaded Draco's victim as the warlord closed in.

*gold whooooooshy shimmers, dite pops in*

"Mind if i have this dance, tall dark & um, smelly- gu-roooossss!" dite whispers to Draco, popping in between him & his easy prey.

"dite's afro! What the fark-" Draco managed to say before being whooshed away to an undisclosed location. Leaving the dinars behind with it's original owner, now running home as fast as he can.

...

The busty blonde warrior sighed. She had managed to escape the vines & get back into the caves. Now she was working her way out to the surface in this- wherever this reality was. Damn Xena, damn Ares, damn Gabrielle, she mumbled to herself. And then aloud, "If I meet Xena again, I'll show her who's the best-"

"Best at getting beat and left behind in dark wittle cavey-do?" came the voice behind her.

The warrior woman quickly turned around, "Where'd you come from? How'd you sneak by me? You'll die before you try that agai-"

"Yadda yadda yadda!" dite sighed, one hand on hip, the other up with a curved finger pointing at Mavican. "Let's get outta this place, I have no fan base here."

...

dite whooshes Mavican & self to a Temple in the real reality. The two babes look each other up and down but mostly their eyes focus on the chest region.

Mavican proudly states, "Mine are bigger."

But dite responds, "Mine will never sag. Yours have a few firm years left."

Before Mavican can respond, dite introduces her to Draco who's munching on some food left as a tribute to dite.

"Hey, get yer warlord germs off a-my food gift thingies" dite whines to Draco.

"Fine. You wanna tell me-" Draco says, looking at Mavican's well stacked area with a lustful grin- "us, all of us mmmm, what this is about? Why has the deity of love summoned us? No tricks either, with Gabrielle dead, I've my own free will back."

Both hands on hips, smiling a silly seductive smile, says dite, "I'm taking over Ares' unused temples. I want to assembly an army of peace & love types- and you two are gonna help me. 'Less you both wanna end up hanging onto vines in some strange alternate dimenson world placies, hmmm?"

...
 
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Joxer sat dozing outside the hut. Inside Minya was trying to sleep, but it was hard for her--and for him. She alternated between wanting to snuggle ever so closely and literally kicking him out.

Suddenly a bag filled with scrolls plopped down in front of him. Joxer startled awake. Xena was sitting beside him.

"Not easy living with a pregnant woman," she smiled gently.

"No...are those Gabrielle's?"

"yeah...I've been reading them. We've been living in some interesting times."

Joxer made a sound halfway between a bark of laughter and a cry of despair. "If it gets any more interesting, I don't think I'll be able to stand it."

"What do you make of all this? I mean...all these people running around. Noone dying, a strangely quick pregancy--"

"What about that?' Joxer asked. "I mean, I know we're talking about a divine father, but this is just weird."

"The gods of Olympos usually have their human children in the normal way. Ares used to take on the form of his warriors and visit their wives while they were away in battle. Remarkable as those children came out, they never came out of their mothers' wombs any faster than the usual babe."

"I know," said Joxer with an uncharacteristic grimness. "I wasn't there when you and Gabrielle went to Brittania...was-was it like this?"

Xena didn't answer. Her blood had run cold. Gabrielle's scroll had not given details about how the child she bore came into the world, but there were a few memories that Alti had given her. Just enough to know how Solan had been killed by the creature the bard had spawned. She didn't like it, but this issue would have to be addressed. But it could wait and she changed the subject.

"About this third chakram---"

The earth suddenly jolted and a streaks of lightning stretched across the sky. From the hut Minya screamed and Paulina ran out.

"It's time! It's coming!"

Joxer jumped up. "Xena! You've got to help her."

"Swell." Xena jumped up and ran into the hut. Something was coming and she had a feeling it wasn't a bundle of joy.


*******

From her palace throne room Livia heard the thunder. She laughed as the headless body of Eli stumbled. Then sobered as she realized that this was a harbinger.

************

Hope smiled her cold smile. Her little sister was announcing herself. What a powerful voice. She looked forward to getting to know her. She hoped that the choice of mother had been as good a choice as her own mother. While she and her father had taken great care to select Minya, there was no guarantee. It wasn't every mother who would kill her own child three times.

"I hope she has her mother's eyes and her father's unique world view," she said with a laugh. "Now, I'd better be on hand in case my assitance is required."
 
Posts: 55 | Location: Amphipolis, Thrace | Registered: 18 December 2004Report This Post
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i feel the cold stone under my body. a cage. i can't belive she put me in a damn cage. actually, i can. it's so her style. at least there is quiet right now. so much has happened. my son has lost his mind, going after Livia like that. not that i'm far behind him, with my deal with Alti. she's been dragging that head around by the hair all day, making it sing. it's driving me mad. maybe that's the idea. just as i started to bask in the silence, here she came again, head in tow.

"Hey Queenie, I got a new one. Sing it song boy." She dropped the head with no finesse and it loudly thudded beside her feet. it rolled onto it's 'neck' and began singing crudely, loudly, and off key.

i dropped my head and just started to silently cry. i wasn't sad, i just couldn't take it anymore. then i snapped, "can you please just shut that damn thing up for ONE MINUTE?" i shouted in frustrated anger.

Alti snapped her fingers and the wailing stopped. she shot me a dirty look, rolled her eyes, and stomped off mumbling something.

Eli swung his eyes toward me. I knew it was coming before he even opened his mouth. "Ephiny, there is still hope for you. I know you feel the way of love has betrayed you but--"

"look, don't speak to me. i have the sound of your voice imprinted in my brain. shut up. seriously, shut up. don't speak. i don't care what you have to say. honestly. if i could, i would start a game of polo with your head. it's nothing personal, just the situation. please." i wasn't really mad at him. well, the sermon shit was getting old. i was just frustrated beyond belief. i was sure that i wouldn't apologize later, but i wouldn't use his head for recreation.

he must have say the pleading frustration in my eyes, because he didn't say anything else. i sat there with my back against the wall trying to clear my mind and decide what my next step would be.
 
Posts: 237 | Location: sodak | Registered: 23 June 2003Report This Post
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i gasped, i couldn't breathe. what was going on? my body was in shock. eyes wide open, i quickly glanced around. then it hit me. Alti, standing over me with a now empty bucket. not the subtlest way to wake someone up, but it worked. damn cold water. i looked down and i could have sworn Eli smirked at me. hypocrite.

"Get up bitch. I have plans for you today." her voice as coarse as ever, with a hint of excitment.

i crawled foward bringing myself to a sitting position. i just glared at her, wondering what she had in store for me.

Alti quickly turned her head to the left. i followed suit. it was Gabrielle, but it couldn't be, could it. Alti did not look suprised, but i know i did. she brought her attention back to me.

"Don't get too excited, Ephiny, it's not her. But I do belive the two of you have met." She smirked at me knowingly.

then it hit me. "hope" i mouthed more to myself, but it was audible. i was stunned. how could, how?

Hope turned to Alti, "You've done well, bringing me back. My father is most pleased." She smiled at Alti, it was creepy to say the least.

"Yess, and I believe he owes me some great powers in return." Alti bore down on Hope, showing her just how badly she wanted those powers.

i had no idea what they were talking about. i knew who Hope was, but had no idea they were working together. Alti was much better at keeping her thoughts hidden than most. i was most curious about the promised powers.

"As soon as my sister is brought into the world, you will recieve your powers. You also know what your first act is to be with your bestowed gift." She kept her face expressionless. She obviously had no idea of the catastrophic damages she was inflicting on the human race.

"Rest assured I know my part. As soon as that baby hits the streets, I will have little standing in the way of my goal. Your father will have Xena's soul." She was nearly foaming at the mouth, full of anticipation.

"Let's hope you uphold your side of the bargain. Father does not like to be double-crossed. We must go, the child is on it's way." She turned and walked out the front of the cave.

Alti's eyes lit up, as much as possible, and she bent down and snatched up the head by the thinning hair that remained. She cast a look in my direction, "You stay put, I'll be back soon for you."

then they were gone, and i was completely alone. i was powerless. i knew what was happening and i couldn't do anything about it. i started humming one of those crude holiday songs to myself while trying to figure out a way to help my friends.
 
Posts: 237 | Location: sodak | Registered: 23 June 2003Report This Post
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A sweat was forming on Joxer's brow. He hadn't worked so hard since that time in Meg's inn when ...

'JOOOOOXEEERRR!' An almighty scream erupted from Minya's lips.

'Coming, my love.' He ran inside the hut with more water from the nearby well. 'I found some soft leaves, too. Here.' He rolled them into a pillow for his lover's head.

'Thanks, Joxer.' Xena turned away from him to face Minya. 'Come on now, one last push.' She gripped Minya's hand tightly.

'Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!' Minya grit her teeth and bore down.

'I can see the baby's head!' Pauly held Minya's other hand. 'Come on, love, push again.'

'Rrrrraaaaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhh!' With one great push the baby's head popped out, quickly followed by it tiny body. Xena caught it and handed it quickly to Joxer, who was waiting to grab it with more leaves.

'It's beautiful!' He eyes shined with adoration.

'It's a girl.' Xena wiped her hands and turned to Minya. 'You have a girl.'

'Thank goodness that's over,' Minya sighed. 'Now, get me some of that left over rum would you, Pauly?'

'Of course, my love. Have a drink and rest up. We want you to get back in action as soon as possible. Joxer and I have some new moves to teach you.' Pauly winked at her.

'Let me see her.' Minya reached out to Joxer, and he passed over her daughter. 'She looks just like her mother. Dark hair, brown eyes.'

'I think I'll leave you women folk alone for a while. I -uh- I ... think I left some leaves, ah, b-by the well.' Joxer left the room quickly, armour jangling.

He had seen it straight away. The child was the spitting image of Ares. Tears filled his eyes. He would love it like his own, but a small part of him had hoped this baby would be his flesh and blood. Come on Joxer, pull yourself together. He squared his shoulders. Minya and Pauly and the baby need you. He wiped his eyes and headed back to the hut.

Xena was fastening her sword to her back. 'I've got to go. It looks like you will all do fine.' She grabbed Joxer around the shoulders and pulled him to one side. 'Joxer, I've stayed longer than I wanted to. I need to get moving, I've got to reach Mount Olympus and speak with Zeus and Hera about this third chakram. I was going to ask you to help me find Jett, because I could use his skills. I think it's better now that you stay here. Keep an eye on Minya and her child and let me know if anything unusual happens.'

'Right, Xena, you can always count on me. Because, as I say to myself, self, if there's one thing you can do it's be counted. And- '

'Joxer. I've got to go.' Xena strode to the door and whistled for Argo. The battle steed appeared out of nowhere, was swiftly mounted by Xena, and they galloped away.

Joxer turned back to his women. They both seemed exhausted. Minya's eyes were drifting shut while Pauly snored against her arm. Her took the baby gently from Minya's embrace and left the hut.

'There ya go, baby. Some nice fresh air. A goo goo! A goo goo goo!' He waggled his face and pursed his lips. The baby smiled at him in an interested way. Joxer smiled. 'She likes me!' He walked around rocking the baby for a while, then stopped. His throat felt tight. 'Ooooo, hang on baby. Let me put you down. Uncle Joxer's got a frog in his throat.' Carefully, Joxer lowered the infant onto some soft grass. He rubbed his throat and coughed. 'Hmmm, might need some water. Feeling dry.' He croaked. The well was only a couple of yards away. Joxer headed for it. He was finding it harder to breathe. Water would soothe him. Only a yard to go. His head was feeling dizzy. He stumbled and hit the ground with a heavy thud. For some reason he could no longer move. His sight started fading. Before he took his last breath on earth, Joxer looked towards the baby. She was looking right at him. Grinning. An evil grin.


~~~~~~~~~~

 
Posts: 5337 | Location: Oz | Registered: 22 June 2003Report This Post
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They were back. Alti, Hope and the head. I could hear them chuckling long before they entered the lair I was trapped in.

Hope came through the entrance first. 'Did you see? I told you of the powers my Father can bestow. My sister killed simply by willing it.'

'And, with the head of this holy man, I can channel her powers.' Alti hissed in delight. 'Can I test it?'

'No! You mustn't give yourself over to Dahok, Alti. There will be no turning back for you.' Eli pleaded with her.

It was to no avail. 'Silence. Now, what can I test my powers on?' Alti looked around her lair. Her eyes came to rest on me, locked in her cage. 'Ah yes, I had almost forgotten. My little prize.'

'Perfect.' Hope's eyes twinkled. 'Do her.'

Alti pointed Eli's head in my direction. 'In the name of Dahok, and all the powers of Hades, I command all goodly presence to be cast out.'

My body started to shake. I couldn't stop it. My teeth rattled and my eyes felt as though they would fall out of their sockets. Then I felt a searing heat rage through me and the next thing I knew I ...

Here ends the primitive, animal hide diary rescued by the Archaeological Society from mound #483. We shall undertake further examination in order to correctly establish its date and author.


~~~~~~~~~~

 
Posts: 5337 | Location: Oz | Registered: 22 June 2003Report This Post
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As seen previously in the race around Greece.

My body started to shake. I couldn't stop it. My teeth rattled and my eyes felt as though they would fall out of their sockets. Then I felt a searing heat rage through me and the next thing I knew I ...

was thinking 'By Zeus I think I am about to die'.... And Ephiny goes off to the land of the Amazons.


*********************************
 
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Minya woke with a start.
What the hell, she thought. Crying. That baby is CRYING.
What was Joxer doing? Pauly was asleep....
Minya sighed, and pulled Pauly's arm out from underneath her. Pauly continued to snore loudly, and turned over.
Minya rose and ran to the doorway of the hut. For some reason that was where the crying was coming from.
What th--
She saw the baby, lying on a patch of soft grass. Gasping, Minya ran to her child and picked her up, holding her by the back of her head and cradling her against her shoulder.
"There there, little one. What are you doing, lying in the grass like this? THere there, there there." She crooned. Then she arranged the baby so she could breastfeed from her.
"Therrre you go. Some nice milk. THat should soothe the savage beast." Minya smiled. THe child was perfect, absolutely perfect. Yes, it was strange, very strange that she had brown eyes right away instead of the usual blue--but then again, she was a god-spawned child after all.
Minya frowned a moment. Joxer had said she looked like her. But...
No.
Minya sighed sadly. What would this do to Joxer? THe kid looked exactly like Ares. Almost exactly.
Little Gabby continued to suckle Minya's breast, like she hadn't had a care in the world. Minya, however was not impressed with Joxer leaving her alone like that, in the grass...
Where the hell was Joxer anyway?
Minya looked around her, thoroughly irritated and confused. Then--her eyes fell on a shape lying by the well.
Her blood nearly froze.
Minya's breath came out in little gasps. SHe had one thought on her mind. Get the little one in the house. Wake up Pauly.
Numbly, she turned and went back into the hut. Pauly was stumbling out of the bedroom, squinting.
"S'matter?" she asked.
"Take her," Minya said evenly. "Take her and put her to bed. Don't leave her alone."
"Minya..."
"And don't ask questions," Minya said. "I may not be back for awhile."
"But--"
"DO as I say!" Minya shouted. The babe, startled, cried out. Pauly took the child and glared at Minya. Minya only turned away, and ran out of the hut.
Joxer...
She ran over to the shape by the well. It was still, very still. But there was no mistaking who it was.
Joxer...no...
Minya knelt beside him. She turned his still form over--and looked into his sightless eyes.
But wait--this can't be right--mortals can't die. But--why isn't he rising?
Minya felt his pulse, and shook him several times. He did not move. Joxer did not even breathe.
Despair, greater than any she'd ever felt, washed over her. She could do nothing. She lifted him to a sitting position, and held him, rocking him back and forth.
I didn't protect you, she thought. I let you die. It's all my fault. Oh Joxer, I am so sorry.
Silent tears burned down her cheeks and splashed onto Joxer's new armor. It was all over. All of it.
Horsehooves interrupted her reverie.
Minya let his lifeless body fall to the ground. She jumped to her feet, drawing the sword she'd fastened to her belt.
Xena got down from Argo, and looked sharply at Minya--then Joxer's body.
Her face went white as realization hit her.
All of Minya's self-loathing transformed in that instant. She dropped her sword, and rushed at Xena, landing a left hook right in Xena's eye. Xena reeled a bit, then grabbed a hold of Minya's hand just as it was about to strike again. Xena backhanded Minya right in the face. Minya flinched but would not allow herself to feel the pain.
"Minya," Xena hissed, "Cut it out right--now. Listen to me."
"LISTEN to me!" Minya shrieked, "Joxer is DEAD, you bitch! And WHY? WHY is he dead when mortals cannot die? Why did you leave him alone?" Her voice broke on a sob.
Xena closed her eyes as the truth was spat out to her.
"WHY?" Minya rushed her and seized her by the shoulders. Xena pushed her back, and Minya fell on her behind.
"I thought he would be safe here!" Xena said through gritted teeth, seizing Minya, lifting her up and pinning her against the tree. "I thought--I thought you needed protection--HIS protection! As to why he's dead--I have no idea. As to how--," she said in a trembling voice, her eyes travelling toward the body, "I misjudged your child."
"MY CHILD!" Minya roared. "HOW DARE YOU!"
"MINYA!" Xena grabbed her and wrestled her to the ground. Minya had lost it, was attacking the Warrior Princess with everything she had. Xena gritted her teeth. Minya was strong, even for having had a baby. THat wasn't natural--then again, none of this was.
"THINK about it!" she hissed at the wild woman. "THINK, Minya, THINK for once in your life!"
Minya sounded a battle cry and kneed Xena hard in the stomach. Xena coughed, gasping for breath--and landed a good right hook on Minya's jaw. Minya fell back, and hit her head on the tree. It didn't knock her unconscious, but it did make enough of an impact for her to stop attacking Xena.
"Now," Xena snarled, "Are you ready to listen to me?"
Minya looked up at her, her large brown eyes full of deep sadness. In spite of the constant annoyance Minya had always been, Xena was touched by her grief. She'd loved Joxer. Someone had had to, and Minya had loved him with all of her soul.
Xena would not allow herself to feel grief jsut yet, anymore than she had for Gabrielle. It was too much right now. Too much.
"I have been to Olympus to see Zeus and Hera," Xena said evenly. "I wanted to find out about the third chakram. Well--they told me quite a few other surprises I was shocked to find out."
"What," Minya said, sitting up and rubbing the back of her head.
"Your child," Xena said evenly, "your child is not--exactly the daughter of Ares."
Minya looked up, grief-stricken. "She is not--"
"No, she is not Joxer's, you can be SO thick sometimes," Xena moaned. "THINK about it, Minya! THINK!"
Minya remembered that letter from Eli--the one where he'd mentioned Dahok. The passage about Lucifer that had frightened her.
No.
"Not," she shook her head, "Not DAHOK."
Sighing, Xena nodded. "He and Hope have been planning this."
"Hope?" Minya sprang to her feet. "I thought Hope was dead!"
"Perfect."
Gabrielle's voice sounded in Minya's mind. She froze, as Gabrielle herself, Xena's Gabrielle, suddenly walked towards her. SHe seemed to have materialized out of thin air.
"G-Gabrielle?"
She laughed, low and gutteral. "You are the perfect mother for my little sister," she grinned. "My father is most pleased indeed."
"As I expected," Xena snarled. Hope looked at her, cocking her head to one side.
"Xena," she said sweetly, "the only reason I don't kill you is because Alti wants you alive for now. But rest assured," she grinned, "my father will have his way in this world. Oh, speaking of fathers...." She turned to Minya, and unhooked a large round saddlebag from her waist. "I come bearing shower gifts. From ALTI." She tossed the saddlebag to Minya, who caught it.
"Alti," snarled Minya, "I might have known she had something to do with this. Well--she got her revenge." She put the saddlebag on the ground, and was about to stomp on it, when a familiar voice sounded from it.
"Minya."
It was weak, but she knew it. Opening the saddlebag, she pulled out Eli's bruised head. It was bruised all right, and a long gash sat on his forehead in the shape of a cross.
"Eli," Minya hugged the head, tears starting in her eyes.
"Awwww," Hope sneered sarcastically. "Well, Alti no longer has a use for that incessant head and his babble. She has more important things to do now that my father has blessed her with infinite powers."
Minya jerked her head up, glaring at Hope.
"What?"
Reality set in finally. Still cradling Eli's head, but not taking her eyes off of Hope, Minya sidled over toward the hut. She had to get to Paulina. And Gabrielle....
"Minya, your heart, your LOVE can save the child from evil," Eli said weakly. Hearing this, Hope burst into laughter.
"My little sister destroyed that which taught Minya to love," she snarled. "Don't talk about LOVE, holy man."
Minya narrowed her eyes at Hope.
"I haven't forgotten," she snarled at her.
Carrying Eli's head, she walked into the hut. She knew what to do. Eli protested feebly.
"Trust your heart, Minya. Your heart. In the end, that is what will triumph."
"I will, Eli," Minya said grimly. "Trust me, I will."
She placed Eli's head on the table. Paulina held Gabs in her arms, singing to her as if she'd never heard anything that went on outside. THen again...that child did have power.
"Pauly," Minya said sweetly, "Give her to me."
Not thinking anything of it, Paulina handed Gabrielle over. Catching sight of Eli's head, she screamed.
"Don't worry, Pauly, we'll sort him out later. Now," Minya said, "I need to take my little one out for a walk."
She carried baby Gabs out the back door of the hut. Tears streaming down her face, she held her daughter close. Gabrielle suckled on Minya's breast. Minya did not stop her.
She kept walking, hardly watching where she was going. She didn't even hear the horse hooves until suddenly Gabrielle spoke.
"Horthie!"
What...
Minya turned. THere she was, with...was that Eli's body?
"Livia," she called in a choked voice, "LIVIA!"
She stopped, and spun her horse around staring incredulously at Minya.
Minya stalked over to her--and held her baby out to her.
"Here," she said. "You like to kill, don't you? Kill her."
Livia laughed uproareously.
"I do NOT believe this!" she shouted. "I knew you were an idiot, Minya--but--"
"I don't understand," Minya frowned. "You tried to in the cell. This baby will grow up to take over Rome if you don't kill her. DO it!" She was lying, she knew it but would Livia guess? She couldn't.
"Minya, Minya Minya," Livia said, shaking her head. "That is NOT my problem anymore."
"What--"
"My focus is Rome," snarled Livia. "Always has been. I don't CARE what that incessant fool Caesar thinks of me--OR that little god spawn--who by the way made you THINK I tried to kill it."
"Enough of that," Minya snarled. "I'm not being deluded again--"
"Ares deluded you. Why not his babe? Anyway I have no time for this. Here, take your stupid holy man's body back. He's taken to boring me by writing religious crap all over my walls. Not interested. You can have him. He no longer interests me."
Livia pulled out a dagger and cut loose the rope holding her horse and the horse that carried Eli's body. As Minya stood, staring after her, she took off--and rode away.
Eli's body rode back to the hut, leaving Minya all alone.
He's trusting me, she thought. Then again--he hopes I'll do what HE wants me to do.
Livia wouldn't do it. Minya didn't know why, but she didn't have time to wonder about it.
Gabrielle fingered her mother's face. Minya's eyes filled with tears again. She thought about Joxer, his sightless eyes full of pain and fear. Joxer, his laughing, happy face, thinking of fatherhood and what joy it would be. Joxer--and Hope, laughing with that evil grin. How Hope had tortured the old Gabrielle. Well--Minya was no Gabrielle.
She stalked toward the trees. Her child began to fidget. Minya began to sob, in earnest, the tears burning down her face. She placed her babe in front of the tree--trying desperately not to look into her eyes...
"MOMMMYYYY!" cried the babe, sobbing now. "MOMMMYYYYYY!"
Minya drew her sword. SHe was literally shaking in sobs.
"MOMMMMEEEE!"
She could see Ares now, his face in her mind, pain in his eyes. "Don't let me down," he seemed to be saying. "Minya--I love you. You know th--"
"SHUT UP!" Minya wailed in anguish. She lifted the sword--and as the child screamed in pain and fear--Minya held the sword up high--and---

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Free Madness,




"Ultimately, the truth will come out in all of this and I will be standing on the right side of the roaring rapids. I hope other people will be too. I know the truth and if I had to walk away from all of it today, the job, the career, all of it, and go toodle-oo, then fine."

~~Johnny Depp.


 
Posts: 3169 | Location: Dreamland | Registered: 06 April 2004Report This Post
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'NO!' Eli's head called out from behind Minya. She whirled around. His body had picked up the head and carried it outside. 'Minya, you mustn't. If you kill this child you won't stop the cycle of hate. Only love can do that.'

Minya fell to her knees. 'I love my baby, but I can't let it hurt anybody else. Poor Joxer- .' She broke off with a sob.

'We can teach your child how to use her powers for good. I know we can.' Eli's body knelt down in front of baby Gabrielle. His head started to chant some strange language that Minya had never heard before. The baby smiled and looked at the head. It reached out to touch Eli's lips. Eli began to cough and splutter. His eyes rolled back in his head.

'No, Gabrielle, no! Bad Gabby!' Minya tried to grab her daughter, but some unseen force stopped her. All she could do was watch. Eli's body dropped his head and it began to float in mid air. It rose slowly until it was hovering in line with his neck. Then it moved until it was directly over the stump. All the while Eli gasped for breath. The head lowered itself onto Eli's neck and Minya's mouth fell open as pieces of skin and bone reattached themselves with lightning speed.

'Well, that was different.' Eli spoke as though his head had never left his shoulders. He gingerly stretched his neck and gently shook his head from side to side.

'What's happening?' Minya was shaking.

'That baby seems to have some remarkable powers. Not only can it kill mortals, it seems to be able to heal them, too. Probably something to do with its genes. It chose to heal me. Maybe it can sense that I have had a connection with Dahok, through being used by Alti.' Eli shuddered and added, 'The Shamaness is too powerful now, she doesn't need me any more.'

'Then, we might be able to teach young Gabrielle to follow a good path?'

Eli grinned. 'I think we just might.'

********************

Zeus was staring at the candle he had taken from Celesta. 'It's almost burned down, my love,' he said to his wife. 'If it does, that is the end.'

'I've grown tired of all these wounded mortals everywhere. They are making my world look messy.' Hera stifled a yawn. 'Dite's Aphro has healed that silly broad and her girlfriend, the poison has passed through Livia's system, that holy man has had his head reattached and no one has even tried to attack the Shamaness. Even worse our intended target, Xena, has been left unscathed. Body and soul.'

'So, shall I give Celesta her candle back?' Zeus picked it up and looked to Hera for confirmation.

She nodded. 'Please do.'


~~~~~~~~~~

 
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Zeus zapped into Celesta's room. Being unable to levitate, or shimmer out, she was stuck on Olympus. 'Damn Hera and her ideas, does she not realise how many people are now suffering, how many people have been unable to go when it is their rightful time. I thought hades would have come to help me by now' she says to herself mournfully, not realising that Zeus was standing silently in her room.


'Thing have not gone as planned, Celesta. People are such simple things, all they have done is gone around killing each other for no reason, and Hera is worried about how messy it will look if we haven't cleaned the place up by the time Odin and pals get here in 3 days. So we have decided to give this back to you.' Zeus says staunchily, not wanting to admit he nor Hera were wrong, since they never had been wrong before, and probably never would be again.

He places the candle down within reach of Celesta's hand and shimmers off. She picks it up, as it grows back to it's full length. 'I do like it when it does that' Celesta muses to herself, 'like watching a man grow to his ... full potential' sighs to herself, and levitates away.

***********************

Caesar, after trying to bandage his wounds, had made a cave he had found, a place to sleep, and work on his next part of the plan.

Unbeknowst to him, Celesta had just picked up her candle. With a gut wrenching yell (literally), his stomach felt like it was being ripped out of his backbone sideways. As he falls to the floor dead, the last thing he sees is Celesta turn up, her and her candle coming towards him.


*********************************
 
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"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."
And on and on. Minya flicked tears away with her fingers as Joxer's body was lowered into the earth. Eli continued to preach as Xena, Paulina and Minya used shovels to throw dirt over the body.
Eli held baby Gabrielle, who had taken quite a liking to him. Minya would not hold her, or even look at her--not during Joxer's funeral.
No...
She could bear it no more. Falling to her knees, she buried her face in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably.
Joxer, Joxer, you should not have died, you should have been with me. We should have had a family. It wasn't supposed to be Dahok's--had I known--had someone told me--
Someone knelt down beside her and stroked her hair.
"Mins," Dite's Afro's voice said in a broken voice.
Minya looked up sharply and glared at her.
"Zeus and Hera told Xena who my baby's father was," she snarled. "Did they tell you too?"
"AS IF!" cried Dite's Afro, indignantly. "Daddy Zeus doesn't tell me EVERYTHING, ya know! Oh no, not me, I'M not that important! Here I am, thinking my little neice is being carried by one of my friends--but noooooo! It's pooey old DAHOK instead! I wondered why that little puppy seemed so odd, even Ares wasn't THAT bad!"
Minya sighed and looked down at the ground.
"You're right, I'm sorry," she said softly. "I know you would have told me if you knew."
"Hey," Dite's Afro said, softening. "It's all right--I don't know many people who's own child kills their lover. That has to suck!"
"For the last time," Eli said firmly, "the child did NOT kill Joxer."
"Will you get out of denial, Eli!" Xena said, annoyed, dashing tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. "I know you want the child to be good--I get it. But at least acknowledge what it did--out of evil."
"Joxer choked on his tongue."
"No," Minya rose to her feet and faced her friend. "No. Eli, I believe in what you're trying to do. I--support it. It's hard--very hard to love a child who would do that but I'm willing to try." She lifted her chin defiantly. "I will NOT do it by lying about it."
"Minya, my Father never lies," Eli said sadly.
"Your Father told you this?" Minya shook her head to clear it.
"Oh, for goodness sakes Minya, DON'T fall for it," Xena moaned. "He's so full of himself he thinks he knows everything--JUST like Gabrielle did about Hope! HOPE! She named her Hope as if that would make a difference. Well it DIDN'T, did it?" Xena's voice broke on a sob, and she turned away, shaking for a moment. Dite's Afro caught a hold of Minya's shoulder before she could go to Xena.
"She killed my son. THEN....she caused Gabrielle to fall down a--a--"
Xena turned and stalked away, going into the hut, shaking all the way.
"Nobody go after her," Dite's Afro said in a rare moment of seriousness. "She's needed to get this out for awhile, but I think she needs to be alone to do it."
Eli looked down at Joxer's grave, his own eyes leaking tears.
"I don't pretend to know everything," he said in a trembling voice. "If I did--so many good people would be alive today! My Father--He has His reasons for everything. But I don't--always--understand them."
"I do."
The dark gravelly voice seared through Minya's soul like ice. She whirled around. Alti was standing there, grinning from ear to ear.
"I see you got your HEAD back on your shoulders, holy man," Alti sneered, advancing toward him. "Let me tell you now. I understand that FATHER of yours. He's as much of a ruthless killer as I can be. Only he does it with more SUBTLETY."
"You DARE compare yourself to Eli's Father?" Minya snarled, snatching the baby from Eli in an instant. "All right, Alti. ENOUGH time has been wasted! Enough indeed."
Alti threw her head back and laughed uproareously.
"Little Minya!" she sneered. "What are you going to do--HYPNOTIZE me?" Her eyes turned to Dite's Afro. "Must I dance for you again? Say CHANTS? Not this time, I fear." She locked her gaze on the Goddess. Dite's Afro began to shake.
"Gabs," Minya said to the little one, "remember what Eli and I taught you this morning."
"In the NAME of Love!" shouted the baby, "And all the powers of light! I COMMAND that all EVIL...shrivel and die."
Her voice was clear now, it almost sounded like Minya's. Before Alti's eyes, the child seemed to grow--to the size of a five year old. Long black hair reached her shoulders. Her brown eyes bore into Alti's. Minya put her down on the ground--and she advanced toward Alti.
For her part, Alti had lost her hold on the Goddess. She was now staring at the child, locking gazes with it. She'd bonded with this little one, they had shared a special bond when she'd taken out Ephiny. And yet--she'd used Eli's head to channel the power.
Could that have been detrimental?
The child glowed with a powerful light--red, and blue, fused together to form purple. As Alti watched, powerless to do anything, the child advanced toward her.
"In the Name of God," she said softly, "And ALL the powers of Heaven--"
"IN THE NAME OF DAHOK!" shouted Alti, trying to summon up her powers by calling out his name.
"In the name of GOD!"
Minya now held one of the child's hands. Eli held the other.Light flowed from Eli to Minya and then to the child as she spoke.
"The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.

The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows
to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.
But they will be stabbed through the heart with their own swords,
and their bows will be broken.

It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and possess much.
For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the Lord takes care of the godly."


"NO!" Alti shouted, and laughed defiantly. "You STUPID holy man! You think you're powerful--you did not use me--I used you...."

"Ephiny is in peace now," Eli said with a smile. "My work was well done."

Alti continued to struggle against the incredible power of the child--power that was, very wrongly--manipulated. With her new powers she should have been able to stop this. But those words--those hideous words....

Suddenly, without a warning, Alti found herself being whisked away. She was floating for a bit, and then she found herself in a chamber. Hope stood there, her face full of rage. A huge dark shadow sat behind her. The power was so incredible, Alti fell to her knees.

"Something has gone wrong," Hope said. "Can YOU tell me? Alti?"
"The holy man--"
"WHY did you channel your new powers through HIS head?" cried Hope. "Didn't you even think about what would happen?"
The truth was, Alti hadn't. She had misjudged Eli's power. All that time, spent with the head, thinking that she herself had been manipulating him--when--
"Hope," she said softly, lifting her head, "I will correct this. I will destroy the holy man..."
A bark of rough laughter sounded from the shadow behind Hope.
"Destroy him!" roared a dark voice resonant with such power, Alti trembled. "That will only make him more powerful!"
"I'll destroy Minya then!"
"Minya is to be kept alive," Dahok roared. "You KNOW that, Alti!"
"Well what good is she, under the spell of the holy man?" cried Alti.
"There is only one thing you can do to save yourself--and this plan," growled Dahok. "You know what that is."
Alti froze. He couldn't be serious. Or--could he?
"Xena," she said softly.
"You must destroy Xena," growled Dahok. "You must bring me her soul when you do. When she is destroyed--all hope of Livia's redemption is lost. The gods will destroy her. I will have Xena's soul--and Livia will be MINE."
Hope smiled.
"And," she said, "Livia will join us--and be blessed with powers. And the child will be saved--through HER."
"Will she destroy the holy man?" Alti asked dully.
"No she will destroy no one," Hope sneered. "Least of all Minya. Minya shall be kept alive at all times. Believe me. If you do this right, Alti--Minya will not be listening to the holy man for very much longer."
Hope grinned, that evil sinister grin, her eyes empty with hate.
"Minya is full of rage and passion," Hope said. "more than mother ever was. Think about it, Alti. Think about what passion like that can do--for our side."
"And you think Livia will bring this about?"
"Oh I think so," Hope said. "With Xena dead and out of the way--I know she can--she has the same rage, you see. However," she said, her smile fading, "there is still the little matter--of your mistake."
Alti looked at her, frozen in fear. Hope, with her father's voice in her head, walked up to Alti--and placed her hand on her heart.
"No," Alti said. "No. Please."
She began to shake, and the pain was so great, it seemed to tear out of her bones. Alti screamed, deep and long. The pain lasted for a good long time--but Alti did not die.
When Hope took her hand away however, and Dahok's laughter rang in her ears--Alti knew what they had done.
"No," she said mournfully.
"At least you're still alive," Hope said disdainfully. "As for Xena--she will be dealt with. Mark my words."
Alti stumbled back and hit the ground. She was mortal. Mortal with very little power, just to light a fire, that was it.
A small fire.
All the powers Dahok bestowed on her had been ripped out of her. Without these powers and her own--Alti felt empty, more empty than she had ever felt.
Memories played at her mind, memories that the holy man had capitalized on....
No.
Alti now found herself in her lair again--she had been disposed of. She lay on her cot--thoroughly exhausted. Yet, she thought, the powers of Darkness had come to her once before--she would have to plan, plan long and hard, to get them back. She didn't exactly NEED Hope and Dahok.
Maybe she could still get Xena's soul.....
A smile crossed her face, just before she drifted off to sleep. It took a lot to really stop her after all. A lot.

Little Gabby fell to her knees after Alti disappeared. By that time, Xena came out again. Minya and Eli went to their knees beside her. Dite's Afro went to Xena and quietly explained what had happened. Xena looked absolutely stupified.
Finally little Gabby looked up at Eli, and glared at him.
"Don't do that again," she snarled. "put words in my mouth like that again. I HATE that!"
"It was necessary," Eli said firmly. "Soon you will learn--"
"I don't WANNA learn!" The child broke away and tried to run. Minya grabbed her however and stood her up, holding her by the shoulders firmly and looking into her eyes.
"You are not meant to do mean things," she said fiercely. "I did not bring you into the world to do bad things to people!"
"What about Alti?"
"You did not hurt her, you just stopped her from using her power to hurt us," Minya said. "That is different."
Gabrielle stared at her mother, this strong woman, who had so much love inside her. She looked slowly over to the grave. Horror and confusion crossed her face.
"Yes," Minya said sadly. "Look at it."
Gabrielle shook her head and closed her eyes.
"LOOK." Minya shook her gently but firmly. Gabrielle opened her eyes, and stared at the grave. Her lip began to tremble ever so slightly.
"I'm confused," she said. "I don't understand."
"A great place to be," Minya said strongly. "When you're confused, you are able to start fresh. Create something new."
Xena walked over to them then. Gabrielle looked up at her, and stared at her.
"You," she said. "They want to hurt you you know."
"I know," Xena said softly. "I was expecting it."
Minya hugged her daughter.
"Whatever happens," she said softly, "we will not leave you, Gabrielle. You will learn how to use your powers for good. Eli and I will teach you--the best we can."
Dite's Afro and Eli locked gazes then.
"You have plans," Eli said.
"Well sure," Dite's Afro said. "I'm going to take over Ares's temples. I already have some willing hands to help me do that." She grinned.
"I think we should help you too," Eli said. "In turn--will you help us?"
"Hey. Eli honey. No offense, I love Mins to death and Xena--well we go way back, you know that! But I really don't have all the time in the world to go around bestowing miricles on mortals all the time."
"No, you don't have to bestow miracles," Eli laughed. "We can just--work together."
Dite's Afro sighed. Eli was so CUTE after all--even if she didn't always understand him for all that he talked about love.
"All right," she said. "I'll do my best, and you can help me out too. Maybe this way Dahok will think twice before trying to do Xena and use her soul to make Livia REALLY crazy. Oops," she said as Xena looked at her sharply. "Sorry Xen, but the kid told me that. Telepathy. It's a bitch sometimes." She shuddered. "So is Alti. Whooo!"
"Alti won't be bothering anyone for a long time," Gabrielle said dully. "That much I know. Altho," she caught and held Eli's gaze, "I wouldn't get too comfortable." A grin spread out on her face, a rather sinister one. "She is not that easily stopped you know."
"As I know," Xena said through gritted teeth. "All right. That's it. Let's go inside, everyone. We have a lot of planning to do."

They walked back to the hut, and went safely inside. Dite's Afro put an extra charm on the hut--so that no one would be interfering with their plans for a good long time.

Gabrielle also put a protection spell on the hut. But she was thinking of other plans. She didn't understand all they were trying to teach her--but she would. In time. And then...

Maybe she could use those powers to benefit her Father? She felt him radiating in her mind. He had heard her thoughts. He was pleased at the way they were going now. Well, she thought, it would take a lot more than mumbling bits of mumbo jumbo to stop the child of Dahok.

Smiling to herself, Gabrielle skipped after her mother and the others.




"Ultimately, the truth will come out in all of this and I will be standing on the right side of the roaring rapids. I hope other people will be too. I know the truth and if I had to walk away from all of it today, the job, the career, all of it, and go toodle-oo, then fine."

~~Johnny Depp.


 
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Minya: 'Then, we might be able to teach young Gabrielle to follow a good path?'

Eli grinned. 'I think we just might.'

dite watched the scene unseen by all, though Eli surely picked up on the deity's presence. Eli is more powerful now, dite considered, and he is more needed here than am I. Though dite made a promise to return that night to console Minya & to attend Joxer's burial the following day- seen or unseen.

...

Neither Xena nor Hope were anywhere in sight. dite assumed the latter had disappeared quietly and that the former went in pursuit of her. Find Hope, find Alti, kill 'em all- dite's afro knew Xena's mindset. dite also knew that Zeus, unhappy with how things were going, had told Xena the location of the cave where Hope was hiding, where she communicated to her father and where Alti was- or had been.

Oh fer sure Alti had been to the cave, if she wasn't still there. Having been told the location of the cave from her ally, Demeter (who fretted that dite would get herself killed by Dahok), dite whooshed there unseen, before the visit to Minya's camp. Alti sensed an Olympian close-by. dite tossed a copy of the Lachesis scroll at Alti & whoosed away, but stayed close enough to watch Alti as she read the scroll. Amusement that she & Xena were step sisters, contempt that she had been & was still being used by Zeus. Used by Zeus, used by Dahok- how long would that gone on? As the afro was ready to whoosh away for good, Alti mumbled harshly, "Tell daddy to watch his back, I have my own plans." dite later twirled her hair about this remark wondering if Alti was talking to her or Hope or both.
...


"Face it, Boobycan, you'll never be known for defeating Xena. But you can be known for this peace & love crusade thing I've started"

"That's Mavican, you twit. I can't change my destiny just like that. It's a rarity to change one's fate, rare as Draco changing his underwear."

"Just try it for awhile," dite suggested, "If you try it for a few months and it doesn't work, I won't send ya back to the vines." Mavican nodded at this, then dite continued, "'sides, you're sweet on Draco, I can tell." The blonde warrior was about to reply when, speak of the devil-

"Alright, dite" Draco said, entering the temple, "I've rounded up nearly 7000 troops. They're camped south of here. Now, what exactly is this ingenius plan of yours." Draco was getting testy of an Olympian, dite could tell.

"We're gonna have a peace & love army, doing good stuff, starting hospices, helping out mere mortals, rescuing & saving them that need rescued & saved, yadda yadda yadda. There will be an army here in the north, led by you & Mavy" Draco winked at Mavy, who smirked back "and an army in the south led by Darnelle & Glaphyra."

Draco laughed at this, rubbing the back of his neck, laughing even harder. "dite, dite, dite. You actually expect me and those hardened warriors, soldier & thieves I brought here to give up making an unhonest dinar for themselves & work free for your goody two-shoes idea. Ha ha ha, you're worse than Gabrielle was!"

dite then moved slowly and seductively up to Draco. To a Draco who realized that the usually smiling, friendly deity was no longer smiling and now adopting a pose that he had once seen a ticked off Ares take.

"Those warriors, soldiers & thieves are not so hardened that they don't have either families or loved ones, do they, Duh-raco?" asked dite coldy, to which Draco could only respond- "N-n n-no, vast maj- most of 'em have someone, family."

"As if i didn't know! Well, they wouldn't like it if those they loved no longer loved them, would they? Or if they were totally incapable of getting love in return again- as long as they live. No would they?"

This threat put a devilish look of glee on Draco, and made Mavy's boobs shake with envy. What followed only enhanced it all- "Plus there's a chance the armies may have to fight against Dah- well, some baddy dude who's butt needs whipped."

"Why you sly-I worship you!" Draco exclaimed. "I knew you had a mean bone in that curvaceous bod! Ares would be proud."

"You spread the word to those who doubt me," dite told Draco as he turrned to leave, then-"oh Draco- say something nice to Mavy before you leave."

"Huh?" Draco turned to Mavy, "Oh hi, I...I..by the gods, you're gorgeous, wonderful, I love you!" Then Draco checked himself, wondering why he said that, and left to speak to the troops.

Mavican wore the "what the fark was that all about" look. But she was secretly pleased. dite looked up in the air, to an otherwise invisible Cupid, and winked a thank you for the love arrow shot into Draco. In love, Draco was much easier to control.
...

Later, thinking back on being so tough that afternoon, dite would vomit, saying 'that's so not like me to be in charge & a meanie threatening to end all that love'. Afterwards, it would take lots & lots of chocolate for the afro to feel better. That, and the knowledge that a human army of peace & love could destroy Dahok, if led by the right mortal.

...

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Normal children grow at what can seem like phenomenal speed. In the case of Dahok's second spawn, this was actually true.

Gabrielle had matured from a 13 year old girl to a now fully mature 19 year old woman in only the span of a few hours. Due to her unusual childhood, her body was experiencing puberty in all it's frustrations at a much later date than most normal teenage girls did.

It was at this critical time that Gabrielle discovered sex in all it's mysteries and pitfalls.

Later on, she would still maintain that she couldn't possibly be held responsible for her actions as she was just responding the way any normal, healthy female would.

He just looked so...damned hot and sexy. She knew her mother would never approve, neither would Eli for that matter but Gabrielle knew what she felt. And like any teenage girl, she wanted to express that love to her chosen suitor.

It was while she was doing this, that an unseen spectator chanced upon her in the barn. Livia had seen many, many things in her blood soaked campaigns across the continent, but she'd never come across anyone trying to seriously make out with a goat before.

"You know, when your mother and that self-righteous blow hard told you to follow the Way of Love, I don't think this is quite what they meant." The smirk could not be hid from Livia's face.

The girl gasped and sprang to her feet, terror written all over her face. "You...you aren't going to tell them, are you?"

The Champion of Rome's mouth twitched in a semblance of a smile. "Well now, that depends Gabrielle."

"On what?" The tears were evident in the girl's tone.

"On you. If you do a little favor for me, I'll keep your filthy little secret. Refuse and I just might have to let everyone know about what a dirty little girl you are."

"NO!" the teenager cried. She paused for a moment. "What would I have to do?"

Livia shrugged. "Just come with me to Rome. Have you ever been to Rome, Gabrielle? It's a truly marvellous place and yours truly runs it. You come for a short visit, live it up in the lap of luxury, experiencing all the pleasures Rome has to offer and then you come home. That's it."

The girl raised one eyebrow, uncertain, "That's it, nothing else?"

Another nonchalant shrug rolled off Livia's shoulders. "Pretty much. Unless of course, you want to participate in other activities. That's up to you though. C'mon Gabrielle, I haven't got all day."

The teen bit her lip in thought. It sure sounded good, getting away from home, from listening to everyone nag at her about what to do and how to think and what to say. Couldn't they see she was a grown up now?

Livia kept her face indifferent, but inwardly she was crowing in triumph. The girl was practically on the way to Rome already. Now to clinch the deal.

"Maybe I can give you a little incentive. A small sampling of what Rome has to offer?" A short, low whistle brought 3 very muscular, very naked men tromping through the underbrush.

"Your pardon Imperatrix, the day was hot and we thought to cool off for a brief moment."

Livia waved her hand, carelessly. "Nevermind that Praetorian, come closer."

The man stepped forward, heedless of his nudity. Livia watched as young Gabrielle's eyes bulged out of her mouth and a line of drool ran from her lip. 'Like mother, like daughter,' she thought wryly.

"So? What's it going to be, girl? You come with me for a few days and see the world, or I tell your friends and family you and "billy" are close, personal acquaintances?"

Gabrielle wasted no time. "I'll go."

A full blown smile stretched across Livia's face. "Excellent. Shall we?"

With much haste, Livia, Gabrielle and the small squadron of soldiers were on their way back to Rome.

About halfway there, Gabrielle began to chatter incessantly about every single thing that crossed her mind and Livia was ready to ditch the plan and bury her sword in either Gabrielle's head or hers. Or maybe both.

In a moment of pure desparation, Livia turned to glare at the babbling teen. "For gods' sake, can't you shut your pie hole for one minute?"

Gabrielle's bottom lip quivered and then pouted. "Why should I?"

Livia drew her sword, so swiftly, it was almost indiscernible to the human eye and pointed it at the girl's throat. "Because the power of shut the hell up compels you."

Not a peep was heard after that and they reached Rome in blessed silence.


____________________________


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This is the story of how Olivia, AKA Gabrielle of Minya met Pan. She was walking near the oracle of Apollo one day, and she heard and understood the strange language coming out of the rock. This was when she was about ten or twelve; she grew so fast it was hard to keep track of just how old she was.

The oracle told about the oldest creature of the earth known at that time by the name of Pan. She learned that Pan was a creature similar to the centaurs that she had already met; Xenon and his child Borias. The only difference was that Pan, from the waist down was like a goat, and he stood on two feet like a man.

The minute she heard about this creature she wanted to see it. So she called out: pAAAAn, PAAAAn, but he never came, only the sound of her own voice returned saying pan…pan……pan…….pan.

On her way down from the hilltop she heard the music of a lovely flute called a syrinx, or shepherd's pipe, nearing her. And then she saw him. It was indeed the Pan which she had called.

Now this Pan was a very fine player and loved to enchant the women who came into the forest un-attended. But Olivia was no ordinary girl. She listened for a while and then began to ask him all about the world. Pan told her things that even Eli didn't know and helped her understand her place in the scheme of things.

"I am the only creature of my kind Olivia, do you know why?" he asked her one day.

"Are you a mistake? Did the gods decide to give up on your kind?"

"Oh no, I'm no mistake, I'm unique, and I carry a very important burden, for I keep the earth a satisfying place with good things around every hill and dale."

Olivia considered this and agreed. The world is a very satisfying place to be, she thought.

It was around this time that Livia first met Olivia. She had been in the barn with Pan one day where they would meet to talk. She didn’t' want Eli to know about her talks with him just yet. But she had become restless to learn more about the world and all its wonders. That is why it was a precipitous delight that Auntie Livia offered to take her along with her to Rome.

**********

As they rode along the road Livia reasoned that her new charge would be a handful, but well worth the work if she panned out to be anything like her father Ares. She missed the poor old bastard, that was true, and having this little piece of him would at least make up for his abandonment of her.

"I can't believe he chose my mother over me," she muttered, thinking back to all the disappointments she had felt because of those two.

"So… Gabrielle…what do you want to do first when you get there, sword play, chariots?"

"Oh, call me… Olivia, Auntie," she smiled back innocently. "That name never felt right and now that I'm with you, well, I'd like to be called something more fitting."

"O-liv-i-a, good, has a nice ring to it. OK so what do you want to do? I know I promised you some nice men to tickle your fancy, shall I set it up or do you want to pick them out yourself?"

"I'm really interested in how you do things, Auntie. How does Rome show you its love?"

"Well they put on big parades and shows for me all the time," she said, exaggerating a bit.

When that conversation petered out in silence, she remembered something she'd heard about a contest to be held in Greece by King Gregor which seemed like a perfect opportunity for her to show off her power.

"There's a contest of the greatest battle hardened warriors coming up soon," she told Olivia. "I 'm making plans right now to spoil that little display which I think you will enjoy."

"Oh yes. I'll watch my Auntie take all the trophies," said Olivia with sarcastic glee.

Oh no I'm not after any trophies, but you'll see that later, she thought.

**************
Eli consoled Minya all he could after learning that Gabrielle had taken off with Livia for Rome. It was hard for a mother to let go of a child, and this one seemed so distant already. Minya could feel only sadness when she thought of her.

"It's important for Gabby er I mean, Olivia, she wants to be called that by the way. Any way, it's hard for her to understand this world. She has grown so fast and had to learn so much. But in time she will mature and find her own way."

"O-liv-i-a?" shouted Minya, "What, she's naming herself now?"

"Yes. That name apparently didn't suit her."

"But it was my Joxer's…I mean he chose it and he was going to …"

"Minya! Remember, freewill! It was my Father's most important gift!"
"Yes, yes. We all have it. I remember. So what should we do? I have to go after her. I don't trust that Livia as far as I can throw her!"

"No, I have a feeling we will catch up with them in Greece. My old friend King Gregor has been preparing for Livia's ambition to bring her there. It won't be long now I imagine."

So the dwindling party of Eli, Minya and Pauline departed for the Greco-Macedonian kingdom of Gregor. Not far behind them were the centaurs Xenan and his son Borias. And the old goat, Pan, as well followed after, playing his pipes as he went.



LOVE IS THE WAY...

Enter The Higher Realm Here

 
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Xena lounged casually on low stone wall marking the boundary line for a farm. The afternoon sun was low in the sky as she heard the footsteps of two men on the nearby road. She caught snatches of what appeared to be only a half-serious argument over the comparative virtues of rabbit and boar hunting.

The two were a rather mismatched pair. One was shorter than Xena while the other was--quite frankly--a demi-god. This had to be the famous Hercules and his sidekick Iolaus, she thought as she gave them both a throrough visual examination. "I'm sure I'll enjoy seducing that one," she reflected. "And being rewarded by the tall one."

Hercules suddenly stopped short as he caught sight of Xena while Iolaus continued the argument and his forward direction for a few more feet.

"Xena! This is a surprise!" Hercules blinked and smiled. "Are you just passing through or is this going to be a longer visit?"

"I have news. And a favor to ask." She looked at Iolaus. "I need your thieving skills."

***********

As Xena rode away, Iolaus looked after her with deep interest.

"You think she was being straight with us?" Hercules broke in on Iolaus' thoughts.

"Yeah. I'm not sure I trust her completely. I mean...that's the Xena who is going to seduce me and try to get me to kill you."

"Yeah."

"I believe her when she says she wants to keep her soul. I even believe her when she says she has to do what Xena--I guess 'our' Xena-- won't do to protect her soul. And I believe her when she says she wants to bring back 'our' Xena because only she needs all her life experience to get the job done. "

"But...?" prompted Hercules.

"But when we send that Xena back to her own time. How can we be sure that she won't use what she's learned here and now, then and there?"

"Good question."

"I mean, if she knew then what she knows now--and she doesn't seem to impressed with what 'our' Xena has done with her life--won't she do something to keep from....I don't know...redemption?"

"I can see her planning that," said Hercules. "Look. You take care of her commission. I've got an idea."

"But, Herc," said Iolaus. "Just what is it she's going to do that Xena wouldn't do--even to save her own soul?"

"I don't know." Hercules shrugged. "And I'm not sure I want to know."

*********

Xena rode through the night back toward Rome. She stopped some hours before dawn at a temple. Dismounting Argo, she walked up the steps, entered and approached the altar. A flame burned brightly upon it.

"Alright Hera. I will do what the woman I become won't be able to."

The flame grew to twice its previous height.

Xena consulted a scroll.

"A door door is opened by the Chakrams three. And only closed with these gifts from thee.

"First the heart of one who wishes you ill..."

Xena smiled. That should be easy to find.

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Zeus wondered how easliy Xena could be seduced from her path..

Masking himself into a likness of Gabrielle, he walks up behind her....


*********************************
 
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dite's afro walked briskly down the palace hallway then opened the door to the throne room. Peering in, dite saw Hera, but no daddy.

"If you're looking for your step-father," said Hera while reading The Daily Scroll, "he's off to earth, attending to that warrior woman...again." dite wrinkled her nose in disappointment. "Well," Hera continued, setting the paper aside, "is there something I can help you with?"

"Um..." dite replied,arms folded and looking at the floor, to make the mood more solemn "it's just that a bunch of meanies took over one of Ares' temples in Sicyon.. Darnelle & Glaphyra have tried taking it back, but the bad poo poo's fought 'em back & also over-ran a temple of Hebe's. Yuck, did they ever defile that temple."

Hera surprised dite by quickly standing and moving towards the deity, grabbing dite's wrist rather hard, "Ouchies!" squealed dite. "What's that for?"

"I'm sorry, you know how I detest mortals defiling or occupying our temples. Why haven't you dealt with this matter yourself?"

"It's no mortals who did this," dite answered, looking directly into Hera's eyes, "it was that bitch Hope. She's trying to revive the mortal following of Dahok. Guess she assumes she has the right to use our temp- hey! where you taking me?"

Hera pulled on dite's arm, then let go. "To earth. It's been such a long time since you & I had an outting there. Zeus may have made a deal with Hope and her kind, but they have interfered with our property. Let's go teach her a lesson."

"Totally freakin' awesome, Hera babe! You rule!"

...

"You rule, your highness!" said the followers in unison to Hope as she surveyed their new headquarters in the former temple of Ares.

"My father will be pleased at your loyality. Our legion is small. for now, but we will obtain more to the calling. Before the day is over, I want Darnelle & Glaphyra captured & crucified in front of this temple. This will bring to our side those who foolishly joined dite's army of peace & love..."Hope smirked at this. "Only through my father can peace & love be accomplished. Only through Dahok's reign on earth."

"Hail Dahok! Hail Dahok!" the small band of followers cried out. But then, two golden shimmery trails of whooshes-

"Dahok's failed. The party's over" Hera said firmly, as the crowd screamed and started to run from out the temple at the sight of the queen of the gods.

Hope raised a hand to seal the temple doors but Hera whoosed them open with just a bat of an eyelash. "Father will not be pleased. Your husband will not be pleased." Hope taunted Hera.

"What pleases Zeus has nothing to do with you. What pleases me is to see you gone." And with that, a gentle wave of her finger, a wide-eyed Hope was whooshed away...a bright rainbow vortex...somewhere.

"Coolage! Major coolage! Thanks for doin the dirty work for me."

"Make sure the temples are restored and clean, dite. I leave that dirty work up to you. I must chat with Hebe, poor dear will lose her mind when she sees all the broken cups in her temple."

"Awrights, I'll do the housekeeping. So, just where'd you send the brat to?"

"Oh, a nice little niche in the ripples of space & time." Hera grinned.

dite knew Hera wouldn't tell her where she sent Hope. Couldn't chance anyone secretly listening in or maybe dite would mumble the location out as she does sometimes talk in her sleep. Hera went on to meet with Hebe. dite cleaned up, met with Glaphyra about recruiting those ex-Dahok followers to their brigade, and just smiled and said nothing when Darnelle asked- "Aw c'mon, where'd Hope get banished to? Where in hades did Hera send her?"

...

"Where in hades did Hera send me?" Hope surveyed her surroundings. A netherworld, through a strange vortex she was sent here. Just where was here?

Hope walked slowly but confidently around the mostly enclosed area. Confident that her father would find her here & return her to earth. This was no place on earth, she knew that for sure. After awhile...she heard someone sneaking up behind her. A someone who she focused her sight on and hurled back towards the rocky walls of the large cave they were in.

"Damn, that hurt." said the bearded figure.

"Hercules. What a surpri-"

"No, Hope, just call me the Soverign. I just look like that idiot Hercules."

"You know me? How do you know me? What is this place? Cooperate and my father may spare you when he finds me here."

The Soverign lay acoss a smooth concrete floor and laughed. "Don't count on leaving here soon, princess, and if you do, don't expect where you end up to be anyplace or anywhen you think." Hope raised an eyebrow to this. "I know you because in one of the many times I've escaped here, I ran into a version of you who escaped the control of Dahok and followed the way of Eli. No, don't raise wave your fingers to choke me. It's true. There are many alternate worlds out there. I've been to many and somehow seem to get sent back here...to this dungeon between worlds."

Now the Soverign stood & approached Hope. "Accept it here." he raised a hand to caress her cheek, "maybe we can have some..fun..here."

Hope smiled before blasting him back to the hard floor. "You call being stuck here with you fun? I will find a way out-stop shaking your head!- and I will return to the same reality from which I came and I will exact revenge on all who oppose me- mortals and gods! Now that will be fun!"

...

"Now that will be fun," Minya said to Pauly, pointing out the large fair & crafts show in the short distance, as they approached kingdom of Gregor.

"Perhaps you two should mingle among the fairgoers, find some food, and rest. I need to meet with King Gregor, and I prefer to do that alone. No offense to either of you." spoke Eli. "We can all meet again at nightfall, by the east gate. I have a feeling some old friends might be joinging us by then."

Minya thought it'd be nice to spend time alone- and shopping- with Pauline, so she nodded in agreement, as the trio heard approaching hoofbeat. A few warrior thug types were nearing them. The one in the lead was smiling a devilish grin but held up a hand to show good faith, or so Minya hoped.

"I'm Draco and you folk needn't fear us," he said from atop the horse, cocky but friendly, "dite has sent us to make sure you're safe while you're here."

Eli nodded a thank you and said "We have journeyed here and remained safe. We thank you for the offer but must decline. King Gregor will make sure we are safe on his lands"

Draco laughed an infectious laugh that spread among his men. "Eli, Eli, Eli. dite told me you were a confiident holy man with some powers. However, we have learned that Alti may be here in a last chance attempt to topple Gregor or disrupt the contest."

Mins spat on the ground at the mention of Alti. "No getting rid of the hag. You sure she's here?" Minya aking Draco, not taking an eye off him, wondering how much he really loves Mavican.

"Word is she's nearby. And Eli, word is also that an old friend of yours has crossed many borders looking for you, and is headed here, too?"

"An old friend? Which old friend shall I be greeting?"

"Indrajit" Draco said flatly & sarcastically. "Appears he was healed and is very ticked off."

...

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Xena suddenly sensed the presence of something else in the temple. She dropped the scroll and executed a perfect back flip over the approaching presence. Pulling out her sword she held its point at the base of the neck of a young blonde woman.

"Xena!" she cried out. "It's me, Gabrielle!"

Xena pulled back the sword back less than an inch and commmanded, "turn around. Slowly."

As the bard complied, she said, "Xena, I'm here to make sure you don't go down this path that Hera has set you on."

"Hope!" spat Xena. "You've come at an opportune moment."

The blonde woman looked a bit dazed, "I have?"

What, wondered Zeus, could Xena want with Hope.

Xena plunged her sword into "Hope's chest". As she did the illusion of Zeus slipped away and she found herself face to face with a rather bemused God of the heavens.

"Interesting," he said and disappeared into a shimmer of golden light.

Xena rolled her eyes and re-sheathed her sword. She was getting tired of these pointless encounters. Turning on her heel she left the temple, mounted Argo and rode away from the temple.

Presently she came upon a fork in the road. One way led to Rome and Eve. The other to the land of King Gregor.

One who wishes me ill is in the land of Gregor, thought Xena. True there were many who wished her ill in Rome, but in the land of Gregor was another item on her list of objects to obtain that her future self would never do.

The kidney of a false prophet who meant no real harm.


*******
 
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