Gabrielle could no longer contain her curiosity and asked Xena, "What is this cave…you know this place?"
Before Xena replied, Ares answered, "yes, Xena knows this cave. Her greatest army hid here among ancient ruins back in the good old days. Those were powerful times when Xena was at her best."
"You should remember that Ares," Xena snapped as she yanked Ares by the rope wrapped around him. "I had never laid eyes on you back then. I wish I had never known your strong hold on my heart either."
Xena would not change her focus on the issue of her heart it seemed. Gabrielle was beginning to understand Xena was hurting and whatever mission she was leading them on now, was at least about the pain and hurt they both were feeling.
Gabrielle briefly realized in her thoughts that Xena had left Eve behind for now. Even wanting Eve out of their lives, the feeling wasn't what Gabrielle had expected. How much more guilt could she bear for Xena's children, her mind cried.
Both Ares and Gabrielle seemed surprised at the large room inside of this cave. The room had a large rock tomb, covered and sitting to one side. With more than her usual mortal strength, Xena slid open the tomb's lid, took Ares by the shoulder and placed his weight fully inside.
"Wait! Wait! Xena, what are you doing? You don't want to do this," Ares shouted.
"Oh yes I do," Xena spoke with contempt. "You're not a mortal Ares. Your powers are only lost because the people don't worship you right now. They have embraced Eli's message and I embrace their right to choose. People will someday again choose to worship the god of war but you won't be there for that. You won't manipulate mine, Eve's or Gabrielle's heart ever again !" Xena stated profoundly as she threw Ares sword in the tomb and closed the lid.
In a very shocking move, Xena threw her chakram against a red jewel high on the cave wall. The chakram ricocheted and broke into two halves as it returned to looking like her first chakram. One half lodged in the wall across from the tomb where Ares, lacking his godly strength was now secured. The other half of the chakram flew out of sight.
"Xena ! What are you doing?" shouted Gabrielle.
Xena grabbed Gabrielle by the shoulder pulling them both into a corridor as a rock door closed leaving Ares tomb sealed inside.
"I'm ridding myself of Ares," Xena finally answered. "He's been the darkness in my heart. He kept those dark feelings too close. Thanks to you, I understand I can have a warriors heart without that. He put us in tombs of ice and took our chance to be a family. I'm taking that back!"
Gabrielle was stunned at Xena's actions and words as Xena headed back outside. Gabrielle felt a moment of panic as she followed and only gave a quick glance back at the closed cave wall.
Outside, Xena gathered Gabrielle's scrolls from her pack and walked again toward the caves' entrance as Gabrielle remained standing next to her horse feeling in shock.
Xena walked back into the cave and emerged rather quickly without the scrolls in hand.
"Xena, my scrolls?" Gabrielle said with confusion and concern in her voice.
Just as Gabrielle spoke, Aphrodite appeared and stood before Xena and Gabrielle.
"You rang, little one?" Aphrodite said.
"I had her ring you, Aphrodite," Xena interrupted. "Gabrielle needs you again. Mt. Olympus should remain empty. Don't go there ever. I want you to take Gabrielle to your main temple. Seems you still have your powers and she needs some time and a place to write."
"Xena," Gabrielle exclaimed with a gasp and panic in her voice, "I don't want to leave you. I wanted you to talk to me. I think we're lost but I think we can find our love again. Don't do this" Gabrielle begged.
Aphrodite stood stunned that it seemed Xena was putting her in charge of Gabrielle. Well I am alone, Aphrodite thought although she knew she and Gabrielle were only good friends.
Xena walked to face Gabrielle. She placed her arms around her while looking her in the eye.
"Gabrielle," Xena spoke softly, "those scrolls you wrote were nice. They were the best of me as only you saw me. But my heart was still filled with too much of Ares' darkness all this time. After realizing in Rome the times I hurt you, I've done that again. Not just with actions of vengeance because of my children. I've hurt you deeply and no one should hurt someone as pure as you. I don't have words like you. I can't tell you what is in my own heart but I can show you. My heart almost burst when I felt your pain the other night."
Xena paused and tightly squeezed Gabrielle as tears began to flow from both of their eyes. Xena continued talking.
"You found me in your writings before, Gabrielle. You will find me there again. Go with Aphrodite now and it won't be long. I will come for you."
Gabrielle suddenly felt relieved. She knew she was seeing Xena turn to her completely. Her mind immediately realized they both did need some time. The past year had gone by too quickly and their emotions were mixed and confused.
Xena mounted Argo II and grasped the reins of Gabrielle's horse. Gabrielle noticed the welcome and peace in Aphrodite's eyes.
Xena gave a loving look at Gabrielle as she said, "I'm going to go check on our families, Gabrielle. I will travel slow and perhaps teach my new horse some things along the way. I have my sword, my mind and you are strong in my heart now.
Xena then turned, giving a tug on Argo II and leading the second horse, Xena rode off as the sun was lowering behind her.
Taking a deep breath, Gabrielle turned to Aphrodite who wiped a tear from Gabrielle's cheek.
"Just you and me for a time, huh" Aphrodite said as she placed her arm on Gabrielle's shoulder and then suddenly, they both vanished from sight.
It's the end of my story.
It's a new beginning of for the greatest love story ever written on scrolls.
They remain undiscovered.
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