Introduction: Myths are generally stories that have been handed down for generations, popular tales that may have originated with shamans, priests or poets. A little old lady who resided alone hands down this story and once wrapped her heart around a ancient heroine she called Xena.
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle and the gods and goddesses are the property of USA Studios and Renaissance Productions. No violation is intended by the use of the character names or the events similar to the television version. Annie and Sarah are the property and creation of the writer of this story.
FORGET THE MOMENT and REFLECT
On a early brisk morning, the small silver hair lady stepped onto her porch only to catch a breath of fresh air and view the wonder of late fall. A young girl was passing by just at the front of the lady's house and stopped quickly to gaze at the lady who seemed so far away in her thoughts there may have been something wrong. The young girl spoke to the older woman who quickly turned to her and smiled oh so very pleased to see this young person take time to talk to her. The older lady spoke softly and with a crackling voice introduced herself as Annie with the young girl giving her name as Sarah. After talking for a time, Annie realized Sarah too was lonely and expressed sadness in her day. Since the morning air was quite chilling on Annie's older bones, she told Sarah, "come child, come inside if you have time I have a story I would like to tell you." The child beamed at the invitation and followed Annie into the humble and warm home. Annie offered Sarah a comfortable seat just next to the wooden rocker where Annie sat as she began telling her tale.
In a time of Ancient gods my child there were warlords and kings. The land was in turmoil and all the people cried out for a hero. A passionate woman came forth and was forged in to the heat of battle. The woman was, Xena, Warrior Princess who had traveled for many years to take retribution on those who had invaded her homeland of Amphipolis. Xena had led an army for Ares, the god of war and at one time had saved death herself so that people in all the lands would not suffer with no end. Xena had never felt the pains of love and she remained a virgin. Once Ares had tried to violate, but Xena managed to defend herself and to change her destiny toward a path of good. She rode proudly by taking the bridal in hand and headed to return to her home and reunite with her family.
Sarah sat quietly as she was listening with interest and curiosity as Annie continued to talk except for brief pauses to catch her breath and regain her story progression. Annie continued saying that as Xena rode toward home she encountered the sounds of an attack on a group of people from a village known as Potaidea. Xena submitted to her fate and took sword in hand to attack the intruder's and insure the safety of the villager's who stood before her. Xena only saw on of them clearly as a young blonde girl turned to look into Xena's eyes with gratitude and admiration. The greatest feeling of all came over Xena as the entire villager's but the blonde woman returned to their safe homes. Xena learned that the girls given name was Gabrielle who wanted to leave her homeland to travel with Xena and become a warrior in her own right. Xena & Gabrielle lay beneath the stars all night talking and reflecting on their lives and shared much about their inner feelings of loneliness. Talking with Gabrielle made Xena realize she could not turn back the hands of time and she could not let her own emotions outweigh all the good she and Gabrielle can do now. Gabrielle had told Xena she could not see her as ever being evil and that she no longer wanted to be who she was but now chose to be whom Xena could make her.
Sarah leaned forward to very carefully hear Annie continue to speak but the silver hair woman rose from her rocking chair and said, "my child, let's have some tea and refreshments if you have the time. I have much more I'd like to tell you." Sarah was so glad that Annie was not ready to end the story just now and gladly accepted her offer of refreshment as she sat quietly while Annie slowly walked to her kitchen.
The story continues as Annie returns from her small kitchen with a tray of floral teacups and very lovely crumpets for Sarah. Annie slowly sat back into her rocker and after taking only one small sip of tea, she began talking again. Annie began by telling Sarah she knew the young girl had never heard of Aphrodite, the goddess of love in all its forms, a protector of marriage, the inspirer of ideal affection and herself a very striking beauty of a goddess. Annie talks on about Xena not taking Ares, god of war as her lover but that Xena did feel romantic for her companion Gabrielle. Xena and Gabrielle had years of sharing, fighting and more times than not, they discarded fruit rinds together and confessed that the past cannot be fixed or maintained forever.
Annie bent forward in her rocker and softly told Sarah, "the legend won't tell you all this my dear but I know it to be so." After this statement, Annie leaned back once again and continued by telling Sarah that the Roman gods were of much importance after the Greek gods and once Xena and Gabrielle had traveled to Rome because of a rather large bounty that Caesar had placed for anyone who would kill Xena.
Xena and Gabrielle had shared much joy but had suffered greatly as well during the years they both fought for the greater good throughout all the lands. Xena had lost her first child whom she as only once able to cradle in her arms as a baby. Gabrielle had also suffered loss of her young one because the seeds of the evil Dahok made the child very bad and she had been the one that killed Xena's child. Their love of one another had overcome all this in the form of forgiveness but like all things in life, deep hurt and pain cannot be fully removed but only perhaps replaced in the warmth of the love that remains.
Annie began to appear tired and once again paused to catch her breath while Sarah finished up her tea and the delicious crumpets. As Annie adjusted her seating, Sarah briefly looked around the cozy room and noticed several framed pictures just on the wall beside the fireplace of the unusually dressed people in portraits. One picture was in the center and it was a lovely blonde woman in a very appealing Amazon outfit. The smile on that picture was sweet and charming as if she provided comfort with only her expression. Beside that picture was another of a dark hair woman with beautiful blue eyes whose expression was both of love and firmness. That picture sent a feeling of safety through Sarah. Another picture quickly caught Sarah's eyes of a very handsome and daring dark hair with beard man also dressed in a black leather jacket.
Suddenly, Annie took a very deep sigh and began telling Sarah that Xena had saved Rome in a very clever manner just as she had done at Troy years before. History doesn't record that Xena was the warrior that had accomplished all these things, but it was not of the gods choosing that a woman received an honor of such magnitude. Gabrielle had learned just as she had asked Xena to teach her fighting and once she even led a group of Amazon's into battle. Gabrielle kept her kind and gentle heart through all of this and found comfort in her choice to follow a life's path with Xena. The fates and gods they were very capable to mettle when faced with opposition by Xena against their cause. The gods, of course, were just concerned with their personal honor as heroes themselves and would not allow the myth to go forward about the true courage of Xena.
Just as Xena and Gabrielle defeated the fates and their defiance of death gave them another chance at life and the greater good, it was to be that Xena was chose to carry a child that would be known as an entity. A new evil had entered the world that none of the gods could find the power to insure peace and safety for all that lived in the land. Once again it was Xena that accepted the destiny like a real heroine, knew the child to be good and that she and Gabrielle would share in that love and care, as well.
Annie then sighed very deeply once again and slowly turned to look toward Sarah who still sat quietly and content on the sofa. Annie whispered softly to Sarah, "child, I must rest some now but I wonder if you can return soon. I have much more I want to tell you and then there is many things I'd like to show you when you have the time." Sarah had to gather herself and realized she had spent this entire morning listening ever so intently to Annie. Oh, I'd love to come back soon, Sarah told Annie as she rose from her seat and walked toward the door. Annie tilted her head back onto the rocker and so very quietly said, please let yourself out dear and I'll be here when you come back, Annie then drifted into a very peaceful slumber. Sarah stepped out of the door and back onto the porch as she resumed her stroll on past Annie's home thinking to herself that she would take time again at morning light to come back to see Annie.
After Sarah left Annie in a peaceful slumber, she walked briskly to her small apartment nearby. She continued all afternoon feeling loneliness and having thoughts about the story Annie had shared with her that morning. Sarah completed all her chores in haste because she wanted to return to see Annie at early light the next day and knew that she would have to return to work the day following. Just before going to bed that evening, Sarah wrote a letter to a really dear friend who lived many miles away in the northern part of the country. She told her friend that she had heard a love story about ancient gods, Aphrodite and two women with strong love named Xena and Gabrielle. The letter was brief but the words were from Sarah's heart as she slipped the letter into an envelope decorated with holly bush design.
Morning finally came and Sarah dressed quickly to take her morning walk that would lead her to Annie house. This morning was really chilly and a whistling wind was all around as Sarah stepped back onto the porch at Annie's to gently knock on the door. The door opened slowly as a very tired looking Annie smiled and seemed ever so pleased to see her new friend once again. Annie said, "come in, come in my child. I'm so glad you came back this morning." Just like the day before, Sarah took a set on the comfy sofa in the parlor and Annie sat in her rocking chair.
The legends don't tell you the real truth about Xena who fought mortal enemies as well as spiritual ones from bringing destruction to the ancient lands. Gabrielle learned much from Xena and had assured Xena that she would care for the impending child of the Warrior Princess as her own. Even with Xena having the powers of shamans, it was Gabrielle that called upon the teachings of Xena and the Amazons for the skills to defend Xena and her child, many times. As the birth grew near, Xena was very vulnerable and just like the first child of Xena, many enemies sought to harm the fetus and void the birth of this entity that would save the world. Both Xena and Gabrielle suffered many emotional trials during this time. They had to bury their own strong feelings and affection for one another deep down inside of themselves.
All of a sudden, Annie quickly leaned forward as she experienced severe shortness of breath. With a gasp, she told Sarah, the legend teaches that Aphrodite's Latin counter part called Venus had a son. The son was known in mythology as Cupid, you know. Then Annie slumped even more forward just before falling heavily backwards to rest her head. Briefly, Annie seemed dazed as if her thoughts had left her completely and Sarah became nervous with concern for her new friend. Sarah whispered , are you okay Annie? Do you need anything? A moment which felt like multiple hours to Sarah passed before Annie replied, no, no my child. I am fine and I just wanted to be sure you knew about Cupid. He will be very important to the real legend and to the truth. Sarah felt some relief as Annie finally spoke and knew Annie would continue talking when she was able.
Annie took several deep breaths and looked around as if to seek something to regain her thoughts and continue her story. In a very weak whisper of her own, Annie asked Sarah, "child, could you please step into my kitchen and get me a small glass of water? You'll find what you need." Sarah stood from her more than comfortable seat and made her way to the kitchen where the day before she had seen Annie emerge with the tea and crumpets. Annie was taken by the warm and country feeling of the small kitchen room. She opened the first cabinet door to get a small glass and filled it with tap water. She walked back through the doorway toward the parlor and looking ahead, Sarah gasped !
Sarah's eyes quickly caught site of Annie lying fetal on the rug just in front of her rocking chair. Sarah ran quickly to the older woman and heard only short breaths. Annie's eyes were still and appeared to have an odd color of yellow. Annie struggled to slowly reach into her apron pocket and remove an envelope, which she clutched very tightly in her hand. Sarah felt frozen and scared as Annie could barely whisper. "Child, take this envelope ..it's for you." Annie then took one long final breath as Sarah felt a grabbing knot inside of hew own chest. Sarah stood and ran toward a phone she had noticed on a nearby table. She called for help before returning to Annie's body still lying lifeless on the floor.
What felt like eternity, Sarah then left her friend's side as she felt sick and sad all at the same time. A small tear rolled down Sarah's face as she looked at the letter she had taken from Annie's hand. Sarah turned her look and thoughts to the pictures on the wall as paramedics finally arrived. Sarah realized the pictures on the wall were of Xena, Gabrielle and Ares. She looked further around the room to avoid watching the removal of Annie's body and she saw a treasure chest box, which looked exactly like something Annie, would cherish. She opened the box gently to find a roll of parchment paper lying inside as if it were placed for very safekeeping. Sarah didn't think to open the letter in her hand but instead, unrolled the parchment note and began to read.
The paper read:
After many years of travel, Xena and Gabrielle accepted the loving romance for one another and longed to have a true commitment. The ancient times did not allow two women to be joined and any mention of this would not be tolerated by the gods or considered to become legend. Xena and Gabrielle, however did make their love known to Aphrodite who understood their passion. Aphrodite had shared this information and called upon her son, Cupid to meet with Xena and Gabrielle in the gardens behind her temple. The meeting took place one very late evening as the sunset shined bright on the horizon.
Xena and Gabrielle arrived at the meeting place and stood underneath a mulberry tree where they shared their happiness with Cupid. The mulberry tree was in full bloom with green leaves and white berries. Cupid represented love and his Latin name was Eros. Just as one of the three fates, Clotho spun the thread of life, Cupid spun the thread of love for Xena and Gabrielle beneath the lovely mulberry tree and in the glow of the sunset.
Xena and Gabrielle shared a toast of red wine, which suddenly turned the white berries of the tree to red. This made the confirmation of their love complete as they affirmed the child Xena carried would be both of theirs and the berries of a mulberry tree would forever be red.
Sadness overcame Sarah again as she realized this was the legend that Annie said would never be passed down from generation to generation. It was only told on the one scroll that Annie kept safe in the small treasure chest. The only signing of the scroll was the word Bard and it wasn't explained how Annie had possession.
Sarah next remembered the envelope still in her hand. She slowly unsealed the flap and found only a small note inside. In handwriting resembling Annie herself, the note read,
"My dear sweet child. You shouldn't go through life feeling lonely and not having the one person that you love. Like Xena and Gabrielle, you need only follow your destiny." It was signed simply Annie, your friend.
Sarah knew that this scroll spelled out her own destiny and this is what Annie wanted her to know. Time had run too short for her friend and she faced leaving Annie's home for the last time. Sarah decided to take both note and scroll with her as she sadly returned to her apartment.
It took Sarah days to organize and pack so that she could join her friend that she had written the first night after meeting Annie. Sarah had loved this friend since her school years and now had the courage to join her girlfriend rather than keep the distance that had hidden their passion.
Sarah sent word in advance asking her girlfriend to meet her in a park near her northern home at a familiar mulberry tree. The season would have the tree in full bloom its dark green leaves and bright red berries.
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