(Diary # 6)
Xena awoke with the sun and rather hastily cleared her campsite and saddled Argo II. As she rode this early morning, Argo II sensed strange tugs on the reins combined with the tug encouraging a gallop as if they were under attack. Xena kept this pace much of the morning as the tugs became more anxious and Xena clinched the reins extremely tight in her hands.
Xena's mind was racing like something was driving her to ride with this much fury and she felt her anger swelling inside. She did give thought to her need to visit Eve before word Xena was dead traveled and could foil her plan. Pulling back strongly, Xena halted Argo II after jumping her over a rather wide stream.
The sleep Xena thought she enjoyed had been extremely short in duration. Without the breeze to fold her hair back from her eyes, Xena walked near the stream and she suddenly felt numb. She dropped to one knee and was completely consumed with anger and bitterness that had formed so strongly inside of her during the night.
While letting Argo II drink from the stream, her thoughts came one after another:
How could a god of love give me so much power and leave so much scorn and hurt all for the same purpose? This god had left Gabrielle in the wake of my maternal need to insure no one would harm a second child of mine. My mother probably didn't understand the hate in people's eyes as I have grown to become accustomed.
I don't think this is a god I want to control my destiny any further. I can take hurt and pain and I watched Gabrielle accept her own crucifixion yet her eyes kept light and love. I cannot take Gabrielle's life lying in my hand and the vision of her blood flowing from the blow of my own Chakram. The gods can be damned for their attack but Gabrielle did nothing to deserve what the gods and fates offered to her.
The Persians were suppose to be a strong army and I defeated them. The Horde was a challenge but their leader's pride governed their actions and he was weak. What exactly was it that kept me from killing them all when I had the chance?
It was Gabrielle that thought love was the way once and yet she knew my path was that of a warrior. I could have killed my own child and Joxer would have lived. Ares trusted I would not kill him while Gabrielle was driven to stab the child I very much needed to save for myself and for some god I don't even know.
There is a funny thing about hate. It seems to belittle the hurt inside of my heart. I can make it my enemy or I can embrace it as the only friend I have now. If there is to be no more light in Gabrielle's face or my heart then I must face my darkness at last.
Xena drank only a palm full of water from the stream and mounted Argo II as she gave the fast gallop tug on the reins. She didn't let up on the pace until she had reached the temple where Eve had remained to study with the Baptist. Xena cleverly took out one of the holy men with one swift punch to abduct his robe allowing her to move about in disguise.
She entered with a group all in dressed in the same robes as she had changed into and did not see Eve gathered at the front of the main hall. Xena was not noticed as she traveled down a hallway to find Eve alone in the last open room.
"Eve," Xena spoke in a whisper.
"Mother!" Eve exclaimed with surprise that Xena had returned so quickly.
"Listen, I don't have much time" Xena said as she only put her arm across Eve's shoulder, "my mother is alive but she is shunned because I killed the Greek gods. Gabrielle is with Aphrodite and I'm hoping she will find peace, happiness and above all safety now. While you prepare for your destiny, rumor will say that I am dead but I only going to fulfill my true destiny."
Eve stood quiet for several moments noticing the tone in her mother's voice wasn't expected and she felt a very strong concern for the unusual look in Xena's eyes.
"Mother, why are you doing this now?"
"Don't ask questions, Eve. I was gifted you for a purpose that didn't give back what I needed. I'm going to change my own destiny. If that leads to eternal damnation, then I'm ready," Xena stated as Eve was really in shock by Xena's words.
"Mother wait, don't go!" Eve exclaimed as Xena removed her arm and acted as if she had to leave without further explanation.
When Xena turned back around there were Eve, Gabrielle and Aphrodite standing before her looking saddened as they circled Xena to block her exit. As if it were instinct, Xena began to reach for her sword but Eve stepped forward to touch her mother's arm.
"Mother, I know you're in pain. If you cannot understand the message by the god of love then you need to understand you have not lost Gabrielle. She won't let you do this and we have just been waiting for you to come back."
"Come back?" Xena questioned as she felt anger that Gabrielle had not accepted that she was on a journey to find their families and give them time before rejoining each other.
"And just what makes you think I want to listen to you now?" Xena asked Gabrielle in a very bitter tone.
"Xena, come sit down, you're tired and we need some time to talk. I was with Cyrene when you turned away from your home. She doesn't question your killing the gods and she knows you weren't killed in battle" Gabrielle softly told Xena as she embraced her with both arms and led her to a nearby chair.
"Darkness and hate are my friends now Gabrielle. You can't change who I am or what drives my heart to hurt you. I've faced my darkness finally and I'm not opposed to accepting the damnation for it. Let me go, Gabrielle," Xena insisted as she pushed Gabrielle's arms away and gave a very threatening look toward Eve and Aphrodite.
"Xena, please…please wait, "Gabrielle shouted in panic as Xena stood, pulled her sword pointing it toward Gabrielle as her hand motioned Eve and Aphrodite to stand back.
"Don't even think of following me!" Xena ordered as she turned to exit into the hallway.
"No! " screamed Aphrodite as she grabbed her heart watching both Gabrielle and Eve run to halt Xena and stop her from this self-destructive path.
(Diary # 7)
Xena ran to reach outside still unnoticed by passing groups dressed in the same robes as the one she had taken from the holy man. Her continued path however, was suddenly blocked when Aphrodite appeared in front of her. Beside Aphrodite stood death, herself. Xena halted quickly as both Gabrielle and Eve also joined and stood behind Aphrodite and Death as they all faced Xena's scorned look.
Xena started to reach for her sword but was immediately wrapped in Hephaestus' chains, restraining her arms to her side.
"You've all become suicidal" Xena scowled loudly as she struggled with the chains that completely embraced her. "I've got the power to kill you all" she screamed.
Aphrodite extended her arm to block Gabrielle or Eve from walking closer to Xena speaking in her determined voice she said, "Xena, how kind of you to leave my husband's chains behind. I suppose I should use them for something more fun but oh well. Since they are rightfully mine, I wish you would just calm down and listen."
"Oh, am I in trouble again?" Xena asked with sarcasm in her voice.
Aphrodite ignored Xena's question and continued speaking. "It's your mind Xena that seems to be wanting to make a choice between love or death. Celesta has had quite enough to do lately and goodness knows I could use some peace and quiet. Gabrielle is quite a talker when you are the subject."
"Xena please, please hear her out" Gabrielle begged as Eve looked on with tears forming in her eyes and to herself, she whispered, "this is all my fault."
Aphrodite turned only a moment to tell Eve, "this is no one's fault really. It's a tragedy. Just a sad, sad tragedy."
"Oh, I know whose fault all this is," exclaimed Xena. "It's my darkness that makes me who I am. All this craziness about a greater good and just look where it leads, " she continued. "I'm the only one who can change my destiny now and if you think putting me in chains will stop my journey, think again!"
Aphrodite seemed suddenly brave with Xena restrained in her husband's chains and approached to place her arm on Xena's tightened shoulder.
Responding to the fury in Xena's eyes, Aphrodite looked at her sadly and proceeded to tell her, "Xena, I hate to sound like a prophet but it's not you who determines what god or hero people honor or worship. Even wisdom failed Athena. She led the battle to stop the god of love fearing people would no longer be subservient only to Greek gods. You have two choices now yourself, Warrior Princess. You can choose the way of love completely or follow that darkness that leads to death alone this time. I don't think you really want eternal damnation all alone even if you think it is deserving."
As Aphrodite was talking, Xena's mind seemed to hear arguments from two voices. Both were strong with encouragement as one loudly shouted for her to break loose and attack while the other whispered, you love Gabrielle and Eve, don't do this!
Xena shook her head back and forth trying to organize the thoughts and make one choice for her reply to Aphrodite's plea.
Before Xena could speak, Gabrielle walked around Aphrodite to place her arm on Xena's other shoulder. Speaking softly she said, "Xena, I understand. I've always understood what is in your heart better than you have. Don't you remember? I'm begging you, Xena. Listen to what's in heart not your mind. Come with Aphrodite and me now and tell death you don't really need her. Xena, I need you! "
As if an uninvited visitor departed from her thoughts, Xena felt calmed by Gabrielle's words. She relaxed her movements and the chains fell onto the ground beneath her feet. Death's presence was gone as Celesta suddenly disappeared.
Eve stepped forward and looked directly into Xena's eyes revealing a flow of tears from her own.
"Mother," Eve added. "You've completed your maternal destiny. My purpose has been revealed to me. It's up to me now to articulate that the god of love isn't a guise without honor and is worthy to heal all the wounds this war has caused. You and Gabrielle have a course to follow of your own. Please go with her. I know in my heart that you will find the real destiny for you both."
As Eve completed her words, Xena heard only one voice telling her Gabrielle had once again forgiven her. Gabrielle's purity had defeated the darkness inside of her once again. Xena relaxed and realized she needed to accept Eve's explanation and Aphrodite and Gabrielle's pleas.
Xena lowered her head, resting it on Gabrielle's shoulder. She raised her arms to place them tightly around Gabrielle. Xena surprisingly wept openly.
After moments of silence, Xena raised her head and turned to give Eve a very loving expression with both of her eyes also filled with tears. Xena turned to give a nod of acceptance to Gabrielle and Aphrodite.
Suddenly, Xena, Gabrielle and Aphrodite vanished.
Aphrodite took Xena and Gabrielle to one of her finest temples where they at last would have some time together, alone.
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