This story is dedicated to my niece, Karen. I don’t think there is another Xena fan like her. I hope you enjoy it, Karen.

Xena sat on a rock close to the dwindling fire. She wrapped herself in a cloak of self-pity. The last few weeks had left her wondering what her life was meant to be. She’d seen people killed before and this time shouldn’t have been any different, but it was. It was her fault the village had been destroyed, her fault innocent children had lost their lives, her fault that her best friend lay across from her, dying from a knife wound.

“X... Xena.”

Xena heard her friends rasping voice and hurried across to her. “I’m here, Gabrielle,” she said softly.

“H... hurts,” Gabrielle told her.

“I know it does, Gabrielle, but it’s going to be all right,” Xena said as she laid her hand on Gabrielle’s feverish brow.

“N... no it w... won’t, Xena, not t... this t... time,” she said as her body was wracked by pain.

“Don’t talk like that. You have to be all right! You can’t leave me alone here. What would I be without you? You’re the missing piece of my soul, the other half of me. If it weren’t for you I’d have turned back to the old ways. I need you,” Xena said as she watched her friend losing her fight for life.

“I love you, Xena,” Gabrielle said as she closed her eyes.

“NO!” Xena screamed as her friend’s body went limp in her arms. “You can’t do this to me. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be dying in my arms. By the Gods, I wish I had never been born!”

Thunder rolled in the distance and Xena watched as a sudden flash of blue light lit the ever-darkening sky. She held her friends body close to her and watched as nature put on a magnificent show.

She watched as out of the light walked a beautiful woman dressed in a long white Satin gown, “You’re wish has been granted, Xena,” she said in a soft voice.

“My wish?” Xena asked and looked down at her empty arms in shock. She jumped to her feet and looked around the clearing, “Gabrielle, what have you done with her?” she screamed at the woman.

“I have only done what you wished me to do.”

“I didn’t wish for you to do anything.”

“Let me refresh your memory. ‘By the Gods, I wish I had never been born!’” she said in a perfect imitation of Xena’s voice.

Xena sat on the ground and stared at the newcomer, “Who are you?” she asked, anger evident in her voice.

“I am a Guardian of Life. My name is Karen and I have come to help you,” the woman told her.

“Help me!” Xena said in a bewildered tone. “How?”

“I told you I have granted you your wish and you’ve never been born.”

“Never been born,” Xena repeated.

“That’s right. You have never lived. It is a wonderful gift.”

“Then Gabrielle is still alive?”

“Of course she is.”

“Where is she,” Xena asked, excitedly jumping to her feet.

“She’s in Poditia,” Karen said, shaking her head as if she thought Xena should know this detail.

“Poditia? Why would she be there? Gabrielle felt trapped in Poditia.” ‘She never would have gone back there,” Xena thought worriedly.

“She didn’t go back there,” Karen explained. “She just never left.”

Xena’s eyes flashed daggers of light at the beautiful woman in white. “How do you know what I’m thinking?”

“I told you I am a Guardian of Life. Your life is something I was sent to guard since you don’t seem to appreciate it.”

“I don’t need you,” Xena said as she angrily stood up. “I have to find Gabrielle.”

“I told you where you could find her. Would you like to see for yourself?” Karen asked, a soft smile forming on her lips.

“It’ll take us weeks to get to Poditia,” Xena said.

“Not if you close your eyes and wish it,” Karen explained.

“Close my eyes and wish,” Xena laughed, but it never reached her dark, angry eyes.

“Trust me, Xena, I am here to help you. I want you to see what kind of impact you had on the lives of others. The best way for me to do that is to allow you this one wish. Your life has been taken from you and only you can restore it.”


“You have to see what’s happened to the people you are closest to. I think Gabrielle is the best place to start. Close your eyes and let the journey begin,” Karen said and watched as Xena’s eyes slowly closed.

“You better not be lying to me,” she said, her voice cold and deadly.


“You may open your eyes, Xena.”

Xena opened her eyes just in time to jump out of the way of a galloping horse and cart. The man stared back at her, screaming angrily. “Stupid slave, stay out of the road!”

“I’m not a slave!” Xena yelled at the retreating cart. She glanced around at the people around her. Men and women gathered together around a raised platform. Xena’s curiosity got the better of her and she walked quickly towards it. People seemed to be anxiously waiting for something. She nudged the woman next to her and was surprised when the woman turned to her with terror filled eyes.

“What do you want?” the woman asked quietly, her eyes downcast.

“What’s going on here?” Xena asked. The woman before her was dressed in a drab grey coloured garment that was covered in holes. There was nothing on her dirt covered feet and Xena felt her heart ache with pain.

“Another slave sale,” the woman said angrily. “It’s the third one this week. Next thing there’ll be no woman between the age of twelve and twenty in Poditia. My best friend is one of the ones being sold today. They would have taken me too but my arms are full of sickness. Gabby was the only friend I had,” she said as tears flowed from her eyes.

Xena’s heart skipped a beat when she heard the name. “Gabby,” she said anxiously. “What’s her full name?” she asked taking the woman by the arm.

“Gabrielle,” the frightened woman said.

Xena regretted her actions and released the woman’s arm. “I have a friend named Gabrielle as well,” Xena explained as she watched the woman rub her arm.

“My Gabby is beautiful,” the woman said.

Xena looked at the young woman with dawning realization. Gabrielle had once told her of a friend with a sickness in her arms. This woman could be the same one. “Kelly?”

“How do you know my name?” the woman asked fearfully.

“Gabrielle, ah Gabby told me about you,” Xena smiled.

“You know Gabby?”

“I do,” Xena told her. “Do you know where they’re holding Gabrielle?”

Kelly’s face turned angrily towards a tent behind the platform, “They have all the new slaves in there,” she said.

“Thank you,” Xena said and hurried towards the tent. Two burly guards stood in front of the tents door. Xena sauntered towards them, smiling angelically.

“What are you doing here?” the largest guard asked brusquely.

“What’s wrong, big boy, don’t you like what you see?” Xena asked, cocking her eyebrows and pursing her lips.

The guards looked at each other and then back at Xena, hunger written on their faces, “Whaddaya have in mind?” the large one asked.

Xena lifted her hand and wiggled her finger in the direction of the tent, “Why don’t you come behind the tent and find out?” she asked sexily.

“Watch the girls,” the burly guard told his comrade as he followed the taunting figure behind the tent. As soon as they were out of sight of the gathering in front of the tent the guard made his move. He wrapped his beefy arms around Xena and held her in a bear hug. He tried to place his slobbering lips on Xena's, but she managed to turn her face. “Hey, girl, what’s wrong with ya?” he asked angrily.

“A girl needs to breathe, big boy,” she told him as she tried to push his arms away from her.

“You can breathe later,” the guard said as once again he licked his lips and tried to kiss her.

“If we’re gonna do this, big fella, you’re going to have to get rid of some of this stuff,” Xena said indicating the large broadsword and knives.

The guard felt the cumbersome weight and released Xena. He leered at her as he removed the weapons, “Maybe you should take yer clothes off while I get rid of these,” he suggested.

“Turn around,” Xena said coyly.

“Ya ain’t got nuthin I ain’t seen before,” the guard said lustfully.

“I know, but I want to give you a surprise. Now turn around and close your eyes,” Xena said and watched as the man did as she asked.

“I love surprises,” the guard said.

Xena waited for the man to turn completely around and bent to pick up a rock, “Now close your eyes, big boy. I promise this kiss will make you see stars. Now pucker up!” she said. She could hear the guard’s cries of anticipation as she brought the rock down full force onto the back of his head. The unsuspecting guard dropped to the ground unconscious. “Told you you’d see stars,” she said as she made her way towards the tent.

Taking her knife from her waist she began to cut a hole in the material. When she had a hole large enough to poke her head through she began searching the frightened faces. Finally she stopped on the familiar form of Gabrielle. The girl looked different but Xena knew it was her.

Gabrielle’s usually brilliant, gold coloured hair was dull and grimy looking. Her face was marked with bruises and small cuts, but what made Xena gasp was the way she seemed to have aged.

Gabrielle cringed under Xena’s worried stare. She tried to hide behind one of the other young slaves but was shoved aside. Her throat made whimpering sounds as she tried to make herself smaller.

Xena’s shock turned to anger as she gazed into the dull eyes of her best friend. “Gabrielle,” she said softly. Using the knife she cut her way through the material until she could get her body through. She hurried towards her friend. “Gabrielle, it’s me, Xena,” she told the whimpering girl.

“I don’t know you,” Gabrielle cried in a terrified voice.

“We’re friends, Gabrielle. We’ve known each other forever or so it seems. Come with me, Gabrielle,” Xena ordered and reached for her hand.

Gabrielle looked as if she might go with her but fear once again took over and she ran to the door. “Help, somebody help me,” she cried.

Suddenly the second large guard appeared at the flap of the tent. His eyes went immediately to the torn tent and then to the dark haired beauty hurrying towards it. He pulled the flap further back and rushed towards her.

Xena made it through the tear she’d made in the tent but ran straight into the arms of the angry guard she’d knock out. He reached down and once again grabbed her in a bear hug. The air was forced from her lungs as the guard began crushing her ribs.

“Karen!” she screamed loudly as darkness began to take over. Instantly she felt the pressure on her ribs release and she fell to the ground. She looked up into the face of her Guardian. “Did you get Gabrielle?” she asked, glancing around the clearing.

“I can’t do anything for Gabrielle. Only you can save her,” Karen said as she reached down and helped Xena to her feet.

“How can I save her?”

“By learning the lesson you were sent here to learn. Where do you want to go now?”

“Amphipolis,” Xena said simply.


“I wish to see my mother,” Xena told her.

“You don’t have a mother,” Karen reminded her.

“My mother and Lyseus live there,” Xena said, ignoring her guardian and closing her eyes.

“As you wish, Xena,” Karen said and motioned with her hand.


Xena opened her eyes and found she was standing in front of a familiar house. The home was scantily built and showed no sign of the warmth Xena usually felt when visiting her mother. She walked up to the open door and stepped into the twilight interior. A woman dressed in the drab colours of a scullery maid stood by a bed looking down on a sickly boy. “Mother,’ Xena called softly.

The woman stood and turned angrily, “Who are you that you can call me mother?”

“It’s me, Xena, your daughter.”

“I have no daughter. I have only my son and he will be gone soon,” the woman said as she glanced back at the bed.

Xena glanced down at the tiny form on the bed and felt the bottom drop out of her world. The small boy was her brother Lyseus. His body was emaciated to the point where his bones seemed to stick through his skin. His eyes were sunk so far back in his skull-like head that Xena could barely make them out. “What happened to Lyseus, mother?” she asked as tears filled her eyes.

“Are you sick in the head. I told you I am not your mother,” the woman said and then looked closely at Xena as if seeing her for the first time. “You some kinda witch? How do ya know my sons name?”

“I’m not a witch although I wish I were. I even know your name. It’s Cyrene” Xena said wistfully. She kept staring at her brothers’ death-like form. “What happened to him?” she asked purposefully leaving out mother.

“He was stabbed when Draco and his army came through here. Just look at the village. It’s destroyed. Lyseus and I are the only living people here. Soon it will be just me,” she cried. “Leave me to tend my son, so I may die as well.”

“Xena,” Karen called.

Xena glanced at the door and saw her guardian standing there. “Do something,” she begged.

“I cannot.”

“Who are ya talking to?” Cyrene asked bewilderedly.

“My Guardian,” Xena said automatically.

“Ya are a witch! Only witches see things that aren’t there. Please, I beg you, save my son,” Cyrene pleaded.

“I can’t,” Xena told her

“Then leave us. You are of no use to Lyseus and me,” Cyrene said and turned her back on the dark haired woman.

Xena felt the tears slip silently down her face as she turned and followed Karen out the door. She was immediately struck by the mass destruction she faced. Bodies of men, women, children, and animals lay strewn about in no apparent pattern. Swarms of flies landed on individual bodies as if the bodies were magnetized. Half the buildings were still standing but would soon fall to the ground in dilapidated heaps; the other half was already destroyed.

“What happened here?” Xena asked aloud.

“Dracos' army came through and destroyed everything they saw. Your mother was away at the time and escaped harm. Your brother was not so lucky,” Karen explained.

“You’re wrong. I stopped Draco. His army never destroyed Amphipolis. My Mother, brother and everyone else were saved. Lyseus is not dying in there,” she said angrily as she indicated the pile of ruins they’d just left.

“You didn’t stop Draco and his army because you were never born. You’re brother is dying in there because you were not around to stop the poisoned arrow that hit him in the leg. The people of this village met this horrible fate because you were not around to stop Draco,” Karen told her.

“This can’t be happening! You’ve done something to me! Maybe you’re a demon and have cast a spell on me! I’m having a nightmare, that’s it I’m having a nightmare!”

“I assure you this is not a nightmare. You are very much awake.”

Xena pulled her tiny knife from its sheath and placed it on her thumb, “If I’m awake then this will hurt,” she said as she ran the razor sharp blade across her thumb. “Ouch,” she said as blood welled up and quickly ran down her palm.

“That was a foolish thing to do, Xena,” Karen told her.

“I had to try. Why are you doing this to me? Does Aries have anything to do with it?”

“Aries has no recollection of you. The Gods have granted you this wish and it is whole and complete. You have never met Aries and he knows nothing of you. The Gods have really given you an incredible opportunity here. You get to see how your life affected the lives of others.”

“Where is Eve?”

“You were never born. Therefore Eve was never born.”

“No!” Xena cried and jumped at Karen. She wrapped her arms around the woman’s throat only to find there was nothing there.

“Don’t try that again, Xena,” Karen said icily. “I am a tolerant Guardian and I understand it’s hard for you to see what I’ve shown you so far, but I will only concede so much.”

Xena sat on the cold ground and looked around at her home once more. “How can I change things? How do I make everything return to normal?” she asked.

“That’s something you have to figure out for yourself. I can only show you how things are right now. Is there anyone else you wish to see?”

“Joxer,” Xena said as she remembered the man who’d been sent to kill her and Gabrielle but had instead become a true friend.

“Done,” Karen said and once more waved her hand.

Xena opened her eyes and found herself in the midst of a camp. Men and woman lay together in different states of undress. The filth and smell of the area turned her stomach and she covered her nose in an effort to stave off the obnoxious odour.

She found herself drawn to a row of stakes driven into the ground. There were six in all and each one held a man. Their bodies were bathed in sweat and mired in dirt and blood. Xena walked up to the nearest stake and knew instinctively she was looking at Joxer. His body was battered and long whip marks ran the length of his back. His legs and arms were covered with burn scars. Xena placed her hand under his chin and gently lifted his head. Small moans emanated from his dry mouth and Xena knew he was in agony. “Oh, Joxer, I’m so sorry,” she cried.

“W... ho are y... ou?” Joxer asked as his pain filled dark eyes met Xena’s tear filled ones.

“A friend,” Xena told him.

“I... if you a... re a friend p... please end the p... pain for me,” he begged.

“I... I.”

“Hey, what are you doing? Get away from the prisoners,” a voice snarled and Xena turned to face a one-armed man.

“I’m not doing anything,” Xena replied as she released Joxer’s chin.

“P... Please ki... kill me,” he whispered, his voice filled with pain.

“Get over here till I take ya to Callisto,” the man said.

Xena heard the name and cautiously followed the man. She wondered what Callisto had become. Callisto had always blamed her for destroying her village and killing her parents. But if her Guardian were right then Xena hadn’t destroyed the village and Callisto would have had no reason to turn evil.

“Wait here,” the man said as he stepped into a tent set far enough from the encampment that no smell permeated the air. He came back immediately and indicated that she should enter.

Xena entered the spacious tent and looked at the luxurious surroundings. Callisto lay on a bed of blankets. Two well-muscled, dark haired, bare-chested men waved large fronds over her. Another man, this one blond, also well muscled and bare-chested fed her fruit from a bowl on a small table. All three wore garments made of leaves and had collars around their necks.

“Have you been bothering my play toys?” Callisto asked grinning evilly. She waved her hand at the men and they retreated to the other side of the tent. “Come sit down beside me,” she ordered Xena.

Xena could tell just by looking at her that Callisto had not changed. She was still a brutally cruel woman as was evidenced by the torture inflicted on the men outside. “I’d rather not,” Xena told her.

“You’d rather not,” Callisto laughed. She stood and stalked towards Xena, her hands clenched in fists. “I will have to teach you some manners!” she said and brought her hand up to Xena’s face.

Xena’s hand shot out and she clasped Callisto’s wrist in a vice like grip. Callisto tried to pull her hand away but the harder she pulled the stronger Xena’s grip became. Finally Xena released the woman’s arm and watched as she fell to the floor in a heap.

Callisto’s eyes lit with anger and resentment. “You’ll pay for that,” she said.

“Pay for what? You’re the one who tried to attack me,”

“I always take action before I get answers. It’s a trait I learned from my father,” Callisto laughed as she stood up.

“Your father?”

“Yeah, my father, the one I killed because he wanted a son but instead he had me. Do you think a son would have a strong stomach like I do,” Callisto said as she reached her hand towards Xena.

Xena looked at the extended hand and finally took it. She pulled the blonde woman to her feet and released her hand immediately.

“So what were you doing with my prisoners?” Callisto asked.

“I was curious,” Xena said as she helped herself to the fruit in the bowl.

“Curious about what?”

“I just wondered what they did to deserve such punishment.”

“The one you were talking to was ordered to kill a child but refused. I have no stomach for weaklings. He will die eventually,” Callisto laughed as she used a knife to stab a grape and placed it in her mouth. “I must say I’m amazed he’s lasted this long. I mean he’s such an oaf.”

“He’s not an oaf,” Xena said quietly.

Callisto’s head popped up at Xena’s statement, “I take it you know him,” Callisto said icily.

“I do. He is a close friend.”

Callisto’s face lit in a mockery of a smile. She placed her index finger on her right hand to the side of her mouth and cocked her head to the side. Her blonde hair fell across her face as she advanced on Xena. “Joxer will be dead shortly. I don’t think there’ll be time to say good-bye,” she laughed.

Xena rushed from the tent just as a man drew his sword across Joxer’s neck. “No!” she cried. Even at this distance Xena could see her friend’s lifeblood as it dripped to the ground. She ran towards her dying friend.

“Get her,” she heard Callisto call. Several men soon surrounded Xena, each holding a long double-edged sword. She pulled her Chakram and doing a double summersault vaulted over the nearest antagonist. Her cry of, “AYIYIYIYIYI!” rose loud and clear above the settlement. She landed directly in front of Callisto.

“You deserve to die,” Xena said as she replaced her Chakram and withdrew her hefty sword. Before she could bring it all the way out of it’s casing her arms were grabbed and pulled sharply up behind her. Biting back a cry of pain, she glared at Callisto. “I see you still need others to fight your battles for you!” she said.

“Release her,” Callisto ordered. Immediately the two women rounded on each other and a knock down, drag out catfight began. Xena balled up her fist and landed a stinging punch to her opponents’ right cheek.

Callisto felt the full force of the blow as her head whipped back. She recovered quickly and brought her own fist up into Xena’s midsection. Xena retaliated with another roundhouse to the face that didn’t quite land. Both women were unaware that they’d garnered an audience. Blow for blow they struck each other to the loud cheering of the spectators.

Xena felt blood trickle from her split lip as well as a gash over her right eye. Both women stopped long enough to take a breath. Hands on hips they glared at each other through swollen eyes. Xena saw she’d given Callisto as good as she’d taken. Once again the two women advanced on each other, drawing weapons as they did. At close range the knives they held were easier to handle than the swords, but the clang of metal on metal was just as deadly. As Xena backed away from Callisto’s parry she tripped over a well-placed foot. She watched as Callisto brought her knife down towards her.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light and Xena found she was once more in the clearing where Karen had first appeared to her. She fell to the ground in exhaustion. Closing her eyes she lost all conscious thought as visions of her beautiful daughter filled her mind. “Eve,” she whispered as she succumbed to sleep.

Karen sat watching her charge. She felt sorry for the beautiful warrior princess. Her life had been a struggle from the beginning but Xena had overcome all obstacles. She’d even managed to turn her life from the evil path of destruction she’d been destined to follow. Xena was one of the few people who’d been able to thwart the hand of fate and become a better person for it.

“Xena,” Karen called as she placed a caring hand on her shoulder.

Xena groaned as she opened her eyes. She reached up with her hand and began rubbing her forehead. “What mule kicked me?” she asked.

“A mule named Callisto,” Karen grinned as she helped Xena sit up.

“Callisto? Oh yeah, I remember. Why didn’t you get me out of there before our fight?”

“You seemed to be enjoying your self so much. The rivalry between you and Callisto is legendary even among the Gods. I wanted to witness it firsthand. I must say it was worth it.”

“Not for me,” Xena said simply.

“Is there anyone else you wish to visit?” Karen asked, knowing Xena had not learned the lesson she’d been sent to learn.

“Gabrielle,” Xena said.

“You already saw her.”

“I know I did. I need to know if she was sold at the auction. I need to know how her life turned out without me. I know she probably found a way out of there and took up her writings.”

“As you wish,” Karen said and waved her hands.


Once again Xena opened her eyes pensively. She looked around the area until her eyes lit on a large ornately decorated Palace. ‘Gabrielle must’ve done well for herself if she lives here,’ she thought.

Xena walked up to the massive door and used both hands to bang the doorknocker. She heard it echo through the interior and waited for someone to open it. Finally she heard the heavy clang of metal being lifted.

The door opened to reveal a man dressed as a sorcerer. He lustfully licked his lips as his eyes beheld the beautiful enchantress before him. “Please tell me you are a gift from the Gods?” he said.

“Sorry to disappoint you but I’m not a gift from anyone. I’m looking for a friend.”

“That’s too bad. You would have made a great concubine,” the sorcerer told her. “Oh well, what can I do for you?”

“I’m looking for my friend. She’s a very pretty blonde,” Xena explained.

“There are lots of pretty blonde here. That’s what most of the masters want, blonde concubines. Leave before the master sees you. He likes his females dark haired and beautiful like you,” the sorcerer said and tried to close the door in Xena’s face.

Xena shoved the door as hard as she could, causing the sorcerer to stumble backwards. “I said I’m looking for my friend. Her name is Gabrielle. Now where is she?”

The sorcerer’s eyes opened wide in fear at the mention of the name. He tried once again to close the door but Xena had already entered. “Get out! You have no right!” he cried indignantly.

“I want to see my friend,” Xena said as she advanced on the terrified man.

“She’s not here,” he whined.

“You’re lying.”

“What’s going on here?” an angry male voice boomed from the darkened stairwell.

“This woman will not leave,” the sorcerer explained.

“Woman? What woman?” the voice asked as he stepped out of the shadowy interior. His eyes raked over Xena’s body and came to rest on her face. “Why would you want her to leave?” he asked the sorcerer.

“She says she’s looking for her friend, Gabrielle,” the sorcerer said by way of explanation.

“Gabrielle? Do we have anyone named Gabrielle here?”

“I don’t know, Master,” the sorcerer cringed away from the man.

Dahok’ Xena recognized the man who’d impregnated Gabrielle and knew the newcomer was trouble. The man had scars running down his right cheek and under his chin. His eyes were cold and calculating. His well-muscled body rippled under a thin covering. Around his waist he had a belt full of knives, as well as a cat-o-nine tails. “Can you find out?” she asked the newcomer coyly.

“Why don’t you accompany me to the cages and check for your self, my pretty,” Dahok said as he draped one massive arm around her shoulders.

Xena desperately wanted to deflect his unwanted attention but knew she’d do anything to find her friend. Something told her Gabrielle needed her. She bit her lip in an effort to cover the growling deep in her throat.

Dahok kept his arm tightly around Xena’s warm, soft flesh as he led her to the stairs. “My concubines are up here. If your friend is half as pretty as you she would be there as one of my favourites.”

Xena seethed at the thought of her friend being a concubine. She hated slavery and wanted to save her friend from the rigors that went along with it. She continued to allow the man’s arm to rest around her shoulder even though she felt like she was a lamb being led to the slaughter. At the top of the stairs they turned left and stopped in front of a large door. Xena could hear cries from inside and shivered, not from fear but from anger.

Dahok could see Xena’s eyes sparkle dangerously and grinned malevolently. “Don’t worry, my concubines are always putting on a show,” he said as he released her and opened the door.

Before Xena could react she found herself propelled across the floor to land heavily before another man dressed in the clothes of an executioner.

The man in the mask looked down at the woman he knew was to become a new concubine and Xena hated the feel his cold eyes on her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet. “What have you brought me, Master?” he asked.

“A spy!” Dahok laughed. “She came looking for Gabrielle. You will train her in the art of respect and servitude.”

“Yes, Master,” the man said.

“Where’s Gabrielle?” Xena asked through clenched teeth. Her stance would have warned people who knew her that she’d reached the boiling point.

“Gabriele is where she belongs and you will be joining her shortly,” Dahok told her

“Where?” Xena repeated angrily.

“She’s warming my bed. As a matter of fact I’m going to pay a visit to her now.”

“No!” Xena yelled as the door slammed behind him. She turned on the man holding her and using every ounce of strength she possessed pulled away from him. She tore her Chakram from her waist and through it at the man. The blade sliced along his left arm, across his bare chest, and through his right arm. Crimson blood bubbled to the surface and the man dropped to the cold floor. Xena watched as his blood mingled with dirt and other debris. Finally she reached down and picked up her weapon.

Xena quietly opened the door and made her way along the top of the staircase. There were many doors all around and she vowed to search each one until she found her friend. She had to save Gabrielle. She couldn’t allow her to die again. Tears glistened in her eyes as she thought of her friends’ death. ‘Where are you, Gabrielle?’ she asked silently.

She could hear muffled sounds from behind the closed doors but each one she tried was locked. She had no way of opening the doors so she travelled the long corridor hoping to find an open door. As she neared the end of the hall a terrified, pain-filled scream emanated from the last room. She hurried to the door and burst in.

The scene before her filled her with loathing and rage. Gabrielle lay stretched out on a large wooden bed. Her hands and feet tied to the posts with barbed wire. Bite marks were evident on every inch of exposed skin. Her blond hair was obscured by blood running from deep lacerations on her face. But what terrified Xena the most was the man abusing her. He’d jumped off Gabrielle as Xena had entered and had lifted his sword. Xena could tell by the dark bruises on Gabrielle’s thighs that this had happened frequently.

Rage once again took over and she lunged at Dahok, who’d caused her friend such agony. She tackled him before he had a chance to bring his sword all the way up and they fell to the floor in a heap. They rolled around the floor as Xena used all her strength to loosen his grip on the sword. Finally she hefted her hand and brought it down with full force on his exposed neck. Dahok gasped for air and released his sword. He put his hands to his throat as if to open the passage. Xena heard his desperate gasps and knew he wouldn’t be hurting anyone else.

She rose from the floor and made her way to the bed. Gabrielle lay in the same position she’d been when Xena had entered. Tears fell from Xena’s eyes, landing on Gabrielle’s feet as Xena tried to twist the wires off. She watched as her tears washed away a streak of blood where it ran down her friends’ ankle. With strength born of determination she yanked the wires from her friends ankles and moved to her wrists. Gently she removed the wires from the bleeding wrists and reached down to take her friend in her arms. “Oh Gabrielle,” she cried as she felt the cold flesh touch her own warm body. She lifted her friends face and gazed desperately into lifeless eyes that had once danced in merriment.

Her mind flashed to the times they’d shared together. Gabrielle’s ire when Xena had used her scrolls for lack of ‘good leaves.’ Gabrielle’s warm laughter when they first saw Eve. Gabrielle encouraging her to continue fighting for the good. Gabrielle helping her face her own demons. Gabrielle and Joxer always making her laugh and now they were both gone from her, untouchable and unreachable.

Tears flowed freely from her eyes as once again she held her dead friends body. There was a tremendous silence in the room; even Dahok’s gurgling had stopped.

“Xena,” Karen said softly. “We must go.”

“I won’t leave her,” Xena said in a deadly quiet voice.

“There is nothing more you can do for your friend,” Karen’s voice was laced with sorrow for the needless loss of life.

“There is something I can do!”

Karen could tell from the look in Xena’s pain-filled eyes that she’d finally learned her lesson. “What?” she asked a beautiful smile dawning on her angelic face.

Xena glanced up and found she was somehow looking at the night sky instead of the chambers ceiling. As tears flowed from her eyes she pleaded, “By the Gods, give me back my life!” she looked down at her friend nestled in the crook of her arms.

A bright light shone before her and her head snapped up to see it was bathing her Guardian of life. “You have learned well, Xena,” she said as her figure slowly vanished.

“You can’t go! I need to get my life back! Please, I want to go back to the way things were,” she cried as her tears fell on Gabrielle’s face.

“Hey, Xena, your getting me wet,” a weak voice told her.

Xena looked down at her friend in disbelief. “You’re not... not... dead,” she said, crying softly and tightening her grip on her friend.

“Of course not but if you keep squeezing me I will be cause I won’t be able to breath,” Gabrielle gasped out.

Xena released her grip slightly. She looked into her friends eyes and could see she was still in pain but there was no death pallor as there had been before. She smiled down at Gabrielle and asked. “How do you feel now?”

“Better. Who were you talking to?”

Xena smiled at her friend. “My Guardian of life,” she said matter of factly.

“Your what?” Gabrielle asked as she lifted her head from Xena’s lap.

“My Guardian of Life,” Xena repeated and laughed at the curious look on her friends face. “She helped me learn a valuable lesson today.”

“What lesson was that?” Gabrielle asked, groaning as she tried to sit up.

Xena helped her friend sit and was relieved to see that her wound wasn’t nearly as bad as she’d originally thought. She remembered the mortal wounds Gabrielle had received and wondered how she could have survived. Somehow Karen had been able to minimize the extent of her injury in this life.

Gabrielle wondered at the smile that came over Xena’s features and repeated her question. “What lesson, Xena? What happened while I was out?”

“I learned that everyone’s life means something. From the moment we’re conceived we begin to influence the lives of others. A mother carries her unborn child and is forever changed by that experience. A father holds the child after it’s born and begins thinking of the things this child will do. Brothers and Sisters help each other through desperate time as well as the good times. I learned that real friends are earned and must be cherished. I learned that no matter how many bad things happen in your life the good things will always make them disappear or at least help you deal with them. Our lives touch the lives of everyone we meet and can affect those we haven’t.”

“That’s pretty profound, Xena. What happened to you?”

“I was given the chance to see what life would be like if I hadn’t been born.”

“I know what life would have been like if you hadn’t been born, Xena,” Gabrielle said sadly.

“Oh really,” Xena said, trying to lighten the mood.

“I’d have become a slave.”


“When you saved my village it wasn’t just from death. You saved all the young females from a life of slavery in Dracos’ bordello. He had sent a message to the elders ordering that all females between the age of twelve and eighteen be turned over to him or he would kill everyone. I was one of the ones he wanted. When you defeated Draco you saved my people as well as my village. Your friendship means more to me than you’ll ever know,” Gabrielle said, crying softly.

Xena reached out and touched her friends’ serious face. She knew how much Gabrielle meant to her. Visions of her horrid death in the other life flashed into her mind and she cringed outwardly. “Thank you my friend.”

Gabrielle could see the pain on her friends face and decided to lighten the mood. “Ah, Xena, there’s one thing,” she said as she lay back sleepily.

“What?” Xena asked worriedly.

“Just because you saved my life and my village doesn’t mean you can use my scrolls again!”

Xena’s laughter floated into the stillness of night. She lay by the fire and continued to laugh as the tenseness left her tired body. As her eyes drifted closed in sleep she said quietly. “Thank you for showing me the meaning of life!”

Karen’s form stood over the sleeping friends. Her angelic features lit up with happiness as she looked at the contented forms by the fire. “You’re welcome, Xena,” she said. Her voice drifted into the sleeping minds of the two friends like quicksilver and she knew Xena didn’t need her anymore.


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