Convert this page to Pilot DOC Format
by John Syverud
Disclaimer: This story contains low level violence. If you are offended
by this please read another story.
It is dawn. A virgin mist clings to the dark, dew laden earth. Xena and Gabrielle walk silently side by side, Argo trotting behind them, cast in the first rays of the rising sun. The path they are walking has been worn thin of grass by travel, cutting through the foliage and a dark procession of trees in the distance. A soft breeze whispers through the air, gently cooling their skin. They are traveling through the mountainous region of an area around Celt, on their way to Amphipolis, Xena's home. It is a quiet morning, on which a restlessness, a static stillness lies. The earth, though warmed by the sun, is still cold with the lingering touch of night. Gabrielle strokes her arms, trying to warm them. When she speaks, her breath comes out in clouds.
"Xena, why must we be traveling so early?" asked Gabrielle.
Xena cast Gabrielle a solemn, sideward glance.
"The anniversary of my brothers death is in three days. I always return home at this time to remember and honor him. I don't want to be late." answered Xena. Gabrielle nodded, saying nothing. They walked together for awhile in silence. The only sound was the teasing of the wind through the tall field grass and the muted clomp of their footsteps. After awhile, Gabrielle spoke again.
"Xena, what was your brother like?" asked Gabrielle.
Xena turned to her friend and smiled warmly. How she cherished Gabrielle's company.
"Lyceus was a brave, strong, and compassionate man. He would have been a great leader. He was a dreamer, and a realist. He would look to the future, but never forget he lived in the present. He would see the torment of the world, and look to the horizon for hope."
"He sounds a lot like you." said Gabrielle, reverently. "You look on all the wounds and scars of the world and try to heal them. You walk in darkness, but never lose sight of hope."
Xena cast Gabrielle a quiet, reserved, look. "If only you knew what hope is to me. If you only knew what my light in the darkness is." thought Xena.
"I don't dwell in darkness alone, Gabrielle." said Xena.
Gabrielle looked up at Xena and smiled happily. Xena continued.
"Lyceus and I knew hope, for we had each other, and we had known good times before raiders ever came to our village. That was when we were younger. When tyranny invaded, it showed us both what we believed in. We found we couldn't ignore the injustice we saw, or pray to the gods to strike down our tormentors. Lyceus and I fought for change. I was scared sometimes, back then. Nothing scared Lyceus. I drew on that strength. For him, there were no consequences, only results. Action reaped reward, simple as that. Nothing scared him, because he didn't think he was ever going to die."
"Fate separated you." said Gabrielle, softly.
"Ambition separated us. We both wanted to change the world for the better, but his cause was more noble than mine. I hoped to bring glory to my name. Lyceus didn't want glory. He believed only in the greater good. When our village was attacked, he was the first one to join with me and lead Amphipolis forth against Cortes. When he was killed I..."
Xena's breath died in her throat at the bitter sting of old memories and the smile that had curled up on her lips collapsed into a drawn gasp. The past still held its poison. Xena's eyes for a moment seemed lost under a pall of darkness that lifted with the fading of the past back into memory. She walked in silence, her head bowed. After awhile, she looked up and grinned tenuously at Gabrielle, softly answering her worried stare.
"The memory of Cortes awakens a lot of old, ugly memories in me. Some of them are still a little tough to deal with." Her eyes, that so coldly had witnessed the deaths of thousands, met and glanced off of Gabrielle's caring, penetrating stare. Crows perched in a rotting old olive tree spread their black wings wide and drew their bodies into the air. They cawed and beat their wings, heading away from the sun, towards Amphipolis.
Though Xena shared much with Gabrielle, she rarely shared with her the past. There were some secrets Xena still fearfully clung to. Her worst memories always were close, lying like bandits on the rim of consciousness. There lied, not far from where Lyceus was subsumed in memory, a monument to the evil person she had been, a marker to make sure Xena, Warrior Princess, never crossed into darkness again. Gabrielle's voice drew Xena from her thoughts.
"Xena, you need not deal with the past alone. Whatever is troubling you, no matter how unpleasant, I'm always here for you." said Gabrielle. Gabrielle's face, normally reposed and serene, was flushed dark with worry.
"I know, Gabrielle. Your friendship means more to me than my own life. But my past is for me alone to reconcile. For you to know the truth of who I was would be like spilling blood on your hands. I don't want that. Please, leave the past be. Don't let it worry you." A hint of remorse lingered in her lazy, hushed, tones.
"Xena, when you thought of Cortes, I saw an emptiness in your eyes that scared me. I felt for a second like you'd left me. How can you ask me not to worry? Tell me what is wrong. Let me help you." Gabrielle looked imploringly into Xena's eyes. They were like an eternal dusk, the emotion in them forever enduring the lengthening shadows of night. Within the ocean blue of her eyes Gabrielle saw pulsing a light as brilliant as a star. It shone for her alone.
"Gabrielle, I'm all right. I've had more serious wounds." said Xena, grinning weakly. Gabrielle saw that her lips slowly were drawing into a frown. The wind picked up, blowing strands of hair across Xena's eyes. Argo paced restlessly behind her. Gabrielle sighed and withdrew.
"All right. But not all of your memories are bad ones, Xena. You should try to think of the good ones, without thinking of the bad ones, too."
Xena stared at her friend, thinking that could never be, but wondering at her earnestness.
"Yeah..." she said finally. "I should." Xena forced a smile.
Somberly, they walked together in silence, as the fiery eye of the sun rose above the horizon into the heavens, pouring out its presence across the knotted hills and planes. Night spilled away into shadows, and the shadows drained away into memory and seeped into the crevices of the earth. The sun warm on their backs, it lights and guides their way to Amphipolis. In the far distance, the sky burns a dark azure.
With the passing of time, and the falling of many footsteps, the path brightens and dims. The hills rise and fall, and the path narrows, as Xena and Gabrielle walk on in silence. The trees stand oppressively close to the path, their branches drawn overhead like swords, blocking out the sun, in one long, sweeping gauntlet. They loom tall, foreboding, like centurions, above their heads. Xena's mind wanders to the time of her betrayal at the hands of her old army. Gabrielle walks silently at her side, sometimes casting uneasy glances at Xena. Argo trots nervously behind. Shafts of light, cut by the branches, peer through the darkness to shine onto the path. All was silent.
"It's been awhile since I heard a bird, or anything." observed Gabrielle. "Does anything feel wrong to you, Xena?"
Xena nodded severely, all her senses reaching out, trying to discover what was wrong. The path on which they walked had seen heavy travel recently. Clods of brown, virgin soil had been kicked up by horses hooves and heavy feet, laying bare the damp earth beneath. The trees swayed silently, together, in the wind in a languid call of condemnation. Nothing stirred but the leaves in the trees, and the banshee wind. Gabrielle and Xena walked silently together, Argo, ears keened, treading softly behind them.
Ahead, the path opened up onto a wide grassy clearing. A light wind blew across the sloping bluff, sometimes gusting, sometimes dying, fanning at Xena's and Gabrielle's hair. Poised on the spine of a hill which skirted between two mountains to the west and the east, Xena and Gabrielle surveyed the land. Above them, the sky was an acid orange being slowly swept under a sea of voluminous, foreboding, purple clouds. In the far distance, the last red and amber rays of daylight glowed. The land, fertile and lush, took on a dark, cold, cancerous skin under the impending storm. To the north, where the hill descends subtly, then steeply downward into a deep abyss, the shadows were darker. A pristine lake, set in the center like a buried jewel, shimmered vacuously. On the far side of the lake the mountains sloped steeply upwards. The air was dry, and the wind, hollow.
"Something is wrong, here. I smell it on the wind." said Xena . The air seemed to be filled with a quiet, restless static, that killed her voice and carried it, dead, across the valley. Gabrielle said nothing. Together, they watched with heavy hearts the clouds' slow march across the rust streaked sky as Argo paced restlessly behind them. From the west, not far in the distance, the smoke of a dying fire boils up out of the earth in swelling plumes that drift into pace with the creeping storm clouds. Mounting Argo, Xena and Gabrielle ride towards the fire as the first flashes of lightning charge the dry air and the beat of thunder rolls through them.
A distant thunder clap sounds as Gabrielle and Xena dismount Argo, and approach the site. The last glittering embers of fire that glow in the charred timbers of the tiny burned out hut are dying, breathing their last wisps of smoke. Crows mingle with the smoke in the sky above, dancing in grim circles around the black clouds. The bodies of a dozen soldiers are slumped about the empty hut, their hands clenching at clods of blood soaked earth. In their midst lies a young woman, eyes tightly lidded, a blood streaked sword in her hand. Mud clings to her deep auburn hair in thick clotted strands. Sweat and blood mingle on her skin in rivulets that stream to the earth.
"Xena, I think she's still alive" said Gabrielle, approaching the still, bruised, woman.
"Gabrielle" Xena cautioned.
"Xena, I don't think-" impatiently began Gabrielle.
The woman, in a single motion, rose to her knees and swung her sword. Inches from Gabrielle, the blade stopped, parried by Xena's sword. To both Xena and Gabrielle's surprise, the woman crumpled.
Falling back on one arm, she began swinging wildly, her eyes wide with fear.
"Stay away! Gods, don't kill me! Please stay away!" she screamed in weary desperation.
With each swing she took, exhaustion steeped the arc of the sword closer and closer to the ground until the sword was groveling in the earth. Her chest heaved with exhaustion and her eyes glared black, unfocused. She struggled on the ground against fatigue until her flailing ceased. Her eyes strained to stay open as if she never would awaken again, until they finally were pinched shut by unconsciousness. Her breaths came out in deep, suffering, gasps. A mean light, mixed with sympathy, glowed in Xena's eyes. Xena cast a glance sidewards at Gabrielle, who stood, tense, at her side.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
"Yes." Gabrielle breathed, her staff still poised.
"Good. Help me lift her onto Argo. There's a village farther west. We can take her there."
After a moments hestitation, Gabrielle nodded and warily approached the woman. With the stranger slumped over the back of Argo, Xena and Gabrielle followed a path of broken earth towards the village of Grasmoth down in the valley, as rain began to fall.
In a clearing that lies in the heart of the dark forest, not far from Grasmoth, is an army encampment.
The still silent air rings vacuously with the clash of steel as soldiers engage each other in mock battle. The trees watch forebodingly like a silent tribunal witnessing a plague. Soldiers boots and horses hooves have violated the soil in the clearing.
In the camp bleakly stands many tall, barren, tents. Torches burn in the harsh daylight as a sign of undying violence. From out of the forest a scout returns. He strides grimly through the battling soldiers into the center of the camp, where he meets with a tall man, Garael. When the scout has reported, Garael dismisses him, and enters the tallest tent in the clearing.
Upon entering, Garael bowed to a tall, imposing, man, clad in leather and steel, who stood with his back to him. Like a monolith Phillius stood, a monument to vice and devastation. His armor, vicious and jaunting, was unadorned except by cruel tracery in the metal. He wore a hooded armored helmet, that curved keenly upwards into a steel spine. On his side hung a heavy sword. His only peace came by his sword. Phillius wore his armor like his skin, and never removed it. He never slept. His life was a violent, desolate dream that longed for the suffering of others. He held his back to Garael contemptuously. After a long moment of silence, Phillius turned to Garael and spoke.
"Report!" he commanded.
"My lord, the scout has returned. He reports that the men you sent after the woman are all dead."
Phillius glared at Garael in ominous silence. His gaunt face, through which muscles stood like cords, was locked in an eternal scowl. His blue, pallid eyes were emotionless but for an enduring anger that burned in them. He served his anger by conquest and by bringing devastation to the land. He was a vengeful, soulless man. He stared with blind intensity at Garael until uneasiness forced him to speak.
"My lord?" asked Garael uneasily.
Phillius grinned. He gloried in leaving his soldiers praying for a word as if they were in the presence of a God. He was their altar and their shrine, and the honor of his word demanded no less than bowed service. In his mind, he was a God, leading his followers to greater conquest. He carried himself and led his army as if he were Aries. Aries had smiled on his arrogance and war lust and granted him favor in battle. Phillius' voice boomed like thunder when he spoke.
"Send more scouts out!" he commanded. "I want her found and killed! No one defies me! I lead by example! Kill her!" he roared, reveling in the fire of his own anger.
"Yes, my lord! It will be done!" said Garael, bowing and leaving Phillius' tent.
It is dusk when Xena and Gabrielle approach the burned ruins of the village of Grasmoth. Shafts and planks protrude like desiccated bones from the roofless tops of the blackened buildings. The thatch and the brick walls have been burned away like flesh. Xena and Gabrielle walk in quiet regard, wary of the dead. A few crows perched on the rafters of the desolate houses watch with sinister interest their progress through the empty streets. A few desecrated bodies, many eaten away by fire and scavengers, are sprawled in their doorways.
Xena's eyes are alight with the scent of violence on the air that recalls dark old memories that mingle like drops of blood in her brain. Gabrielle's face is veiled under a cloud of fear and sorrow. House after house, body after body, do they pass. Argo whickers nervously. Soon they come to a house still intact. A flock of crows, perched on the roof, caw and gust their wings in a wicked greeting as they enter, leaving Argo outside. Moments later, a frenzy of crows burst through the doorway. Xena stepped into the doorway, glaring, her sword raised. Black feathers fell like leaves around her, settling on her shoulders. Satisfied, Xena stepped back in and shut the door.
The woman lies, breathing heavily, on a bed. She is sick with pain and exhaustion. Xena is cleaning her wounds. Gabrielle stands anxiously behind her. Outside looms a moonless night. The room is black but for a few halos of candlelight that penetrate the oppressive darkness. Their faces glow like masks, each hiding different secrets. The candlelight on Xena's face swells and recedes under tides of shadows that threaten to consume her face. There is a lonely, deathly quiet over all the town that blankets the living in a shroud of darkness.
"Are you all right?" asked Xena, sensing her friends distress. The dead silence swallowed up her words. Xena turned around to face Gabrielle. Gabrielle's pallid face glowed sullen in the candlelight. She looked at Xena with dim, frightened, eyes. Xena saw her own grim reflection in them.
"I don't know, Xena. I don't know what to think or feel or believe. Xena, this whole village is dead!
How can every one here be dead? Who could do this?" whispered Gabrielle tremulously.
"We'll find out, Gabrielle. We'll right this. Whoever did this will not get away with it." replied Xena, her soft, soothing voice tinged with a vacancy cold as steel. Fear and worry for Gabrielle stabbed at Xena's mind. Never had Gabrielle been so deep in the heart of death, or so close to the truth of the dark warrior that Xena once was. Lurking ominously in the back of Xena's mind were thoughts of the devastation she had caused in a time when she was moved by vengeance. Gabrielle was despondent.
"What will that change, Xena? They'll still all be dead, even if the one responsible is brought to justice! It won't change anything! You can't bring them back!" cried Gabrielle. Silence filled the air again. Xena looked away from Gabrielle. Her eyes drank in the carnage and the desolation, the barren houses and the tortured bodies, and finally fell on the woman. Darkness played over the woman's face like shifting storms. Here was a single seed left in the dust of devastation. What had she witnessed? Xena answered Gabrielle quietly.
"No. I can't. But it's all that can be done, Gabrielle. What has been done here can never be changed. It's been written into the past by these innocents' blood. I'm sorry you had to be here to see this, Gabrielle." Remorse again tinged her voice. Names had drifted into her mind. Names of towns she had taken, people she had killed. The past was a dark time when she was moved to do evil, and every terrible thing she had ever done was forever etched in her soul and stitched into memory. The woman began to stir. Her eyes blinked wearily open and listed upon a candlelight. Her lips pursed in prayer. Xena and Gabrielle stood hidden in shadows. Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes turned black with terror as the shadows lifted, and Xena and Gabrielle filled her eyes. As quick as death, she was struggling desperately to flee. Too weak even to sit up, she writhed like a tortured worm on the bed. Xena and Gabrielle forced her down with little difficulty. She struggled against them helplessly, and then she began to weep, a warrior who has been spent and is beaten.
"Get off! Get off! Please! Don't kill me! Please! Leave me alone!" she gasped.
"We will, if you'll only stop struggling! We're here to help you, not to hurt you!" hissed Xena.
Gasping and shuddering helplessly with anguish, the woman nodded her assent. Xena hesitated a moment, then released her. Gabrielle stood behind her, anxious and distant. Compassion and anger sang a dirge in Xena's voice as she tensely confronted the woman. The devastation of this village was too much like a page out of her own past.
"Who are you? What happened here?" asked Xena.
After a moments pause, the woman spoke. "Where are we?" she murmured.
"We're in Grasmoth. Why has it been burned? Who did this?" asked Xena, her tone becoming austere.
The woman closed her eyes in answer. The dead silence resumed. Xena felt trapped in a lifeless vacuum, where Gabrielle and this strange woman were all that lit her darkness. She feared that light was suffering and soon would dim.
Xena glanced at Gabrielle. Her face was a pale shadow. Tenderly, Xena took Gabrielle's hand in her own and clasped it tightly. She felt Gabrielle return the embrace. All that stirred in the darkness was the soft hush of the woman's breaths, and the light of the candles on the walls. Gabrielle looked down at Xena and smiled meekly. Together in the night, no shadows were too oppressive. After a while, the woman spoke.
"My name is Lara. When I awoke, I thought I was in Tartarus. I belong there. Grasmoth is dead because of me. The deaths of all my people are on my head." Her weary voice was grief stricken and sorrowful, but a part of it lulled, dead. Xena recognized the sound of vacancy in her own voice. The dead part of Lara that hung in her voice had been tarnished by guilt and disgrace.
"Tell us what happened here." implored Xena, trying to hide the emptiness in her own voice. She took Lara's hand in her free hand. "We're here to help you, not to judge you." Lara looked away, then looked back into Xena's afflicted eyes. Her lips parted sullenly like a sickly wound and words spilled forth like misery. Xena stiffened as she felt her own emotions being plucked and hardened at the same time. Lara's tortured voice sank into coldness and her eyes looked like the dead. Xena saw her grim reflection in them.
"A week ago, an army came into our village from the mountains. They came to spread fear and take slaves. Everyone was passive but my brother and I. They were all like lambs. They would let the soldiers beat them and take their loved ones away."
Lara paused and closed her eyes, reflectively.
"One of the soldiers grabbed my youngest sister. I killed him. Their violence swelled. There was a call for my blood. My brother and I knew how to fight, and killed those that came lurking. For every one of their own that died, their fury mounted. It was night when the warlord leading them ordered all of Grasmoth burned. My brother and I tried to stop them, but they were too many. They were everywhere, like flocks of crows. They set our homes ablaze and killed us as we fled." Lara hesitated and her eyes closed again. When she spoke, her voice was utterly lifeless.
"That was when my brother fell by the sword of their leader. When I saw him die, I lost my resolve. I got scared. That was when I fled to the hills. Because of me, my family, my entire village, and all her people are dead."
Xena leaned in closer to Lara. Her face was taut with discordant emotions that pulled at her soul for control. When Xena spoke, her voice sounded drawn out across time.
"What was the warlords name?" asked Xena, the anxiousness in her voice betraying her own distress.
"Phillius." Lara replied.
Xena drew back and her face went ashen as some cord within her snapped. All that she had been, and all that she was now, became a painful storm, an emotional purgatory of past and present. Xena felt as though she must scream and weep and die all at once.
"Phillius..." she simply muttered, unconsciously letting slip her hands from Gabrielle and Lara, and drawing them close to her heart. Feelings of terror and panic long interred deep within Xena ran rife through her body like a plague. Phillius was a ghost as dark as the memory of Cortes. When her army scourged the earth, he rode at her side. He was a scale from an old evil skin that she had discarded and buried long ago. Now he had returned, a marker of her evil past, and was bringing torment to the world again. Every life he took was a stain on Xena's soul.
A wind blew through the hut, hushing all the lights. Xena's eyes went black. Gabrielle and Lara disappeared in the consuming blackness. Xena felt the cold vacuum intensify, suffocating her. In the darkness, time unraveled. Emotions and old memories flooded her brain as the dead part of her soul cried out. Voices of those she'd wronged darkly chanted her name. The names and all the atrocities they recalled returned with dreadful clarity, the weight of their disgrace cutting chasms deep into her skin and opening up old, unhealed wounds. In the darkness, Xena came unbound.
"Gabrielle! Gabrielle!" Xena cried, her voice trembling with absolute terror. Her hands searched the darkness anxiously, seeking in her despair the comfort of her friend. In her isolation, Lyceus' wan, lifeless, face appeared to her, his death her condemnation. The darkness had parted her from Gabrielle's gentle presence, and in her weakness was cutting new scars in her soul with the terrible sins of her past. The chant grew louder. Her hands found Gabrielle's shoulders.
"Xena, I'm here!" said Gabrielle, worry and anxiousness in her voice. Gabrielle's warm body was shuddering with concern at such a display of fear from her normally strong and stoic friend. When the candles had died, and she had heard Xena cry out, Gabrielle had been terrified. In the darkness, her thoughts had dwelled on Xena's face, that she so loved, and lingered on her eyes, from which she drew strength. In the midst of her fear, Gabrielle had thought of happy times, and felt hope rise within her. She felt Xena's anguish as if it were her own, and her fear waned in the light of her regard. Xena held Gabrielle tightly, wanting to hug her close and push her away at the same time. Her breaths came out in harsh, wretched, sobs. The chant was slowly fading. It had seemed to Xena that the night truly had consumed her. Yet, in the darkness of her despair, Gabrielle had come and lulled the black memories haunting her, and led her back into the light.
Gabrielle was silent. She could feel Xena's fear pulsing in the taut clasp of her trembling hands, and hear in the heavy sigh of Xena's lamenting breaths her anguish. Gabrielle knew that all Xena needed in this moment was her courage and friendship. She held up Xena like the strongest pillar in a great temple. The light in Xena's heart that had been dimmed by the dark power the cold part of her soul had found, flickered and awakened, as Gabrielle's touch slowly rekindled it.
Locked in Xena's distant embrace, Gabrielle waited and listened in the darkness to Xena's heavy gasps. She felt her breath warm on her face. Slowly, the sob subsided to small slight breaths as Xena regained her composure. The fear that had clung to her began to fade. When Xena felt she was strong enough she squeezed Gabrielle's shoulders in a gesture of strength, then released her and headed for the door. Xena walked out the door into the night, ashamed to let Gabrielle or Lara look on her and see the guilt and fear in her face. Gabrielle followed Xena out on her heels, a new shadow of fear spreading over her heart, tearing at her mind. Only a moment ago had Xena been clutching her like a small, frightened child, and now that same child was running away from her. Gabrielle felt worry for Xena, for she never had seen Xena so afraid or so vulnerable.
For years had Xena strongly carried her own dark memories on her back, accepting them as a grim ignominy, a dark monument of her old evil self. Now in her time of weakness they had awakened again, and were scourging her anew. Gabrielle saw twilight in Xena's eyes. In them was a great sorrow, but also a deepened emptiness, one she'd always known, but never seen so strong. It hurt and scared Gabrielle, so unlike the woman she normally knew was this Xena.
Xena walked to Argo, hanging her head as if her neck were broken. Though the fear of her ordeal in the darkness had subsided a little in the light Gabrielle had restored in her, the memories still stabbed at her bleeding mind, arresting Xena's heart with pain. Always had there been pain in her memories, but never had it been so potent. Lara's revelation had aroused terrible feelings from the past that killed her defenses. Her guilt had made her naked, vulnerable to the pain and disgrace of her own past. Even though Xena was no longer the dark warrior she had been, it was a part of herself that nonetheless troubled her, most of all in Gabrielle's presence.
As Xena and Gabrielle exited into the night, the crows, still perched on the rafters, flapped their wings and cawed. A deafening muteness was in the air.
"Don't those imps ever sleep?" wondered Xena aloud, feigning irritation.
"Xena, where are you going?" asked Gabrielle, deeply worried. She stood near to Xena, hoping
Xena would be drawn by her presence to stay with her. She was so afraid. She had given Xena all her strength, and now Gabrielle needed strength from Xena.
"I'm going to see if what she says is true." vacantly answered Xena. Her voice was forlorn and dead, and her eyes, pained. Xena felt that her heart had been violated, and now all she had was fear and blind determination. Her eyes avoided Gabrielle as she hurriedly prepared Argo.
"Xena, what's wrong?" asked Gabrielle, indignantly. Her stormy voice was a tempest of emotion.
From her growing fear had sprung waves of anger and resentment that quelled the worry in her voice.
Gabrielle's face was dark and brooding.
"Don't worry, Gabrielle, I'll be all right. Stay with Lara and watch over her." said Xena, uneasily meeting Gabrielle's brooding stare. Xena started to mount Argo.
"No!" shouted Gabrielle, seizing Xena's arm and fiercely pulling her close. Xena was taken aback.
Gabrielle forced Xena to meet her eyes. Tears were in Gabrielle's eyes, but her voice was firm.
"Xena, you can't leave me. I'm scared. I need you! You can't hide from yourself. I know you were scared too, Xena! It doesn't matter. I want to help you, and all you can do is retreat into heroics! You've never run before, Xena, but you're running now!"
"Let go of me!" said Xena tautly. She pulled away from Gabrielle and mounted Argo.
Without pausing another moment, Xena turned away from Gabrielle and disappeared into the night.
Gabrielle looked after her reproachfully, fear, anger, and concern building like a storm within her heart.
"You were scared." quietly said Gabrielle. Never before had she felt so alone or afraid. Left alone, Gabrielle felt the light of her hope fading. The woman she had looked up to had fallen, and in her need had turned her back to her. Gabrielle stood alone and stared silently off into the black, starless, horizon.
To be Continued....
Comments? suggestions? (I'd love a replacement name for Lara or Grasmoth. Not very much from out of the "golden age of myth" are they?) criticism is welcome, just don't write me just for the hell of flaming me.
In case anyone cares, part 2 will be posted May 20. Thanks for reading.
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