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Disclaimer: I suppose that I ought to mention that I mean no infringement by using a character owned my MCA Universal (namely Xena)and that this story is my own and is not for financial gain. Any subtext found is your right as a reader, but Iím not going to verify if itís supposed to be there or if itís merely a figment of your imagination.
There is some violence here. If violence offends you please read another story.
The battle was fierce that day, calling to me, beckoning with a call stronger than a siren song. It called to my hunger, and I responded. Now, donít think that Iím particularly morbid, because Iím not really. In fact, I hate to see the suffering of the dying. Thatís part of what draws me. You see, Iím an Ebudae. OK, so most people havenít a clue what that means, and thereís a reason for that: Humans tend to overreact. But since Iím this far in, I might as well try to explain. The Ebudai are very much like humans, except that we are life-force conduits. We are able to draw in the life force from any source, and once we do (itís called arcing) we become immortal. We donít have to do it, and most never even learn what they are or what they can do. Itís just as well, considering how addictive it is for those of us . . . Iíll just say that many of my kind are assassins. The payís good, in many ways. Iíve done it myself, although it was never my first choice, which brings me back to the story I was telling.
It is because of who I am that I haunt the battlefields. I suppose I feel too much; I donít like to kill. I sometimes wish that Iíd never been forced to arc. If Iíd never touched the stuff, I would have lived a human life, and died a normal death. Instead, I fight between the desire to let life maintain itself and the cravings that call to me, and it will never end.
On the day which I was talking about, I was walking as usual through the field of the fallen, the ringing of swords loud up ahead. Like a doctor in triage, I sorted the wounded. I, however, was looking for the doomed: the ones who wouldnít, couldnít survive. I sent them quickly, easily, on their way to meet Hades, and they helped quench my hunger. Even the ones that were already dead left behind a sip, a hint of life. I pray that scavenging like this will suffice me forever. As I said, this battle was fierce. Rarely do I ever see so much bloodshed at once. A village was being attacked by a warlord, and they were defending themselves with all their strength. I could see the green electricity of life escaping hovering like a thick fog over the whole valley. In my mind, I thought perhaps I could just stand at the edge and soak it in, to not see the horror first hand, but my body was moving without my consent. The blood and ruined flesh made my stomach and hands quiver in unison. Although I didnít know why at the time, this battle was different from any other Iíd ever seen before or probably will see again. Instead of arcing from an impersonal distance like I preferred, I went up to each soldier and looked into his eyes. In most there was a glaze of pain; in some there was disbelief that the end was so near, in some it was acceptance of their lot. One by one, I held a hand or touched a cheek. A gentle pull, and they would go, knowing someone who cared was there as they left.
There was one, he was maybe fifteen, that I picked up and held. He had so many sword wounds, I couldnít even count them all. His lips were white as he looked up at me and said, "Please, Iím scared to die." He didnít question my presence. He just clung to me like a babe. Without thinking, I bent and kissed his forehead. When I pulled back, there was peace on his face, and he was gone. I stood up and threw back my head. "Stop this!" I screamed. "Itís too much, too much! Please, we must make it stop!" I begged the gods. Looking back to earth, as if in answer to my plea, I saw Her. Oh, she was incredible! Tall and dark, dressed in leather, hair streaming. As I watched, she was attacked by four men. With swiftness I didnít know humans possessed, she dodged swing after swing, meeting their misses with deadly hits. Those four went down permanently, and three others after, the fight accented by her eerie battle cry. I stood mesmerized as another soldier came up from behind. She swung her blade in a circle, impaling him on its point without even looking. I held my breath as I watched the sheer beauty of her deadly dancing. My trance was broken when I realized that something was wrong. The woman, this Princess of Warriors, fell to her knees and then toppled forward. I rushed over, ignoring the fighting going on around me, and knelt at her side. That last soldier had buried his dagger, up to the hilt, in her back.
Tears ran down my cheeks, splashing on the leathern armor that should have guarded her better. Her heart-blood ran over my hands and into the ground. "She could have done it," I whispered. "This one could have helped stop the madness." I rolled her over to see her face. Her eyes were closed, soot colored lashes against skin pale as ash. My tears continued to fall, and I wiped them away with the back of my hand. Not since my first arc had I cried over a death. Never before had a stranger touched my heart like this, and all without a word. Once more, I bent and kissed one at deathbreak, on her cheek that was already cool to the touch, and on her lips forever stilled.
I felt her life flowing in to me, becoming part of me, and I froze. An idea began to form. "Hah! You think you can give me hope, and then end it that easily?" I started to laugh; I know I sounded insane. "You may be gods, but I have power too, and I wonít let her go." I removed the dagger from her heart and placed my hand over the wound. Then I did something Iíd never done before, and have never done since. I reversed the flow. I pushed back in to her as much life as Iíd taken, and more.
I canít begin to explain how it felt. Ripping away my own strength caused a pleasure verging on pain; giving it to her joined us closer than blood-bond, closer than lovers. I was me, and yet I was her as well. There were two spirits, two bodies, yet no separation.
After eons that lasted mere moments, I found myself again, although part of her remained. She trembled and arched up in my arms as I felt the warmth returning to her body, and then I knew that she would live. There wouldnít even be a scar. I was holding her to my breast when I felt a sword hit me on the shoulder and slice through my back. I wonder what its bearer thought when my flesh closed right after the blade, leaving no mark behind. I do not envy him his nightmares about the woman who couldnít be killed and the dead warrior who came back to life. As he screamed and stumbled away, the woman known as Xena opened her fantastically blue eyes.
I think one of these days Iíll go and find her again. Iíve heard sheís changed: Sheís no longer leading an army of raiders, but is fighting oppression whenever she can. It took some time to happen, but I knew that it would. I know her better than anyone else ever could. Will she remember me, recognize me, do you suppose? We are, after all, bonded with life.
Please, oh please let this work this time.