Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended.

Subtext Disclaimer: If you’ve been reading the series, you know that their two thousand years old, back in their original bodies, in love and have a very hot sex life, but not in this story. Sorry. In this story original bodies are really original.

Timeline: Plan D #8g. (Breath, it’s over. It’s long but it’s the last one.)

Shock Factor: 3. This story has moments of extreme graphic violence a surprise at the end, but no cheating.

Note: This is the second half of last episode of the Ancent Secrets sub-series. For those who followed along, I thank you for your patience and for those who were confused, my apologies. Personally, I’ve enjoyed Xena’s little trip down memory lane and I hope you’ll stick around to visit with Faith and Grace as they almost get back to a normal life.

Send any comments to asdease1@gte.net


Ancient Secrets (f)

By FlyBigD

Two weeks passed and the army got closer, as Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules and Eve got their army ready for war. Feeling they still needed more information about the son of Dahok, the five generals rode out with a small band of soldiers, with the plan of doing a few hit and run’s to try and draw some of the opposing soldiers out for a fight and hopefully capture. Dressed as bandits, they met an advance party in a village and readied themselves for an ambush.

As the soldiers rode casually into town, Ares pissed everybody off by stepping into the street and introducing himself. “Hi. I’m Ares, God of War. Who are you?”

Slapping her forehead, Xena called him every dirty name she knew and in every language, but stayed back and waited for their chance.

“I am Syrka, envoy of my lord and master the returning king of this land.” Sitting quietly on his horse.

“I see.” Smiling, Ares put his hands on his hips. “Does this lord, master and returning king have a name?”

“I serve Drennan.” Still staying calm, Syrka nodded at the mention of his master’s name.

Nodding, Ares rubbed his nose and glanced at his hidden counterparts. “Drennan.” Smiling again, he walked over to Syrka. “Nice necklace you got there.” Pointing at the amulet around the soldier’s neck. “Drennan give you that?”

Nodding again, Sykra smiled. “It is the symbol of his infinite love and wisdom.”

“Oh, boy.” Xena whispered and looked at the bard who didn’t look happy at all.

“Love and wisdom, huh? Is that what’s he’s preaching to the peasants these days?” Keeping his voice light, Ares continued to smile innocently.

“My Lord and Master is a gracious and loving leader who gives his devoted the gift of the ages.” Smiling back.

“And what exactly would that gift be?” Shrugging, Ares smiled. “Just in case I might be interested in what he has to say.”

Xena slapped her forehead again and growled.

Drawing a dagger from his belt, Sykra pulled back his shirt and drove the blade into his chest.

The entire ambush crew jumped and stared as the blood flowed, then trickled, then stopped and the wound started to heal. “Oh my god.” Gabrielle whispered and looked at the warrior, who didn’t look very happy.

“That’s pretty impressive.” Nodding, Ares stepped back a pace. “How does he bestow such a gracious gift?”

“The power of Drennan runs through his true believers.” Replacing the dagger, Sykra smiled a warm smile. “Do you wish to be granted that gift?”

Chuckling, Ares smiled his most godly smile. “Actually, I’m kind of fascinated. Can you tell me more?”

Signaling to the others in the party, they all dismounted.

“I’m kind of thirsty.” Pointing at the building where everyone was hiding. “Wanna join me for a drink and tell me about this gift?”

Smiling, Sykra waved his men to follow and fell in behind Ares.

“If we survive this, I’m gonna kill him.” Xena muttered under her breath and signaled for everybody to spread out.

Holding the door open for his ‘friends’ Ares waved them inside. “After you, gentlemen.” Then pulled his sword as the last one went threw and swung in a wide ark and cut off the head of the man in front of him. “See if your gift can cure that, ass hole.” He yelled and went after another one.

Jumping from behind a table, Xena saw the headless man fall to the ground and smiled. “Aim for their heads.” She shouted then let out her battle cry and flipped over a surprised soldier and landed in the middle of the mayhem. With everyone swinging for heads, it didn’t take long for the followers to fall. Not even breathing heavy, the warrior sheathed her sword and looked at Ares. “If you ever pull another stunt like that, I’m going to kick your ass, do you understand me?”

“Nice move, don’t ya think.” Smiling big, Ares sheathed his sword and flicked his eyebrows, until Gabrielle glared at him, then he shrugged and kicked a head. “What do you want to do with these guys?”

Sighing, Xena shook her head at him. “Burn the bodies and put the heads on poles at the entrance to the village.” Staring down at the headless bodies. “I don’t want to take any chances of these guys getting up and looking for their heads.”

Snapping his fingers, Ares pointed to the mess and his men started doing what Xena said. “Take them to the woods to burn. It’ll give the further to walk if they get up.”

“Xena?” Gabrielle whispered and moved to the warrior’s side.

“Ignore him, Gabrielle.” Glaring at Ares, she felt a hand on her arm. “What is it?”

“I think we better get out of here.” Looking down at her arm, the bard rubbed the bracelet, which was unusually warm.

Feeling the warmth as well, Xena looked at the bracelet. “Forget the bodies, we gotta get out of here.” Shouting, she waved everyone to the back door. “Move!”

“What is it?” Hercules asked at the change in plan.

“Drennan is coming.” Holding up her arm, Xena flipped her wrist, spinning the bracelet. “We gotta move.”

“Right.” Needing no further explanation, Herc followed the bard out the back door to the horses.

Ares was the last one out and after everyone was mounted, he sent a fireball into the building. “Don’t want to leave any evidence.” Smiling at the warrior, he kicked his mount into a gallop and headed out of the village.

When they reached a high point, some distance away, they all stopped and turned to look at the village. Seeing the smoke billow up, they also so a large party riding into town, with a tall dark haired man in the lead. Narrowing her eyes, Xena growled. “That’s him.” She pointed.

Looking up from the burning building, Drennan spotted the party of riders and narrowed his eyes, focusing on them. Seeing their faces clearly, he smiled and nodded.

“What’s he doing?” Gabrielle whispered.

“Checking out the competition. Just like we are.” Ares said and looked at the warrior. “Shall we?” Nodding in the direction of Amphipolis.

“I’ll get you bastard.” Snarling, Xena turned Argo south and they headed out, leaving Drennan to deal with the loss of his men.

Once word spread through the army of the gift, there were a lot of unhappy soldiers and some even left under the cover of darkness, but the ones that stayed packed up their supplies and followed the five generals out of Amphipolis and into the battle of their lives.

The fighting was fierce and every inch that the soldiers gained, was bathed in their own blood and stained the countryside with scattered bodies. As the death toll rose, the fighting became more intense and Drennan’s followers pressed hard, falling less often than the soldiers, but when they did, they didn’t get up. Headless bodies joined the others and ever so slowly, the followers were pushed back.

With the loss of his men, Drennan raged over the insolence of the soldiers that fought him and gathered his generals together for a decisive strategy that would crush the enemy to his claim. Falling back, he ended the battle and brought his army to a castle that stood overlooking an open plain. There he gave his generals the orders to scatter over the area and bring everyone they could capture to the castle, where he intended to show them the power of the son of Dahok and end the war once and for all.

The other side used this time for recovery and regrouping. Taking care of the wounded and tending to the dead, the soldiers milled about, waiting tensely for the attack that they knew was coming.

Doing as Drennan did, Xena brought everybody into the command tent and went over the damage reports and strategy for what lay ahead.

“He’s hold up here.” Hercules pointed to a spot on a map. “There’s no way we can surprise him.”

“I know that place.” Xena nodded. “His back’s against a mountain and his front door is an open invitation to death.”

“Are there any tunnels or anything?” Eve scanned the map, then looked up at her Mother. “Any back door?’

Xena shook her head. “Not even Zeus could cut through that mountain. It’s the front door or nothing.”

“What do you think he’s up to?” Gabrielle asked form across the room.

“Same thing we are.” Ares smirked. “Licking his wounds and getting ready for the big push.”

“Can we take him?” Eve looked at the faces of concern.

“We’re loosing the war by attrition.” Herc sighed. “It’s harder to win when the other side keeps popping back up again.”

“But we’re making progress.” Xena looked around the room and went to a chair. Sitting down, she rested her elbows on her knees. “We just need to find a way to get to Drennan himself. I think if we can do him harm, his men will fall apart.”

“Literally.” Ares chuckled. “Maybe I should donate some blood so our guys could pop back up, too.”

“Huh?” Eve looked confused.

“The blood of a god can raise the dead.” Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “T used Ares’ to bring Xena back once.”

“And I never got a single thank you note.” Raising an eyebrow.

Ignoring the God of War, the bard went and stood by Xena. Rubbing the warrior’s back she sighed. “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know.” Shaking her head, Xena sat back. “Whatever we do, we’ve got to do it soon. If he’s got a single drop of Dahok’s blood in him, he’s planning on a big show, real soon.” Drumming her fingers on the arm of the chair, the warrior got up. “I just wish we had something to show him.”

“Put Bud out there, that’ll put the fear of Ungara in him.” Hercules chuckled at the thought.

“Really.” Gabrielle agreed. “Where’s a good tiger when you need one?”

As if on cue, Bud walked in the tent and promptly laid down at the bard’s feet.

“Yep. He’d really be impressed.” Eve smiled and rolled her eyes.

As Ares stood in the corner, he didn’t laugh as something started forming in the back of his mind. Looking around the room pieces of conversation ran through his head and he closed his eyes, thinking hard of what they were forming.

“What’s the matter with you?” Herc asked Ares and poked him in the arm.

Glancing at his half brother, Ares shook his head. “Nothing. I’m going for a walk.”

Watching the God of War depart, Herc held up his hands. “Was it something I said?”

Outside, Ares walked through the trees, surrounding the encampment. As he struggled with the puzzle in his mind, he wander further out and found himself standing on the top of a small empty rise, overlooking the plain that led to the castle. Seeing the torchlight, far off in the night, he sighed. Finding no inspiration to the problem, he wandered back and went back inside the tent, which was empty now. Walking to the table, he looked down at the map. “A big show, huh?” Running his finger over the map he frowned. “What would impress the son of Dahok?” Staring for bit longer, Ares finally shook his head. “What would make a believer out of him?” Looking up, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. Closing his eyes, he strained to make them all fit. “What am I missing? What in tartarus is the point?” Whispering, he shook his head and opened his eyes. Still unable to figure it out, Ares left the tent and went to check on his men.

The next morning broke bright and clear and filled with the war cries as Drennan’s followers attacked at dawn.

Ready for the assault, the soldiers emerged from the encampment and met them head on. Swinging their swords high and surrounding the front line of followers, pushing them back and together. Watching the battle from a safe vantage point, Drennan signaled his generals to make their moves and waited for the plan to be set into motion.

Shouting orders, Drennan’s generals used the men to separate the generals of the other side and wedged their men as walls against a regrouping. When they were apart, the followers generals drove close to their counterparts and engaged them in single combat. During the distractions, another follower shot a dart, coated with a tranquilizer and watched as each one fell slowly from their mounts.

Everyone except Ares and the God of War pulled the dart from his neck, realizing what it was and swore under his breath. Turning his horse, he charged the other generals, cutting a wide path of headless followers trying to get to his friends. Failing that, just by the sheer number of bodies in his way, he sheathed his sword and started hurling lightning bolts and anything that came out of his hands at them. Somewhat successful, he managed to reach the bard and jumped off his horse as someone was trying to carry her away. Gathering all his power, Ares shot one blast at them and saw it knock them back, but didn’t do as it was intended, when they got up again. Raging, he pulled his sword and started hacking. As he move forward, he could feel his power dissipating, but he kept swinging his sword, until he was finally powerless and took a blow to the head, which knocked him out cold.

Smiling wickedly, Drennan nodded and headed back to the castle.

The first thing Xena noticed, as she came around, was the silence, then the pounding in her head. Opening her eyes, she looked around the floor of the cell and saw the others scattered across the stone. Sitting up slowly, she held her head and then noticed the shackles on her wrists. Scowling she pulled them, trying to break the chain, but failed. Gathering her strength, she crawled around until she found Gabrielle and lifted the bard’s head. “Gabrielle?” Whispering, she heard it echo off he walls and inside her head. Closing her eyes, she focused on the pain and pushed it to the back of her mind, then opened eyes and looked into the bard’s pale face. “Gabrielle, wake up.”

Moaning, the bard tried to grab her head, but the chains caught on Xena’s arms and she opened her eyes. “Xena?”

“Yea.” Helping the bard to sit up, Xena cradled her in her arms.

A little bleary eyed, Gabrielle looked around. “Where are we?”

“The dungeon of the castle, I think.” Scanning the bare cell and spotting the wooden door with the bars on it. “Yep, we’re in the dungeon.”

“How did we get here?” Closing her eyes against the throbbing in her head, the bard leaned into the warrior.

“The little bastard shot us with darts.” Ares mumbled as he sat up. Looking around, he saw the warrior and bard, then moved to Eve. Shaking her, he helped her to sit up. “How ya feeling?”

“Like I got kicked in the head.” Rubbing her skull, Eve shook it, which wasn’t the thing to do and groaned. “Ow.”

Leaving the bard, Xena went to Hercules and gave a little shake. “Hercules.”

“Get the name of that ox cart.” Groaning, the big guy opened his eyes and looked up at the warrior. “We’re screwed aren’t we.”

“Never say die.” Smiling, Xena pulled hard, bringing him to a sitting position. “I’ve been in worse situations.”

“Ignore her.” Gabrielle said ruefully. “She says that in all situations.”

Chuckling, Xena sat down and shook her head. “Now what?” Sighing she gave the room a better once over, but was interrupted with someone unlocked the door. Getting to her feet, she growled when Drennan stepped in.

“Ahhh. Such a pleasant little group.” Taking in the pained and angry faces staring at him. “I’d ask how you felt, but since I really don’t care, I’ll skip it.”

“What do you want with us?” Xena asked and moved to the bard.

“Simple.” Smiling wickedly. “I’m going to use you as an example to the people, that not even the mightiest that they have to offer can stand up to the power of Drennan.”

“Don’t you mean Dahok?” Ares snickered. “After all, Daddy gave it to you, didn’t he?”

Drennan lost the smile and stared at the God of War. “You’re the Olympian.”

Ares smiled and raised an eyebrow. “And you’re a bastard of a dead god, with wannabe delusions of king hood.”

Xena moved Gabrielle behind her and nodded to Eve to move away from Ares.

Drennan’s face turned beet read and flames appeared behind his eyes. “I am the true King and I will succeed my father’s promise of the throne. I have the blood of a god running through my veins, Olympian. An Ancient god that has given me the power to destroy you and all the others who stand in my way. As long as the blood of Dahok runs, no one will defeat me. Dahok’s blood protects me from death, just as it give me the power to claim his promise.” Looking around the room, he growled. “Enjoy the time you have left, mortals. You’ll die at mid day tomorrow.”

“What time is it now?” Ares asked as his mind whirled.

Xena stared at him.

“The sun has just set.” With that, Drennan swept out of the room.

Waiting for the lock to click, Xena glared at Ares. “Are you insane?”

Ignoring the warrior, Ares started to pace as the pieces of his puzzle finally fell into place. “Zeus! Why didn’t I figure this out before.” Chastising himself for his stupidity. “It was right there all the time.”

“Ares!” Xena shouted and grabbed him by the collar. “You could’ve gotten us killed!”

“Xena!” Gabrielle pulled the warrior back.

“What a way to go?” Rolling her eyes, Eve sat down.

Breaking the warrior’s hold, Ares glared at her and grabbed her arms as she tried to take hold of him again. “Stop it, Xena.” Holding her at arms length. “I’ve got a plan.”

“What?” Hercules perked up.

Still staring at Xena, Ares loosened his grip, but held on. “I’ve got a plan.”

Ripping her arms from his grasp, Xena spun around and moved away. “I don’t want to hear it.”

“I do.” Eve chimed in and got a nasty glare from her Mother. “We aren’t going anywhere.” Shrugging, she smiled.

“She gets that from Callisto.” Xena snarled, then turned back to Ares.

Covering his face, Ares closed his eyes. “You’ve got to get me out of here.”

Xena threw her hands in the air and laughed harshly. “Always looking our for number one. Should’ve known.”

“No, Xena.” The god moved to her and shook his head. “Not this time, but it’s got to be me.”

“Why?” Gabrielle asked.

“Because I’m the only god here.” Looking down at the bard. “I’m going to have to use my power once I’m clear of Drennan’s power base.”

“What’s the plan?” Hercules put his hands on his hips.

Sighing, Ares shook his head. “I can’t tell you, because it might not work and I don’t want Drennan to read your minds and find out.”

“That’s rather convenient.” Eve smirked.

“Look, I know, but you’re going to trust me.” Looking at Eve.

Spinning around, Xena nailed him with a right cross. “I’ll never trust you.”

“Xena!” Moving to block another punch, the bard stepping in front of Ares.

Wiping the blood from his mouth, Ares shook his head and shoved the bard out of the way. Grabbing the warrior, he lifted her off the ground and slammed her into the wall.

“Ares!” Everybody shouted and tried to pry them apart.

“Now you listen to me, Xena.” He growled and fought the hands that were tugging at him. “I asked you to trust me once, in Britania and you didn’t and because of that Dahok got his hands on Gabrielle. Do you remember, Xena?” Being drug back he continued. “And because you didn’t listen, Hope was born and she killed Solan. Remember? And Dahok got his foothold on this world and because you didn’t trust me, you let him in and T had to end up dying to keep him out of this world. Remember? Do you remember that Xena?”

“Liar!” Shaking with rage, Xena shook her head. “I didn’t kill her.”

“All you had to do was destroy the temple, but you couldn’t see past Caesar to the real Evil, could you? I told you he was evil, Xena! I told you!”

“Stop it!” Gabrielle shouted. “Stop it!” Putting her hands over her ears, the bard bent over. “Please, just stop it.”

“Gabrielle.” Rushing to the bard, Xena wrapped her arms around her. “Gabrielle?”

Squeezing her eyes closed, the bard leaned against the warrior. “Xena, please stop.”

“Okay, okay.” Lowering her voice, Xena held the bard close. “No more shouting.” Glaring up at Ares. “We won’t fight anymore, I promise.” Easing Gabrielle to the floor, Xena cradled her in her arms. “Shhhh. No more fighting. No more shouting.” Looking up at Ares, she kissed the top of Gabrielle’s head. “You made your point.”

Straightening his jacket, Ares shook his head. “I’m sorry.” Walking to the corner of the room, he slumped down to the floor and lowered his head.

“What’s your plan?” Xena whispered after a few moments.

Closing his eyes, Ares shook his head. “Drennan wants a big show. My plan will give him what he wants.” Lifting his head Ares looked at the faces staring at him. “Just like Dahok, he relies on the faithful to fulfill his dreams. I think he’s leaching his power from their belief in him and that circles back and he uses it to keep them alive.”

“And?” Eve asked.

“And, if my plan succeeds, he won’t have the faithful as a source of power anymore.” Lowering his head again, he sighed. “But I don’t know if it will work.”

“Well then, saying we find a way to get you out of here, what are we supposed to do?” Resting her head on the bard’s, Xena sighed.

“Can we all get out without getting caught?” Lifting his head, Ares looked at the warrior.

“No.” Shaking her head, Xena bit her lip. “I doubt Drennan is going to leave us to our own devices. He’ll probably have the guards check on us periodically.”

“And there’s way to many of them to fight our way out.” Eve chimed in with a bummer.

Lowering his eyes, Ares sighed.

“Then I guess it’s settled.” Xena cracked her neck. “Ares goes alone.”

Looking up, Ares knitted his brow. “I’m not asking . . . “

“I know.” Xena raised one eyebrow. “I’m telling you and remember this, Ares, if you fail I’ll find a way to hunt you down.”

Nodding, the God of War smiled. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“You’re coming back?” Eve sat down beside Xena and gave her mother an astonished look.

“Yes.” Nodding his head, Ares sighed. “Even if the plan fails, I’ll come back.”

Glancing up, Gabrielle looked at the God of War and saw the promise in his eyes. “What about that window?” Pointing to the first thing she saw when she woke up.

Looking up, Xena saw the small barred window near the ceiling. Getting to her feet, she stepped back to get a better look. “Can you fit through that?” Glancing down at Ares.

Ares looked up at the window. “I may leave some leather behind, but I think so.” Standing up, he smiled at the bard and nodded a silent thanks.

Gabrielle smiled and put her hands on her hips. “I think we better try to get the chains off first.”

Looking down at his hands, Ares pulled on the shackles. Pulling harder, he gritted his teeth.

“Here.” Rolling his eyes, Hercules grabbed the chain and drug his half brother to the nearest wall. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” With a big sigh, he took one of the shackles in his hand and crushed it up against the wall, which dropped Ares to his knees.

Holding his wrist, Ares looked up at Hercules. “Did you enjoy that?”

“Actually, yes.” Smiling, Herc reached down and grabbed the other wrist and pulling Ares to his feet. “Ready?” Without waiting for an answer, he smashed the other one then let go and dusted his hands off as Ares crumpled to the floor.

“Every good plan has it’s downside.” Eve shrugged.

Glaring at the demon spawn, Ares got to his feet. “The window?” Leaning against the wall, he held his wrists.

“Hmmmm.” Xena thought about it. Looking at Herc, she smiled. “Can you give me a lift?”

“My pleasure.” Moving to the wall underneath the window, Herc bent at the knee. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“You keep you eyes on the ground, Mister.” Gabrielle told him with a smirk.

Chuckling, Xena climbed up on his shoulders and pulled the breast dagger from it’s hiding place. When the window came within reach, she started chipping away at the edges. “This won’t take but a minute.”

“I hope so.” Herc smiled and felt a stomp on his shoulder.

Two hours later, Hercules lifted Ares up, then used his hands to raise him the rest of the way, out the window.

“Remember the layout.” Gabrielle said and watched Ares’ boots disappear.

“Well, now we wait.” Xena said and sat down. “Anybody know any good jokes?”

The bard continued to stare at the window and closed her eyes. Whatever it is, Ares. Please hurry. She thought.

Sticking to the layout Xena had given him, Ares stayed in the shadows as he made his way to the front of the castle and had to hide several times to avoid passing guards. As he approached the doors, he took a deep breath then held it as the sentry made his turn and let it out as he slipped out the door. Outside, sticking to the shadows became easier and he slipped between campfires, making his way toward the far end of the plain. Running and ducking, he finally reached some open ground and took off. Not used to feeling the efforts of physical exertion, he pressed on, running for all he was worth. Nearing the edge of Drennan’s power base, he felt his power coming back and picked up speed. When he reached the trees, he stopped and whistled. Listening, he whistled again and finally heard a nicker in the distance. Heading for it, he ran up on Artaq as the stallion trotted up. “Okay, Artaq. Time to do your old man imitation.” Using the breast dagger, he cut the saddle away and swung up on the stallion who wasn’t happy but let him stay. Turning Artaq around, Ares took a deep breath. “Yaaaaaa.” Driving his heals into the stallion’s side, he hung on when Artaq took off. “Fly Artaq! Fly!” Ares shouted and felt something moving under his calves. Looking down, he saw wings appear and smiled. “That’s it! Come on. Show me what you’ve got.”

Picking up speed, Artaq spread his wings and started flapping them, lifting him and Ares into the night sky.

Feeling the wind on his face, Ares concentrated and popped them out, then watched the world whirl underneath and thought of where he wanted to be. Sensing it’s approach, he smirked. “Now that’s what I call service.” Nodding, he felt his powers leave and looked down at the tree tops passing below. “You know where we’re going, Artaq. Get us there, now.” Grabbing a chunk of mane, the God of War almost yelped when the stallion took a sharp dive at the ground. Seeing it coming up quick, Ares closed his eyes, then felt a soft jolt and opened his eyes. Seeing the Palace in front of him, he laughed and jumped off the stallion, giving him a healthy pat. Running up the steps, Ares started shouting. “Latour! Latour! Anybody! Somebody!”

Latour came out of a side hallway, just as Ares reached the throne room. “Ares?”

“Latour!” Running over, Ares grabbed him by the arms. “Look you gotta listen, I need your help.”

“Son?” Lemet came out of the same hallway and growled when he saw the God of War. “Ares.”

Releasing Latour, Ares stepped back and held up his hands. “Look. I’ve all ready been punched in the face by Xena and Hercules tried to break my wrists, so I don’t want any trouble. I just want you to listen for fifteen minutes and then I’ll leave you alone, okay?”

Father and son exchanged a glance then, Lemet folded his arms across his chest. “The sands are running.”

“Okay.” Ares started telling them his plan and theory and what was happening up north and the situation that his friends were in.

When Ares was done, an hour later, Latour looked at his father.

“Please!” Ares pleaded. “It’s worth a shot and even if it doesn’t work at least we’ll give him a run for his money. I’m not going to let that little bastard get his hands on that Crown if I can help it. You know me, Latour.” Closing his eyes, Ares shook his head. “Just try, that’s all I ask.”

“I’ll do it.” Latour nodded and turned to his father.

“I’ll do my part.” Lemet frowned. “We were on our way anyway, so we’ll just move up the schedule.”

“Like yesterday, right?” Ares looked at him expectantly. “You’ve only got till noon tomorrow, before Drennan does his thing.”

“We’ll be there as quickly as we can.” Lemet nodded and sighed. “They’re all ready half way there, I’ll leave immediately to join them.”

“Thanks.” Smiling, Ares turned to go, then spun around. “Latour.”

“I’ll give it my best shot.” Smiling, he watched Ares disappear down the steps then sighed. “Now, I just have to figure out what my best shot will be.” Rolling his eyes, he nodded to his father then headed for the stables.

“What?” Ungara looked at Latour like he’d gown horns.

“It was Ares idea, he figured it out.” Standing before the circle of Ancients, Latour took a deep breath. “You’ve got to admit, it might work.”

Shaking his head, Ungara closed his eyes. “No.”

“Why not?” Latour shot back. “I know that your powers are gone and I know that you’ve done everything in your power to protect mankind, but giving up now throws that effort down the sewer.” Raising his voice, he ignored the indignant look from Ungara. “If you won’t do it for the Ungara then do it for Xena and Gabrielle. They are your rightful heirs and they deserve all the protection that the position comes with.”

“You’ve over the line, Latour.” Giving the historian a warning.

“I don’t care.” He said softly. “They deserve this chance. They’ve earned it and so have we. I’ve lived my life writing the history of the Ungara and I’ll be damned to the hell of Dahok’s lair before I write that I didn’t stand before my gods and ask them to give no more than the Ungara have given themselves. Ares is willing to die for Xena and Gabrielle, as is the entire Ungaran race. Will their god deny them this simple request?”

“Does Ares realize the ramifications of what he asks?” Stepping off the platform, Ungara looked around the room at the faces of his brothers.

“Yes.” Nodding his head Latour lowered his eyes. “He know what might happen.”

Sighing, Ungara closed his eyes. “And if it doesn’t work?” Opening his eyes, he looked to the historian. “What then?”

“We fight till the Ungara are no more.” Raising his eyes, Latour stood up straight.

“So be it.” Staring at the ceiling, Ungara closed his eyes.

Ares made it back to the cell a couple of hours after sun up. Crawling in the window, he was quickly drug in and landed hard on the floor. “Did you have to do that?” Rubbing his butt.

“Where the hell have you been?” Xena hissed. “We’ve been pretending you’re asleep in the corner for almost ten hours now.”

“Sorry.” Getting to his feet, Ares dusted himself off. “I got back as soon as I could.”

“Did the plan work?” Gabrielle tugged at his arm.

“I don’t know.” Sighing, the God of War was feeling all of his mortality.

“What?” Eve slapped her forehead. “What have you been doing? Playing with yourself?”

Everybody turned to give Eve a strange look.

“Sorry. It was the first thing that popped into my head.” Throwing her arms in the air, Eve turned away.

Shaking her head, Xena turned back to Ares. “And when will you know if it worked?” Taking a firm grasp of his collar.

“If I die, I’ll say it was a wash.” Rolling his eyes, Ares broke the warrior’s hold and started pacing.

“Well this is just perfect.” Hercules lamented and sat down.

“Well can you tell us what the plan was now?” Gabrielle walked over and tugged on his arm.

“No!” Glaring at her, Ares moved his arm. “And stop doing that. Irritating little . . .”

“Ares.” Xena growled.

“Bard, woman, whatever.” He finished and sat down beside Herc. “Snot.” Whispering.

Walking over to Gabrielle, Xena put her arm over her shoulder. “Come on.” Giving Ares a not so subtle glare, she led the bard to the other side of the cell. Sitting down, she pulled Gabrielle to her.

Sighing, the bard woman whatever looked down at her wrist and spun the bracelet till the tiger head laid on top of her hand. Glancing up, she looked at Ares. “Xena.” She whispered.

“Hmm?” Looking down at the bard.

“What Ares said last night.” Raising her eyes to the warrior. “It wasn’t you fault.”

“I’ve all ready forgotten about it.” Lying, she kissed Gabrielle’s forehead and stared at Ares.

Knowing she was being lied to, Gabrielle let it go. Not wanting to spend her last hours arguing with the woman she loved. “I love you, Xena.”

“I know. Don’t worry, we’ll get out of this one.” Smiling, Xena wrapped both arms around the bard and held her close. “Just have faith, Gabrielle.”

“The last time I had faith, you conked me in the head with your flying parchment.” Chuckling, Gabrielle looked up at the warrior. “I’ve got the scars to prove it.”

“Shut up.” Rolling her eyes, Xena sighed and waited.

Getting up, Ares stretched, reaching his arms above his head and bending backward.

“Ut oh.” Gabrielle whispered. “Xena.” Standing, the bard stared at Ares.

“What?” Jumping up, Xena stared at the bard. “Gabrielle.”

“His chains.” Pointing at Ares’ lack of metal bonds.

Frowning, Ares brought his arms down and opened he eyes wide. “Shit.”

“I don’t think they’ll do him much good.” Eve mentioned and picked up what was left of Ares’ shackles. Dangling them, she held up a crushed manacle.

Walking over, Xena took the chains and looked at them. “We’ll never get these fixed in time.”

“Let me see.” Standing, Hercules held out his hand and took the chains from Xena. Checking the manacles, he started to maneuver them around in his hands.

“I thought you strength was supposed to be gone.” Eve put her hands on her hips.

“Those arms aren’t for show, Eve.” Xena chuckled and got a jab in the ribs from the bard. “It was simply and observation.”

Smiling wickedly at the warrior, Herc continued to bend the metal and flicked his eyebrows a couple of times.

Gabrielle walked over and kicked him in the shin, then walked back to stand beside Xena, who didn’t move a muscle.

Ares laughed out loud. “Watch it little brother. She doesn’t have green eyes for nothing.”

Turning her emeralds to Ares, Gabrielle started toward him.

“Whoa!” Backing up, the God of War held up his hands. “It was a compliment, I swear.”

“Huh.” The bard huffed and went back to stand beside the warrior, who still hadn’t moved a muscle.

“That’s my girl.” Xena smiled.

After about an hour, Hercules succeeded in getting the manacles in some semblance of their original state and tried to put them on Ares. “You know how long I’ve wanted to do this?” He chuckled.

“Shut up and put them on.” Rolling his eyes, Ares tapped his foot. Hearing a click, he looked down and nodded. “Good job.” Testing the chains. Hearing another click he looked up.

Turning toward the door, Xena put the bard behind her.

Drennan stepped in and smiled. “You time has come.” Nodding, he waved in a slew of guards. “Take them to the platform and hold them there.” Smiling again, he left.

“Xena my bracelet is burning.” Gabrielle whispered as a guard approached.

“Grin and bear it, Gabrielle.” The warrior whispered back and was jerked forward. Glancing at Ares, she raised an eyebrow.

Putting on a hopeful face, Ares shrugged.

Rolling her eyes, Xena was led out of the room with the others.

Coming out of the castle, everyone shut their eyes against the sudden sunlight and stumbled as they were led blindly along.

Opening her eyes, Xena spotted the platform, which was outside the gate of the castle and several feet off the ground. Looking around, she scanned the castle walls and saw them lined with guards and sighed. Following in the chain gang she was led to the platform and up a flight of steps. Coming to the top, she looked around and shook her head. “By the gods!”

“Damn.” Eve muttered.

“Those aren’t good odds.” Hercules piped in.

“Who are all those people?” Gabrielle asked.

“Come on Latour.” Ares whispered.

“That must be the people who we’re supposed to represent.” Xena said over her shoulder. “The ones that Drennan wants to use us as an example for.”

Scanning the area, Gabrielle shook her head, seeing a couple thousand farmers, merchants and every kind of poor and impoverished person to be found. “He’s going to kill them?”

“I doubt it.” Ares said from behind her. “He’ll need them to spread his message of love and compassion once he kills us.”

“I’m more worried about them.” Hercules nodded at the thousands of Drennan’s followers that surrounded the villagers and spread out over the immediate area. “How many do you think there are?”

“Fifteen, twenty thousand.” Xena frowned. “He’s definitely taken his time getting up a healthy bunch.”

When they were stopped, they were forced to turn and face the crowd.

“I hope I don’t get sunburned.” Eve pouted.

Gabrielle and Xena turned to their left and stared at their daughter. “We’ve got to do something about that Callisto influence.” Xena muttered.

“Yea. I’ve noticed it coming on.” Gabrielle nodded, then shook her head.

Glancing over her shoulder, Xena looked at the throne that was on the platform. “He definitely doesn’t travel light.” Snickering at the over sized and ostentatious chair.

“Xena.” Gabrielle didn’t need to look, she’s spotted it when they were led up.

Shrugging, the warrior leaned forward and glanced down the line at Ares, who had his eyes closed. Knitting her brow, Xena felt her bracelet getting hot again and straightened. “Here comes trouble.”

“My loyal followers.” Drennan said, as he moved to stand in front of the throne.

Xena groaned and rolled her eyes.

“Oh, just kill me now.” Eve muttered.

Gabrielle smirked.

“Today is a great day in our long journey.” Raising his voice, Drennan droned on. “We have come to this promised land with the intentions of welcoming these people into our flock and have been forced to face the anger and hatred of those who don’t understand that we come to enlighten them and bring them peace, but through your faith and devotion, we have overcome their tyranny.” A cheer went up and Drennan waved.

“I think I’m gonna puke.” Xena muttered and looked down a Ares, who still had his eyes closed.

“As the rightful King of this land, promised to me by my Father, I salute your diligence and fortitude in conquering our enemy.” Another cheer when up. “And as King, I must fulfill my duty and bestow upon these five, who have slaughtered an murdered our people, the compassion and love of my throne.” A not so cheery cheer went up.

A line of faces glanced at each other, but didn’t turn around.

“A good King does not turn from those who stand against him, he embraces the enemy and invites them into his flock and so, I stand here today and offer to these five, who have done so much harm, the opportunity to join our cause and fight for the right of the people.”

This being too much, Xena turned around and glared at Drennan. “We were fighting for the people, you little bastard.”

The guard behind the warrior drew his sword and pointed it at her back.

Growling, Xena turned back around and scowled.

Gabrielle closed her eyes.

Shaking his head, Drennan looked sad. “The choice is their’s to make.” Looking up and down the line, he smiled. “Who will turn away from the the path they have chosen and join in singing the praises of their King?” Holding out his arms.

Ares opened his eyes. “I will.” He shouted, which got a murmur from the crowd. Turning to face Drennan, he ignored and glares of his friends and held his ground. “I will sing the praises of my King.”

“Ares, you little bastard.” Struggling, Xena tried to get to the God of War to kill him. “I trusted you, damn it.”

Keeping his face unemotional, Ares just stared at Drennan.

Drennan narrowed his eyes then waved, signaling the guard to bring the Olympian forward.

Taking all the kicks from Eve and Hercules as he passed by them, Ares kept his eyes on Drennan, until he passed the bard. Looking down, he shook his head. Turning to Xena he smiled and tried to kick her, which set the warrior off and as she lunged at him he whispered. “Follow my lead.” Then tried to kick her again and stepped back out of her range.

Xena glowered at him, having heard what he said, she didn’t listen and continued to try strike out, until she felt the sword point in her back.

“Xena.” Gabrielle whispered and shook her head.

Growling, the warrior settled down and turned away from Ares, to stare out at the crowd.

Turning to Drennan, Ares bowed his head. “I beg your forgiveness and prey for your undying mercy.”

“Lift your head, Olympian and sing the praises of your King.” Smiling, Drennan spun Ares around to face the crowd.

Looking out over the faces, Ares felt his heart drop. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, then let it out slowly and opened his eyes. “People of Greece, I am Ares, God of War.” Scanning the horizon, he continued. “I am here to sing the praises of my King. As Drennan said, a good King holds no animosity toward his enemy, only compassion and a good King shares with the people the love of a mighty heart. I stand before you today as a God who has a King, not Zeus, but a greater King, that has shown me what the world was meant to be and given me something to believe in. For a good King inspires by example, those who follow and a good King is something to believe in. You should be able to believe in a good King and hold them to the promises they make, taking their word as their bond that nothing short of death will stop them from their loyalty to you and the ones they love.”

Gabrielle turned her head.

“A good King will never turn away from the people that they have been entrusted to protect. A good King will always do what is best for the people, even when it isn’t best for them.”

Xena listened as his voice started to trail off.

“That is what a good King is and I will bow to my King, with the knowledge that promises are meant to be kept and that even in death, they will be honored.”

Xena turned her head and stared at him.

Turning back to Drennan, Ares bowed his head. “And now, I will kneel to my King.” Turning back around, Ares knelt facing the crowd and bowed his head.

Drennan’s eyes went wide. “Insolent fool.” He shouted and stepped down from the throne. “You dare turn away from your King?” Glaring at the back of his head.

Ares kept silent and closed his eyes.

Gabrielle looked at Xena, who started to go down on her knees. Sighing, the bard followed suit, bowing her head and closing her eyes.

Eve and Hercules did the same and waited for their lives to be over.

“Stand and face me!” Drennan raged. “Stand and face your King!” Grabbing a guard he pointed at the kneeling forms. “Get them on their feet.”

Resisting the guards, the five remained kneeling and took long deep breaths and missed the fact that the non followers were following them and kneeling as well.

Looking around the platform, Drennan howled with fury. “Get on your feet! I command you to rise and face your King.” With his face burning, he drew his sword. “Then die like the worms you are. You will die at the hand of the son of Danok!” Putting the edge of his sword on the back of Ares’ head, he laughed. “And you, Olympian, son of Zeus will be the first to die.” Raising his sword, Drennan took aim.

“My Lord Drennan!” One of the guards shouted.

Holding the sword, Drennan looked around, until the call came again and he glanced up at a guard in the highest turret behind him.

Pointing madly at the plain, the guard started shouting. “My Lord, my Lord.”

Turning, Drennan lowered his sword and looked over the flat horizon and saw nothing. “There is nothing there, you fool.”

The guard continued to point and shout and Drennan continued to shake his head.

Slowly, Ares opened his eyes and stared at the wood beneath him. Lowering his hands he lightly touched his fingers to the plank. Then a smile crept to his face and he glanced over at the bard, who still had her eyes closed. “Promises are meant to be kept.” He whispered and raised his head.

Gabrielle didn’t feel it yet and didn’t hear Ares as she held her breath and listened to the pounding of her heart.

Xena still had her eyes closed, but she felt it and knitted her brow. Opening her eyes, she stared at the wood as it softly vibrated.

Ares smiled and stood up. Straining his eyes he stepped forward and looked over the plain. Seeing a flicker, he stepped back to Drennan. “You wanted the Crown, Drennan? Well you’re gonna have to take it from them.” Using both hands, Ares pointed over the plain and froze as another flicker sparkled in the sun. Then he felt the air catch in his lungs and he shook his head. “Thank you, Ungara.”

When the vibration became more obvious, Xena lifted her head and looked up at Ares, who was staring with a big smile on his face. Looking to the bard, she whispered. “Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle opened her eyes and turned her head. Seeing the smile on Xena’s face, she frowned, then finally felt the vibration. Knitting her brow, she looked down at the wood, then back to the warrior.

Xena winked.

Pushing Ares aside, Drennan moved to the edge of the platform and finally saw what his guard was shouting about. In the distance he saw a large cloud drifting across the hills behind the plain.

“That’s an army Drennan and their coming for you.” Ares said and helped Gabrielle to her feet.

“No army can defeat the faithful of Drennan!” He shouted. “I fear no army of the wicked!”

“That’s no army of the wicked.” Ares chuckled. “It’s the Ungara.”

Drennan whirled and glared at Ares. “That army will not sway me from my claim. I fear no one, Olympian.”

Shaking his head, Ares shrugged. “Actually it’s not the army you need to worry about.” Taking a step forward, he pointed to the middle of the dust cloud. “It’s her you need to worry about.” He whispered.

Whirling back, Drennan watched as a long row of white flags appeared on the horizon and were followed by the thunder of untold mounted Ungara. “You lie, there is nothing in that pittience that I fear. I see nothing.”

Moving closer to him, Ares smiled and pointed. Keeping his voice just above a whisper, he raised an eyebrow. “Look again, Drennan. You wanted a king, well there’s a real king for ya and personally she doesn’t look to happy.”

Drennan narrowed his eyes and finally caught a glimpse of what Ares was pointing at. In the middle of the approaching hoard, a lone rider appeared over the last hill far ahead of the rest and as he stared, he saw the twinkling of gold and silver. Growling, he took another step forward and shook his head. “No.” He ground out between gritted teeth. “She’s dead.”

“Was dead, Drennan.” Ares smiled. “But not any more. The King of the Ungara has returned.”

“No. No. No!” Drennan shouted the last and shook is head. Looking around at the villagers he saw them start to look around confused and bewildered. Raising his sword, he shouted at the top of his lungs. “Kill them all!” Turning swiftly, he drove his sword into Ares’ chest. “I am the one true king!” Twisting the sword, he pulled it out and laughed. “Now you bow before your king, Olympian.”

“No!” Gabrielle shouted and caught Ares as he fell backwards. “Ares!”

“Little bastard!” Xena threw her chains over Drennan’s head and pulled back, trying to choke him.

Growling, Drennan leaned forward quickly, sending the warrior flying. Turning back to the approaching thunder, he howled. “I am the true King!” Then he turned and jumped off the back of the platform and ran into the castle.

Drawing her golden sword, T held it high in the air and roared.

Gabrielle eased Ares to the ground and took his hand, staring into his dark eyes. “Ares?”

T drew her sword, holding it high and roared.

“By the gods!” Xena whispered and got to her feet.

Gabrielle looked up, as another roar echoed across the plain, then she looked down at the God of War. “What did you do, Ares?”

“I remembered a promise.” Ares smiled up at the bard.

“Ares?” Gabrielle shook her head and felt his grip weaken. “Ares, no.”

“I finally figured it out.” Coughing, he spit out blood. “I just needed Drennan to put the last piece in the puzzle.” Closing his eyes, Ares listened to the thunder and smiled. “Tell her I’m sorry.” Shuddering, Ares relaxed.

“Ares! Come on, Ares? Don’t do this! Not now!” Gabrielle looked up. “Xena!”

Xena tossed a guard off the platform and looked around and felt her heart drop. Coming to the bard, she knelt down. “Ares?” Feeling his throat, she closed her eyes.

“Oh, Xena. No.” Shaking her head, the bard felt tears welling up. “Ares, please.”

“He’s gone, Gabrielle.” Opening her eyes, Xena kicked a guard that ran at her. “Stay with him.” Getting up, she grabbed one of the faithful and relieved him of his sword, then cut off his head. “Hercules, Eve!”

All ready defending themselves, the duo glanced at the warrior.

“We’ve got to hold the platform.” Xena shouted as the noise became almost unbearable.

“No shit!” Eve remarked and lunged a guard, driving the blade of her sword through his throat.

“Xena!” Hercules, shouted.

“What?” Starting on another guard, the warrior didn’t turn around.

“Is that who I think it is?” Tossing a guard into the villagers, Herc picked up two more.

“Unless my ears have crazy, yes.” Smiling to herself, the warrior kicked a face as it popped up over the edge of the platform.

“Xena what about them?” Gabrielle shouted and pointed at the villagers, who were having a hard time defending themselves against the faithful.

Making a complete circle, Xena saw what the bard was pointing at and broad sided another believer. Growling, she glanced at the horizon and saw one figure getting very close, very fast. “She’s on Artaq!” Allowing herself a personal moment, Xena quickly snapped out of it and shouted. “The one true King has returned.” Pointing at T, Xena yelled at the top of her lungs. “The followers of Drennan, your Lord has deserted you! Lay down your weapons in the face of the one true King.” Shrugging, Xena turned to Gabrielle, who smiled. Turning back the warrior repeated her little motto.

Most of the faithful didn’t hear her and really didn’t need much encouragement, when they realized that their cozy little castle, with it’s back against a mountain meant that they were trapped between a rock and an army. Running for their lives, the dropped everything that would slow them down, as the Ungara spread out across the plain for a far as the eye could see.

Smiling, Xena looked for someone to punch and found nobody and she noticed that the villagers were holding their own against the retreating believers. She also noticed that everybody parted like the Red Sea when T came charging through the throng on Artaq.

T roared again and pulled the reins hard. Bringing Artaq to a skidding halt, she vaulted off his back onto the platform and landed beside Xena. “Where’s Drennan?”

“He ran inside the castle.” Xena said and pointed.

T growled and jumped off the platform, running for the castle.

“Welcome back.” The warrior whispered with a smile.

“Xena.” Gabrielle still held Ares in her arms and looked at the warrior sadly.

Looking down, Xena sighed and knelt beside the bard. “And I thought T was the one who wouldn’t let go.” Shaking her head, the warrior put her hand over Ares chest. “You just had to show me up.”

Jogging over, Hercules looked down at Ares and shook his head. “Is he?”

Gabrielle didn’t look up and just nodded.

Eve sat down beside the bard. “Was this his plan?”

“T was.” Latour said, coming up the platform. Sheathing his sword, he looked down at the God of War. “He came up with the idea of how to bring her back.”

“He said he needed Drennan to put the last piece in the puzzle.” Looking up at Latour, Gabrielle smiled. “What did that mean?”

Latour started to answer when he was thrown off the platform as a shock wave hit him.

Snapping her head around, Xena saw almost half the castle go up in a huge ball of fire. “T!” Jumping to her feet, she started for the castle, but was held up. “Let go!” Swinging her arm, she caught Lemet in the face and knocked him to the ground.

Holding his nose, Lemet got back to his feet and shook his head. “She’ll be fine, Xena.” Wiping away some blood, he grabbed her arm when she turned back to the castle. “Xena. T will be fine, but we better move everyone back.”

“I’m not leaving her in there.” Xena shouted as visions of Dahok’s lair came rushing forward. “I’ve got to get her out.”

“Xena!” Latour shouted, as he jumped back on the platform. “T’s changed. She’ll be fine. We gotta get back.”

“What are you talking about?” Turning back again, Xena was gang tackled by the father and son. “Get off me, I’ve got to get her out.”

“Xena!” Latour shouted. “T is a god!”

That stopped the warrior’s struggles. “What?” Rolling over, she stared at Latour.

Shaking his head, Latour closed his eyes. “I don’t have time to explain, but you have to believe me, she’ll be all right.”

Every non Ungaran shook their head and stared.

Rolling his eyes, Lemet wiped his nose again and got to his knees. “We’ve got to move now.” Feeling a rumble, he laid over the warrior and his son as another side of the castle exploded outward. “Move!”

Stunned and shaken, Xena grabbed the bard.

“Xena we’ve got to take Ares!” Hanging on to the god’s body.

“Hercules, give me a hand.” Grabbing his arm, Xena pulled the big guy back. “Get his shoulder and I’ll get his feet.”

Nodding Herc moved the bard out of the way and grabbed Ares’s shoulders and lifted.

Grabbing his feet, Xena picked up her end and nodded in the direction of the stairs.

Nodding back, Herc walked backwards quickly.

Gabrielle followed them and ducked when a small explosion threw some rocks their way.

The Ungara sorted the believers from the non believers and moved both as far away from the castle as they could get and as everyone watched, the castle stared to slowly disintegrate in bursting balls of flame.

Out of harms way, Xena stood and watched the fire and memories flashed in her eyes. Wanting to go back in, she was held fast by the bard, who watched as well and felt her heart sink with every explosion. Unable to control their fears and their memories, the couple stood in silence as tears rolled down their faces. Finally, the last blast sent the remainder of the castle into the air, amongst a plume of smoke and fire. Sinking to the ground. Xena and Gabrielle watched the debris fall and kept their eyes on the place where the castle had stood.

As all eyes turned, they watched the sky turn black with smoke and saw the sun disappear from view. Carried by the wind, the smoke moved east, exposing the smoldering remains to the sun.

Still staring, Xena took the bard’s hand and then cocked her head. Knitting her brow, she squinted and blinked.

“Xena.” Gabrielle whispered, having seen this one before and smiled. Getting to her feet, she pulled the warrior up and started walking toward the figure coming through the smoke.

Following the bard, Xena couldn’t believe her eyes as the smoke cleared and she saw T walking out of the wreckage. “T!” Shouting, she started to run, but was behind the bard who’d gotten a head start.

Smiling big, T tossed Xena’s sword in the ground and was hit by a bardic ox cart that wrapped her arms around her neck. Taking Gabrielle in her strong arms, T spun around and laughed.

Xena slowed down and walked the last part, feeling her tears falling and watching the joy on Gabrielle’s face.

Grabbing the bard’s head, T kissed her forehead and smiled. “Hello, Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle wrapped her arms around T again and squeezed with all her might. “Gods I’ve missed you.”

Hugging the bard, T spotted the warrior and smiled. Letting go of Gabrielle, she sighed and walked to Xena. “Hi.”

Feeling everything get out of control, Xena wrapped her arms around T’s neck and buried her head in her shoulder.

Smiling, T wrapped her arms around the warrior and felt Xena’s body shake as she cried. “I’ve gotcha, Xena. I’ve gotcha.” Closing her eyes, T just stood still and held on to one of her best friends.

Once the reunion was over and most of the tears were wiped away, the trio walked back to an expectant little crowd of watchers.

Hercules couldn’t resist and hugged T, picking her up off the ground and spinning around. Then he stepped quickly back when he felt claws running across his biceps.

“Height is the only thing you’ve gotten me beat in, Hercules.” T smiled and pointed a clawed finger at him.

Bowing ceremoniously, he chuckled. “Always a pleasure to serve.”

Xena stepped past T and took Eve’s hand, pulling her forward. “Tiegra Empario de na Nihate, this is my daughter, Eve.” Turning her head to Eve, Xena smiled. “Eve, this is T.”

Eve ran her eyes up and down and opened them up quite wide. “You weren’t kidding when you said she was stacked.”

Xena smacked her daughter in the back of the head and smiled innocently.

“Ow.” Eve rubbed her head. “At least I didn’t tell her you rode her horse.”

Gabrielle was jonny on the spot and moved between T and Xena. “T is was my fault, I gave her a ride, that’s all. She never rode Artaq on her own and she only rode with me that one time.” Talking as fast as she could, the bard hoped she was fast enough.

T raised one eyebrow and blinked at Xena. “You rode my horse.”

“Yea, but he wasn’t flying at the time.” Smiling smugly, Xena kept the bard in front of her.

“Xena shut up.” Gabrielle growled over her shoulder and smiled. “It was an emergency, I promise.”

Narrowing her eyes, T smiled. “I hope you enjoyed your ride, Xena.”

“I know.” The warrior sighed. “Because it was my last.”

“Exactly.” Chuckling, T smiled at Eve. “I think I’m going to have a long chat with you later, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure, no problem. Ow.” Glaring at her mother, Eve rubbed the back of her head.

Latour stepped forward and lowered his eyes. “My King.”

“What?” The smile dropped from T’s face and she watched Latour turn and point behind him.

“By the gods, I forgot.” Gabrielle whispered and shook her head. Walking fast, she got to Ares before T did and sat down beside his body.

“Who did this?” T asked quietly as she knelt down beside Ares.

“Drennan.” Xena said and knelt down beside T.

“He wanted me to tell you he was sorry, T.” Smiling, the bard placed Ares’s head in her lap.

Placing her hand his cheek, T ran it slowly over the razor stubble and smiled. “You kept your promise, Ares.” She whispered and leaned over, kissing him lightly on the lips. “And now I’ll keep mine.” Moving her hand down his neck to his chest, T closed her eyes.

Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other, then back a T.

Focusing, T felt the power flow through her hand. Knitting her brow, she opened her eyes and removed her hand.

“What happened to his wound?” Eve asked over Xena’s shoulder.

Ares coughed and opened his eyes. Blinking, he saw T and smiled. “I love you.”

That got a few astonished looks from the tiny crowd and the bard and warrior smiled.

“That’s my problem.” T whispered and smiled. Leaning down again, she kissed him again and this time it wasn’t a friendly kiss.

“That’d wake me from the dead.” Hercules smiled and turned away. “Oh, look. Trees.” Grabbing Eve’s arm he walked discreetly away and started to whistle.

Chuckling, T broke the kiss and smiled down into Ares eyes.

“What did you promise him?” Xena asked, wondering how she’d brought him back to life and why.

“That she wouldn’t ever let anybody kill me, but her.” Ares said and smiled.

“Death must’ve warped your brain, T.” Smirking, Xena got up and put her hands on her hips. “You’ve just condemned the world to the likes of him.”

“I can live with that.” Smiling, T kissed him again.

“Okay, I’m ready.” Gabrielle said as she got comfortable on the couch and stared at Ares.

“The idea started in the tent, when you mentioned how T had used my blood to bring Xena back from the dead, but it didn’t all fit then.” Smiling, Ares closed his eyes. “It took Drennan saying that until as long as a drop of Dahok’s blood was in his body that he couldn’t die and then I remembered T’s promise to Xena, about not leaving as long as she had a drop of blood in her body.”

“And then you put two and two together and came up with the idea of putting Ungara’s blood in T.” Xena put in and wrapped her arm around the bard.

Latour nodded. “And since Ungara’s soul never let T’s body, it never decayed and I used T’s sword to make the cuts, but it wasn’t just the blood of Ungara that I used.” Latour added. “Since T didn’t have any blood in her, we had to get blood from Ungara and all his brothers to come up with enough to replace what T had lost.”

“Which in turn, brought the blood of Ungara and his brothers back in contact with his soul.” Lemet added and put his hands behind his back.

“Which, not only brought T back to life, it also gave her the power of an Ancient god.” Hercules threw in his two dinars and smiled.

“Which is what gave T the power to defeat Drennan.” Eve chimed in.

“And gave her the power to bring Ares back to life.” Gabrielle finished.

“I love a happy ending.” T said and grinned impishly.

Laughing, Xena rolled up the scroll and held onto it for a little while, looking around the room filled with it’s clone. Smiling, the warrior placed the scroll in the safe and closed the door. Spinning the dial, she sat back in the chair and closed her eyes. “I miss you, T.”


The End

Epilogue: Hercules walked slowy up the hill and glanced up, seeing T at the top. Smiling sadly, he completed his trek and came to stand beside the King. Taking a moment to enjoy the view, as the sun set over the distant horizon, he glanced a the woman beside him and sighed. “You have the power, T. You could’ve made them immortal.”

Smiling, T gave a short chuckle and shook her head. “And deny them all the adventures they’ll have in lifetimes to come?” Turning to look at the big guy, she smiled sadly. “No. It’s best if they fulfil their destiny and travel the circle, besides,” holding up her hand, T stared down at the two golden braclets in her palm, “I’ll keep an eye on them.” Closing her hand around the braclets, she sighed. “And maybe someday, they’ll come back to me.” Looking up at the beginnings of the night sky, she smiled at the twinlkes in the dark blue. “Someday.” She whispered and closed her eyes.

“And Ares?” Unable to let the matter pass silently away, Hercules rocked back on his heels.

Lowering her head, T gave him a sideways glance. “Let’s just say he and the world will enjoy his little nap.” Smiling, she turned from the sunset and went back down the hill to begin the immortal task of watching over the lifetimes of Xena and Gabrielle.

Thanks for reading.


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