Disclaimer:  This story has violence and depicts relationships of a romantic nature between people of the same sex.  If this offends you, please move on.  Also the only characters that are mine in this story are the ones that did not appear in the series.  All others are the property of Universal Studios.



Studies In Light

Chapter 5-Calming The Storm

Written By:  Caina Q.  Fuller

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The setting sun had never looked so glorious as it did the evening Xena rode slowly into the Amazon village with Varia’s cold, stiff body propped against her.  The young warriors blood had long since stopped draining out of the horrible wound in her stomach, but the site of Varia’s life draining from her eyes was still fresh to Xena’s mind. 


One by one the sisters of Varia’s tribe looked up to see who was entering their village, and one by one they realized it was Xena bringing home their obviously dead Queen.  Some of the warriors clasped their hands to their mouths to hold back their cries of anguish while others didn’t bother to hide their pain. 


Cyane emerged from her tent, wondering what the screaming was about.  She thought perhaps it was another raid from the constantly growing Roman colonies that surrounded Amazon land but found something much worse when she took in the site of Xena’s oddly blank, tear-stained face and Varia’s dead stare.  Her heart broke within her chest.


“Xena? What happened?  Who did this?”


Xena’s eyes slowly came to hers and Cyane thought she could literally feel the pain in the Warrior Princess’ heart.  However it was Xena’s answer that shocked and hurt every Amazon in the village the most.


“I did.”





Cyane motioned for the ram’s horn to be blown in order to bring order to the chaos that erupted upon Xena’s words.  Once the sisters of the village were calm enough to hear her voice she did her best to take charge.  She was next in line to be Queen as Varia had given her the right of caste to the crown should anything happen to her.  Now it had.

“Take Varia’s body to the preparation tent.  Chiniah, Arialah, gather some sisters and prepare a pyre for Varia.  We must have everything in order for burial tomorrow evening.”


Chiniah stepped forward, her eyes betraying the anger in her heart with vivid clarity.  “What about her? She murdered our Queen.  Your duty as the next Queen is to-“


“I don’t need you to tell me what my duties are Chiniah!”  Cyane stepped back to put some distance between her and the crowd of angry warriors.  “I am next in line for the crown so that puts me in charge!  All of you will obey me!  I know you’re upset but now’s not the time to fall apart.  Chiniah, obey my orders.”


“Yes your Majesty.”  Chiniah spat at Xena’s feet before she turned and stormed away, calling for her most trusted sisters to arrange the funeral.


Cyane turned to Xena, her disappointment painfully plain in her face.  “Somehow that came out sounding more like ‘Yes you stupid bitch’.  Take Xena to my hut.  Chain her there.”


Xena didn’t resist as she was hauled roughly away.  “Gaia. Take Xena’s horse to the stables. Feed and water her, ok?”


Gaia was not only Cyane’s blood cousin but she was also her most loyal sister.  “What are you going to do?”


“I’m going to get some water to wash Varia’s blood from Xena’s hands, then I’m going to carry out the law.”


“You know the law says Xena must die for her crime against the Amazon Nation.”


“The law says Xena must die if she murdered the Queen.  If she defeated Varia in a fair fight then I must set Xena free.”


“But what’s guarantee do we have that Xena won’t lie about what happened to save her own skin?”


Cyane couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  “This is Xena we’re talking about.  She’d rather die than lie about something like this.  Now do as I asked, please.”


Gaia led Argo away to be stabled for the night and Cyane set about her duty to find out just what happened to her Queen.




Cyane entered the hut with a large pail of hot water and scrubbing rags.  “Xena.  If I take your chains off will you promise not to try and escape?”


“At the risk of sounding vain Cyane, I’m only here because I want to be.  If I wanted to escape-“


“You wouldn’t need me to unlock your chains.  I know.  I just thought I’d be courteous and ask.”


“I don’t see why.  I don’t deserve it.”


It took her awhile to find the courage to ask but finally Cyane put forth the question that would either mean life or death for Xena.  “Did you murder our Queen, Xena?”


Fresh tears spilled from Xena’s eyes as memories of what happened came back to her.  She could still smell the blood of the innocent and taste the smoke from her mother’s burning Inn at the back of her throat. 


“Xena?” Cyane urged, scrubbing Xena’s hands arms and chest free of blood.  “Sweet Artemis, you’re covered in blood. Its on your clothes, your boots are soaked in it up to your ankles like you’ve been wading in it.  It’s even matted your hair.  What happened?  This all can’t be Varia’s blood.”


“Its not.  It’s the blood of my Kinsmen.”


“Tell me what went wrong.  I have to know. Your life and the life of my sisters depend on it.”


“How do the lives of your sisters depend on it?”


“If I have to sentence you to death and you chose to make a break for it they will fight you to the death to carry out your sentence.  You may die and take a lot of my sisters with you.  Now tell me:  How did Varia die?”


“I killed her.  It was yesterday evening…”




Xena watched Amphitryon’s head fall to the floor with a sickening thump.  The villagers only stared at her with helpless shock as his body hit the floor. Xena unhooked her Chakram from he hip and hurled it at the bastard that had set her mother’s tapestry on fire.  The flames were already spreading to the wooden beams that supported the roof and soon everything that could burn in the tavern would catch on fire and the place would be burned beyond recognition or repair in a matter of hours. 


The man responsible for the fire screamed in fear as the Chakram came flying at him, his reaction time too slow to be of any good to save him.  His scream was quickly cut short however, when the razor sharp edge of the blade sliced across his throat.


“Xena!”  Varia’s voice registered at the back of her mind but she couldn’t find it within her to obey the Amazon’s request that she stop her murderous fit of rage.


“Get them!” A villager yelled from the rear. A few of the men foolishly heeded his order and charged Xena and Varia.   Xena cut them down one by one, and then turned on the villagers that were crowding every possible exit of the Inn which was rapidly filling with smoke.


“Xena stop!  They’re villagers, they ‘re no match for us!”


Xena shoved Varia roughly aside and ran into the crowd.  She saw mentally that she was out of control but she just could not stop.  All she could see was her mother burning at the stake with the faces of many of the people in this room standing around to watch as Cyrene begged for mercy they had no intentions of giving.  It filled her with even more rage and she loosed it upon the villagers.


“I’ll kill you!  I’ll kill you all!” Xena screamed, swinging her sword aimlessly and cutting down every man and woman in sight.  The worst part of it all was that the dark creature that she’d once believed to be dead was fully resurrected and she loved the feel of their blood as it soaked her from head to toe.  Words she’d spoken in this very same room to the villagers of Amphipolis years ago when she’d first met Gabrielle came back to her now:  revenge is sweet.


Xena followed them outside, literally wading in their blood to chase them down and make them pay for their crimes against her and her family.  A child made the mistake of running before her and Xena moved to cut him down, not caring in the least he couldn’t have been a day over seven years old.


Varia’s blade blocked Xena’s just as it was about to deliver the deathblow to the child. 


“Xena, you have to pull yourself together!  I know you’re hurt and angry but murdering these villagers isn’t going to help ease your pain.”


Xena didn’t even recognize her own voice when she spoke to Varia.  “Get out of my way Varia. I’ll kill you too.”


“Everybody run!” Varia shouted to the villagers.  She didn’t need to tell them twice as she faced Xena down.  A woman, who may have been the child’s mother, scooped him up and ran for the nearest horse. 


“Xena, if you want someone to work out your anger and hatred on, let it be me.  I stand a better chance against you than they do.”


“Do you now? Are you willing to bet your life on that?” Her cold, evil grin sent chills over Varia’s scantily clad body.


“I’m willing to bet you couldn’t kill someone you’ve made love with.”


Xena gave Varia the most wicked laugh the Amazon had ever heard before and she knew that she’d misjudged this new Xena.


“I’ve done it before Varia, and they were better warriors than you.  This is your last chance to get out of the way of my revenge.”


“It doesn’t have to end like this Xena.”


“You’re right. Get out of the way and you can live through it.  Otherwise…”


This time, in this fight, Xena was pulling no punches.  She had Varia off balance in six moves and Xena gave in to the desire to spill blood once more.  She struck Varia’s blade with such force that it broke in half, then quickly followed through and ran her sword through Varia’s gut. 


As Varia’s blood soaked her hand and her life began fading before Xena’s eyes, an image of Gabrielle dying in the same way floated before her eyes.  This site, along with Varia’s last words, calmed the rage within Xena just enough for realization of all the blood she’d just shed to hit home.


As Varia’s life faded before Xena’s eyes, the Amazon Queen brought her lips to Xena’s.  “I just wanted to  love you Xena.”




“That’s what happened.”


Cyane sat motionless, speechless, before Xena.  “You…murdered our Queen in a fit of rage.”




“I can’t understand why…how you could do something like that.”


“You have no way of knowing the monster I used to be Cyane.   You have no way of knowing how Gabrielle’s love kept me going.  When I lost her I lost myself.  Varia tried her best to save me but she couldn’t.  I exploded with my rage and killed her.  Now I must pay the price.  I’m asking for the Mirake.”


Cyane hadn’t heard that word in years but she knew its meaning all too well.  “You know about the Mirake?”


“The second Queen named Cyane was murdered by a male warrior named Mirake.  As punishment the reigning Queen ordered him to burn at the stake alongside the Queens pyre.  The soul of anyone condemned to the Mirake must spend eternity wandering the earth, so close to humanity but never able to partake in it.  Not even as a ghost.  I am asking for that sentence now, to be carried out tomorrow evening.”


Cyane had no choice but to agree.  Xena had done so much for the Amazon nation, but now she was going to be executed by them.  She had to be, considering she’d just admitted to murdering their Queen.


“I’ll inform the tribe of your decision.”


“If you don’t mind, I’d like to do that.  I want to tell them what happened.”


“Alright.  It’s the least I could do for the woman who, up until now, has been our Nation’s most loyal friend.”


Xena gently took Cyane’s face in her hands and kissed the younger woman’s forehead.  “Believe it or not Cyane, I still am.”






Demeter arrived almost as soon as Zeus could mentally summon for her.  “Demeter.  I assume you know why I have called you here?”


Demeter bowed to the king of the gods then turned her attention to the others gathered in the room.  Hera took up her position beside her husband, followed by Hades and Poseidon.  They were the most powerful of the Olympians and together they may just be able to hold back the impending destruction.


“I know why you have called me here,” Demeter said. She walked with the others to a large mirror-like object that reflected their images.  This was more than a mirror however. In the hands of the gods it could be used as anything from a universal gateway to a rainmaker.  It was Demeter’s most useful tool.


Hera lay a hand on Demeter’s shoulder and gently pulled her around to speak face to face with her.


“Demeter, you know the risks if you do this.”


Demeter nodded.  “I also know the risks if I don’t.  This could mean everything.  Not just for the mortals but for the gods as well.  There’s no guarantee eve Zeus could survive the fall of our universe.”


Poseidon, who had earned a reputation for being Olympus’ rudest god, eased up to her. It was no secret that both he had a thing for Demeter, but she did not return his affections.  “If this doesn’t work you’ll become mortal forever. Unless of course you would consider my earlier proposal-“


Hades elbowed Poseidon in the side. “Now is not the time to think of your libido Poseidon.  She has a much more important mission at hand.  We all thank you for what you are about to do Demeter.  And if you do lose your god-hood I will give it back.”  Hades eyes met Poseidon’s.  “With no strings attached.”


Zeus quickly tired of the on-going argument between the two gods.  “Enough!  Demeter, are you ready?”


“I will do my best to calm Nature’s pain until Athena can find Gabrielle and return her to her home world.”


“Then let us open the gate,” Zeus said.  He joined hands with Hera, Poseidon and Hades and together the four were able to combine their powers to open the gate.  The mirror began to glow until it deepened into a swirling vortex in which Demeter prepared to enter.  She turned to her fellow gods.


“Zeus, inspire Athena to hasten her search for Gabrielle.  She needs to learn to clean up her messes.”


“Indeed she does,” Hera said pointedly at Zeus.  She’d long since argued with her husband about reining his favorite child in.  Perhaps now that she was on the verge of destroying all of creation he’d consider her advice to discipline her.


Demeter entered the vortex and immediately it closed shut behind her. 




Once inside the vortex Demeter was closer to nature than she was at any other time.  Nature, she’d found, was a living creature.  This was something no mortal realized, and a concept very few gods could grasp.  Except for her.  She’d made friends with the force that Nature truly was, and perhaps she could find a way to heal her.


She picked up on Nature’s presence now.  She was indeed ailing. Gabrielle’s presence had upset the very fabric of the universe, and this was literally killing Nature.  Only Demeter’s immortality and divine powers could act as a medicine that would temporarily relieve Natures pain, and thereby calm her before she inadvertently destroyed the very earth in which they lived in her death throes. 




Outside the vortex Demeter’s efforts to soothe Nature were working.  The churning sky and driving winds were dissipating and the quiet left in its wake gave no sign of the imminent danger looming over them.


“She’s doing it,” Poseidon said with pride.  Hera, however, had her eyes glued to Zeus.


“Get that daughter of yours under control Zeus.  Or I will.  We both know you don’t want me to handle her.”


Hera faded away before he could say anything in return.  She had a knack for getting in the last word, and unlike the other gods she wasn’t afraid of him.  Nor should she be considering she was almost as powerful as he.


“If Hera and I ever divorce-“ Zeus said, turning to his brothers, but they would hear none of it.


Hades and Poseidon held up their hands and backed away, speaking in unison.  For once they had something to agree on.  “We don’t want her either.”


With that, they faded away, leaving Zeus to ponder the question of just what he could do to bring his daughter under control.




It was early morning, before sunrise, when Gabrielle noticed two things.  One: Xena’s new chest armor was digging painfully into her stomach and two: the storm was over.  There was nothing but quiet as she lay there with Xena draped over her midsection. 


My Xena never did this, Gabrielle thought, as she was forced to face one more difference between the woman she loved and this stranger that wore her lovers face.  Her dreams at night were filled with her hopes of one day reuniting with her soul-mate.  She also wondered what Xena was doing without her.  Had she met someone new?  Gabrielle hated the thought of Xena holding another woman or man, but she hated the thought of her lover going through life alone even more. 


As gently as she could, Gabrielle eased from beneath this world’s Xena and stood.  The bed was too close to the fire and that, combined with Xena’s body heat and the heavy blanket draped over both of them, had served to make her feel as if she’d spent the night roasting in Hell itself.