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
The setting sun had never looked so glorious as it did the evening Xena rode slowly into the Amazon village with Varias 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 Varias life draining from her eyes was still fresh to Xenas mind.
One by one the sisters of Varias 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 didnt 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 Xenas oddly blank, tear-stained face and Varias dead stare. Her heart broke within her chest.
Xena? What happened? Who did this?
Xenas eyes slowly came to hers and Cyane thought she could literally feel the pain in the Warrior Princess heart. However it was Xenas answer that shocked and hurt every Amazon in the village the most.
Cyane motioned for the rams horn to be blown in order to bring order to the chaos that erupted upon Xenas 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 Varias 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 dont 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 youre upset but nows not the time to fall apart. Chiniah, obey my orders.
Yes your Majesty. Chiniah spat at Xenas 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 didnt resist as she was hauled roughly away. Gaia. Take Xenas horse to the stables. Feed and water her, ok?
Gaia was not only Cyanes blood cousin but she was also her most loyal sister. What are you going to do?
Im going to get some water to wash Varias blood from Xenas hands, then Im 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 whats guarantee do we have that Xena wont lie about what happened to save her own skin?
Cyane couldnt believe what she was hearing. This is Xena were talking about. Shed 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, Im only here because I want to be. If I wanted to escape-
You wouldnt need me to unlock your chains. I know. I just thought Id be courteous and ask.
I dont see why. I dont 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 Xenas 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 mothers burning Inn at the back of her throat.
Xena? Cyane urged, scrubbing Xenas hands arms and chest free of blood. Sweet Artemis, youre covered in blood. Its on your clothes, your boots are soaked in it up to your ankles like youve been wading in it. Its even matted your hair. What happened? This all cant be Varias blood.
Its not. Its 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 Amphitryons 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 mothers 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! Varias voice registered at the back of her mind but she couldnt find it within her to obey the Amazons 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! Theyre 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.
Ill kill you! Ill 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 shed 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 shed spoken in this very same room to the villagers of Amphipolis years ago when shed 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 couldnt have been a day over seven years old.
Varias blade blocked Xenas just as it was about to deliver the deathblow to the child.
Xena, you have to pull yourself together! I know youre hurt and angry but murdering these villagers isnt going to help ease your pain.
Xena didnt even recognize her own voice when she spoke to Varia. Get out of my way Varia. Ill kill you too.
Everybody run! Varia shouted to the villagers. She didnt need to tell them twice as she faced Xena down. A woman, who may have been the childs 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 Varias scantily clad body.
Im willing to bet you couldnt kill someone youve made love with.
Xena gave Varia the most wicked laugh the Amazon had ever heard before and she knew that shed misjudged this new Xena.
Ive 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 doesnt have to end like this Xena.
Youre 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 Varias blade with such force that it broke in half, then quickly followed through and ran her sword through Varias gut.
As Varias blood soaked her hand and her life began fading before Xenas eyes, an image of Gabrielle dying in the same way floated before her eyes. This site, along with Varias last words, calmed the rage within Xena just enough for realization of all the blood shed just shed to hit home.
As Varias life faded before Xenas eyes, the Amazon Queen brought her lips to Xenas. I just wanted to love you Xena.
Thats what happened.
Cyane sat motionless, speechless, before Xena. You murdered our Queen in a fit of rage.
I cant 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 Gabrielles love kept me going. When I lost her I lost myself. Varia tried her best to save me but she couldnt. I exploded with my rage and killed her. Now I must pay the price. Im asking for the Mirake.
Cyane hadnt 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 shed just admitted to murdering their Queen.
Ill inform the tribe of your decision.
If you dont mind, Id like to do that. I want to tell them what happened.
Alright. Its the least I could do for the woman who, up until now, has been our Nations most loyal friend.
Xena gently took Cyanes face in her hands and kissed the younger womans 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 Demeters most useful tool.
Hera lay a hand on Demeters 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 dont. This could mean everything. Not just for the mortals but for the gods as well. Theres 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 doesnt work youll 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 Poseidons. 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 Natures 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. Shed 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 hed 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, shed found, was a living creature. This was something no mortal realized, and a concept very few gods could grasp. Except for her. Shed made friends with the force that Nature truly was, and perhaps she could find a way to heal her.
She picked up on Natures presence now. She was indeed ailing. Gabrielles presence had upset the very fabric of the universe, and this was literally killing Nature. Only Demeters 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 Demeters 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.
Shes 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 dont 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 wasnt 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 dont 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: Xenas 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 worlds Xena and stood. The bed was too close to the fire and that, combined with Xenas body heat and the heavy blanket draped over both of them, had served to make her feel as if shed spent the night roasting in Hell itself.