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The Return of the Valkyrie

A Djwp Spoiler

One year later (and that would make any flashback, 36 years ago)

A patrol of soldiers are searching through the misty eastern bog of the Norse forest. Beowulf chases after them, following them as they arrive at a ring of fire. They pause to stare at the sleeping bardy resting inside, protected by the eternal flame. Their leader intends to pass through the flame to awake the Lady of the Ring. Beowulf makes his presence known, warning him that he cannot penetrate Gabrielle's fire - only her soulmate can do that. Our hero, Beowulf, holds up his own burnt hand to prove to the leader that he even himself had tried once and failed.

The leader of the patrol is not deterred by Beowulf's crispy digits, that is until he sees what else he has to get through to penetrate Gabrielle:

The monster, Grinnhilda.

Yes, the creature is still alive and has been waiting all this time, lurking about just outside the ring of fire.

The soldiers battle Grinnhilda. As heads and arms fly, the leader attempts to pass through the flame. Needles to say, he becomes a hunk, a hunk of burning love.

Beowulf leaves the scattered body parts and the ring of fire behind determined to enlist the aid of Hrothgar, the King of the Vikings. If anyone can rid the forest of its demons, the King of the Vikings can.

Before he departs, he turns back to the fire and makes a promise, "I will return, Gabrielle. I promise you."

There is no response from the sleeping bardy, who has been snoozing peacefully for so long, she is covered over with creeping vines.

Gabrielle lies in the arms of dreams, protected by the ring of Brunnhilda's eternal flame until the moment her true soulmate comes to release her from the spell.

In the land of the Vikings, there’s a party going on. Beowulf arrives, accompanied by his 'pty' Wiglaf, just in time to crash Hrothgar’s wedding. The King of the Viking has lost his heart to the woman Wealthea, and is about to tie the knot.

The hall is filled with with merriment and celebration. All heads turn as the bride arrives.

Hrothgar's bride-to-be, Wealthea, looks a heck of a lot like Xena.

Hava Nagila! It's Xena’s wedding day! Wait a minute -- that isn't warrior leather. And that isn't Argo, either. Wealthea smiles at the cheering crowd and enters the festive hall riding on a cow. My guess is they'll be serving steaks at the reception.

Beowulf tries to get Xena's attention, but she doesn’t seem to recognize him at all. She slips off the cow gracefully (if one can slip from a cow gracefully) and steps up to the alter to meet the bull.

Beowulf wants to interrupt, but Wiglaf, advises against it, saying that this is not the time. Beowulf tells Wiglaf that this is not Wealthea, but actually Xena, the mighty warrior princess who just rode in on a cow.

Wiglaf looks at Beowulf doubtfully.

Nearby, listening closely, a woman squints evilly and leans in closer to hear what the two strangers are saying.

On the altar, Hrothgar is grunting his vows and placing a gold ring upon Wealthea's finger. As the ring slips into place, Wealthea gets flashbacks of melted gold being forged into a ring. She is disturbed by the sudden vision, but brushes it off, blurting instead that the reason for the strange expression on her face is she that is overcome by joy. (Either that or her butt still hurts from riding that cow.)

Beowulf realizes that the curse of the Rheingold must be the cause of Xena's strange behavior.

Wealthea stumbles through her vows to Hrothgar, barely remembering them. She places a ring on Hrothgar’s finger and is bombarded by more visions – this time, of placing a different gold ring on her own finger and the monster, Grinnhilda

Something is definitely rotten in Denmark.

The vows have been spoken and the real party begins, for everyone that is, except the cow. (Poor Elsie.)

Back at the ring of fire, the Valkyries are cleaning up the various bodies and parts of the soldiers who have died trying to get to Gabrielle. The head Valkyrie, Waltraute, complains that it’s a waste of good man flesh to sacrifice themselves for a just an ordinary mortal woman.

Another Valkyrie reminds Waltraute that one of their own, Brunnhilda, turned herself into the ring of fire for Gabrielle and Xena seemed to love her a great deal – maybe this sleeping beauty isn’t so ordinary after all.

Waltraute is so appalled at the notion, she drops one of the soldiers they have been cleaning up right on his head. She warns her assistant to never speak the name of that conniving bitch, Xena, again.

Back at the wedding party, Hrothgar’s sister approaches to warn him that he has made a terrible mistake. The woman he has just married will never care for the people of his land as much as she does.

Hrothgar gets mad at her and warns if she keeps talking like that she going to get herself banished.

Hrothgar finds Wealthea wandering dejectedly through the crowd and tells her she looks like she's at a funeral rather than her own wedding. (Oh, I thought this WAS a funeral).

Wealthea tells Hrothgar that at the ceremony she had a strange sensation. Hrothgar says so did he, and he gets the same sensation whenever he sees her. In his opinion, there is only one cure for that particular sensation, but Wealthea quickly develops a headache. She advises him that tradition dictates they cannot be together until the moon is high or it will jinx the marriage. Hrothgar, however, has that strange sensation really, really bad and wants 'zug, zug' now.

Wealthea does her best to cool him off, but Hrothgar won't be denied and pushes her into a back room. (I guess he figures he's already bought the cow, now its time to drink the milk.) He warns her that she is now a Viking Queen and her priorities are whatever her master decides. Hrothgar roughly begins to have his way with his new bride …

That is, until our hero, Beowulf interrupts them. (Whew!)

Hrothgar recognizes his old friend and introduces his wife, Wealthea. Beowulf looks closely at Wealthea and asks pointedly that perhaps they have met before. Wealthea tells him that she thinks not and walks off. Hrothgar runs off after his bride -- he's still sporting an itch that needs to be scratched.

Hrothgar’s sister sees the entire thing and approaches Beowulf, suggesting that he looks like a man with a story to tell. Perhaps, if he tells his story to the right people, he will get the happy ending that he seeks.

After thinking about it for a moment, Beowulf leans in and begins to whisper his tale.

Later on that evening, Wealthea brushes her hair getting ready for the wedding night, but doesn't look vas very happy at the prospect of it. Her face is despondent as she pulls the brush angrily through the tangles of her raven locks.

There is a knock and with a defeated expression, Wealthea beckons her lord to enter. She rises and turns to face the masked man who is now her master. Seeing the mask, asks him if he wishes to play a game, and when the mask is removed, it reveals Beowulf.

Wealthea is afraid of the stranger who has entered her bedchamber and picks up a comb to protect herself, but Beowulf has only come to warn her that her life is in danger. If Odin learns she is alive, he will kill her and then Gabrielle will never be saved.

Wealthea doesn’t seem to understand or even recognize Gabrielle’s name, but somehow she remembers how to grab Beowulf’s arm and toss him onto his butt. Wealthea seems as surprised as Beowulf by her own actions.

A raven flies onto the window sill, and Beowulf warns Wealthea that the black bird belongs to Odin. Its arrival portents only one thing: the God already knows she is here.

At that moment, the doors burst open and Hrothgar’s sister leads Hrothgar and his guards into the bedchamber to find Beowulf flat on his back and Wealthea standing over him.

It’s obvious to everyone that someone has been enjoying the wedding night, but it isn’t Hrothgar.

“You see, brother," Hrothgar's sister declares, "she cannot give you her heart because she’s too busy giving it to your old friend.”

Xena tries to say that Beowulf is a madman who is mistaking her for someone else, but they aren’t buying it. Beowulf and Wealthea are seized and Hrothgar orders them both to be killed.

"I would have loved you until the end of my lifetime," Hrothgar says to Wealthea with a sneer, "but now it seems it will only be until the end of yours.”

Stricken, Wealthea turns to her sister-in-law for help.

“As if I would ever have allowed my brother to share out city with some foreign witch. Take them to the dungeon.”

As the guards take them away, Wealthea begs Beowulf to admit the truth. Beowulf refuses, telling Xena he needs her to help save Gabrielle. In the blink of an eye, Beowulf gives the guards the slip and manages to knock all of them to the ground.

As Beowulf pauses to take a breath, one of the guards rises to attacks and suddenly Wealthea is sweep-kicking the attacking guard's feet right out of from under him, thus saving Beowulf.

Xena sits on the floor, looking at the fallen guards, amazed by her own actions. "You see, I did need you," Beowulf says and reaches out his hand to help her to her feet.

Suddenly, it is Gabrielle reaching out her hand. “I’m lost without you, Xena," Xena's beautiful partner speaks.

Xena reaches out and takes the hand, Beowulf’s hand, and together they go on their mission to save Gabrielle.

They cross a sea on a Viking ship. Xena enters below deck dressed in white furs and the men pause in their rowing, staring. When Xena comments it looks like the men have seen a ghost, Wiglaf tells her its not a ghost they see, but a legend. All the men have longed to see Xena, the legendary warrior princes, in action.

Beowulf enters and orders Wiglaf to leave Xena alone.

Xena departs and walks to the bow of the ship to stare out over the ocean. Beowulf approaches, concerned and asks Xena if she is feeling seasick. Xena answers that she is not feeling sick, but is uneasy. After all, she has gotten married and then been kicked out of bed all in one day. Beowulf tells her that Hrothgar was not the King he remembered, but just a man who rescued a beautiful woman from the sea who had lost her memory and then told her some lame story about being shipwrecked.

Xena tells Beowulf that she thought Hrothgar loved her. She mourns the lost of the opportunity for all the good she could have done for the Viking people. Beowulf advises Xena she could do more good with a sword than 100 Vikings could ever do. He adds that the Xena he knew would never forget what happened in the bog, nor the face of the Gabrielle. But Xena remembers none of these things.

Without warning, Beowulf draws his sword and slashes at Xena -- the ex-warrior princess blocks it easily.

“You may not remember, but they are inside of you,” Beowulf advises.

Xena looks into the shiny blade at her own reflection, but who is the woman who is staring back?

Up on Valhalla, Waltraute and her lieutenant practice with their swords.

Odin enters and distrupts them, but not before Waltraute gets a chance to show off to her lord. Odin informs Waltraute that he has learned Xena is still alive and is at this moment crossing the great sea and heading for the ring of fire.

As the waves roll in, Xena stares out to the endless sea. Visions of Rhine Maidens, Grinnhilda and Gabrielle dance in her head.

Beowulf’s soldiers are unpacking the boat and setting up camp. Wiglaf offers Xena some water. Another soldier runs up to grab the ladle away – he is the one who wants to offer Xena water. Before long, they are figinting over who is going to get the pleasure of giving Xena water. Xena tries to get them to stop, but they don’t listen. They fight like two children until Xena finally gets them to stop, yelling at them that it is useless to fight.

Wiglaf explains that this is what Vikings do - fight. Fighting gives their life meaning.

"Can't you see how stupid that is?" Xena exclaims in response to the eplanation.

Beowulf steps in and tells her that it didn’t sound stupid when it came from her. He informs her that it was she who taught Odin to embrace violence and blood lust.

Xena is appalled and insists that now she is certain she is not Xena.

Off in the distance, the Valkyries are riding on the wind and closing in fast.

Beowulf sees them flying in to attack and turns to Xena, "They know who you are and they want you dead."

The galloping horses fly from the clouds to land in the sand.

As the Valkyries ride for them, hell-bent to attack, Xena orders Beowulf to tell his men to put down their weapons. This conflict will not be resolved by violent means. She warns Beowulf that if he wants her help to save his friend, Grabrielle, then he better do as she says.

Gabrielle has always been first and foremost in Beowulf's mind, so he orders his men to put their weapons down, and so they do.

"There’ll be no bloodshed here today!" Diana exclaims. (Wait a minute. I mean, Wealthea. No, I mean, Xena. Heck, who IS that woman in the white wedding dress?)

Whoever she is, she tells Waltraute, the Valkyrie, that she will not fight her. Waltraute doesn't believe it for a moment and attacks her anyway. Somehow, Xena manages to avoid most of the blows, ducking and lithely slipping away from all the strikes, just like … well, just like a well-trained warrior princess.

Odin, riding a white steed, flies out from the sky , and disrupts the fight. As he lands in the sand, the soldiers drop to their knees to honor their great God.

He approaches Xena and she tells him he can kill her if he wants but she is not the warrior princess that he seeks.

Waltraute quickly begs for Odin to do it. The God silences her.

Odin asks, "If you are not Xena, then who are you?"

She doesn’t know.

"Do you know who I am?" he asks her.

"She says your name is Odin, but I don’t know you from your horse."

Odin is satisfied. He orders the Valkyries to leave the noble warriors to their mission.

With a sinister smile to Xena, the god departs.

Xena is very pleased with herself. She beams at Beowulf, pleased that she solved the confrontation without violence.

"Only because he values you more alive than dead," Beowulf comments, "He’ll be back soon enough."

Back on Valhalla, Waltraute is very upset with Odin for not killing Xena. She asks Odin if he forgot that Xena has the power to kill gods.

Odin hasn’t forgotten but it appears that Xena has, and Odin is betting that Xena has forgotten all her motivations as well. Once she has retrieved the ring from the flames, it will be very easy to get it from her in this weaken state.

Waltraute has her doubts and suddenly realizes that Odin plans to keep the ring for himself. She warns Odin strongly that only those who have forsaken love can safely use its power.

And Odin loves her, doesn't he?

Odin laughs at her. Sorry, babe, looks like you've been had (in more ways than one).

Waltraute angrily tells Grinnhilda will never let Xena get to the ring. Odin, however, has already thought of that. Grinnhilda won't get to Xena because the Valkyries won't let her. He orders her to take the Valkyries and let nothing get in the way of Xena getting the ring.

After Odin delivers his orders, he chuckles, leaving a fuming Waltraute behind.

"On my life, Xena will die before she gets close enough to those flames to singe an eyebrow," she vows behind clenched teeth.

At the Viking camp, Xena sits alone in a tent and takes off her wedding ring, letting it drop it to the floor. She has no use for it anymore.

A soft wind blows. Gabrielle arrives at Xena’s side.

“Are you a demon?" Xena asks, fearfully, "or my own mind made mad?”

“I am the truth of who you are. Our souls are united, Xena.” Gabrielle whispers as she touches Xena's cheek.

Xena jumps away, frightened by the touch.

Beowulf comes in and finds Xena very upset.

He asks her if she is all right and Xena answers yes. After a moment of thought, Xena turns to Beowulf. “This Gabrielle truly loved Xena,” she comments.

“And will until the end of time,” Beowulf adds. “Gabrielle saved you from what you were, as you must now save her.”

Xena looks at her friend. “I’ve heard the men talking. They say that Xena created this monster that awaits us.”

“Grinnhilda," Beowulf confirms and reaches into his cloak, "I’ve waiting along time to return this to you."

(Is that a chakram in his pocket, or is he just happy to see her?) He takes out the chakram and holds it up.

“What is it for?” Xena asks, looking at the weapon without recognition.

Beowulf smiles. “You’ll know, when the time comes, you’ll know.”

In the misty, dark swamp, they arrive at the ring of eternal fire wherein Gabrielle sleeps.

Xena steps up for a closer look. Her visage is brightened by the orange flame and she peers in, able to see the woman, beautiful in slumber, just out of reach.

She turns to Beowulf, suddenly worried that she is not the one. But Beowulf assures her that indeed she is and even Grunnhilda will recognize her as Gabrielle’s soul mate.

Xena steps to the flames. They rise up at her approach and her gaze follows them skyward to where they lick against sky – the full moon is high. She looks in at the beautiful woman on the rock, embraced in her slumber by a myriad of vines. She lies, dressed in a gown of white, her golden hair adorned with a wreath of gold. Her dress mirrors Xena's own wedding gown.

"The love in your heart burns stronger than any flame," the flames have coalesced into a face and it whispers to her, "You belong together, Xena."

Xena reaches to touch the fire. Flames nip at her fingertips, but do not burn.

The moment is ruined when Waltraute rushes in to attack Xena. Xena fights her off, letting her body do the remembering. It isn't long before the other Valkyries arrive to join in the fray. Beowulf and Wiglaf draw their swords and take them on. The Battle for the Sleeping Bard has begun.

Waltraute swings and Xena avoids the blow. Xena flips overhead and grabs an arm to swing Waltraute away, but the Valkyrie gets a slice in on Xena's arm.

"Makes me sick to see you grown so soft," Waltraute taunts.

"Softness and weakness are two different things," Xena counters.

Desperate to resolve the conflict without violence, Xena tries to convince Waltaute that she doesn't want to fight, she is only here for Gabrielle.

“You sound like one of those love sick boys who burned themselves to a crisp.” Waltraute knocks Xena to the ground. Wiglaf sees her predicament and throws his own sword to the warrior princess. Xena catches it and parries the blow.

Now disarmed, a Valkyries throws a knife and Wiglaf is hit in the chest. Xena is enraged by this and slashes at Waltraute's head. Their swords clash, but Waltraute is the stronger and able to get the upperhand. With Xena on the ground and Waltraute towering over her, their swords locked in struggle, they pause.

“I’ve waited a long time for this," Waltraute gloats, more than ready to make the fatal blow.

“Wait longer,” Xena says and kicks her into the flames.

In a blazing instant, Waltraute's clothes burn right off her skin, and then her skin burns right off of her bones, and then her bones burn right off her innards, and then her innards burn and then the flames burp and lick their lips.

Beowulf finally dispatches his opponent and shouts at Xena to go through the wall of fire.

Suddenly a branch shoots through Beowulf’s shoulder and lifts him up.

Guess who's else is coming to dinner?

Grinnhilda lifts Beowulf up. Even bleeding and in pain, he urges Xena through the flames.

Xena drops her sword and dives through the fire. As she passes through the wall of flame, more memories fill her mind. Memories of Gabrielle and Xena together.

Landing on her feet, Xena approaches the sleeping bard. Finally figuring out what the weapon is really for, she carefully uses the chakram's sharp edge to cut away the roots and vines that have grown over and around Gabrielle.

She drops down to one knee, looking closely at the peaceful face of the sleeping woman. The golden beauty draws her forward and she leans in to place a gentle kiss upon soft lips.

Memories of Xena and Gabrielle together fill the emptiness in her heart and mind.

When she pulls away from the gentle kiss, her memories are whole and she is once again dressed in warrior leathers.

Gabrielle opens her eyes. Seeing her partner smiling over her, she rises and smiles. “Xena” she says simply.

“Gabrielle," Xena answers, beaming.

“I dreamed you’d come back to me," her partner tells her.

“It’s like I was in a dream, too. I forgot everything. Even though I didn’t remember you, I felt your presence. I knew I would never be complete unless those shadows were brought into the light."

The tender reunion is disrupted by the sound of Grinnhilda attacking Beowulf outside of the ring of flame.

The voice from the flames, Brunnhilda, reminds Xena of the ring.

Gabrielle realizes that in her hand, she still holds the ring and gives it to Xena, quickly warning her partner not to put it on again. (Please, I don't want to go through another year … or another wedding - that is, unless it's their's.)

With the ring in Xena’s hand, turns to confront the monster.

"I forged this ring, now I have to use it to undo the evil it has caused!" Xena shouts. Her incantation causes the flame to soak up into the ring, and Grinnhilda is free to get to them.

Xena flips into the air to stop her.

Grinnhilda catches her and tosses her to the ground. Xena crashes to the earth and then rises up to run away. Grinnhilda stomps after her. Xena leads the monster away from Gabrielle and Beowulf, and into a cave.

Safely away from the others, Xena attempts to remind Grinnhilda that she wasn't always a monster. Xena pleads with the creature to remember that she wasn't always this earthy. Xena tells Grinnhilda that since she put the evil into the ring, she can undo it, but only if Grinnhilda will look inside her heart, find the woman she once was and forgive Xena. With a voice full of emotion, Xena begs for Grinnhilda's forgiveness.

The ring’s power is building, building ,and a powerful explosion rocks the earth, erupting all around Gabrielle and Beowulf. They are all thrown to the ground by the sheer force of it.

After it is all over and there is nothing left but silence, Xena emerges from the cave with the ring still in her hand.

Wiglaf rises up -- the wound in his chest is gone.

Out of the darkness and smoke of the cave steps Grinnhilda, no longer a monster.

Xena smiles at her warrior friend. "Beowulf, I’ll always be indebted to you for bringing me back here."

"I needed the best," Beowulf responds, "The legends didn’t lie, Xena, you are the greatest warrior I have ever know."

"Thank you, friend."

At the edge of the trees, two horses await.

“Let’s take you home,” Xena says to Grinnhilda.

Gabrielle hugs Beowulf, thanking him.

"I’ll miss you," the big, burly yet gentle man says.

"You have a good heart, Beowulf, if it wasn’t for you, I’d still be in Brunnhilda’s flame."

"I think we both know Xena would have found you eventually."

Beowulf gallantly kisses her hand and then Gabrielle leaves yet another admirer behind to join Xena. But not before she turns back to the rock where once she slept.

"Thank you, Brunnhilda," Gabrielle says to the mist.

"Godspeed, Gabarielle," the mist replies.

Gabrielle climbs on the back of Xena’s horse and, with a nice pat from Xena on the butt welcome home, they take off for the castle of the Norse god, Odin.

After they are gone, Wiglaf steps up to say something smart to Beowulf.

"Not a word, Wiglaf, not a word," the strong Beowulf warns the young boy.

Flying through a blood red sky, Xena looks back to make sure Gabrielle is holding on all right, and the bard has to grab on real tight as they plunge down from the heavens to the castle of Odin.

Xena arrives at Valhalla and Odin is very surprised to see her dressed once again in the regalia of the warrior princess.

"Seems as though you found yourself again," Odin says to Xena, "perhaps you’ve decided to return the ring?"

Close but no cigar, Odin. "I have brought something back that belongs here, yes." In walks Grinnhilda.

Xena tells Odin that Grinnhilda was the best thing to happen to Valhalla before she came and destroyed everything with her bloodlust.

"What do you what, Xena?" Odin demands to know.

Grinnhilda steps up, telling Odin she wants to be restored as the head of the Valkyries.

"I’ll think about it," he says, looking at Xena skeptically.

"Don’t think about it too long," Xena warns sternly, looking a little more like evil-Xena of old. I guess you can't keep a good warlord down.

"Welcome back, Grinnhilda," Odin says, properly convinced.

Xena leaves Odin and Grinnhilda to rediscover their love and returns to Gabrielle who is waiting, watching nearby.

"35 years ago – the shame of it makes it feel like yesterday."

The bard smiles up at her partner, proud of what she has done. "Memories are powerful Xena – I’m so thankful that yours brought you back to me."

"There’s one that’s still troubling me."

As Xena and Gabrielle depart, Odin and Grinnhilda embrace in a heartfelt hug of welcome.

Xena dives into the blue and still beautiful waters of the Rhein.

The Rheinmaidens are frightened when they see her.

"Stay back, Xena! You took all that we had years ago!" the innocent maiden exclaims.

Xena swims closer, "I know, I came to apologize and bring you this."

She holds up her wet hand to show them -- the Rheingold.

She swims up and hands the innocent Rheinmaiden the gold. "It belongs to you."

The Rheinmaiden is amazed. "What magic has made Xena into such a noble creature that she would give up the power of the Rhein gold?" she asks in wonder.

Xena looks back at her partner, who is waiting just at the shore and smiles. “It wasn’t magic,” she answers.

(Dj dives into the green, but beautiful waters of her bathtub.

"What magic has given her a break from spoilers?" the drain bubbles in question.

Dj looks at the Whoosh schedule and smiles. "Reruns.")


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