Cover by Calli
Disclaimer minor rant:
The idea of my hero being hung like a trophy is still a haunting thought, so I had to try to fix this to find some sort of healing. I'll no longer support Mr. Robert Tapert in any new venture he might create. I wish Renee and Lucy all the best. My ending Ep will be When Fates Collide, its a good memory. Thanks for the six great years and battle on. Thanks to Kamouraskan for the beta.
True Disclaimer: I don't own them, not sure who does anymore. This is my way of healing from the tragic FIN 1&2. It's a Alt. story. Long live all out bards in the Nutballverse. Story from Gabrielle. What can I say, love the bard. Not sure about the name of the person who wrote the poem, but here's the link. http://www.angelfire.com/tx2/inspiration/Soulmates.html
Into a garden let us stroll
out of the mundane world,
Into a place of celestial beauty
where everything is perfect;
'nor a care exists.
Into the ocean let us swim
and float in a sea of love.
Rainbows surround us
and doves fly above us.
Let us take each other's hand
and walk together silently
in perfect harmony.
You and I as Gods had planned
became soulmates long ago.
Now we have found the love
we'd searched for ever so long.
Let us sing, rejoice and play
And be happy that we have today.
As our hearts beat to the same drum
Let no one come between us.
Dance with me, my Lover.
I am your Beloved.
Into the spacious realm of dreams come true
Let us fly; higher than the sky
together forever, in peace, love and harmony
You and I.
~Even In Death Gabrielle; I'll Never Leave you~ X....
Hello, my name is... Hmm, I'm sort of known by many names. Lets see I'm Gabrielle the Battling Bard of Poteidaia, Amazon Queen, Warrior/Bard, friend, and wife to the fallen Warrior Princess. The last one took me some time to get use to, its been three years since I lost my wife. Its been three years since I've been able to put quill to scroll to write of this event. My heart aches like this all happened yesterday. But that all is just a memory now and my life is full of happiness once more. It's now time for me to tell the tale I will call. "A Friend In Need."
Getting on that boat alone and sailing towards the land of the Pharaohs was the second hardest thing I've ever had to do in my lifetime. The first being letting Xena go. It took me some time to come to grips with that. I knew deep in my heart that she wasn't sentenced to death to avenge those souls she never meant to kill. I knew deep inside it was pride and overwhelming sense guilt that took my love away.
My idea of guilt is different from my warriors. I see guilt in one who has committed an offense consciously. Xena didnt, not in this case. She had just learned that her supposed dark heart" had some light and that she could love, but still be hurt. She loved Akemi and she was grieving for the loss of her friend. She was drunk, and was trying to 'by her warriors oath', keep her friends dying promise. She was attacked and defended herself and this tragic accident happened and we both lost in the process.
My time in Egypt felt like it was all a dream and I just sat back and watched it happen. I tried so hard to put on this front that everything was all right. I'm the warrior now, trained by the best. I'll fight for the greater good and right the wrongs on the earth. But it was all a lie. Battle after battle and I was just sick to death of it all. The breaking point for me was walking into a small village that was sacked. There, staring me right in the face was a woman's body hanging headless from a tree. The flashback was so powerful, it knocked the wind out of my lungs and forced me to my knees. I kept saying to myself over and over, you have to be brave for Xena's sake.
It was only three months before I made my way back home to Greece, a place I thought I'd never return to, with my urn, Chakram and our belongings. Before I left from Japa, Xena had me unbury her leathers and such, so I could take them with me. The aroma of those leathers made me miss her more. I would sniff them once and a while just to keep that memory with me. When we hit land, I stopped at some little no named town, rented a room with plenty of port, and just tried to forget everything I could. I wasn't ready to face anyone. What was I going to say to Eve?
Xena's ghost would visit me from time to time and each visit was like watching her die all over again. Seeing the visions of me collecting her head, cutting her body down, burning the love of my life. It was a reminder that I'll never be able to hold my soulmate again. Better then nothing I told myself, soon even that left me feeling empty. One night of drinking cost me those visits and I wished to whoever above I could have them back. I closed my eyes and let the tears slip at that memory.
***"I know youre there Xena, what do you want, huh?" I was drunk, tired, lonely, and angry.
"Gabrielle, please stop drinking, it helps nothing." I could see the pain in her eyes, but at that time I was to numb to care.
"It takes away some of my pain if only for a moment, Warrior." My emotions were slipping further into bitterness. "Can't you at least give me that, oh noble warrior?" She could see the anger brewing in my eyes.
"You chose to leave me over your guilt, Xena. Now I'm alone with your ghost and that just doesn't keep me warm at night." I started to sob out of anger. She just stood there in shock. I took another healthy swig of port.
"I'm sorry Gab..." I stopped her right there.
"Don't you dare say youre sorry, its a little too late Xena. You're dead." She hung her head.
"You left me and now I'm ... what now?" I looked myself up and down
"Am I now Xena the second?" I chuckled and grabbed my mug to drink some more of my pain away.
"There was no other way, Gabrielle." It was barely a whisper. I just had to snicker at that.
"You know what I wish Xena, knowing what I know now?" I knew each word from my mouth was cutting her, but I wanted her to hurt like I did. "You remember Korah, Xena?" We looked at one another and I saw her nod. Both of us remembered that conversation.
*****"How'd it go?" I didn't like the look on her face. I knew Korah's father would hate me as much as I hated myself.
"Not good." She was pacing like a trapped animal.
I sighed, "I should have gone with you. I'll talk to him, Xena." I needed to get some of this guilt off my shoulders.
"No-- it's more complicated than you think," she said harshly.
"Xena, it's not complicated. It is simple-- I killed Korah." Gods that hurt so much. What was I becoming?
"Out here, the penalty for that is death." Her Warrior's mask was fading and was replaced with fear.
"I accept that." I just wanted this guilt to end.
"Well, I don't." Defiant as ever.
"Xena." I whispered.
"What purpose would it serve? It can't bring Korah back now, can it?" I couldn't believe she was forgetting her own code of the greater good.
"Xena, that man out there deserves to know the truth." I ouldn't lie about this no matter how much she wanted me to. I killed that mans son.
"He thinks he does. He thinks the Romans did it." By the Gods, did she hear what she was saying?
"Did you tell them that?" I prayed she didn't do that.
"It was an accident. Let him believe the Romans did it. They have to fight them anyway." She was justifying my actions, I couldn't believe it.
"I can't lie about this." I'm more stubborn than her at times.
"You _don't_ have to lie." She's trying to ignore me now.
"Xena!" I said more sternly.
"Please-- please-- don't say anything." She's begging me to lie.*****
"I killed him and he was innocent, it was my fault and I was content with the justice I was given." My guilt with that will be with me until my last breath. "But you said it was an accident and even though I would have to live with it, it didn't mean death for me." Xena still wasn't looking at me.
"You went against the greater good to save me, and I let you die..." I had to swallow the lump in my throat before I began again. "I let you die because your guilt for your accident was too strong even for me to bring you back." Her head shot up when I finished that sentence. "My wish was that you would just let me die in that desert." Her eyes welled up with tears and her breathing was hard.
"You gave up, Xena, and I let you do it." She ran to hold me and I stopped her.
"I know Xena, Akemi came to me briefly to tell me all was redeemed, including you. Such good news." She tried to put up that warriors mask, but it was not impressive.
"Then you come to me saying you had to stay dead to let the souls be avenged." I turned from her and go back to my drink. "Sort of like do as I say not as I do, right?" I raised my mug to cheer her. "I had to accept your death, when you couldn't accept mine." I spat and chugged the rest of the mug, walking to the barrel for another fill.
"I'm now Gabrielle! Battling Bard of Poteidaiawith her trusty sidekick, Xena the Warrior Urn ... ummm ... no, wait, Ghost." I wish I could have taken that back, but it was too late. Then I really lost it, because the look in her eyes made the hurt worse.
"You can touch me, but I can't touch you."
Xena the renown Warrior Princess was sobbing harder then I was. "I miss you." I barely got out. "At night I can't feel your body heat, smell you, hear your heartbeat and its killing me, Xena." She moved to hold me again and I let her. I felt her hands on me while mine went right through her and I cried harder.
"I can't do this anymore Xena, I just can't." I sobbed. "I'm not you nor will I ever be." My sobbing was making it harder to talk. "I can't see you for a while, Xena. It hurts too bad having you pop in and out, like youre dying over and over just to torture me." I would have cried more, but there was no moisture left in my body to give. She pulled away and lifted my chin. My heart broke once more.
"I'm so sorry." She said, weeping, and I could not hold her to comfort her. "I love yo... I'm sorry." She turned quickly and vanished and I turned to drink my sorrows away, praying for my death to end this torture. ***
I didn't know I was crying all over again until I heard a tear spill on the scroll. When I woke up the next day from my drunken stupor, I realized my mistake and I panicked. I called for two solid candlemarks, but she never came to me. I lost my wife for good and it was a knife to my heart. I slid down the wall to the floor in total hopeless despair, rocking myself and letting new tears fall.
Then I felt this strange sensation I hadnt felt since Xena and I were in India. This feeling of warm peace and swirling lights.
**"Naiyima??" I whispered in disbelief.
Then I heard through the swirl of lights. "You and Xena both walk a path together ... think of yourselves as lines in the mendi ... separate ... but forever connected. Mendi contains truth. " She looked the exact same way as when Xena and I seen her before; beautiful.
"Is this your way of telling me my wife was reborn into another Karmic life?" I started to shake. I'll not see her again until my next life? Will I know her? Will she love me? Will we be 'she's? My mind was overloading with thoughts. "Because if it is, Naiyima, I can't handle that right now, please." She removes the veil from her head to her neck and walked towards me.
"No, friend." She cupped my face and forced me to look into her eyes. "I've come to tell you that this is a time for rejoicing, not sorrow." She smiled and I had no clue what she was saying. Rejoice that my wife is gone?
"Xena's gone and you want me to celebrate?" I was getting upset. "How could you say such a thing?" For the hundredth time today I was reduced to tears.
"Has time made your mind narrow, or is it your grief?" She walked away and moved her hands around saying, "Xena of the sea, of the sea." It looked like she was picking something out of thin air. She raised her hands above her head and a great glowing ball floated in the middle. Oh I remember this... before I could protest she hit me square in the chest and I felt this great pulling of my body. I was tossed from stem to stern until it all just stopped. I heard faintly, "Mendi is the way of truth, use it to right a great wrong." What in Tartarus was she talking about?
I was in a field of some sort. My heart was pounding and I started to run, I had to run. I have no explanation why, just a need. Then I hit a town and just froze in my tracks.
It was Higuchi.
It was so cold. I stopped and did what Xena taught me to do. I listened. In the distance, one of the things I could make out were angry voices, many of them. Then I heard her, and I choke back a sob, I ran like Hades himself came after me.
The huts and houses were just flying pass me when I got to the square of the town and there were a bunch of villagers beating a woman. "Xena??" I felt my legs go weak. No time for that, I knew what would happen next. By the time I got there she was on the ground looking at the broken urn in despair.
"No! Akemi!" I heard her plea. She was in pain. She stood up and took a drink of some strong wine, then turned holding the torch ready to strike. Even with her hair cut short with all the stuff on her face. I could see the coldness of her stare. The one that made everyone there cower in fear. She pulled her head back ready to spit into the fire.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" I grabbed my chakram off my hip and threw it, knocking the torch from her hand. In a dead run, I caught it and ran up to her. She dropped the flask of wine and swung her fist connecting with my jaw. I saw stars and almost went black. I ducked the second punch and tried to reason with her.
"Xena please, I'm not here to fight." Her look became more violent.
"How do you know of my name?" she spat, trying to kick my ribs through my body. It took everything I had to try to hold her off. "When I'm done with you, blondie, I'll take that round thing of yours." There was no way I could win. This was Xena at the darkest time in life. I had to think fast or I was going to die.
"Is this what Lyceus would have wanted, or your mother?" That made her hesitate. "I'm a friend and I love you, I want to help, please?" I dropped the chakram from my hip and stood there for her to do whatever she chose to do.
"Youre a crazy little thing, but I bet I could get a good price for you at market." She gave me a sickening sneer and bent to take the chakram. She looked it over then glanced at the fearful villagers. "Boo!" She said to one, scaring him senseless. I turned to them.
"If you want to live another night, you better just go home and get out of the cold, your choice." I'm not sure if it was my voice or the fear that Xena would chop most of them to bits with her new weapon. I grabbed a pot that was outside one of the huts and bent to scoop up Akemi's ashes. I felt eyes on me and glanced up to her and I saw my Xena's eyes.
"Tell me why everyone I love, leaves me?"
I wanted nothing more then to pull her into my arms and hold her close. "It'll get better Xena, I promise." We were both cold and tired. I finished my task and we made our way towards the family shrine. I carefully placed the pot on one of the shelves and turned to look at my Warrior. She just stood there trying hard not to show any emotion. I smiled at her.
"Lets go find a place that's warm and dry and get you cleaned up." She just looked at me like my mind was gone.
"Why are you so kind to me? What do you want?" She stiffened as I touched her.
"I just want to help, now lets go." She was too tired now to argue and after threatening the life of the innkeeper, I got her into the room where she passed out. I covered her while I started a fire, and made the room nice and warm so she could clean up. I had a bath ready and food for later, also herbs to settle her stomach and head. She didnt move the entire time. When my tasks were all done I kneeled down by her and stroked her now way too short hair.
I couldn't stop my tears from falling. It felt so good to touch her. I bent close to taste her lips and felt this fire on my back, then that feeling of being tossed all over .
Then I was surrounded by fire.
"Firebombs!!!" Looked towards the sky, then to the voice. There she was, my wife. I said my next line as Id been there before.
"Theyre going to burn Higuchi to the ground." I choked out. I wanted to hold her, but we needed to stop the fire. Get it together Gabrielle. I scolded myself.
"You alright?" She asked while scanning for a way to put out the flames. "Weve gotta release the water from the tower. Gabrielle, what would you do?"
"I saw these acrobats. They used--. "
She stops me. "Show me, Gabrielle." This was so eerie. We ran towards the rope.
It was exciting to flip through the air.
"All right. Whats next?" She had this look of total shock. If we hadn't been in this desperate situation, I would have laughed.
"This way!" We started to run on the roofs and I jumped through the window and hear, "Gabrie-e-e-e-e-elle!" I knew what I was doing. I kicked the warrior off the ladder and used it as a catapult. It was so hard to balance.
"Whoa! Xena!" I yelled. "Go for the ladder!" She smiled, flips, and shot me clear across the other side to the water tower, then battlecried and flipped to me. I couldn't turn the handle. It was stuck. She finally took her sword and sliced into the wood sending the water to the burning buildings. The crowd cheered, I grabbed her and held her so tight.
"Whoo-hoo!" She said proudly. The villagers cheer that we won.
"Higuchi is saved." I whispered, not letting her go.
"Not quite the way I would have done it, Gabrielle, but it sure worked." She chuckled and held me tighter. We climbed down and the man I knew as Ghost Killer approached us. His smile was bright and he extended his hand to Xena and I both.
"My name is Harukata and I'm in your debt." He bowed and smiled some more.
"You owe us nothing, glad we were here to help." My proud warrior said. Its not over I keep thinking.
"You have weakened Lord Yodoshi, Xena." Kenji piped in. "You and Gabrielle did a great deed to us." This was different from before.
"Who is this Yodoshi?" Xena had that, lets get ready to fight sound and part of me was feeling fear.
"Akemi told me that after she killed her father, Yodoshis spirit was so full of evil-- even the underworld would not allow him to enter. He became Lord Yodoshi -- the eater of souls." Kenji explained.
"How do we stop him?" Those were the words I didn't want to hear. I wanted nothing more then to grab her and run.
"You can't, but I can." We turned towards Harukatas direction. "I'm what they call the Ghost killer and now since you stopped the fire and he couldn't feed, he is weak and we can strike." He showed us his katiania that was blessed by a monk just for that purpose.
"Well, I'll draw him out and you take care of him then." That made my heart stop, but this was still not the same as before. I swallowed a few times and tried to control my heart.
"Gabrielle, are you sure you're ok?" I couldn't trust my voice and just nodded. "Why don't you sta...."
I know this came out much to harsh, but she jumped back when I said it. "NO! Don't you dare tell me to stay here, I'm going with you and that's the end of this discussion." She held up her hands up and mouthed sorry.
"Lets get this over with." We followed the Ghost killer to Yodoshi's hut.
"Yodoshi, show yourself." Xena commanded, taking out her sword and I grabbed my sias getting ready for whatever. All I knew was that I was going to protect my wife.
The Ghost killer was hiding, waiting for a clean shot to take his head. In a fiery flash that knocked me over, Yodoshi made his grand appearance and chuckled, looking at Xena. They crossed blades and you could tell he was weak. She overpowered him to the point of toying with him. He used his last resort and took a deep breath and blew, sending Xena into a group of trees. Right then the Ghost killer came out, trying to strike, but was backhanded for his efforts. Then his chest was pierced by Yodoshi's blade.
I started my charge and he sent me flying. I collected myself just in time to see Yodoshi try to pull the soul out of the Ghost killer. I ran like Tartarus, picking up the fallen Ghost killers sword and plunged it into him so his soul would stay free.
Then I heard a growl and felt a hand around my throat cutting off the air from my lungs. I tried to fight him, but things were going dark, I barely heard her battle cry. He dropped me when Xena's blade came out of his chest and he screamed out. She was trying to hang on ...
"Gabrielle!!" I looked at her struggling to hold him in place. She stared in one area. I followed her eyes to see the Ghost Killers sword. I rolled quickly towards it and fliped it to her. She pushed him with her foot to get some distance and swung, taking his head. We were both taken aback a bit from the force coming from his body.
It was over, but we still lost a friend. We cremated the Ghost killers body and set his ashes at his shrine so he could be honored.***
The night after it all over was when it hit me. Xena was alive. I clutched myself and sobbed again. She rushed to me wondering what was wrong, I was scaring her. I couldn't speak. She rocked me until my shaking stopped. I laid in her arms just studying her face, then buried my face in her neck for a sniff which made her giggle. That night I also relearned every inch of her body.
Yep, she definitely thought I had lost it. We stayed in Higuchi for two more days and it was back on that blasted boat. I remember coming up on deck and seeing her watch the sun set, and it was breathtaking. Then I felt that feeling again and turned to see Naiyima who had a smirk on her lips. I welled up and threw my arms around her thanking her for giving me my soulmate back. She pulled back putting me at arms length from her then looked over towards my still musing warrior.
"Gabrielle, Xena will probably never see redemption, for her soul will not allow it." I turn to look at my wife also. I knew she was right, but I was going to spend every waking hour to prove to Xena she was worth redeeming. Naiyima turned my head back to her.
"Xena needs to learn that only love and forgiveness can redeem, not death."I nodded to her. "It wasn't Xena's time, she hasn't learned that lesson yet."All I could think at the time was, that I was just so grateful she was here. "So she had to come back or her Karmic cycle would have been misplaced and Arminestra 'The Mother Of Peace' would not have existed." I wasn't sure what to say to her.
"Your love is the key Gabrielle, she still has much to learn, as do you." She gave me a kiss on the cheek and vanished. "Remember the Mendi and truth shall find you." I stood there in complete awe, and then felt these arms go around me.
"Dinar for your thoughts?"
I just looked into those blue eye that I love so much. "I'm going to ask you something completely selfish."
I got an eyebrow raise and a smirk.
"After we spend a month or two in the land of the Pharaohs, since they are looking for a girl with a chakram," we both chuckled at that, "I want to go home to Amphipolis and settle down, maybe reopen your mothers tavern, and have a baby or two." I dropped my eyes. I feared her reply.
"Yes, Id like that too."
My eyes shot up and my chin hit the deck of the boat. She just laughed and pulled me tight into her. "I was thinking the same thing my bard, I'm getting tired of fighting." She kissed my head.
"I love you, Xena." I was happy beyond words.
"Love you too, Bard."
We held one another and together, watched the sun go down. **
As I said that was three years ago and my life has changed greatly as well as the warriors. We reopened the tavern and business is quite good. Xena also breeds horses, we have a wonderful home. We were also blessed with a son and a daughter from Aphrodite and Ares, yes you heard me right. Ares was just so happy Xena was alive, he would of granted us anything.
Watching Xena with our kids is such a special thing to witness. Little Lyceus and Lila have her wrapped around their little fingers, and she enjoys every minute. We also had another blessing when Eve married Virgil and presented us all with a son. We are now grandmothers with two small children of our own.
The love of Xena's family and friends redeems her more. Each kiss, hug, laugh, or just raising our kids to be good people makes her life whole again. Of course when there is trouble close by, it is known that a certain warrior will go clean it up, but how can I deprive her of that? I thank everyone who brought her back to me every night. I am truly blessed.
"Gabrielle??" I look up from my scroll.
"You ready bard?" She flashes me a grin. "The kids are starving and were already late for supper, Eve will have a fit." She tries to peek over my shoulder at the scroll.
"Are you writing?" she asks in amazement. "You haven't done that in years, I'm pleased." She's been worried about me, and my lack of writing. Between running the Tavern and kids, I've haven't had the muse call, or the time. She called for me today though and a good bard always answers her muse.
"Yeah, a story hit me and I had to get in down on scroll." She kisses me. "Let me finish the last couple lines and I'll be right out." She kisses me again and goes outside to play with our babies.
From the first day I met her I knew what my life was meant for and she's fulfilled each of my dreams. I love her and she is my soul. I can't express enough how much I've been blessed since one Warrior Princess came into my life. We made it, I know I'll grow old with my love until it is time for us to be called into the next lives, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Battling Bard of Poteidaia
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