Disclaimer: I own nothing but the tale. The title pretty much states how the story will be. Poem by unknown author. Redemption poem is by Lisa Grandstaff. http://www.icubed.com/~ljg/redem.html
This story is a tear jerker/mild alt/violence... well it's Xena.
Thanks to Kamouraskan for the beta.
It courses through my limbs,
The chaos, uncontrolled in my mind,
The familiar, cold rhythm,
Of the dance steals my soul.
An abrupt release reveals,
The wreckage of my passion:
Guttering flames, dying embers,
And emptinesses beyond counting.
The beginning has become the end.
The end has become the beginning.
Without the dance,
My only direction lies,
Away from what darknesses,
Have been wrought by my own hand.
The haunted, echoing passageways,
Of my heart hunger.
For meaning... for being,
My compass, no longer.
That of blind fury,
Spins in weary solitude,
Yet, some small ray of light,
Will warm me.
Beckon to me,
Sing my name in a voice,
I have never heard,
I have come home.
I arrived in the village soon after I received word from my older sister of our mothers illness.
As I walked through all the familiar places of my youth, I remembered my childhood.
"Princess Kythera?" I was brought out of my musing to see what the
Amazon guard wanted. "How's the Queen?"
My eyes warmed at the concern I saw. "She's weak, my friend, but holds on," I said, trying hard not to hear my voice shake.
"The village is filled with prayers for her." The guard bowed her head and I nodded.
"Thank you," was all I could get out.
I knew my mother had the love and respect of all who lived here. Slowly I made my way to the queens hut hoping for a change for the better. It had been a week since my mother came down with the fever sickness and still there was no sign of it breaking.
Walking in, I was greeted by my sisters embrace. Funny having a sister the same age as my mother. As time passed in my life, I learned nothing was normal and the world was based on a wide variety of colors.
"Glad you came back, she was calling for us." Eve gave me one last squeeze before we went towards Mothers room.
We stopped outside her doorway peering in, and the smell of home hit me. Jasmine and lilacs. There were candles lighting the room and in the bed lay a small figure deep in sleep. Our mother was far from old, but even at this age she looked like nothing more then a mere child.
Around the room there were many things that held high meaning to our mother. Propped up in one corner was a staff her old friend, Ephiny, had given her when she was at she would call, 'the wet behind the ear stage.' Over the mantel hung a sword and chakram, and by that was a small framed stitch work with the saying:
"Once, a long, long time ago, all people had four legs and two heads. Then the gods threw down thunderbolts and split everyone into two. Each half then had two legs and one head, but the separation left both sides with a desperate yearning to be reunited, because they each shared the same soul. Ever since then, all people have spent their lives searching for the other half of their soul."
I always wondered when I would be lucky enough to find mine, just like she did hers. Xena was a daily topic of my youth. All the years of my life I would hear stories of this brave, noble, strong woman who captured my mothers heart and soul.
As a child I would do things and my mother would stop to stare at me with a look and joy and sorrow, like she was seeing a ghost. At times late at night when she thought I was in the land of dreams I would hear her talk to this warrior person as if she was right there in the room. One time through the tears I heard her say, and it still sticks with me until this very day:
I reach into my soul, I find emptiness.
I touch my heart, I find loneliness.
I examine my mind, I find awkwardness.
I look at my tears, I see you!
I miss you so much Xena.
My how a person can love so deeply is still a mystery to me.
I glanced at my sister who was kneeling beside the bed holding mothers hand while praying. My sister, really half-sister. There were times when I wanted to know who this Xena person was and why she affected mother in such a way. On the rare times mother would speak of her, it turned to be too painful for too long. So Eve would take me aside and we would talk of her.
It would seem that Eve sort of had the same kind of past as the warrior. They originally had a path of light, but at a time of weakness they were led astray into darkness. Soon after they both strived to make up for the dark times in hope for some type of peaceful redemption.
Our mothers scrolls sung the song of a valiant warrior, righting the wrongs of the world. Still even now on rare occasions in some far off town's tavern, my ghostly looks would start the old tales of the warrior bitch whose soul was blacker then the richest earth.
Most places I pass on my journey's have a place of honor for this noble Warrior Princess who saved someone in their family at one time or another. Whenever I go through the town of Thyrea I'm treated like a saint; for a generation still tells a tale of the Warrior Princess and her last great battle.
She saved the old town and her memorial testifies the honor these people have given her. An eternal flame blessed by the God of War himself blazes in the town square with a plaque made by the patrons.
"Here we sing the song of the Warrior Princess. The noble brave warrior who gave her life for our freedom. Thyrea and its generations will be forever grateful to this valiant soul."
Each time I've read this I'm brought to tears, crying for a person I've never met. I miss this stranger and wished I had a chance to meet her.
Eve told me that Ares mourned the fallen warrior with such a passion it shocked his sister. In all their years, Aphrodite had never seen him weep like a helpless child. Even then, Mother cradled the God as he cried for her love, but that's just Mom. She thinks of others before herself; the 'greater good.'
One night as I lay by my sister, she told me of the last battle. Mother still hasn't spoken of it. Eve had the Goddess of Love fill her in on the events of that day. Aphrodite describes that day as, 'when the truest form of love was broken.'
Mother and Xena had a special day visiting Sparta, the first time for Mother and all she could think of was the new shops to explore. Much to the warriors displeasure. They were making their way back, taking the ocean route, when a burning town interrupted their plans.
The warlords Haimon and Iphiklos had gathered together to raid villages for supplies with the idea they could gain the power to conquer all of Greece. Both men thought they would be far enough away from the popular areas and it would be easy pickings. Little did they know that the Warrior Princess and Battling Bard of Poteidaia were breaking from a vacation close by.
Men numbering in the thousands tore across Greece leaving a stench of death and destruction in their wake. Ares finally had the one great battle he had always dreamed of; with one small nick in the plan. Xena wasn't at the lead. He felt that this could have been the battle that was supposed to ensure Xena Conqueror status, until Mother foiled that plan.
So Ares had to settle for Haimon and Iphiklos to win this victory for him. It became a bitter pill instead. Because this great idea of his killed the one person he loved dearly.
No one has heard from the God since. Some old bards tales say the great God Of War simply entombed himself until the Warrior Princess's rebirth.
Mother and the Warrior ran right into that battle full force and on the first day, pushed the army back to regroup. Secretly this huge battle made the Warriors blood pump; scared the day lights out of Mother.
Thyrea might of been a small town, but it was a stubborn one. Reminded mother of Poteidaia in many ways. Farm land with hard working people trying to earn their daily bread to support their families. Not something you want to hand over easily. Before the Warrior and Bard made it there, that small town had battled the army for two days, taking hits left and right, but they stood in defiance.
The first night was tough for Mother, with all the dead to burn and the wounded to tend to. Xena handled the battle plans and ideas for defense, rationing food and water. What made the battle worse is that all the children were within the town walls, making defending it more difficult.
The fifth day of the battle was a blood bath. Mother was injured and because of that, the warrior had become filled with wrath and vengeance. The warlords released the beast within this strong woman.
It was while Xena was engaging four soldiers. The last one she cut down muttered in his last breath, "kiss your friend good-bye." She turned to look for mother and spotted the crossbow ready to take her soulmate out. She hated more then anything the feeling where she couldn't protect what was hers.
Xena sent her Chakram sailing into one thugs chest, but Mother was too far away for the warrior to stop the arrow that struck her.
One villagers account of that event said the scream coming from Xena sent a shiver up her spine. The blue eyes went cold as the bitter winter and any warrior in her reach fell to her feet. Xena yelling "Gabrielle!!!," over and over again until nothing, no foe was standing. Batttle lust burning a path in her very soul.
"Xena?" The voice seemed so far away, but in some way reached that burning path. The brave warrior ran to her fallen love, and Mother watched Xena in eerie awe.
"Gabrielle, are you alright?" Xena checked over her injury then pulled her in for a hug.
"Yes, the arrow hit my arm and the fall winded me." She gritted her teeth as the warrior lifted the arm for study. Neither one of them heard the chanting of the town, "Xena!!, Xena!!, Xena!!"
"This will hurt, my bard." Before mother could protest, the warrior broke off part of the arrow and pulled it through the arm quickly.
"Couldn't you at least knocked me out before you did that?" Xena kissed the blonde head before grabbing some cloth to wrap the arm.
"Getting soft in your old age, bard?" That got Mother to look quickly.
"Planning on sleeping with Argo the rest of your life, Warrior?" Mother countered, and both chuckled. The sounds of the people started to filter through, and Xena stopped to look around.
"It's over Xena, you did it." Mother watched as the warrior uncomfortably took the praises and pats on the back.
"We did it, Gabrielle." I guess Xena was so worried about Mother, and with all the people around, no one noticed Iphiklos crawling his way to the catapults. Xena heard the spark and the release of the flaming ball of fire. It headed straight for the building where the children stayed.
As the townspeople made their way to save the children, Xena looked at Mother.
"GO! GO! I'll be ok." Battle cry in full range, the mighty Warrior Princess flipped over the crowd into the inferno. Throwing children out to people below, one right after another. Mother was on her way to the catapults but it was still too far and the Warlord was ready to release another.
The warrior bard grabbed her sias and hurled one, ending Iphiklos reign of terrior.
This is when Mothers world came crashing down upon her. She turned towards the screaming fire. Things were happening so fast but to Mother the building came down with such agonizing slow motion, that all she could do was watch in horror.
"XENA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" The wailing screaming woke the heavens as the lone soulmate mourned her loss. The bard fell to her knees frozen unable to stop herself from watching the fire claim her love. Some might of found it strange that the 'Great Warrior Princess, Destroyer of Nations,' was taken down by an honorable act when no battle could have touched her.
The dawn approached and the bard was still in her place peering at the now smoldering embers. As much as she tried to tell her head that it had not happened, her heart knew the truth. Mother would take no comfort from anyone, it was like then and there she took her last breath of existence.
Another account by a villager tells how a beautiful blinding white light surrounded Mother with a light breeze. The villager saw Mother inhale sharply, then there was a mans voice talking to a bard.
"Gabrielle?" Mother opened her eyes to see a man the people had never seen before. She called him...
"Eli?" The name was hoarsely spoken.
"Hello, my friend." He bent over and helped mother to stand. "I'm here to tell you to turn your tears from sorrow to joy, for now Xena has found redemption." He waved his hand and showed a beautiful green valley. There stood groups of people in white and among them was the fallen warrior.
Mother watched as Xena embraced her brothers, her mom. All of their family and friends that had passed away over the years. She watched as her soulmate wept on her mothers shoulder when she figured out where she was. Xena of Amphipolis had made it to the heavens.
"Xena?" The bard cried, but this time it was for joy. All these years of following the warrior, fighting for her souls redemption. She had made it.
"Live Gabrielle, and let generations know of your story." The bard shook her head, keeping her eyes on her mate. Xena turned and looked right at Mother.
"I made it, my bard." Tears streaked her face, and both reached for the other. "It was my time and remember, I'll never leave you Gabrielle." The scene faded but not before mother and the warrior mouthed, 'I love you.'
Mother felt a hand on her shoulder.
"I know it's not much comfort for you, but as long as your heart beats she'll be with you." Eli knew this was crushing Mother, and she didn't answer him.
"This last selfless act Xena gave, showed God her truest heart." He paused to let the bard absorb this. "The entire time she was saving the children, her thoughts were of you." For the first time Mother broke down and the gentle man held her close.
"Maam?" Mother pulled out of his arms and turned towards a young villager. She was about the same age as herself, with a small child in her arms.
"I'm sorry for your loss." Mother gave a weak smile. "I lost my husband and son to the battle, all I have left is her." The woman kissed the childs head. "Don't know what I would do if she was taken from me too." She let a tear slide down her cheek, and a small hand wiped it away.
"What's your name?" Mothers compassion for others shone through, like always.
"Meliai, and this is my daughter Aia."
Mother stroked the small childs face.
Before aunt Lila passed, she told me mother was always wiser beyond her years. The idea that this young woman lost almost her whole family seemed to have numbed her pain for now. She told herself 'someone always has it worse.' Don't be selfish and the 'greater good' followed soon after.
So, the bard spent time in the small town helping with the sick and the repairs. The fire left no body for her to bury but there was charred armor with a sword and chakram near by. Thyrea held a ceremony for Xena before Mother was to leave the town.
Villagers were stunned when the Gods of War and Love showed up. Aphrodite's first thought was to hold the bard while Ares looked over the humble tribute. With a loud growl he raised his sword over head, screaming her name. A strong wind with lighting shot all around, and when the show died down, what was left was the eternal flame.
Ares turned to look at Mother, then lost his composure. With an ironic twist, she ended up giving him comfort before he grunted and left in a flash.
Mother tried so hard to be strong and move on, but how can a person live with only half a soul?
She and little Argo went to Amphipolis to place Xenas armor inside the family tomb. She sent word to Eve; then spent a few months living for others, writing the wrongs where she could. It was just too much for the Goddess of Love to watch, for the bard held a special place in her heart. Gabrielle was dying inside and Aphrodite had to stop it. During a bubble bath she had a brainstorm.
"Ares!" She popped in on her brother .The temple looked much more gloomy then usual she noted. "Get your leathered ass out here before I turn your temple pink!" She grinned at the blue flash.
"What do you want?" Yikes, he looked like crap, the Love Goddess thought. Then she gave him in full detail her plan to help the hurting bard.
"No way!" he yelled and paced. "I'm not doing anything for that irritating harpy," he shouted trying to look menacing and failing.
"You better believe youll help Gabby, but most of all you'll make this up to the warrior babe." The Goddess was red hot mad, and poking him in the chest.
"Make what up? I gave Xena everything and she threw it back in my face," he countered.
"You SOB, you took a sixteen year old girl at her darkest time and turned her into something she was never meant to be." That stung a bit. "Xena's village was attacked, she stood up when no one else would. She lost her brother, the one person at the time she felt close to!" the Goddess said, recalling Xena's childhood.
Xena didn't fit in, she was bigger and stronger the all the other girls. She wanted to climb trees or sword fight while the others wanted to cook or learn to basket weave. Most of her time was spent with the village boys or her two brothers. The other girls wanted nothing to do with Xena, and spent time teasing her until she kicked the crap out of them.
Her mother was always busy working and from what she remembered of her father, he didn't want much to do with her either. So Xena at a young age learned to rely on herself. The only one she felt some love from was her little brother who followed her around like a puppy.
"The town she saved turned away from her and so did her very own mother. She was lost, scared and alone and you preyed upon it. Made her feel like you cared when you were really turning her into a monster." She gave him another hard poke in the chest, shoving him into his throne. "So this is your mess, and I'm asking for the first time in your hateful life to do something right." She glared at him.
Every word she said cut him like a knife, but he knew she was right. He opened the palm of his hand and it held a glowing ball. She smiled and took it, turning to leave. But as she was ready to zap out of there she heard: "I never meant to hurt her."
She nodded, having no words of comfort. He had to work it out on his own.
The Goddess found my mother camping outside a town she had just helped. She had no idea Aphrodite was there, so deep was she in painful thought.
"Hello! Greece to Gabrielle!" She made the mistake of touching Mothers shoulder and wound up with a sai at her throat for the trouble.
"Aphrodite, you shouldn't sneak up on me like that," Mother growled.
"I didn't sneak, I popped in. Geesh, you're getting more and more like the warrior babe each day." The Goddess could of kicked herself after she said that, the look on the bards face made her want to cry. Mother just hung her head and sat back down by the fire.
"I'm sorry, Gabby." Neither she nor Ares could help or change what happened. When it's a mortal's time they go, no if's/and's/ or but's. The bard sat in silence, wiping tears from her face.
"I miss her so much it hurts. I know I should feel happy for her... No, I am happy for her. She made it, but as much as I try to keep that in my mind, all I want is her back." Dite popped a hanky and handed it to her friend.
"It's selfish for me to feel this way, but I'm not sure I can go on. I can't breathe." The Goddess popped another hanky and sat by mother, holding her and crying with her.
"She means the world to me. You know what it's like to have someone believe in you?" She looked into Dite's eyes.
"Yeah, I do." Mother, no matter if they were fighting or not, had always treated the Goddess well. "Xena felt the same way, Gabby. You came to her when no one believed in her, she even felt unloved." Dite put her arm around the crying woman, hating that her friend was in pain.
"Just a few months ago we were on a vacation laughing and joking, dreaming about our future." Mother shook so hard it hurt to watch.
"In a blink of an eye my life was turned upside down, I couldn't stop it." The Goddess held her tighter. "All the things I didn't get to tell her, and now it's too late. How cruel is it to rip someone out of your life and you can't tell them how much they meant to you?"
Dite knew mother was dying and she couldn't let that happen, no matter how much she could tell Gabrielle that the dead do hear the living. Still doesnt make up for it, and she knew what she needed to do. With one last sniffle she squeezed mother in a bear hug, pressing one hand to her belly. The shock made Mother double over before looking back at the Goddess.
"What did you do to me?" Gabrielle didn't know if she should feel threatened or not, 'why would my friend hurt me?' she wondered, falling into the fetal position.
"Relax Gabby, I gave you a gift with the help of tall dark and war dude." Mother rolled onto her back catching her wind.
"Giving me pain is a gift? You can have it back any time." The Goddess chuckled at the bards growl.
"I know your thoughts, bard babe. You haven't been sleeping well or eating. Frankly my dear, you need a facial like pronto." Oily pores made Dite freak out.
"I felt sort of helpless since I couldn't bring back the leathered one, once it's a mortals time." The Goddess bowed her head. "So with some help from Ares, we took a piece of you both." She smiled at Mother hoping she would put the pieces together.
It slowly dawned on mother and she touched her belly.
"It can't end the pain of your loss, but it will give your life meaning to go on." Mother still hadn't said a word and Dite was wondering if she had gone too far.
"Gabrielle, I saw your future. You need a generation to keep your line alive. You loved Xena too much to move on, so now you have to." The Goddess of Love squeaked as the other flew into her arms and held her tight.
"Guess this means I did good, huh?" Mother just held her tighter.
"Awesome!" Said one satisfied Goddess.
Twenty-five moons later, here I stand. Kythera, daughter to Gabrielle and Xena, blessed by the Goddess of Love. I was also teased a lot as a child, my mothers immaculate conception with my ghost mother and some help of the love goddess made good gossip.
This is also how I learned of my temper and why I was much too strong for a girl my age. As well as why I was the tallest one in my Amazon class with the ability to get into more trouble then one child should be allowed. I gave my mom plenty of tales to tell over the years.
My mother was also my best friend and a constant pillar of strength all my life. I'm not sure how I can live my life without her.
"Xena?? Xena??" I was brought out of my memories as Mothers fever peeked in her nightmares. Eve wiped her hot skin with a cool cloth and suddenly I felt as though I was about to run out of air. I guess my sister could sense my despair and told me to take a walk to clear my head.
I gave my mother a kiss and spoke briefly of my love for her. I just needed a place alone to cry. Mom says I caught Xenas prideful stubborn side.
Making my way towards Aphrodite's temple, I let my emotions go. Remembering every special time, story or hug and kiss my mother gave me all my life. I'm so lucky to have such a pure soul to guide and love me.
"Your mother is very special, Kythera." I jumped out of my skin and spun to see who snuck up on me. I wasn't ready for what I saw.
"Xena?" I barely made out.
"Mother to you child, but yep, that's the name." She gave me a wide smile that mirrored my own. "Better close your mouth before you catch something." I snapped my jaws shut fast and she chuckled, taking a seat next to me.
"How? Why?" So much for my bardic skills. She laughed once more.
"How? Aphrodite and your mother wanted us to meet. Why? Why not?" She smiled briefly. "I thought maybe we should take a moment to talk to each other." She was serious, and I was at a loss for words.
"She going to die, isn't she?" I hung my head.
"Yes, it's her time to pass over." I looked up at the mother whom I'd heard plenty about, but never met.
"You're here to take her?" My voice seemed smaller and smaller.
"I'm here to talk with you right now, my daughter." For some reason I found myself very curious about this person beside me. It's not like I don't know every story there is out there about her, I just never heard the stories from her lips.
"What's death like? I mean, is she in pain? Is there pain?" The warrior princess put her arm around me and spoke.
"Death is like living your normal life as you always dreamed of doing it. There are no trials, no anger or worries, and no; there's no pain." She paused. "Just peace."
"Right now Gabrielle has moved past the pain, she's in a state of calm." I let a tear slip and Xena held me tighter. All of the sudden I was filled with these questions I've always wanted to ask her.
"Xena? What did you want to be when you were little?" The warrior closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"At one time I wanted just to travel, see different lands. As I got a bit older I wanted to be a warrior who traveled, but be a wealthy one who was known as a hero."
"I messed that up majorily." Taking another deep breath she began again.
"When my brother died my world just seemed to fall apart, I had no one. Not that it wasn't my fault, and time went on and I grew more cold and bitter." Her tears fell and now it was my turn to hold my mother.
"I had a tiny bit of light left in me but that went away with Caesar's betrayal and a loss of a friend." The more this woman talked, the more I sensed why mother loved her so.
"I decided then and there to close my heart to anyone. It was much more painful to lose someone I loved. Then I turned into the monster I became."
"What made you change? What made the light come back?"
She took my hand from her shoulder and held it. Just studying it.
"You have my hands." I looked at our linked hands.
"Mother said I inherited many of your traits."
She laughed. "You have many of hers also, little one."
I wanted to hear them all.
"To answer your question from before. What first put a chink in my armor was your brother Solon, then there was Hercules. Then when my army wanted to kill an innocent baby, I knew I no longer could I live this life." She looked me in my eyes.
"When I was ready to end it all, I was sent a savior in a small mouthy blonde frame." I laughed at that; I could just hear mother grunt at that remark.
"I loved her from that day. As much as I told myself to send this kid away, I couldn't do it." I prayed one day Id find a love like that. I sort of felt like a giddy kid to know both my parents loved each other.
"You have her eyes." I looked into the eyes of blue and blushed slightly. Over and over in my head I kept reminding myself that this was my mother. But then the sadness struck.
"Of all the times, why visit me now?"
She kissed my head. "Do you remember a time when you were about eight and your mother told you to stay out of the big oak in back of the house?" I cringed at that memory, I climbed the tree anyway and fell.
"Yes, I hurt and couldn't move well. I really don't remember much after that." I raised an eyebrow at her and she laughed at me.
"Give it up kid, I made the eyebrow thing famous." She laughed even harder at my scowl.
"How do you think you got back to the house?" I closed my eyes trying to remember...
"I felt like I was floating, dreaming. Then I woke up with the healer over me with Mother and Eve next to me." I also wound up with a broken leg and bruised ribs. Then it hit me.
"It was you? The voice!!" I had thought all that time it had been the healers voice.
"Yes. Your mother couldn't lose you and I wasn't ready for my child to die. So I got your mother and sister to come find you." You know at times as a child, if I was scared, ill, or hurting, I would feel this comfort come over me. Like a warm blaket of protection and love.
"I've seen many moments in your life." She smirked. "Held you when you were born, watched your first steps, watched you drive your mother crazy." Xena looked around the temple.
"I loved you from your first breath until this very day. I'm glad I was able to spend time with you, and this time know I was there." Once again she had rendered me speechless.
"When Aphrodite told me what she had done to your mother... I was scared at first. But it brought your mother so much joy, how could I deny her that joy?" I could sense she was getting edgy, Mother always said the warrior wasn't much for sensitive chatting.
"I caused her so much pain over the years... When I passed over, her thoughts broke my heart. I knew she was trying to stay positive for my sake, keeping good thoughts so I wouldn't hear her pain. Her dreams at night were just too much for her to hide, that true pain..." I held my mother again and she choked back a tear.
"I felt such a failure as a parent, never getting a chance to know any of my children." The tears skipped down as her words became more filled with more regret.
"Hey, no regrets."
She smiled and wiped her face. "You sound just like your mother." We gave one another a squeeze. "Well, things worked out in the end." She patted my hand and smiled at me.
"I'm very proud of you, Kythera. You're living your life like I've always wanted to when I was your age. You travel, help where you can. You love, care and dream... Never forget how to dream." She cupped my face to make sure she had my attention.
"My true redemption wasn't when I passed over. It was the day you were born and my life began again. I love you, my child."
You know, you can get lost in those blue eyes.
"I love you too, Mother." I whispered out and held her tight.
We talked for a few more candlemarks and I learned so much from this strong soul in such a short time.
"Are you kidding?" I squeaked. "Aphrodite caught you and mother doing the... you know?" I could see my mother bright red.
"Yep, caught us at the end by popping in and stating to your mother, and I quote." By God, she was blushing.
"Whoo bardy poo, the warrior just reached seven point zero on the orgasmic scale." Ack, I was laughing so hard I had tears.
"Mother never told me that story." We laughed some more.
"You know how easily she gets embarrassed." It was so true. It took mother moons to explain sex to me. Each time she started she would turn bright red and change the subject, by the time she got to it. I knew about it already.
"Let me ask you something."
She raised an eyebrow at me.
"Several times when mother didn't know I was there It was like she was talking to you. Like you were really there and not in spirit." I had to know this answer.
"I promised your mother long before my passing that not even in death I would leave her. When she wanted me in her sight I came and no God was going to stop me." This made me feel better. Cousin Sarah mentioned one time that she hoped Mothers grief wasn't making her mind mad.
Then Xena closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She turned and looked at me, and I knew.
"It's time. You need to head back." My heart wanted to just freeze this moment in time. She pulled me close once more, and we told each other how much we loved one another, and then she was gone.
I made my way back to Mothers side, where Eve was in prayer, holding Aphrodite's hand. I felt like a scared child instead of a grown woman. I didn't want my mom to leave me. Didnt want to lose the person who raised and loved me.
Who would be there when things were just not going right and I needed to be held and understood? Who would give me advice when life just seemed too confusing to cope with? Damn, how selfish could I get?
"Kythera?" My sisters soft voice called me by my mother and we switched places. I was by the woman I loved so much, holding her hand. What could I say?
"Mama, I promise to make you proud." It hurt so much.
"Thank you for my sense of humor, my ability to see goodness and beauty in anything ." I swallowed hard. "Thank you for my gift of stories, my belief in love and even my stubborn streak."
"Thank you for loving me and instilling in me that I can do anything I want, if I work hard for it.
"I love you, Mama."
I was crying so hard, but I felt it when she passed away. I felt that peaceful loving feeling like I did as a child and I heard the whisper, 'I love you too.'
The whole village was in mourning for the great queen. After purifications and ceremonies, the pyre was lit. In the distance and we all heard it, a beautiful voice filling the air with a sad song in a language most never heard of.
Eve explained later that it was Xena's burial song for the people she loved, and she sang it for her love. We buried Mothers ashes next to Xena's armor in the family tomb in Amphipolis.
This was nearly a moon ago and I'm back on my travels. The village has a new queen, Thea, daughter of Varia. I was told that when I needed a place to stay, the village would always be home.
Eve went back to her preachings of Eli with her followers, and we agreed to meet once a year around Solstice.
One night when I was camping in the forest Aphrodite came to me.
"What's shaking kid?" she said in a strange way, which made things seem lighter.
"I miss them."
She sat by me and threw an arm around me. "I know, that's why I'm here. I've got something to show you."
She opened a window to the heavens. I saw a dirt road and trees surrounded by a green hilly valley.
At the top on the hill stood a tall, darkheaded warrior with a beautiful cream horse. On the road making her way to the warrior was a young blonde woman dressed as an Amazon with a staff.
"My mothers?" I croaked out and Dite pulled me in tighter.
"Shh, listen," she said. The two women were an arms length apart facing each other.
"You know, where I'm headed, there'll be trouble," the warrior informed her, looking all stern.
"I know," smiled the bard.
"Then why would you want to go into that with me?" She raised her eyebrow at the blonde woman.
"That's what friends do. They stand by each other when there's trouble." They both had huge smiles.
"All right, friend." They embraced and I could feel their love.
"Welcome home, my bard." I watched as other people joined them I only could pick out aunt Lila.
Aphrodite pointed to each telling me their names. For the first time know what Grandmother Cyrene and Hecuba look like, all the way to my brother Solon.
Then to my total surprise, my mothers seemingly looked right at me and said: "Don't cry Kythera, we'll be with you always."
Then the vision and Dite were gone.
My tears have dried now. I watched my family love each other and I know how lucky I am.
I know as time ventures on, I'll have my share of ups and downs. Knowing that with each up and down, they will be there eases my pain.
One day I will have a child and I will teach them all I've learned from my parents. My last thought as I lay watching the stars for the night is...
"Where on earth do they get a bear or ladle? Looks more like a dog to me." As I closed my eyes I knew I heard two women laugh.
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