AN: I must say this story really haunts me. It gives me really bad writer's block even though I enjoy writing it. I am so thrilled that people enjoy this weird story arch. Anyway, in this chapter, I have finally revealed the true madness and evil behind all the strange occurrences. Enjoy and I will definitely work on this story more without leaving it in the back of my mind for awhile...enjoy ;)

Chapter Twenty Three

Xena, Gabrielle and Borias trotted through the forests on the outskirts of Constantinople. They left the Cathedral once they realized it was probably safe to leave again since they wouldn't be followed by those horsemen any longer.

Gabrielle sat behind Xena on the horse and admired all of the tall trees surrounding them. She spotted Borias riding a few paces ahead of them, scoping out the area. Although, this area was pretty barren and nobody rode this area because it was deemed unsafe for travelers by Constantine and Caliph Mehmet.

"This reminds me of my home," the Amazon queen said aloud.

Xena frowned sadly and looked around, but she did not see the same beauty that Gabrielle saw. "I'm sorry for keeping you from your sisters for so long, Gabrielle." She finally had the courage to say so. She loved spending time with Gabrielle and it had been a long time since the two saw each other due to Xayida's meddling.

Gabrielle smiled gently and placed her hand on Xena's broad shoulder. "I am going to help you find your son, Xena. I would never abandon you. You're my friend and always will be, no matter what."

Xena scoffed, "not even if Xayida was still your friend?"

"I really wish you two would make up," the blonde sighed. "It's not healthy to live like this, Xena. I know what your sister was wrong but you have to forgive her."

"Never," Xena answered immediately and heard Gabrielle groan.

Borias halted and he frowned, looking at the dark clouds ahead of them in the forest. "We should stop and camp somewhere..." noting the storm ahead.

Xena trotted up beside him and eyed the looming black clouds over the mountains heading into Macedonia. "We can't stop now. We need to get to Athens so I can meet with Xayida."

"Xena!" he growled and gestured to the dark skies. "There is a storm coming! We will never make it through!" he spat and she glared at him. Gabrielle eyed both of them and bit her bottom lip, trying her best to stay quiet, though the tension between the two rose immensely the longer they stared at each other.

Gabrielle spoke up, "maybe we could find a different route?" she offered and then got a menacing glare from both Borias and Xena at once. "Okay, or not."

"Oh look who it is!" Ares' booming voice appeared in front of them outside the forest. Borias pulled out his sword and Xena's eyebrow rose. The god chuckled, eyeing Xena's former lover, pointing the weapon at him.

"No need for that." With a wave of his hand he knocked Borias' sword from his grasp, throwing it deep into the forest's abyss. Borias' eyes widened and then Ares approached the group slowly. "Xena, Xena, Xena..." he gave her a sly smile while she snarled. "Where are you off to? I see that my horsemen did not deter you..." he sighed.

Xena's jaw dropped and pulled out her matchlock and shot the god right through his chest. Ares gasped and saw a gaping hole in his chest and she smiled.

"You know that won't work on me, although...this is going to be a problem," he groaned. He couldn't exactly heal himself as fast as he did thousands of years ago. Being resurrected came with some consequences as he soon found out. He brushed the gun powder off his vest and looked to Borias' shocked face.

"I see we have not been properly introduced..." Ares smiled.

"What are you?" Borias asked curiously and couldn't take his eyes off the gaping hole in Ares' chest. He should have been dead, he thought. Nobody could survive that.

Ares chuckled and released a dramatic sigh. "God of War, well, formally, God of War. It's quite a complicated story. I am sure I will be able to explain it once I have my disciple back."

Xena frowned and pointed the gun at Ares again. He put up his hands for surrender and began backing away. "What do you want?"

"Your sister has something that we both want," the war god smiled and eyed Borias once more. "Xayida has your son, whom she stole from me!" he growled and really wanted a piece of Xayida. She had no idea what she was dealing with.

Borias' eyes widened and his head slowly turned to Xena. "Son?" he barely said aloud and Xena averted her eyes elsewhere. "What is he talking about?"

Xena lowered her eyes and frowned sadly. She could feel his eyes burrowing into her skin like a hot poker.

"Xena!" Borias yelled and he grabbed her arm forcefully and she snarled then turned to him with wide furious eyes.

"Not now!" she spat and snatched her arm from him. "I will explain later."

Ares laughed and folded his arms. "I'll bet you will," he snidely remarked. "Listen, Xena. We both want your son and your sister just keeps stealing him from us. She is heading to Macedonia as we speak...if we work together..."

"Xena, no!" Gabrielle cried out and grasped the warrior's shoulders. "Don't trust him, Xena! He is just using you just like he is using Solan. Xayida obviously doesn't want him to be hurt anymore. There is a good explanation for her taking Solan, I know there is."

Xena frowned and never felt so conflicted in her life, not to mention Borias glaring at her like she was game. She didn't trust Xayida and she was lied to for ten years. Then suddenly this god, Ares, appears out of nowhere and wants Solan for himself? This was a giant mess and she didn't know who to trust at this point, but she knew Gabrielle was right.

"He has a name?" Borias said and Xena turned to him. "Why didn't you tell me? Did you know the entire time?!" he snarled.

"Borias!" Xena interrupted. "Enough. I told you I will tell you about it later.." she sighed and turned back to Ares. "I am not going to help you. What were you doing with Solan anyway?" she pried.

The war god smiled deviously and rubbed his hands together. "That is a private matter, your highness. Now, how about working together? We can both get your son back and live happily ever after. How does that sound?"

"Xena..." Gabrielle grumbled in her friend's ear lowly. "Don't."

Borias pulled out a dagger from his belt and threw it directly into Ares' chest. The war god groaned and he pulled out the dagger. Growling, Ares turned to Borias and tossed him off the horse and into a tree. Xena's and Gabrielle's eyes watched Borias being thrown off the horse and gasped.

Xena hopped off the horse and took out her long sword and thrust it directly into Ares' gut. He gasped for air and looked down at the sword sticking out of his body. Xena smiled widely and then he sighed.

"You are so aggravating..." he growled and grabbed Xena by her throat, lifting her off the ground and Gabrielle immediately got off the horse and pulled out a sword from the holster on the horse's saddle. Ares spotted the short blonde and he raised his hand, grounding her feet into the soil.

"And so is your friend," Ares smirked and Xena coughed, wrapping her hands around his, trying to pry them from her throat.

Gabrielle tried to pry her boots out of the soil but they wouldn't budge. She dropped to her knees and looked up at Xena, being choked to death and then to Borias, whom was knocked out, slumped under a tree. "Stop it!" she cried out and the war god lifted his eyebrow.

"Stop?" Ares smiled and dropped Xena to the ground. "If you insist..." he pulled out the sword from his gut and sighed heavily. He tossed the sword down in front of the Grecian Queen. "Now will you help me?"

Xena rubbed her throat and glance up at the arrogant god. "No..." she croaked. Ares' smile disappeared and he kicked Xena across the field and she grunted. He marched up to her and with a swift kick to her midsection she cringed and she wrapped her arm around herself, gasping for air.

He stomped on her back and pushed her body into the ground. She felt her lungs constricting as the weight of his entire body weighed on her back. He then stomped on her hand and her eyes widened.

"You will help me, Xena! Or so your sister shall feel the same pain as you." He smiled and put more force on her hand and she growled. "Or maybe you'd like that?" he sneered.

Xayida rode with Solan in the open field of Macedonia. She thought they would never make it even close to the castle especially with Ares following them around like hawks. Solan had barely said a word since they left their campsite a few days ago. She could understand why he was so quiet, but at the same time, she wanted to help him and help Xena too.

"I know you're angry with me," she said. "Your mother, I know, is really looking forward to meeting with you."

Solan frowned and folded his arms, looking around at the familiar land that he called home. "I just...don't understand this at all."

Xayida sighed, "I know. It must be hard for you to understand. I barely understand it myself." She thought that sounded more lame coming out of her mouth than it did in her head and with Solan's silence, it wasn't helping.

"Solan," she began, "I've been a mother to you for all of your life. I have given you everything that you ever wanted. I love you and will always love you, but I did something unforgiveable. My sister is your mother and I'm not. I thought that I was helping you but it seemed that I only hurt you and my sister more by keeping you two away from each other."

Solan frowned and saw the sadness in her eyes. "Even though you are not my real will always be my mother," he said and saw a small smile on her lips. "Maybe I can have two mothers?" he implied with a big grin.

Xayida's smile widened. "I don't think your mother will ever want to see me again, Solan."

"But, I do," he said and she looked over her shoulder, staring into his blue eyes.

She felt her hand suddenly writhe in agony and she hissed, halting the horse. Solan frowned and she held her hand. She looked down and saw a huge bruise forming on her fingers and palm. A finger broke and she cried out loudly, holding her hand close to her chest.

"What's wrong?" Solan asked concernedly and hopped off the horse.

Salty tears formed in her eyes and she then felt a sharp stinging pain on her arm and hissed. Solan looked at her arm and saw blood seeping from her sleeve. He gasped and then she felt blood dripping from her nose. She saw the blood drip onto her dress and her eyes widened in fear.

Xena wiped the blood from her nose and got off the ground, glaring at Ares. "I will not help you!" she yelled and they clashed their swords together, circling each other.

Ares smiled. "The more you fight me, the more your sister feels your pain, Xena. You don't want to hurt her? Or do you?" he head butted her and she fell onto her back.

Gabrielle groaned and tried to crawl on the ground, trying to pry her legs out of the soil. "Xena! Don't do it! Don't listen to him! He is lying!"

Xena breathed heavily and looked into Gabrielle's pleading eyes. She jumped to her feet and held her sword in hand, pointing it directly at the war god. "What are you planning to do with Solan?!"

Ares sighed, "I told you, I can't tell you that. Help me get him and then I will tell you."

"I don't trust you," Xena said and licked the blood off her lips.

"Trust? You don't trust anyone, especially Xayida. She has your son and yet you don't seem to care..." he grinned and then appeared behind her. She gasped breathlessly and he touched her neck sensually. He pointed to the dark clouds ahead over the mountains. "You see those clouds?" he whispered in her ear. "That is no storm...but a storm of death that will surround Athens and spread across Greece." He smiled.

Xena's eyes widened and she immediately thought of her city, her people, everything she worked so hard for the last ten years. Ares was obviously a liar, but whatever he was doing was sinister and perhaps maybe that explained all the other strange things happening lately too. Blood rain, comets soaring across Constantinople, dead animals everywhere. Yes, that had to be it, she thought.

"And you're working with the forces of the devil himself, aren't you?" Xena asked.

Ares chuckled and he walked around her slowly. "Satan?" he laughed more and she eyed him cautiously. "No, no, my dear Xena. This is not the work of the devil, but someone far greater than the fallen angel himself. Satan would weep at his feet. This force of evil is from thousands of years ago, before there was a church or the religion of the one 'true God'," he mocked. "Even the sultan is engulfed in the force of evil that waits upon us."

Xena was starting to put together the pieces now. "Jinn," she whispered and Ares frowned. "You are the Jinn Mehmet was talking about, aren't you?"

The god snickered. "You are a good detective, Xena."

"The fire, the blood...was all you?" she spat and he shrugged a shoulder.

"Not me, but the one god, the one god that will rule over this world. We will create a new line of gods that would have rivaled the Gods of Olympus!" he roared and Gabrielle's jaw hung open, listening to insanity.

He cupped her cheek softly and she closed her eyes, trying to focus herself not to succumb to him. "Now, about your son," he hissed. "You want him don't you?" he cocked his head and she nodded. "Good," he grinned maliciously. "Then help me get him from your treacherous sister and you will have him."

"No, Xena!" Gabrielle cried out.

"Quiet you!" Ares yelled and shut Gabrielle's mouth. Her eyes widened as she touched her lips and was unable to talk or even scream. "So, do we have a deal?" he turned back to Xena.

She frowned, glaring into his dark eyes. "What are planning to do with him?"

"I need him for a little game. The one god will thank him for his service." He eyed her and saw she was not convinced. "Or perhaps...I could take your sister instead? An exchange if you will..." he smiled then saw her eyes darken at the mention of her sister. He knew that he had her. Gabrielle's muffled yelling could be heard behind them both and he frowned at the blonde, trying to ignore her.

"And I can have my son?" Xena asked and Ares nodded.

"He's all yours," he smiled and she furrowed her eyebrows. "No time to waste. The road to Macedonia is just down that way," he cleared a path for them and she looked to her right and saw the forest had disappeared.

He began backing away from her slowly and she kept eyeing the open road. They would arrive in Macedonia less than a day. It was a lot closer than Athens and if Xayida was in Macedonia like Ares said, she had nothing to lose.

"Dahak will thank you all," he winked then disappeared.

Gabrielle could finally open her mouth and was unfrozen from the soil. She quickly jumped up and ran to Xena, grasping her arm firmly. "Xena, what are you doing?! You can't trust Ares. He has been nothing but trouble since we met him! He is just trying to manipulate you!"

Xena frowned, "but Xayida has my son. He said so himself. I can finally see him."

Gabrielle shook her head and couldn't believe that Xena would blind herself this easily, though she understood her pain. "But Xena, he said that he could take Xayida instead of Solan. That doesn't sound promising to me."

The dark haired queen grimaced. "He can do whatever he wants to her. She is no longer a problem of mine."

Borias groaned and both women turned to see he had finally come to, being knocked out the entire time. Xena ran to him and knelt down, inspecting the wound upon his forehead. "You're bleeding," she noted and ripped a piece of her sleeve off and dabbed his wound.

Gabrielle raised her eyebrow and folded her arms, eyeing Xena. She looked at the dark clouds looming over the mountains and didn't think that Ares was lying about his plan to bring this new god into the world. There was too much at stake here. She also didn't trust Ares, knowing what he is capable of and now Xena suddenly wants to work with him? She didn't understand.

Hours later after they set onto the road to Macedonia, Xena had a lengthy discussion with Borias while Gabrielle stayed off in a corner by herself, thinking silently.

Borias stared at Xena as the two remained silent for the last half hour. She sighed and folded her arms. "Aren't you going to say anything?" she muttered.

He raised his eyebrow and kept staring at her blankly, not sure what to say. After Xena told him that Xayida took their son from them ten years ago, he stopped listening after that. He had believed that his child had died after birth but learning that was definitely not true, he wasn't sure what Xena was true at all. He always disliked Xena's younger sister and now he more than disliked her –he hated her.

"Where is Xayida now?" he finally said something.

This wasn't exactly what Xena wanted to hear. "She's in Macedonia with...our son," her eyes lowered and suddenly this felt even more awkward than the night their son supposedly died. After that night the two parted their separate ways and never spoke to one another again, until now that is.

He nodded his head slowly and scratched his chin, pursing his lips. "I'm surprised you did not kill her..." he mused and she smiled slightly.

"I almost did but...Gabrielle told me not to and –"

"You always listen to that blonde friend of yours?" he smirked.

Xena frowned and continued, "she convinced me that we needed Xayida to find Solan. And we still do..."

Borias nodded again and stared into Xena's sad eyes. "And after we get our son, I will kill her," he frowned and stood up then began walking off into the darkness, passing by Gabrielle.

Gabrielle lifted her eyes from the campfire and saw Xena sitting by herself and Borias walk off hastily. She quickly ran over to Xena and leered over her. "Xena..." said began softly, "are you alright?"

When Xena didn't answer her she decided to sit down beside her in the dark. She let out a heavy sigh and could feel Xena's pain and confliction.

"Xena, we need to talk about Xayida and Ares. I know you want to get Solan back but I don't think you should listen to Ares. He just wants to use you. You don't think it's strange that a mythological god appears out of nowhere and tries to summon this 'one God' to take over the world?"

The more Xena listened to Gabrielle, the more confused she became. She buried her face in her hands and Gabrielle wrapped her arm around her shoulders. "I don't know what to do." She mumbled.

Gabrielle smiled and nodded. "It's a lot to take in but I think if you follow Ares' path you won't get what you want. He mentioned this name 'Dahak'. That must be the 'one God' he was talking about. He doesn't sound like the one true God of the church, Xena." She paused and Xena lifted her head from her hands.

She continued, "think of all the bizarre things that have been happening. A merciful god wouldn't do that to his people."

Xena scoffed, "you do not believe in that religion, Gabrielle."

"Neither do you," the blonde Amazon Queen nudged her friend's arm. "But you can't deny that is not heavenly, it is evil. This Dahak is evil and so is Ares. He said so himself that he wants to exchange your sister for Solan. Do you really want to find out what that means when it comes down to getting Solan back?"

The Greek queen groaned and folded her arms in her lap. "But I want to see my son, Gabrielle. I only saw him once –when he was born. I didn't get to watch him grow up into the person he is today. Xayida took that away from me. How could I ever forgive her for doing that to me?"

Gabrielle could understand why Xena felt that way and what Xayida was awful. "Well, despite the feelings you have towards your sister, do you honestly believe she would raise him to be a horrible person?"

Xena shook her head slowly and the Amazon nodded, grabbing her hand, giving it a firm squeeze.

"And would you want to take away the only mother that Solan has ever known his entire life?" she asked and Xena creased her eyebrows together, brooding in silence. "I know she took the opportunity of motherhood away from you, but she gave your son a good life, Xena. She said so herself. He lives in a really nice castle and she's always cared for him. You shouldn't take that away from him. Don't let Ares persuade you to make the wrong decision," she said and Xena turned to her with teary eyes.

"What should I do? Borias said he wants to kill Xayida for what she did."

Gabrielle sighed and rest her head on the queen's shoulder. "Do what you always do, convince people to do the right thing. Killing Xayida isn't going to make you or Borias feel better and it certainly won't make Solan feel better either."

Xayida dismounted her horse and Solan followed her inside their large castle in Tempe Valley. She saw the doors were open and she frowned, holding her bruised hand close to her chest. Her aching back caused her to limp and her entire arm was covered in her own dried blood.

They both entered and saw the castle was deserted, all except Zakos, sweeping up broken vases. He lifted his head and was overjoyed seeing his queen and the prince by her side, unharmed.

"Your majesty!" Zakos grinned and ran to her. He saw her blood drenched sleeve and her limping inside. "What happened?"

Xayida shook her head. "Never mind that." She eyed the destruction inside her palace and grimaced. "What happened in here?"

The messenger sighed, "the Romans came and ransacked the palace, your highness. They took all of the women, all your soldiers! Everyone!" he wagged his head and leaned against the broom. "It was terrible."

"Romans?" she questioned and he nodded. "Why would the Romans invade me? I am friends with the Church."

Zakos looked into the queen's concerned blue eyes. "The Romans said they were needed for a religious ceremony."

Xayida immediately thought of Ares and those corrupt cardinals in the Roman Cathedral inside Vatican City. Ares had Solan held hostage and they were going to use him as a sacrifice. Maybe Ares wanted to gather up every person in the neighboring kingdoms for new sacrifices? Or maybe not...maybe he was up to something else? But what? Her brain couldn't wrap around this oddity, though she couldn't stay here. She needed to talk to her sister.

"We aren't staying long. We will be leaving to see my sister in Constantinople," she said and turned to Solan. "Come with me," she said and the young boy followed her.

Zakos was now the one who was confused. "But my queen, the Caliph is sending troops into Athens. Why would you endanger yourself and go to Constantinople?" he ran after her.

She came into her room which was also destroyed. Grumbling, she limped over to her vanity set and pulled out some bandages and began wrapping it around her hand and more specifically around her broken finger. No doubt this was Ares' work too.

"First...the sultan attacks my sister from afar. Now...he wants to invade her kingdom," she hissed and ripped the bandage with her teeth and tied it off. "I can't stop Mehmet from attacking Athens, but I have something important to do first." She sighed and grabbed some alcohol from her shelf across the way and poured it on her open wound on her arm.

She bit her lip and grunted loudly, stomping her heel on the ground. Solan cringed and watched her hissing and exhaling heavily. Very painful, he gathered.

"Can we stay here for the night?" Solan asked sweetly and Xayida smiled at him.

"We really need to be going, Solan. I made a promise to my sister." She wrapped the bandage around her arm and limped over to him, touching his cheek softly. "I have already disappointed her so much, I don't want to wait any longer."

Zakos butted in, "I think the prince is right, my queen. You should stay the night. Xena will be there tomorrow.

Solan looked into her eyes pleading to stay and she relented. He grinned then hugged her warmly. She cringed and he immediately pulled away, forgetting about her odd injuries. "Sorry..." he mumbled.

The following day Xena, Gabrielle and Borias arrived at Xayida's palace in Tempe Valley. Xena walked up to the palace doors and looked at the entrance for the longest time. She felt a subtle push from Gabrielle and turned to her.

"It'll be fine," she smiled and Xena exhaled heavily, nodding.

All three of them walked into the palace and saw it was a ghost town. Nobody appeared to be here. Borias drew his sword and walked ahead of Xena, eyeing the empty hallways. Xena put her arm in front of Gabrielle and went to inspect the destruction inside for herself. Gabrielle folded her arms and eyed the hallways. There was nobody here.

"Maybe she's not here and Ares lied?" Gabrielle whispered.

Xena shushed her and walked through the large corridor. "Xayida?!" she yelled out and her voice echoed in the marble palace.

"Or she's hiding," Borias hissed.

All three turned when they heard loud heels against the marble. Xayida limped down the hallway and saw Xena with Gabrielle and...Borias. She didn't expect him to be here and now she was worried that he might do something to her.

She nervously smiled and Xena's eyes widened, seeing her sister's hand and arm bandaged. She looked awful and not to mention she wasn't dressed in her usual ridiculous extravagant gowns, but in a simple beige form fitting dress.

"Xayida..." Xena ran forward and touched her bruised cheek. "What...what happened to you?"

Her younger sister hissed at the touch and turned her cheek. "I was something I couldn't see."

Xena's heart sank once she heard that. Ares had warned her that every time she got hurt, it would hurt Xayida too, but she didn't believe him until she saw the horrible condition her sister was in. "This is all my fault..."

Xayida smiled softly, "no it's not."

Borias stepped in between them and grabbed Xayida's arm. "Where is my son?" he growled and Xena frowned, pushing him away. "Xena!"

"Don't Borias." Xena warned and Xayida stepped away, coming closer to her elder sister.

"Don't hide behind your sister, Xayida. If I were her, I would have killed you already." He snarled and Xayida lowered her eyes.

"I have been dead a long time," the younger sister said softly. "Come with me." She walked off and Xena glared at Borias. She snapped her fingers and he slowly sheathed the sword in its holster again.

Solan was in his room trying to put everything back where it was. The Romans really did destroy everything in sight. He began to wonder why they would come here anyway and he should have never listened to Ares in the first place. He was definitely not a friend of his mother's...Xayida, he corrected himself.

A knock came to his door and he turned around. Xayida opened the door and Xena stood behind her sister, peering over her shoulder. Solan set down a chair and his cheeks reddened. Xayida smiled and opened the door fully and gestured for Xena to come inside.

Xena scanned Solan up and down, examining him silently to herself. Upon seeing him for the first time as a grown child was something she thought would never happen. She saw he was not a scrawny eleven year old, but quite tall, like his parents, of course. His big blue eyes reminded her of her own and Lyceus' and his strong jaw much like Borias' and his long nose.

She smiled and stepped inside the room, approaching Solan slowly. Borias stepped in after Xena, though kept his distance. Gabrielle smiled and clung to Xayida, watching the three silently study one another.

Solan's large eyes peered up at Xena and his mouth gaped slightly, seeing her for the first time. Xena grinned and touched his sandy blonde long hair. She then grazed his cheek and he was frozen, unable to move. She knelt down in front of him and looked at his hands, smiling widely.

"I know...this must be strange for you. You don't know me," Xena began and Solan kept staring her.

"You're my mother," he said and Xena's eyes widened. "She told me," he looked to Xayida and Xena turned to her sister. Xayida half smiled and both Xena and Borias stared at her in shock.

She definitely wasn't expecting Xayida to tell Solan anything. Xena turned back to her son and smiled, trying to hold back tears.

"Oh..." she said softly and grasped his hands in hers. "I never thought I would have this chance to meet you," she said with a big grin and Solan blinked, staring into her eyes, remaining silent. "I...just want to let you know that I loved you very much and I never stopped thinking about you."

Solan cocked his head to the side and kept staring at her. She was so much like his adopted mother that he almost felt confused, but she definitely wasn't the same as Xayida at all. Her face was different, her touch, her smile and hair too. He reached forward and Xena watched him cautiously. His fingers traced her face and then her long dark straight hair, much different than Xayida's wavy hair.

"Does this mean...I will go live with you?" he asked sadly and looked over to Xayida.

Xena sighed and looked at her sister's distraught face. She stood and grabbed his hands. "Maybe, if you want to," she said with a smile and she finally saw him smile brightly. Gabrielle was right, Xayida was a part of Solan's life, a big part of his life. It's all that he knew.

"But you don't have to right now if you don't want to..." she added and Solan nodded. She turned to Borias who was still gawking at his son in silence. She pushed him forward gently. "And this is your father, Borias," she introduced.

Solan stepped forward, examining his father's face. He held out his hand, "hello," he said with a smile and Borias grinned and shook the boy's hand. He frowned now looking at both of his parents standing before him.

"You both have dark hair..." he observed and Xena smiled as did Borias.

"My brother has hair like yours," Xena said and he frowned, still a bit miffed.

The boy sighed heavily. "I don't really understand all of this..." he said, folding his arms.

Xena sat down in the chair and touched his cheek gently. "I know and maybe one day I could tell you everything, but not now."

Solan looked up at his father and then back to his mother then to Xayida standing in the doorway. "Do you live together?" he asked.

Xena and Borias lowered their eyes and Solan's eyes darted between them. "No, we don't," Xena answered for them both. "Not anymore."

"Why not?" he asked innocently.

Borias interrupted, placing a hand on Xena's shoulder. "It's a long story," he said and Xena weakly smiled.

"Where do you live then?" he asked his father.

"In Wallachia," Borias smiled, folding his arms. Xena was tempted to roll her eyes, but she kept her composure. Solan's eyes lit up as soon as he heard that.

"Don't vampires live there?!" he asked with a big grin.

Borias' eyebrow raised and Xena frowned. "I don't think so..." he answered and then continued, "one day I could show you the city."

Solan nodded then turned to his mother. "Do you have a big palace in Athens?" and she nodded. "I would like to see it someday if I can..."

"Of course you can!" Xena smiled and ran her fingers through his long locks.

Loud clapping was heard inside the room and Xena stood from the chair. Ares chuckled and appeared in the room, smiling at them all. Gabrielle frowned as soon as she saw the war god and Xayida grabbed her shoulders.

"How cute, very nice family reunion," Ares said.

Xena pulled out her sword and pushed Solan behind her. Borias unsheathed his sword and grabbed Solan, pulling him close to his body. She pointed the blade directly at Ares and grimaced.

"What do you want now?"

The war god sighed heavily. "You got what you wanted. You have your son." He frowned deeply. "Now Xayida is mine."

Xayida gasped. "What?!" she turned to her sister. "Xena, what is he talking about?!"

Ares laughed, "oh you didn't tell her?" he chided and Xena stepped forward, holding onto her sword firmly. "I shouldn't expect anything less, I guess. We made a deal, Xena. You get your son and I get your sister. You can't have both."

"I've changed my mind," Xena said, now realizing that this plan was terrible. She didn't want her sister to die, no matter how much distain she had for her after all her secrets and betrayal.

"Too bad," Ares said with a smirk. "I need a sacrifice and since you won't give up your precious son, I need someone." He saw the boy cowering in fear, holding onto Borias' coat.

He appeared beside Xayida and pushed Gabrielle aside. She fell to the ground and he grabbed Xayida's shoulder. Xena whipped around and growled. She ran forward and then Ares disappeared with her sister just as she drove her sword into the floor.

Gabrielle groaned and stood up. "Now what?!"

Xena frowned and turned to see the frightened look on Solan's face. "We go after her."

Borias scoffed, "and how are we going to do that?" he asked.

Solan spoke up, "they are in Rome."