"Charon, indeed, your dreaded oar,
With what a peaceful sound it dips
Into the stream; how gently, too,
From the wet blade the water drips.
I knew a ferryman before.
But he was not so old as you.
He spoke from unembittered lips,
With careless eyes on the bright sea
One day, such bitter words to me
As age and wisdom never knew."
Edna St. Vincent Millay [Sappho Crosses the Dark River into Hades]
*****************************************************

Author: Denigoddess2001@aol.com
Date: 12/6/01 3:41:47 AM
Saga: The Hades Wave
Title: Leadeth Me Beside Still Waters
Rating: R (for violence and adult content)
Genre: Crossover: Xena/ X-Men/ Gargoyles
Characters: Xena, Goliath, Demona/ Elisa, Demetrius, Kurt (Nightcrawler) Wren, Orion, Princess Katherine, Charon of Styx and a couple of really nasty Vikings
********************************************************************

Disclaimer: I do not own Gargoyles. They belong to Disney. I do not own X-Men. They belong to Marvel. I do not own Xena. She belongs to Renaissance Pictures. All original characters are property of their Deity (ME) Denigoddess2001. I am writing this for fun, not profit. Please do not sue.

Summary: Previously, Xena, Demona/ Elisa (the ghost of Elisa is possessing Demona's body), Goliath, Demetrius, Wren and Nightcrawler have arrived in Macedonia with the mutagens in tow. Wren's powers act unpredictably and she falls into a cavern. There is no easy way to save her and she relies upon the Annulus' time-traveling abilities (thanks to the Chronos Fragments) to save her hide. She travels back to 994 AD two nights before the Wyvern Massacre and attempts to work Goliath and his clan to leave the castle. They think her daft and choose not to head her warnings. In her brief time there, she finds out a sub-species of Gargoyle about which she never knew. The fae/ gargoyle hybrids raise Wren's curiosity, but before she can find out more she is returned by mysterious forces to the present.

When last we left our merry band of heroes, they had made their way inside the Tomb Of The Scrolls in Mt. Kel in Macedonia.

Time: Morning: November 9, 2005
Place: Tome of the Scrolls, Mt. Kel in Macedonia.

Most of the throne room floor was covered in a thick gray layer of dust and scattered debris. Demetrius suspected that finding the throne where Ares sat was well-nigh unachievable. It had had long since been smashed to rubble by the collapse of the heavy rock upon the chamber five decades prior. He watched Goliath nimbly remove boulders and other things that blocked his way. He envied his clan leader's ability to have such strength during the day.

Demetrius glanced down at his hands. During the day, he was an African-American man that stunned many of the ladies. Wren had told him in no uncertain terms that he had the class of Keith Hamilton-Cobb and the raw sensuality of Lenny Kravitz. More than once, they had drawn their share of stares when they spent their days together in the Linoma Bluffs Plaza. He knew Human females longed for him; he smelled their fertility scents that hung thick in the air like cheap perfume. Nothing compared to the sweet lingering scent of his beloved mate.

[Milady, how I admire your zest and spirit. Once you were truly a shy Wren and now you are saving the world. You've proven yourself to be of strong heart and clever mind. If only you would have me as your husband.] She was exceedingly distracted in her search to find Ares' throne. He knew that the throne had the Eye of Hephaestus and there would be found the indention necessary for the Key of Hades. He breathed easily knowing that her attentions were elsewhere and that his thoughts had free reign in his mind.

Being human had given Demetrius both new perspective and enlightenment. He had told Wren that she was his clan and that she needed him more than the Wyvern clan. Yet, working beside Goliath stirred old longings for others of his kind. While not Gargoyle during the day, he knew that his heart and soul remained true to his nature. [I wish that my Beloved would agree to return to Caledon with me. Perchance, we might visit New York during the holidays and spend time with Goliath and my rookery brothers.]

Demetrius' tapered fingers came across sharp dimensions with a chipped surface. He quickly brushed away the dust and found Black marble under his fingertips. He pushed away the boulders and found gold and another strangle metal mangled together. He pulled the mess from the rubble and held it high. Digging deeper, he realized that he had found the seat that was the Throne of Ares.

"Good job." The Warrior Princess patted him soundly on the back. "Now, we can get down to business. Demona...er Elisa, do you have the mutagens?"

"They're with me." The brown-eyed redhead confirmed. Demetrius stared over at the petite woman standing beside him. During the day, Demona was human with green eyes. He felt much at ease when those eyes appeared brown for that meant that Elisa Maza was in control of the woman's faculties.

"If anyone wants to turn back," Xena cast a surreptitious glance toward Wren. "The time is now."

Wren sensed the unspoken meaning in the Warrior Princess' words. She turned to the taller warrior and quirked a brow in silent challenge. She slowly strolled over to the party leader and threw back her cloak. "You are a clone with someone else's memories. I am the real thing. I've traveled to different worlds. I've actually fought Ares. Compared to the real Xena, you are just a cheap imitation. So, before I start making snide innuendos about one's courage, I'd show some actual bravery if I were you. Now, are you going to yak or use the Key of Hades?"

"I meant no offense." Xena seemed honestly taken aback by the rapid transformation in Wren's normally placid conduct. "But you seem to be frightened of your own shadow."

"Let me tell you this, Xena Argos." Wren's hand brought her Annulus into view. "I've paid a high price this past year to possess this item. It wasn't of my choosing. But, I'm not going to let anyone tell me that I lack courage."

"Good, you're going to need that courage where we're going."

"I'm counting on that."

Xena withdrew the Key of Hades from inside of her sepia leather duster. She took the bladed circlet in hand and carefully laid it in the circular indention that surrounded the iris of the Eye of Hephaestus. The chakrum fell into the serration easily and gave a solid click that confirmed its proper fit. Xena took both hands and turned the chakrum slowly to the right.

"Mein Gott!" Nightcrawler whispered to Wren as he watched in fascination. "It almost like opening a safe."

"Just about." She gave him a wink. "Just don't get very far from me. After that last episode of falling, I'd like to have you nearby. Teleportation comes in handy."

Light akin to a corona in an eclipse flashed brightly around the outer blade of the chakrum. A bright pulsating brilliance emanated from the pupil of the eye carved from solid fire opal. A helix of scarlet and golden light burst forth in a single beam and reached high into the darkness. A slow grinding of stone against stone filled the chamber. The chipped black marble throne gradually slid across the rough bedrock floor until a deep chasm was revealed.

Nightcrawler grabbed one of the torches from the wall and stood at the edge of the opening. He shined the torch down into the corridor. "There are stairs made of the darkest obsidian that lead into the darkness. Come and see!"

Nightcrawler was the first to descend down the dark passage. Xena soon followed by Wren and the others. Each step seemed to bring on more heat until Wren was almost glowing with perspiration. The party made their way through the dark corridor until they were inside an endless subterranean cavern that extended without end. The grotto reeked of peat and dank mustiness. A heavy miasma lurked along the bottom of the cavern casting a murky haze of green vapor. In the distance, the howling of lamenting voices and the screams of those in pain rebounded from the endless passages of the Underworld.

[My God! I'm actually here!] Wren looked around at the abysmal scene surrounding her. [I've been where few living people have traveled save Xena, Herc, and Orpheus. This is unbelievable.]

A strange excitement filled the mutant as she pushed past Nightcrawler. "Meine freunde, what are you doing?"

"Let's get hopping!" She nodded with confidence. "We have mutagens to return and we don't have much time."

"You're insane." He muttered.

"No, I'm treading where angels have never walked."

"Goliath, is Wren's attitude wise?" Demona/ Elisa murmured quietly.

"She is like this from time to time when she forgets her fear and remembers her true self." He gave the ravishing redhead a knowing smile. "Once she leaves behind her trepidation, she can be a formidable force."

"Or a dead one if she isn't careful."

Demetrius shivered as he walked along the stairs. He remembered this place too well. He remembered the stench of the death and dank. He felt the cold dampness seep through his skin and chill him to the bone. How he longed for his wings at the moment to wrap around him and block out the coldness of death. [When I was .....destroyed, I ended up here. I walked this same path and along the bank of the river-]

"Styx!" Wren exclaimed.

"Okay, Wren, this is where I take over." Elisa's voice came through clearly for the first time in hours. Demona the human lurched forward and clutched her stomach. She fell to her knees and gasped for air. Her diminutive body convulsed as she desperately sought air. "No, Demona! Not yet. I need more time."

"My Night Angel!" Goliath exclaimed and reached out to Demona/ Elisa.

Pleading eyes stared soulfully at Goliath. They flashed emerald then darkened to coffee. Her hand reached out to touch his and then she fell at his feet. The lavender leviathan scooped up the unconscious woman in his arms and pressed her tightly to him. He rocked her gently like a small child in need of comfort and he tenderly placed a kiss upon her brow. "My Love, Elisa, come back to me."

"I'm here, Big Guy, for now." A gentle hand cupped his face. "She's not liking the situation and she wants back her body. I can't say as I blame her."

"We have to walk to the bank and wait for-" Elisa told the group.

"Charon." Demetrius finished her sentence.

"You've done this before, haven't you?" She eyed him with empathy. "When Clan Wyvern was destroyed?"

Demetrius couldn't meet Elisa's searching gaze. Lavender eyes fell to stare and study the craggy ground. Wren turned to see her beloved warrior. She watched Elisa lay a comforting hand on the young warrior's shoulder. "I know it's hard. But, you're alive and well now, Demetrius. Don't forget. Don't let this place get to you."

Wren walked beside the still waters of Styx. She listened to the quiet words fall between Demetrius and Elisa. [They've seen and known Death. They've fought it and won.... It's something that he's never shared with me.]

She kicked a small rock into the dark cobalt waters of the river. She knelt beside the riverbank and stared into the inky depths. A mist of wispy white vapor loomed over the still waters. Wren stared at her reflection in the serene waters. It had been told to her once in a C.H.A.K.R.U.M meeting that if one stared into the river of Styx, one could see how other died.

"Show me, Styx." She let her fingers dip into the cold water of the river. "Show me the Wyvern Massacre."

Wren watched as the reflection rippled before her. The howling of lamenting souls and the gnashing of teeth became lost to her. The darkness of the cavern vanished as she stared at the golden light surrounding her. The silence became filled with the war cries of Vikings as she watched them run past her with weapons raised. "Hurry, before the sound goes down."

She noticed that the ground felt rocky beneath her feet. Wren felt one of the Vikings brush her as he ran by her. He seemed oblivious to her presence. She decided to run with the horde of warriors as they made their assault on Castle Wyvern. She heard some crying in Norse to fire the large barrels of oil. Another commander bellowed to his archers to fire their bows on his command. Wren became lost in the chaos as the catapults fired and the combatants used long ladders to scale the high castle walls.

She noticed that the Vikings took a battering ram and made short work of the heavy wooden gates of the castle. Moments slowed to nothing as she made her way through the battle Saxons battle Vikings with sword and Axe. Archers aimed their missiles toward the guards above the parapets. She walked past the dead and dying and entered with the first wave of Vikings that crashed through the gates of Wyvern. She leapt over dead bodies and dodged fighting swordsmen as she headed for the great dining hall.

She watched women, children and peasants scrambling wildly for cover. Wren felt the horror of innocent lives sliced down by Viking sword. She screamed when she saw one of the murderers dragging Princess Katherine toward one of the tables. He pushed her down and managed to work his hands under her skirts. The young maiden screamed vainly for help as he worked to undo his codpiece.

[I can't stand by and do nothing. But, this is just a vision.] She felt rage well within her. She had heard the stories of Katherine's rudeness and contempt of the Gargoyles. [Why must I be shown her rape by one Viking soldier?]

Wren didn't care that it was only a vision. The cruelty of the Viking's intentions fueled the young Mutant's anger. Her anger became an inferno of rage. [Not on my watch, ass-hole.]

She leapt upon the long dining table and ran along it's length letting forth a war cry akin to one given at Cinco de Mayo. A trill of the tongue was followed by three hardy laughs. The surprised Viking turned away from his fresh conquest to see a brunette charging him at top speed. He reached for the battle axe that lay just beyond his reach. Wren remembered the recent sparring matches with her beloved mate. Deftly she tucked her feet beneath her and rolled across the table like a bowling ball knocking him quite soundly to the floor.

"Princess, it's easier to run with your skirts up than with his pants down." Wren spoke to the frightened girl in Gaelic. She held the blade of her Annulus to the soldier's neck. She studied his bearded face. The soldier was a mere lad of 20 or 21. Wren found it hard to believe that he was a would-be rapist. [Different time and different place, Wren.]

"If you wish to live, listen carefully." She knew that he understood her archaic English. "Do you understand me?" He nodded frantically. "Good. Now, you are going to strip down to your bare skin. I am going to tie your hands and you are going to let yourself be locked in that small closet over there."

Wren nodded in the direction of a small alcove that in a thousand years would be a supply closet. "Make one wrong move, bastard, and I'll slit you open from throat to scrotum. Understand?"

The Viking nodded mutely.

"Now get undressed." Wren kicked the battle-axe in Katherine's direction. "I bet you wish the Gargoyles were here to save you."

"Aye, they'd have made short work of him." She agreed. "I owe ye my life. Who are ye?"

"My name is Wren...as in the Songbird." Wren answered shortly.

"Whatever ye want my Uncle shall gladly give ye." She smoothed her ruffled skirts about her. "Simply name yer reward."

"Change your attitudes toward the Gargoyles." Wren never took her eyes from the disrobing Viking. "Be kind to them and show them compassion. They aren't filthy beasts, they're valiant beings with hearts far kinder than you mere mortals."

"Who are you?" Katherine gasped as she saw a naked man for the first time.

A mischievous impulse tempted Wren. [Maybe, just once, I can use this damned label to my advantage...I want to know what it feels like to be revered as one of those damned elves.]

She caused her eyes and hands to glow a verdant green. The young Viking stumbled, tripped and fainted. She gave a small smirk to the Princess and nodded in satisfaction. "I am Wren Summers, a Child Of Oberon. If you wish to repay me for keeping your virtue intact, be kind to the Gargoyles. That is my greatest reward."

"Be kind to beasts that are pagans and infidels. They are beasts capable of speech and Satan's own spawn."

"Would you rather that I revive our unconscious young friend?" Wren gave the fallen soldier a sound kick. "I'm sure he'd be happy to finish what he started."

"No, I beg you!" Katherine gasped. "I will give your request much thought...but I can not change what is in my heart."

"I believe that you'll do your best. Now, help me get this idiot into the closet."

A moment later Wren latched the door. She told Katherine to hide and she might just live to see another day. Katherine quickly sprinted from the room and was gone. Wren turned to look out the window of the great dining hall and saw the last of a fiery daystar dip beneath the hilly horizon. A horrific realization caused her to fall to her knees; at sunset, the Vikings began destroying the Gargoyles.

She screamed and desperately ran to the door that led to the tower. She skipped two stairs at a time as she scrambled toward the top door of the tower that led to the parapets. She kicked the door open and exploded onto the stone tower of the roof. She arrived just as she saw a Viking race his mace above her Beloved. Her hand went to her Annulus and she charged it with every ounce of luckmagic her being possessed at that moment. She let the bladed circlet cut a path through the spring air. It streaked a trail of verdant light as it found its intended target. The sharp blade sawed through the handle of the mace while bludgeoning weapon was posed to strike a blow at Demetrius' shoulder.

"Not on my watch." She knew as the sun fell beneath the horizon, change would be upon her. She needed only to stall for a few more minutes before the Gargoyles would come alive and make mincemeat of the Vikings.

"A little girl like you can't take the lot of us." He grinned as he circled her. He reached for his sword hanging in it's scabbard at his side.

Her Annulus returned to her hand and was firm within her grasp. She knew that she was all that remained between Demetrius and death. The Viking slowly advanced with blade drawn. His leer let her know that he intended to make her death slow and quite painful. He lunged forward and his blade found it's mark as it sliced heavily into Wren's forearm. The shock of the wound was enough to make the woman stare like a blinded doe at her assailant. He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to the ground.

Wren brought both feet together and let them kick in one solid strike into his codpiece. The startled soldier yelped and fell back against the parapet wall. Wren wasted no time as she plunged her Annulus through a thick layer of metal and padded leather. A bemused look came across his face as he stared at her. He looked down to see half of the bladed weapon embedded in his chest. Blood gurgled in his mouth as his eyes became glazed. "You're just a woman."

"I am Nightkind." She told him as Death claimed him. "See you in Hades, ass-hole."

She heard the sound of hammer against stone behind her. "No, please God! NO!"

Wren whirled around to see two Vikings with war hammers land resounding blows against her Beloved. Part of his shoulder shattered upon the first impact. The second blow crumbled the fine chiseled features of his face. A scream of mindless horror and rage filled her as she charged the two Vikings. She cursed the fates as she tripped and fell. She landed against stone stature and she felt it give. One of the Vikings stood before her as she fought desperately to regain her balance.

She heard the head of the hammer strike another blow against Gargoyle stone. The second Viking gave her a push and Wren found herself hurling over the edge of the parapets. Her eyes saw the last remnants of the smashed statue fall around her as she plummeted toward the hard earth. In those final milliseconds, her heart screamed at the injustice of what occurred. No magick altered history, not even that of Luck, Wren thought as she watched her life melt away in seconds. One simply fell prey to it's single-minded advancement....

"DEMETRIUS!" His name filled the cavern.

The young warrior turned to see his ladylove curled in a fetal position along the river Styx. Rocking, she sobbed like a wounded animal. He rushed over to her and pulled her to him. "Milady, what ails thee? Wren? WREN?"

"She stared into the waters, too long, most likely." A raspy voice answered.

"Who in Hades are you? Can you help her?" Demetrius stared at the figure before him. He noticed a short person appearing to float just a few inches above Styx. The figure silently shook his head and levitated over to where a boat was docked on the bank. He studied the wraith floating in the air. The creature wore ragged robes that hung about him in dingy tatters. He pulled back his hood to reveal a creviced face that sported more than one wart. His complexion was pallid and sported a sickly mustard hue.

"Charon." Xena drawled. "It's been a long time."

"You know the rules, Xena." The raspy voice held out his hand as she advanced. "Only the dead are permitted to cross into the Underworld."

"I've walked in the Shadowlands." Demetrius retorted. "I know death well."

"So does your catatonic little friend, Bud." A maniacal cackle escaped Charon. "You think that reincarnation gives you dibs on getting through the gates."

"I am not re-incarnated." Demetrius stumbled over the word. "I was resurrected."

"You, maybe...not the looney bin over there."

"What do you mean?"

"She witnessed your death and hers."

"Speak not in riddles, old man!" Demetrius bellowed. His eyes glowed with lavender fire. "Vex me thus and it will be your undoing."

"You little lady friend was one of those Gargoyles she saw smashed. That's why she's a head case. She was there twice when she died...once as a Garg and once as herself."

"Impossible."

"Not for that one." Charon pointed to her. "She's crazy like a fox, that one. The blood running through her veins makes her able to tap into some powerful magick. That little gimmick on her hip gets her back in time. However, she's so schizoid she can't handle it."

"What say ye? That Milady was one of those murdered at Wyvern?"

"You're catchin' on, kid." He nodded. Charon seemed to take great pleasure as Demetrius' dark complexion became almost ashen white with the comprehension of those words. "She fell off the parapets at Wyvern because her stone Gargoyle counterpart was pushed off the ledge by two Vikings."

"No...."

"Oh, yeah!" Charon rubbed his hands together in maniacal glee. "When that one came to me, she was a he and he was a headcase...askin' for you. That's how I remember you....said he was your lover...."

"Your lover?" Goliath's brow ridge raised in bewilderment. "Not Atlalanta."

"No..." Demetrius' head hung in grief and shame. "Not Atalanta. We were betrothed...but we never mated."

"Then who?"

"I know the one." Demona's voice came through loud and strong. Elisa's presence vanished. "The brown warrior...lithe in frame with the flowing blonde hair. He was a talented hunter and archer that was named by King Duncan...he called him Orion."

"You and he were lovers?" Goliath had trouble grasping the concept.

"Aye, we wished to be mated before the clan, but Orion wished to address you privately before spring solstice. I had only to release Atalanta from our betrothal. Then, Fate was cruel and took us into death's embrace." Demetrius stroked Wren's hair. "Had I only known soon, Milady, I'd have captured you in flight the first night we met."

"Hey, I'm sorry for your pain, guys...but, can the 'Days Of Our Lives' crap." Xena interjected. She gave Charon six gold coins. "Here's the deal, Charon. Take us across the rive into Hades and we let you walk away. If you don't, then I get serious pleasure in kicking your ass. It's a pretty pathetic thing you just did to that guy and I feel like taking you down a notch."

"Oh, you always were sexy when you got angry." He chuckled. Five bony fingers extended and greedily accepted the five gold coins. "Well, hurry up! I have got all eternity to wait on you."

Demetrius gathered Wren gently into his arms. She grasped the front of his shirt and buried her face in the warm wall of his chest. The others seated themselves in the narrow skiff. Goliath noticed that the mast at the front of the boat resembled that of the skiff he and Elisa traveled for Avalon. "What is the connection between this boat and the ones I've seen in Avalon?"

"You people ask a lot of questions." Charon whined as he pushed off the bank with his pole. "The boat you saw was from here. One of the connections to Styx is the lake on Avalon. The boat you saw was probably one of the ones used in travel between here and the land of the living."

The rest of the trip was spent in silence. Goliath remained quiet as he pondered the significance of the Avalon skiff. Demetrius felt bittersweet joy at knowing that he was reunited with a love long lost and yet knowing that revelation of such knowledge had endangered Wren's life. Xena looked stoically ahead to the other side. She said nothing as she drew her sword and grabbed the Charon's lantern from it's post.

"We need this." She turned to Nightcrawler. "You're coming with me while we scout ahead and make sure there's no trouble."

"Ya! I understand."

"The rest of you stay here and don't do anything until I get back." She told the rest of the party.

"Wait a minute." A familiar voice spoke from behind them. The lot turned to see Elisa Maza sitting at the very back of the skiff in front of Charon. "You need a guide and I know how to get around the Underworld better than anyone here."

"Elisa...I thought you were inside Elisa." Goliath's mouth hung agape.

"I can't maintain it for very long." She explained. "Besides, I'm on home turf and I'm stronger here. Xena, this is a dangerous place, wait for me."

"Agreed, come on." The warrior extended her hand to the detective and helped her from the Skiff. She cast a worried glance towards Wren. She turned toward Demetrius. "Is she going to be all right?"

"She will be well." He assured her. "Wren often suffers trauma from extensive psionic activity. I know that she is not insane or touched with madness. Her mind might be fractured but her spirit is strong. Let not Charon's words tell you other falsehoods."

"Understood."

Xena, Nightcrawler, and Elisa made their way into the darkness.

TO BE CONTINUED...