Apollo's sun beamed through the leaves of the large ash and oak trees of the Amazon forest, illuminating the earth below with a light green mixed with dark shades of the same color. The three companions woke up just before sun rise and were making good time to get back to Gabrielle's tribe and prepare them for an all-out war between a very out of sorts Warrior Princess and the Amazon nation.
The bard didn't get any rest after she awoke last night. She was feared going back to the realm of Morpheus but she wouldn't admit it to herself. Xena kind of frightened her, she saw her old friend and at the same time she didn't. Xena was like a shade of her former self. Aphrodite had told the young Queen that all she had to do was make her presence known to the Warrior, yet Gabrielle felt in her heart that, that would not be enough. She had to make her friend see the light or else all will be lost.
The bard was pulled from her thoughts by her short blonde friend. Iolaus placed a gentle hand on her shoulder as he walked beside the bard. He could see there was a lot on her mind and he only wished there was something he could do to help this beautiful young woman.
Iolaus smiled genuinely, "I know the past few days have been hard emotionally but believe me when I tell you we will get Xena back and all will be as it was."
Gabrielle sighed, she knew all Iolaus was trying to do was help comfort her. That was a nice thought that he would attempt to make her feel better. The bard shook her head sadly having her short blonde hair sway slightly, "I just don't see it happening that way Iolaus. From the stories I have heard from you and Hercules and from what Xena had told me, this goes far beyond anything she has ever done in her past." Gabrielle took a deep breath, trying to push back unwelcome tears that began to form in her forest green eyes. She shed enough tears already now was not the Time to be weak. She must start acting like the Queen she was. "What if I can't bring her back? What then?"
Iolaus squeezed the bard's shoulder softly, he could hear the pain in her voice and it broke his heart that this young woman was in so much pain. He spoke in a calmly, "we will cross that road if we come to it. Just don't give up hope Gabrielle. If you do then Xena is already lost to us."
Gabrielle stopped in her tracks and spun around in a swift motion to face the short blonde man, forcing his hand fall from her shoulder almost violently. She tried to push down the anger that began to boil within her. "When road comes, what will we do huh, Kill her? I am sorry Iolaus but I cannot kill Xena again. I won't be able to take it."
"Gabrielle-" the man began only to be cut off.
Hercules chimed in from behind Iolaus. He had been relatively silent the trip back but now he felt like he needed to enter this unfortunate conversation. "I'll do it," the demigod uttered barely over a whisper. His face was emotionless, one that the bard had seen many times before. "I'll be the one to end all this if it comes to it."
Iolaus turned on his heel to face his longtime friend. He could also see the mask that the demigod wore but his eyes betrayed him. They were filled with great pain. "Hercules-" Iolaus began.
The taller man held up his hand to stop his friend, "no, I am the only one who can do it. I will not have any more women and children die by... By Xena's command. So if it comes to her and them. I will stop her and put an end to this madness."
The shorter man shook his head sadly as Gabrielle turn to continue on to her tribe. She pulled on Argo's rein to move the mare forward. Taking that as the end of the conversation Hercules walked past his friend and walked beside the bard. Iolaus turned on his heel and watched as they continued onward. What a mess, he thought. It would seem the two people who he cared about gave up on the person they cared about. He shook his head sadly as he followed shortly after them.
They traveled in silence for a while before something started to truly bug the blonde man. He peered up at the trees above. He glanced around not seeing what he was looking for; Iolaus lowered his gaze to the bard who was leading the horse at a rather steady pace. "Strange," the man uttered.
Continuing on the journey the Demigod turned his head to face the blonde man, "what's strange?"
"Well we have been in Amazon Territory for over half a candle mark now and I have not seen an Amazon this whole time."
"Maybe they are not here," Hercules responded.
Gabrielle felt a slight smile form on her lips, "no they are here." She moved her gaze upward to see Solari above her. The other two men followed her gaze to see only the tops of the trees. The two men faced each other, after a moment Iolaus shrugged his shoulders. He didn't see anything but if Gabrielle says they are there then they must be.
"You are insane you know that," the God of War blurted out as Xena pushed her way through the door entering her tent. She had left to get some new second, so that gave the God some time to ponder on what she last said. Taking on his family is a Suicide mission. He won't lie to himself though; the thought of him and Xena ruling Mount Olympus was tempting. Xena Goddess of war and Ares God of war, ruling the known world, Yes very temping indeed.
Xena snickered as she moved pasted the god. "That depends on who you talk to," the warrior responded as she made her way to the table in the back corner of her tent. She leaned down and picked up a bag placing it on the table. Then she pulled out a map of the Amazon territory. The woman than threw the bag on the floor where it came from and laid the map on the table. She leaned forward placing both hands on both sides of the parchment, examining it closely. Xena wanted to plan the best possible way to get the Amazon's attention.
It's true they might already know the warrior was coming but she wanted to make sure that she wasn't to be dismissed as another lowly warlord. She was Xena, Warrior Princess, Destroyer of Nations, and these dishonorable women will feel the pain that she was in yet she would never admit it. There was some part of her that just wanted to give in and leave these women alone but that was only a small part of her. She mostly hated them and they will pay for their crimes. Xena felt a Menacing smile form on her lips. "Nowhere to hide," she spoke more to herself than to anyone else.
Ares watched as the raven haired women peered at the map before her. He ran his large hand threw his long curly dark hair, in frustration. Why did he have to be in love with this crazy woman? "Xena listen. We need to talk about this." The god spoke in a forceful tone.
Xena turned to face the god of war, not leaving the position she was in. Her icy blue eyes burned into his dark brown eyes. "What's there to talk about, I go in there kill the Amazon and its over. It is as simple as that."
Ares took a step closer to his chosen. Anger slowly began to build up in his chest. "You know what I'm talking about. "
"Oh the twilight of the Gods." Xena pushed herself off the table at faced the god fully. "We will cross that road when it comes."
He took another step closer balling his hands to fists. "No we will talk about this now." The god raised his voice slightly, trying so hard to keep his temper in check.
Xena raised an eyebrow at him. She knew he was getting upset and it was entertaining to see how far she could push him. She had no real intentions on taking in the Gods yet the option was still there. "As you can see here 'Ares'," she emphasized his name, motioning to the table behind her. "I am a little busy at the moment. So we can talk about this later." The warrior turned her back on the god.
That was it, Ares stormed over to the woman. His anger had finally got the best of him as he grabbed her by the arms, spinning her around so she could face him once more. His grip on the warrior was tight and she glanced down at his hands that were holding her arms and smiled, looking back up at the god. "Xena! You will listen to me now!" He spoke in a commanding voice letting his rage be heard. "These are not like the simple Amazons you plan to wipe out. These are the Gods of Olympus! We will talk about this now!"
Xena eyed the door behind the god as her new second came through it. Alexander froze at the sight in front of him. He grabbed the sword on his hip pulling it out of the scabbard and pointed it at the man who was holding his commander. He had no idea who this man was and frankly he didn't care. No one puts their hands on his leader without her say so and from the position they were in she didn't say so.
Xena smiled ignoring the shock on her second's face, "Ah Alexander so nice of you to join us." She looked up at Ares which only made her grin grow larger. With one swift motion she freed her arms from his grasp. She patted the god's chest playfully, " 'now' I think it's best you go up there," Xena pointed upwards indicating Olympus, "and make sure no one is on to us."
Ares was livid, this just happened. Xena was ignoring everything he had just said and now she was telling him what to do. He had to leave not because she told him to, no but to prevent him from killing this woman. He spoke I'm a harsh tone, "we are not done her Princess."
"You keep telling yourself that dear." The warrior smiled as the vanished with a bright blue flash. She loved getting under his immortal skin. After a moment she peered at her new second in command. It was true he was not the biggest man in her army but there was something about him that told her he was an honorable man. Honor goes far beyond build in her mind.
Xena eyed Alexander for a long moment. His long dark hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail. He didn't have any facial hair like most in her army yet it really suited him well. His light green eyes peered at her in shock, and she was lightly amused by his expression. "No need for that anymore." The warrior eyed the sword in his hands that was still pointing in the spot that Ares was once at.
Alexander was in shock. The man was there and now he was gone just like that. Realizing what his commander just said, he peered down at the sword in his hand then back up to the warrior woman. "Apologies..." The man trailed off not really knowing what he should call her by. He slid his sword back in its rightful place at his hip.
"Call me Xena. I always hated formalities." She turned from the man and motioned him to follow her to her table in the back. Xena placed her hands once again on the sides of the map leaning forward, eyeing it carefully.
The man followed behind her and noticed the map of the land on the table she was leaning over. Alexander made his way to the other side of the table and peered down at the piece of parchment. He wasn't sure why she had asked for him but there had to be a good reason.
They stood in silence for a moment. Xena was analyzing every aspect of the Terrain, even the parts that were not placed on the map, like the Amazon tribe. She knew where it was located and already placed an X in its location. Alexander shifted uncomfortably, there was something still bothering him. Who was that man with Xena? He had heard stories that she had friends in high places, like Hercules, and the God of war. But he never took much stock in stories. They rarely held any truth in them. He made a quick glance in Xena's direction then back down at the map as she looked up at him. "Say it," she uttered with a raised eyebrow.
"I um..." He fumbled with his words, "I mean who was that man?"
Xena smiled, "oh Ares, just some God of War who thinks he owns me just because I'm his 'chosen'." She spat at the word. True when she became his chosen she was rather fond of the idea of following the God of War. But now it was just plain annoying. He followed her around even after she left his side. Now the god thinks she is his and that really bothered Xena. She was no ones. If she ever was then she would saw she was Gabrielle's, heart and soul.
Xena sighed quietly, what she wouldn't give to have her best friend with her now. Oh how things would be so different than now.
Alexander Eyed her for a moment, he could have sworn he saw a hint pain in her eyes but it was only for a quick instant and now they were back to being emotionless and cold.
"Alright," Xena spoke breaking the silence. "This is what we are going to do."
*** Thank you for reading.***