Chapter One: Prologue
A wise man once threw a rock into the still waters of a lake, causing it to ripple. Although the lake soon became still again, the rock the man had thrown there remained in the lake, forever changing it. My life was forever altered in one single night, many years ago, in a place called Cirra. My family was destroyed by a marauding army, led by the Warrior Princess; a young woman named Xena. Her heart, eaten away by hatred, had turned her into a monster. As a villain, she was awesome; efficient, merciless,and disdainful toward all things in life. Like the lake, she had once been still waters. But still waters run deep, and the lust for revenge would soon make a ripple in her life that did not allow her to settle again for many years to follow.
Of course, my own ripples have never faded.
I am vengeance. I am as dark as the blackest of nights. But what right do I have to make such claims? Who is it that I send these words out to? Why do I write these words? Maybe it is so that my story, the whole story, can finally be told. Maybe it is so that Xena, my nemesis, my enemy, my friend, can understand how complexly I viewed our relationship. Xena? Are you out there? Do you see these words, do you you hear my final thoughts? Oh, Xena, how I miss you. You were my entire life for so many years; haunting you, tracking you down, destroying you was all I could think of, dream of, live for. I hated you, while at the same time, mixed up in that hatred, I needed you. And while I both hated and needed you, I loved you as well. You see, you were the ultimate goal. In order to defeat you, I had to become you, and the more I became you, the closer we became, and the more respect and love I had for you. I know you probably don't understand, Xena dear, but the worse I became, the more I began to understand how hard it must have been for you to turn your back on the madness, and try to put your miserable existence back into something that could be called heroic. I also knew that I lacked the strength to turn away from my own madness, and it made me hate you all the more because it was the one thing that you could do that I could not. But I still needed you as an object for my madness. And I did love you because you were responsible for what I had become; indirectly, you raised me. I was closer to you than anyone else when I died; the you of the past and me before I became a god; we could have been sisters, you and I. At the head of an army we could have ruled the world. No one would have been able to defeat both of us. These feelings towards you were why I reached out to you, and wanted to touch you, and behold you, as the last thing I saw before I slipped into the void of oblivion when you stabbed me with the dagger that held the Hind's blood. You were the only person since I'd lost my sanity to ever mean anything to me...Here, you must think it is my madness speaking. Allow me to explain what I mean. Perhaps saying that I loved you in my own weird way is too strong a phrase for you to comprehend. I don't really know for certain that I did love you...I do know for certain that I needed you, and need is a close kin of love although the two should never be confused, and often are. We both I hated you, for what you did to me, for what you did to my poor family. I could never forget my mother's screams and my sister's wailing as my home burned to the ground, with them inside. I needed the idea of you, and what you were to me, to get me through the toughest years of my life, when I was first on my own, as an adolescent. It was during those years that I decided you had to pay for what you'd done to my family, to my village. It was that thought that pushed me toward becoming a warlord.
I know that few know the details of my past, but what scant information there is that does not come from me will confirm this. I do hope you read my story, Xena, to see where I came from, and how I become what I was when you first saw me. I also want you to know that it wasn't you who pushed me over the edge. I only wanted to get you because I thought, deep down, it would bring me peace and that it would allow my family to rest in peace, which I will explain in my story. They haunted me as often as you did, especially at night, when it was hardest and I could not sleep. I always wondered if you were able to sleep well at night, Xena. I wondered what it was like to destroy so many lives and then try to make up for it. I meant what I said about you being a hero. You've become a sentimental fool. Whereas at one time, even when you were first starting out as a hero, you destroyed whoever opposed you, now you allow them to get off with a simple knock on the head when they deserved to die. Your sword has become useless, and your chakram a toy. I shudder to see what's become of you. Xena, there's no reason at all that you cannot still be a prolific warrior and fight for good. It would have been much more fun to fight you had you still possessed your killer instinct. But you've lost it, Xena, and with it, you've lost your charisma. I do hope you get it back. You weren't any fun after you mellowed out. But I should not be saying these things...To you, Xena, I owe my entire life. Thank you. Without you I might have become a boring housewife with screaming children, and I probably would never have left Cirra. Where's the fun in such an existence? To Gabrielle, your annoying little friend, I would like to say this: Sorry about your stupid husband. I realize now that I shouldn't have killed him. I should have just killed you and gotten it over with. You're irritating, and I wonder what Xena could possibly see in you. What color is your hair, really, for the gods' sake? Blonde or red? Please pick one...And to Joxer, your other little friend, Xena, you're an idiot. You will never be a warrior. You will always be a clown. Burn in Tartarus.
But I digress. To whomever is listening, it wasn't entirely Xena's fault that I lost my mind; it took more than one night to drive me insane. It was not hatred, nor was it rage, that drove me at first to become a warrior, although later the emotions were to play instrumental part in my choosing to command an army as its Warlord. I didn't have much of a choice in the matter, actually. I was ten years old when I was orphaned at Cirra, and the few who survived along with me did not fare well. I left them within a year's time, striking out on my own. I was young, impetuous, and I wanted to see what was out in the world, away from what had once been my home and what would forever bring me painful memories. I was attacked on the road to Athens; I'd heard so much about Athens that I'd decided to go there, and try to start my life over. I was good with my hands, I thought I could make pottery and sell it in the market place there. But I never made it to the Golden City of Greece. I was captured by a slave trader named Micenius and auctioned off at a slave trader's post for a good price.
Fortunately, the gods smiled upon me. I was bought by a queen who possessed a barren womb. Because I was exceptionally pretty for my age, I had stood out amongst the other slave girls, and she had chosen to raise me as the heir to her throne.
It turned out that she could not have made a bigger mistake.
I had what could best be described as cruel intentions from the start. But things could have changed.