Okay, so this is my first attempt at X:WP fanfiction. I'm trying something a little out of the box so bear with me! It'll delve more into the aftermath of Solan's death from Callisto's side. Anyway, this takes place somewhere between The Bitter Suite and The Sacrifice. I hope you enjoy!
As the morning sun drifted closer into the noon position, two women trekked along a small road. They were Xena: Warrior Princess of Amphipolis, and Gabrielle: Amazon Queen and Bard of Potidaea. The present moment found the pair travelling towards Corinth after a brief stay in Amphipolis at Cyrene's inn. They had decided against taking the shorter sea route due to Xena's less than friendly relationship with the sea god.
"I wonder what Salmoneus wants this time." Gabrielle, ever the curious one, pondered to herself as they continued to step further away from Xena's home. While at the inn, a messenger had arrived sending word to Xena that Salmoneus required her aid as soon as possible. She grimaced at the memory of the last time old Sal had "urgent" business to attend to.
"I don't know, but whatever it is, you can be sure that I'm not wearing a dress this time." Xena replied flatly.
The bitter remark prompted a smile from the bard, "Complain all you want, Xena, you know you were a shoe-in for that contest."
"Well…that is true." Xena muttered, "Still, I don't do dresses."
Gabrielle merely chuckled at her friend and decided to drop the subject for the moment. It happened that she'd been working on a new story and the long journey from Amphipolis to Corinth would provide the bard a necessary opportunity to perfect the tale. In the meantime, however, she opted for something different.
"Hey Xena, how about a game to pass the time?"
"Oh? What did you have in mind?"
"The question game; you start."
"Are you an object?" Xena smirked as she asked the question. This game was always easy against someone as open as Gabrielle was. There was much that the bard had yet to learn of Xena's dark past, but in their time travelling together, the warrior had come to learn most of the memories, secrets, fears, and general idiosyncrasies that made up her companion.
As Xena and Gabrielle continued the trek towards their destination, a figure stepped out of a cave that lay but a stone's throw away from Corinth; just outside of the Telaquire Amazon territory.
" Ugh. Finally! I thought I'd never be free from under that rubble."
From her black riding boots all the way up to her messy blonde mane there was no denying that the Warrior Queen was a sinister sight, but as she stepped away from the cave and towards Corinth, there was a strange new air surrounding Callisto. Her shoulders slumped slightly, the sneer that usually could be found on her lips had been chased away by an expression of utter boredom, and the maniacal gleam that lived in her eyes seemed to have found a roommate in the form of mild sadness. Not that anyone would really notice these things unless they were allowed to observe the woman close enough—or long enough—to distinguish this watered down pathetic wench of a goddess from the raging monster she had been before finally succeeding in hurting her archenemy.
At the time, she had eagerly delighted in hearing Xena's screams of anguish as she cradled her fallen boy, but her months of incarceration beneath the rubble had changed that. As a goddess she could no longer sleep, and yet she still found herself plagued by thoughts of her family; more so even than before she got her revenge. Each time she thought of them, Xena's parting words would ring in her head. She remembered the Xena saying that she would live with her own pain. Callisto was living with her pain, and Xena had known that. She knew all along that her death, the death of Argo, of Gabriel, or any of the nameless other victims would do nothing at all to assuage the pain the goddess felt of having her family and childhood ripped away. Callisto had become so accustomed to her pain that she didn't notice her soul slowly being killed in her quest for revenge.
The bitch of it all was the knowledge that Xena had won. She had won long before blows had ever been exchanged between the pair because the choice had always been Callisto's to make, and she'd always been hell bent to see Xena suffer as she had, even after she learned that her foe had already suffered long before Cirra.
That fact was even more upsetting when Callisto thought about her family. She was here, and she had achieved her revenge, but for what? She had become exactly what she despised about the old Xena in her pursuit of vengeance, she was a goddess so she couldn't die, not by normal means anyway, and if she could, she had long ago assured herself a one way ticket to Tartarus. She was never going to see her family again.
The storm inside her head continued all the way until just before dusk. Sure, she could've just teleported to the next town, but the easy way was for someone on a schedule. She needn't hurry for anything anymore. There was nothing to live for, and nothing to die for; only constant torment here on Earth and waiting for her in Tartarus. She was in no hurry.
Suddenly, the train of thoughts came to an abrupt halt and the blonde warrior stood in the middle of the path as still as stone. She was being followed. Callisto could hear his footsteps edging closer as he continued his approach and a sneer covered her face. This man was either very stupid, or didn't recognize who she was.
"Hey cutie," The brute spoke in a voice that was oozing with ill intent. "What's a pretty woman like you doing out so late? All alone at that." He stopped just inches away from her and she distinctly heard the sound of a dagger being unsheathed. So predictable, really.
"What's it to you?" Callisto remained standing with her back to the man, becoming increasingly annoyed at his textbook idiocy.
He laughed arrogantly at the response. "Oh, now don't be that way. All I want is a few dinars…" His free hand wandered to a lock of Callisto's blonde hair, "and maybe something else."
She grimaced in disgust that the swine behind her actually thought he was in control here and in one swift movement, she batted his hand away and spun around to face him, watching as he fell to the ground in shock.
"Alright," She spat, seeing his eyes go wide with recognition. "You want a piece of me?" She raised a finger and pointed it squarely at his face. Her posture was akin to a rattlesnake just about to strike. The poor fool really should've read the warning signs while he could still walk away. "Take one."
With that, the unfortunate highwayman was reduced to little more than a blackened corpse as the Warrior Queen continued on her way.
Three days after leaving Amphipolis, the Battling Bard and Warrior Princess found themselves on the road to Corinth, just a half day away. They had taken a brief stop-over in Amazon territory the previous evening and the mood since they left had been silent. Xena, for her part, still felt guilty that her rash actions in the aftermath of Solan's death had resulted in the injury of several Amazons. Ephiny had been more than willing to forgive though, even go as far as to say she might act the same if Xenan were ever to be killed.
Gabrielle felt ashamed upon hearing that declaration from her regent's lips. Though it was carefully spoken without any judgmental or angry tones directed at her, the bard couldn't help but think that maybe Ephiny resented her as well. Xenan had, in fact, nearly been killed when Callisto and Hope parted ways. That would've been her fault too.
Maybe she was just dwelling too much on the whole incident.
"Do you think we'll ever really be able to get past what happened?" Gabrielle's voice was small and thick with various negative emotions, prompting the other woman to stop walking and look directly at her. To Gabrielle's surprise, she smiled, albeit a little sadly.
"Remember what we learned in Illusia." She placed a hand warmly on Gabrielle's shoulder. "Yes, it will take some time to heal completely, but if we dwell on the past, we can't move on from it." She broke eye contact and continued walking down the path. "We'll always bear the scars, but we'll be okay."
Gabrielle stood rooted to the spot for just a moment, still unsure, but allowed her feet to move again as her friend's words chased away her pain and guilt for the moment.
They hadn't been walking much longer when both of them stopped in their tracks at the sight of the charred body that still lay in the middle of the trail. Xena kneeled down next to the man to examine him more closely.
"He was a thug." She commented, noting that what she could identify of his attire was consistent with the typical clothing of choice among most road bandits.
"Xena, these burn marks…"
The Warrior Princess nodded seeing that there was no obvious trace of a fire anywhere else.
Well, that's chapter one. I hope you liked it; please R&R! This was basically an introduction into where each of the main players in the story is at mentally, I plan to make the chapters longer from here.