From Philippi To Thessalonica

by Daniel Stevens

 

DISCLAIMER:  Certain characters and situations in this story are property of Renaissance Pictures, Universal/MCA and Studios USA.  No copyright infringement is intended.

SYNOPSIS: Xena and Gabrielle assist a certain party on the road outside Amphipolis.

SPECIAL NOTES:  Certain other characters and situations in this story are mentioned in 'Acts, Chapters 16 & 17.  The story itself is partially based upon Acts 17:1.  Also, this story was written prior to the initial airing of the Eli arc.  In fact, it is the sequel to 'The Glory of Asura'.


Early morning, just outside a humble home in the town of Philippi.  Four men, travelers, are taking their leave of their hostess for the time they had been in town.

"Lydia, we want to thank you once more for your hospitality."

"Your welcome, Paul, but it is I who should thank you for leading me to new life in Christ."

"You're welcome, but it is He who truly deserves the glory.  In any case, we must go now.  We should be in Thessalonica in three days or so."

"We'll pray for you.  Godspeed."

Paul and his three companions depart, heading westward along the road called the Egnatian Way.  The road to Thessalonica, via Amphipolis.

********************

Later, the four men are stopped by some thugs clad in black leather armor.

"All right, Sorcerer!  You may have weaseled out of it with the Praetors back in Philippi, but you won't with us!  That slave girl was real valuable - until your spell ruined her!  We intend to take our compensation out of your hides - Citizen!"

Just then, they hear a feminine voice, from some nearby trees.

"That's not nice."

All turn, to see two women.  One is quite tall and powerfully built, with black hair, striking blue eyes, and the look of a seasoned warrior.  The other is somewhat smaller, blonde, and carries only a staff.  Both are dressed in basic brown, though the taller woman's outfit is much darker in color.  She is also armed to the teeth, and leading a palomino horse by the reins.

The lead thug gulps with apprehension.  The tall woman speaks again.

"Now why don't you boys just head on back to Philippi, all nice and quiet-like - while you still can.  Otherwise, you'll force Gabrielle and me to do something we'd just as soon not have to do."

She then takes hold of the round thing hanging from her hip, to emphasize her point.

"Fellas, this really isn't worth dying over."

The lead thug turns to his buddies.

"Let's go."

Then, once more from the tall woman, "Oh, and tell whoever sent you that these four men are under Xena's protection."

The thugs depart, as Xena and Gabrielle walk up to the four men remaining.  The leader of this group speaks first.

"Thanks, ladies, for your most timely assistance."

"You're welcome... Paul of Tarsus."

"So, you know who and what we are."

"Yes. That's one more reason we stepped in.  Oh, and I'm Xena, and this is Gabrielle.", as she shakes Paul's hand.

"These men are Silas, Timothy, and Luke."

"Pleased to meet you.  By the way, were you fellows planning on staying in Amphipolis tonight?"

"As a matter of fact, yes we were.  Why?"

"In that case, the LORD has truly smiled upon you.  There's an inn there, run by the widow Cyrene.  I believe that I can talk her into giving you a special rate."

"You know this innkeeper?"

"I ought to.  After all, she's my mother."

Then the LORD truly has smiled upon us.  If you and Gabrielle would care to join us?"

"We'd be glad to.", as the six now resume the journey westward.

********************

Some time later, Paul and Xena are talking.

"So, how is it that you and Gabrielle came to know the LORD?"

"That is a long story."  Then, "Gabrielle, your Bardic talents are needed here.  Paul wants to know how we came to know the LORD."

"Sure, Xena."

Xena drops back to the rear of the group, to watch for pursuit.  Gabrielle, while telling Paul their story, keeps an eye out for any sign of an ambush.

Gabrielle tells Paul the whole story, beginning in Britannia, and leaving nothing out.  Paul note that, judging from the sound of her voice, the Bard is still very much ashamed of her part in the whole 'Hope' affair.

Following the most recent encounter with Hope, Gabrielle recounts the vision she and Xena had of the Warrior's son, Solan, now their Guardian Angel.  She then tells of their extended stay in Persia studying the teachings of both Moses and Zarathushtra, in obedience to the vision, and how they finally chose the Israelite revelation rather than the Persian (notwithstanding their occasional lapse into referring to the LORD as Asura, even after all this time since their return to Greece).

While Gabrielle tells their story, Xena not only makes small contributions as requested, but also notes how not only Paul, but Silas, Timothy, and Luke, come to listen very closely to her.  If there's one thing Gabrielle can do when she's in Bard mode, it's hold an audience.  Xena can't help but smile, as proud of Gabrielle's talents and achievements as she is of her own, if not more so.

********************

Just as Gabrielle finishes up, the group reaches Amphipolis.  Xena now takes point, the better to lead the others to the Inn of Cyrene.  When they get there, Xena and Gabrielle go in first, followed by their companions.  The two women are greeted by a friendly crowd of patrons, mostly local.

Cyrene walks out, into the main restaurant and tavern area.  She looks like a more mature version of Xena, though her attire and manner are most definitely not those of her reformed Warlord daughter.

"Hi, Mom."

"Welcome home, Little One!  It's been so long!  You, too, Gabrielle!", as Cyrene gives both younger women a big hug.

"Too long, really."

"We had heard of how you finally rid the world of that horrid creature, Callisto."

"It took me long enough, considering my part in creating that monster."

"As I'm sure Gabrielle has told you, it was *her* choice to be eaten up with hate and malice until it drove her mad, and then destroyed her.  And speaking of my favorite of your associates..."

Cyrene reaches out, takes Gabrielle's hand.

"Gabrielle, it's been far too long since you've graced my humble establishment with the light of your presence!", in a tone of mock reproach.

"I know, but you know me.  Where Xena goes, I go."

"For which I am eternally grateful.  Oh, and who are your traveling companions?"

"Mom, this is Paul, from Tarsus."

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Ma'am."

"Silas, Timothy, and Luke.  They're..."

"We're evangelists, spreading the Word of our LORD."

After a moment, "So, my wayward daughter's gone and hooked up with some Near Eastern religion!  Well, any friends of hers who are not from the 'old days' are welcome here, at a ten percent discount."

"Thanks, Mom.  Speaking of my former associates from the 'old days', I think most of them are dead now."

"You should know.  You killed enough of them after you reformed."

"I know.  In fact, I think that Draco's about the only one left, and last I'd heard, he's trying to clean up his act."

"We've heard the same thing.  I hope it's true, for his sake."  Then, "In any case, right this way, gentlemen, to check in."

As Cyrene checks in the four guests that Xena and Gabrielle have brought her, the two younger women get a moment alone.

"So, Gabrielle, what do you think of Paul and his companions?"

"I think that I want to hear more about their teachings.  To be able to cast a demon out of a slave girl back in Philippi..."

"I know.  Besides, I've been curious to hear them out since Solan told us about them the other day."

"You, too, huh, Xena."

"Yeah.  After all, if Solan endorses them, then they have to be legit."

"True."

Then, "Hi, Sis, Gabrielle.", from the direction of the kitchen door.

Xena and Gabrielle turn to see, "Toris!"  Xena gives her older brother a hug.

"I'm glad you remember.  Especially since you two had to go and get famous."

"Thanks... I think."

"Hey, I'm not knocking it, Sis.  You've been good for business."

"Thanks.  It's nice to know that we're appreciated."

"Speaking of bringing us business, who are your new friends?"

"They're called Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke."

"I've heard of them.  Something about a new teaching, based upon the religion of the Israelites."

"That's what we've heard, too."

"And you say that they cast a demon out of a slave girl in Philippi?"

"So we've heard."

"Sounds interesting."

"If you and Mom would like, Gabrielle and I could ask Paul to explain his teachings to the four of us."

"Sure, Sis."

Soon after, Cyrene has seconded the motion, and relayed the request to Paul.  He agrees to do so.

********************

That night, after the tavern part of the Inn has closed, and is being cleaned up, eight people are seated around a large table.  The one named Paul is speaking.

"We all know that everyone who has ever lived on Earth has done things they're ashamed of.  That's because it's in our very nature to do wrong.  Some may sin in one way, some in another, as Xena and Gabrielle recounted to us on the way here from Philippi.  But, with one exception, all of us have what Xena would call a dark side.

"It is that dark side, or what I would call our sin nature, that keeps us apart from the LORD, whom Xena and Gabrielle still occasionally call 'Asura', from having spent time in Persia.  Because of that, we can never, by our own effort, earn anything but His wrath.  The good news is that we don't have to, because the LORD has acted on our behalf.

"Some years ago, Joshua of Nazareth, also know in Greek as Jesus, was crucified.  That was a special crucifixion, because Jesus is no less than the Son of God.  He came to Earth of His own choice to reveal God through Himself and His Work.  He completed that Work by his Death on the Cross, by which He suffered the full punishment for all humanity's sin, past, present, and future.  That was confirmed when, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to many, before ascending into Heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  I don't pretend to understand this, but know it to be true because He appeared to me also, and chose me for His work, though I am as great a sinner as Xena claims to be.  The only thing any of us have to do now is to accept Jesus as our Personal Lord and Savior.  The thing is that we must do so in this life.  Anyone who fails to do so will still be in their sins when they die, and will have to face what you call Tartarus, for all eternity.  Also, when Jesus ascended into Heaven, He promised to return, in glory, at the end of this age.  I believe that the time of His Return is near."

Xena and Gabrielle nod in agreement.  They, too, believe the same thing.  Then Xena speaks.

"Mom, Toris, you never knew my son, Solan.  He was murdered by the One Great Evil behind all evil, but the LORD saw it, and took Solan's spirit into His service.  Solan is now what the Israelites and Persians would call my and Gabrielle's Guardian Angel.  He appeared to us a couple of nights ago, and vouched for Paul and his companions.  Your own grandson, Mom, has made it clear to me that Paul's teachings about Jesus are Truth, and Light, and Life.  That's good enough for me."

To which Gabrielle adds, "Me, too.  In fact, I've already decided to not only accept Jesus, but to have my parents and younger sister meet us in Thessalonica, so they can hear Paul speak, as well."

Cyrene now speaks.

"Paul, is there anything that we must do to show that we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior?"

"Anyone here who wishes to should meet me down at the riverside at dawn.  First, though, we should pray about this."

Paul proceeds to lead the others in prayer for God's grace, to bring those present to Jesus by faith.  It is in that prayer that Cyrene and Toris learn that Jesus is also called 'The Christ'.

********************

The next morning, the group meets at the side of the Strymon River, which flows past Amphipolis.  Paul accepts each person's confession of faith, then baptizes them.   Xena first, then Gabrielle, finally Xena's mother and brother.  Soon after, back at the Inn, Gabrielle and Toris are talking.

"Gabrielle, if you'd like, I could deliver your message to your folks.  I've been to Potidaea before."

"Sure, Toris.  You'll need to go to the home of Herodotus and Hecuba."

"Consider it done."

"Oh, and give them my regards, too, please."

"Sure thing, Gabrielle."

********************

Later, after Toris had set out on his errand, Paul and his companions also depart, with Xena and Gabrielle/

"Don't worry, Mom.  We'll be back as soon as Paul reaches Thessalonica safely-

"And when my parents and sister have heard Paul speak."

"Fine.  The LORD go with you, Little One."

********************

Two days later, the party arrives outside the walls of Thessalonica.  Toris, and Gabrielle's family, are also there.  Toris seems to find Lila to be especially interesting.

"Mom, Dad, Sis, I'm glad you're here.  This is Paul, from Tarsus, Silas, Timothy, and Luke.  Xena you already know."

Herodotus now speaks.

"Glad to meet you.  Xena's brother told us that you have something important to tell us about."

"Yes, I do."

Paul proceeds to tell Gabrielle's family about Christ.  The fact that Gabrielle endorses everything that Paul says makes an impression upon Lila, especially.  Paul and the others sense that Herodotus and Hecuba may take a little longer to believe.

********************

Later, at the inn that the entire party is staying at, Herodotus does speak to Xena.

"I wanted to apologize for our rudeness to you the last time you visited us.  It was only later that we found out that we owe you our lives."

"Herodotus, think nothing of it.   I know a hostage situation when I see one, and Hope was nothing if not real smart, in her own particularly evil way."

********************

The next day, on the road back to Amphipolis.  It's just Xena and Gabrielle now.

"Well, it looks like your brother and my sister have really hit it off."

"Gabrielle, I wouldn't send out the wedding announcements just yet, but I do think that there's an excellent chance that Toris and Lila will work out, especially now that Lila has also accepted Christ."

"Do you think that Mom and Dad will accept Christ also?"

"Probably.  They are keeping open minds about Him, after all, and with me not there to influence them the wrong way, it should be easier."

"Xena, you should give yourself more credit.  Mom and Dad have finally accepted our friendship.  They told me so last night."

********************

A few days later, Toris returns to Amphipolis - with Lila.  Cyrene meets them at the door of the Inn.

"Mom, this is-"

"Lila.  Child, I've heard so much about you, most of it from Gabrielle, and all of it good."  Cyrene takes Lila's hand in greeting.

"Thanks, Lady Cyrene.  I hope that I live up to your expectations, since I'm to help out around here for the season."

"I'm sure that you will, and it's just Cyrene."  Then, "So, Son, how's Paul getting along in Thessalonica?"

"He's starting to encounter some opposition now."

"Well, that was to be expected.  Only through the LORD's grace can anyone accept such a message."  Then, "Xena, Gabrielle!  Come look who's home!"

Xena and Gabrielle come out from the back.  They are now dressed for working around the Inn, rather than for adventuring and fighting.

"Toris!"

"Lila!"

Big hugs all around.

Then, Xena asks, "Hey, Lila, what's that on your finger?"

"Friendship ring.  Oh, and Mom and Dad are warming up to Toris."

"Obviously, since you're here.  Have they accepted Christ yet?"

"Mom has.  Dad's still not quite sure, but he's getting there."

"We'll pray for him tonight, then."




THE END

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