The Glory Of
by Daniel Stevens
DISCLAIMER: The more familiar characters and situations in this story are
property of Renaissance Pictures, Universal/MCA, and Studios USA. No copyright
infringement is intended.
SYNOPSIS: The events of this story take place following the Fourth Season 'Xena: Warrior Princess' episode 'A Family Affair'. The story itself was written prior to the initial airing of the India arc, or any other 'Eli' episodes, which is why it somewhat anticipates the Eli arc, but does so in a *very* different fashion from said story arc.
Some days after leaving Potidaea, somewhere in the light forests of southern Thrace, Xena and Gabrielle have made camp for the night. Xena is sitting on a log, sharpening her sword, when Gabrielle brings her a bowl of rabbit stew.
The Warrior looks up, then re-sheathes her sword and packs the whetstone away.
"Thanks.", as she accepts her dinner.
A few moments later, she has had a chance to let her bowl of stew cool a little more, and to try it.
"Mmm! Just the way I like it! Gabrielle, you've outdone yourself this time!"
"Thanks. Glad you like it."
The Bard now goes to get her bowl, then returns to sit on the log next to her Warrior.
A few moments later, as they are eating, "Xena, would you like to talk about it?"
"About whatever's been bugging you since we left Potidaea."
"What makes you think something's bugging me?"
Gabrielle now looks straight at Xena.
"Xena, we've been together for close to five years now. I'm getting to where I can read you like a scroll. Something's bugging the daylights out of you, and I have a feeling that it involves me somehow."
"It's that obvious, huh?"
The Bard now places her hand on her Warrior's thigh. Xena looks at her.
"Yes, it is. And I want to help you deal with it, if I can."
A moment of tense silence passes.
Then, "Okay. But first I need to ask you to forgive me, if you can."
"For blaming you for Solan's death. For trying to kill you."
Gabrielle sees the tears welling up in Xena's eyes.
"Xena, I thought we were way beyond that. We forgave one another nearly a year ago, so what's the problem now?"
"Two things. One involves Solan; the other, you and Hope."
"Okay. Let's go over them, in that order."
Another silence, as Xena collects herself.
"Okay. You know that when I thought you were dead, I went to the Hunnish steppes, on a vision quest to find your spirit.”
“And ended up destroying that evil shamaness, as a tribute to me. In fact, you told me that it was a vision she gave you of us dying together sometime in the future that energized you to final victory, by letting you know that I was still alive, after all.”
“There’s one other thing I haven’t mentioned until now. Alti also showed me something from my past.”
“One night, while I was pregnant with Solan, her vile spirit invaded our yurt as Borias and I slept, and cursed Solan. The curse was that he would die young, never having experienced the love of either of his parents.”
“And that’s exactly what happened, thanks to Hope - and me.”
As Gabrielle lowers her head in shame, Xena grabs her shoulder, turns the Bard towards herself.
“No, Gabrielle! Don’t you get it? Solan was doomed anyway, regardless of what you or Hope or Callisto or anyone else did or failed to do.”
After a moment, “You mean?”
“I mean that if Hope hadn’t killed him, someone or something else would have. Maybe Ares, for instance, in yet another of his pathetic attempts to turn me back into a vicious, bloodthirsty Warlord.” Then, a moment later, “Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have put it past him to not only do something like that, but maybe even try to sign your name to it, Gabrielle.”
“I can see that. But where do me and Hope come into it?”
“Remember how I used to think that if you had killed her as a baby, or had let me do so, everything would have been just fine? Well, in light of what we’ve seen of her track record this past year and a half, I’m beginning to think that it wouldn’t have matter if you had.”
“Because I saw you kill her last year - twice, She came back like a recurring nightmare both times. It wouldn’t surprise me if she does it again. So, I’m now thinking that if you or I had killed her as a baby, she’d have just come back from that like the bad dinar that she is. Also, I saw that stream where you later admitted you floated her away in a basket. For any other baby, those rapids would have been a death ride in and of themselves.”
Gabrielle sets her now empty bowl aside, to take Xena’s hand in her own.
“Xena, look at me.”
Xena does so.
“The bottom line here is that you - didn’t - know. Neither did I. At the time that Solan died, we both had every reason to blame me for it, based on what we knew at the time. This new information does not change that fact, so as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing new for me to forgive. Xena, I love you as life itself.”
“I dearly love you, too, Gabrielle.”
“I do, however, appreciate you sharing this with me, more than you can know. Time was, you’d have told me to mind my own business.”
“To my everlasting regret.”
“Well, that, too, is behind us.”
“Gabrielle, I’ve said this before, and I’m saying it again now. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. I just wish I knew what outstandingly good deed I did to deserve you.”
They share a warm embrace.
Then, “Xena, I think I’d better get started on the dishes, unless you’d like some more stew first.”
“Please, I’d *love* some more.”
“Coming right up.”, as Gabrielle stands up, to go get some more stew for her best friend.
Later, as they’re going to bed.
“Xena, I was just wondering.”
“Well, we know that Dahak apparently has the Olympians outclassed, with the possible exception of Zeus.”
“So it would seem.”
“So, I’m wondering if there’s another god of equal or greater power, who is as good as Dahak is evil.”
“There had better be, or else we’re all in a great deal of trouble.”
Suddenly, they see an unearthly glow in front of them, that causes them to sit up.
“I believe that I can answer that question, Mom.”
The glow takes on the shape, and appearance, of a boy just beginning his adolescence. The boy is wearing a white robe, and has white wings, like those of a bird.
“Solan!”, in unison.
“Yes, Mom, Gabrielle. And the answer to your question is most definitely yes. The Persians call Him Asura. The Israelites just call Him LORD, because they regard His name to be too holy for mere mortals to speak. And Zeus is definitely not in anything like the same league.”
“We thought you were in Elysium!”
“So does Hades. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, but I never really was there.”
Solan now addresses his Mother.
“When Hope killed me, Asura saw it, and reacted immediately. About the time you found my body in Kaliepus’ hut, one of His Shining Ones, or we’re also called Angels, arrived. The Angel took me to a realm beyond the stars, and led me before Asura. I could not bear to look upon Him, whom I knew immediately to be infinitely greater than Zeus. He bade me welcome, speaking directly to my heart. He told me of your wrath against Gabrielle, on my account. I implored Him to dispel that wrath - the thought of two of the people I cared most about at each other’s throats because of me was far worse than mere death. He answered my prayer by making me into one of His Angels, and then sending me back to Earth to restore your friendship. The rest of that story you already know. I’ve been watching over you ever since. What Hades has in Elysium is but a shadow of what I am now, put there for his benefit.”
“So, why do you appear now?”, from Gabrielle.
“To answer your question, and to tell you how to learn more. To learn the true nature and extent of our struggle with Dahak, you’ll need to go to Ecbatana, in Persia.”
“Persia?!”, in unison, again.
“Yes, Mom, Gabrielle. In Ecbatana your questions will be answered, in two stages. Oh, and if you see Joxer again soon, have him come along.”
“Oh, and thanks for settling up with that shamaness for putting that curse on me. Until next time,...”
With that, Solan vanishes.
“So, Xena, what do we do?”
“First, we get some sleep. Come morning, we start out for Persia, in obedience to the vision.”
“Okay, then. Goodnight.”
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