NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
Violence disclaimer: There is some violence but not an more than you would see in an episode on television, after all it is Xena
Thanks are due to my friends the proof-readers and editors, Kathryn and Joleen.
Authors note: I have studied the Ageless Wisdom Teachings for many years and have been pleased to see so many of the fan fiction authors using the teachings to add depth to their stories. I have used a great deal of it here also and have quoted from many of the Agni books by Helena Roerich.. There are quotes also from books by Torkom Saraydarian and Helena Blavatsky. If you have any questions or would like further explanation, please write to me.
Also I would like to mention that the events of this story follow my first story Cause and Effect, but I have tried to explain any references to the past so this story will stand on its own.
Any comments or questions are most firstname.lastname@example.org
Chalice of Blood
By S Singer
"Aaaahhhhh. .," moaned Gabrielle. "A little lower, please Xena.
Xena smiled, as her strong hands worked on the bard's muscles, massaging the tightness and soreness from Gabrielles back and shoulders.
Earlier that morning they had been sparring as usual when Gabrielle said, "Do that jumping thingy Xena." With a grin Xena somersaulted over Gabrielle expecting to land behind her wondering what the girl had in mind. But Gabrielle had tucked and rolled backward and surprised Xena by ending up behind her with her staff ready to flatten her in the next move. Just in time, Xena realized what was happening and blocked the stroke as she feinted left and reached around the smaller woman and lifted her legs out from under her. The bard fell gracefully in a heap laughing at her near victory.
"That was pretty close, warrior!" Gabrielle said, "Next time you won't be so lucky!"
"Next time it won't be a surprise and you won't land on the softest part of your anatomy!" Xena laughed.
"Yeah, yeah. You talk tough but you'll still be nice to me because you need me to cook for you and entertain you with my stories and poems."
"Right!" Xena agreed, "The cooking part anyway."
They had enjoyed breakfast and packed up their belongings as they did every morning. They set out traveling down the road to the next town, and enjoying the weather, which was exceptional for a spring day.
"Xena," Gabrielle started.
"Why do you meditate so much now?"
"What do you mean, now?"
"Since your friends were with us last month you have done it every morning."
A few months before, the two of them had met up with some friends of Xenas who had known her before her dark period, while Xena was recovering from her confrontation with Caesar. Caesar had ordered her and her men crucified and then told his guard to smash her legs. She had been cut down and rescued by a girl she had befriended, and brought to the village of these people. These people had taught Xena many of her wonderful skills, pressure points, expert sword play, healing, and many other things that had helped her to survive. However, as the result of some further actions by Caesar, she had left her friends and dedicated her life to killing and conquest.
"When the Teacher was with us he reminded me of many things and made some suggestions. I have been trying them out." Xena said, wishing she could think of a way to change the subject. She was always uncomfortable when Gabrielle asked personal questions.
"Do you think I could learn to meditate?" Gabrielle asked.
"Why do you want to try?" Xena answered, trying to determine if Gabrielle was serious.
"I remember you told me once that you used meditation to focus."
"Yes, meditation helps to teach your mind to focus."
"Then don't you think it would help me?" Gabrielle said wanting to learn as much of what Xena would teach her as possible. She hoped that if she learned more skills, Xena would stop treating her like a child and accept her as a woman capable of protecting herself.
"Perhaps, but do you think focus is possible with that imagination of yours?" Xena smiled at the idea.
"We won't know 'til we try, will we?"
After a break for lunch and many miles of walking, Xena noticed that the bard began to limp just a little. Later in the afternoon they were setting up camp near a stream, that had a gentle waterfall and a deep pool of collected water when Xena noticed Gabrielle wince when she thought Xena wasn't watching and Xena realized that her graceful fall that morning wasn't so graceful after all.
Xena watched closely; she knew that Gabrielle was trying to be brave and stoic as Xena herself often was. Xena hadn't said anything to let on that she knew of the discomfort Gabrielle was suffering. After dinner, when they were sitting around the campfire, Xena asked tentatively, "Hey, will you rub my back if I rub yours first?"
Trying not to sound too eager Gabrielle agreed. A back rub by the Warrior Princess was not to be passed up easily, and she had been feeling every movement since that fall in the morning. Xena knew every muscle and ligament in the body and knew just how to work the knots out so that you turned into a puddle of mush. Xena began working at Gabrielles neck and worked down her spine slowly rubbing and massaging. Every muscle relaxed and every nerve calmed until it was all Gabrielle could do to stay awake enough to mutter, "Hey! No fair! I can't return the favor. Now I owe ya one." And she fell asleep.
The next day, as usual, Xena was up at dawn and shocked to see Gabrielles blankets empty. She jumped up and looked around quickly trying to locate her friend. Grabbing her chakram and sword she walked quickly in the direction of the woods calling her friend's name. Not finding her, she returned to camp just in time to see Gabrielle, with a big smile on her face, coming from the stream carrying some fish on a line.
"Looking for me?"
"What in the gods name are you doing up at this time of day!?" Xena asked incredulously. Gabrielle was notorious for not being a morning person, one of her favorite waking statements was, "I'll rise, but I refuse to shine!"
"Just trying to repay you for that wonderful rub last night." Gabrielle said with a smile. "While these are cooking I plan on finishing that match you started yesterday, and I have come up with another new move that youll never outsmart!"
Even as Gabrielle said it she knew there was no way to get the better of the Warrior Princess and she would end up on her backside again sooner or later, but maybe there was another back rub in the future. Just the thought of the reward for her persistence was enough to make it all worth it.
After once again picking Gabrielle up from the ground and packing up the camp Xena mounted Argo, her tall, palomino, war horse, and they set off down the trail. Xena was grateful that Gabrielle seemed to have forgotten the idea of meditation. She was grateful for any distraction but hoping not to run into any trouble. The area they were approaching was notorious for robbers and thieves.
As the sun reached its highest point in the sky, Xena pointed to a clearing away from the trail, and the two of them moved over to have some lunch.
"I bet you thought I forgot about the meditation thing didnt you?" Gabrielle said as she handed Xena some cheese and olives with a crust of bread.
"I well no, not really. I was just waiting to see if you were truly interested or just fooling around."
"Well I think I am ready now. Could you explain slowly? I want to get this right."
"Gabrielle, you dont just sit down and begin to meditate."
"Oh, well, lets talk about how you do start. OK?"
"No, Gabrielle, you need to be fresh and clear, the early morning is the best time to try it. There are no pressing matters of the day yet and fewer distractions."
"Tomorrow then, promise you will start me out tomorrow."
"Well I guess it will be alright, if you really want to do this."
As the day progressed they traveled uphill mile after mile, and by the time they made camp Gabrielle was exhausted. She was quieter than usual and after the meal when she would normally have been writing something on her scrolls, she asked Xena to tell her a little about meditation and how she had begun so long ago.
"When I began," she started, "Focus was not a word in my vocabulary unless it was during a battle. The Teacher taught me the basics of meditation to allow my mind to detach from the pain in my legs. The techniques we worked with were mostly visualizations and physical exercises to help the healing. Then where I had left them I again used the disciplines I had learned to heal myself from what Caesar had done to me. By the time I was well, I was so filled with anger and hate that I used the techniques to focus the energy into conquest, killing, and victory."
"But you have changed all of that now Xena," Gabrielle said softly. Trying to change the subject, she asked, "How do you know what to think about?"
"What? Oh, the Teacher said meditation is a way to reach deep into yourself until you reach something beyond yourself and learn new truths. Often if you can maintain the link you can focus great amounts of energy into a single idea."
"Do you think I can do it?"
"Like you said before, we wont know until you try."
The next morning, when Xena was just coming back from her foraging trip, where she always found a quiet place to do her meditation, she found Gabrielle sitting cross-legged at the camp with her eyes closed and a fierce look of concentration on her face. Fighting the urge to laugh out-loud Xena cleared her throat loudly and Gabrielle looked up to see her friend smiling down on her.
"Xena, I was trying to focus and it wasnt working very well. Tell me what to do."
"Okay, Gabrielle, I guess it is time to see if you can learn to control that mind and imagination of yours." She pulled her surprised friend up and led her over near the stream and sat her down on a smooth rock.
"First, you have to be comfortable. Then it sometimes helps to have a gentle sound to drown out the other noises around you and help you concentrate." Xena sat down next to her and gently massaged her shoulders until she felt her friend relax.
"Now close your eyes and well try a simple relaxation exercise. Today well spend a little extra time on, it but usually it should only take a minute or so."
"Take a deep breath and close your eyes."
Okay, this is going to be easy, thought Gabrielle,
"Now try to see only blackness in front of you; try not to be distracted."
Gradually images begin to cross Gabrielles "black screen" and she begins to put them together into pictures . Oops "blackness!" Now scenes from past adventures begin to play across her eyes. This isnt so easy after all, she thought.
"Now move on to your emotions . Take another deep breath and see a calm pool of water . See the water smooth and clear. All of your emotions are calm. Calm and peaceful .
Oh, this one will be easy. I am calm and what would upset me anyway? Oh well maybe that shopkeeper last week he was trying to way overcharge Xena and she would have let him! Boy that woman! I have to follow her around everywhere just to keep her from being taken advantage of. Does she appreciate me for it? NO! Uh
"Relax Gabrielle. Dont try so hard, just relax and see the calm pool of water."
Uh, Oh, she saw me. Well, I can do this. Calm calm calm
"OK, now lets move to your physical body. Take another deep breath and try to visualize your body . See your heart beating . Try to feel your heart beating . Take your time . Now try to see the blood flowing from your heart throughout your body follow it through you arms . Follow it through your legs .
OW! My legs are starting to cramp! The problem is in this position the blood isnt flowing through my legs! I have to move them . I cant move them. Xena will know I didnt sit comfortably.
Seeing the grimace and knowing from experience that the position Gabrielle had chosen was not comfortable for long, Xena decided to let her off easy this first time.
"Gradually bring your mind back to this place . Wiggle your fingers, and slowly uncurl your legs."
Xena waited a few minutes as Gabrielle tried hard to look like she was bringing herself back from a long way off. "How did you do Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"Great!" Gabrielle said. "Does it get any easier?"
"No, not for a long time. It is like a battle. It is like there is something inside you that is fighting to distract you because it knows that if you win, if you gain control, it will have to follow your wishes and disciplines only."
"Is that why you are so in control of yourself? Why you dont have to eat or sleep? Gabrielle asked. "Because you won your battle, and now you are in control?"
"Probably, I never thought about it. When I was in Chin I learned a lot more about meditation. Lao Ma taught me many skills and disciplines, but I do use exercises like this when I am in a dungeon or trapped somewhere, and I do these exercises when food is in short supply or water is scarce. It does come in very handy, and it probably has saved my life more than once."
"I want to win!" Gabrielle said firmly, "I want to be in control!"
"Thats a good attitude but you can see how long the road is. We will try again tomorrow, and maybe soon you will be able to go three or four minutes without a scowl on your face, although it is kind of cute."
Xena reached out and pulled Gabrielle up to very unsteady feet and watched her face as
pins and needles almost caused Gabrielles legs to give way. Supporting her friend
she walked over to the campsite. By the time they arrived Gabrielles legs were back
to normal. They loaded the last of their things on Argo and started down the road.
The morning was warm and the sky was clear. As she walked along, Gabrielle hoped for a breeze but knew it was in vain. The trees were thick on one side of the road and the stream ran about thirty feet away on their left. Just ahead she could see a bend to the right.
As they neared the bend Xena called for Gabrielle to stop. Gabrielle immediately moved into a defensive position. Trusting Xena to sense danger in the surrounding area where she could only hear the birds and the trees she prepared for the worst.
Then she heard them, hoofbeats coming fast. Xena motioned for Gabrielle to melt into the undergrowth on the side of the road. Just as they disappeared, a horse pulling a cart with two men came careening around the corner, followed closely by another man on a horse that was racing to catch up with the carthorse. The horse in front was obviously frightened because his eyes were bugging out and sweat was pouring off of his coat. Xena sized up the situation quickly. Nudging Argo hard she raced after the carthorse grabbed the bridle and pulled the horse to a stop. It all happened so fast, almost before Gabrielle could see the face of the rider of the horse who was following the cart.
"Palaemon!" Gabrielle yelled as she ran up to the group of horses, men and Xena. "What are you doing here?"
Xena was helping the two men out of the cart. One was tall and thin, the other was younger and stocky. They both wore long brown tunics with the same gold sash and worn boots.
Palaemon turned, and seeing Gabrielle, he grinned from ear to ear, and said, "We heard you were in the area and were looking for you. Our horse here was spooked and I guess we've made a less than dignified entrance. This is Placidus." he said indicating the taller one, "And this is Tellius."
Palaemon was the last person either of the ladies had expected to see. During their last encounter he had kidnapped Gabrielle and challenged Xena to a fight to the death to make his name as a warrior. In the fight Xena had almost been blinded and had used Palaemon as her eyes as she searched for Gabrielle. Palaemon has led her to a castle where Gabrielle was to become Queen to a Dead man and then cremated with him so that the evil Prime Minister would become King. Xena and Palaemon had rescued Gabrielle at the very last minute as she was slowly being rolled into the flames of the crematorium.
During the course of the rescue Xena learned that Palaemon had studied her past and was trying to become "just like her". She tried very hard to explain how she regretted her past and was trying to do good to atone for the evil. The last thing that Palaemon had said as he left them, after seeing that the warrior Princess had regained her sight, was that he had learned something from Xena after all. "If you are going to pretend to be somebody, make sure it is somebody you can live with."
Now here he was with two strangers saying that they had been looking for the two women. Why? "Come help me walk out your horses Palaemon," Xena said, "We dont need them to go lame on you after that mad dash. They are all heaving and sweating like Joxer after a short run up hill."
As the two warriors walked away with the horses Gabrielle held out her hand to the taller of the strangers and said, "Hi, my name is "
"Gabrielle," he said. "I know. We have been looking for you and your tall friend for weeks." He looked at her curiously as he came to stand before her and shake her hand.
"We have been sent to find you. We are hoping that you both will travel back to the village on the mountain with us. There are some very important things going on and Xenas help is needed."
Moving closer, coming around to her side, Tellius pulled out a leather bag and offered Gabrielle an apple. "Yes!" added Tellius, "The Chalice of Blood has been stolen!"
With a withering look at his companion, Placidus said, "Well, whatever, uh . We do need to talk to both of you about your help."
"What is the Chalice of Blood?" Gabrielle asked as she smiled at Tellius and took a bite of the apple.
"All of this will be explained in due time, when we can talk to both of you."
"Okay, so what do you two do when you are not looking for people?" Gabrielle asked, realizing that perhaps she shouldnt press them for details. She had a feeling that she would know soon enough.
"Well, Placidus is a master astrologer, and I am his student," answered a subdued Tellius.
Xena and Palaemon returned just as Gabrielle was about to ask Tellius more questions about astrology.
"Well, Gabrielle, it looks like we have some traveling to do if you want to go to see the village on the mountain," Xena said. "Palaemon has been explaining some of the reasons why they have been looking for us. It sounds important."
Gabrielle looked at Xena and saw just a hint of curiosity. Xena noticed Gabrielles look and tried to remain neutral so she would not influence Gabrielle decision.
"Why is this up to me?" Gabrielle asked.
"I cant decide this for you, Gabrielle. I have to go but you need to decide for yourself. This is going to be more than just a trip to help some people defend themselves from a Warlord, or slay a monster that is terrorizing a village. This could mean a long journey and more than physical danger." Xena answered.
"I think I need some more information here." Gabrielle said quickly, "But I have no doubt that if you are going then I am going, too. Whatever that means."
Xena looked at Gabrielle and smiled for the first time. "I hope you still feel that way after all of this has been explained."
"Xena, what is the Chalice of Blood?"
"Wha..?" Xena looked like someone had hit her in the stomach. "What are you talking about, Gabrielle?"
"Perhaps this should wait until it can be explained properly." Placidus injected quickly. "We really should get moving; it is a long way!"
That night Xena and Palaemon went to hunt for some food while Tellius and Gabrielle set up the camp. Placidus walked over to the edge of the camp and sat facing East, quietly watching the reflection of the setting sun on the clouds.
Seemingly to no one but himself, Placidus whispered, "We have found the two you
asked for. Now we return. Help me to say just the right things to help convince the little
one to help us. Without her Xena will not have a chance. Help me to see her strengths and
call them forth and make her aware of the importance to not only her friend but to all of
Humanity. Help me to show her her part in the Plan."
When the warriors returned with little meat and lots of vegetables and roots Gabrielle was reminded of the meals she had helped to prepare for some other friends of Xenas.
Just a few months earlier, the two women had helped a man called the Teacher and two of his disciples, Sergis and Helena. They too had been vegetarians. Gabrielle had asked Helena why they didnt eat meat. Was it because it was a dead animal? She had answered that, yes, it was partly that, but more importantly the vibration or frequency was to coarse. She went on to try to explain to Gabrielle:
"All kingdoms in nature have energy flowing through them and all kingdoms are connected by this energy. Minerals are the beginning of the chain and then the plants. Next the animals and then Human beings, but there is much more beyond that. Each kingdom has levels of development and each being progresses through all of the lower stages to reach its present level. So Humans have, of course, progressed all the way from mineral to human over a very long period of time. The plant kingdom has developed to a very refined level, which produces plants that can nourish higher kingdoms, as in the animal and human kingdoms; that is its purpose. The frequency of these plants is very high and helps higher organisms to heal and grow.
"The animal kingdom has not progressed very far and the frequency of these organisms is much to coarse to be assimilated by other kingdoms. This was not their purpose. The human could eat the animal but the human organism had a hard time digesting it and often didnt digest it at all. Sometimes in the lower intestines of corpses, healers would find large deposits of meat that had been there for years because the human organism didnt know what to do with it.
So to be of as much help to her body as possible, and to try to raise her own frequency and therefore her consciousness, she had decided not to eat things which would cause her body harm.
Gabrielle had listened to this and tried to do the same for a period of time, much to the amusement of her friend Xena. However when the three people had left them she admitted to Xena that she craved meat in the worst way and Xena had sprung for a big lamb roast. So much for raising her frequency, she thought.
Tonight, however, Gabrielle tried once more to eat only the vegetables and roots that the strange traveling astrologers were eating. Maybe I can get used to this she thought. But the smell of the roasting rabbit was what she dreamed of that night.
They traveled for many days. Every morning the women would find a quiet place and Gabrielle would try to learn to meditate. Xena tried different exercises her teacher had taught her; counting forward by adding 3+4+2-2+3+4+2-2+3+4+2-2, etc.; and visualizing a flower, seeing the petals open slowly until it is in full bloom. Nothing seemed to help Gabrielle to hold her focus for long. Xena was beginning to wonder if this had been a good idea, but Gabrielle was determined.
As they traveled with the warriors in the front and the rear, Gabrielle rode in the cart and told stories in exchange for lessons on astrology. Placidus was not very talkative but his young student more than made up for him.
Tellius explained how to cast a horoscope, mathematically placing the stars and constellations in the chart according to where they were at the birth of the subject. For this he needed the date, time and place of the birth. "Placidus himself came up with the formulas," he said proudly. "They even call it the Placidus system!"
The influences of the configurations, the squares, trines, oppositions, he explained, all have meaning and represent energies that affect the subject. The importance of the chart is to inform him of the cycles before they occur so that he can make the most of the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls as best he can.
"Only a fanatic lives by the chart alone," he said. "There are so many things that interact with us each day and the astrology is just a tool to help with decisions."
Xena listened to them with half an ear. Her mind was traveling to that time long ago
when she had first heard of the Chalice of Blood.
After she left Chin Xena had traveled into the Great White Mountains of the South, the Himalayas. Her traveling companions were traders. However she suspected that they were not too particular about the source of some of their goods. They had no idea who she was and she wanted to keep it that way, so she dressed as a man and worked beside the other travelers.
One day the leader, Omar-Khan, came racing through the camp calling for the other leaders to meet him in his tent immediately. Xenas interest was, of course, piqued, so she followed them to the main tent and listened at the rear to learn what was being planned.
"Do you really think its here?"
"Of course its here!" a strange voice swore. She could hear them passing around a skin of very strong wine.
"What if the legends ar true?"
"Well, the Buddha will not be coming for it anytime soon. His cousin Devatata, killed him and now it is ripe for the picking."
"There are lots of beautiful things there. How about we clean them out?"
"No! I want only the Chalice!"
"Why? What is so great about this thing?"
"It was used by the Buddha for initiation ceremonies. It is supposed to be as old as time. Drinking from it, his students became enlightened and possessed the knowledge of all mankind! With that information we could rule all the world!"
"But I thought the legend said that if you were not worthy it became filled with blood."
"We will see wont we "
Xena came back with a start as she heard noises up ahead that indicated many men and horses. She motioned the rest of the group to move off of the road into the woods and she went ahead to look.
What she saw confused her at first, then she saw the emblem on one of the uniforms. Her heart nearly stopped. It was a gray dragon. She knew that symbol.
Shaking her head to clear it, she watched from the rise as the army below divided into four parts and went in different directions. Each one moving toward a different point of the compass. The group coming toward them was now fairly small so she decided to let them pass rather than draw the attention of the whole army to their position.
Returning to the small group of her friends, Xena told them briefly what she had seen, leaving out the part about the symbol. She felt uneasy all of a sudden, so urging them on their way, she told them she wanted to get to the village quickly.
It took them almost a month to reach the village on the mountain. Gabrielle wondered
why it had no name. Xena had explained that if it had a name then it would probably appear
on a map somewhere and they wanted to stay as much to themselves as possible. Everyone
called it "the village on the mountain" and anyone who overheard them would
wonder, "What village? What mountain?"
As they were approaching the village there seemed to be an unnatural quiet, almost as if the woods and animals around them were holding their collective breath. This affected each of the travelers differently. Xenas warrior instincts were on full alert although she could detect no danger. Palaemon felt a little fear and watched his idol, the warrior princess, carefully. Gabrielle moved closer to her friend, being careful to stay far enough away to allow her fighting space. She had learned this the hard way in the early days of their traveling together. She brought her staff up to a ready position. The two astrologers stayed between Xena and Palaemon, feeling uneasy but more concerned for their friends in the village ahead.
Xena, frustrated with the slow traveling group told Palaemon to stay with the others and she disappeared into the branches of the trees, traveling Amazon style through the branches. This way she was able to travel more quickly and keep an eye on the ground to watch for anything living.
As she approached the clearing where the village had been, she was horrified by the destruction and chaos. From her perch high above she could see those who had died trying to defend the village and those who had died trying to destroy it. All of the buildings were burned except one in the center of the square. She remembered this was the temple. Her heart remembered the ceremonies she had attended and the final time she had seen her Teacher in that building. Her concern now was for any survivors.
She came down to ground level and crept slowly into the village, carefully looking for anything alive, friend or foe. As she turned the corner of a large ruin, she saw a woman leaning against a well. She was injured and Xena ran to her side.
How can I help you? she said as she approached, not wanting to startle this woman.
The woman raised her head slowly, Xena! If you could just help me get a drink .
Continued in part two
There is so much more to go...
Travel, battles, evolving relationships J and so much more.
If you want to see the rest please write and encourage me to continue I hate these teasing, threatening notes at the end of the section and I almost never respond to them but I am very busy right now and if you want me to put this story near the top of my "to do" list please let me know. I would like to know if anybody is interested.
This is fun and I almost feel guilty spending so much time working on it instead of my business, but if you want it .
Return to The Bard's Corner