Idylls of the Warrior Princess: The Coming of Xena
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures while the rest of the story and other characters are my own.
Author's note: This "Idyll" is the first in a series, with sincere homage rightly owed to the master: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and his classic "Idylls of the King" upon which this series is based.
"To her that is the fairest under heaven,
I seem as nothing in the mighty world,
And cannot will my will, nor work my work
Wholly, nor make myself in mine own realm
Victor and lord. But were I join'd with her,
Then we might live together as one life,
And reigning with one will in everything
Have power on this dark land to lighten it,
And power on this dead world to make it live."
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (The Coming of Arthur)
It was a time of both darkness and light, of
Shadows and shades upon the land;
When brother would smite brother, and the
Quarrels of the family led to a division of the
People. In the frothy, snow-capped peaks
And splendor'd plains of Hellas, the rumbles of
Democracy were yet but a distant thunder; and so
The forces of tyranny, and lawlessness, and heartache,
Reigned absolute. From Thessaly to Arcadia,
From Corinth to the azure waters of the Aegean, the
Darkness threatened to overtake the light forever.
A great evil lurk'd in the piney woods and streams and
Byways of Gaia, nay; greater by far than any beast or
Demon known to this world or the next. 'Twas the
Befouled spirit of man, depraved in nature, worsen'd
Still by the meddling mischief of those Gods who
Delight in such matters of misery and pestilence;
Of strife, despair, and oblivion.
Upon this turmoil'd Mother Earth moved a great
Warrior sprung from the barren, hard-scrabble
Loins of Amphipolis, in Thrace. Tall and dark walked
She, and with a temperament to match her appearance;
Her eyes shone as the bluest of skies on a summer's
Morn, and the long, silken strands of her hair, color'd as
The blackest of midnights, whipped on the breeze like standard
Heralding her coming. Xena, was she; the Warrior Princess.
Xena possess'd the Courage of one who has
Known Fear as a Kindred and conquer'd it;
There fired within her a Spirit which refused to
Be extinguished, and she flaunted the Strength
Of one man times ten. But the Warrior Princess
Waged her greatest battle against the darkness that
Dwelt restlessly so 'nigh to her own heart. And, in the
Conquering of it, the Slumbering Giant was awaken'd.
'Ares' Chosen,' some did call her, held in awe as
They were by her many skills and infamous deeds.
Born in the murky mists that lurk just before the
Dawn was she, to the tavern-maid Cyrene and Atrius,
A warrior loyal to Ares, God of War. Raised amidst
The storms of doubt and uncertainty, becalm'd on
Occassions infrequent by a passing kindness,
A caring word. Until, with a great sigh of weariness and
Despair, at last she surrendered to Ares' embrace.
'Twas the death of her beloved young brother,
Lyceus, at the hands of the evil warlord, Cortese,
That hardened her noble warrior's heart to all
Deeds that were Good and Just.
Thus she fled Amphipolis, leaving her mother and elder
Brother, Toris behind, seeking to wreak her vengeance
Upon a world that had wronged her mightily.
There were many men who heard and answered her
Dark call, and soon the name of 'Xena, the Destroyer of
Nations,' brought fear and terror down upon all who
Heard of it. Saddled with shame and loathing, her
Family and townsfolk turned their backs on a woman
They no longer recognized as one of their own.
Fueled by her anger, hungering to fill the aching void
Of emptiness within her, she searched far and wide to
Soothe the raging fires, succeeding only in flaming
The inferno bright, in sowing the seeds of her wrath.
Such misery and misfortune she dealt at the point of her
Sword! How she reveled in the cries of the people, 'All hail
Xena, our Conquer!' The Warrior Princess drew power from
Their quaking, was made drunk by their fear, and all
Who did oppose her were ground mercilessly underfoot.
Led by the sword of Ares, she blazed through
Attica and Macedonia, through Cappadocia and
Parthia; without pause for labour'd breath she
Plunged East, along the Silk Road, leaving
Sadness, bitterness, and hatred in her wake.
Her enemies were many: Cortese, Draco, Myzentius;
Kaliepus of the Centaurs, and Caesar of Rome. Even
Borias, the father of Solon, her son, turned against her;
So sickened was he by the coldness of her black heart.
The Gods watched her closely, this one to whom much
Was given, yet by whom little had been repaid.
Ares alone rejoiced in his pupil, yet his sister Artemis
And their father Zeus, dismay'd at how the Warrior
Princess squandered the great gifts fetted upon her.
Her strength was cloaked in tyranny, her courage shielded by
Evil desires, and her spirit deadened by a failure all her own.
Whether 'twas the intercession of God or Man one can
Never know, but Hercules, Son of Zeus and the mortal
Alcmene, had eyes that saw past the Destroyer of
Nations, into a heart where some small spark of
Goodness yet flamed. 'There is another way, Warrior
Princess,' he told her, speaking of a peace she might
Bring to the world, and he showed her wholly with his
Mind and body that there was still cause for joy and
Happiness, soothing her raging fires of hopelessness.
And so, emboldened with these singular truths Hercules
Nurtured in her, the Dark Warrior launched upon a
Quest to redeem the sins of her wicked past, returning to
The scenes of her misdeeds, and endeavouring to toil
For the Greater Good. Always, for the Greater Good.
Thusly, the Warrior Princess set course to journey
Home to Amphipolis, intending to lay down her arms
And bare her heart to all whom she had wronged.
And so it came to pass one day that the Warrior
Princess traveled through Chalcidice, near the farming
Town of Poteidaia. 'Twas there she chanced upon
A vile band of slavers, fully intending to spirit away a
Score of innocents to a dim future of hapless servitude.
Biding her time in the thick growth of the forest,
The Warrior knew well enough the familiarness
Of the play before her, for how many times had
She as Warlord taken slaves for her own purpose.
And how clear it was to her now, how one response
And no other was called for. 'I must help these people!'
Yet 'ere the Warrior Princess could spring from
That where she hid, a young maid of Poteidaia
Tore free from her captors and stood apart from
Her kin, staring down the evil hearts of her foes.
'Take me, let the others go' proclaimed the
Fair Gabrielle, daughter of Herodotus and Hecuba,
Sister to Lila the younger, betrothed of Perdicas.
'Ha!' the lead blackguard among them laughed, 'We shall take
You, and the others!' At those words, the Warrior Princess
Burst forth from the wood and, doing battle with the
Slavers vanquished them all. How wide flew the
Eyes of young Gabrielle, as the Warrior-Saviour slew their
Enemies, and how the people rejoiced at their freedom!
Too soon a cloud descended upon Poteidaia,
When 'twas made known that Xena, the Warrior
Princess, the Destroyer of Nations, was in their midst.
The men of the village came upon her, being as she was
Attended by Hecuba and Gabrielle, after having
Foughten the evil-doers, 'Xena, we ask that you move on,'
Spake Herodotus. 'We wish no trouble with you, we
Know your reputation. We merely ask that you leave.'
Fair Gabrielle was outraged. 'But Father, she saved all-'
'Hush, daughter!" Herodotus grew fearful, for the
Wrath of the Warrior Princess was the stuff of legend.
'Fear not,' Xena replied, 'I plan to move on a'fore the sun
Hath set this fine day,' wounded tho' she was from a foul
Slaver's strike. Xena took no offence at the words of Herodotus;
No payment for her good deed did she demand. She hied
To leave the village, but the young Gabrielle would not let
Her part without mounting a fervent appeal. 'Take me with you,'
She begged, for some manner of the Warrior Princess
Had enchanted her. 'You cannot leave me here!'
Xena gazed roundly at the upturned face of Gabrielle.
Her blue eyes had sparked at that first sight of her in the
Wood, and how her heart had quicken'd in fear when the maid
Offered herself over to the cowardly slavers. The girl was
Pure of Heart and Bold of Spirit, and tho' she desired it
More than life, the Warrior knew that Gabrielle
Deserved better than to journey down so dangerous a
Road with her own battered soul. 'I travel alone.'
And so Xena sadly departed the hamlet of Poteidaia, and
Left a bit of her heart there as well, in the loving
Safekeeping of a young farmer's daughter.
'Twas no surprise to the Warrior Princess when men
grew wary in her presence, for how many tales of
The Destroyer of Nations had chilled their hearths
In days not long passed by? And now, using her
Skills for the Good of her fellow man, t'would take many
Deeds of light for her reputation to lose the tarnish
Of her warlord past. Both peasants and kings alike grew
Petty and resented her, for what right did she, a former
Tyrant, have to come upon them and bid them, 'Nay'?
The Warrior Princess left all in her presence a-tremble, for
She was like no Warrior before they had 'ere seen, an
Astonishment of nature, whether spawn of the Gods
Or Tartarus' own, they blissfully knew not.
The Warrior traveled onward, but Gabrielle of Poteidaia had a
Will of iron, not to be trifled with. And so she follow'd the
Warrior Princess, forsaking her family, home, and betrothed.
Tho' small of stature, her courage was great, a worthy
Companion to the Warrior Princess', and she braved
Giants, the beasts of the dark wood, and Draco himself in the
Tracing of Xena's footsteps. Gabrielle found a lost Xena
In Amphipolis, and show'd her mighty faith in the Warrior
Princess when Xena herself, and her townsfolk, doubted
It most. The people of Amphipolis recalled too well the
Choices made, the living left undone. Doomed to a future
Black and bleak, made darker still after she left to forge her
Mark upon the world. They shunned the Warrior Princess.
And so, in her own desolation, she forced the little Poteidaian
Away and, in the doing of it, drew her close. In the thinking
Of herself undeserving, she became one most worthy of all.
Her way was found, her loneliness banished.
Tho' mighty history is wont to repeat herself, she was verily
Denied in these events. The Warrior Princess, with the help
Of Maid Gabrielle, was found to redeem her sin of the past,
One late summer's day, in the valley of her home. The Warlord
Draco marched on Amphipolis. This day, through words,
Not war, and through a challenge betwixt the Warrior
Princess and the Warlord, Amphipolis was saved.
So too, was the heart and soul of Xena.
With the young Gabrielle at her side, the great Warrior
Traveled the land, vanquishing evil, smiting the darkness.
Yet the whispering persisted among the people, where
Drew she the source of her 'nigh supernatural Powers?
Was she the daughter of Atrius? Or of the God of War himself?
The truth of this, even Cyrene knew not. It is said that
Ares takes the form of his warriors, to lay with their wives
Whilst they are away at war. Blood-bonded thusly to the
War God, Atrius was fully prepared to sacrifice his
Daughter's life to Ares when she was but seven summers
OId, had not Cyrene intervened with fatal consequence
To her husband. The daughter was spared. Was she a
Phantom Princess, whose only purpose was to effect the
Downfall of all? Or truly so a newborne babe in spirit?
But such rumors were breathed to life only by those with
Mischief in their minds, rancor on their tongues, and hate
In their hearts. The fair-haired Gabrielle paid them no heed.
Join'd thusly for the journey toward goodness, the two usher'd
One light, one might to the land; saving the people from
The beasts of the forests, those beasts among men, and the
Greatest monster of all which dwelt within. Armed only with her
Wits, her sword, and her Chakram, itself a weapon whose
Origins were cloak'd in mystery; 'twas a steeled ring of terrible beauty,
And so carried on its glimmering, razor'd edges the soften'd
Whispers of death itself. With each passing step, the strength and
Bravery of the Warrior grew, pushing away the darkness, making
A divided land as one. Yet the Warrior thought how her powers
Paled when stood aside the light and goodness of Maid Gabrielle!
The Gods viewed all these events with no little interest from their lairs
Above and below the clouds. Ares and Artemis, Hades and Zeus,
Aphrodite and Hephaestus, all marveled at how thin was drawn the
Line upon the parchment of her life. A willing pupil of war, now become
Mistress of her heroic destiny, whose talents were fulfilled for the
Betterment of those less fortunate. The bards did sing of her noble
Deeds, none more sweetly than the little bard who cleave'd unto Xena.
Against the wishes of Hecuba and Herodotus, Xena join'd
With Gabrielle in a bond of friendship and love. Together they
Journeyed on, sworn to the Gods and to one another that they be
Bound to the death and to the Elysian fields thereafter. To be as
One, united, fulfilling the boundless purpose of the Greater Good.
Under the clearing skies of Hellas, the Warrior Princess followed
Her heart, and Gabrielle, the Warrior Princess, in whose heart
Her favor rested. And so at last the people rejoiced, and dared
To hope. For a time, the darkness was made to hold at bay.
From the right of Xena's might, the old order changed, giving
Sway to new. Great battles were won of both hand and heart;
The heathen hordes were conquer'd, the beasts of the forest,
Silenced. And so the heralds proclaimed throughout the land,
That all was made safe for those who dwelt within it. In the living
With the past, in the renewing of the spirit, in the love
Of Gabrielle, the light reigned evermore.
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