The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
May, 47 B.C.
As time passes by the spirit wonders. It ponders what life means and the why the answers are unseen. The battling bard had been traveling alongside the warrior princess now for nearly eight seasons. When she had left her home village of Potedia at the age of sixteen she had seeked adventure and glory. She had come to the realization that a warrior’s life was not at all what the stories had always told. Instead it had turned out to be turbulant and unpredictable. Most days living alongside the warrior princess had been at the mercy of the fates, the gods, and Celesta’s touch of death. Now Gabrielle sensed that there was more that she wanted beyond the adventure she had once seeked. She had learned so much about being a warrior and about how to fight. Gabrielle had discovered the greater good and the passions that came with it. The bard had learned hard lessons alongside the warrior princess and lost many things she held dear within her heart. Her husband’s life had been sacrificed to the wrath of a soul destroyed by the evil that had once been Xena. Gabrielle had only recently known this evil side of the warrior princess, but she was confident that it was now very distant from the warrior princess’s heart.
Gabrielle hoped to teach Xena about love and about hope. She hoped to bring Xena out of the depression that had consumed the warrior princess for so long. Gabrielle had gotten to know the heart of the warrior princess very well. Though Xena did not often like to admit it Gabrielle knew her as well as Xena had known herself. There was a certain vulnerability to this for the warrior princess. It was a vulnerability that Gabrielle had admired about her friend. She knew that this was what made up the true heart and soul within the warrior princess. It was this vulnerability that few knew which made Xena so special. There was power within it, but Xena had yet to realize it. For Gabrielle there was only one way to help her friend learn to cope with this and be okay with it. This recent sharing of the hearts led the two friends to the coast of the Agean.
The day was beautiful and quiet. Gabrielle listened to the soothing peaceful waves crashing upon the shore just below the steep cliffs. She was desaparate to walk down to get a true feel for the cool breeze that was certain to beckon all to caress the waves upon their feet. Gabrielle’s excitement began to spill out into a conversation between herself and the warrior princess. Yet the conversation was more one-sided as the bard beckoned the warrior princess to stop to take some time to smell the flowers surrounding them. Xena just scoffed at the idea for smelling flowers was not productive in her warrior opinion. She even questioned the bard’s philosophies as always challenging Gabrielle’s request. Gabrielle of course had meant this philosophically and not literally. She wanted Xena to realize that it was okay to stop and take a breath in life every once in a while. Gabrielle wanted the warrior princess to see that life did not always have to be rough and full of adventure. There were times when it only needed to be appreciated for what was being given. Gabrielle was feeling that in this peaceful moment of walking the two friends were sharing was something to be appreciated. This led into a tinge of frustration as Gabrielle realized yet again that Xena had been ignoring her the whole time. The bard was determined to get through that thick warrior skull which housed Xena’s clever warrior mind.
She decided to ask Xena to stop and close her eyes. She wanted the warrior princess to concentrate and meditate yet feel a sense of peace sweeping over her. Xena was not excited about what she viewed as just another challenging game, but she decided to humor Gabrielle stopping to listen to the words that her friend spoke. Gabrielle was desparate to capture Xena’s warrior imagination and to take it to a place beyond violence and beyond constant spiritual burden. As Xena stopped and closed her eyes to listen Gabrielle then softly asked her friend what she heard. Xena’s response was slightly candid and irritated as she spoke of the many seagulls flying above them. Gabrielle felt for a single moment that she might be getting through to her friend as she asked her what the sounds of the seagulls made her feel. Standing with one hand on her hip and her other to support her leaning against the staff the bard patiently and calmly awaited Xena’s answer.
Xena pursed her lips with her eyes still closed as she made a contorted face speaking of the irritation that she could not deal with because to her the gulls were extremely noisy. The warrior princess then opened her eyes and turned to the bard as if pleading for her to stop what she viewed as nonesense, but Gabrielle would not surrender to Xena’s will. Instead she asked Xena what else the warrior princess could hear. Again Xena closed her eyes and then spoke of the sea. Gabrielle felt that there was nothing the warrior princess would say that could possibly make the sea sound as horrific as the seagulls. Yet the bard was wrong for the warrior princess again opened her eyes and turned to the bard explaining that the sounds of the sea only led her to the thought that she was glad to be standing upon dry land.
This of course was not the kind of response that Gabrielle had hoped she would be able to dig out of the warrior princess, but it was better than the feeling of irriation. It was a start, but it also only meant that Xena had beaten her again. She had made a game out of something that Gabrielle had felt was serious. Xena quickly moved away from the bard continuing on down the path in triumph as the bard ran to catch up to her friend. Gabrielle could not fathom the endless practical nature of her friend. It was an irration in itself. This made it nearly impossible for even the peace loving bard to stop and smell the flowers in life.
Gabrielle began to argue with Xena’s point of view defending her own position explaining that the sea was simply one of nature’s most beautiful and personal expressions of itself. Xena responded with little interest in the bard’s statement. She was practically ignoring Gabrielle who had decided that she would not allow this kind of ignorance from her friend. She decided to demand concentration from the warrior princess asking her to again stop to close her eyes, listen, and hear the sounds of the peaceful waves beating upon the shore. Her passion for this request was seemingly taken seriously for a moment as Xena stopped to try Gabrielle’s meditation excersise once more. Gabrielle demanded that Xena learn to have a sense of peace, and some patience for new ideas to go along with it. As Xena began to concentrate Gabrielle asked her what she felt. Without a beat or an extra moment between Gabrielle heard Xena’s sword sliding out of its shealth upon her back. Xena’s eyes were now open as she was ready and alert. Gabrielle could not believe it. The sound of the sea seemingly made Xena want to draw her sword. It seemed that everything was about drawing her sword. This was a frustration the bard was having trouble dealing with.
As Gabrielle spoke her thought outloud Xena replied that it wasn’t the sound of the sea that had caused this action. It was the sound of a battle. With that statement the warrior princess was off down the path of reeds further positioning herself for the next move. The bard watched noticing that Xena was seemingly more at peace when her body and mind were poised for war than at any other time in life. Gabrielle was shocked that she herself had not heard the battle for she had been listening to the sounds of life around her for some time. The bard searched the landscape with her eyes curious to know where this had crept its way into her sense of peace.
Just below the cliffs on the beach there was a small battle between one rather strong and handsome man who was being attacked by three pirates. Gabrielle had decided that with these odds it was time to jump into the battle to help the man who was being over run. Yet the warrior princess did not make another move toward the battle. Instead she just settled into her position in the light brush and reeds as if she were entertained by the battle. Her sword was still drawn, but she did not move. Gabrielle found herself confused by this wanting to know what Xena was doing. Xena’s response was candid as she mocked the bard explaining that she was only taking Gabrielle’s advice. The warrior princess then picked a tiny dandillion and threw it to the ground lazily explaining to the battling bard that she was only smelling the flowers. Gabrielle was insulted, but this reaction from the warrior princess was hardly unexpected. It was just another part of her friend that Gabrielle had to deal with. She could not change it.
Gabrielle decided that although this was not what she had planned somehow it had worked for Xena was relaxed. If watching someone else get clobbered in battle made the warrior princess feel a sense of peace then Gabrielle would not argue with it despite the morbidity of it. As the battle raged on Gabrielle relaxed for a moment finding herself amazed at the skill of the lone handsome warrior. He was dressed in black leather pants with a blue flowing blouse which revealed his masquline chest as he fought with double swords. The blades of his swords appeared graceful and powerful as he defended against the advances of his enemy while using only powerful kicks against them offensively. It was impressive. These moves were uniquely similar to the natural flow of the warrior princess whenever Gabrielle had seen her friend in battle. Maybe there was more to this sense of peace than Xena had been letting on.
Yet just as the bard was begining to wrap her mind around this idea the two friends watched the battle escalate. Suddenly nine more pirates swept down onto the beach from behind the cove and cried out in an attack against the lone warrior. Xena suddenly got serious determining that now was the time to jump into the battle. It seemed to her that the odds would somehow be fair. Gabrielle did not understand this at all. Yet she did not argue. Xena could probably take on at least five of them, and the other man three was certain. tThis left about four more. The odds weren’t comepletely even, but Xena loved a challenge and so Xena the warrior princess and the battling bard decended quickly down onto the beach from their position to enguage themselves into the battle.
Upon their approach the lone warrior took a stronger stance preparing ahead of his back up for the onslaught. He was prepared to defend, but soon realized that he had the advantage as Xena came in from behind his right on the offensive. Gabrielle took the left flank and deflected the pirate advance with her staff. Xena took on seven men alone plowing through them with her sword clashing against their swords as they passed by. Gabrielle took on the two to the left knocking them to the ground with her staff holding steady as the handsome warrior continued to handle the three he had been dealing with already. The battle appeared effortless for the warrior princess and the lone warrior who seemed surprised that he had reinforcements. In the middle of the battle as Gabrielle continued to fight and defend Xena held out her hand to her new friend and extended an introduction to him. He smiled introducing himself as Ulyses. Then he invited the warrior princess to lock arms with him for a thunderous move. The two skilled warriors planted their weapons into the sand locking arms together. Ulyses hurled the warrior princess around him through the air as Xena delivered kicks of fury out toward the men recovering from the initial attack from the right flank. It was the most powerful defensive effort the bard had ever seen. She rounded the perimeter creating a second barrier knocking each man back to the ground as he tried to rise to his feet. Yet the fury of Xena’s kicks was too great for the twelve pirate men as they began to scurry away in defeat and retreat unable to recover.
As Gabrielle ushered the last of the pirates away she rejoined the warrior princess who was questioning the lone warrior. Xena wanted to know why these pirates did not like Ulyses. Ulyses began to explain that the pirates did not even know him. He continued explaining that they owed their allegiance to someone else. Someone who did not want Ulyses to reach his own kingdom. Xena’s next question was in wanting to know what kingdom was that of Ulyses. Ulyses’s next answer was shocking for the bard. He was the Ulyses of the great greek legends. His kingdom was Ithica and he was the king. This knowledge was exciting for the bard who had heard that Ithica was one of the most beautiful islands in the Agean. Ulyses confirmed with great pride that his kingdom held legendary beauty. Xena seemed slightly jealous of the sudden relatability between the bard and Ulyses, but she continued to listen. Ulyses explained with regret that he felt his kingdom would not stay beautiful for much longer for the pirates seeked to sack Ithica and destroy it. They were prepared to lay claim to it for it had been promised to them as their spoils if they were successful in preventing Ulyses from reaching his home. Ulyses was afraid that soon his home would be known as a wasteland.
Xena interjected with hope reminding Ulyses that those pirates were beatable for they had just gone up against them in a three to twelve battle ratio. The victory against the pirates had come rather effortlessly. Yet it wasn’t the pirates that Ulyses worried about. It was their lord that he feared held the true power. He was certain that the true foe was a force to be reckoned with. Xena spoke up again showing off a bit certain that both she and the battling bard had seen some formidable foes as equal to the power of that of Ulyses. Gabrielle was surprised that Xena had finally included her in the battle plan with confidence. There was something flattering about this. The bard confirmed Xena’s confidence with her own as they awaited more details from Ulyses. Yet Ulyses was still uncertain of the skills that Xena the warrior princess and her battling bard possessed. He looked out over the ocean and there before them arose a giant wave. The wave formed into a large figure glistening and blue. An uncanny aura of ultimate power could be felt within the soul as the being rose from the waters towering above all high up in the clear blue sky. It was the god of the sea Poseiden. Gabrielle recognized him with his trident and golden crown which he wore upon his transparent head. Poseiden had a grandfatherly beard and piercing saphire eyes.
For a moment there was a bit of fear within the bard’s heart for she had not expected to ever meet a god who appeared to be a giant next to the titans. Yet it was intriguing as Gabrielle walked toward the sea to get a closer gaze at the wonder that was Poseiden. Then she looked back toward Xena and Ulyses who were much smaller now that they stood below the mighty god of the sea. They appeared only a fraction of the size of one of the mighty god’s transparent toes. He looked down upon them growling with rage as he asked Xena not to get involved with the plight of Ulyses. Poseiden stated that he was aware of his newphew Ares’s fascination with her and their history, but that he the god of the sea would not show patience for the warrior princess’s participation in his own affairs. Xena was cautious, but not afraid. She stood before the god of the sea beside Ulyses asking Poseiden what it was that Ulyses had done to bring the god’s anger down upon him.
Poseiden responded within his booming echoing voice that Ulyses had blinded his son Polithimus. It was apparent to Gabrielle that the warrior princess did not fear Posiden although Gabrielle felt that his power would be greater than that of Ares. Gabrielle found herself slightly fearful of this billowing god as Xena looked to Ulyses and shared in a moment of triumph stating that she had blinded a cyclops before which meant they had more in common than Xena had previously thought. Poseiden interrupted the moment angered that she spoke under her breath.
Xena then reminded Poseiden that she had never been afraid of Ares or any of the other gods she had encountered before him. She declared that Ulyses was the rightful ruler of Ithica and that she would insure that he arrived there safely to rescue his people from the wrath of the pirates. Poseiden then looked to Ulyeses and demanded that he stop the warrior princess in her foolish decision. He continued by demanding that Ulyeses give up on Ithica and begin a new life without his homeland. Ulyses looked to the god of the sea defying the request put forth to him. His conviction for his people was passionate as he assured Poseiden that he intended to reach Ithica no matter the cost. Poseiden reminded Ulyeses that there was nothing left for him in Ithica since the death of his beloved wife. Gabrielle watched as Xena looked to Ulyeses unaware of this twist of fate. Still Ulyeses stood firm in his decision as did Xena alongside him. There was tragedy in the life of Ulyeses and it appeared that he had nothing to lose, but life itself.
Poseiden assured both of the great warriors that stood before him that no one would make it to Ithica alive for he would unleash the wrath of the sea down upon them for it was the only way to reach Ithica. With that the great god of the sea disappeared back down into the violent waves of the ocean laughing until his laughter turned into the sounds of the waves crashing upon the cove below. Xena and Ulyses wasted no time as they led Gabrielle down the path to the edge of the cove. The path was treacherous with jagged rocks, but it had provided Ulyeses with the perfect hideout. He had been living in it since the pirates had captured and killed that last men in Ulyses’s crew. They had stolen his ship from him and been chasing him ever since. It seemed that the warrior princess was uninterested in the problem which was rather unusual. Her next question was not what Gabrielle had expected. The warrior princess wanted to know how Ulyses had found himself blinding the son of Poseiden.
Ulyeses explained casually that he had stopped on the island of Polithimus on his way back from Troy. Xena’s response to this answer was intriguing for she appeared to feel strongly that Ulyses had made the wrong choice which had put him in this terrible poasition. Ulyses defended his decision at the time replying that he and his crew had gone there for food and supplies. His men were starving and weak, but unfortunately Polithimus was just as hungry as the members of his crew had been. It was obvious that some of them had been eaten by the cyclops which had led to the blinding of Polithimus at the hand of Ulyses. Gabrielle found herself just as impressed as the warrior princess seemingly was. It was no easy task to succeed at blinding a cyclops. The bard remembered having to talk her way out of being eaten by one of them. If it had not been for Xena’s blinding him Gabrielle would have become cyclops food herself. Gabrielle joked with Ulyeses about his triumph over the cyclops which she could share in some small way as Ulyses responded back explaining that he was not about to be eaten by a cyclops. Although Ulyses responded jokingly he was still serious minded about the task at hand. It was as if the man never stopped. He was a lot like the warrior princess.
Once Xena had satisfied her curiousity about the cyclops encounter she explained that the first thing that had to be done was to retrieve Ulyeses’s ship. Yet it seemed that Ulyeses was about one step ahead of the warrior princess as he explained that he knew where the pirates were holding it. It was in a harbor on the other side of the cove. Gabrielle was impressed to find that there was someone out there in the world who was seemingly as savvy as the warrior princess. There was a bit of fascination in this. As Gabrielle looked to the warrior princess it seemed that Xena was suddenly experiencing some kind of regret as she began to explain herself to him. He had been fighting on the other side of the war in Troy and Xena did not feel that she could ally with him until she explained herself clearly to Ulyses. It seemed that he did not care which side Xena had chosen to fight on. He was certain that the war in Troy was complete madness and wasteful at best. Xena was determined to explain that her only interest in being involved in that war was to end it and to help her friend Helen. It was obvious that Ulyses was beyond that scar by now. He had moved onto the present. Again he was a step ahead of the warrior princess. Yet the air had been cleared despite there having been no hard feelings. He assured Xena that his only enemies now were not those who fought alongside the Trojans, but those who stood between him and his homeland. He was grateful to now have Xena as an ally.
With that Ulyses went to work preparing to scout the pirate position as Gabrielle approached the warrior princess noticing just a slight bit of romantic tension in the air. She could see that Xena was taken with him and that had been the real reason for clearing the air. Yet it did not matter. It was a glimmer of hope for Gabrielle who could see the power of love creeping into the heart of the warrior princess. She was hoping to get a little bit of feedback from within the warrior princess’s mind as she playfully commented on the handsome Ulyses. Yet Xena just shrugged the tension off as if it wasn’t really there. Gabrielle knew the truth about her friend, but was aware that Xena was not ready to accept this truth for herself.
By the time night fell Gabrielle and Xena had set up a camp within the forrest just a quarter marathon off of the beach. It was perfectly positioned between Ulyses’s cave and the pirate harbor position. Gabrielle had found herself to be exhausted waiting up for Ulyses so she fell asleep, but after about two hours she awoke to the sound of Xena suddenly drawing her sword. Gabrielle did not move pretending to still be within slumber until she could determine the situation. As she listened quietly she heard Ulyses complement Xena for her move against him, but call Xena on not moving to protect her friend from the intruder upon the camp. Xena explained that she had heard his every move. She continued explaining that she had found no need to adjust for he had not moved to attack the bard. There was playful flirting going on between the two master warriors. Gabrielle was pleased to find that Xena was taking a liking to Ulyses. She liked the fact that he challenged her skills. Xena’s next question was concern for Ulyses ship. Ulyses explained that the ship was fine, but getting to it wasn’t going to be as easy. He described the scene as swarming with pirates, with several look-outs, heavily armed, and with them having the advantage of position there would be little left to the imagination.
The bard felt these odds sounded grim although both Xena and Ulyses appeared to embrace the impossible with wit and confidence. Even if they were feeling just a little bit threatened by their chances they didn’t appear to be phased by the threats they faced. Xena then suggested that they wait until dawn to launch an attack, but it seemed that Ulyses had already made that decision. It did not matter for the warrior princess seemingly liked a man who could plot battle plans like her. After he agreed with the suggestion the bard heard a slight bit of giddy laughter between them, but mostly from the warrior princess. Then there was a long pause of silence, but tension could be felt. It was not anger, but something more passionate and sensual. Gabrielle waited to hear more until Xena broke the uncomfortable silence with a direct and personal question. She asked Ulyses about his wife Poseiden spoke of. Yet before Ulyses could respond Xena tried to retract her question realizing that her crush on him was becoming a little too obvious. Ulyses did not find the question so uncomfortable. He wanted to answer it and put Xena’s fears about getting to know him to rest. It was as if Ulyses wanted the same thing Xena wanted.
Ulyses spoke softly to Xena with appreciation for her concern within his voice. He explained that he had not had a chance to talk about his wife’s death with anyone. Ulyses then told the story of how he had run into some fisherman whom had seen the wreckage of the ship which had carried his young loving wife. They told hiim she had gone out with a search party to find Ulyeses when he did not return home from the war that had lasted ten years. While she was out looking for him Poseiden had taken his revenge upon Ulyses for the blinding of his son by bringing the wrath of the sea upon his wife’s ship. She had been caught within Poseiden’s powerful storm which had crushed her ship. No survivors were found according to the fisherman. As Ulyses spoke there was a slight bit of anger and regret which had seeped through his cool calm demeanor. Soon after he replaced these thoughts with the gentle thoughts of falling in love with his wife all over again. They had met when they were only 17 years old. It had been the moment that they had fallen in love marrying soon after. Bliss did not last for them for just a few months later Ulyses had responded to the call to arms to fight at Troy. He seemed confused by these thoughts as he spoke of how he had been thinking of his wife in all of the time since. Xena spoke up with hope in her voice that assured Ulyses that love would find him again. Gabrielle was surprised to hear this from Xena for it sounded like something she herself might have said to encourage Ulyses. Ulyses then whispered back to the warrior princess as if he were uncertain of these feelings he was having within his heart and soul.
Gabrielle knew what he was feeling. She could feel two people falling in love. There was something scary about this for the bard. It could mean a change for her and the warrior princess. The thoughts scrambled through Gabrielle’s mind of all of the possibilities. It was more than she could deal with in the moment. She decided that it was time for a drink as she rose from her bed roll grabbing her leather water bottle. Gabrielle quietly approached the couple sitting upon the log away from the camp fire in the moonlight. She tried to move through the brush undetected, but her movements immediately grabbed the attention of the two warriors whose swords were drawn ready for action. There was suddenly a sense of embarressment between them all. It was obvious that a kiss may have soon followed, but for now the only response was thirst.
At dawn it was time to take action against the pirates. The plan was simple and it was brilliant. Gabrielle went to the harbor market to purchase some fine pirate wear. She would be the distraction that could allow Ulyses and Xena to sneak onto the ship undetected. Ulyses and Xena had built two canoes one for their sneak attack and one for Gabrielle to use to get a little attention. By mid morning they were ready to go in for the attack. Gabrielle approached the ship first calling the pirates attention to her. She was seductive as she danced and demanded an invitation onto the vessel. The pirates accepted her dance and her offer of pleasure for all as she danced them into a frenzy of sexual attraction. Wild hormones were becoming difficult to control as some of the pirates began to grope the young maiden as she danced and held them off sneaking in a little kick or a small throw back move over the shoulder. This only made the pirates more excited, but luckily Xena and Ulyses had finally approached the vessel, released the anchor, and prepared the sails making their way to the helm.
Suddenly Xena broke up the party demanding some attention for herself. Gabrielle found herself relieved that her work was finally done as their attention shifted from sex to war. Xena let out her signature battle cry as the pirates raced forward charging up the steps to the helm toward Ulyses and Xena. It was obvious that once they had taken away the pirate adavange of scope and position there were only weapons and numbers. The fight was now even with Ulyses and Xena up against pirates who had no time to grab their weapons. They had been taken by complete surprise which meant the battle was fought with fists and boots rather than swords. Gabrielle watched the scene suddenly unfolding as the action shifted from the deck toward the helm. Yet she still found herself in the middle of the battle as some of the pirates realized that they had been taken by her seductive dance. She had to act as she searched the deck for assistance. The battling bard caught sight of a mop bucket which held just the right weapon. She grabbed a firm hold of the mop using it to knock over the bucket of water as she turned it into a staff with a wet smack at the end of it. It was lighter than her usual staff which allowed her to move more gracefully with it as she took on three pirates alone. The movement of battle was just like the seductive dance although it was seemingly more empowering for the bard.
Xena and Ulyses kept themselves busy with the rest of the crowd of about twenty pirates as they threw each man overboard one by one. As each pirate went splashing down into the water the battle became less of a burden and more fun. Ulyses’s confidence was so great that he slid down onto the deck and began to help Gabrielle with the men on the deck. Just as the last few men were thrown over board one pirate had gotten wise grabbing his cross bow from below decks. He returned to find that only a young pirate boy facing off against Gabrielle were left, but just above him was Xena and Ulyses still across the deck. The pirate aimed his weapon as the cowardly young boy jumped over board into the water. Gabrielle prepared for the impact as Xena drew her chackram shouting out Ulyses’s name. The moment was quick as Gabrielle watched Ulyses jump in front of her taking the arrow from the cross bow in the right shoulder.
Ulyses fell to the ground as the pain stung his body. The pirate then drew his sword as Gabrielle tried to hold onto the injured Ulyses as he slumped over. Xena jumped off of the helm onto the railing of the ship running toward the deck and then flipping into action. She landed at the bottom of the steps just behind the attacker as she disarmed him and then threw him over board. All was quiet except for the sound of Ulyses struggling to breath. Xena looked to Ulyeses with concern as she quickly approached him knealing down to examine his wound. Gabrielle was regretful that Ulyses had taken the arrow meant for her. Yet it was obvious to the bard that Xena did not blame Gabrielle for she had been prepared to block the path of the arrow with her chackram. Although Gabrielle had known that Xena would come through Ulyses had not trusted in Xena. He did not know Xena the way the bard did. Xena appeared to be disappointed that Ulyses had not known that Xena would be able to act upon that seemingly dire situation. It was the first time since the two had met that they had not connected in battle. Instead Ulyses’s passionate conviction and bravery had gotten him a cross bow in the shoulder. It was not a pretty sight.
Xena comforted Gabrielle by stating that the injury was not serious. Ulyses
responded sarcastically as if Xena did not understand his suffering, but Gabrielle knew that wasn’t true. Xena explained to Ulyses that what she was about to perform was going to be painful. Again Ulyses was sarcastic still blinded by his passionate convictions. It was as if he were trying to defend his choice to jump into the path of danger. Suddenly Xena broke off the shaft of the arrow pushing it violently through Ulyses chest freeing it from the obstruction. Ulyses was shocked with a greater pain than before yet his chest was freed of its burden. Xena was still frustrated at Ulyses for jumping in the way of her shot with the chackram. Gabrielle tried to comfort his pain with a gentle touch, but the only thing Ulyses could think of was to stand back up and jump back into his work. Xena would not allow him to rise to his feet explaining that it was time for him to finally rest. Ulyses’s ego was begining to rage against Xena’s as if he were trying to keep up with the warrior princess in some measuring of skills and bravery. When Xena realized this she just smiled as she explained that she would take care of the ship without him. He appeared shocked that Xena knew how to operate a ship. Xena only replied that she had many skills. Then she bounded off and began to prepare the ship as she flew through the air gracefully using her sword to take care of the ropes to tie them off for sailing. As Gabrielle watched her amazing friend sailing through the air taking care of everything as always Ulyses uttered his admiration for the warrior princess. If he had not felt strongly about Xena before he truely did in this moment.
Not long after Xena had finished manning the ship she took Ulyses down below decks to clean up his wounds and bandage them for him. Gabrielle had never seen the warrior princess this interested in a man. Something about Ulyses captivated the warrior princess and made her appear even more invincable and extraordinary. Gabrielle sat down softly and listened quietly just below the deck upon the stairs leading down into the cabin. Ulyses asked the warrior princess about her chackram and Xena shared her pride of the magnificient weapon. The king of Ithica appeared impressed that Xena was the only one who could harness the power of the chackram. This was another thing the two had in common with one another for Ulyses had such a weapon back in Ithica. It was a bow made out of the strongest iron wood that only he could string. It could send a single arrow through three straight men before stopping its momentum. Xena was impressed that he had such a weapon and was thankful that Ulyses was the only who could use it; however, she herself had not tried it yet. It was obvious to the bard that Xena would love to have a chance at it someday. Her next question was in how he had come to secure such a weapon and Ulyses continued explaining that it had been a family heir loom passed down through the generations. It was forbidden that he take it off of the island. This satisfied Xena’s curiousity about Ulyses special weapon.
As they spoke Ulyses appeared impressed that not only could Xena unleash the fierce beast that loomed within every warrior’s heart, but she had a tender and soft touch as she repaired his wound. Just before Xena could speak he interrupted her as if knowing what Xena would say next as he thanked Xena for using all of her many wonderful skills and talents to assist him in retrieving his ship. Despite this seemingly perfect relationship between two warriors Ulyses was planning on dropping Xena off at the next port with Gabrielle and moving on without them. Xena objected to the idea challenging Ulyses excuse for dropping them off. He had said it would take at least a crew of three to successfully man his ship. Ulyses was planning to seek out some local adveture seekers to go up against Poseiden. Yet Xena explained that by her count they already had a crew of three between herself, Ulyses, and Gabrielle. Ulyses tried to talk Xena out of the idea of traveling to Ithica with him for he remembered that Posieden would be certain to unleash his power. It was as if Ulyses had resigned himself to death at the mercy of Posieden and he did not want to take Xena and Gabrielle there with him. Yet Xena explained that she had already made up her mind. She was going to see him through this voyage against Poseiden.
When Ulyses tried to object on Gabrielle’s behalf Xena explained that she had learned that leaving Gabrielle behind was never an option. Gabrielle found herself entering into the conversation from her perch just upon the stairway leading back up to the deck explaining that she would go where Xena would go no matter where that was. The bard hoped to help ease Ulyses’s concern for their safety. Gabrielle was certain that Xena enjoyed Ulyses company too much to let Poseiden’s threats stop her from going to Ithica. Yet Xena responded to Ulyses’s concern as if they were rejections of her company. He quickly put those anxieties the warrior princess was feeling to rest explaining that he truely desired Xena’s help, but mostly her company. His appreciation for the beauty of the warrior princess beyond the leather, breast plate, and chackram was obvious to Gabrielle. Although as Gabrielle struggled to walk and stand up straight she found herself also feeling extremely sick to her stomach as the ship rocked back and forth over the calm seas. This interrupted the wonderful moment everyone shared, but Gabrielle could suddenly think of nothing else. The bard found that this upset stomach was irritated with the motion of the ship which made it difficult to concentrate on anything. Her conclusion to the problem was sea sickness as she passed both Xena and Ulyses in an attept to find a spot that would be less likely to rock, but the attempt was futile for the bard. There were seemingly no stable places to rest on the ship.
The sea sickness was growing more intense with each passing moment. Gabrielle struggled to take in breath without the feeling of wanting to hurl. The smells of the sea creeping down below decks were part of the problem Gabrielle had surmised combined with the constant rocking. As Gabrielle tried again to move and change positions she found herself perching upon an old crate next to the navigation table where Xena and Ulyses studied a map of the sea planning their battle against Poseiden. Gabrielle tried to focas on their conversation hoping that it would help her forget about the sea sickness. Yet it was nearly impossible as Gabrielle found herself standing up and pacing across the cabin once more to the other side of the navigation table where Xena and Ulyses continued to talk about Ithica. Ulyses spoke of how it would be several days of sea travel between them before they could reach Ithica. Not only that, but he continued explaining that the days of suffering that Gabrielle would have to endure would be just as futile as trying to combat the sea sickness. Posieden’s storms had been too furious for him to ever reach Ithica in the past. Gabrielle was certain that this voyage would be no different.
Xena of course had the answer. She asked Ulyses if they could take the shorter route along the chain of islands that connected Ithica to the mainland. Yet Ulyses shot down this idea reminding Xena of the island of the sirens. Gabrielle had heard of the sirens and as she tried to remember why their story was so important to her. Then it came to her through the ill feelings which plagued her. Gabrielle explained to Xena seriously that the sirens were said to have a song so powerful it could call all men to their deaths upon the rocks of the island. Ulyses was certain that Poseiden would call upon them to help him battle against Ulyses, and Xena. Gabrielle found herself to be alarmed imagining how a song could kill them all smashing the ship to pieces, but Xena calmed Gabrielle’s concern quickly reminding everyone that she was not a man which meant the rules didn’t apply to her. There was a slight bit of relief in knowing that it was now possible to travel the shorter route that could offer cover from the wrath of Poseiden’s storms. Not only that, but Ulyses’s interest in Xena was growing as he joked that he had noticed that Xena was indeed not a man. With that the flirting continued as Xena looked to Ulyses and responded to his question. He wanted to know if she was going to be able to singlehandedly get them past the sirens. She was certain that the challenge of the sirens would not be an issue. With that statement Gabrielle was satisfied. It was certain that they would be taking the shorter route, but Gabrielle was uncertain of how much longer she would have to endure sea sickness. She rose from her crate hoping to escape the constant bobbing up and down by breathing in some fresh air above decks. The bard hoped that the open high seas would help relieve her of the unbearable nausia.
Yet even the open air upon the decks above held no solace for the bard. Even worse Gabrielle found herself having to man her part of the ship duties between each burst of vomit from the inner wall of her stomach. The bard spent most of the rest of the day trying to keep up with Xena and Ulyses, but she was unsuccessful. There was misery within embarressment in the self discovery that Gabrielle could not handle sea life. Xena approached Gabrielle on one of her bouts of painful misery as the bard hung her head over the side of the ship. The warrior princess was sarcastic with pleasure at her friend’s suffering. She used this opportunity to tease the bard about her philospohical lesson with the warrior princess on the day before. Xena suggested that Gabrielle just close her eyes and smell the seagulls. Gabrielle sensed Xena’s heavy sarcasm realizing that Xena was comparing a discussion of life’s traquil beauty to physical pain and suffering. Through the emotional irritation Gabrielle was feeling she realized Xena’s humerous remarks were the honesty of how Xena viewed most days of her own life as a plight of suffering and sea sickness. The bard once again found herself defeated not only by physical issues, but by Xena once again. It seemed that Gabrielle would never win this battle of views between herself and the warrior princess. Everything was always so cynical with Xena. This thought added to the irritations within Gabrielle’s stomach as Xena delivered the final blow which delcared her victory over Gabrielle’s philosophies. She reminded Gabrielle that they had yet to reach the roughest part of the journey. The seas were calm in comparison to what they would experience later in the voyage.
Gabrielle could not believe that it would be possible for her to suffer worse than she was already suffering. Suddenly Ulyses piped up that there was a major storm coming upon the horizen. It was most certainly Poseiden’s first battle move against them. Gabrielle realized that this voyage to Ithica was extremely symbolic of her travels with Xena. It always seemed that when things couldn’t possibly get worse life would throw a major storm toward the ship being sailed no matter how good or how comfortable the ship seemed. By nightfall they had reached the storms. Ulyses, Xena, and the bard escaped the wrath of Poseiden down below decks as they tried to ride out the violence. Gabrielle only wanted death now for it was seemingly the only thing that could bring peace back to her soul. If she could no longer feel the physical suffering then her soul could be free to find peace. Several times the bard begged Xena to knock her unconscious, but Xena would not honor this request. When Gabrielle pleaded with the warrior princess for death Xena just held her friend steady as the ship rocked violently throwing its mariners about like loose dinars. It was almost as if the warrior princess were still gloating in her glory. As Poseiden’s wrath raged on through the night and into the early morning Xena calculated that they would be reaching the island of the sirens. Xena decided that the only way to save the ship from their songs was to tie Ulyses up so that he would be unable to take control of the ship. Xena would take over the helm during this part of the journey leaving Gabrielle to guard Ulyses until they began passing the island of the sirens.
The sun rose from within the darkness of Poseiden’s powerful storms bringing calm back into the water, but Gabrielle’s stomach was still battered deeply within. It was as if Poseiden himself had been directing his wrath from within the walls of the bard’s feeble stomach. There was no rest for the weary as Gabrielle found herself struggling to stay awake now that a large portion of the pain had subsided. Nautia was still within the pit of her stomach, but it was no longer with the edge. This was manageable unlike during the night’s storms. However, the quiet calm continued the sounds of the wind soothing Gabrielle as she lied her head down upon the map table hoping to ease her physical exhaustion. Just as the bard was about to fall asleep the sound of the wind seemingly blended itself with the sounds of a faint whispering song. Gabrielle was not certain that it was anything more than being between a dream and real life. Yet just when Gabrielle was about to drift into the dream Ulyses spoke. He asked the bard if she could hear it. A beautiful song so mezmorizing that its beauty could not be described. Although Gabrielle was not impressed by the sounds of the sirens Ulyses was captivated. His eyes lit up as his body longed for the extasy that seemingly beckoned him to follow the songs.
Gabrielle slowly woke from what was seemingly the dream into the reality that Ulyses was about to try escape Xena’s binds. The bard was already weak with illness. She was certain that if Ulyses were to escape she would not be able to stop him. Gabrielle first tried to help Ulyses get his mind off of the deep soothing song of the sirens. She was not certain what he was hearing for he was a man. Whatever it was it unnerved him into insanity. It was obvious that Ulyses had lost all self control. When Gabrielle tried to think of something to talk about all she could think about was discus throwing. This subject was weak in comparison to the illusions of the sirens and their songs. Gabrielle could only imagine that their songs were filling Ulyses’s mind with beauty beyond that possessed even by the warrior princess. Gabrielle cautiously rose from her spot upon the crates next to the map table slowly approaching Ulyses who had now picked up a piece of broken pottery from the floor with his boot attempting to free himself from Xena’s binds.
The bard realized that it was only a matter of time before he would escape. She desparately hoped to somehow distract him from the voices which called to his soul. Yet Ulyses was unstoppable for he was too powerful and too strong for the weakened bard. He begged Gabrielle to help him escape, but she could only weakly remind him that it was not in his best interest. As she approached him attempting to stop him from his madness Ulyses’s kicked her to the ground sending a whole new sense of pain through the bard’s body. Now the only thing Gabrielle could feel was the numbness of her leg which was nearly broken by the force of Ulyses’s powerful kick. Ulyses fled from the cabin dashing up the stairway onto the deck. His only hope was Xena who was already busy steering the ship.
All that could be heard for several moments above were the sounds of a fierce battle between the warrior princess and Ulyses. They battled for control of the ship which did not help the pain of Gabrielle’s leg combined with the sickness still plaguing her stomach. The sounds above were of feet scurrying, and bodies slamming onto the deck. After several moments of battle and of the ship being steered into the jagged rocks and away from them the course held steady. Gabrielle was uncertain who the winner was until she heard Ulyses’s heavy boots scurrying down the stairs of the helm onto the main deck and then they were quiet. Xena shouted out for Ulyses to stop for she could not leave the helm as the path through the jagged rocks just off the island’s shore was too treacherous. Gabrielle knew that Xena would not be able to stop him for the sounds of the sirens were beyond her control. Yet just when Gabrielle thought that Ulyses might face his death upon the rocks Xena began to sing her own song.
Xena’s voice began low and uncertain. Yet it seemed to be working for it broke Ulyses’s attention away from the voices of the sirens for a moment. The warrior princess continued to sing with more depth, and more power. Her soul reached down into its pit to draw love and affection from within attempting to sway Ulyses’s soul from its demise. Xena’s voice held steady for hours until finally the sounds of the sirens became more faint as time passed. As their songs weakened blending into Xena’s voice there was no way for Ulyses’s mind to be drawn to their power. Gabrielle heard Ulyses’s boots step back down onto the deck as the sounds of the sirens faded into the sounds of the wind and Xena’s virtuostic voice. Suddenly all was quiet and the danger was seemingly over. They had made it through Poseiden’s storms and successfully averted the rocks upon the island of the sirens. It was now onto Ithica with nothing, but smooth sailing ahead. For Gabrielle this was a relief for she would not have to bear the harshness of rough seas for the rest of the voyage.
The pain of her injured leg was also begining to subside as Gabrielle decided that it was safe to emerge from within the cabin out onto the decks for some fresh air. Ulyses caught sight of her and inquired of her injury fearing that he was responsible. Gabrielle would not accept sympathy from him for his irrational behavior as he desparately tried to apologize to her. The bard knew that the power of the sirens was beyond a man’s control. She tried to make light of the discomfort explaining that for a brief moment Ulyses had allowed her to forget about her sea sickness.
As the third day at sea had come to an end Gabrielle found herself sinking into the hamock in the cabin for some much needed rest. Xena and Ulyses were seemingly unaffected by all of the excitement of sea life and by Poseiden’s obstacles. Instead the two continued to enjoy sharing in each other’s company in a way that only soul mates can share with one another. It seemed to the bard as she listened pretending to be asleep that Xena had finally found her tree within the forrest. It was Ulyses. He was Xena’s other half and the bard knew it. There was uncertainty within these thoughts for Gabrielle although if Ulyses was indeed her other half then maybe the warrior princess could find the peace that Gabrielle hoped her heart would find.
Gabrielle continued to listen as Xena offered Ulyses some bread and cheese that she had gathered and cut up for him. Ulyses seemed pleased at her gesture. It was behavior coming from the warrior princess that Gabrielle rarely ever saw. Xena was in love. Gabrielle hoped that Xena could be honest with her about this at some point. Ulyses just chuckled when Xena suggested that she had messed up the bread and cheese referring to her lack of experience with cooking. Ulyses responded by explaining that he had a wonderful cook back in Ithica. There was an awkward silence between the two which was smoothly broken by Ulyses who attempted to infer that he was only speaking of how Gabrielle and Xena would both be well fed if they were planning on staying in Ithica for any lengthy period of time. It was as if Ulyses was inviting her without actually saying so. Gabrielle sensed what Ulyses desired. He desired Xena as she was certain Xena had desires for him. Yet it seemed that Xena had yet to be honest with herself about this. It was why Xena had not approached the subject with Gabrielle.
When Xena did not respond right away Ulyses then posed the question. He wanted to know if Xena was committing herself to a chance at a relationship with him. Xena’s response was a fumbling of words at best. Then Ulyses charged forward within the conversation knowing excactly what he wanted to say, but chosing not to say it. It was as if he were begging Xena to make the first move, but Xena’s heart was afraid. This brought concern to Gabrielle’s heart for her friend wondering if Xena’s heart could remember what love truely felt like. Then Ulyses bared his soul saying exactly what he had been yearning to say to the warrior princess. He explained that he was in love with her. Ulyses was even prepared for Xena’s retort about his wife Penelope. He explained that her memory would live on despite his love for Xena. Ulyses was not even certain if his feelings for Penolope had been real for they had been only seventeen when they had parted. He had been certain that his love of Penelope was a love for his own ideal of her rather than the woman herself. There was concern, and romance. Ulyses’s words were swift as he was attempting to sweep the warrior princess off of her feet with words of love. Xena tried to put more value into the ideal that was Penelope, but Ulyses had already devalued it within his heart and his mind. He agreed with the warrior princess that Penelope had been a special woman.
Before Xena could say another word Ulyses explained that with Xena things were different. He had felt like he had known Xena his entire life. With that statement it seemed that Ulyses had somehow lost his edge and his confidence in himself. He was uncertain that his heart was telling him the truth, but Gabrielle knew that Ulyses was smart. He knew more about his heart than he realized. Xena was not equipped to handle his inquiry. He wanted to know if he was crazy for having these thoughts and feelings. The warrior princess’s only response was of uncertainty and to remind herself out loud of what the bard’s own beliefs were. Xena reminded herself of the story of when all people had two heads and four legs. Gabrielle could hear this within the warrior princess’s mind. In this moment it seemed relevant to her somehow as her thoughts surfaced into Ulyses’s reality. Xena spoke of everyone having their soul mate. Ulyses was softly delighted as his confidence in his heart’s voice was restored. He was certain that Xena was his soul mate and he pressed this into Xena’s reality. Gabrielle again heard a long pause, but this time it was of passion.
After the long moment of nervous passion Ulyses posed his question straight. He wanted to know if Xena was planning to stay in Ithica with him to see how things might work out between them. Xena’s response was giddy yet obviously uncertain. Gabrielle sensed fear within Xena’s voice yet it was barely noticeable to anyone else. It was as if Xena were falling in love for the first time. As Gabrielle began to weigh the situation heavily Ulyses went back to the helm to guide the ship during the rest of the night. As he left his genuine concern for the warrior princess was powerful as he suggested that she gather some rest for herself. As he left Gabrielle’s eyes were wide open now as she hoped that Xena might ask for her advice. Yet Xena kept silent as Gabrielle realized the difficult decision Xena’s heart faced. It was as if Xena would have to chose between her life with Gabrielle and a new life in Ithica with Ulyses. Gabrielle found herself slightly saddened knowing her travels with Xena could end as this voyage triumhped over Poseiden. Then she remembered how Xena had handled things when Perdicas came to ask for her hand in marriage. With that thought Gabrielle was ready to give life alongside the warrior princess up if it would tame Xena’s anguished heart. The sacrifice would be worth it. As the bard recalled to herself the entire journey and purpose with Xena was in showing the warrior princess how to love again.
Finally the thoughts of hope mixed sweetly with sadness faded into the slumber which captured the bard after a few days of sleepless nights. Gabrielle found herself awakening when the sun was high overhead which meant that she had slept in for the first time in a great while. She felt refreshed despite the events on the night before. The sea sickness had subsided and was barely noticeable to her now. She thought it might be for her concern about Xena and about their friendship. Gabrielle decided that if Xena was not going to approach her then she would open up the subject herself. When Gabrielle approached Xena as the warrior princess manned the deck Xena expressed a friend’s concern. Xena inquired of Gabrielle’s sea sickness. The bard quickly answered stating that although it was not completely gone she would survive it just fine. What Xena had really hoped to do was to avoid the unavoidable. Gabrielle quickly shifted the subject to Xena’s feelings about Ulyses. The bard seeked an honest answer from Xena whom appeared surprised that Gabrielle was aware of anything. Xena then moved away from the bard onto another part of the ship to tie off some more ropes. The warrior princess tried scolding the bard as she joked Gabrielle did not sleep all that soundly.
Gabrielle had to accept defeat in this for she had been eavesdropping on several of Xena’s personal conversations with Ulyses. The bard joked back explaining that it was the torture of her illness which had kept her awake and listening to the passions unfolding. Xena used this as an oppritunity to escape the real issue as she instructed her friend to try lying down on her stomach while at sea. Gabrielle would not allow Xena to get out of answering the serious question. The bard scolded Xena for trying to escape her inquiry. Gabrielle hoped Xena would answer her so that she could plan her next day preparing to be alone without a soulmate. Gabrielle needed to know what was next for her in life. Xena paused for a long time and did not answer. Yet Gabrielle already felt the answer. The bard felt as if she wanted to release a tear from her eye for she could already feel the lonliness of life without Xena. Then she asked Xena to promise that whatever Xena’s answer was it would be the answer that followed Xena’s heart.
The warrior princess knew instantly what her friend’s fears were. Xena knew that Gabrielle was afraid of going on without her. The warrior princess finally answered immediately dissolving Gabrielle’s lonliness reminding the bard that Gabrielle was a part of her heart. For a moment Gabrielle was embarressed realizing her own selfishness. Then she reminded Xena of the advice Xena had given to her when Perdicas came back into Gabrielle’s life. Xena had told Gabrielle that seeing her friend happy would make Xena happy. Gabrielle wanted Xena to know that she now understood Xena’s advice more than ever. She wanted Xena to know that she felt the same way about the warrior princess’s choices despite her own selfish heart.
There were more moments of tranquil silence, but Xena cut them with confident reassurance of Gabrielle’s place in her life. She explained that Gabrielle had been good for her heart. Xena continued by saying that Gabrielle being a part of her heart and her life was the reason that Xena could find herself having feelings for Ulyses. She had learned how to love through Gabrielle. Gabrielle realized that her place in Xena’s heart was still secure despite her having fallen in love with Ulyses. Suddenly Gabrielle came to another realization. Xena had finally openly admitted that she had fallen in love with Ulyses. This led Gabrielle to rejoice urging Xena that they had already decided within their hearts that staying in Ithica with Ulyses would be their next challenge. Just as Gabrielle blurted this revelation out Ulyses shouted out “Ithica!” The excitement of reaching land was like no other. Gabrielle ran to the side of the ship to view the land that was now within her grasp. Soon her body would be released from the torture it had faced for four days. Indeed there was a lot to celebrate upon landing. Gabrielle thanked all of the gods all accept for Poseiden as she rolled about in the sand basking in her glorious release from illness. Ulyses ran his fingers through the sands upon the beach. He was finally home after ten long years of war, and battles against Poseiden. His triumph would be remembered forever.
Soon Ulyses was showing off his childhood home to Xena and Gabrielle as if he were only seven. He introduced his new friends to the hill in the woods that he and his friends had played childhood games upon. Of course he remembered that it had been much larger when he was five. As they continued on Ulyses caught sight of an old carving within one of the trees near the hill. It was as if he had forgotten about it. He was so excited to show off his carving to Xena who appeared to be uninterested at best. She was more interested in the innocence of Ulyses rather than his actual childhood exploits. Gabrielle decided to ask him what his carving represented and he proudly declared that it was an eagle which had been his favorite animal as a child. Xena interjected that she thought it looked more like a fish, but this was typical of the warrior princess. Everything peaceful and innocent was about fish to her. Gabrielle took note of this observation in her mind. Then Ulyses defended his work proclaiming that it was magnificiently done by a five year old boy. He appeared surprised at how much had changed upon Ithica in his abscence.
Just as Ulyses contemplated these thoughts the sounds of a battle interrupted the innocence from above. Upon his childhood hill he spotted five pirates attacking one of the islanders. Ulyses, Xena, and Gabrielle dashed up the hill into action quickly disposing of the disturbance and rescuing the native who was now lying on the ground. Ulyses instantly recognized the victim as his old friend Mentacles. At first Mentacles did not recognize Ulyses until he took a moment to study the face before him. As soon as Mentacles realized who Ulyses was he immediately rose to his feet to greet his old friend with a strong embrace. Mentacles spoke quickly with excitement asking if it really was Ulyses and not an apparition. Ulyses confirmed with a bright smile that he was indeed alive and well. Mentacles gratefully thanked the gods for Ulyses’s safe return has he smiled with joy.
Xena interrupted his declared celebration reminding everyone that her respect for the gods was not high. She pridefully declared that it was not the gods, but the three companions together whom had triumphed returning to Ithica safely. Gabrielle looked to Xena as if slightly irritated that the warrior princess could not contain her own ego. Yet the moment of irritation passed as Ulyses looked to his new friends introducing them to his old friend Mentacles. Ulyses then explained that Mentacles had grown up with he and Penelope. The three had all been very close. Gabrielle’s heart was tickled with warmth imagining two childhood sweethearts eventually marrying as young lovers. The mood was contagious as Ulyses joked with Mentacles asking if he was crying after being beaten up by pirates. Mentacles explained that his tears were of joy and not pain or sorrow for now Ulyses could reclaim his kingdom and be reunited with his lovely wife.
There was a sudden wave of emotional shock which swept its way through the small group. Ulyses quickly responded reminding Mentacles that his wife had died, but Mentacles pressed further with more truth than anyone could fathom. He explained that it was a lie. Penelope was not deceased for he had only seen her just an hour before. She was still full of sorrow over the loss of Ulyses, but very much alive. Gabrielle then looked to Xena realizing that the warrior princess’s tree in the forrest was not Ulyses. The warrior princess appeared upset at this new discovery, but not hurt. It was not the fault of Ulyses that he had fallen in love with another for he had been told a lie most likely orchastrated by Poseiden himself. With a serious tone Mentacles continued explaining to Ulyses that things in Ithica had changed a great deal since he had left. As if Ulyses did not have enough to sort through in his heart Mentacles explained that Poseiden’s pirates were pressuring Penelope to take another suitor to replace Ulyses. Mentacles continued explaining that all on the island had been led to believe that Ulyses had been killed as Ulyses had been tricked into believing that Penelope had been gone.
Gabrielle could see Ulyses’s sadness in knowing he now had more responsibility beyond that of saving Ithica from the pirates. He now had to figure out how to let his heart release itself from love for Xena or release itself from Penelope. Xena was understanding of Ulyses’s situation. Instead of responding with anger or jealousy she responded by taking action. She wanted to help Ulyses get his restore his kingdom and to release it from the swarming pirates. Ulyses then asked Mentacles if the old moat still led under the castle. Mentacles responded with uncertainty explaining the delapidated conditions of things without a leader to restore them. Xena spoke up to take the lead in the situation. With Ulyses’s hit with all new confusion the warrior princess took over. She asked that Mentacles lead them to the old moat to check it out. If it was still there she was ready to take action against the pirates and to help restore Ithica even if it meant losing her tree in the forrest.
By nightfall Ulyses and his companions had reached the old moat to discover that the secret passages beneath the castle were still clear. The passages led them to a stairway which led up into the servants quarters where Ulyses instructed Gabrielle to collect some robes. They would prepare to attend the banquet that was about to begin as servants and peasants. A rumor had cirrculated about the kingdom that Penelope would choose a suitor on this night by a specific test. The test was to see who in the kingdom would be the first man to be able to string Ulyses’s bow. This proved that Penelope was a shrewd leader. It was the perfect way to keep the kingdom from the pirates for Ulyses was the only man able to string it. There was still hope for Ulyses to reclaim his kingdom yet he had different plans.
When Gabrielle had returned from the servants quarters back into the passage way where Ulyses and Xena conversed she over heard something unexpected. It began with Ulyses explaining that he had spent ten years wanted to return to his home, but now that he had returned he sensed that it was no longer his home. As a boy he loved Ithica more than life itself, but he had left to go to Troy as a boy and returned as a man. When Xena asked him about Penelope he pushed on declaring that he did not love Penelope anymore and felt that he had never truely loved her. There was a quiet moment of pause and then Ulyses declared his passionate love for Xena. He explained that he loved Xena more than Ithica. It was a strong statement to make for all that he had sacrificed to return to Ithica. He explained that the kingdom of Ithica was no longer his, but belonged to Penelope. Ulyses wanted to finish the journey that he had begun. He wanted to rid Ithica of the pirates and then leave the kingdom to Penelope. Then he would travel with Xena and Gabrielle for he desired this more than being king and protector of Ithica.
Xena had a retort ready. She began by apologizing to Ulyses about being more honest. Xena surrendered Ulyses to Penelope with little arguement. She explained that she could never love Ulyses and that she liked her life as it was without him. It was a weak retort and Gabrielle sensed that Ulyses could see right through it. Ulyses argued with Xena knowing that she truely did have feelings for him. He was not about to allow Xena to surrender them now. Yet Xena was not about to steel love from another woman. The warrior princess desired a chance for Ulyses and Penelope. She realized that war, and revenge had kept them apart for too long already.
The warrior princess also knew that Ulyses could not see beyond the past several days that he had spent with Xena. Gabrielle desparately wanted to step into the middle of this emotional crisis and help ease everyone’s confusion about this complex situation, but was stopped by Xena’s next choice. With great regret and sadness Xena pulled out pain and delivered it with harsh words to Ulyses. She shunned his love with aggression declaring that all of her flirtation and advances had been nothing more than a show. The warrior princess declared that their passionate kiss on the night before had been nothing more than a fling for her. She continued with embarressment for Ulyses delcaring that she herself had been embarressed by his romantic words to her. Xena went on to say that she had chosen not to reject Ulyses then because she had not felt that he could handle her rejection. Gabrielle knew the truth of this. It had been Xena who was most concerned by being rejected by Ulyses. Xena capped off her aggressive rejection of Ulyses explaining that he could never be her kind of lover. For Ulyses it was as if the cross bow had gone through his heart. The blow took the breath right out of him. All he could do for a moment was stand still and stare at Xena in confusion. Soon the confusion turned to emotional hurt and then Ulyses retreated back upstairs toward the servant’s quarters.
Gabrielle passed Ulyses returning to the bottom of the steps feeling his heartache within her own heart. Yet she also felt Xena’s deep regret for the harsh rejection that she had chosen to deliver to him. Gabrielle felt that there could have been a softer way to accomplish this, but she also understood why Xena had chosen to deal with Ulyses in this way. The warrior princess was afraid for her own heart for if Ulyses caught sight of Penelope again it may be the end for Xena anyway. It was in this moment that Gabrielle realized just how soft and genuine the heart of the warrior princess truely was. It was fragile. There was so much of it that needed repair for it could not handle the thought of losing someone it held dear. Xena had not completely committed her heart. Yet she had come very close with Ulyses. Xena tried to reason outloud with Gabrielle her choice to hurt Ulyses in this way. She explained that both Ulyses, and Penelope deserved a chance and a clean homecoming. Gabrielle could not argue with this for the warrior princess was right. Yet the bard had faith that Ulyses’s love was still true for the warrior princess. She was certain that if things did not work out with Penelope that Ulyses would eventually understand why Xena had intentionally hurt him. Gabrielle was certain that Ulyses was a smart man. It seemed that this idea comforted Xena just a little as she allowed a small bit of hope to creep into her heart explaining that maybe the three of them would one day fight for the greater good. The bard smiled and agreed with Xena that this idea was very appealing. It seemed to her that Xena might release a tear and be vulnerable inside. Xena quickly averted this by reminding the bard that it was now time to prepare for the real work and so the two dashed up the stairs to bring a triumphant close to the story of Ulyses.
The banquet had already begun by the time Xena and Gabrielle had arrived. Ulyses had gone on ahead for it was clear that there was only one thing left for him to do. He had to prove that he was the true ruler of Ithica. No other man would be suited for the task. As Xena and Gabrielle circulated the banquet hall playing their roles as servants Ulyses appeared as a peasant man. The leader of the pirates declared that it was Poseiden’s will that a successor to Ulyses be chosen on this night. Penelope faced his challenge with courage and dignity as she explained the rules of the contest again. The pirate took the bow and tried desparately to string it, but found it took more strength than he could muster. He found himself irritated and almost angry at Penelope declaring that no man would be able to accomplish the task except for Ulyses who had already died. It was in that moment that Ulyses spoke up from beneath his robe. He declared that he could do it. When the pirate heard this from a peasant he struck down the peasant’s request. The pirate did not want to face the possibility that a peasant could string a bow that he could not.
When the peasant’s request was struck down there was an urgancy brought on by Ulyses. He ushered the crowd to join him in pushing for a chance for the peasants as well as the pirates and those who had wealth. Penelope took this idea and decided that she would agree to it yet the pirate was not so enthusiastic. He declared that he would agree on the condition that only the one peasant would be able to have a try. Ulyses was confident as he approached the front of the banquet hall where Penelope stood. He took the golden bow from the pirate and prepared to string it before the crowd. As Gabrielle and Xena looked on with the crowd they watched the intense process. Ulyses struggled to bend the bow down as he rested it upon the floor to string it. His face struggled as his muscles tensed. Then Gabrielle remembered why Ulyses was having trouble. His injured shoulder was preventing him from commanding all of his strength necessary to string the bow.
It was in this moment that Xena decided that she would help Ulyses one final time. She was inconspicuous as she dropped a golden cup of wine onto the floor kicking it underneath the banquet table. The warrior princess then slipped beneath the table as Ulyses continued to struggle as he got closer and closer to winning the prize. Just when it seemed that he had no strength left to hook the string onto the bow it began to bend slightly more. Suddenly Ulyses gathered his last bit of strength and then triumphantly he hooked the string onto the top of the golden bow successfully winning back the kingdom of Ithica. There was a sudden pandimonioum within the crowd as people began to talk amongst one another about the event that they had just witnessed. Yet the pirate cut the noise with his loud proclaimation that the contest had been fixed by Penelope herself. Before Penelope had a chance to try to defend herself Ulyses uncovered himself from disguise and declared that he was Ulyses king of Ithica.
Suddenly the pirates were ordered by their leader to charge forward to attack Ulyses. The banquet hall broke into a battle of the pirates against the king of Ithica. Ulyses grabbed an arrow from Penelope’s throne preparing it within his bow launching it through the hearts of three pirates as people screamed and scurried about it terror. Ulyses was fierce with his weapon as was Xena when she used her chackram in battle. Xena burst out of her disguise jumping onto the banquet table to assist Ulyses in the fight yet she allowed him to handle most of the battle on his own. The warrior princess understood the need for Ulyses to prove his courage, skill, and bravery to his people in this final battle against the pirates. After unleashing the fury of his bow Ulyses grabbed a blade and began an offensive against his enemy that was comparable to the skills of the warrior princess. Gabrielle released herself from disguise to help finish the battle as she grabbed a chair for defense against her attacker. Xena battled with only her fists and her thunderous kicks as Ulyses was displayed to be the true warrior of Ithica. As the swift battle drew to a close and Ulyses triumphed Penelope’s happiness in being reunited filled the banquet hall. It was in this moment that the warrior princess decided that it was time for the battling bard to slip out alongside her onto the next voyage together.
Although Xena had tried to leave the story of Ulyses to Ulyses and his beloved Penelope even Ulyses could not allow it for on the next day as the Warrior Princess and the battling bard were to set sail he came aboard seeking her company. There was an uncomfortable moment of embarressment for the warrior princess knowing what she had put Ulyses through. Despite that painful rejection of the night before and the chance at a night alone with his wife Ulyses was still certain of his feelings for Xena. Indeed he was a smart man for he had realized what Xena had done for him was out of love and not rejection. Ulyses appreciated Xena’s concern for his marriage to Penelope yet his heart still yearned for the company of the warrior princess. Gabrielle looked on as the conversation transpired realizing although Ulyses loved Xena Xena truely could not allow her heart itself to him. Xena had chosen this out of her own fears and insecurities. She had decided for Ulyses that his path would not be with her. They had not made the journey through Poseiden’s wrath only to leave Ithica again. Ulyses belonged there with Penelope and he would learn to love her again. Xena was not as harsh this time when she again rejected Ulyses. She was soft and tender as she spoke to him wishing only to convey concern and friendship rather than pain and confusion.
It was not easy for Ulyses to accept that the warrior princess would not surrender her heart. As he left the ship his heart was saddened realizing that it held responsibility. Ulyses was no longer a boy and could not afford the luxuries of a young man. It was in this moment that the man had truely returned home from his long journey away from home. The man would learn to love Ithica again and alongside Penelope he would restore it to its splendor once more. Gabrielle watched as the ship began to turn
away from Ithica and Xena called out to the crew. She saw the uncertainty of two young lovers as they waived good-bye to their newfound friends. Finally Gabrielle approached Xena still confused that Xena sacrificed her happiness to someone she did not know. Xena’s answer was simple. Her heart was rewarded in knowing that she had helped Ulyses win back his kingdom and the life that he would have with the woman who courageously stood up to the pirates in the abscence of her beloved king. As for the story behind it all Xena felt that it was only worth telling if it were the story of Ulyses and how he bent his golden bow to save the people of Ithica.