The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll #45: The Lost Mariner
May, 47 B.C.
My story begins with a violent stormy black night and the uncertainty that is brought to us all upon our own fears. Xena and her friend Gabrielle had been sailing upon the merchant ship which had left Ithica just days before. Poseiden had been quiet for a while yet Ulyses’s defeat of the pirates in Ithica had led Poseiden to promise his pirate henchmen the riches upon the merchant vessel. They were to go in pursuit of the merchant ship. For three days and three nights Xena had been able to successfully maneuver the merchant ship safely away from the pirate ship yet on the third night Poseiden intervened sending his wrath down upon both vessels in anger of the pirates for their inability to conquer Xena, and for Xena’s role in assisting Ulyses in his triumph back in Ithica. The pirates took advantage of Poseiden’s storms gaining ground over the merchant ship which finally led the two ships into battle against one another at the height of Poseiden’s storm.
The last thing the bard could remember was calling out to Xena as the waves rose higher washing up onto the decks. Xena quickly acted throwing her sword down to Gabrielle from the top of the crow’s nest to the deck commanding her to cut the ropes releasing the sails attempting to slow the ship from colliding with the rocks just ahead. As Gabrielle completed Xena’s command the pirate ship rammed the merchant ship sending it wobbling over onto its side into the rocks smashing them right through the center of the merchant ship’s hull. Gabrielle desperately called out to Xena as the water burst through the ship into the lower cabins swiftly sweeping the bard off of her feet as she disappeared into the sea.
As the sun rose overhead the next morning another old rickety ship approached the wreckage. Those aboard noticed that there were two survivors of the storm from the night before. Miraculously the battling bard Gabrielle had been overlooked by Celesta’s touch. Gabrielle’s eyes opened as a result of the stinging salt water and the sounds of men’s voices shouting out from over the starbord side of the ship. Her eyes focased on a tall dark man who stood upon his ship seemingly reluctant to rescue the stranded mariners. As the helpless bard lazily floated upon a piece of the wreckage one of the other men upon the ship stepped up to the dark captain addressing him as Rama. Following that strange name the bard’s ears caught only the word sharks for she was barely conscious. Few moments passed on between that moment and the next as they had finally decided to bring her and her companion on board their ship.
As the bard’s body finally hit the deck she could feel that her lungs were full of salt water, her soaked clothes clung tightly to her body, and all that could be sensed was the horrifying smell of rotten fish. It was a smell so aweful that it could revive the dead. The bard moaned in anquish feeling the punch of seasickness begining to kick into her stomach. She heard the sounds of a sword being dragged across the deck as it verberated beneath her body. The captain of the ship had noticed that the young girl had been carrying a beautifully crafted sword. He smiled so impressed with it that he ordered it to be taken to his quarters to reside with his many other riches. As Gabrielle’s mind began to clear itself from its state of disorientation she noticed something familiar about this dark captain. He had made sarcastic reference to Poseiden as if there was an unsettled debt between them. Just as Gabrielle’s mind wrapped itself around this thought she removed her wet hair from her face to get a better view of the dark captain. She hoped to jar her memory with a tale from the tavern back in Potedia.
Before Gabrielle was able to muster another thought she was boldy addressed by the captain of the old rickety ship. He wanted to know which vessel the bard had been sailing upon on the night before. As Gabrielle struggled to recall the events of the previous night between the merchant vessel and the pirate vessel she slowly tried to rise to her feet. Her mind was begining to sharpen again. She reached out to her companion lying motionless on the deck next to her. The bard began to recall her horrifying experience from the night before. As she spoke she thought that it was rather odd that Xena had been silent. Then Gabrielle looked to her companion suddenly realizing that the companion they had brought on board with her was not the warrior princess. This thought instantly ripped Gabrielle’s mind into clarity as she inquired about her friend. There was no response only a look of curiosity and interest coming from the captain as he leaned in closer as if he could hear Gabrielle’s thoughts.
It felt like a violation to the bard as if there were something not quite right about her situation. Gabrielle quickly rose to her feet frantically searching the deck for her familiar companion, but Xena’s face did not emerge from within the crowd of men. The bard suddenly felt alarmed thinking that maybe she was now on the pirate ship. Gabrielle’s next thought was more horrifying as she surmised that these pirates had captured Xena or maybe even worse. Suddenly Gabrielle’s response to this idea was to defend and to gather strength. As she looked to the captain glaring she demanded to know where Xena was. The captain appeared surprised at the young girl’s sudden change in demeanor. She instantly went from a helpless mariner to a threatening foe. Yet the captain answered in both tones explaining that if Xena had been on the merchant ship she could not have survived. His tone turned away from empathetic concern to an angered spite as he explained that the pirate ship had been lucky as it had averted disaster upon the rocks. It seemed that the captain had answered his own question about the young girl. Her companion had been a young pirate and only the pirate ship had survived. These two factors combined with the knowledge of the merchant vessel’s demise had led him to believe that Gabrielle was a pirate.
Gabrielle spent little time thinking about this for her mind was still wrapping itself around the idea that Xena had most certainly drowned. The image of her friend pushing up seaweed in death was not pleasant, but it was the only solace that the captain could seemingly offer her. Yet Gabrielle’s heart reminded her that Xena was too strong to allow Poseiden’s wrath of storms or his pirates take her away from the bard. Gabrielle looked out into the sea for an answer noticing that there was land seemingly with in reach of the ship. This filled the bard’s soul first with relief and then fluttering hope as she turned to the captain in defiance of his own asessments. Gabrielle insisted confidently that Xena had made her way to land pointing in its direction as she stepped down toward the lower part of the deck. The idea of land so close tempted the bard to jump over the rails on the side of the ship. Her mind quickly interrupted the idea as her ears caught the captain’s weak acknowledgement of Xena’s survival which led him to his next command.
The captain instructed his men that it was time to get back to their duties for his goal for the day was to get his ship around to the other side of the island by dark. This snapped Gabrielle back into reality as she turned back to the captain asking him to take her back to land. Yet the captain seemingly did not care. He just stated that he was keeping Gabrielle on board now despite what her will otherwise would argue for. The captain was calm and cool as he explained this stating that he was certain that there would be danger for the bard should she resist the idea. Gabrielle could not believe what she was hearing. Her heart was full of laughter for it could clearly be more dangerous for the captain. He would have to endure the constant sea sickness that would plague the bard causing his deck to become very colorful. She was certain now that she was indeed on a pirate ship if not the one from the night before. Gabrielle was determined not to become the slave of a ship full of pirates. It may have been Poseiden’s idea of a punishment fit for a warrior princess, but Gabrielle’s will was most certainly greater than that of Posieden.
As she graphically argued her point with the captain and demanded to be taken on another boat to the shore the captain laughed. He was seemingly more amused by the bard’s colorful and passionate spirit than any thing else. It was obvious to Gabrielle that he was not taking her seriously. As he laughed he shared his laughter with his first mate Hidsim. It was as if the captain was entertained for the first time in a while, but that was not the tone Gabrielle had been going for. As she thought of this the captain softly reached out and gently touched her face reiterating that his decision was final. He would not be allowing her to leave his ship. Although Gabrielle felt that she was being held against her will she could sense that even the captain himself seemed regretful as if he felt that he had no other choice, but to imprison her.
This intrigued Gabrielle for a moment as her pirate companion began to rise from the deck into consciousness. When the young pirate finally rose to his feet he looked up to see the face of a legend recognized by all mariners and pirates sailing the seas. When the bard heard the familiar name escape the lips of the alarmed young pirate she realized who the captain really was. It was begining to make sense to the bard as the legend of Cecrops surfaced into her thoughts. He was the lost mariner who by Posieden’s rule could never find his way home from the sea. Before Gabrielle could say any more the young pirate quickly drew his sword in fear of the lost mariner. He declared to Cecrops and all the other men aboard that he would not end up like one of them. Cecrops was seemingly fearless and valiant as he declared to the pirate that it was his choice. The rules of Poseiden were clear. The young pirate could choose to live out the rest of his life cursed alongside the lost mariner or he could choose death.
Suddenly the young pirate charged at Cecrops with his sword swinging it wildly once and then a second time as Cecrops smoothly dodged each move. Then Cecrops effortlessly robbed the pirate of his weapon and took control striking the young defiant pirate upon the head with his own sword knocking the pirate at his feet. The lost mariner then declared with authority that the young pirate would not be leaving his ship. It was as if this had been some old ritual between Cecrops and his pirate captives. The young pirate had lost the duel against the cursed Cecrops which meant that he now belonged to the lost mariner. Yet the young pirate was still defiant refusing to become a part of the decrepit old curse. The young pirate screamed in emotional anguish as he rose from the deck and ran like a mad man to the railing throwing himself overboard unto his own doom.
Gabrielle watched with great interest to see what the pirate’s fate would be. It seemed for a moment that the curse was only another myth as the pirate swam halfway to shore as if trying to out swim Poseiden. Yet Gabrielle’s hopes were crushed by the power of Poseiden as the young pirate was engulfed by the green glowing power beneath the sea. The man’s life was instantly taken as he screamed in agony until his screams turned into an eerie silence. Gabrielle’s heart sank with defeat knowing that her hopes of reaching the shore were crushed with the body of the young pirate who dared to defy Poseiden’s curse over Cecrops. As she looked on she watched the lifeless pirate floating back to the surface. The bard was angry for Cecrops had not tried to stop him from jumping over board. Gabrielle scolded Cecrops with a calm, yet quiet firm tone. Cecrops’s only response back was harsh reminding Gabrielle that the choice had been made by the pirate whom had unsuccessfully tried to defy 300 years of curse.
The bard still gazed out over the water seeing the land that she now knew that she would never reach. Soon the sharks had approached to finish Poseiden’s bidding of them. As Gabrielle watched them move into take the body of the pirate Cecrops gently forced Gabrielle to look away from the horror. He possessed the concern of a father as he softly asked the bard to look away from the tragedy before her. Gabrielle was stunned as the sounds of the sharks destroying the body of Poseiden’s latest victim as they cut through the calm splashes of the waves upon the sides of the ship. The only thing Gabrielle could hope for was the strength to cope with the idea that she would be imprisioned on the ship for eternity. She spoke her thoughts outloud as if inquiring of Cecrops a way off. Her hope was that he would have the piece of the story that was missing. The resolution that could free everyone from the cursed ship. Only the idea of freedom by the touch of Celesta could be offered to the bard by the lost mariner. One day Gabrielle would finally grow old and die just like all of the others except for the lost mariner. Only he was cursed to live on through eternity. This did not comfort Gabrielle in the way that she had hoped. Although Cecrops was kind he was harsh within the same breath for he stated that Xena had been the lucky one. Cecrops reminded Gabrielle that Xena had probably drowned as he stormed away from the bard with disgust.
With all hope of ever seeing the warrior princess again lost Gabrielle found herself succumbing to the dreaded seasickness once again. The bard spent most of her day hanging over the railing of the ship realizing that she might be doomed to be ill for a lifetime. If she was lucky one day she would become so ill that Celesta might have mercy and come to touch her softly releasing her from her now cursed life. As if the idea of seasickness wasn’t enough to bare Cecrops returned to Gabrielle to deliver news. He explained that he had come to a decision. The battling bard would now be the new ship’s cook. Thinking of cooking and the smells of food made Gabrielle’s stomach turn over once more as she released yet another bout of sickness into the sea. As she struggled to respond to Cecrops she pleaded for some sympathy. The bard was still trying to accept her new life on his ship. Cecrops was cold and uncaring explaining that she would be needed soon. Gabrielle would have to forget about life outside the ship for it no longer existed for her.
Then he spoke under his breath explaining the real reason behind his urgency. It had been a very long time since he had had a woman aboard his ship. With an all male crew he was certain her presence would cause problems for his men would not be able to resist their new distraction. Gabrielle looked about the ship to notice that almost every old decrepit man was staring in her direction. It was as if they were entranced by something mezmorizing. Yet there was little to be excited about. She felt very tiny now as if waiting to be taken by the wild beasts upon the ship which was more freightening than being sick until the mercy of death.
As Cecrops walked away Gabrielle caught sight of one of the old men approaching her as if preparing to court her. She was not certain how she would deal with this new issue. He began to speak standing extremely close. The bard did not find anything the least bit attractive about a man who had a thin layer of white hair barely clinging to his balding head. He was no Adonis yet this dirty old man was determined to give something special to the bard. Just as he was about to pull out the unthinkable the first mate Hidsim approached to rescue the bard from the old man whom had just introduced himself as Altrek.
Altrek was determined to offer his services despite Hidsim’s interruption as he displayed a small brown pouch and pulled ash out of it. Altrek explained that eating the ash helped settle his stomach of the sea sickness. Then he began to stuff the ashes into his mouth demonstrating his remedy to the bard. He looked like an adolescent who had just rolled around in a pit of mud after having a day of sport with his friends. With the sight and smell of this new crush Gabrielle found herself barely able to fight back another urge to hurl over the rail of the ship. Hidsim firmly swept Altrek away ushering him to return to his post. Gabrielle could not hold back her urging illness as she hurled over the side and Hidsim tried to comfort her. He was more like a fatherly figure rather than an irrational teenager who could not control his hormones. After several moments of anxiety and illness Hidsim urged Gabrielle to go below decks and rest for a while. He was seemingly the only sympathetic soul aboard the ship of the lost mariner. Gabrielle hoped that he would be on for a while.
After spending several moments of thought in an attempt to distract her mind from reality Gabrielle imagined what Xena might be doing if she were alive. The bard imagined that the warrior princess might have jumped onto the pirate ship in order to survive the wreck. Maybe the warrior princess had to battle her way to safety on the island after reaching the shore with the pirates. Most likely Xena was enjoying the games she was playing with them as if she might enjoy being out numbered. Xena always liked a challenge. Her goal would be to find Gabrielle hoping that the bard had somehow reached safety on the shore too. That thought led Gabrielle to a feeling of sadness realizing that Xena might someday give up when she realized that her friend would never return. Gabrielle knew that Xena would never find her on the cursed ship for the warrior princess did not believe in legends and stories. The bard decided that the only way to accept her fate was to learn to love Cecrops for he would never ever leave her. There was some comfort in knowing this, but first she had to get to know his heart if he indeed possessed one.
This led to the bard investigating Cecrops’s cabin. She wandered into it alone looking about to notice the vast lost treasures it held. This was an adventure within itself for it reminded Gabrielle of what it was like to hold a fistful of dinars. That day had been exciting for she had seen the vast treasures of the ancient sumerian people. No one had ever thought they had existed. Maybe pirates would catch up to Xena and she would find out about the lost mariner. It was all Gabrielle could hope for as her eyes caught sight of a large emerald stone placed on top of a black silk box decorated with smaller stones and pearls. The bard could not resist picking it up as it shimmered in the light finding its way down into the dark cabin. This brought a smile to the bard mezmorized by its beauty. She imagined that it came from a treasure like that of Sumeria or some other exotic ancient place. She held it up to the cabin windows hoping to get a better look as she laughed thinking of how worthless it was aboard a cursed ship. After looking at it more closely she wondered if it was even real at all.
It was in the next moment that she had been caught by Cecrops snooping about his cabin. He confirmed that it was indeed worth something for it was real. Gabrielle found herself suddenly embarressed realizing that she had been very inconsiderate in not asking permission from Cecrops to investigate his treasures. She feared he might be angry and was uncertain of how he would deal with her intrusion. Gabrielle desperately fumbled for a good reason for her actions explaining that she was only trying to forget about her sea sickness caused by the constant rocking of the boat. Cecrops calmly approached the bard and gently took the emerald from her grasp relieving the bard of having to explain her curiosity about him. He continued to devalue the emerald’s worth explaining that it was worth little more than a grain of sand to him. Gabrielle was still astonished by the size of the emerald for it had been virtually the same size as her own hand.
Cecrops continued as he praised the emerald for being valueable for what it represented to him as it glistened in the sunlight. He was happy within one moment and then saddened by a seemingly distant memory as he gently handed the emerald back to the bard. Gabrielle realized that he did have a heart for it must have been sentimental for someone he had once loved. She complemented him on his wisdom agreeing with him that his love for that person of long ago was the only way to truely judge beauty. His soul had once been touched by someone and Gabrielle hoped to help Cecrops find that special part of himself once again. Cecrops was quiet for a moment as if there was something more he wanted to share. Then he walked over to reveal from underneath a plain old cloth something more elegant than the emerald. It was the golden bust of a woman. Gabrielle recognized it to be the lost Athena of Antigous. Her hair flowed within the light as it bounced off of the solid golden lockes. Gabrielle approached the magnificient bust inquiring Cecrops if he had heard of it. She wanted to see how much he knew of the legends beyond his own. Gabrielle was curious if the story of this beautiful golden bust was true. As Gabrielle spoke of the carving men swore came to life of its beauty she touched the golden face hoping it would become real.
Cecrops confirmed that indeed the lost Athena did come to life and offer its wisdom, but only in the magic of the moonlight. He continued to tell the story of the journey of the lost Athena explaining that she had come to be lost by pirates whom had stolen it. Cecrops proudly declared that he had stolen those same pirates some of which were still among the crew on his ship. This reminded Gabrielle of her own predicament. She had become another one of Cecrops’s lost treasures making her part of his current crew. As she said this out loud without another thought she realized that she had upset Cecrops who quickly covered his pride. It seemed the bard had ruined any chance at easing his pain. The sharing was now over as Athena was now hidden away again.
He looked to the bard and then walked away back toward the door out of his cabin. Gabrielle regretted having said anything at all for Cecrops had retracted from her attempting to guard his heart from more pain. Just when she was certain that he would value her as he valued his lost treasures Cecrops inquired of Gabrielle her knowledge of how Athena had been declared the goddess of Athens. The bard then turned from her defeat and felt that maybe she had not lost all that she had worked for in these precious personal moments with Cecrops. She began to recite the old story feeling rejuvenated by a bard’s passion. Gabrielle told of how both Poseiden and Athena desired the affections of Athens. It was decided that a contest would be held for them. The first citizen of Athens was chosen to arbitrate. Suddenly Cecrops interrupted Gabrielle’s story as if he were an authority on it explaining that it had not been the first citizen whom had arbitrated the contest between the Poseiden and Athena. Yet he was willing to allow this minor mistelling of the story. Gabrielle was intrigued by his interest in the detail, but she continued on as if feeling challenged by Cecrops. Her passions grew as she continued explaining that Poseiden had brought forth a spring upon the acropolis while Athena had created a beautiful olive tree sprout upon the fruitless rocky soil. Gabrielle continued explaining that Athena had been declared the winner by the arbitor and then her story trailed off for the rest of the details were seemingly lost to history. There was something unnerving about it, but Gabrielle hoped that maybe Cecrops could finish the story since he was so keen on its details.
Cecrops continued explaining that people had long since forgotten the most important details of this story. He passionately explained that the arbitor had only been reflecting the will of the people and that Poseiden had become so angry over the decision that he had put a curse upon the arbitor. Yet to Cecrops the detail that mattered the most was that all had forgotten that the story of the lost mariner, the story of the lost Athena of Antigus, and the story of how Athena had won Athens were all details that belonged to a single story. Cecrops had been the name of the man whom had been chosen to arbitrate the contest that Poseiden had lost over 300 years ago. It was within that moment Gabrielle could feel Cecrops’s sadness. She understood that being forgotten by the world was a worse fate than dying on a cursed ship. The bard could see that Cecrops felt a lonliness beyond life without Xena. He would never be able to leave lonliness for it had somehow become his true companion. It had been the only thing he could count for the past 300 years. It was like being an imprisoned immortal, but without the power of the gods.
Cecrops continued his story explaining that Poseiden’s curse was that he would never be able to return to land until love redeemed him. This part of the story did not make sense to the bard for at least six lifetimes had passed since Cecrops had been cursed. He should have died, but Cecrops explained it was Athena whom had given him immortality which for him made both Poseiden and Athena his enemies. It was obvious to Gabrielle that Cecrops’s anger against the gods had made him blind to the solution. She explained to Cecrops that Athena had given him a gift which shouldn’t have been shunned. It was the gift of hope for eternal life would give him the time he needed to solve Poseiden’s riddle and return to land. Athena had given Cecrops the chance to live life again despite Poseiden’s anger over losing Athens to her. It was love versus hate all over again. Gabrielle had learned through the death of Perdicas that love was indeed more powerful than anger and hate and indeed Athena was wise of this too. Suddenly Gabrielle was hopeful again now knowing that everyone could be released by the power of love.
As soon as love redeemed Cecrops, but that was the problem. Gabrielle was stuck for the answer of how this would be possible. While she thought of this Cecrops just shunned the idea of freedom and life once again. He retorted explaining that no one could love a cursed man. Sarcastically grim Cecrops continued reminding Gabrielle of how rare it had been that he had ever had a woman aboard his ship. He spoke slightly fondly yet bitterly of the last woman aboard whom had lived 200 years before. She had been angry at Cecrops her entire life for he had sunk her ship. Before anyone had a chance to investigate the solution further Altrek had entered into Cecrops’s cabin with exciting news. He urged Cecrops to come up to the deck to witness the miracle. As Cecrops went to the stairs Gabrielle quickly followed with curiousity. Unfortunately Altrek was waiting for her at the door which made it difficult for her to ignore him. She reluctantly thanked him for something, but she was not sure what. Then the bard pushed her way up to the deck.
Yet there was seemingly no escaping Altrek’s advances for upon reaching the deck starbord side Gabrielle stood next to Cecrops only to find that Altrek was closing in on his new love. There was a strange sensation as the 60 year old adolescent sniffed as if trying to capture the bard’s essence somehow. All that Gabrielle could think of was how uncomfortable this made her feel. There was something icky about the idea of Altrek being her only hope for love on the ship. He had become obscessed with someone who did not feel quite the same about him. Hidsim came to the bard’s defense again scolding Altrek for his advances toward the bard. Gabrielle found this to be a bit relieving as she stared out over the water to get a glimpse of what everyone was fussing about. In the next moment Hidsim pointed out in the direction of the island to a sight that Gabrielle could almost not have believed. Yet there she was the warrior princess as the bard had imagined. Xena was fighting her way through several pirates on the coast of the island as the warrior princess dashed toward the rocks above her.
As Gabrielle watched she could see that Xena was going to try to jump onto the ship of Cecrops. The bard realized that Xena had indeed discovered the story of the lost mariner. It was the first place the warrior princess had gone looking for her friend. Gabrielle’s faith in the warrior princess’s abilities had been restored as she shouted out to Xena from the ship with excitement. Xena paused for a moment from her battle against the pirates looking up to catch a glimpse of her friend upon the ship. The warrior princess then shouted out to her friend flipping over the remaining pirates in her path toward the rocks above. Gabrielle’s heart was joyful seeing that soon she might be reunited with Xena yet Cecrops interjected a dose of reality. He reminded Gabrielle that Xena did not want to become another lost soul on his ship. Cecrops played Gabrielle’s heart against her for a moment as Gabrielle thought of the consequences of Xena’s jumping onto the ship. The bard realized with annoyance that Cecrops was right. Gabrielle did care about Xena, but life without the warrior princess upon the cursed ship of Cecrops would be unbearable. Gabrielle could not allow herself to give up the chance to be with Xena once again. The bard decided to wait patiently to see what the outcome of the situation would be. She deeply hoped that Xena would succeed despite Cecrops’s advice.
The bard continued watching the events unfold as Xena had reached the bottom of the hill which had led up to the rocks above. Gabrielle could see that there were plenty of tall trees at the top which might be just what the warrior princess needed to reach the ship. Yet Cecrops was just as determined to keep the warrior princess off of the ship as she was to find her way onto it. Gabrielle head Cecrops give the order to man the sails and to sail the ship as far away from the rocks as possible. This was disheartening for Gabrielle knowing that Cecrops just might succeed. She watched desparately hoping the warrior princess could run faster than the wind could carry the sails. The odds were against Xena this time for not only did she have to out run the wind, but she had to do it while keeping the pirates from slowing her down.
Suddenly the ship began to turn away from the island as Xena began to take a barrage of arrows from the pirates. It was becoming difficult for Gabrielle’s hope to hold onto the promise of Xena, but just as the ship turned away the bard heard a familiar sound. Xena’s chackram hit the water deflecting itself high up into the air hitting the top of the ship’s sails. The chackram had hit its intended mark perfectly as it sent the main sail crashing down upon the deck of the ship. Gabrielle looked out over the water seeing that Xena had found her way up into the trees still taking arrows heavily. Then the bard heard Altrek shout out to the captain explaining that the ship was now heading back into the shore. Cecrops’s voice was laced with frustration as he declared death overboard for his men if they did not restore the sail instantly. Gabrielle smiled with confidence for she was now certain that the warrior princess would win this battle of wills. It was the faith in their friendship that would bring them together once more. The warrior princess was fearless as she caught two arrows intended for her. Gabrielle watched as her friend used the arrows to scale her way to the top of the tallest tree upon the island.
By now the pirates had reached the bottom of the tree ready to take Xena, but the warrior princess was too fast. She quickly jumped off of the flipping over to the longest branch reaching over the rocky cliffs of the island. Xena then grabbed the branch firmly as she swung around several times to gather momentum for her long jump. Gabrielle could hear Xena’s voice battling for strength and hope. Faith was certain to prevail as Xena flipped up to the top longest branch narrowly being missed by the cross bow arrows sent up to knock her down. As Xena landed firmly upon her feet on the top longest branch she then gave her signature battle cry flipping out into the sea toward the cursed ship of Cecrops. It was a spectacular show of acrobatic skill as Cecrops watched stunned alongside the bard. Xena’s jump was perfectly calculated for she landed upon her mark grabbing onto the ship’s netting. The warrior princess let out a brief triumphant sigh for all of her hard work. Gabrielle could see the smirk of triumph within the warrior princess’s smile for she had succeeded in her quest to reach the ship. With style and confidence Xena then grabbed a rop swinging down from near the crow’s nest toward where her chackram rested awaiting her return. She then yanked it from its resting place flipping backwards down toward the deck. Then Xena turned to face her defeated opponant who took a moment to congratulate the warrior princess silently with a glance.
The crew cheered with excitement for now there were two woman aboard the ship. Gabrielle ran toward her friend for a tight embrace of relief. Xena returned the embrace still holding her chackram tightly. Cecrops interrupted the happy reunion with anger over his defeat. Xena looked up for a moment, but then decided to ignore Cecrops for the moment to express her concern for Gabrielle. The warrior princess looked her friend in the eye brushing back Gabrielle’s hair to check for harm. As Xena inquired her friend of her well-being Gabrielle only sighed with joy and relief explaining that she was okay beyond the seasickness and the curse. Then the bard buried her head into the warrior princess’s breast plate feeling greatly ill over the idea of a long life at sea. Xena stroked the bard’s hair as Cecrops interrupted again with an angry question.
Finally the warrior princess decided to acknowledge his angry concerns explaining that she had known that he was indeed Cecrops. Before Cecrops could say another word Xena was firm in stating that she was not going to allow him to go out to sea with Gabrielle. It seemed that Cecrops was flustered by mumbling barely over his breath. Then he spoke firmly and loudly proclaiming with frustration that he now had to deal with both women aboard his ship. Although Cecrops did not find any humor within his new situation Xena could not stop from pointing it out as she confirmed with a slight bit of sarcasm. Then she looked to Gabrielle who looked back to her friend. They shared a quiet joke as Gabrielle answer Xena’s unspoken inquiry with her eyes. The warrior princess had wanted to know if Cecrops was always like this. Gabrielle confirmed that indeed he was an angry old mariner. With that Cecrops just growled and then stormed off down into his cabin. Hidsim followed, but not without interest in the warrior woman. Hidsim exchanged a brief glance and then followed his captain down into the cabin.
Then Xena turned to Gabrielle as the bard inquired of Xena’s own day long adventure with the pirates. Xena explained that Basculis was the one who had let her in on the secret of the lost mariner. Basculis had wanted to capture Xena and sell her for money yet the warrior princess was not about to let that happen. She had spent the entire day dodging the pirates and looking for a way onto the ship. When the warrior princess questioned the bard about the truth of death by way of jumping ship Gabrielle recounted her experience of the young pirate whom had jumped to his death earilier. This led Xena onto the next quesiton. The warrior princess wanted to know the lay out of the ship. Gabrielle began to show Xena around as she filled in the missing details to the story of the lost mariner. As she was finishing her story she took the warrior princess down into the mates’s quarters. The bard was not too keen on spending a lot of time down in their cabin for it was not all that comfortable and the smell wreaked of sweaty old men. Not only that, but Gabrielle was reminded of Altrek everytime she had set foot into the mates’s quarters.
As they walked down the steps to the main cabin Xena wanted to know where Cecrops’s cabin was. Gabrielle explained that it was in the back of the ship. She was not certain what Xena was planning on, but when she inquired the warrior princess explained that she wanted to convince him that there was a way out. Gabrielle was not so certain of this. After her earlier experience it seemed hopeless. Xena then explained that Athena would not have given Cecrops the gift of eternal life if there was no solution for him. Then the warrior princess joked sarcastically proclaiming that there would be plenty of time to figure out the answer to the riddle. Gabrielle did not find this funny at all for she could feel the power of illness building its intensity within her stomach. It was begining to cause her head to ache. The bard stepped in front of the warrior princess forcefully slamming her hand into Xena’s stomach. She was hoping to give the warrior princess a tiny sense of her unbearable illness. Gabrielle moaned to the warrior princess declaring that she would not endure a life time of fulile seasickness despite Xena’s company. Then the bard helplessly tripped over a crate and fell onto it.
Gabrielle surrendered to the crate deciding that it would be as good a place as any to try to relax and forget about being sick. Just then the warrior princess knelt down with empathetic concern for her friend. Xena then took Gabrielle’s arm into her hands explaining to the bard a way out. She gingerly touched Gabrielle’s wrist pointing out a small bump. Gabrielle weakly listened and then suddenly Xena jabbed her index finger deep between the bones. This sent a sudden pain through Gabrielle’s body as the bard shrieked with surprised irritation. The bard desparately tried to slap away Xena’s grasp upon her wrist, but then found herself to be quickly soothed and relieved of illness. Xena was patient as she waited for the bard’s response. Gabrielle smiled with excitement for this new way of getting rid of her illness. Xena then explained that this was the way to get rid of illness any time it came creeping back into the bard’s stomach. With that thought Xena left Gabrielle to seek out Cecrops. The bard wondered for a moment why Xena had not shown her this before. Just as Gabrielle was about to look up and ask she saw the most horrific sight. It was slimy with tentacles and wet. Gabrielle shrieked again with surprise only to find Altrek behind the ugly beast he was displaying. He politely explained that he had brought a gift of squid. Gabrielle found herself unable to enjoy this gift instead quickly jabbing her wrist desparately hoping to hold back any urge to hurl. The bard’s attempts to relieve herself of the urge did not succeed. Her next instinct was to jump up off of the crate and dash for the deck to hurl over the rails.
After the exhilerating release of illness into the sea Gabrielle decided to return down into the pirate’s cabin for some rest. With the illness now gone the bard was finding herself to be extremely hungry. There was seemingly little food about the place yet Altrek’s raw squid was still lying in a wooden bowl next to the crate Gabrielle had been sitting on. She decided that raw squid would be just as good as any other morsal she could scavange about the ship so she risked a taste of it. If nothing else the bard thought that she could just release it from her stomach instantly if it did not satisfy her appetite. She had not eaten anything since the night before Poseiden’s nasty storm upon the merchant ship. With the first careful bite of it she found it to be quite tasty. It looked horrid and was quite messy to handle, but despite these drawbacks the bard enjoyed the sweet fleshy flavor of the raw squid. She had not tasted anything so satisfying with the exception of her absolute favorite food which was nutbread. The more she delved into the taste it almost had the a familiar flavor yet it was extremely chewy. Despite that Gabrielle continued to enjoy the raw squid. Her only hope was that Altrek would not return to catch her eating his gift to her.
As she stretched out a few more bites from the long tentacles she caught sight of Hidsim across the cabin who politely asked her how her stomach was feeling. Gabrielle was pleased at his concern and responded cheerfully that her stomach was now able to again sustain digestion. This was a good sign for the bard. It meant that she could now try to enjoy sea life and the experience aboard a ship. The bard suddenly thought of sharing in her meal with Hidsim for there seemed to be plenty of squid to go around for all. Gabrielle rose from her spot upon her crate and walked across the cabin to offer her lunch to Hidsim. Hidsim declined Gabrielle’s offer politely explaining that he could not eat and twine rope at the same time. Then Hidsim smiled brightly as if glad to share company with the bard so Gabrielle took this as an invitation to join him. She sat down next to him on his crate while leaving her bowl of squid upon the floor. The bard was curious about how to twine rope for she had never tried it before. She asked Hidsim if it was as difficult as it looked. The old pirate responded light heartedly explaining that it was mindless work. He explained that twining rope was simple once the pattern was learned. Then he offered to help Gabrielle try her hand at twining rope. The bard accepted with a bit of relectance yet it soon shifted to confidence as she realized how easy it truely was.
Hidsim helped Gabrielle twine and just as she was recognizing the pattern of the task he handed it completely over to the bard saying that she was condemned to twining rope for life. He said it with a serious unfaltering tone. Gabrielle was suddenly alarmed feeling betrayed by the seemingly old kind hearted pirate, but before she could respond from within her own surprise he smiled laughing stating that it was only a small joke. The bard’s betrayed heart transformed into laughter itself as she then continued to twine rope while Hidsim grabbed another for himself. He sighed with relief and then expressed how happy he was to hear laughter again for Rama did not laugh. It was then that Gabrielle realized that Cecrops’s shared misery was an additional part of the curse. No man dared to laugh when Rama was about. Then Gabrielle inquired Hidsim of his first encounter with the lost mariner. Hidsim explained that it had been a great while since that fateful day in his life. For a moment he paused as if trying to grasp the memory from the distance of time aboard the ship and then he continued. He explained that he had been rescuing orphans from a tidal wave that had hit his village upon the coast while trying to save his mother from drowning with them.
Gabrielle listened feeling a bit of sadness and regret for the hold cheerful man for he was not a pirate at all. It made sense when she heard this story for he was the only friendly mariner aboard since she had arrived. Just as Gabrielle was about to commend him for his courageous unselfish actions he again laughed and sighed explaining that his story was only a wishful lie. It seemed that he was carrying a bit of shame in knowing that he had been a pirate in his younger days. Yet Gabrielle did not judge him for his past deeds for she could feel that he was good at heart. Hidsim continued explaining that he had actually been planning on getting out of the pirate business when he had met Cecrops. He said that he had only promised to go on just one more raid with his pirate ship and then he was to retire. The fates had decided to punish him for his wreckless choices condemning him to be cursed with the lost mariner for it was the ship of Cecrops that he and his pirate friends had decided to raid and attack. Gabrielle continued to listen quietly with understanding realizing that Hidsim’s life lesson had already been learned long ago. It was time for Hidsim to be released from the curse as it was all the other old men aboard the ship. Gabrielle’s next curiosity was in knowing how long Hidsim had been aboard the ship. Hidsim seemingly could not remember as he sat back and tried to think of the answer. He explained that he did not even know how old he was anymore for he had given up on life without the ship many years before. The bard could see that there was now new and restored hope with the arrival of the warrior princess. Gabrielle reassured Hidsim that his hope was not in vain. She explained that it was okay to be confident in his faith in Xena for Gabrielle’s faith in Xena was undying.
Hidsim’s heat seemed to melt at this idea of freedom as he spoke genuinely to the bard. Gabrielle could see his face light up as he remembered life before his time aboard the ship. He spoke of how he had once enjoyed laying on the green grass with his daughter. It was as if Hidsim were at that place again within his heart as he painted a beautiful picture for Gabrielle to imagine. She could see Hidsim as a young father lying on the grass with his lovely daughter sharing a sense of peace together as they looked at the clouds. Gabrielle expressed her surprise at this for a moment as Hidsim continued explaining to her that his daughter would be just about the same age as the young woman who sat before him. He then addressed the bard as “little one” almost as if he were imagining that Gabrielle was his long lost daughter. The bard did not mind sharing the memory of his daughter in this way . She felt honored for she imagined that his daughter must have a heart as genuine as her father’s. Then he sighed leaving his happy place once again still full of uncertainty about how Xena’s attempts to release them all from the curse were going to be realized. His sadness came from another place it seemed to the bard. Hidsim was certain that his daughter had almost certainly forgotten about him by now. This was even more of a reason for Gabrielle to convince Xena of the importance of releasing the curse soon.
Suddenly there was a shout from up above the decks of and approaching ship. When Gabrielle and Hidsim had reached the deck Xena stood alongside Cecrops to view the incoming ship. The man in the crow’s nest pointed out over the horizen in the direction of the ship. Cecrops was the first to respond exlaiming that the ship was a pirate ship. Xena stepped toward the rails to get a better look certain that it was Basculis the one who had been chasing her on the island. She was certain that they were chasing Cecrops’s ship in the hopes of robbing it of its vast treasures. This only irritated Cecrops for he stated that they were not making a wise choice in pursuing his ship. Yet it was all the same to him and as Altrek pointed out he was in need of a new crew. The new ship’s crew was now fast approaching their destiny. A fresh young crew was just what Cecrops was looking for to relieve his old decrepit pirate crew. Cecrops seemed delighted at the least for he had been waiting for a moment just like this. Just as Altrek asked Cecrops if they were to turn back to attack the approacing pirate ship Cecrops stated that they would not turn around. He ordered that they would continue east on course as they had been. Cecrops was certain that the pirates would eventually catch up to them and there would be no need to turn to face them. Then he barked out an order to Hidsim to grab the wheel. Hidsim jumped into action running up to his post with great loyalty to his Rama.
As Gabrielle watched Hidsim dash up the stairs to the wheel her attention was turned back to Xena who had spotted something else upon the other horizen. When the bard looked in that direction she could see what Xena had spotted. It came from within the sea a bright blinding light within the deep blue waters. The sounds were like violent waves crashing upon the side of the ship and then emerging from within the sea was a titan. It was the familiar essence of Poseiden that Gabrielle had seen once before. As he rose from the sea he growled with fury and anger. His eyes glowed piercing all who looked into them with their fury. He held his mighty golden trident as if threatening all who dared to defy him. Posiden’s shoulders splashed out like waves spraying out upon his golden crown. His entire body glowed transparent with large defining chest muscles. The ship shook as if there were an earthquake beneath it nearly knocking every man aboard to his knees. A sudden mist emenated from his essence brushing across the deck spraying everyone aboard. Then Xena shouted out to the mighty god of the sea.
It seemed that none of the pirates aboard had ever been in the presence of Poseiden before. They all shook with fear cowering waiting for him to crush them with his mighty fist. It seemed only Xena, Gabrielle, and Cecrops did not fear his presence. They were more intrigued by him. His decision to appear before them had been calculated. Only Xena was bold enough to challenge him with a question. She demanded an answer for what he had planned next for the lost mariner for all that he had been through at Poseiden’s will already. Poseiden stood before all aboard with his hand upon his hip and his trident planted firmly into the sea. He declared that his latest issue was between himself and Cecrops. The god of the sea did not address Xena with a threatening tone. Poseiden was seemingly amused by the warrior princess’s will to defeat his curse. It was in that moment that the bard herself had gathered enough courage to address Poseiden reminding him that all others aboard the ship were not given a choice. Cecrops added with digust reminding Poseiden that it was he who had made the rules to the curse not the warrior princess or any other soul trapped aboard his ship.
Poseiden quickly responded to this offering safe passage off of the ship of Cecrops for the warrior princess without a second thought. Xena looked to the god declaring that she would not leave the ship without Gabrielle. Poseiden’s next act was surprising. He offered both Xena and Gabrielle safe passage off of the ship. It did not matter to him. Poseiden was more interested in keeping Cecrops imprisioned for enternity. Poseiden declared with laughter and amusement that it did not matter how many people he released safely from the ship. He continued defacing the will of Cecrops promising that there would be more victims as long as Cecrops chose to face the curse rather than the risk of life without it. Xena’s response to this was more of a shock to the bard. The warrior princess declared with defiance that she would choose to stay aboard with Gabrielle for a while longer. She was deterimined to accept the challenge of breaking Poseiden’s curse even if Cecrops was not up for it. Gabrielle could barely bite her tongue realizing that Xena had just chosen to throw away the only oppritunity that they would ever have of leaving the ship. She had committed the greatest sin in defying the gods. Gabrielle was uncertain as to how the warrior princess would recover. Even Cecrops spoke up scolding Xena for her seemingly foolish choice to stand up against the gods. Then Poseiden just laughed boisteroulsy declaring that there would be no second chance as he sank back down into the sea disappearing within the mist which brushed across the deck and shook the ship violently.
The bard decided the only thing to do now was to retreat back to her bowl of squid for the stress of knowing that her chance at life upon land again was fading away with Poseiden. She sat upon the deck near Cecrops’s cabin door awaiting Xena’s grand plan. Gabrielle had to have faith that Xena had a plan for it seemed that she would not have taken that risk otherwise. Although Gabrielle was reminded as she chewed through her dinner that Xena had almost gotten her killed during the war between the Mitonians and the Thessalians. The bard was uneasy about Xena’s passions for a challenge more now than even in that time.
When Xena returned emerging from the cabin her first response was of repulsion as she inquired Gabrielle what she was eating. Gabrielle’s mind was drunk with numb feelings about the situation. All she could offer was some of her raw squid to her seemingly dilusional friend. Of course Xena refused this only to follow Cecrops about the ship who was seemingly uninterested in the warrior princess’s company. Soon Xena returned to Gabrielle who had decided to forget about her squid friends for a while and examine the situation more closely. She was curious to know what Xena was going to do next. It was then that Xena told of an earlier conversation with Cecrops down in his cabin when she had first arrived.
When she had entered his cabin he had been looking over his maps of the sea. Then he looked to the warrior princess and began to speak to her as if he had already gone mad. He had spoken passionatel of land. What it felt like to touch the sand, the dirt, and the earth. How he often closed his eyes reminded by the smell of the land when his ship had been the close to it. For hundreds of years reaching land again had been only a dream for him. Once he had finished raving about his dreams of reaching land he returned Xena’s sword which pleased the warrior princess. She had actually gone down to retrieve it. Her interest in Cecrops’s problem had been minimal. Although she had been irritated to find out that he had even thought of throwing her sword overboard. He proclaimed that it was not a necessity aboard his ship. It was then that Xena decided to call him on his declared wishes. He had boasted his reason for deciding not to throw her sword overboard was in defiance of Poseiden. Cecrops explained he never gave anything away to Poseiden. Yet the warrior princess did not see this. She was certain that he had given up on hope a long time before that. He had given everything to Poseiden despite the vast treasure he carried aboard it.
When the warrior princess challenged his will having chosen to give up hope he only mocked her calling her a warrior philosopher. The bard found this part of Xena’s story to be amusing for Xena hated philosophy. Not only that, but he had compared her to Centaries whom Xena had defeated long ago. What intrigued the warrior princess most was that it seemed to her he was desparate for someone to rescue him for he did not have the will to rescue himself anymore. He had gone into great detail with her his story. Cecrops filled in the blanks with Xena where he had left off with Gabrielle. The bard was jealous of the warrior princess for she had missed this moment with Cecrops. Yet she was satisfied in knowing that he had finished telling someone his story even if it was the warrior princess.
It had been three days before the summer solstace and twenty-seven years after Poseiden had cursed the lost mariner when he had decided to give up hope. Then he picked up the large emerald that Gabrielle had held in her hand explaining who his love had been. Her name was Terraye. Cecrops described to Xena a woman who had hair like the midnight sun, skin as soft as silk, eyes so green and deep that a man could fall into them, and a face that lit up with the power of faith so great that it seemed nothing could separate their love. Terraye had been the love of his life and it was clear to the warrior princess his passions for a woman who had died long ago.
When the warrior princess had tried to offer him her condolances he continued his passionate story of love shifting into anger and loss. He explained that three days before the summer solstace he had been on his way to see Terryae. Just before he had arrived at the port where Terraye’s village had been Poseiden had risen out of the waters and cursed him. The god of the sea had separated the soul mates before each other’s eyes creating the mighty whirl pool Caryptous to separate them further. It was a reminder to both that they would never be able to hold one another again. Although they had been separated by Poseiden their souls searched for one another every night for Terraye would meet Cecrops along the cliffs of the island she lived upon. The two of them would spend hours admiring one another and loving each other despite their tragic separation. Cecrops never aged, but Terraye fell victim to the cruelty of mortality aging as the years went by. Despite this Cecrops grew to love her even more declaring to the warrior princess that Terraye had grown more beautiful as her years went by.
Cecrops’s emotions eventually got the best of him for one night Terraye did not return to the cliffs to meet with Cecrops. It was in that moment that he had lost his sanity and realized that his faith in love was lost for he could never be with the one he loved most for she had finally left him. Celesta had taken her and it was then that Posieden had defeated Cecrops’s heart. The warrior princess’s heart reached out to Cecrops as tears streamed down the broken mariner’s face. She declared with hope and excitement that they should return to Terraye’s village, but Cecrops could only reject the idea with anger reminding Xena that Terraye was already gone. He cursed Poseiden, Athena, and the fates for not bringing Xena to him sooner. Cecrops reminded Xena that the power of Caryptous had been the reason that even Terraye’s village had succumbed to death.
Yet Xena was determined that it was Caryptous that held the key. Poseiden would only have created it if it meant something. Xena was also reminded of Athena and how her gift of immortality was a part of this hope. The warrior princess pressed the issue with Cecrops, but he refused to accept faith and hope. Instead he angerily declared that faith had killed more people than war. It was nothing to give his life for. Xena scolded him out of frustration retorting that his story of passionate love and faith in Terraye was all a lie. She was certain that he had been lying to her or maybe worse he had been lying to himself and his lost love. Cecrops did not have a response to Xena’s determined will. His own will was to weak to fight it.
Later Xena had followed him onto the deck hoping to convince him that Caryptous was the answer, but he was seemingly more interested in collecting more pirates to man his ship condemning them rather than to save those who were already cursed. This greatly disheartened the warrior princess. She was certain that Cecrops was afraid that she had figured out the answer to the curse. He was afraid that he had allowed himself to live with and to accept Poseiden’s curse upon him for three-hundred years. The warrior princess was certain that he hated himself for condemning so many others whether they were innocent souls or not. Then she retreated from the conversation with the bard declaring that soon darkness would fall upon them which meant Posieden would be waiting to lash out in the night. It seemed to the bard that there was a part of the warrior princess that could relate to the pain of Cecrops. The bard had seen how often Xena had blamed herself for the life of Callisto and the lives of so many others she had once harmed. This made understand Cecrops possible.
Gabrielle follwed the warrior princess helping to secure and prepare the ship as the moon revealed itself and lightening struck out into the distance. For the first time Gabrielle found herself truely enjoying the labors of the mariners. It helped that she had not felt sick since before the sun had been high over head. As the storm clouds began to roll in closer Xena ordered almost all of the men below decks explaining that their preparations made it possible for fewer men to be endangered. Altrek followed her down into the cabin warning that Poseiden’s storm was going to be massive, but the warrior princess expressed little fear over Poseiden’s threats. She was certain that she had experienced much worse when sailing with Ulyses.
Morale was now high aboard the cursed ship of Cecrops for the news of hope had been delivered by Hidsim to all of the men that Xena was going to defeat the curse. When he approached the warrior princess with more hope than he had displayed earlier the warrior princess fed it with her confidence and determination. It was all that Hidsim needed to hear. He was ready to be loyal and do whatever the warrior princess asked to get a chance to see his daughter once more. Gabrielle found herself thankful that the curse would be ending soon so that she could stop jabbing her wrist although she was thankful to the warrior princess for introducing the remedy. She shared her new found content with sea life alongside the warrior princess. Xena’s concern was less with Gabrielle’s sea sickness and more of Poseiden’s intensions. She shared her suspicions about Poseiden not wanting them to reach Caryptus. This was an exciting idea for the bard for it meant that Xena had solved the mystery of Poseiden’s curse. The warrior princess appeared to be less certain about herself, but only in front of the bard.
Gabrielle reminded Xena of the importance of defeating Poseiden and his curse if not for her sea sickness for another matter. Altrek passed by brushing closely next to the bard who suddenly felt another bout of illness. Then she jabbed her wrist again explaining her latest delemma to the warrior princess. Xena found Gabrielle’s sarcasm over the bard’s admirer to be amusing as she smiled silently agreeing that it was a problem. It was in this moment that the bard finally remembered what she had wanted to ask the warrior princess earlier. She wanted to know why Xena had not shared her wonderful remedy for illness aboard Ulyses’s ship. Xena’s answer was reluctant as the warrior princess explained that there were side effects to the pressure point. When Gabrielle inquired of the side effects that she had yet to feel the warrior princess explained that the pressure point numbed the tastebuds. It took a moment for the bard to realize what Xena was trying to tell her. Then the warrior princess continued explaining that the side effect was in chosing to eat things that don’t normally taste good.
Suddenly Gabrielle came to the realization that the raw squid she had been eating all day was what the warrior princess was talking about. The bard dreaded what she would feel when her next bout of illness showed its ugly presence. As Gabrielle found herself fighting the urge to hurl again she realized that there would be a cabin washing in the near future for it was now too dangerous to run up to the deck and hurl over board.
As Gabrielle purged herself of lunch and dinner Xena was approached by Hidsim who explained that Cecrops was keeping something from her. Hidsim explained that Cecrops had decided that they were not going to make their way to Caryptus. Instead they would turn back to attack the pirates at dawn. This led the warrior princess storming out of the pirate’s cabin into Cecrops’s cabin to confront him about the decision that affected everyone aboard the ship. Cecrops’s answer was calm and defiant of the warrior princess as if he were reminding Xena who was in charge. His ego was becoming larger than even the ego of Poseiden himself. As Cecrops looked over his maps of the sea casually explaining that he had changed his decision the warrior princess charged forth forcefully declaring that he had changed his mind out of fear. Cecrops did not enjoy having his ego being bruised in this way and he retaliated shrugging off Xena’s remarks reminding her that Poseiden was nothing to fear. The warrior princess retracted her emotional attack against Cecrops for a moment to explain that there was more to fear than Poseiden. She challenged him again carefully. Xena was certain Cecrops was afraid that Xena had come up with the answer he had been unable to find for hundreds of years. When the warrior princess received no retaliation to this statement she continued attempting to use hope and faith as weapons within the emotional battle. For the first time the warrior princess found herself having to use kind words with passionate heart to defeat darkness. Xena again reminded Cecrops of Athena’s gift to him. She urged him to take Athena’s gift and end the curse. Then she ended her statement reminding Cecrops that she had been the first person to ever be offered the chance to leave the cursed ship alive. There was something to that. It meant that Poseiden had something to lose.
Cecrops found himself to be angered and irritated knowing deep down that the warrior princess was right. It was painful for him to realize that he had been able to end the curse all along, but he had chosen the condemn himself to it instead. When Cecrops challenged Xena’s confindence in his miscalculations she only struck him down with firm facts. She could relate to his pain for she too felt guilty for what she herself had done to condemn others to great pain and suffering. Cecrops was suffering the same trama. He was seemingly unable to over come it. It was obvious that his soul was turning dark underneath all of his emotions confusing itself into feeling empowered by a curse so old waiting to be broken. For a moment Cecrops retreated as if struggling to decide which side he was on. He agreed that he had wronged many innocent people kidknapping merchants to man his crew in the first hundred years of curse. Yet he felt that now he only condemned pirates which was justice. Cecrops seemingly enjoyed dealing out justice even if it was justice for himself for his own mistakes against the innocent.
With every retaliation Cecrops used against Xena’s reason she had a better retort. She reminded him that although the men on his ship were pirates they eventually became friends who were close to his heart. The warrior princess could think of no better emotional anguish to edure than to allow oneself eternal loss and emotional suffering. Losing friends, and lovers all to the justice he imposed upon himself. Despite Cecrops’s attempts to shrink away from his own emotional issues Xena kept gently pressing forward hoping to help him realize that she could relate and understand his plight. Yet Cecrops could not accept redemption even from the woman who seemingly would not accept her own redemption. It was the blind leading the blind and Cecrops pressed on that point. He wanted to hear it from her her greatest fears. Cecrops was certain that the loss of Gabrielle was a fear within the warrior princess for her determination to board his ship had displayed it well. He was certain injury and death were things that Xena did not fear, but there was something far worse to fear. Cecrops himself feared his own life for every day that it dragged forward meant another day men continued to suffer under his self made justice. Enemies had become his greatest and truest friends which made him despise himself even more.
As it seemed that Xena was succeeding at breaking down the fortress of emotional barriers Cecrops had built around himself Cecrops retreated again. When Xena attempted to empower him with the right choice in following through with the trip back to Caryptus Cecrops shunned it yet again. He sarcastically asked the warrior princess if her great plan was to fall in love with him for he did not yet understand. With this remark Xena could only walk away and return back into the pirates cabin for his defiance of faith seemed hopeless to her. She could take no more of this. Just before she opened the door Cecrops inquired about her choice to sacrfice the freedom of herself and her friend. Xena’s answer was simple. The warrior princess desired to rescue every soul that sailed aboard the cursed ship even the soul of the lost mariner. Cecrops appeared irritated by this, but not yet defeated. Now he was fighting against Xena to retain his self preserved eternal justice. The cost no longer mattered to him as he sunk into darkness isolated from all.
The night wore one and with it came a giant tidal wave created by the wrath of Poseiden. A god expressing his anger over the defiance displayed by the warrior princess. Gabrielle held on for dear life as the water came crashing into the cabin from the deck. The warrior princess rushed to retreive her friend from the danger as Gabrielle reassured her friend that she was not injured. Cecrops suddenly burst into the cabin barking out orders to his men. He was concerned about the large heavy crates that were now loose about the cabin. Xena and Gabrielle were narrowly able to escape being crushed by one of them. Suddenly a second tidal wave came crashing in from the deck sending another crate across the cabin toward Cecrops. Before Cecrops could react Hidsim shouted out to his Rama and dashed across the cabin sacrificing himself for his beloved Rama. As the crate crused Hidsim a large gasp came from within the old pirate’s body as his eyes displayed the physical suffering he was trying to endure. Xena shouted out to the other pirates to remove the crate, but it was too late.
As Cecrops and Gabrielle helped Hidsim lie down on the cabin floor Cecrops wept asking Hidsim why he had risked himself for an immortal. Hidsim’s only answer was that he reacted wishing to protect his Rama. The consequence of this was nothing for the old kind hearted pirate. While the warrior princess attempted to find a way to save the old pirate from Celesta’s grasp Hidsim looked to Gabrielle addressing his little one once more. He regretted that he would not have the chance to live for the day he would lie on the grass with his lovely young daughter once more. Although the bard could see the old pirate’s eyes begining to glaze over into an entranced stare she grasped for hope to offer him declaring that he would be okay. The old pirate called out for his Rama once more as Cecrops called back to him knowing it would be the end. Hidsim’s last words were a plea and a promise that Cecrops would touch the earth for him one day. With that the final breath and last life left the old pirate’s body as his soul was finally free from the curse. Although it had been Celesta who had rescued him instead of the warrior princess this only drove Cecrops to become even more determined to beat Poseiden at his own game. The lost mariner retreated in emotional anguish suffering the same torture he had subjected himself to for over 300 years. Everyone else stood still and quiet in silence as the bard and the warrior princes gently closed the staring lifeless eyes of a man all had loved and admired aboard the ship.
After holding a small vigil aboard the ship in the middle of the night when Poseiden’s wrath had finally subsided for a while the warrior princess and the bard helped the men prepare the body of Hidsim for burial in the morning. Many could not sleep over their grief, but the warrior princess most of all for now many more lives were at stake for her own actions against Poseiden. The warrior princess decided to try to convince Cecrops to continue onto Caryptus once more. When she was about to enter Cecrops’s cabin the sounds of Poseiden could be heard echoing within the quiet darkness. The god had more in store for the defiant warrior princess. This time he decided to offer someone else freedom. Poseiden had decided that he would make a trade with Cecrops in exchange for the warrior princess. He assured Cecrops that not only would he free the mariner from the curse, but he would allow the pirates aboard to go free as well. Although Cecrops was confused by this offer it was hardly an offer he could refuse. The warrior princess had been foolish in her choice to have faith in Cecrops and hope for all aboard the ship. When Xena entered his cabin once more hoping to change his mind Cecrops had already decided that they would stay the course toward Caryptus to end the battle. As the lost mariner bolted out of his cabin Xena was left to wonder if he had finally figured it all out. All that was left was faith and hope. These were things that the warrior princess needed to hold onto if Cecrops could not.
When day broke the clouds Poseiden had brought in laced with violent storms were begining to dissipate into clear blue sky. It seemed as if Poseiden were still trying to entice Cecrops into the deal for it was clear that the lost mariner’s mind had not been set on a choice. Gabrielle looked out into the sea noticing that the Basculis and his pirates were still following closely behind. Surprisingly the storms had not taken them out. Just then Hidsim’s body was brought out onto the deck for its departure. Gabrielle watched as the men were silent. Their respect for their beloved Hidsim was enduring even in death. As then men placed his body upon the rails ready for burial the warrior princess helped to secure it for final words. Cecrops reached across the wrapped corpse and gently placed his hand over where Hidsim’s heart once resided still stunned at his old friend’s unneccessary sacrifice. Once enemies Xena reminded Cecrops that Hidsim had grown to love, care for, and respect the lost mariner despite the curse placed upon him. Cecrops remembered the name Hidsim had given him. He spoke of Rama as someone who may have been a hero in the place that Hidsim had once called home in life. Cecrops expressed that he did not feel he deserved the honorable name, but the men silently expressed their difference of this opinion held only by Cecrops. With one last moment Hidsim was finally sent off into the sea to rest enternally. Gabrielle wondered if one day she would meet his daughter. She thought that if she ever did she would sing to her the wonderful story about his kind hearted soul.
As all continued to look out into the endless sea there was a suddenly jolt from beneath the ship. The warrior princess was certain that they had finally reached the outer rim of Caryptus. She explained that they had to break free of it for the safety of all aboard. Cecrops ordered a man up into the crow’s nest, but as he called out the names of Diniasis, and one-eyed Pellerman all of the men shrank back in fear. Gabrielle could see that even if there was a brave soul left aboard none were young and vibrant enough to survive what was about to come. Finally Hidsim’s replacement stepped up and reminded of the danger that no man was willing to face. It was as if he was trying to explain that Cecrops was asking too much. He painted the image of the lines holding the nest together severing and bringing down the entire crow’s nest into the sea. No one wanted to fall into the mouth of Caryptus.
Despite this the warrior princess volunteered without a second thought quickly scurrying up the ropes and into the most dangerous place aboard the ship. Cecrops and Gabrielle ran over to the ropes to try to hold them steady, but they were so old and frail that the weight of the warrior princess snapped one of them at the top as Gabrielle watched in horror. The bard called out to her friend with grave concern who was now swinging above holding tightly to the remaining ropes. Xena did not answer for she was concentrating on the winds picking up rapidly making her journey to the crow’s nest more treacherous. Quickly the warrior princess regained her balance and finished her journey up into the crow’s nest. Then the warrior princess looked about to see Caryptus’s massive strength and power. When Gabrielle was certain that the warrior princess was safe in the crow’s nest she looked out across the sea hoping to see Caryptus herself. Instead she noticed the pirate ship still following them closely. When the bard thought of their rash decision outloud Cecrops just confirmed that the pirates had made a fateful choice in chasing his ship into the mouth of Caryptus.
The ship began to shake violently as if it were being pulled apart. Xena shouted out several decisive commands hoping to release the ship from the grasp of Caryptus, but it was too late for now the ship of Cecrops was deep into its mouth. The men struggled to stay on their feet as they were thrown about the deck unable to stand. Debris was flying about as the warrior princess lost her footing upon the crow’s next. Her sword came crashing down from above digging itself solid into the deck. Somehow it seemed that Xena had gotten caught up within the ropes of the crow’s nest as Gabrielle still held tightly to the bottom ropes. Cecrops struggled to retreive Xena’s sword from where it was sticking out of the deck. Gabrielle could see that this was now the moment of truth for Cecrops. He could make two choices. The lost mariner could use Xena’s sword to cut the ropes sending her crashing down into the sea or he could choose to have faith that Xena was right all along. After a few short moments of debate Cecrops had made his choice. He called out to Xena throwing her sword back up to her. The warrior princess caught it using it to cut herself free of the ropes she had become entangled with.
As Xena freed herself she flipped down from the crow’s nest returning to the deck as Cecrops declared in defiance of Poseiden that he had finallly figured out the curse. He shouted out with triumph that love redeemed. It was not that someone had to fall in love with him, but the love that he had for others. Cecrops then reminded himself of those who had shown him the answer. He remembered the love Xena displayed in sacrificing her freedom for Gabrielle upon entering his cursed ship. Cecrops remembered the love that Hidsim had shown by chosing to die in order to protect him from death. The lost mariner suddenly realized how simple what Xena had said to him truely was. With that he laughed joyfully and then shouted out his grateful thanks to Xena and all of his friends. Then Cecrops dashed for the rails of the ship and plunged himself deep into the mouth of Caryptus without a second thought. Before Xena and Gabrielle could respond in the hopes of trying to save him from Caryptus he was already gone. He had disappeared as the rest of the ship and its crew sailed down into the mouth of Caryptus with the pirate ship alongside them.
The next thing the bard could recall of this experience was waking up on an island along a coast someplace alongside Altrek. It was a horrifying experience through the hazy mist that had once been Caryptus. As Altrek tried to comfort the bard from her left over sea sickness he patted her gently on the back. Gabrielle just struggled to rise from the ground to assure him that leaving her was the best thing for everyone. With that he waved good-bye finally ending the two day relationship that they had endured together. Gabrielle was relieved, but sore from all of the illness and the bruises Poseiden’s wrath had given her. Just then the warrior princess aproached kneeling down concerned for all that Gabrielle had endured with her. Gabrielle responded that everything was becoming normal again for she was glad to be ridding herself of the last squid and her latest flame. The bard waived reluctantly spotting Altrek who still had not left yet. Xena looked up sharing Gabrielle’s misery with her friend in an attempt to comfort the bard.
The warrior princess assisted her friend to her feet and then carried Gabrielle along helping to hold the bard up for a short walk along the shore. As they walked along the bard began to think of how Cecrops had truely known the answer within his heart. Gabrielle could not believe that she had been unable to figure out the riddle for herself for the love given to others was most certainly more important than the love recieved by oneself. As the bard looked to Xena for an agreement with this philosophy the warrior princess did not give and benefit to a bard’s philosophy. Instead she stated that what had given the riddle away for her was Poseiden’s statement directed at Cecrops. He had said that the lost mariner never known where to look for the answer. It was then that Xena had realized that the answers inside oneself were the keys to freedom even if it was only freedom of the soul.
Sadly it seemed that Cecrops would never be able to enjoy his own freedom for the friends spotted him lying face down among a pile of debris from his old ship. It seemed that he had been taken by Celesta after all. Yet as they approached him to be certain Cecrops flipped himself over laughing hysterically with joy shocked that he was even alive. The warrior princess found herself to be just as surprised after watching him throw himself into Caryptus. It was a wonder than anyone had survived the ordeal. Yet it had been Athena who had made it possible for she had given him immortality which had almost been forgotten by everyone. He declared that he owed the goddess his deepest apologies for cursing her for hundreds of years. Cecrops rolled about like a young boy as if he were experiencing land for the first time. He reveled in it and could not believe he had been away from its wonderful sensation for so long. The lost mariner suddenly jumped up from the earth and hugged the warrior princess who did know how to accept his gratitude. Gabrielle was humbled to see the true man behind the curse. He was just like Hidsim only more vibrant and much older in a manner of speaking.
Just then Gabrielle wondered what the lost mariner would do next. Anyone he had ever known had long since gone, and the only people he knew were the old pirates that had surrounded him aboard the ship. Cecrops had yet to think of this for himself for he had spent 300 years trying to reach the land again. Then he fell back onto the ground and pulled from his clothes the lovely memory of his beloved Terraye kissing it softly. Even the warrior princess could feel the joy of the lost mariner sharing in his memory of the woman he had once loved so dearly. His dream had finally come true and now he had to discover a new life for himself. With that Cecrops rose upon his feet once more reaching out to thank Xena for her determinated will to help him break the curse. He thought that maybe he could help others in the way that Xena had helped him. Gabrielle suggested that Cecrops seek out and find Hidsim’s daughter. The bard was certain that this would be a nice place for the lost mariner to start. He could honor the memory of Hidsim and who knew what might happen to the lost mariner beyond that. With that he kissed his fingertips and then softly touched Gabrielle’s cheek taking in the guidance offered to him. Then the serious tone turned to joy once more as he joked that he would gladly walk there.
The final thought from the lost mariner came from his certainty that Poseiden’s anger was more fierce within the sea now that he had lost the battle. As the three friends looked out into the sea Xena hoped that Poseiden might release his new anger upon someone who warrented the reception. This led the bard to a fascinating thought. The new lost mariner was most likely a pirate named Basculis who had been involved in the misfortune of attacking a ship with treasures so vast that they could belong only to the mighty god of the sea. Angered by the destruction of Caryptus during Basculis’s attack Poseiden cursed Basculis to enteral life at sea destined to be lost within the misinformed legends forever.