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"This is too easy!" The figure behind the bushes exclaiming to herself and giggled and then she sighed. She looked over at the clearing where two figures slept. The fire has slowly burnt out leaving a trail of smoke to slowly ascend and disappear. Callisto smiled to herself again and silently walked towards the sleeping duo. "Just too easy." she muttered.
She stopped in front of the first figure, her blond hair spread on the groundas their own soundly slept. Callisto crouched down and slowly pulled the blanket to reveal a beautiful face with a slight smile.
Xena, the great warrior princess stood outside her tent, the full moon castit's glow on the surrounding countryside. A baby's gurgle brought her back inside her tent. The tough commander stood and watched the tiny infant. Barely a few days old and she knew she must give him up. She cradled the baby in her arms. Borius would be so proud of him, if he were still alive she thought to herself. The man that shared the warrior princess' heart, who sang with her had betrayed her to the Centaurs. She couldn't forgive him for that but she could remember the times they shared and now the son they had.
She watched hidden behind the brushes and then slowly moved forward intothe glow of the full moon.
Callisto opened her eyes and looked at the still sleeping woman. "So the great warrior princess has a son.and all this time I thought your greatest weakness was the little bard." Callisto looked over at the sleeping Gabrielle and smiled.
"Now who to kill first..oh dear...decisions, decisions.I have to prepare for you my dear!"
Callisto stood and then vanished.
Xena woke with a start and grabbed her sword and was up ready for battle but there wasn't anyone around. She put down her sword and lay down again staring into the night sky.
"Solon". Xena whispered.
"Gabrielle.wake up." Xena said as she pulled the covers off the young bard.
"I'm up! I'm up!.what's the rush?" Gabrielle said as she struggled to wake up. She brushed away some loose hair from her eyes and looked up to meet the steely blue eyes of her friend and lover.
"Come on, we need to get going."
Gabrielle continued to grumble as Xena readied Argo and cleaned up the camp. She watched the warrior for a few minutes. Xena had been very quiet of late "Well that's nothing new" she said to herself but someone thing was bothering her.
"Hmm" Came back the reply.
"What's the matter?"
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. This was going to be difficult. "You're hiding something." Gabrielle said flatly and watched the back of the warrior stiffen. Xena stopped saddling Argo and turned to look at Gabrielle.
"Well you are. Don't tell me nothing is wrong."
"I had a dream last night.."
Gabrielle frowned. Xena's dreams were nightmares and she had spend many a night comforting her friend. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Xena smiled at her lover. Gabrielle was the only person she would confide in. When she confided in her. The walls that she built around her were difficult to come down but Gabrielle managed to breech them. Xena went and sat near her.
"I had a dream about Solon."
"Well that's not a nightmare." Gabrielle said and brightened up. She remembered the young fair haired boy with fondness and the events that led to her finding out that Xena had a son.
"No not exactly." Xena replied and gave Gabrielle a half smile. "Today is his birthday."
Gabrielle looked at her friend and saw the tears forming, waiting to burst through.
The lake was like glass as the sun reflected off it's surface. The young boy sat on the bank throwing tiny stones into the lake and watching them make a tiny ripple. He didn't notice the young blonde woman until she sat next to him.
"Solon, isn't it?"
The young boy looked at the stranger. "Yes.. who are you?"
"Who am I? Now that's a good question. I'm a god."
Solon smiled. He never met a god before. "What is your name?"
"I've never heard of you."
Callisto laughed. "I am the God of...um..Chaos" I'm sure Velaska wouldn't mind if I borrowed that she thought to herself.
"I've never heard of the God of Chaos."
"Well.you have now. So what are you doing here?"
"I'm thinking about my mother. Today is when she died 11 summers ago."
"Yes. My father was the great Borius and my uncle said that when I was born my mother died. My father was killed just after I was born.my mother was a gentle loving woman who never hurt anyone."
"Oh.so Xena killed her?"
The boy looked up startled at the woman. "How do you know about Xena? She is my friend."
"I know her." Callisto said whilst watching the boy.
"Xena didn't kill her. She died after she had me.my father was killed by Dagnon ..he was in her army." The boy said and fell silent. The events of the previous year came back to him. He had met the famed warrior princess when she came to help his uncle in stopping a man named Dagnon. He was trying to find the Exxion stone - the stone that everyone wanted to possess because of it's power. The stone his father protected from the warrior princess and paid with his life. He didn't know much about his mother apart from what his uncle told him.
"Oh." Callisto said and smiled broadly. "Well then I have some news about your mother".
"You knew my mother?"
"I know your mother." Callisto said glancing at the boy and realising what those words would mean to the young boy.
The boy looked up very confused. That couldn't be he thought. His mother was dead and in the Elysian Fields. "She's in the Elysian Fields.did you speak to her?"
Callisto laughed. "Silly boy.your mother is not in the Elysian Fields..and I doubt she will ever get there!"
"You're lying!" The boy screamed and got up but was restrained by Callisto. "My mother is dead and she is in the Elysian Fields."
Callisto sighed and got up, still holding the boy. "Your mother is NOT dead and I will prove it to you!"
With that Callisto wrapped her arm around the young boy and both disappeared.
"What do you mean he isn't here!" Kaliupus roared
The haplass Centaur swished his tail. This is what he had feared after he searched the lake a dozen times looking for Solon. He had half the Centaur village looking for the boy and even some of the men swam in the lake. At least they didn't find him at the bottom. He had quizzed young Andreas about what he saw. He found it hard to believe that they just vanished and he was certain his leader wouldn't believe it either!
"Well..ah I..we looked everywhere"
"Where was he seen last?" Kaliupus said as he paced. He was making the young Centaur slightly nauseous.
"He was seen by the lake. Young Andreas saw him with a woman"
"A woman?! Xenashe took him!"
"No I don't think sothe woman was blonde.."
"And what happened to this woman and Solon?"
The young Centaur didn't know how he was going to explain to his leader that they just vanished. He had asked Andreas so many times, the young boy was getting tired of telling him.
"She disappeared." He said flatly.
Kaliupus turned and stared at him incredulously. "She disappearedjust like that?"
"She disappeared with Solon."
Caliupus stood still for a moment and thought. "No one just disappearsI'll lead this search party."
"Welcome to my home" Callisto said to the young boy. His eyes showed his fear of this woman and she was getting so much delight - at least his mother will have the same fear once she realises that Callisto escaped that lava pit. She laughed scaring the boy and making him take several steps backwards. He collided with a large stone throne.
"Ah you found my throne!" Callisto giggled and jumped onto the throne with delight. She had built it herself. Not like the previous throne - this was fit for a God.
"Who are you?!" The young boy asked shakily.
Callisto exhaled. "I told you. I am the God of Chaos."
"I don't believe you." Solon said in a small voice.
Callisto looked at him and a small feral smile appeared. "Would you believe me if I killed you?"
She said as she held a dagger to the young boy's neck. The boy flinched. "But I won'tnot today..maybe tomorrow" She said as she sheathed the dagger and giggled.
"Why aren't you on Mount Olympus?!" The boy said defiantly.
Callisto looked at him and smiled again. She was beginning to like this child. Too bad she would have to kill him. She wasn't about to tell him that the other gods didn't want her up on Mount Olympus. Such a tragedy - they could learn so much.
"How do you know you're not on Mount Olympus?" She said as she crossed her arms and waited.
The boy looked around. He knew he was in a cave which didn't look any different to the caves he usually went exploring near the village. He couldn't see an entrance. He looked back up to the woman. "I don't know." He said dejectedly
"Seeyou should listen to your elders." She giggled. "Here have a seat while we wait for your mother to arrive." She snapped her fingers and a smaller version of the throne appeared. "Sit."
The young boy sat in the chair. "My mother is dead."
Callisto sighed again. "No she isn't deadshe will be soon but she isn't dead." She roared with laughter.
"I don't see what is funnyif you are a God." The boy said as he sat on the chair and looked down. "where are your temples? He looked back up at Callisto and gave her a smug look.
Callisto stopped smiling. She hadn't thought about that. She must correct that. All the gods on Mt Olympus had templeseven that ditzy Aphrodite. Callisto curled her finger around her blond hair and began to pace.
"You know, Solon, for Xena's son you are pretty smart"
The boy sighed. "Xena is NOT my mother! I told you beforemy mother is dead."
Callisto stopped her pacing and walked over to the boy. He recoiled as she squated in front of him. She smiled and held his hand. "Solon, let me show you something." She placed her fingers on the boy's temples and watched his face.
Solon found himself in a dense forest, it was dark and the frost had started to settle. It looked familiar to him. He heard a noise and a woman appeared out of the dense brush. He gasped as he said Xena but she looked different from when he remembered seeing her last. He looked into her eyes and found not warmth but coldness. He remembered when he was injured and Xena had set his armhe had looked into those blue eyes and saw warmth and love. Looking into the eyes of the woman coming towards him made him shiver. His next surprise came when he looked to where Xena walked and found his uncle Kaliupus standing. He also looked younger. He wanted to run to him but he couldn't move. He began to get very afraid and tried to cry out but nothing came through. He closed his mouth. The two people he admired the most were part of this dream and he wanted desperately to reach out. He heard his uncle calling Xena a "destroyer of nations" and then Xena said.."Take this child. He is my son and the son of Borius. If he stays with me, he will become a target for all those who hate me."
Solon tried to get a good look at the infant..a child of Boriushis father..this couldn't be. He watched as the Xena he didn't recognise look at the child and said "He will learn things a child should never know.he will become like me."
He watched as his uncle cradled the baby and say "Son of Borius. He will be raised as my own."
Then his ended and he was back in the cave with the God of Chaos. She looked very satisfied.
He refused to meet her gaze. She lifted his chin with a finger and met the crystal blue eyes that reminded her of her greatest enemy. "I am telling you the truth."
"I don't believe you" he whispered.
Callisto got up from her position and stared down at the boy who was now very withdrawn.
"Yeah well..we'll see when she gets hereI have something very important to do" She said absent mindedly and was about to disappear and then paused. "Come here!" She grabbed the boy and they both disappeared.
The priest looked up at the clear blue sky and sighed. It was going to be another hot day he reasoned. He dusted his hands on his tunic and turned around. He was startled to find a blond warrior standing in his way.
"What can I do for you my child? Have you come to pray to Hera, the Queen of the Gods?"
Callisto laughed. "No you foolish little man I've come to tell you that this temple is now to be for the Goddess of Chaos!"
The priest looked at her increduously and moments later he began to laugh. Callisto watched at the priest doubled over and fell to the ground.
"I don't see what is so amusing." Callisto said as she crossed her arms and waiting for the idiotic man to stop laughing.
"There is no Goddess of Chaos!" He said long enough to get his breath and continue to chuckle.
Solon looked at the priest and then at Callisto.
Callisto straightened to her full height and said "I am the Goddess of Chaos" and with that she brushed the priest aside and entered the temple.
"But but but you can't come in here! This is only for Hera's priests!" The man was nearly hesterical as his previous humor disappeared and replaced with fear of what Hera would do to him if peasants were allowed into the hallowed area.
Callisto sighed and surveyed the temple. Gold and jewels surrounded the alter. "Mmm not bad with the jewelsnice touch.."
"Please come out. Hera will kill me!" The priest implored.
"Hera this and Hera that! Stop it already!" Callisto screamed at him.
The man sank to his knees and began to pray. Callisto rolled her eyes. "You will have to go" She caught sight of a statue. She squinted her eyes and turned her head sideways. "That is UGLY!"
"Oh NO!" The priest lamented and continued to pray.
"She is UGLY isn't she, Solon?"
The boy looked up at the statue. He had seen quite a few statues and most of them looked beautiful and he assumed all gods were beautiful but this one was ugly. He nodded his head as he continued to stare at the sight before him. The statue's head was that of an animalhe thought it was an animal but he wasn't sure. He didn't want to ask the praying priest who looked like he was about to pass out.
"Now for some remodeling!" Callisto cried with glee.
"Oh no .. please no" The priest continued to beg.
Callisto sighed. She gazed down at the man and lifted her hand and flung him across the room. He collapsed against a broken vase. She looked around the room and started to demolish and rebuild. She chuckled at her work as the remaining priests fled from the mad Goddess.
Solon watched with interest. He didn't like this god but he had no choice but to look.
Callisto finished remodeling the temple and then looked at the statue and roared with laughter. "Solon, I think we need a new statue!" With that she sent a thunderbolt towards the statue and it came crashing to the floor, the head breaking into pieces at her feet.
"Now this is more like it." She said as she replaced the statue of Hera with one of her own. "Looks more striking, don't you think?" The statue showed Callisto in her best battle position, her sword raised giving a war cry. "Hmmm .. very nice."
The temple reverberated a thunderous thunder clap which made Solon jump. He wanted to escape but found he couldn't move. He caught movement and turned his head and gasped. A woman stood looking at Callisto and smiling.
"Well!" Aphrodite said with a slight smile. The Goddess of Love was loving every moment of this. She had just come from Mount Olympus and the furore this had created was something she had to see for herself.
Callisto turned and saw the Goddess of Love and snorted. "What do you want?"
Aphrodite looked at the broken Hera statue, looked back at Callisto and then again a the statue.
Solon watched as the goddess disappeared and heard the receding laughter.
"Who was that?" Solon asked tentatively.
"Hmmm..that was the Goddess of Love..ditzy fruitcake" She stopped as she saw Ares, the God of War appear. "What is this? A God's convention or something?"
"Callisto!" Ares admonished her with a grimace. "You've got too far now."
"What are you talking about, Ares.."
Solon looked up at the God of War. He remembered his uncle talking about him and cursed him when he thought Solon wasn't listening. "the God of War" Solon whispered.
Ares turned towards the boy. "Whose that?"
"That's Xena's son, Solon" Callisto said dismissively. "What are you talking about Ares?"
Ares looked at the boy and smiled. He stroked his beard and saw the brilliant blue eyes staring up at him. Of course..she had a son..if only he knew. Well I do know, now., he mused to himself.
"I'm not Xena's son!" Solon said for the umpteenth time.
Ares and Callisto ignored him as Callisto stood in front of Ares.
"Mother is upset." He said as he surveyed the remodeling that Callisto had wreaked. "I had to get away from Mt Olympus, not a nice place to be with Hera angry."
Callisto rolled her eyes. "Hera this and Hera that! Ares, has anyone ever told you that you have one ugly mother?"
Ares cringed. No one said those words aloud. He was certain the wrath of Hera would strike this stupid woman and he wasn't about to be around when that happened. The further he could escape this area the better.
"Callisto I've warned you"
Callisto ignored him as another thunderous thunderclap reverberated through the temple.
"Oh dear." Ares said and quickly disappeared.
"Cowards" Callisto said with a snear and sat down on the newly designed throne.
The thunder continued to roar. Xena looked up at the ever-darkening sky and shook her head. The black clouds that weren't there only minutes before gave an ominous warning. She glanced at Gabrielle with concern.
"I think we had better find some shelter. I don't think we're going to reach the village by the time whatever this is hits." Xena said, as she again looked skywards.
"I didn't think we would get rain...well not this morning anyway."
"A God is angry, Gabrielle..."
"Oh..." Gabrielle began and frowned. Xena had also seen the Centaur coming towards them at full gallop. "A centaur...I didn't think we were that close to the village..."
The centaur's body was covered in sweat as he galloped towards the warrior and her friend. He knew he had to give the message to her urgently. He finally stopped only meters from the warrior.
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. Everyone knew Xena and surely this young centaur would know whom he was talking to. She again focused on what the centaur was saying. She glanced at Xena's worried features and turned once again to the centaur.
"What does Kaliapus want?" Xena said urgently knowing full well that the centaur leader wouldn't summon her for a trivial matter. It could only mean one thing and that involved her son, Solon.
The centaur swished his tail and licked his cracked lips to moisten them. "He just told me to.." thunder once again boomed as the centaur looked upward. "He just told me to come and get you."
"Solon." Xena whispered loud enough for Gabrielle to hear. She extended her arm to Gabrielle and the young woman sat at the back holding on to her lover's waist as they galloped after the young centaur.
"It will be alright, Xena." Gabrielle whispered as she placed a gentle kiss to the back of Xena's neck. She tightened her hold on Xena's waist as they rode towards the village eager to find out why they were summoned.
Callisto sat on her throne in the middle of the temple - her temple - and smiled at her handiwork. The statue of Hera lay crumpled on the ground together with other smaller statues. A large statue of Callisto stood in its place.
"So Solon, do you now believe I am a God?" She asked the young boy who sat nearby.
Solon looked up, he played with a fragment of Hera's statue. He felt cold and he was hungry. He wanted to get away from this mad woman - god or no god. "Y..Yess"
"Excellent!" Callisto beamed. She wasn't sure why it mattered to her that this boy believed her but it gave her a thrill to know that she had impressed him.
"What is Hera going to do when she finds out?" Solon asked surveying the broken remains.
Callisto sighed. "Not you too! You know Hera is very overrated. Now tell me have you ever seen Hera?"
Solon made a face. "Noo...."
"My point exactly. So where is this mighty Hera? Hmm?"
The three travellers galloped towards the waiting centaur. He watched as his former enemy, the woman he vowed he would kill or be killed, came towards him. His admiration for Xena, the former ruthless warlord, the woman he described as Destroyer of Nations, dismounted her war horse in one fluid motion and was standing in front of him. He looked behind her and her companion stood behind her.
Kaliapus stretched out his arm and greeted Xena with the Warrior's handshake. "It's good to see you again Xena." He turned to Gabrielle and also extended his hand. Gabrielle took it with surprise. She seldom was greeted as a warrior. "Welcome Gabrielle. Please come inside - we need to talk."
Xena was anxious to find out why they were summoned and where Solon was.
"Where's Solon?" Xena said without preamble.
"He is missing." He held up his hand preventing Xena from asking. "He was by the lake this morning and young Andreas saw him with a woman."
"And? Did you send out a search party?" Xena said growing impatient.
"What did this woman look like?" Gabrielle said as she rested her hand on Xena's shoulder. Xena looked down and tried to remain calm.
"Andreas said he had never seen this woman before. She was blon..."
"Callisto." Xena spat the name out.
"Who is Callisto?" Kaliupus asked looking at the tall warrior who had now moved to the window and watched the thunder and lightening.
Gabrielle watched Xena and turned toward the centaur leader. "Callisto is a god. It's very difficult to explain but she hates Xena..."
"Hate isn't the word I would use, Gabrielle." Xena said without turning around.
"So what does she want?" Kaliupus asked as he first looked at Gabrielle and then at the tense back of the warrior.
"My death, Kaliupus. She wants to see me suffer and then to kill me. She blames me for her family's death at Cirra."
"Cirra...I have heard of that place..." Kaliupus said as he watched the young woman go over to Xena and try to comfort her. He shook his head at the sight. He never envisioned the mighty warrior princess to have any friendships let alone a bard. She had changed.
"We have to go out and search..." Xena said urgently.
"Xena it's dark outside, there is no point of looking for them now..." Kaliupus said trying to reason. He had used the same argument that he was given by Dimetrius only minutes before Xena arrived.
"WE HAVE TO!" Xena screamed at the centaur. She was frantic. Callisto would do anything to hurt her and killing Solon would be her best weapon. She felt Gabrielle's arm around her and turned to the young woman. "I have to." She whispered.
"We can't do anything with darkness falling, Xena. Callisto won't harm Solon..."
Xena snorted. "Oh I know that. She wants to see my face as she kills him!"
Xena stormed out of the house and into the night air. The rain steadily began to fall as Xena sat under a canopy watching the village square being turned into mud puddles. She slowly exhaled and ran her fingers through her hair.
Xena didn't turn around. She exhaled loudly. "What do you want Ares?"
The god of war looked at his former protege with sadness. He wanted her back so badly he would do anything to get her. "I hear you have a son?"
Xena didn't bother to look at him. She continued to stare into the night. "What do you want Ares?" She asked again sounding very tired of the mind games both Callisto and Ares put her through.
"You know he has your eyes. Who was the daddy? Doesn't matter." Ares said as he sat down next her. "Does he know you are his mommy?"
Xena sighed. "I'm assuming you have a point, Ares?"
"Yes I do...a word of warning. My mother is not happy so I suggest you go rescue your son."
"I don't know where Callisto has him."
"So he is your son?" Ares said and smiled.
Xena looked at the god of war with cotempt. "Yes he is my son, Ares."
"What do you want?!" Gabrielle said as she came up behind Xena. She looked at the god of war with distaste. Her dealings with him were never easy.
"Well you did more than fighting for the greater glory of Ares when you were my chosen." Ares said as he ignored the bard.
Gabrielle rested her hands on Xena's shoulders. She wanted desperately for all this to be a dream but she knew it wasn't.
"Where is Callisto, Ares? And what does your mother have to do with my son?" Xena asked as she looked at the god squarely for the first time.
"She is close by. Ah you see Xena, Callisto being the strange goddess she is now, and may I remind you that you gave her the ambrosia, has desecrated my mother's temple...."
Gabrielle let out a whistle. Hera's temples were sacred and no man nor god ever touched them.
Ares looked at the young woman. "You got that right. Well I'm about to get away from here before mother arrives."
"Which temple?" Xena asked.
"The new Goddess of Chaos' temple is a candlemark away...I don't think you will miss it. Just follow the fire and brimstone descending from Mount Olympus!" With that Ares laughed and disappeared.
Both women sat quietly for a moment. Xena sighed. The last thing she wanted was to face Callisto but she had no choice. Someone was going to die tonight.
Xena sat together with Gabrielle for only a few moments after Ares had finished taunting her. She quickly went to Kaliupus and informed him of what Ares had told her. He quickly rounded up the search party and headed to where Ares told Xena that Callisto was.
The mood of the advancing Centaurs and Xena with Gabrielle riding behind her was tense as they approached the temple. The surrounding grounds were deserted. Xena dismounted from Argo cautiously and drew her sword.
"Stay here, Kaliupus...it's me she wants. I don't want anyone hurt."
Kaliupus looked at her and said "She has Solon, Xena. I love him as my son and if you think I will willingly let you walk to your death..."
Xena looked at him and saw the proud Centaur, age had not taken away the bravery that she knew he possessed and she admired when she faced him in battle over 10 winters ago.
"I don't suppose there is any chance of you listening to me?" Xena said with a grin to Gabrielle.
Gabrielle smiled back at her. "Not a chance."
"Didn't think so."
Callisto looked up and grinned with delight. "Xena! Oh now the fun starts!" She got up from her makeshift throne and picked up her sword.
"You know Solon, I can kill her just like that." She clicked her fingers. "But I don't feel like doing that ... to quick, don't you think?"
The boy stared up at her and shrugged.
"No matter...oh she even brought Gabrielle...do you know Gabrielle?"
The boy brightened. He adored the storyteller. He had spent several days with her and listened as she told him stories of the adventures of Xena. He liked the young woman. "Yes, she's my friend."
"I killed her husband." Callisto said as she twirled a strand of hair. "I think Xena should have thanked me. He wasn't good with a sword or anything else for that matter!."
"Callisto." Xena said as she walked through the temple doors.
"Xena!" Callisto said and jumped down from the alter with glee. "How nice to see you again."
"The feeling is not mutual." Xena said as she looked around and spotted Solon. She smiled at her son. She withdrew her sword.
Callisto sighed. "Now Xena, what do you expect to do with that sword? Kill me?" She laughed.
Xena looked at her with her best warlord stare. She was certain that nothing she would do would have any impact and was hoping that Hera would show up soon even if it was just to distract the crazy god.
Callisto walked up to Xena and stopped inches away from her. "So, Xena what have you been up to since I fell..no wait..since you cut the rope and ended in that lava bed? Hmm? Velaska can be an awful roomie...and that lava bed was getting way to hot for my tastes!" Callisto giggled.
Callisto sensed another presence and caught a young centaur hovering near the entrance. "Oh look...centaurs...ugly creatures..." She unleashed a thunderbolt and sent the young Centaur to the ground. She then proceeded to form an invisible barrier between Xena and the others outside.
"This is our party, Xena. Just you, me and young Solon here. You remember Solon don't you? Solon is a nice young man. I can see why you gave him away...didn't want him growing up like you. No of course not..he would have ended up like me. All twisted and filled with hate. I'm not really like that you know." She directed her last words to Solon.
Callisto proceeded to take a seat a few feet away from Xena who now found she couldn't move.
"Don't struggle my dear. It's useless." She shrugged and gave Xena a huge grin. "Now lets get down to business. Kneel before me and pay homage to me."
Xena looked at her with disgust. "Over your dead body I will."
Callisto turned her head sideways and grinned. "Tsk tsk tsk, you're no fun are you, Xena?"
"I save it just for you."
Callisto sighed. "I said bow before me."
Xena was about to refuse again but found her knees giving way and she fell before Callisto. She continued to struggle but she found it impossible to do anything.
"Now that wasn't that hard, was it? Of course it wasn't! Now Xena how should I kill you?" She smiled as the warrior looked at her with comtempt. "Well if you don't have any ideas...maybe I can come up with a few of my own."
Callisto sat for a few moments tapping her fingers against the thrown's armrests. "I know! Oh it's perfect, absolutely perfect!" She turned to Solon. "Do you know how to use a sword?"
The frightened young boy looked at Xena and then at Callisto. "No." He hoped he was a convincing liar. He didn't know what would happen if he lied to a god but he wasn't about to kill his friend.
"Really?" Callisto said as she gave him her best smile. "Well your education has been lacking. As luck would have it...look what I have!" She produced Borius' sword. She was pleasantly surprised to see the look of utter disgust in Xena's eyes when she went over to the young boy and put the weapon in his hands.
"You know who this belongs to don't you?"
"My father, the great Borius." The young boy whispered.
"Yes the great Borius. The man who betrayed the Warrior Princess. It seems every man in your life betrays you..even your own son."
Xena refused to be baited and remained quiet and stared ahead. She resigned herself to her fate and thought about Gabrielle who was locked out of the temple. She looked at the young man a few feet from her and marvelled at the man he would become if he lived through this.
"So" Callisto continued. "what better way to send the Warrior Princess to Tartarus, and this time you will stay dead, than to be killed by the sword of Borius and by the son of Borius!"
Callisto giggled at the plan she concocted. She handed the sword to Solon, who looked at her and then dropped the weapon at her feet.
Xena smiled at the young man who showed courage in the face of madness.
"Is something wrong with your hands, Solon? Callisto angrily said to him as she once again put the sword in his hands.
"No. I won't kill my friend." Solon said and he once again dropped the weapon.
Callisto was furious. "Gabrielle won't kill, you won't kill...does everyone that comes in contact with you have this aversion to killing, Xena?"
Xena continued to stare angrily at Callisto. Her pride in her son had taken a new level at the courage he showed.
"PICK UP THE SWORD, NOW!" Callisto yelled. Solon cringed but refused to budge until very slowly he bent down and picked up the sword. He tried to fight it but found he was unable to refuse the god's commands.
"At least something is getting through" Callisto said as she went back to her throne. "Okay now go over to Xena."
The young boy slowly made his way to the kneeling warrior. Solon held the sword to her chest. He mouthed the words I'm sorry as he stood before her. Xena smiled at him."It's alright, Solon." Xena whispered.
"I'll come and visit you in Tartarus, Xena. I'm sure Hades has a nice uncomfortable spot just waiting for you. I hear there is a cross that isn't being used." Callisto said and laughed uproariously "Oh what now!" Callisto said as a huge fire ball appeared in the temple, followed by two huge eyes. "Hera! How nice to see you, have you come for the execution?"
Hera's laugh filled the temple and made the ground shake. "You stupid mortal! Did you think you could defy me?"
Callisto smiled. "Well I thought you were way too busy to bother with all these mortals and their temples."
Solon looked between the eyes that were Hera and Callisto. He then looked at Xena who was also looking at the two. He went and stood closer to Xena as the two gods faced off.
"I'm never too busy with those that worship me, Callisto." Hera purred.
"Do you like the remodeling I've done?"
Hera's answer was a thundering bolt to the statue which toppled and fell at Callisto's feet.
"I guess you don't." Callisto said with a shrug. A second thunderbolt went crashing into the alter and brought down the second statue pulverising into dust. "Everyone's a critic." Callisto said dryly.
"You don't fear death, Callisto?"
Xena remained where she was unwilling to move until she knew it was safe to move. She had hoped Hera would have showed up sooner.
"I don't think you've kept up with the latest gossip." Callisto said and smiled at the Queen of the Gods. "I'm a god now. That statue reminded me of a cow's head. You should find better artists...ones that will lie about you."
Xena cringed. She stood transfixed watching the deadly game that Callisto was playing.
Hera surprised them both by laughing. "I have to hand it to you, Callisto, you have courage. Not many would stand up to me."
"Yeah, well, I'm a trend setter" Callisto smiled and sat back down. "Do you mind if I continue Xena's execution?"
Callisto looked at Xena and then at Solon and then turned her attention back at Callisto.
"Callisto, you failed to kill Hercules, you failed to do as I asked and now you desecrate my temple."
"My temple." Callisto corrected her and sat back down. She glanced at Xena and the boy.
Hera threw down a thunderbolt that sent Callisto flying through the air and landing her against her own statue that was now broken into pieces. "You fool, did you think you can defy me?"
Callisto remained where she was, she tried to get up and found her powers were gone.
"Callisto, you could have served me well but you didn't. A shame really." Hera through another thunderbolt and the fire consumed Callisto's body.
"A shame really." Hera said disappointingly and then disappeared.
There was silence in the temple until Xena looked around the dust filled room and caught sight of Gabrielle coming slowly through the doorway. Xena looked back as Solon and gathered him into her arms.
"One down, one to go." Gabrielle said as she walked up and hugged Xena. She turned to Solon and dropped down on one knee and hugged him fiercely.
Kaliupus watched as the gathering celebrated Solon's birthday. The evening had been a success. He looked over at the warrior who sat just a little off from the crowd. He was surprised not to find Gabrielle with the warrior until he spotted her showing the young children her staff. He smiled. He went over to the brooding warrior and gently placed his hand on her shoulder.
"It's time, Xena. Time for him to know who his mother is."
"I know." Xena said looking up at the centaur. "How do I explain, Callisto?"
"The only way you know how. The truth." With that Kaliupus trotted off and left her to her thoughts.
Solon watched as his uncle left Xena. He wanted desperately to talk to her alone but with so many people around he couldn't get away from the others. He decided to talk to her tonight.
The party had gone into the evening and quickly died down to a small number of children playing with a ball. Xena walked away and quietly came to the lake. The moon was high in the sky as Xena sat alone near the lake.
She sighed as she remembered the last time she sat down here. She was with Solon telling him about being a warrior and how much his father wouldn't want him to be one. Of how much his mother would be proud of him if she were alive. She lied to him then. She heard a sound and didn't turn around. She knew it was the young boy.
"It's a nice place to think here, isn't it?" Solon said as he took the space next to Xena.
"Yeah, it is."
Silence reigned between them as they both sat watching the quiet calm of the lake. Solon turned to the warrior and placed his hand on her forearm.
"Was Callisto telling me the truth?"
Xena looked at the young boy.
"Yes she was."
Another silence and Solon closed his eyes. "Why did you leave me?"
Xena sighed. "When you were born, not far from here, I was a ruthless murdering warlord. I cared about no one. I thought you wouldn't be safe around me. If you stayed with me you would have become like me. You deserve more out of this life, Solon, than to kill and be remembered as a warrior and someone who took another life. Your mother wasn't someone you could be proud of. Your father found his way before me and he wanted an end to the bloodshed...an end to the madness. He didn't have a chance to see you."
"Was Callisto in your army?"
"No. Callisto was from Cirra." Xena hesitated. "We raided the village and it was set ablaze by my army. Callisto's family died in the inferno and she blamed me. She wanted to kill me because of those deaths. She became as twisted as I had become. Hate made her insane. She was only after one thing. To hurt me like I hurt her.
"But you're not like that now. Gabrielle has been telling me stories of how you saved Potaideia and how you saved her life. She told me about Promethius and Hercules. How you saved Death. But what I don't understand is why didn't you tell me when you came here before?"
Xena looked at her son as the moonlight played off his fair hair. "I didn't think you would want me as your mother." She said whispered.
"I want to." Solon said as he looked into his mother's eyes.
Xena took the boy into her arms and held him as tears started rolling down her cheek. She quickly brushed them aside as her son sat between her legs. They both looked out across the lake as the young boy leaned back and settled against her armour.
"This is for you." Xena said as she handed the small item to Solon. The young boy looked at her and smiled. He opened the wrapping and found a gold insignia ring. "It belonged to your father. I'm sure he would want you to have it."
After a brief periiod of silence, Solon twisted around and faced Xena.
"Mother." He said and hugged her. Xena was overwhelmed with the emotional reunion. "Can I meet Hercules one day?" Solon said as he sat back down.
Xena laughed. "Yes you can meet Hercules. Come on lets go back or they will think someone has kidnapped you again."
They both got up and dusted themselves off and set off back to the village. Across the lake a figure stood watching the two walk away.
"Well well well...the Queen's lap dog has a son." Velaska smiled and then vanished.
The End or To Be Continued..who knows.. I know I don't :-)
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