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The characters, names and storylines which have appeared in the syndicated television show Xena: Warrior Princess are copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters in this story and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be used or sold for profit in any way. This story has been written solely for the reading enjoyment of Xena: Warrior Princess fans of the Internet.
This story is meant to take place between the time of the episodes "Sacrifice II" and "A Family Affair".
Note to Reader:
The author has tried to present Hope as she is on the show. She is a dark character. She has however on occasion shown some small interest in her mother. Her love for mother is not guaranteed, however there is always...hope.
The Quiet Survivor
"So when is this... friend of yours coming back anyway?" asked Herodetus as he sat on the front porch of his home. The evening meal had been finished and all of the family members now sat outside, enjoying the view of a colorful sunset.
"Herodetus. Really." Hercuba gave him a slight frown in response to his question. He let out a low sigh, continuing with the repairs to a basket that had a tear in it. Gabrielle's mother continued. "Xena is her friend. If Gabrielle wants to travel for awhile and see the countryside, then she should."
"I bet its been very exciting." Lila was taken by the idea of exploring. It was easy for anyone to see, including her parents.
"And it can be alot of trouble too. You just remember that Lila." her father reminded her.
"Yes father." Lila responded as father would want her to, but she still chanced a small smile to Hope.
This had not been the first time he had brought the subject up. Hope imagined he felt his daughter should have stayed at home as this Lila did. The past few weeks had been most interesting for Hope. To look around this simple village and see the typical lifestyle led by everyone, it was hard to imagine anyone from here could be worthy of father's attention. Of course, mother's experiences with Xena played an important part in that. Hope was mildly amused with the knowledge that she and Herodetus shared a common distrust for the warrior woman. Perhaps with a few more carefully timed tales of danger and fights.....
Hope's thoughts were cut short by Herodetus' frustrated voice. "Poultry. Always getting past the fence." He stood up and placed the basket on the ground. Hope noticed that there was an all too familiar rustling in the weeds not far from the home. She knew that curious young eyes were watching her.
"No need father." Hope stood up and walked down the stairs to the dirt yard in front. "I can get it. Probably just another hen again."
"Probably. Well see to the fence as well if you would. I'm sure some of them are getting out of there. I don't understand how though. I set the fence up so that couldn't happen." He frowned and shook his head. Hercuba patted him on the shoulder encouragingly and headed inside for the evening. He followed her along with Lila close behind him.
Hope watched them go back inside and then she walked over to the area where the chickens were fenced in. She was well aware of why the chickens were disappearing. Her son had a healthy appetite. She glanced back to the house once more to see that no one was looking. Hope walked further into the weeds and lowered herself to her knees, waiting for her child to approach her.
He moved to stand before her and looked up to her, letting out a soft moan. Hope knew what he wanted, but she could not allow it. He wanted to be with his mother more often and he wanted to meet those people that mother spent time with, but Hope knew what their response would be if he approached them. She reached out to his face and whispered to him. "Shhh! Quiet. Be quiet now. We mustn't be heard."
The child's big eyes blinked slowly, looking to his mother. He reached forward to touch his mother's arm and left the smallest of cuts where his quills brushed across her. Hope frowned at him but said nothing. She really would have to do something about these needed displays of affection. For now she allowed his hug once more, assuming that with age and growth, he would no longer desire such things.
"Mother has to go on an important trip tomorrow. Would you like to come with her? Would you like that?" Hope could tell by her son's quickened breath and the look in his eye that he did like the idea. She smiled to him and promised him they would go together first thing tomorrow morning.
She needed to check on issues related to father's work. She also needed to let her son feed on animals outside of this village. The number of livestock reported as missing would begin to look suspicious in a few more days. The would make the third time she had went on one of her supposed nature hikes since she arrived in Poteidaia. The family was trusting and accepted it as her way. She instructed her son to return to a nearby cave he had found. She would come for him tomorrow and they would leave then.
It was another bright and sunny day as Hope and her child made their way across the open land. The path was wide and the view was more open here. There were no travelers to be seen so she allowed her son to walk alongside her. He kept pace with her easily enough. She insisted that he do so instead of racing around the area at his top speed. Too much exercise would build up too much hunger for him, and there didn't seem to be a suitable supply of livestock. This was a valley well between any inhabited villages.
She glanced over occasionally to her son as they continued along. He was growing rather well. He would be nearly as tall as her shoulders in just a few days. Hope knew that at full height, her child would be nearly twice as tall as her and very powerful. He would never possess the powers that she had of course, but he would hold a brute godly force like no other living thing before him.
She thought of his general appearance. It was very similar to that of father's. On those evenings around the campfire when she was in contact with father, he would allow images of his true nature to enter her mind. This child appeared similar to her father's natural form. Father's true appearance would cause untold fear within a mortal's mind just as her son's appearance would. He had once told her briefly of a battle in the fire realm where his speed allowed him to defeat a rival fire god's army with ease. Her son held such speed and she knew that father was pleased to know this.
He had decided to give his daughter a more pleasing appearance while dealing with these mortals. Subtlety was to be her chosen weapon. Hope practiced her careful deception well, appearing as open and as friendly as her mother. It was a simple thing to do. At first it was mildly annoying to consider behaving as an equal to these mortals, but if it furthered her father's plans then it would be done.
Her son abruptly rushed off to the left into some overgrown brush. Hope imagined he was hunting for food. She thought to call out to him, but a sudden rush of warm air caused her to turn and look behind her. She was greeted with a flash of energy which hit her and threw her back to the ground.
"Well, who would've guessed. A nature lover too." The smirk in Discord's voice was unmistakable. "I just thought I'd drop in and see how well your little vacation through Greece was going so far. So many lively sights to see." Discord smiled and threw another blast of energy at Hope.
Hope barely managed to avoid the blast, moving to the side. Her eyes narrowed and Discord was thrown back some distance. "You have either grown incredibly strong or foolish since our last meeting to attack me Olympian."
Discord stood up rather quickly and hurled a couple of large stones at Hope. "Danger comes with the title in case you hadn't noticed. Can't always play it safe letting others do your dirty work." One of the stones struck Hope in the chest and knocked her down again. The other halted in the air and busted to pieces as Hope focused her thoughts on it.
Discord's laughter was cut short when a sudden burst of wind started to circle around the two of them. Her eyes darted all around her at the unseen thing that was racing around them. Hope took advantage of Discord's confusion and several large stones raised up into the air. They all flew forward and slammed into Discord, throwing her to the ground forcefully. She shook her head, trying to regain her senses as Hope stood and walked over to her. Hope was in the mood to take the first life of an Olympian god and Discord could see it in her eyes.
"Sorry, but I got a few wars that are already waiting. You'll just have to take a number." Discord laughed at that and disappeared in a burst of light.
Hope stood there looking down to where the Olympian had been. She frowned and all of the stones that had hit Discord shattered into little pieces. The wind that had been racing around the two of them stopped abruptly. Her son stood by her side once more looking to his mother. She thanked him for his assistance and assured him she was well. She also promised to save that particular Olympian for her son when the time was right. She would enjoy seeing Discord as a toy for her child's amusement.
Hope reached her destination on the third day of her trip from Poteidaia. She was still well beyond the nearest of villages, but there were supposed to be people nearby regardless. A lightly scattered amount of trees surrounded the valley, separating it from the cliffs not far beyond. Before her, Hope could see a simple and small structure. It was built as she had requested it. It was to be her focus for Dahak's followers, a newly constructed temple not far from mother's home village. She had intended to travel there long ago, but events with Xena and mother's unexpected sacrifice had delayed her.
She walked up the main steps with her son following closely behind her. As she proceeded along, she could not help but notice the leaves and branches which covered the steps in a few places. Such things suggested an unattended temple and Hope was displeased by this. She opened the main temple doors and looked inside. What she saw inside displeased her further.
The evidence of looting was rather obvious. Some benches were overturned. A few decorations that hung against the walls or set up along the banisters were missing. Leaves and dirt were scattered across the floor as well. Hope did notice however that there were three individuals who were attempting to correct this. They were three men by the look of them. All were wearing faded brown robes with pointed hoods over their heads.
One of the men turned to see her and immediately rushed to her side, kneeling down and bowing his head to her. "My goddess. It is an honor. We had thought-- I had thought our services were no longer pleasing. I am overjoyed at your return."
Hope looked around once more. "With the appearance of this temple, I can see why you would think I was displeased. Does service to my father and your continued life mean so little to you?"
The man clearly appeared fearful. "No, no my goddess. Not at all. It was-- well it took time for me to heal and by then thieves had already visited..." His voice trailed off uncertainly. As he looked up to her, she could see a healed area on his neck where he had been in battle. She recognized him then as the high priest who had spoken to her on Callisto's behalf. He had apparently survived Xena's attack unlike most of the other followers.
Hope thought of a couple of thieves she had dealt with not long ago. "I understand. Thieves can be most annoying." She chose to ignore the temple's appearance for now, looking to the other two men who were quickly clearing the area around the alter for her approval. She looked back to the high priest. "Tell me. Where are the other followers?"
"They... they departed my goddess." Disgust was in his voice. "Their minds returned to their foolish ways during your absense. I kept them here for several days, but their lack of vision and focus was unworthy of your greatness. They fled the temple after my words of warning were given to them."
Hope watched as he bowed his head once more. She had noticed that the half-constructed walls of the new temple appeared weathered as well. Several rain storms had left a lasting effect on the sides nearest her. So much to rebuild and so little time. Not to mention father's brilliant plan given to her just nights before.
"And Seraphin? The priestess of the blood?" She thought briefly of the misguided friend of mother, whose blood had allowed her to be born.
"Unknown my goddess. She was one of those who fled. I tried to stop her, but her mind was panicked. She would not listen to me." he explained, all the while looking down to the floor.
"There is much which you seem to not have done properly." She noted the nervousness in his breath and quickly added, "No matter, my father's plans have changed. This temple will not be needed. There has been a new location chosen for his grand temple. See to it that the items in here are properly taken care of."
"Yes my goddess." The high priest gratefully stood and bowed his head respectfully to her, backing away and joining the other two men in their cleaning duties. Hope excused herself and stepped outside to look around. Her son walked up the stairs to stand near his mother, looking to her out of curiosity.
Hope was not pleased at all. Callisto was of no further use to her. Her followers were gone as was Seraphin. The followers who were here had been unable to perform the simplest of tasks, seeing to the temple's upkeep. The temple itself was no longer of importance to father, which meant that any more time here was wasted. Hope sighed. Father often allowed her to make her own decisions on how best to proceed with his work. She would need to find more followers. New followers in keeping with father's new plans.
The irony of Poteidaia's importance in those plans caused her to smile. Poteidaia would be the location for father's new temple and the people there would be her loyal followers. Controlling their minds would be as simple as with the previous mortals. She glanced back to the temple with mild disapproval then over to her son. With a simple thought, she instructed him that three sources of food awaited him inside. She would be returning to the village. He could catch up to her when he was finished. Hope's child smiled eagerly to his mother and rushed up the steps as she returned to Poteidaia.
The return trip to Poteidaia was proving uneventful. Hope did not have any further encounters with Discord in the last two days. Whether Discord had become concerned or merely preoccupied, Hope was uncertain. She would of course be ready for her should the Olympian decide to return.
Her child was once more at her side, full of energy and looking all around him. His meal must have been satisfying. Hope was pleased to provide for him. It was a mother's duty afterall. The time would come soon when he would be joined with five others of his kind. It was part of father's prophesy. Six destroyers to reshape the world in Dahak's image. She hoped that Ares would find a way to return to her soon so that part of the plan could be fulfilled. He was clever. She trusted he would find a way to do so somehow.
Far up the trail, Hope could see that three people were approaching her. They were women. Amazons. She was amazed at how many there were in this land. Mother's influence must be considerable or perhaps their numbers were simply many. Either way, their strength would make an interesting addition to father's chosen.
Her son quickly hid within the brush to her right. She was pleased that he did so without her having to remind him. His understanding of such things was progressing nicely. The three women continued their approach. The main woman greeted Hope and announced herself to be Lilith. One of the other two women must have recognized Hope, because she bowed her head and greeted her queen with respect as did the other woman.
Lilith was apparently from a different Amazon tribe from the one commanded by Gabrielle. Her greeting was more calm. Hope would have preferred to see her bow her head as well but it was not an issue worth mentioning. The women had apparently heard of Gabrielle's return to her village and the one who originally bowed to Hope convinced her two friends to go there to visit.
Hope assured them that she was well and that she had just decided to rest in Poteidaia for awhile, taking a few nature hikes on occasion. These women were just as easily fooled. They wished Hope a safe journey and continued success in leading her Amazon tribe. Hope wished them well also.
As they continued on their way, Hope's son walked back to his mother's side once more. She instructed him against his desire to have a meal once more. If it were just the other two who were members of her tribe, she might allow it. But that other one, Lilith, was from a different tribe. Her absence might draw others from her tribe, and Hope didn't need to be bothered with that additional concern for now. His meal could wait.
The child seemed content with his mother's decision. Hope continued along the path back to Poteidaia with her son at her side. She began to instruct him on the duties he would have to perform. He listened eagerly, enjoying such moments with his mother. As she spoke to him, she thought of the preparations that would have to be made to make Poteidaia more suitable for a temple devoted to her father.
CHAPTER 15... CONCLUSION...
Hope had been woken up early that morning by a bright eyed and cheerful Lila, as had been the case on several mornings since her arrival home. Hope slept in her mother's bed. She had felt surprisingly relaxed and comfortable doing so. Mother's childhood decorations were not exactly of her choosing, but looking to them gave her further insight into her mother's past. She joined her family and ate her morning meal. Herodetus was complaining once again about chickens escaping the yard. Hope allowed herself a small smile at that.
After breakfast, Hope mentioned that she would be going to the village marketplace to look for a few things of interest. Lila offered to go with her, fortunately however her mother needed her for some work, so Hope promised that they would go together next time.
She did not bother to tell the family that she was looking for suitable alter candles and incense. She doubted that they would appreciate the value of such things. Hope wished to perform a small sacrifice tonight, with her son present. Perhaps she would allow him to take the life of one of the villagers.
Hope arrived at the village marketplace an hour later. It was full of many people. Some selling items. Some buying. This village seemed to be alive with activity every single day. There was a certain amount of happiness and hope that could be felt here. Hope knew that that energy would be put to good use soon.
She was standing near a peddlers cart, looking to the display of candles that he had. There were several to choose from and they were colored just as she wanted them. Black and dark green and red. She always had a fondness for black and red. She agreed to buy several of them. The man was very pleased and looked for a sack to place the ceremonial candles into.
It was then that Hope looked up and had a peculiar thought. She couldn't quite place the feeling. It was as though something familiar was in her thoughts, if only she could imagine what it was. She took the candles from the peddler and paid him, turning around to look at the other items for sale.
Hope blinked in surprise. There, across from her on the opposite side of the marketplace, stood the last person in the world she expected to see on that day. The woman she held the most dislike for of any mortal or god there was, with the possible exception of Discord. The woman on the other side of the marketplace was none other than Xena. The warrior princess.
Hope thought to avoid her and return the way she had come, but their eyes locked onto one another. There were a few pieces of cloth hanging on lines between them, but the connection was unmistakable. They were both focused onto one another. Time seemed to slow for Hope as her thoughts raced through her mind. She was thinking of how best to respond to the woman, who was certain to join her.
Hope could see several moods crossing Xena's mind just by the expression on her face. Shock. Disbelief. Numbness. Nervousness. And then joy. Xena had this warm, unbelievable smile on her face that Hope had never seen from her before. It was disturbing to see an enemy regard her in such an open loving way. Hope looked down briefly, thinking of how she would react. She mustn't allow for any suspicions to take place. She would have to give her best performance yet.
As they crossed the center of the market place, and the faint image of the one named Joxer approached her from the side, Hope had already formed a plan in her mind. Her son. What better ironic way to pay Xena back for the misfortune she caused her. Her son. He would make his first sacrifice to Dahak this night. Xena would be that sacrifice.
Hope found herself openly smiling at the thought of that. The fact that Xena was probably misreading her smile as joy for seeing her made Hope smile even more. Hope was certain of one thing if nothing else. The next few days would bring about a final closing of events Hope had long expected. She was certain.
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