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16-17 : PART I |
In Search Of
A Greater Cause
~ PART I ~
The movement around her was so quick that for a brief moment her equilibrium was off. She found herself on her hands and knees, staring at the grass beneath her hands, the sounds of trickling water nearby, the smell of a marsh, birds calls from birds that would be found around a marsh, the weight of her sword was on her back, she could see the leathers to her skirk….Xena looked up, then rose to her feet cautiously.
"Hello, Xena." Mnemosyne's voice was soft. In her arms she had a bouquet of flowers that Gabrielle called forget-me-nots.
While Xena kept an eye on Mnemosyne she let her other senses inform her that she wasn't in the cavern, nor around Crometh, nor was this winter, wherever they were.
"You wanted to talk to me about…?" Mnemosyne prodded as she moved to another bunch of flowers and instead of picking them, she seemed to be planting the long stemmed flowers.
Xena shook her head to clear the cognitive dissonance it was causing her mind to experience.
Ahh. Right, "memories."
Mnemosyne laughed. "That's a rather broad topic. Let's see…do you want to know why no two people remember the same thing, though they were both there? Do you want to know why memory changes over time? Or, do you want to know why we remember outcomes, but not always the other details?"
Xena blinked a few minutes. Things like that did tickle her philosophical side…but…she had some other important things to take care of.
"Well…why don't two people remember the same event as the other?" She couldn't resist.
"Because, each person is looking at the event from their own understanding of what is happening."
"I understand that…but…a past event…one that we've talked about…why does she still remember it differently?"
The goddess smiled at the hurt that this mortal was carrying. She sighed and did what she knew was going to have repercussions, but not for a while yet. It was easy to see the 'she' she was referring to was Gabrielle.
"Memories aren't reliable, Xena. They change over time. In your travels with Gabrielle, you have witnessed this a countless number of times. What complicates memory is life, and its many stories that we hear, see and dream of. I am not saying memories are not important…they help form our personality. What I am saying is, that what you remember of an event, is true for you but not necessarily for others. But because you believe it, it is what you base your actions and reactions on."
"So…what about facts?"
"A somewhat arbitrary agreement between individuals, though it is created out of need. Chaos is difficult to find time to think in." Mnemosyne smiled at the wrinkled brow of the tall mortal. "Let's take your life as a warlord…"
Xena's shoulders tightened. That was one long memory she was just learning to put out of her dreams.
"You use those memories to keep you on what you consider a better path, no?"
Xena shrugged her shoulders.
"But when they don't seem to be giving you the shudders and same intensity of self hate, loathing, that they had once given you, you add more graphic detail."
"What? I don't need to add detail. I was there! I saw the dismembered bodies of children, women dying, men skewered…" Xena shuddered.
"Hmmm. Well, you never personally took a weapon to children, and as for the women, you always had given orders only to hurt villagers that fought back. Your men took it upon themselves to do what they wanted…and you punished them for disobeying your orders."
Xena took a deep breath. Again in her mind the picture of a small child formed, impaled at the end of her javelin, and her standing above the dead child unrepentant.
"No…what had happened was one of the new recruits, hopping to further gain your attention, missed the speech you had given on who to spare, and in front of you, before you could react, killed the child and it's mother. Because it was your soldier, and you had slept with him the night before, you took the responsibility. So, every time you remember that scene, it is you, not him, that is killing the child."
"I…no…it was by my hand."
"Xena, now think."
Xena took a deep breath. "Yea, I did give my troops orders not to kill women and children."
"So…how could you have done that?"
"Ahhh." She took a deep breath. Was she letting this goddess talk her out of her guilt? She couldn't let herself get away so easily with all the villages she laid to waste.
"Ahhh, ahhh. There you go again. You keep saying you laid villages to waste. You did some, but since you had to return back the next harvest, you didn't want to make it too difficult for the villages to recover. This lying to waste is another creation in your mind to make things worse than what it was, because for some reason you need guilt to keep you on the right path. Xena, you don't need it. You now have that strength of your own to keep on the right path. You can stop recreating your past memories to making them into something worse than what they were. They are bad enough without you adding more gore to them. Really."
"So…are you saying that…my childhood memories aren't….real?"
"Sure they are. If you believe them to be real…they are. But, Torres will see the same event from his little boy perspective as your mother will see it from her perspective. It doesn't mean the event didn't happen…just that there are a lot of versions to it. Remember when Torres was finally able to see a different version to why you felt you had to fight the invading forces on your village? And when Gabrielle retold the story of you and the Cyclops? You think she is making up some of the parts, embellishing the story like most story tellers do, to sell the audience. But she isn't. She experiences you in a different way, so she will be seeing it differently. When she meets another Cyclops, and befriends him, her story will change, and her memories of the first Cyclops will also change. Enjoy the differences. Makes for good story telling material."
"Is that why…the barn was different?"
"Oh, that scene. Well, even as you relived it, you were creating, leaving the unimportant things out…like why you wanted to screw the soldier."
Xena's face hardened.
"You were trying to forget how the young Bard was turning you on, so you had decided to put some emotional distance between you two."
"I was working off…"
Mnemosyne held up her hand. "See, even I remember it differently. Because at that time in Mt. Olympus, we all could see your attraction to each other, like a silvery band that tied your souls together, so I had another view of the story that was unfolding."
"So…" Xena tried to get her thoughts together, memories and dreams, what a combination. "whoever is dreaming in the cavern, is not in control of us, because we can move in and out of the cavern, though its through the past and present…well…wait. So, I can dream that we both are back in the cavern and Gabrielle fixes the problem!"
Carefully she looked about her. It was the cavern…she was alone…she was dressed in her dark leathered skirt…she waited for something to change.
Gabrielle almost shrieked at the change in Xena, but composed herself quickly as she knew it was Xena by looking in the bright azure eyes. Xena’s lack of noticing their change at first was humorous and she couldn’t help grabbing the most noticeable change in her body, stroking it and watching in excitement at the near loss of control Xena displayed in her behavior….that was unXena like.
Then Gabrielle started thinking quickly. They had to stop this moving around to different times and places, before she started screaming like a siren. As she watched Xena close her eyes, the figure before her became unfamiliar with the beginnings of beard stubble on her chin and the look of lust as she pushed the man down on his back, and after getting the erection to where she knew it would give her the most pleasure, she straddled his waist, impaling herself on his hard penis. The pleasure of it entering her almost caused her to forget who she was…. The Sacred Grotto, the grotto. Gabrielle chanted to herself.
The change in the atmosphere was so quick she was blinking her eyes trying to get use to the near darkness. She spun around to face the oracle’s tripod chair. It was empty.
She hesitated for only a brief moment, then hurried up the steps to the seat. Artemis, if this is not right…tell me now. She continued up the few steps and looked calmly at what had damaged Arii to a horrible mass of scarred flesh. Would she fare the same? She had to stop whatever was happening. The time change that was effecting their lives most probably was effecting others and others may change things…for everyone.
Not getting an answer from Artemis she turned and closing her eyes sat on the seat, holding her breath and praying to Xena for forgiveness for not letting her know that she might not return.
You are so serious!
Gabrielle’s eye’s shot open to see not the cavern, but a peaceful garden. She looked about her in astonishment gripping the arms of the chair in disbelief. As her eyes moved around the area she spotted a beautiful young girl sitting on her side stroking the neck of a small doe and watching her under brown lashes, with amusement.
"Pornia theron!" She breathed in awe.
"And who are you?" The young goddess asked bemused, "And why have you called me?"
"I…I’m Gabrielle…a…Queen of one of the Amazon tribes that honor you." She stuttered.
Artemis was beautiful. Brown lashes covered golden brown eyes that lifted in surprise as they regarded her closer. She had on a golden short tunic covering her body to just above her knees. Her legs were long with muscles developed from running with the wild things of the forests. Her shoulders were not broad but they were starting to show strength, as the young girlish body hadn’t yet left her.
Gabrielle reddened. If Artemis was looking this young, barely a woman, then this must be way in the past.
"Ahhh. Yeeeaaa." Gabrielle was trying to remember what tales she heard of a young Artemis and how she could find out what she needed to know. Which was what?
"You know the cavern I was in?"
"Yes. It was one of grandmother's followers schools…but they had left because it was the end of her time."
Artemis stood up and came over to her seated form. That's when Gabrielle realized she was still siting in the oracle's three legged chair. Artemis sat in front of the chair folding her legs in a lotus position, studying Gabrielle for a long moment.
"I see…" she murmured nodding.
Gabrielle couldn’t resist looking behind her to see what she was talking about. There was only the forest behind her.
Gabrielle looked back at the young goddess blushing. Artemis was laughing. "I see why you are here." She explained with an open smile. "Hmmm. It’s the designs on the walls you need to change." She frowned for a moment as she thought. "I had watched an old follower of grandmother’s in the woods, making designs similar to those, when I had started to draw the same, grandmother was very upset, saying we cannot draw them…it is a magic for mortals alone. It was a gift she had given them to draw power to help them against any of our wrong doings." Artemis sighed. "Something Ares needs to remember, that little brat." She shook her head with regret.
Gabrielle was tempted to ask her to tell her some tales of Ares as a youth but her dislike for what he was in her present, and her worry about time, kept her from asking.
"So…I need to change the designs…but how?"
Artemis looked up at her surprised. "You are mortal, don’t you know?"
"No." Gabrielle was about to mumble some colorful phrases to describe her frustration at this point, but instead…"what about your grandmother? Is she around?" Gabrielle, you have such nerve!
The figure was suddenly standing before them…Gabrielle nearly started to cry at the feelings of warmth…comfort…and love that emanated from the smiling figure. The brilliance of her appearance was toned down almost immediately, as Gabrielle didn’t think she would have been able to keep her eyes on her, and at the same time she could not move her eyes from the vision before her.
"Mortal child, you certainly get into a lot of interesting situations." The shining figure laughed gently.
Gabrielle nearly burst with happiness at being addressed so lovingly by this goddess, thee goddess, Potnia Ge.
"I will show you what you need to know…though it is not in the life of Gabrielle that you will learn of them in detail, but in the life of Alekasasha, a shaman."
The next thing Gabrielle knew…she was standing in front of the designs, earth shaking beneath her feet, Xena shouting for her to be careful. The designs were moving and changing their patterns as they reacted from the changes of their neighbors.
Gabrielle moved her hands in a pattern, mumbling the chants Ge had taught her, then reaching through the curtain she could see. She touched the first symbol she had touched in her dream. With a fingertip, and words of power, Gabrielle redrew the swirls, adding to them and breathing a different energy life force onto them. Once the first was redirected and stabilized she moved to the next. The entire cavern was a great big ball of energy that invigorated her and the tingling of the fire that ran up her torso from the ground, to say nothing of the wild discharging energy around her from the misshapen magic swirls, caused her hair to stand on end. Good thing it was short, or she would be spending a long time trying to untangle it later.
Gabrielle didn’t know how long she worked on the seven swirls that had been added by the foreigner, but when she was finished she moved to the center of the cavern, not seeing anyone but the magnificent display of flashes of light from the discharging energy around her. She needed to reconsecrate the cavern, readjust the energy lines that ran throughout the land surrounding the cavern, and move the time line back. It was so simple. Ge had shown her…Gabrielle spread her arms to the side of her and tilted her head back…humming the tone she wished to focus the energy into…building it…until….
A bright flash of light that nearly blinded Gabrielle and Xena on their perch above the forest, had both women covering their eyes and holding onto each other.
"Goddess!" Gabrielle breathed in awe. Gabrielle looked up at her partner whose one arm that was wrapped around her had tightened. Their sleeping fur slipped off them and ended up at the foot of the rock they were sitting on, as they were watching Selene’s mares drag the small slice of white moon across the star blanketed night sky.
Xena leaned down and kissed the tip of Gabrielle’s nose. "You did it, O’Bard of mine."
"I…I remember…I remember it all!" She was referring to her meeting with Potnia Ge.
"Yea…I guess tomorrow we find out just…what has been changed."
"Xena, I meant…I …I…met her!"
Xena looked into the eyes that even in the night light, she could see were tearing up. "Met who?"
"Potnia Ge!" She whispered reverently.
Xena nodded silently, remembering her own visit with the goddess and the overwhelming feeling of…peace she had, if even for a short time…it was…beyond words.
"You’re going to have to tell me what happened after….ahhh."
Xena could see the wide grin on Gabrielle’s face as white teeth glowed in the early morning’s darkness.
Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s hand and pulled her with her as she tried to negotiate her way back down the hill and to their safe cave in as less time as possible.
"Hey! What’s the hurry!" Xena had grabbed the sleeping fur as she was pulled along, finally grabbing the smaller woman around the waist and hoisting her over her shoulder. Xena made better time due to long legs and better night vision that didn’t see darkness, but varying shades of gray.
Groans and sighs echoed off the cave wall though the rest of the starry night and well into the predawn. It was only a candlemark before Helios began his ascent that both fell into a satiated doze.
End of Part I
Continues in Part II
16-17 : PART I |
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