Beneath My Insanity Buried

By John Dorsey

Based on characters and situations created by Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi.

Copyright 1998 by John Dorsey

Xena: Warrior Princess is the sole property of Universal. No copyright infringement is intended through the writing of this fan fiction.

This story takes place not long after the Xena: Warrior Princess episode Forget Me Not. There are numerous spoilers for both Xena and Hercules.




 

I am the God of War.

Of all the gods of Olympus, I am the most deadly, the most destructive. All other gods fear me, and fear me they should. Only Zeus stands above me, but he will not stand above me forever. My machinations go further than any other god would expect. I am already the King of War. One day war shall rule the Gods.

War.

It is the most powerful force in existence. It can turn allies into enemies, enemies into allies, brothers into rivals, and lovers into haters. Before its unyielding fury, castles crumble like sand, kingdoms turn to ashes, and entire continents are swept into a tornado of carnage, fire, and blood. And I revel in it all. When you get down to it, I am not just the God of War.

I am war itself.

There is much talk about the art of creation. But what about the art of destruction? It is an art so sophisticated, so intricate, that only one of my power can do justice to the term. I wield my brush with the utmost finesse, painting blood red over every area I touch. To me, war is a grand game. Move a stone here. Move a stone there. Often the stones bleed. But, hey... it's only a game.

What is the purpose of war? Such a silly question. War is truly the most blessed gift there is. It brings out the best in us, it brings out the worst in us, and it pushes us to our very limits. If one can survive the ultimate test of war, then one can indeed do anything. How ironic that the greatest forge of civilization is nothing less than war.

Tell me... have you ever sung the Song of Blood?

I have. It is a question I ask of all who serve me. There is nothing I relish more than the harmony of hell. There is nothing so sweet as the orchestra of agony. Each time I write my chords of chaos, I prepare a symphony that will savage the ears of all unfortunate to come within its range. And my malicious melody will soon be heard by all who live on this world.

The end justifies the means. Do I care if my will is cast over the dead rather than the living? Of course not. The dead ask fewer questions. Yet for this I am called evil by many. But one could argue that evil is a matter of perspective. Do the sheep think any less of the sheepherder? What others call decay, I call ripening. No one gains sustenance from my unholy harvest.

Life is a resource that should belong only to the strong. Are not life and death two faces of the same coin? Death is inevitable. Since I cannot stop death, I choose to stop life. The blood on my hands is merely the proof of my ambition. I offer all who worship me the chance to at least die with honor, with courage, rather than to wither away on the sidelines, eeking out a pathetic existence. Life is but a joke. And the punch-line is so very humorous.

As always, I am in search of a champion. One who will mold the world in my own image. One who will scrawl my name in fire and blood across the land. My champion will conquer this world in my name, and then rule it under me.

Unfortunately, not even I can deny the catch-22. If the entire world were to be conquered, then there would be no more war. There would be no more battles, no more death, no more destruction. There would be no more reason for my existence.

And we couldn't let that happen, now, could we? v Once the world is conquered, I will go in search of new champion to RE-conquer it. For the joy of a war god lies not in the ruling, but in the conquering itself. The battles, the carnage, the hate. It is the air I breathe, the food I eat, the wine I drink. And when the world is reconquered, I will find another champion to reconquer it yet again. And again. And again. And again.

I am war.

My enemies are many, but my obstacles are few. Once these adversaries are defeated, nothing will stand in my way. My presence shall pass from soul to soul, soldier to herder, herder to beast, beast to soil, until I am everywhere. A new era will be born, an everlasting cycle of death, destruction, and carnage that will repeat forever and ever until the end of time itself.

And war will live happily ever after.

I can hardly wait.

 

 

                                   * * *

 
Isolaus.

A mortal who I paid scarce attention to before, he has earned my everlasting hatred with his lucky victory in saving Hercules from remaining a pig for the rest of his wretched life. It seems that if it isn't Hercules or Xena who spoils my plans, then it's their pathetic side-kicks.

Hercules and Isolaus are the best of friends. They've been friends almost forever. When I think of how close Xena came to destroying them... Deep down, Isolaus is a fool. He trusts too easily, he lets his guard down too willingly. Xena suckered him like no other. And most of all, he knows that he will never measure up to Hercules.

As hard as he may try to deny it.

Time and time again he has failed where Hercules would have succeeded. One example that comes to mind is the time his lack of strength allowed a woman to fall to her death. How that tore him up inside. Isolaus wants to be Hercules. He wants to be as strong as Hercules, but he can't. He wants to as famous as Hercules, but he won't. He has saved Hercules' life numerous times, but Hercules always gets the glory. Isolaus gets to stand by the spotlight, but never in it.

Could Isolaus ever turn on Hercules? Could he be the weapon I've been looking for to finally rid myself of the wretch do-gooder once and for all? Perhaps... with a little pushing and prodding on my part.

The possibilities are endless. If I could destroy their friendship, their bond, they would both fall easily into my hands.

And I could destroy two fools with one stone.

 

 

                                   * * *

 

 
Hercules.

How I hate that name.

My hated half-brother's legendary journeys have become a legendary pain in the rear. To think that I share a kinship with a mortal! The thought is revolting, but not nearly as much as watching him help one mortal after another.

I've had one plan after another foiled by Hercules. The worst loss ever was when he converted Xena into the silly whipped goody two-shoes she's become. I surely would have destroyed him ages ago if not for Zeus' law that no god can kill another.

Look at his motives. Hercules is determined to make up for the deaths of his family by spending the rest of his life helping the common people. I remember when he was recently put on trial. He was accused of doing harm to people because of all the aid he gives them. I had taunted him, having a hearty laugh in the process. It seems that no matter what he does, there will always be people who won't appreciate him. There will always be people who hate him. Jealousy can be just as dangerous as evil itself. And perhaps that will be the ingredient that eventually leads to his end.

Hercules may be the world's greatest hero, but he suffers from the same weaknesses that all heroes do. Weaknesses I can exploit at will. His luck can't hold out forever. All must fall, and those who stand highest will fall hardest. Inevitably, the day will come when I will stand over his dead carcass.

For to victor over the Son of Zeus would be the greatest victory of all.

 

 

                                   * * *

 

 
Callisto.

Ah, so beautiful, so deadly, so conniving...

Deliciously evil in every way, Callisto is unquestionably a force to be reckoned with. Her powers are almost equal to mine, her insanity is unequaled by anyone, and her heart is so dark that anyone looking into it would think her to be dead, even though she be alive. They say Callisto is savage enough to kill you with a stare. Some smiles show cheer; some merely show teeth. Callisto shows teeth.

Ah, doom rarely smells so sweet.

It is said that if you look closely into Callisto's eyes, you will see fire, for it is fire that truly rules this woman. It must be a painful existence indeed, for fire is never a gentle master. I cannot help but show admiration for this lovely young warrior. With the powers of a god, Callisto shoots chains of leaping fire and sizzling lightning that lay waste to all around her... that create the kind of change I so desire. In this respect, she serves me well.

I saw potential in her from the very beginning. I looked into her soul, and it was so empty I saw no reflection, no light there. My kind of girl... After her family was killed by Xena's army, she became a monster more evil than Xena ever was.

Perhaps too evil.

Xena was still refusing to come back to me. Even though I suspected the truth, I decided to make Callisto my champion, my divine jewel. But, sadly, the jewel was flawed. Disappointing, but not surprising. I resurrected Callisto from death by arranging to have the two of them switch bodies. It was a perfect plan. All Callisto had to do was stay away from Xena for 24 hours, and Xena would be forced to remain in Tartarus forever.

But Callisto was a fool.

She gave Xena a chance to win, and, of course, Xena did. Callisto has always had Xena dead, and then given her every opportunity to defeat her. She once even allowed that fool Joxer to ruin her plans. Apparently, what I had suspected was in fact true.

Subconsciously, Callisto did not want to kill Xena. Deep down she knew what would happen if she ever succeeded in gaining her revenge. Callisto has allowed Xena to defeat her time and time again. By allowing Xena to live, Callisto could happily lie to herself. She could deny what could never have been denied otherwise. About herself. About the vengeance she seemed to so desperately crave.

Vengeance. It is as bitter as wormwood and as sweet as mulled wine.

The Warrior Queen has always desired vengeance. But even one such as I knows that there must be a goal greater than mere vengeance itself. She believed that hurting Xena in the same way she herself was hurt would end her pain. But when Callisto finally did gain her revenge on Xena with the death of her son, Solan, she found that her own pain did not end. All she discovered was emptiness.

And now she is nothing but a shell.

Her torment is unbearable. Her pain is eternal. It is difficult to imagine such torture. Now, torture isn't so bad. It helps pass the time until you die. But poor Callisto can never die, so I suppose she is truly cursed. Yes, eternal life has brought her eternal hell. This has made her easily manipulated by others... such as Dahak. The dark god used her against me when she killed Strife, and then she attempted to do the same to me.

Poor Callisto. Her past has become a mirror of her future. Nothing but fire... and rage. Rage uncontrolled is such a waste. Rage focused... now that is power. Hercules banished Callisto into a vortex between our world and another. Will she ever return? Only time will tell.

The strongest wall is made not of stone or steel but of the focused strength of a warrior. Callisto is clearly without direction now, which makes her a limited threat at best. Still, with a little influence on my part, I just might be able to get some use out of her... before throwing her away.

After all, it would be a shame to let such a wonderful warrior queen go to waste...

 

 

                                   * * *

 

Joxer.

The idiot.

If it is weak, I say either kill it or ignore it. Anything else honors it.

But no matter how much I despise this so-called "warrior", I must admit that his presence is rather amusing. He wants to be a hero. He pretends to be a hero. Yet all he does is make a total fool out of himself time and time again.

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a pretender to the throne.

But to fully appreciate this idiot, you must look at his effect on the overall picture. Joxer has helped save Xena's life on no less than two occasions! First, with the playing of a lyre when Xena was fighting against the Bacchae, and then when he distracted Callisto long enough for Xena to escape and save Gabrielle from burning at the stake.

To think that my warrior princess, the mighty Xena, could have become so pathetic that she would need the aid of a buffoon in order to survive. How she has fallen. The Xena I know, the true Xena, was invincible. This Xena is truly weak.

I hope the Warrior Princess continues to spend time with the Warrior Fool. As long as she does, she herself will be nothing more than a pretender to the throne.

And I will continue to have a hearty laugh in the meantime...

 

 

                                   * * *

 

Gabrielle.

She is the peacemaker, the innocent, the sweet young bard who will always stand by Xena.

Or so she would have herself believe.

It is so interesting to look at this girl. Gabrielle left her hometown to travel with Xena throughout the countryside, determined to have adventure and see the world. She so wants to see herself as the sweet, young, innocent, as does Xena, but she can't deny that Xena has changed her. She cannot die what Xena has done to her. And she cannot deny what she herself has done to Xena.

In Brittania, she was impregnated by the dark god Dahak himself. Having a child only a few days later was traumatic in itself, but a child who is half-god? And then Xena attempted to kill the baby, so Gabrielle was forced to put it in a basket and send it floating down the river. She lied to Xena, telling her the child was dead. And for all she knew, the baby could have drowned.

And that made things so easy for me.

Soon Xena left Gabrielle behind to travel to China to murder a ruler, Ming Tien. I could sense the anger in Gabrielle's eyes, the hurt, the pain, the resentment, the... hate.

Hate.

I could sense the hate, even though she herself could not! In exchange for a favor, I offered her a chance to "save" Xena by betraying her! By almost ending Xena's life! Gabrielle kept telling herself that her motives were noble, that she wanted to stop Xena from committing evil. But it was not the truth. Eventually, she would realize this, and that knowledge would almost destroy her.

Dahak was manipulating the two of them from the very beginning. I tried to warn Xena, but at the time not even I was aware of how dangerous this dark god truly is. Dahak resurrected Callisto, and used her hatred for Xena to manipulate her into doing his will. Xena's son was soon dead, and Gabrielle was largely to blame, no doubt by Dahak's design.

Xena and Gabrielle were soon about to destroy each other. They plunged off of a cliff and into a river where not even my eyes could follow. I could sense they were not dead, though. Eventually they emerged and, strangely enough, they were friends again. There bond appeared to be stronger, their love greater, and I could feel myself getting sicker.

But Gabrielle is not the same. No matter how much she would like to pretend that she is, she is not.

After watching this girl for over two years now, even I am amazed at how stupid and naive mortals can be. This girl is made up of a maze of contradictions. She travels with the most dangerous warrior on this earth, yet she wants to be a peacemaker. She constantly throws herself into battle, yet she does not want to kill. She has witnessed Xena kill at least a thousand men, and yet she is horrified when she herself commits murder.

Blondes can be so dense.

Gabrielle betrayed her own ideals once again in Rome when she allowed a Roman ruler to be executed. She could have saved his life, but she did not. She killed him. She murdered him. And I could not stop laughing at what Xena has done to this poor girl.

Xena is dark, evil. It was only a matter of time before that evil began to rub off on Gabrielle. A slow transformation may be taking place. If I could turn Gabrielle to my side, then Xena would be not long to follow. If I could make Gabrielle betray Xena one more time, then surely their friendship would be destroyed forever, and Xena would become mine again just the same.

Yes, the possibilities are endless.

Gabrielle now owes me a favor. I will be patient for the moment. When I ask for my repayment, I will make sure that it is something very, very special indeed. For I now possess the key to pull apart the carefully woven tapestry that binds them together.

My fingers are poised.

 
 

                                   * * *

 

Xena.

The Warrior Princess.

She is my heart, my soul, my life, and... my love. She is everything to me and more. I want her, I need her, I crave her, and ultimately, I will have her once again.

Throughout the ages I have seen many great warriors come and go, but none have I been taken with more than this vivacious creature. She is the ultimate warrior, so powerful and vicious that she would surely have conquered the world had it not been for Hercules. Her beauty is the beauty of the sun at midday, deadly to any who underestimate her strength. Her chakram is the most dangerous weapon perhaps in existence, and she wields it better than anyone else ever has or ever will.

This whole redemption thing that Xena seeks would be more amusing if it were not so nauseating. She has companions, namely Gabrielle and Joxer, who are a disgrace to the warrior she once was. She has become weak, and she knows it. She must protect not only herself but her inferior teammates as well. This new-and-improved Xena is not nearly as effective as the original. Deep down, she knows this to be true.

What exactly does she think she's doing? She travels about aimlessly, rarely with direction, hoping to somehow to run away from her past. How torturous it must be to wander wishing only to escape oneself. Unfortunately, there is no escaping from yourself... or your conscience.

The warrior princess keeps tormenting herself. I don't know why she does. Really, what is crueler? To let a wound of the heart fester, or simply to cut it out?

Xena is evil. No matter how she may pretend otherwise, she cannot deny what she is. She cannot deny that she craves the battle, the bloodlust, and the carnage. Her head says "Save", but her heart says "Slay." She can fool everyone else, but she cannot fool me. Or herself.

Prophecy is whatever one makes of it, but destiny cannot be changed. It's always good to know more about your enemy's fate than your enemy does. And I know Xena's destiny. She cannot resist my allure forever. We are bound together as are the reeds of a basket. One by one, I will pick the ripe fruit from her tortured soul as if it were hanging from a vine. And one day, she will have no choice but to accept the truth that I bear. And the truth is...

There is no redemption. Not for her.

When she dreams, she relives the nightmares of her past again and again. They will eat at her, they will tear at her forever. No matter how much good she does, they will never stop. The more she struggles, the more she fans the flames. The only way to make the nightmares end is to embrace the hate, embrace the fury, embrace the evil that completely claimed her soul once before. Only as my warrior princess can she ever achieve the peace she so desires.

When she finally realizes the truth and accepts it, I pity any who stand in her way. Gabrielle, Joxer, Hercules, Iolaus... They will all fall like moths to the flame. And then the entire world will be ours. Yes, I must echo a sentiment once expressed by the daughter of Dahak:

When Xena goes... so goes the world.

Come, my warrior princess.

Be mine again.


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