Chronicle 3

The Legend Begins

FIRST BETRAYAL by John Dorsey Prologue Xena and Callisto brought their swords together like two thundering gods. A well-placed punch sent Callisto sprawling backwards, stumbling. Behind her, Perdicus was just staggering to his feet. Xena watched for several seconds as Callisto suddenly charged at Perdicus, plunging her sword into his abdomen. He fell to the ground, bloodied. "No!" Gabrielle screamed as she ran to her husband. Callisto jumped onto her horse, turned around and grinned. "That'll do." And then she rode off into the countryside. Gabrielle was sobbing uncontrollably as she held her dead husband in her arms. "Perdicus… No… Perdicus… Oh, no…." Xena stood over her, watching Callisto take off. Then she looked down at Gabrielle's dead husband. And Xena began to smile. Gabrielle awoke. She sat up. Realizing she was sweating, she wiped her face as she glanced at the dying campfire. It was several hours before sunrise. Xena was sleeping peacefully nearby. The same nightmare. Again. It was the fourth time over the last few weeks. The scene was always the same as it had been two months ago. It was the morning after she and Perdicus were married. Callisto attacks them. Xena arrives in time to save her, but Callisto manages to kill Perdicus before running off. It always would play out exactly the way it happened. Except for that last part. Gabrielle laid back down and hoped that her remaining sleep would be peaceful. Chapter 1 Morning came. Breakfast was late, as it took Xena longer than usual to catch a rabbit for them to cook. Gabrielle felt as though she was going to starve until it was finally cooked, but she remained quiet. Xena remained her usual non-talkative self, so few words were said. A few hours before noon, they packed up camp and headed for the magnificent city of Sparta. Early that evening after the sun had set, they finally reached their destination. Sparta was one of the most powerful cities in all of Greece. Its people were more committed to the art of war than any other. As Xena and Gabrielle entered the city gates, it was clear that a festival was being prepared for the evening. "Looks like a celebration," Gabrielle mused. "More like a festival of honor," Xena answered. "For a god. And it's not to hard to imagine which god a city of war would be honoring." "Ares," Gabrielle concluded. "Yes." They passed by a huge banner of the god of war. "Xena, we don't have to stay here. We can just-" "Gabrielle, everything is fine," Xena assured her. "I'll be all right." "You sure?" "Yes. A festival for Ares isn't a big deal." Gabrielle felt very disturbed as they walked by a large stone statue of Ares. After they disappeared, its eyes began to glow for a moment before returning to the dull resonance of darkness. The warrior and bard found an inn, and then a room. The old innkeeper graciously offered them some dresses to borrow for the evening. "What do you think?" Xena said after she put on a beautiful black dress. "You look amazing," Gabrielle commented, and then looked at her own white gown. "This is definitely a nice change for once." "It should be nice to be around people and not have them look at me like I might kill them." Gabrielle walked over to the window and gazed at the festival. People were chanting and dancing in the streets. It was a huge celebration. "A festival for Ares... Xena, are you sure it's a good idea to go out tonight?" "Gabrielle, there's nothing to worry about. It's just a festival." "Yeah, I guess you're right." The sky was clear and the stars were shining as they ventured out into the city. Candles were lit in every window. Everything looked magnificent, but it was hard to take it all in as they had the task of dodging numerous dancers that happened by. The dancers seemed too entranced by their worshipping to really watch where they were going. "This is amazing," Gabrielle mused. "We sure never had anything like this in Poteidaia." "Nor Amphipolis," Xena agreed. They walked around the city for a long time. Eventually, Xena headed over towards a tavern. "You know, Gabrielle, I haven't had a drink in quite awhile." "Uh-oh," Gabrielle smiled. The tavern was packed with patrons, the majority of them having a good time. Xena made her way through the people to the bar. Leaning against the counter, she ordered a drink. Gabrielle was soon beside her. "So far no one has recognized me," Xena commented. "Not without the armor." "Well, they may not have recognized you," Gabrielle replied, "but they sure have noticed you." She gestured towards a number of men in the crowd. "And you think they haven't noticed you?" Xena asked. "Well… Maybe I'll take a walk around." Gabrielle started to make her way through the crowd. Xena uneasily watched her go. After a moment, she took another sip from her drink. Gabrielle said hello to a number of people but kept moving. Despite her earlier trepidation, she had begun to find the entire celebration to be fascinating, despite the fact that it was for Ares. One of the reasons she had taken off to journey with Xena was so that she could see the world, and many of the sights she had seen in Sparta had been breathtaking. "Hello there." Gabrielle stopped and smiled at two handsome young men who stood in front of her. "Hi." "Are you enjoying the celebration?" "Well… yes." "Come," he offered, and they both took her by the arm. "We want to take you somewhere?" "Take me somewhere?" "We want to take you where the rainbow ends," the other man answered. "Where the rainbow ends?" she asked, puzzled. "See for yourself." He pointed at the wall. Gabrielle found herself looking at a mask on the wall that symbolized the god of war. "That mask," she began. "It's…" The eyes of the mask began to glow, and Gabrielle suddenly could not look away. It was two months earlier. Gabrielle saw Xena standing still as Callisto slashed Perdicus with her sword. Gabrielle screamed as she watched Perdicus fall from the fatal blow. She ran over to her dead husband, sobbing uncontrollably as she held him in her arms. Then she looked up at her friend. Xena was grinning at her. Gabrielle fell to the floor, landing on her chest. People around her turned to look. The two men took her arms and slowly lifted her up to her feet. "Are you okay?" The bard shook her head out. "Yeah… I… I'm fine." Feeling stunned, she slowly made her way back towards Xena. "So," Xena glanced at her, "did you meet anyone interesting?" "No," Gabrielle replied softly. She leaned against the bar feeling a little dazed. Xena took another drink. "I think I'm going to get wrecked tonight. How about you?" Gabrielle was looking away. "I'm not in the mood to drink." "Well, I sure am." And drink Xena did. After about an hour, Xena was slightly staggering as she walked with Gabrielle back to the inn. Once inside, Xena sat down on the bed. But Gabrielle didn't feel like going to sleep. "Xena… I think we need to talk." "Can it wait until tomorrow?" Xena moaned, holding her head. Gabrielle folded her arms. "No. It can't." "Well, what is it?" "We need to talk… about Perdicus." "Perdicus," Xena mumbled, looking confused "You want to talk about Perd

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