Gabrielle's Hope

Gabrielle finds herself in a sunny meadow.Gabrielle finds herself in a bright, sunny meadow full of daisies, and is soon joined by the priestess Meridian. The two happily embrace, during which time Gabrielle notices a dagger floating in front of her, and grabs it. She then turns on Meridian, using the dagger to stab the priestess repeatedly. That's when Gabrielle awakens, becoming physically ill. Xena assures her that she's just reacting to her first kill, and that one day, she's going to get through it and have hope again. Gabrielle opines that she should be punished for what she's done, to which Xena counters that she is being punished, by her conscience. For someone like Gabrielle, she says, "there couldn't be a worse torture." Later, Xena and Gabrielle are walking through a forest, apparently still in Brittania, when three strange women descend upon them, attacking Xena. When Xena goes to fight back, though, her hands pass right through them, leaving them unharmed. Gabrielle tries to help, but the women, who all turn out to be banshees, refuse to attack her. Realizing this, Gabrielle shields Xena, and convinces her to just let the banshees be and leave the forest with her, since she's still not feeling well. However, as the two are leaving, the banshees plead with Gabrielle to stay and let them care for her, calling her "the chosen one".

The banshees fawn over Gabrielle and her baby.Once they get to a nearby town, Xena tells Gabrielle what she knows about the banshees: apparently, they take mortal form just before they strike, and then, once they've hit, they go back into "shade form." Gabrielle worries that because she took a life, there's now evil in her, and that maybe that's why the banshees wanted to honor her. Xena assures her that what happened in Dahak's temple can't destroy the core of Gabrielle's goodness, and that it only gave it a greater challenge, one which Xena is sure Gabrielle is going to rise above. The duo then head into a tavern, where Xena asks about securing passage back to Greece. The tavernkeeper directs her to a Phoenician trader in town named Hasdrudal, and while Xena goes to talk with him, Gabrielle begins ordering some food, her stomach having finally settled down. As Xena negotiates with Hasdrudal, some warriors with pierced-heart medallions watch them from the shadows. Soon, negotiations are wrapped up, and the warriors finally step out of hiding in an attempt to stop Xena from leaving. Back at the tavern, meanwhile, Gabrielle is gorging on dish after dish, when some villagers get all riled up and start calling Gabrielle a witch. They set the tavern on fire, then chase after Gabrielle after she manages to escape the blaze. After dispatching with the warriors, Xena catches up to the villagers, and demands to know what's going on. One of them explains that they were told by the Warriors of the Pierced Heart that Gabrielle will bring about the end of goodness, and that Xena can find the warriors in the forest of the banshees. Satisfied, Xena heads into the forest, where she finds Gabrielle being fawned over by the banshees. According to them, Gabrielle is pregnant, and her baby is the child of darkness, destined to bring about a new world order.

Gabrielle goes into labor.Gabrielle denies being pregnant, then leaves with Xena, much to the consternation of the banshees. Running from the banshees, Xena and Gabrielle come across the warriors' castle, and barricade themselves inside, as legend says that the banshees can't enter the castle without permission. Once safe inside, Xena remarks that Gabrielle appears to be four months along, but Gabrielle again denies being pregnant, instead blaming her symptoms on a "hysterical reaction" to killing Meridian. However, even as she tries to deny it a third time, she feels "it" move. Xena then moves her to an inside stable, and lies her down on a blanket. As Xena massages Gabrielle's temples, Gabrielle complains that she's being punished, and that the cycle of pain and violence was supposed to end with her. Xena soothes her, telling her to rest, then leaves, presumably to find the warriors. While roaming around the castle, she hears arguing, and listens in as the warriors from earlier argue with their brethren from across a round table. A couple of warriors, Goewin and Eochaid, are admonishing another, Caswallan, for siccing the villagers on Gabrielle, reminding him that they don't harm the innocent. Caswallan agrees that Gabrielle is innocent, but argues that her baby isn't and must die. Xena bursts in just then, and puts the pinch on Caswallan, demanding answers. He explains that Gabrielle's child is evil incarnate, and that when she was on Dahak's altar, he planted his evil seed within her. Meanwhile, Gabrielle lays uncomfortably in the stable as her belly grows exponentially, until finally, she goes into labor. From where they are, Xena and the warriors hear Gabrielle scream in pain, and they all go running, just as the moon eclipses the sun and a storm brews overhead. When Xena reaches the stable, she seals Gabrielle and herself inside, while the warriors pound on the door, trying to get in. After much hullabaloo, Xena helps Gabrielle deliver a normal-looking baby girl, and the sun shines once again. Eventually, the warriors manage to break down the door, and as Gabrielle holds her newborn, she begs Xena to keep them from killing her baby.

Gabrielle has hope again.Once the warriors actually get inside, Goewin sides against Caswallan and the others, pointing out that the baby is innocent and can't be punished for the sins of her father. Eochaid even joins him, adding that they don't know if the child is good or evil since their beliefs say both will arrive in a similar way. The warriors then fight amongst themselves, and Xena uses the distraction to get Gabrielle and the baby to the room with the round table. Goewin and Eochaid quickly join them, and help Xena barricade the door as Caswallan swears that the baby won't leave the castle alive. Xena then checks on Gabrielle, who says that Xena was right when she said she'd have hope again someday. She decides to name her baby Hope, and remarks that she feels as if "some power has just poured new life" into her. Later, as Goewin and Eochaid take turns holding baby Hope, who seems to be growing rather quickly, Xena finds a sword in a stone, pulls it out to examine it, and then puts it back. Then, as the warriors puzzle over the sword, trying to pull it out again, Xena discusses Hope with Gabrielle. The blonde insists that Hope's an innocent baby, one she sees as being half-mortal like Hercules, but Xena isn't quite as convinced and says she'll be watching Hope's development very carefully. Gabrielle bristles, and warns Xena not to come between her and her daughter. Then, Xena tells Gabrielle to get some rest, so they can try to leave around midnight. That night, as Gabrielle and Goewin sleep, Eochaid sneaks out through a secret passageway. Noticing him gone, Xena awakens Goewin and asks him to watch over Gabrielle and Hope, before following after Eochaid. She finds him giving one of the banshees permission to enter, in exchange for ruling Brittania in Dahak's new world order. Before the banshee can come in, though, Xena knocks out Eochaid, sending the banshee flying back in the process. Xena then races back through the passageway to warn Goewin, only to find him dead, his face showing signs of having been strangled. She also finds Hope sitting up by her mother, playing with Goewin's medallion. Realizing Hope killed Goewin, Xena draws her sword, preparing to kill her.

Gabrielle tells Hope to be good.Gabrielle awakens to find Xena standing over Hope, and stops Xena from killing her. Xena informs her that Hope killed Goewin, and insists that Hope is not a baby, but rather, a "dark, wicked thing" in the form of a baby that needs to be destroyed. Gabrielle tries to talk some sense into her friend, arguing that anyone could've come in and killed Goewin, but Xena sticks to her guns and again tries to kill Hope. Just then, two of the banshees burst in, allowing Gabrielle and Hope to get away on horseback. Xena's finally able to beat them, before taking off after Gabrielle. On her way out, she sees Caswallan and the other warriors dead, apparently having been killed by the banshees. The next day, Xena nearly catches up with Gabrielle and her baby at a river, only to find Gabrielle traded the horse for a rowboat. Xena offers to buy the horse back, while Gabrielle stops to assure Hope that she won't let anything happen to her. Just then, Xena finally catches up on horseback, only to have to chase Gabrielle up a hill. Xena tries to make her see reason, pointing out that by protecting "that thing," Gabrielle's only ensuring the victory of the cycle of pain and violence. After a while, Gabrielle screams for Xena, who rushes to her side. Xena finds Gabrielle peering over a cliff, and Gabrielle explains that Hope turned on her. She says she finally saw her daughter for what she really was, so she dropped Hope over the cliff. Xena starts to comfort Gabrielle, assuring her that she did the right thing, but then notices a cave nearby and becomes suspicious. Despite protests from Gabrielle, Xena inspects the cave, only to find nothing but a rat. Xena apologizes, saying she had to be sure, while unknown to her, Hope is actually alive and well, floating down the river in a basket. That night, while Xena sleeps, Gabrielle wakes up and sneaks off to a clearing. She gets down on her knees, and pleads with Hope, who she knows is out there somewhere, to be good.

Free Sward MySpace Cursors at