As Callisto exited the cave she was greeted by the first light of the dawn. The sunrise was particularly picturesque, bringing with it the promise of a new day. At least that's how most people would have viewed it, to Callisto it was a hideous sight.
"Why?" she asked herself. "Why am I here? Why?"
For years, Callisto's life had been filled with pain. It started as a girl when she saw her parents die before her eyes. Her home village of Cirra had been burned to the ground. The blaze had claimed her sister as well as her parents, leaving Callisto all alone in the world. All she had from that moment on was hatred. Hatred for the woman who led the army of marauders to Cirra - Xena. To fill the black emptiness in her life, Callisto devoted herself entirely to gaining revenge on the Warrior Princess. Her hunger for revenge only grew when she found out that Xena had repented her violent ways and sought to become a hero. All the repentance in the world wouldn't bring Callisto's family back.
But when she finally confronted Xena and tried to take her revenge, Callisto learned an unpleasant truth. Revenge didn't make her pain go away. She hurt Xena, but it wasn't enough. So Callisto decided to hurt her even more, and to gain power for herself as well. Surely that would take away all the pain.
Callisto overcame death. She struck at Xena through her companion, Gabrielle. She gained immortality from the Tree of Life, and finally even full Godhood by taking the divine ambrosia.
It still wasn't enough.
Eventually, Callisto managed to play a part in the darkest and most tragic time in Xena's life. She saw the Warrior Princess suffer as much as it was possible for a human to suffer. That was the turning point for Callisto, for she realized no matter what she did to Xena, her own life would still be empty.
In the end Callisto craved the one thing that could end her pain, nothingness. She didn't want to feel anything. Death wouldn't suffice to end her suffering, she wanted complete oblivion.
Being the determined sort, she managed to achieve it. She even used Xena as the tool to reach her goal. There was symmetry in that. Xena caused her pain, it was only fair that she end it as well. Armed with a dagger soaked in mystical hind's blood, the one substance that could obliterate even a god's essence, Xena had done the deed. Everything worked out perfectly.
Except now she was back; conscious, aware and alive. Not everything was the same though. She was mortal again, she could sense that much. Whatever magic that brought her back had returned her as a human being, not an immortal or a goddess. For a moment, she thought that simplified things. All she had to do to end her life was fall on her sword. She had the point of the blade positioned over her heart before she realized the problem. She could kill herself, but that wouldn't send her back to oblivion. She'd die as a mortal and experience some sort of afterlife, her pain would continue. For a moment she didn't know what to do. Then she noticed an odd glow a short distance from the cave entrance. An unnatural glow.
"Magic," she hissed as she moved to conceal herself behind a large boulder. She knew enough to recognize the first signs of a teleportation spell. She watched a the glow took the shape of a man. A grim faced man clad in black. Callisto didn't know him, but obviously he was some sort of magician. Perhaps he was working with the two men who had brought her back. If so, she would make him pay.
Vector's teleportation spell deposited him near a cave entrance. The arcane energies he had sensed were concentrated here. Someone had cast a powerful spell inside this cave. It was a spell unlike any Vector had ever sensed, though there was an almost disturbing familiarity about it. He was determined to learn more. Now that he no longer had his monocle, Vector sought other sources of power whenever he could. Eager to find out what secrets the cave held, the wizard moved forward.
He never heard the trained warrior that stalked up behind him. He was completely unaware of her until she threw him to the ground and pressed her sword to his throat.
"You're one of them, aren't you?" The angry blonde asked. "You're with those other two that brought me here. Send me back or I'll kill you!"
The blade was pressed painfully against his neck, keeping Vector from mustering enough concentration for a spell.
"I have no idea what you're talking about woman," he replied in what he'd hoped was an even sounding voice. "But I am not your enemy. Tell me what you're talking about and perhaps I can help you."
"You're a magician aren't you?" she asked. "Magic brought me here."
"I am a wizard, madam. The wizard Vector, to be exact. And magic brought me here as well. I came to investigate some unknown magic in this cave."
The woman seemed to be consider his words. "They brought me back in that cave. I killed them for it."
"Then I may indeed be able to help you," Vector replied. "But I need to learn more. Would you let me up? Then he added somewhat distastefully, "Please?"
The woman did so, though she seemed prepared to strike at him at any moment. Vector was tempted to lash out at her with a spell, but he wanted information first.
"Now to see what kind of magic brought you here," he explained. "I need to cast a simple divination spell."
"No tricks wizard," she warned. "Or I'll cut out your heart!"
"I do believe you would," Vector replied and cast the spell. He could now see traces of the magic in the air. He noted how much of it still clung to the blonde warrior woman. Vector recognized it as being quite similar to the magic that was involved in the summoning of Vulkar.
"Madam?" Vector asked. "I realize this may be an odd question, but before you were brought here, were you alive?"
"No! Those idiots brought me back to life!"
"And you want me to...."
"Send me back!" she finished his sentence forcefully.
Vector knew he was dealing with a lunatic. After her assault on him earlier he would have been most happy to do what she asked, unfortunately he was unable. As a true wizard he was forbidden from ever directly taking a life. It was a rule he hated with a passion, but there was no way around it.
"Madam, if you're asking me to kill you...."
"NO!" She cut him off. "I want you to send me back to where I was! I want oblivion! I want you to wipe out my existence!"
"Uh....really?" a surprised Vector managed to say. It was certainly a novel request. He had no idea how to do such a feat, though he wondered if such an act would fall outside the bounds of the wizard's code. He'd make a point to look into it.
"So?" the woman said, interrupting his thoughts. "Can you do it?"
From the crazed look in her eyes, Vector concluded she would not respond well to the truth. "Of course I can," he said. "But it takes preparation. I will need to cast another spell to learn more."
"Fine. Get on with it."
Vector cast his second spell, and smiled in satisfaction when the warrior women found herself frozen in place.
"That was very careless, my dear," he said. "Assuming I'd try nothing with this spell just because I didn't with my first. Now let me see what I can find out about you."
With another spell, Vector was able to gaze into the woman's mind.
"Callisto?" he thought. "I've heard of you."
Looking deep into her thoughts, Vector found that she was everything he'd heard and more. She was a maelstrom of hate, pain and insanity. Vector nearly wept at the beauty of it. Yet there was something he found curious at the center of her being, something oddly familiar. He had to probe deeper.
Suddenly Callisto found herself standing on a barren plain. She didn't understand how she got there. She had just been frozen in place by the treacherous Vector.
"Come Callisto," a voice said. She turned to see Vector. She lunged at him, then passed right through him.
"We are not here in physical form Callisto," Vector laughed. "You can not harm me.
"What is this? Where is this?"
"This is a plane beyond your limited understanding. From here I will look into your past and learn what I wish."
"What!? Why are...." Callisto stopped talking as the landscape around her changed. Suddenly she was in a humble village, standing near a young couple.
"Mama? Papa?" she gasped barely believing her eyes. She tried to grab hold of them but passed through them like a ghost. They took no notice of her. From a short distance away, Vector observed the scene. He used his magic to learn everything he could about the couple.
"Her parents?" he thought. The magic brought him the answer. "Yes, her mother. A lovely woman. And her father....no. That's not her father."
Suddenly the scene around Callisto changed again. She was back on the barren plane with Vector.
"Take me back!" she cried. "I want my family!"
"Silence!" Vector commanded. "We have to go back further."
"NO! TAKE ME BACK!"
Vector tried to journey back even further in time, but encountered difficulty. He was using Callisto as a link for his spells, but now she was trying with every fiber of her being to return to the scene they had just left. As a result, there next shift in location was only partially successful.
"Where are we?" Callisto asked as she looked around the blurry, half-formed landscape.
"We are back in your home village of Cirra, now stop resisting me!"
"No!" Callisto answered. "I want my parents!" She ran off into the misty surroundings calling for her mother and father.
"Curse that woman," Vector muttered as he tried to focus on their current location. Everything was shadowy and hard to see. A vaguely formed image passed by him, Vector managed to recognize it.
"Callisto's mother! Excellent." Vector followed the woman trying to keep her in focus. She went into a simple hut where another woman was waiting for her. The two started talking. Vector tried to concentrate on the conversation as their voices faded in and out.
"....when will he leave? The whole....threatened....he's evil."
".....patient," Callisto's mother responded. "....returning to....home soon. He didn't find....for. I'm trying....him amused."
"You poor....what you have to....it's not right."
"....either that or...." Callisto's mother seemed sad as she spoke. "He'll take out his anger....village."
As Vector listened to the half legible conversation he managed to piece together the situation. A travelling warlord, apparently of noble blood had taken up residence in the village with a small force while searching for some hidden treasure in the nearby hills. He terrorized the village, but Callisto's mother did her best to placate him.
"....what....your husband....about what....are doing?"
"....doesn't know," Callisto's mother answered. "....no choice....love him. But now....with child."
"No! ....the father is...."
Suddenly the conversation was disrupted by a young boy running in on the women.
"....coming!" The boy cried. "He's coming!" The boy and other woman hurried to leave. Callisto's mother stayed however, awaiting the arrival of the warlord who had been terrorizing the village. From what Vector had heard, Callisto's mother had just learned she was carrying the warlord's child.
"So this man would be Callisto's father," Vector thought. He turned to the door to get a good view of the man as he entered. A tall figure appeared in the doorway. Vector's jaw dropped as the man's face came into focus.
It was King Saris Blackpool.
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