Across the Deadlands and the Krokhan Desert, tales are told of a once-bloodthirsty mercenary. Her name was Xena, and she killed her way across the Barren Steppes, the Scorchlands, and her home of Hell’s Basin, becoming one of the strongest and most ruthless warriors the continent of Peltas had ever seen, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake.
That was until she was visited in a dream by a mysterious stranger. The hooded figure told Xena to seek forgiveness for the pain she had caused and live a life in which she defended the weak and stood against injustice. The figure said there was goodness in Xena’s heart; she had simply to find her way. Xena could not deny that the figure had moved her. She remembered the words of an old friend — killing isn’t the only way of proving yourself a warrior. She had scoffed at the time but now felt sure she was wrong to. As Xena opened her mouth to question the figure, she awoke and although the figure was gone, the feeling remained.
The following morning, Xena journeyed to the Nomad clans, protecting them from Demonspawn, Orc bandits, Irethi soul-thieves, and Velyzari slavers. Much to her own surprise, she made friends and became a beacon of hope. A young woman joined her. The legend of Xena, the warrior princess, spread throughout the continent, as clans far and wide heard of the fierce warrior who defended those who could not defend themselves.
When the mysterious stranger returned to Xena in another dream, they told Xena to return home, to help her own people. She departed upon awakening and was no more than ten leagues away when she heard local tribespeople speaking of a clan that had been mercilessly killing and looting their way all over Hell’s Basin, led by a ferocious warlord. Fear gripped her heart. As she travelled closer, Xena heard of more atrocities. Resolve slowly replaced her fear. She would not allow her
people to suffer any more.
When Xena reached Hell’s Basin, she saw thick, black smoke pouring into the air from behind a hill. From the top, she looked into a valley where a village was aflame. Brutish figures were dragging people from their homes and lining them up for execution. A mass of bodies was already piled high, and raiders were looting them. Xena watched in horror as a group of children tried to make their escape before being seized and brought before the executioner. Unable to contain her fury, Xena roared and charged into the village, her shouts gaining the raiders’ attention. She cut down the executioner within seconds, and urged the children and other survivors to flee even as warriors raced to attack her. It was then that a shrill and bone-chilling cry echoed through the air. The raiders halted and lowered their weapons, parting to make way for a woman, evidently their warlord. Xena recognized her face. It was one that forever burned in her mind, one of a child who watched helplessly as Xena had cut her parents down in a bloody fury. Xena’s heart felt heavy with guilt, but she readied her blade nonetheless. The clan’s evil could not continue.
The warlord roared that Xena’s head was hers alone. Xena did not want to kill the warlord enough blood had been spilled already. She apologized desperately, trying to convince the warlord that she had changed her ways and that killing her would not change the past. Her cries fell on deaf ears and the warlord charged. They fought for hours, Xena constantly on the defensive. She dodged hammer blows that would have crushed her skull and blade thrusts that could have disembowelled her. She realized it was kill or be killed. As a last-ditch attempt to end the fight there and then, Xena pulled away from the warlord and threw her chakram at her. It sliced through the warlord’s armor and pierced her chest. She collapsed, coughing up blood and wheezing. As she breathed her last, Xena dropped to her knees and lowered her head. It seemed as though there was no way of escaping the repercussions of her past, no matter what she did.
Having saved the village, Xena returned to her own clan, deflated. Evil had grown as a direct result of her actions. That night, the mysterious stranger appeared in a dream once more. Xena did not protest or question; she merely sat. The stranger calmed Xena’s heart with their mere presence. This calm was neither absolution nor forgiveness; but it was something — a sense of responsibility; a call to continue righting the wrongs of her former life by protecting the innocent
and defending the weak. A call that Xena decided she would answer for the rest of her life.