|Kronos Stone||Page 1 of 3|
Golden Hinds, Alternative Universes, Strange Jewels and Time Travel
How the Kronos Stone fits into the Xenaverse
One of the most immediately recognisable artefacts in the entire Xenaverse, the Kronos Stone was significant in both of the major story arcs where Hercules: The Legendary Journeys crossed over with the ongoing adventures of Xena and Gabrielle.
In Encounter, Hercules meets Serena, the last of the Golden Hinds, legendary deer-human creatures feared by the Olympians because Hind's blood is the only thing that can kill gods. Previously, Zeus massacred all of Serena's sisters, but Serena was saved by Ares, at a price - now she must serve him. The God of War relishes having control over the sole supply of Hind's blood. Saving Serena from an ambitious prince out to kill her, Hercules quickly falls in love with the Hind, but she says she is bound to Ares. To release Serena, Ares demands both she and Hercules have to become ordinary mortals, which they accept, and When a Man Loves a Woman ends with their marriage. It's clear that Ares has been manipulating the situation for his own purposes - now Hercules is a mere weak mortal, not a demi-god hero. In Judgment Day, Strife kills Serena and frames Hercules for the murder. Facing trial by mob, Hercules is saved by the timely intervention of Xena and Gabrielle, and Ares and Strife are tricked into admitting they were really responsible. Ares wanted to get rid of Hercules and enrage Xena into resuming her former evil ways. Zeus restores Hercules' strength.
The legendary Kronos Stone was first sighted in the sequel to the Golden Hind trilogy, The End of the Beginning, whereupon Autolycus promptly proceeded to steal it. He had tried to rob King Quallus' vault of treasures before - unsuccessfully - and though he has long coveted the "precious little gemstone", he has no idea of its real power. While trying to fend off the guards and escape, Autolycus rubs the stone and sees everyone around him suddenly freeze still where they stand. Delighted by this turn of events, he wanders outside while reading the "instructions" found in the base of the stone and discovers the incredible extent of its power - it can freeze time, allow time travel and selective temporal manipulations, all things which even the gods cannot interfere in.
Hercules is dismayed when he discovers Autolycus has the stone, as it was apparently never meant for mere mortal hands, but the King of Thieves is delighted with his discovery, pondering its endless possibilities for a man of his talents - "I'll travel through different eras, pulling off historical acts of larceny". Then it occurs to him that with the Kronos Stone he can make another attempt at stealing all of Quallus' jewels, with the added bonus that in the past the king would still be around to actually see his treasures be stolen. Autolycus runs away, rubbing the stone, but Hercules catches up and tries to wrest it from his hands. During the tussle the Kronos Stone begins to work and with a flash of energy, both Hercules and Autolycus disappear into thin air.
They reappear in the same place, still in the village but obviously a few years earlier. Leaping out of the path of a galloping horse, the stone falls to the ground and is smashed to pieces in its wake. Autolycus is dismayed but Hercules reminds him that in this time period the stone will still exist – all he has to do is steal it again. Autolycus wants to use the opportunity to steal the whole of the king's treasure but Hercules is just concerned with getting the stone so they can get back where they came from and not risk interfering with the timeline.
Hercules discovers that they have arrived at the time when Zeus was exterminating the last of the Golden Hinds. Hercules sees Serena, whom Ares turns into her human form and tells to go to his temple. Clearly he has plans for her, and Hercules later confronts him about it. Ares guesses that this Hercules is from the near future. Hercules urges Ares to let Serena go, but the God of War is having none of it. She is his secret weapon against the other gods.
Meanwhile, Autolycus is trying to get back into the vault of treasures at the castle. While sneaking around outside, he encounters his other (and younger, more reckless) self from this time period and, after explanations, they team up to steal the stone, but are quickly captured.
After Hercules saves Serena from hunters in the forest, he explains what is happening and urges her not to serve Ares, but she is scared and runs away. Still in her Hind form, she is later shot by an arrow and falls to the ground. Ares arrives, takes out the arrow and tells her she should beware all the dangers she will face in the woods. If she agrees to serve him, Ares will teach her how to defend herself.
Back at the temple, Ares convinces Strife that this Hercules has come back through time to get the Hind's blood so he can use it on them in the future. Ares says Hercules must now suffer this fate himself, but the God of War's hands are tied. He leaves the arrow, still covered in Serena's blood, within easy reach of Strife.
Strife attacks Hercules in the forest and he almost dies, but at the last minute is healed by Serena. She touches him and realises that, unlike the touch of a mortal, his touch will not transform her back into the Hind. Hercules urges Serena to think carefully before she makes any decision about whether or not to serve Ares.
At the castle, the younger and older versions of Autolycus have escaped but have to beat a hasty retreat when King Quallus puts all of his guards on full alert to look out for them. In the temple, Ares is furious with Strife for his failure, and now says that Serena must die to ensure the God of War's future longevity.
Autolycus, having left his younger self tied up in a clearing, gets back into the castle and manages to easily steal the Kronos Stone. The guards are too concerned with keeping alert for the other Autolycus, and thinking this one's appearance must be an obvious trick, they don't give him any resistance.
Ares and Strife appear while Hercules and Serena are walking together in a field, and Ares stabs Serena. Hercules and Ares fight, with Hercules eventually gaining the upper hand and holding Ares' own dagger – covered with the Hind's blood – to his throat. He tells Ares to give Serena her life back. Ares does this, but only her mortal, human half. The Hind part will be gone for ever.
Later, Hercules and Serena are back in the village marketplace. A child runs into her and she realises she can now be safely touched by mortals without fear. She says she will never forget Hercules; he replies "yes you will…" Autolycus runs in with the stone and they return to their own time. As soon as they are back, Hercules crushes the Kronos Stone, much to Autolycus' annoyance.
Hercules catches a ball and gives it back to a little girl, who it turns out is Serena's daughter. Serena comes over and talks briefly with Hercules. She is grateful for his kindness, but clearly doesn't know him. With changing the existing timeline in the past, Hercules has saved Serena's life, but in doing so has lost the timeline where he falls in love with and marries her. Sadly, he says she is "the best thing that never happened to me."
The fatal effects of Hind's blood were next felt in Stranger in a Strange World, when the stability of the universe comes under threat because Zeus is inexplicably dying. Captured by soldiers appearing out of a mysterious vortex, Iolaus finds himself in a nightmarish parallel universe, where he is court jester to the Sovereign, a wicked alternative version of Hercules. Everyone Iolaus knows has a skewed counterpart in this reality. Ares is the God of Love, while the Sovereign's evil executioner is none other than Gabrielle. If someone is killed in either world, their other self will also die. Xena is poisoning Zeus with Hind's blood on the Sovereign's orders; as his price for the antidote, he is blackmailing Aphrodite into marriage, which will give him the power to take over Olympus. After a failed attempt on the Sovereign's life, a resistance fighter, Joxer, leads the people in revolt. In our world, Hercules reopens the gateway and traps the Sovereign somewhere in the vortex. The Hind's blood still exists...