Xenaverse Timeline

Xenaverse Timeline

A Brief Overview

In 1940 Dr. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas the daughter of the late Mel Pappas joined forces on an archeological dig in Macedonia.  What they uncovered were the first of over 100 ancient scrolls written by a bard from the ancient village of Podedia located in ancient Thrace.  In the words of the late Dr. Covington, “These scrolls will revolutionize the way we look at the ancient world.”  Dr. Covington’s find led the scrolls underground for 50 years until they later resurfaced in Hollywood, California and became the basis for a popular 1990’s television series  known as “Xena Warrior Princess.”

*Please note that dates listed on the scrolls are the dates in which Gabrielle wrote her scrolls and do not necessarily reflect the date of a specific event in the Xenaverse.  Any scrolls on this site are strictly the translated English language interpretations of the scrolls themselves.  The original texts were written in a combination of ancient Thracian dialects and those of ancient Greece.  Below are the findings and conclusions of both Dr. Covington and Melinda Pappas as they had studied and translated the scrolls.

Xena is conceived unexpectedly one night when her father visits Cyrene sneaking away from battle.

Xena is born in 74 B.C.

At the age of 7 Xena’s mom is forced to kill Xena’s father with an ax to save Xena’s life from him. He was drunk after leaving the temple of Ares and tried to kill Xena. Xena’s father served in the Greek army. 67 B.C.

At age 16 Cortese’s army invades Amphipolis killing Xena’s 15 year old younger brother Lycious. Xena’s 19 year old brother Toris flees the battle in shame. 58 B.C.

After Xena’s loss against Cortese she rounds up as many followers as she can to create an army to protect her village of Amphipolis from any future armies from attacking. 58 B.C.

For two years Xena sacks and conquers villages all around Amphipolis and through many parts of Greece. She also encounters her tragic loss of a scouting party against the hoard. This leads her army out to sea. It supports itself through the spoils of its conquests against rival villages. 58-57 B.C.

During her second year in command of her rouge army she takes it into piracy sacking several villages along the coast. One of those villages is the village of the young Callisto who is only 8 years old. Xena’s army burns Callisto’s village to the ground overzealous in its attacks and leaves the young child’s soul damaged for life at the loss of her family. Xena meets Caesar for the first time. 57-56 B.C.

At the end of the third year Caesar returns after several months away upon returning to Rome and he betrays her breaking her legs. After being rescued by the slave she had captured and learned the pinch move from Xena is filled with rage and anger. She meets Borias and they go on a rampage across the lands in the east which leads them to Chin. Xena is 19. 55 B.C.

At the age of 20 Xena and Borias conquer Ming-Su and defeat Lao-Mao’s dreams of peace. The two move onto the land of Chuppa and Japan. Xena and Borias try to obtain ransom money for Akimi’s return to her father. Xena spends several months traveling with Akimi without Borias. Akimi accomplishes her revenge on her father and commits suicide begging Xena to take her ashes to their final resting place. 54 B.C.

At the age of 21 Xena rejoins Borias. Xena travels with Borias back toward the west. During their travels they meet with the shamaness Alti who persuades Xena to go against Cyan Queen of the Amazons and annihilate the entire Amazon race. Alti follows them through their battles encouraging Xena toward her ways. Xena becomes pregnant with her first child Solan with Borias being the father. This changes Borias and he becomes a more honorable man. He gives up his interests in world conquest. This leads to Borias’s death and Solan’s birth. 53 B.C.

After losing Borias to death, her army at the hands of the Centaurs, and Solan to her own darkness Xena finds herself to be lost. It is in her loneliness that she decides to travel to the north. The warrior princess stirs things up in the north in places such as Britannia where she meets Bodecia and betrays her. Still searching for conquest as she sets her sights on Valhalla, Odin, and the Rhinegold. Xena is 22. 52-51 B.C.

After being defeated by her own evil and Grenhilda’s passion for humanity which was turned into Grendel Xena is feeling frustrated and defeated. At the age of 23 Xena travels toward Rome where she meets Ares for the first time. Ares has taken an interest in Xena and decides that she is the one he needs to conquer the world. Xena will lead to world domination and a world governed by wars. Ares offers Xena the ultimate weapon in exchange for her services. Ares introduces Xena to the chakram. During his intense molding period with the warrior princes Ares falls for her and never loses his passion for her. Ares’s plans with Xena go awry when Hercules defeats Xena. A few months later Xena regroups to get revenge against Hercules, but is unsuccessful. She ends up losing her army to her second in command Darphus. Later she unites with Hercules against Darphus and turns away from Ares. Xena then leaves Hercules feeling ashamed and in despair of all of the wrongs she has committed. Xena is 25. 50-49 B.C.

1) Now 26 Xena decides that she is done with her warrior ways. Her despair and shame leads her to give up her weapons and herself. She is on the verge of her own self-destruction when she meets the young bard Gabrielle at the age of 16. 48 B.C.

1) Xena and Gabrielle travel together and Gabrielle becomes an amazon princess. They run into famous personalities such as Helen of Troy, Hercules, and they meet up with Xena’s past for the first time through Xena’s older brother Toris. Gabrielle also meets Cortese for the first time. 48-47 B.C.

2) Xena and Gabrielle continue their travels. Gabrielle meets Xena’s son Solan and the centaurs. Callisto confronts Xena for the first time since her family was killed by Xena’s army. Gabrielle marries her childhood sweetheart Perdicas who is killed by Callisto. Gabrielle becomes an amazon queen when she is informed by Ephiny of Queen Melosa’s death. Xena and Gabrielle meet Joxer for the first time and he begins to travel with them on occasion. 47-46 B.C.

3) Gabrielle and Xena take on Ceasar of Rome and Ares begins taunting Xena on a regular basis. Gabrielle begins developing a friendship with the goddess Aphrodite. Gabrielle is impregnated with the child of the evil Dahok. Xena and Gabrielle’s friendship experiences a rift due to Gabrielle’s evil daughter Hope killing Xena’s child Solan and due to Xena’s debt to Lao Mao in killing Ming Tien of Chin. Gabrielle passes into the darkness of fire with her child Hope leaving Xena and Joxer to mourn. Xena kills Callisto with the hindsblood dagger. 46-45 B.C.

4) Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer are reunited in Podedia. Xena begins to go through a spiritual transformation as does Gabrielle. They travel to India where they meet Eli who later learns the way of love and spreads its message throughout the land. He touches Gabrielle who surrenders her staff for a peaceful existence still alongside Xena. Gabrielle must return to the Amazons when news of Ephiny’s death comes to her. She and Brutus make a pact of peace between Rome and the Amazons, but Caesar rejects it and instead crucifies Xena and Gabrielle. Callisto returns by way of Satan. 45-44 B.C
Ides of March 44 B.C.

5) Xena and Gabrielle are brought back into life by Eli and the powers that be. Xena becomes impregnated. Gabrielle faces Alti in order to save Xena’s child’s soul. Eli is killed by Ares in a battle of love v.s. war. Both Xena and Gabrielle travel to Egypt to defeat Brutus’s invasion and to hand over control of Rome to Caesar’s relative the young Octavius. Xena then gives birth to Eve who becomes hunted by the gods upon Mount Olympus due to the fates and their proclamation of Eve’s destiny to bring down all of Olympus. Xena and Gabrielle fake the three of their deaths in order to save Eve’s life and Ares buries them in ice at the top of Mount Edna where the two stay frozen and lifeless for 25 years. 44 B.C.-19 B.C.

5) As the climate change melts the ice caps upon Mount Edna Xena and Gabrielle are then freed from their frozen graves. They return to life only to find that they have been resting for 25 years. They immediately search for Eve who has now become Livia champion of Rome. Livia is an angry lost young woman who has a thirst for violence and power. Ares has been nurturing her for quite some time. Xena and Gabrielle work desperately to free Eve from her anger only to lead them to the death of their friend Joxer. Joxer’s son survives his vengeance against Livia as Livia is brought back to Eve by a prayer Xena has said to Eli. Xena is then given the power to kill and wipes out almost the entire Olympic race except for Aphrodite and Ares who surrenders his godhood to save the lives of Eve and Gabrielle. His love for the warrior princes is proven although the warrior princess does not return the feelings. 19-18 B.C.

6) Eve goes off to follow Eli’s path while Gabrielle learns of the last links to Xena’s past before their meeting one another. This takes them to the land of the Norse Gods where they confront Odin and his Valkyrie and Grenhilda. Grenhilda is then saved from being wronged by Xena 35 years prior. Gabrielle and Xena finish out their travels together as Xena begins to becomes settled within her soul. Finally Gabrielle learns of Xena’s time in Chuppa and her friend Akimi. Xena discovers that she had wronged 40,000 souls accidentally who she had left at the mercy of the evil of Yodoshi’s soul. Xena sacrifices herself in death to free those souls and leaves Gabrielle behind. 18-16 B.C.

Caesar 100 B.C.- 44 B.C. age 66
Toris 77 B.C.
Eli 76B.C,- 44B.C. age 33
Xena 74 B.C.- 44 B.C.——–} 44B.C.-43B.C.——–} 18B.C.-14B.C. age 60
Lycious 73 B.C.-58B.C. age 15
Joxer 72 B.C.-18B.C. age 55
Ephiny 68 B.C.-44 B.C. age 24
Callisto 65 B.C. -45 B.C. age 20
Gabrielle 64 B.C. – 44 B.C.——-} 44B.C.-43B.C.——} 18B.C.- 13 B.C. 51 age —-?
Lila 63 B.C.-18 B.C. age 47—-?
Octavius 64 B.C.- 18 .C. age 48—-?
Solan 52 B.C.-46 B.C. age 8
Eve(Livia) 43 B.C.-16 B.C. age 26—-?
Sarah 39 B.C.- 18 B.C.
Virgil 36 B.C.- 16 B.C. age 19—-?

Detailed Overview

Xena born March 29, 75 B.C.- September 13 B.C. Age 62
18 B.C. Preserved at just under age 32. Xena is physically 36 when she dies.
Gabrielle Born February 15, 67 B.C. Age 54
18 B.C. Preserved at age 24 and is physically age 29 when Xena dies.
Callisto born July 68 B.C. Callisto is 20 when she physically dies in 47 B.C.
Julius Caesar born July 13, 100 BC-March 15, 44 B.C. Age 55

January 16th, 58 B.C. Amphipolis is attacked by the warlord Cortese and Xena’s younger brother Lycious, 15, is killed in battle while her older brother Toris, 19, runs for the hills. Xena is 17.

August 58 B.C. After expanding out to surrounding villages and finally to the coast Xena takes her army of followers on a rampage to protect Amphipolis. It is at this time she is sailing near Gaul and meets Caesar of Rome. She also meets her good friend Malia from Gaul. Malia is the first to teach the art of pressure points to Xena. Xena is 18.

October 58 B.C. Xena returns Caesar to Rome in Gaul for ransom.

In March 57 BC Caesar returns to Xena to betray her breaking her legs upon crucifixion of her and her army.

In July 57 BC After having been saved from the Roman Army by her Gaelic friend Malia, who was later killed by Ceasar’s soldiers at Nicklio’s, the healer, Xena has been befriended by Borias. She joins his army and becomes his lover and protégé. She convinces him to leave his wife and son Balok behind and they travel across the land to the east to Chin with his army. Xena is a young girl with a limp that Borias was taken by and decides to take under his wing as well as to be his lover. During the next months Xena is introduced to La Mao, Ming Tien, and Ming Tien’s father. Lao Ma attempts to save Xena from herself and teaches her and loves her with many things. Lao Ma discusses Xena’s knowledge of pressure points. Xena kills Ming Tsu and kidnaps Ming Tien his son teaching him to be a monster. Xena and Borias feud, but their feud is resolved by Lao Ma who is later betrayed by both during her quest for a peaceful Chin.

In December 57 B.C- February 56 BC. Xena and Borias set sail for Chuppa to do business. While there she meets the young Akimi who wishes to be taught to be a warrior by Xena. Xena teaches Akimi the warrior arts and later finds that Akimi wanted to use those skills to kill her father Yudoshi. Akimi then asks that Xena take her life after the deed. Xena is heart-broken and is forced to do it by Akimi. Xena condemns over 40,000 souls when in her emotional rage she accidentally sets fire and kills an entire village.

April 56 B.C.- Xena’s army comes upon Syra the home of Callisto where they burn the village killing women, and children in the process. Callisto’s evil is born in her loss of her entire family in the flames of destruction. Callisto is 11.

May 56 B.C.-July 56 BC Xena and Borias meet Alti. Alti reveals Xena is pregnant. Borias and Xena plan to sack the Amazons and later the centaurs. Alti offers the gift of ultimate power and for Xena to become “The Destroyer of Nations.” Alti introduces Xena to a new young friend who is later killed during a battle. Alti takes Xena to the land of the dead. Otari is only a child and meets Xena at this battle in which Xena’s young Amazon friend is killed. Alti entices Xena to kill the young 6-year-old Amazon Otari. Borias saves Otari.

August 56 BC-September 56 BC Xena attempts to assassinate Cyan Queen of the Amazons. Borias scolds Xena for attempting the assassination. Xena decides to learn Cyan’s fighting moves. Cyan attempts to turn Xena’s life around offering her to join the Amazons and leave Borias to change for the good. Cyan attempts to reverse Xena’s murdering ways. Alti attempts to win Xena over in a duel of spirits with Cyan in front of Xena. Cyan wins the battle. Cyan again offers Xena the chance to change. Alti curses Xena’s unborn child to never experience the love of his parents. Xena betrays Cyan the Queen of the Amazons of the steps. She kills her young red-headed warrior for sport, Cyan, and most of those in Cyan’s tribe. Alti takes the blood of Cyan to enhance her own powers. All major Amazon leaders at the time were killed in Xena’s betrayal.

October 56 BC- Xena attacks Corinth with Borias, Dagnon, and her army. Borias had split command of the army with Xena so each controlled half. They had taken control of the Centaurs. The plan was to grab the Ixion stone and then later to use its power to sack Athens. Borias offers to meet Colliapous to arrange a treaty of peace. Xena and Dagnon betray Borias. Borias then turns to the centaurs and allies with them. Xena blinds Colliapous in one eye in the battle. During this same time Xena’s personal servant Satrina offers her lover the warlord Damaious’s plan which defeated Rhodes when he sacked it. It included poisoning the grain of the people of Corinth to reduce their strength in defenses. Xena had defeated Damious in a prior battle and killed him obtaining Satrina.

November 56 BC- Xena and Dagnon meet the Centaurs and Borias in war for the Ixion Stone. Xena gives birth to Solan and Borias has changed his ways. Satrina stabs Borias attempting to stop him from taking Xena and his son away from the way of war. Dagnon kills Borias in a sword duel after Satrina exposes Borias has entered the camp. Xena gives birth to Solan during this time. Borias is killed by Dagnon a member of Xena’s army which she has taken over from Borias. Solan is born on December 8, 56 BC. Xena gives Solan to the Centaur leader Colliapous to raise as his own. Xena withdrew her army and left Corinth not finishing her attack.

February 55 BC- January 52 BC 35 years- Xena enters the Norse territory where she meets the Norse God Odin suffering. She stays in the Norse territory until March of 51 BC where she convinces Odin to fall in love with her, becomes a Valkarie, betrays Brenhilda, the other Valkarie, and the Rhine maidens to steal the ring in order to gain ultimate power. Brenhilda becomes the Grendel and gets the last laugh keeping the ring of power from Xena’s grasp.

March 52 BC-September 52 BC Xena moves back toward Greece passing through Britannia. She gathers and picks up an army of loyal followers to lead. This is when she first meets Ares and begins her romantic as well as business partnership with Ares. He appears to her and makes a deal with her using her past with Odin and Caesar’s past betrayal to gain her loyalties to his cause to conquer the world for his image. Xena encounters Bodecia and betrays Bodecia pretending to ally with her while satiating her quest to defeat Caesar in his quest to defeat Gaul. She defeats Caesar in battle then steals Bodecia’s army to march toward Rome.

October 52 BC – On their way toward Rome, in pursuit of Caesar, Xena’s army encounters the hoard (Pomira). She loses half of her men. She meets the young girl Vanessa whose father Raul is a fighter in her army at this time. Vanessa is taken from her family by the Pomira. Vanessa is 7.

November 52 BC- Ares guides Xena to Kal’s temple in Celtic lands to steal the dark chakram so that she can use it to fill her destiny to rule the world through force. In exchange Xena is to kill Hercules for Ares. During this time is the first time Xena encounters Hercules and Iolas.

December 52 BC- Xena marches through Thelassa’s village and leaves Thelassa to be torn to death by flesh-eating crabs.

January 51 BC- Xena meets Thalia who joins her army and co-leads with her for a time.

February 51 BC – March 50 BC- Marcus joins Xena’s Army. Xena turns away from Ares when she falls in love with Marcus. Ares is hurt, but continues to support Xena’s campaign to shape the world in his image. During this time Thersities the assassin, and many of the other personalities she later encounters again in Gabrielle’s scrolls join Xena’s army after being captured in villages she defeats and destroys. She trains those who will join her allegiance.

March 50 B.C. – Thersities has affections for Xena and tricks Marcus and Xena both into breaking off their relationship so that he can ask for her hand in marriage. She accepts. Marcus’s heart is broken and he leaves Xena’s army.

December 50 B.C. Thersities betrays Xena leaving her army and abandons their marriage.

June 49 B.C. – Xena‘s underling Darphus betrays Xena and takes over her army banishing her. Hercules is hot on their trail until he finds out that Xena’s army is no longer under her control. Together they defeat Darphus, Xena delivers the death-blow. Ares resurrects Darphus and gives him his pet Greigous. Xena and Hercules team up with Iolas and defeat Darphus a second time. It is during this time that Salmoneous meets Xena becoming her army’s jester and then ally alongside Hercules and Iolas against Darphus.

#1 Sins of the Past
July 2, 49 B.C. Gabrielle is age 18.

#2 Chariots of War
August 49 BC

#3 Dreamworker
September 49 BC

#4 Cradle of Hope
September 49 BC

#5 Path Not Taken
October 49 BC

#6 The Reckoning
October 49 BC

#7 The Titans
November 49 BC

#8 Prometheus
November 49 BC

#9 Hooves and Harlots
December 49 BC

#10 Death in Chains
December 49 BC

#11 The Black Wolf
January 48 BC

#12 The Warrior Princess
January 48 BC

#13 The Gauntlet
January 48 BC

#14 Unchained Heart
January 48 BC

#15 Athens Academy of Performing Bards
February 48 BC

#16 Fistful of Dinars
March 48 BC

#17 Royal Couple of Thieves
April 48 BC

#18 Warrior, Princess
April 48 BC

#19 Altered States
May 48 BC

#20 Mortal Beloved
May 48 BC

#21 Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts
June 48 BC

#22 The Prodigal
July 48 BC

#23 Death Mask
August 48 BC

#24 The Greater Good
September 48 BC

#25 The Ties That Bind
October 48 BC

#26 Callisto
October 48 BC

#27 Is There A Doctor in the House
November 48 BC

#28 A Solstice Carol
December 21, 48 BC

#29 Giant Killer
December 25, 48 BC

#30 Orphan of War
January 8, 47 BC 1 year 2 months and 12 days until Maternal Instincts

#31 Remember Nothing
January 16th, 47 BC

#32 Girls Just Wanna
January 47 BC

#33 Warrior, Princess, Tramp
January 47 BC

#34 Return of Callisto
February 47 BC

#35 Intimate Stranger
February 47 BC

#36 Ten Little Warlords
February 47 BC

#37 Here She Comes Miss Amphipolis
March 47 BC

#38 A Day in the Life Of
March 47 BC

#39 Blind Faith
March 47 BC

#40 The Execution
April 47 BC

#41 For Him the Bell Tolls
April 47 BC

#42 A Comedy of Eros
April 47 BC

#43 Been There Done That
April 47 BC

#44 Ulysses
May 47 BC

#45 The Lost Mariner
May 47 BC

#46  The Price
June 47 BC

#47 The Quest
August 47 BC

#48 A Necessary Evil
September 47 BC

September 47 BC Lao Ma is executed by her son Ming Tien.

#49 Destiny
September 47 BC

#50 Judgement Day
September 47 BC

#51  The Furies
October 47 BC

#52 The Quill Is Mightier
October 47 BC

#53 Aphrodite’s Enchanted Scroll
October 47 BC

#54 Surprise
October, 47 BC

#55 King of Assassins
November, 47 BC

#56 Warrior, Priestess, Tramp
November 47 BC

#57 Dirty Half Dozen
November 47 BC

#58 The Deliverer
January 46 BC

#59 Gabrielle’s Hope
January 46 BC

#60 The Debt
February 46 BC

#61 When In Rome
March 46 BC

#62 Maternal Instincts
March 20th, 46 BC

#63 Bitter Suite
April 46 BC

#64 Forgiven
May 46 BC

#65 Vanishing Act
May 46 BC

#66 One Against An Army
June 46 BC

#67 Armageddon Now
June 46 BC

#68 King Con
June 46 BC

#69 Forget Me Not
July 46 BC

#70 Fins, Femmes, and Gems
November 47 BC

#71 If The Shoe Fits
July 46 BC

#72 Tsunami
July 46 BC

#73 A Tale of Two Muses
August 46 BC

#74 Daughter of Pomira
September 46 BC

#75 A Good Day
October 45 BC

#76 To Tartarus and Back
January 45 BC

#77 Sacrifice
February 45 BC

#78 A Family Affair
April 45 BC

#79 Soul Possession
April 45 BC

#80 In Sickness and In Hell
May 45 BC

#81 Crusader
June 45 BC

#82 Locked Up and Tied Down
June 45 BC

#83 Past Imperfect
July 45 BC

#84 Adventures In The Sin Trade
July 45 BC

#85 Paradise Found
August 45 BC

#86 Devi
September 45 BC

#87 Between The Lines
September 45 BC

#88 The Way
October 45 BC

#89 The Play’s The Thing
December 45 BC

#90 Takes One To Know One
February 44 BC

#91 The Convert
February 44 BC

#92 Endgame
March 44 BC

#93 Ides of March
March 44 BC

#94 Fallen Angel
March 44 BC

#95 Chakram
March 44 BC

#96 Animal Attraction
April 44 BC

#97 Succession
April 44 BC

#98 Seeds of Faith
May 44 BC

#99 Them Bones, Them Bones
May 44 BC

#100 Purity
July 44 BC

#101 Back In The Bottle
September 44 BC

#102 Punchlines
November 44 BC

#103 Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire
November 44 BC

#104 Little Problems
December 44 BC

#105 God Fearing Child
December 44 BC

#106 Eternal Bonds
January 43 BC

#107 Lifeblood
February 43 BC

#108 Kindred Spirits
February 43 BC

#109 Amphipolis Under Siege
March 43 BC

#110 Anthony and Cleopatra
July 43 BC

#111 Looking Death in the Eye
August 43 BC

October 30 B.C. Cyrene is burned at the stake by the people of Amphipolis accused of being a witch due to the evil spirits which invaded her tavern.

April 25 B.C. Sarah Lila’s daughter, Gabrielle’s niece, at age 15 is taken by Gurkhan and his men. Lila’s husband and Gabrielle’s parents are beheaded by Gurkhan.

#112 Livia
July 18 BC

#113 Eve
September 18 BC

#114 Motherhood
November 18 BC

#115 Coming Home
December 18 BC

#116 The Haunting of Amphipolis
January 17 BC

#117 Heart of Darkness
January 17 BC

#118 Who is Gurkhan
February 17 BC – May 17 BC

#119 Legacy
June 17 BC

#120 Dangerous Prey
July 17 BC

#121 The Abyss
September 17 BC

#122 The Rheingold
December 17 BC

#123 The Ring
January 15 BC

#124 Return of the Valkyrie
February 15 BC

#125 Old Ares Had A Farm
April 15 BC

#126 The God You Know
August 15 BC

#127 You Are There (The Golden Apples)
January 14 BC

#128 Last of the Centaurs
April 14 BC

#129 Path of Vengeance
May 14 BC

#130 To Helicon And Back
June 14 BC

#131 A Friend in Need
September 14 BC

#132 When Fates Collide
October 14 BC

#133 Many Happy Returns
February 13 BC

*For more information on “The Xena Scrolls” please visit the links below.

http://warriorprincess.wikia.com/wiki/The_Xena_Scrolls

http://thexenascrolls.homestead.com/

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #46: The Price

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #46 :  The Price

June, 46 B.C.

     Their day began in the calm quiet comfort of the rural wild where no one lived and no villages existed.  Deep into Gaul territory they traveled to find what Xena had hoped would be the best fishing conditions for the season.  It seemed that the warrior princess had a pattern to her madness.  Not only did she know where to migrate, but she knew exactly when to find the best catches during every season in every part of the known world.  Gabrielle was not quite as fond of fishing as her best friend, but she decided that on this day she would make it a point to learn the fine art of fishing.  At first she began slow unable to land a bite at the end of her fishing stick.  Xena was a natural, but Gabrielle already knew this considering she could catch a slimy eel with her bare hands without breaking a sweat.  There was something extremely unappealing about that thought as the bard stood on the banks of this rural river and tried patiently to wait it out for at least a sign of life at the end of her pole. 

     After several hours had gone by the bard was about to throw in the staff once more in this battle of man verses fish, but Xena would not allow it.  She was determined to succeed at proving that even a farm girl could learn her warrior crafts and techniques.  Soon after the sun had hit over head the fish began to bite with a vengance.  Of course for the warrior princess it was easy and she had been landing catches along the banks all day.  For Gabrielle the moment of truth finally came as she struggled to reel in the big one.  Xena instructed the bard coaching her through every move.  To move with the fish was to be the fish as Xena called out that the fish was moving in from the left as he tried to escape to the right.  The bard’s muscles were tensing with excitement as she could see his giant head popping in and out of the rough river waters.  He was a strong one she had to admit, but the determination was strong and so the battle raged on between woman and fish until finally the adrenaline pushed its limits allowing Gabrielle to hoist the giant fish into the air over her head and onto the bank.

      The fish flopped violently about having to accept his defeat as Xena was pleased with her pupil for the effort and accomplishment.  As Gabrielle dashed off behind her she knelt down to free her victim from the line.  The battling bard felt a great deal of new confidence and for the first time she felt that fishing was a true adventure.  Then she declared to her fish friend that though her defeat was sweet it was meant without harmful intensions.  Xena just scoffed at the bard’s philosophical side basking in its own triumph.  The warrior princess asked that she not talk to her food and then Xena moved onto the next moment as she threw her own line back in.  Gabrielle had finally freed her new friend reminding him that he would be going to the elysian fields in her stomach later on, but that it would be a far better place than here on the violent earth. 

       With that the bard threw down her lunch and ran back to the edge of the water for more excitement and adventure as she cheered herself on.  Suddenly all was great and well as Gabrielle complemented Xena for her choice in fishing venues.  The fish certainly were biting better than ever here.  Gabrielle wondered if maybe it was because they were the first people on earth to ever fish in this spot.  Xena’s admiration for her friend could be felt in the air as she explained that the fish felt that way.  In fact Xena went as far as to say that the fish seemed to be jumping willingly out of the water.  Gabrielle pressed her advantage allowing herself to interject some philosophy into Xena’s life.  Yet as Xena threw another fish onto the bank she grabbed it by the line and shook it in the bard’s face reminding Gabrielle of the day that Xena would not stop throwing fish into her face.  Cold, wet, and slimy were not the words that Gabrielle was about to use to be  philosphical.              

     Instead she chose to ignore Xena’s interruption.  Then she expressed her vision of how she felt that everyone came from the oceans just like the fish.  She felt that the fish were people in their own way just waiting to reach out for that magic moment to touch their human family.  Just before Gabrielle could finish her statement she found herself struggling with yet another of her brothers in the water as she was reeling him in reaching out to grab him until suddenly someone grabbed back. 

     The bard was shocked by the sudden burst from within the water.  It was not a fish, but a man whom had grabbed her.  He was badly injured as Xena reached in alongside Gabrielle to help bring him to dry land.  The man would not let go of Gabrielle’s arm as he held it with a death grip.  Gabrielle was terrified at what she saw protruding from within his chest.  A large metal ax was lodged deep into his chest.  The man wheezed to grasp a breath as he tried to speak.  He spoke of a garrison.  His words were broken as he struggled to get out an important warning.  The man said he had been seeking help.  His final words were desparate within his eyes as he struggled to speak within his last breath.  He spoke of the horde.  Gabrielle watched as the man died right there before her.  Death had never seemed so fearless.  His death grip released Gabrielle’s arm as his body fell limp onto the bank. 

      Gabrielle was still terrified and shocked.  Her mind and heart were full of confusion.  She had never heard of horde.  She did not know what it was.  Gabrielle looked desparately to her friend for the answer.  Xena’s only words were a command for the bard to get her things.  Gabrielle wanted an answer to her question for fear of the unknown was spreading through her mind quickly.  Xena snapped for Gabrielle to move and to obey the command for there was an urgency to vacate quickly.  The bard ceased her arguement and ran for her staff and her leather scroll bag hanging from the trees just behind them.  As Gabrielle looked back over the water she saw something worse than she could have imagined.  There was not just one dead man with an ax in his chest, but hundreds.  The dead men floated like a school of fish down the waters of the river from the north.  Gabrielle’s mind could not process the horror fast enough.  She felt stunned and barely able to move for a moment.  The only comfort she could find within was the thought of Xena nearby.  She whispered Xena’s name as Xena approached Gabrielle’s position to survey the situation.  It was more grim than the warrior princess could have hoped.  Gabrielle found the courage to move her legs, and to move closer to Xena.  It felt safer somehow.  Xena’s lips released a bit of unexpected panic.  Quietly Xena was anquishing over the dead as if somehow she had been responsible for them.  Gabrielle hoped to receive information from the warrior princess.  Her heart fluttered hoping that they could be helped, but Xena confirmed cyrptically that they were beyond help.  Xena continued by explaining that the dead men were of the Athenian infantry.  Xena surmised that they must have been surrounded. 

     Gabrielle waited patiently, but with great fear and anxiety for Xena to continue her short quick explanation.  The bard wondered how it was that Xena was certain that she had already known their fate.  Xena suddenly revealed that they worked in this way.  Who they were was still a giant mystery to the concerned bard.  The warrior princess stated that they too were surrounded now.  Gabrielle was desparate to know what it was that they were surrounded by so that she could survey the landscape for it.  She desparately needed to know what her eyes searched for.  The answer soon came just off the banks and to the right.  Gabrielle reacted to the sounds of boats knocking up against the shore.  She saw what looked like giant ape warriors.  Yet they were men.  Their heads were full of dark thick hair yet their chests and legs were carefully maintained.  The ape men were painted all over with white, black, and red body art.  Their clothes were finely crafted out of thick animal furs, and some of their clothes were decorated with human bones.  The canoe boats they rode in were built sturdy out of nature’s best trees.  Upon the stern and the bow were human skulls screaming of danger.  Some of the ape men had primitave jewlrey painfully pierced through their noses.  Their eyes were raging with fire, but it wasn’t hate and it wasn’t vegence.  It was the fire of primal survival and of fear.  The bard’s reaction was to call Xena to action with her sword, but Xena stated that her sword would do nothing to stop the advance of the horde men.  Xena’s next command was out of fear which was something Gabrielle had never felt from the warrior princess before.  It was obvious to the bard that for the first time she had ever known Xena to be afraid for her own survival.  Xena’s command was to run and then she pushed Gabrielle into action.

     Gabrielle’s feet carried her quickly back toward the forrest as Xena followed quickly behind.  The bard found her legs leaping and bounding like never before.  Her heart raced quickly for she barely noticed a single breath from within.  She felt like the prey hunted by the beast.  Just behind the first line of trees there was a small clearing within the foilage.  Gabrielle’s feet stopped abruptly beneath her when her eyes caught sight of the largest horde of them all.  The only one to be decorated in full red body art he appeared mercilessly out of control.  It was as if the red paint possessed him to lust for the kill.  He wore the most elaborate of nose ornaments.  It was the bone of a large beast.  Gabrielle’s eyes met his, but there was no understanding to be found.  It was like two souls with different languages unable to connect with sensabilities only fear.  Gabrielle called out to Xena unable to decide what to do next.  Xena approached from behind only to find her worst fears to be true.  Indeed the two friends were surrounded by the wrath of the horde.  Suddenly it was time to fight for Xena was without her sword.  The warrior princess’s survival instincts kicked in as she grabbed a large heavy branch from the ground using it as a staff while Gabrielle fearfully tried to hold back the group in front of them.  Xena quickly defeated the three which had followed in from the river grabbing Gabrielle and commanding her to return to the river. 

      The Warrior Princess and the Battling Bard returned to the banks steeling one of the two vessels which had brought the enemy to them.  Leaping into the large canoe boat Xena shouted out another command to dig in hard.  Gabrielle did not argue knowing that Xena had the command.  These creatures were something even Xena did not understand.  The horde sloshed through the water on foot in their leather skin boots while some of them followed in pursuit on the second boat.  Xena’s voice was desparate as she commanded Gabrielle to pull harder.  Gabrielle pulled every bit of strength she could from within the rush of adrenaline that flowed through her arms hoping to get away from the beasts as their voices raged of foreign frieghtful sounds.  Their language was seemingly nothing more than a series of ugly harsh grunts.  Each sounded more threatening even if it may have been otherwise.  Gabrielle kept pulling harder each time Xena shouted out the command.  The bard could not resist looking back to see if they were gaining any distance between them.  

     Suddenly Xena pulled her chackram hoping to slow the advance of the horde as she deflected it off of a rock upon the bank and then off of a tree back into the canoe boat in pursuit of them.  The chackram thankfully returned to the warrior princess who had succeeded in slowing the advance by damaging the enemy’s boat.  Gabrielle watched as it sank while the men within it scrambled to abandon ship.  Suddenly from in front of them Gabrielle’s ears caught the sounds of defeat as the one with the red face screamed out echoing through the land.  He did not like defeat as he swung his strange moon shaped weapons upon their chains threatening death upon the warrior princess and her companion.  Gabrielle called out to Xena hoping the warrior princess would have a solution to the danger just ahead.

      For the moment it seemed that both Xena and Gabrielle had escaped the grasp of the horde.  Xena ushered them onto a hidden place along the river bank where they could pull off and rest.  Gabrielle hoped that Xena could tell her more about the horde and about how to deal with them.  As they sat in the eerie quiet of the afternoon the air was thick with humidity and heat.  Everything around them seemed stale.  Even Xena’s mind was affected by it.  As the two pulled out of the river they carried the canoe to a large fallen tree hoping to conceal their current position until they could gain some kind of advantage.  While Xena’s mind worked on the solution her heart told the tale of her first run in with the horde.  The first time she had ever taken her army to the west she had met up with them.  She had sent a scouting party out ahead to look for a mountain pass.  Her scouting party had been trapped in the ravine below when the horde made their move down upon them.  All Xena was able to do was watch from above helplessly as the massive army of beasts reigned down upon her men.  Xena watched as her men desparately tried to fight them off, but could not match strengths against them. 

       The warrior princess was as cryptic as ever as she told her tale of death and ultimate survival.  Gabrielle could sense the regret in Xena’s voice as if had only been in the day before that Xena had encountered the enemy.  She spoke of the ugly voices of the horde and the agonizing screams of her men.  Xena had spent the entire day trying desparately to reach her men with the rest of her army, but by the time they had massed within the ravine the horde had disappeared into the shadows of the evening.  The only thing left of her scouting party were bones.  Their flesh and muscles had been torn from them and taken by the horde.  They were tortured alive until they had been skinned to death and to nothing.  Gabrielle’s fears began to rise as she imagined these pictures in her mind.  They were almost impossible for her to comprehend.  She hoped to understand what the horde were for men did not do these horrible things.  Men killed, and men destroyed, but they never tortured other men in this way.  Gabrielle hoped Xena could give her a comforting explaination to all of this, but the truth was that Xena could not.  Xena was scarred by her past experiences with the horde and it was obvious that their presence now was nerve wracking for the seasoned warrior. 

      Xena struggled to stay focased as she explained that fighting one or two alone would indeed be difficult, but to fight a large party of them would be suicide.  It was written all over Xena’s face and Gabrielle knew it.  She knew that she would have to find her own strength somewhere in order to cope with this unpleasant ordeal.  The bard only hoped that they would find a way out together alive.  There had never been a moment more grim than this.  Even Callisto was nothing compared to the savage beasts that lurked about out there.  Gabrielle thought there had to be more to these creatures.  They seemingly had souls although even the bard’s heart could not connect.  She suspected that they wanted something, but that was a deeper mystery than even Xena could master.  It was clear that the warrior princess was in complete survival mode out of fear and necessity.  The warrior princess was seemingly no longer talking to Gabrielle, but to herself outloud.  Xena was plotting their next move.  Her memory told her that the horde hunted like a pack of dogs only they were equipped with the capabilities of man surrounding their prey until they would make their move to attack.

      Xena’s horrific memories were strong with angry emotion.  Her old frustrations were simmering to a boil as she rose from the resting place and threw the ax weapon she held tightly into a tree.  This weapon she had taken as they had escaped was seemingly Xena’s only comfort despite Gabrielle’s presence.  Xena’s frustrated grunt said it all.  At this point the bard had decided that Xena’s fears and frustrations were clouding the warrior’s mind.  It would be Gabrielle who would have to ground them this time.  The bard was up for the challenge if it meant saving their lives.  Xena suddenly moved toward the banks deciding that they had to move within the moment.  When Gabrielle thought for a moment she decided that the quickest way would most likely be the river.  Xena rejected the idea immediately reminding Gabrielle that it was indeed true that the river led somewhere, but where the horde would be waiting they were unaware.  Gabrielle realized that Xena was right, but she was not so confident that Xena knew how to get them out by the end of the night.  Xena’s next words were grim as she told Gabrielle that things would get worse for her plans to escape would require something Gabrielle could not expect.  The bard moved her eyes about hoping to see whatever it was that Xena saw, but to no avail.  She would just have to follow blindly until Xena could get them to the next safe place.

     Back into the boat they went following the river as Gabrielle had hoped they would do.  The only sounds that could be heard were the uneasy silence between the friends, the waves of the water crashing up against the side of the boat, the oars pushing softly through the water, and the secadas surrounding them on all sides.  The senses had to be heightened in this way in order to catch the sounds of the horde if they were still out there.  Gabrielle hoped that the river would soon save them from certain torture and death, but she knew deep down that they were still out there.  She could hear their breaths under the sounds of the water and soon the sounds of the suffering followed.  Just to the left bank over the water there were more men from the Athenian army.  The six men were barely alive still suffering greatly as they cried weakly for the goddess Athena to have mercy upon them.  They were bound to crucifix type contraptions in the shape of diagonal crosses.  They suffered greatly and Gabrielle could not bare to hear their cries any longer.  Her impulse was to save them before there was nothing left to save, but Xena snapped back rejecting the idea.  Gabrielle argued that they were crying out for the goddess Athena.  They could not ignore Athena’s wishes.  Xena again rejected Gabrielle not believing that Athena had dispatched the fates sending them to help the suffering men.  Gabrielle did not care about fear for she believed the fates were wise as was Athena.  Xena snapped back again reminding Gabrielle that there were too many to save for they would not be able to save themselves.  The fates had already decided death would come to those men. 

     Gabrielle’s arguement had led to their reveal.  The horde had been waiting for them and suddenly they appeared all around them.  Hidden from beneath the water the horde popped out and hidden in the dark evening forrest they came.  Their axes began to hurl through the air.  One nearly took Gabrielle’s life almost lodging itself through the side of her head.  Xena’s reflexes blocked death’s intension for the bard as she used her oar to stop its path.  Suddenly more axes came flying as Xena urged Gabrielle to paddle faster.  Yet the bard soon found herself robbed of even her paddle by one of the axes which struck it at the base.  Gabrielle was desaparately freightened now as she paddled with her hands helplessly. 

       The sounds of a battle beyond control were raging about as the voice of a man could be heard from across the water.  One of the Athenians was trying to make his escape as he dove into the water and swam toward the canoe carrying Xena and Gabrielle.   Gabrielle looked up hoping that he would make it.  She could see that he still had strength left to swim halfway out and so she urged Xena once again to try to save a man in distress.  Xena finally caved in begrudgingly to the bard’s heartfelt desires despite the risks they were now incurring to rescue this man.  Gabrielle reached out as Xena steered the canoe toward him.  The bard grabbed hold of the man whose weight quickly slowed them down.  Soon the enemy could be heard just behind them in another canoe with their voices raging ready to strike their slow prey.  Gabrielle shouted out to Xena that they enemy was closing in fast.  The man then urged them to let him go for they would capture them all.  He knew that he was to die.  Yet Xena would not let him accept his death now. 

      All that could be heard was the suffering moans of the man they had now rescued and the angry voices of the horde on all sides of them.  Xena then warned of a new problem.  Just ahead they were approaching a dead end.  It was a giant waterfall that the river had led them to.  Now they would have face the horde.  Xena called out to Gabrielle commanding her to jump at the edge of the shore where the waterfall met.  The warrior princess hoped to spare Gabrielle a treacherous death by the horde.  Yet Gabrielle would not accept this command from Xena.  She would not leave her friend only to be saved by the gods to travel alone.  Gabrielle could not bare to think of the regret that would follow knowing the terrible fate of Xena the Warrior Princess.  If Xena was to die a torturous death then she too would follow her friend until the end.  Gabrielle’s loyalty would not faulter despite the risks and the agony that was certain to follow.  The bard looked about to see that the horde were clammoring to get at them.  It was certain.  Gabrielle prepared her mind for the pain and the suffering she would soon have to endure.  If this was what Athena and the fates had planned she would face it all with courage.

     Xena argued with Gabrielle, but Gabrielle’s mind was made up.  The warrior princess tried to argue that she would be unable to fight the horde worrying about Gabrielle.  Yet Gabrielle did not care for she was going to fight alongside the warrior princess.  She would not allow Xena this fight alone.  As all hope was dwindling away Xena paddled up toward the shore preparing for the terrible end.  Yet from beneath the ground upon the banks more Athenian men popped up from their positions ready to fight against the hunters.  There was a sense of relief which swept over both the warrior princess and the bard as they dragged their Athenian victim to the safety of healthy infantry.  The infrantry shielded them with a counter attack upon the horde who were unsuspecting of the Athenians’ ability to regroup.  As the three pulled up to the bank Gabrielle shouted out to the Athenian men for their assistance with the injured man.  She helped them remove the man from the side of the boat while Xena jumped into the battle to assist the Athenians.  The horde were out numbered now that the Athenians had shown up and Gabrielle felt more confident in her safety.  Upon letting her guard down she ran back toward the boat to grab her staff and her leather scroll bag.  As she turned back toward the battle Xena was just steps in front of her shouting out to duck.  Gabrielle acted without a second thought as Xena used her whip hurling an ax into the chest of the enemy approaching from behind out of the water.  The horde man fell into the lap of his comrade in the boat and then they retreated.  Gabrielle’s heart stopped for a moment knowing that her mistake was in letting down for a moment.

     Twenty-four Athenians had come to fight against twelve horde.  It seemed to the bard that the power of two men were needed to fight one horde man.  The horde had only retreated because they found that they were out numbered.  These creatures had strategic intellengence.  It was impressive yet scary for it meant that the danger was extremely serious.  Gabrielle was only begining to understand Xena’s deepest fears.  The Athenians formed around their injured and the strangers they had rescued in their own ambush against the hoard.  There was a bit of comfort in this until they reached the outer walls of the Athenian fortress.  As the leader Mercer warned for all to watch for a counter ambush Gabrielle saw that the battle field surrounding the fortress was littered with  dead hoard men.  Death on the field here was fresh and unkind.  Yet there was not a single dead Athenian left behind.  The bard hoped it was because the army was strong, but once they entered passage through the gates Xena and Gabrielle found the remnants of what used to be an army.

      Mercer quickly ushered his men into the fortress and immediately commanded them to get back to manning the battlements in preparation for another attack.  There was seemingly no time for rest for the obviously weary men.  The man they had saved was dying upon the ground as he called out to the soldier Mercer.  Gabrielle leaned down hoping to comfort the fallen man who was now barely able to speak.  He struggled for breaths in the way that the first man had whom had died.  Mercer whom had led the ambush upon the hoard approached suddenly hoping to comfort his dying soldier.  The now dying man pleaded for Mercer’s promise to stop the wrath of the dangerous hoard.  Soon the man’s last breath escaped from his body and he fell into death’s arms as did his comrades before.  Mercer appeared staunch yet touched by the death of yet another soldier.  There was a sense of defeat and of frustration within his pale blue eyes.  It was as if he was on his last crutch of hope.  With another man to die before him his inner strength as a leader was diminishing.  Yet he quickly closed the door upon his own humanity and gave another shallow command.  He asked that this body be thrown to the pit with the hundreds of others that had already been collected.

      Gabrielle looked to Xena for hope for Mercer had none left.  None of his men held onto hope either for as Mercer gave another hollow command to get back to the walls another man approached defiant of him.  It was an older experienced soldier whose hair was silver with battle memories.  The man’s head was weakly bandaged as if his temple wound was as fresh as the dead man on his way to the pit.  An old soldier who had no more strength spoke with more conviction against another fight and another battle than to hope for life beyond the walls of the broken fortress.  Mercer pushed the hobbling man to the ground out of anger yet desparation to regain control of his men.  The man begged again fearful for a his slow torturous death that he was certain would come for him yet Mercer ignored the fearful unreasonable pleas.  He only barked out the same command as before to get back to the wall.  Then Mercer walked away standing as tall and strong as he could despite the weak foundations within. 

     Suddenly it seemed hopeless to the bard that even these men could be any help in aiding a desparate escape from the clutches of the barbaric enemy.  Gabrielle looked to Xena for hope wishing that Xena would be able to comfort her with warrior confidence.  Yet even Xena could not offer this.  Xena’s next statement was factual and firm at best.  She explained calmly yet harshly that the men within the fortress were just as dead as the men outside on the river banks.  Gabrielle could see it within the eyes of her friend that there was still little hope despite their having escaped the hoard for the moment.  And then Xena left Gabrielle’s side as if entranced by the serious challenge that faced her and the bard.  There was more of a chance within the walls to put together a survival plan with more force and more men to fight, but getting them to fight another day was going to be the issue for they had already given up.

     Gabrielle decided that she herself needed to survey the situation in her own way.  She followed one of the men to his battlement and sat along the wall hoping to get a glimpse of the souls within the men who were of a different language.  After squatting along the wall peeking over into the scene of death below the bard could not get the visions out of her head.  She kept hearing the hoard men below screaming out for “caltucca.”  It sounded important, but what it meant she did not know.  Some of the men below were not dead, but still suffering from the pain and anguish brought upon them in their defeats in battle.  Those were the men Gabrielle’s heart felt for.  She wished deep down that she could help them, but it was seemingly too risky to try for no one seemed to understand them.  Not only that, but Gabrielle found herself listening for the sounds of danger as her ears caught the danger of a large ax weapon flying toward her face.  She looked to her right to see the blade just moments away from its target.  The bard slid down behind the fortress walls avoiding the close call.  The constant threat of danger and of death interrupted any thought of reason that may have been invested over the hoard. 

     Gabrielle’s chest rose and fell violently out of adrenaline, confusion, fear, and relief.  It was all so difficult to grasp.  The man next to her did not offer any comfort for all he could do was remind the bard of how the hoard could not be seen for their stealth.  When they would strike no one knew.  They were just out there shouting out “caltucca.”  Gabrielle’s mind was brought back into focas with that word caltucca.  What did it mean?  She was desparate to know for it could hold the key to the entire mess.  The man’s answer was a typical soldier’s reaction.  He was certain that it was the name of their god of war whom they were calling for.  Then he kept repeating it as if he were engulfed in it and his own insanity.  At that moment Gabrielle decided that she could not stand his company any longer.  As she rose from her position on the walls she caught sight of the warrior princess who had obviously scouted out the entire fortress by now searching for the solution to their current problem.  Gabrielle was pretty confident that the warrior princess had most likely already formulated some kind of plan, but the bard was not so certain that these men would be contributing much. 

      The bard explained to Xena that the men seemed prepared for death.  It was as if they did not care anymore.  All had given up and without hope there would be no chance for life.  Xena confirmed the bard’s fears yet she was not going to lie down and die for the hoard.  She assured Gabrielle that she would die a warrior with a sword in her hand fighting until her last breath.  The bard did not doubt this which was some what comforting, but it meant that even Xena had resigned herself to death in some way.

     Gabrielle followed Xena who led her right back to the wall where the insane man still slouched and pelted the wall with small pebbles.  He was beyond saving yet Xena’s approach was unexpected.  She suddenly barked out a question to him.  She wanted to know if he was taking a break.  His response was candid and defiant.  The soldier stated that he was breaking from reality where he chose not to live now.  Xena’ s next question was obvious.  She wanted to know if he would be ready to grab his sword in the event of an attack over the walls of the fortress.  The man looked to her as if she were joking rather than being serious.  He paused from his pebble throwing for a moment to explain what was obvious to him, but not to the warrior princess.  The soldier explained that there were not enough men, food, or water to put up a decent defense or an escape against the hoard.  His skin was seemingly crawling with fear as he shuttered at the thoughts of emminant torture the bard could see running through his mind.  The man was right in saying that they were surrounded, but to allow an easy kill for the enemy was not an option for the warrior princess.

      Xena tipped her boot kicking up the soldiers sword grabbing it with her left hand using her right hand to yank him to his feet by the shirt.  The man seemed stunned that a woman could be so strong and so persuasive.  She began barking out commands as if she were the one in charge.  Then Xena explained to him why it was impairative for him to do his job.  She was certain that dying at the hands of the hoard would be more horrific than any other way of meeting death’s hand.  Xena was determined not to see another man skinned and tortured alive the way her scouting party had been taken from her so long ago.  The scars were deep and the emotional wounds fresh.  These were the forces that were driving her within.  They were forces just as out of control as these men and their own hopeless insanity.  Suddenly other men on the wall began to attack the warrior princess, but they were no match for her quick and agile moves.  She threw one of her attackers over the wall and knocked one behind her onto his back.  Another hoard ax came flying through the air at its target the warrior princess.  Casually she caught it with her bear hand and then looked to the man she still held up by the shirt.  He was shocked and stunned yet impressed at the same time.  Suddenly he was convinced of something, but what he did not know.

      He was entranced by the warrior princess desparate to know who this tall dark warrior woman was.  She spoke her name as it escaped across the fortress into the ears of every man who looked on.  It whispered of hope, fury, and of rage.  The man’s eyes lit up asking if she was Xena of the battle of Corinth.  He wanted to know if this was the Xena of Calmeye whom had defeated Callisto.  Xena’s answer was calm, calculated, and bearly audible.  She was milking the mystery and yet there was a certain fame to all of her deeds.  Most of them were the bad ones, but her defeat of Callisto had proven her good intensions.  She was not to be feared, but reveared.  The man’s attention was firmly in the grasp of the clever warrior princess as he suddenly looked to her for more commands.  As she released his shirt from her firm grasp she gave him the obvious answer and advised him to put his weapons in a place that he could quickly get at them.  It was amazing for not only had she grasped the attention of one soldier, but every soldier within the walls was now looking to the warrior princess for a command.  Xena quickly seized the moment realizing that now was the only chance she would have to grasp what was left within every man on the wall. 

     She continued commanding them louder and with more conviction.  The warrior princess told all to stand at the wall rather than behind it or under it.  She wanted them to show their determination and wills within their eyes.  There had to be a way to convince the enemy that there were too many of them to bust down the fortress successfully.  The enemy had been waiting for the perfect moment to demoralize them.  Xena wanted to take this moment away from them and to gain the advantage.  Her last command was to kill anything that moved between the fortress and the dense forrest beyond.  Gabrielle’s heart sank when she heard these careless words escape the warrior princess.  She interjected that friends should not be killed.  Xena’s answer to the debate was to snuff it out firmly stating that there were no friends left out there.  The words were as harsh as a slap in the face.  Gabrielle could not accept this and found herself upset by this sudden fury within the warrior princess.  There were no hints of possible remorse for these violent choices.  Then Xena walked across the walls down into the center of the fortress as another man asked Xena what they were going to do next.  She began a verbal campaign to encourage the men to revive their own confidence.  The warrior princess declared that the elite of the Athenian army would not be defeated.  These men now entranced responded strongly to the chants.  Then the warrior princess declared that the plan was to kill every hoard man out there.  The cheers from the crowd of infantry men were powerful.  Gabrielle could feel the dirty blood lust and the taste in her soul was thick.  It made the soul heavy with sadness and personal defeat. 

      Every man began to wave his sword in the air while Xena called them to lustful action.  Gabrielle could not stand to watch these horrors unfold.  The warrior princess had lost her own wits and could no longer think with a clear mind.  Without Xena’s heart Gabrielle’s soul was alone to face certain death.  It was like a bad dream and the bard could not wake up.  Reality could no longer be escaped.  Gabrielle had to act on her heart’s desire.  If she could not win Xena’s heart or her life from the hoard she would choose to die her own way.  Gabrielle soon found herself in the infirmary where the injured and the dying men were being held.  There was an eerie silence in this place that could no longer be found out upon the walls.  In fact there were no doctors tending to these men.  When the bard approached one of them she inquired about the doctors, but he answered that they had lost every last one of them during the first attack.  There was not a single soul to tend to the wounded.  The man even joked cryptically that only the goddess of mercy resided there to offer her help.  When Gabrielle thought of his tone she realized he had created his own goddess hoping to ease the pain and the suffering that could be eased no where else.  Not one man within these walls had a grasp on reality anymore.  Even Xena was gone now.

     Gabrielle’s mind was made up.  She was reminded of her days in Thessaly during their violent war against the Mitoians.  There at the temple of Esclipias she learned the arts of battle medicine.  She realized that these skills would now have to be called to action.  Gabrielle suddenly decided that she would die tending to the wounded and the dying.  Her soul could accept this fate.  As she walked about the infirmary she began to seek out the walking wounded knowing that she could not accomplish this task alone.  She would teach them how to help their suffering comrades.  With any help from the fates they would be able to help everyone survive this aweful tragedy.  The bard began to bark out orders as if she were the commander of medicine.  Men began to rise to their feet for there was a sense of relief in knowing that someone still had hope and someone still cared.

     After grabbing one of the men to fetch fire wood, and several others helping to clean up the dirty bandages Gabrielle felt confident that she could accomplish the impossible.  She had now separated the serious cases from those who were not so dire.  She was certain that no one here was going to die if they were well-cared for.  All of these men could make a recovery.  Though the apron she now wore was soon full of blood stains from her dilligent work.  Her heart felt strong and hopeful for she now had healing blood on her hands.  Soon she caught sight of the warrior princess returning from the battlements.  Gabrielle hoped to show Xena another way out.  With all of these men healthy and strong she was certain that there would be enough to bust through the hoard forces to escape if they had to.  Xena wanted to know how many more of them were on their way to death.  Gabrielle was certain that she could rescue them all.  She explained to the warrior princess with pride how she had come to organize the troops.  Xena seemed uninterested.  She felt that if the walking wounded could be nurses to the wounded then they were capable of holding a sword at the wall.  Suddenly all of Gabrielle’s work was being torn down and away from her.  Xena asked that Gabrielle choose which men were going to live and which would die for she needed all of the living at the wall now.

     Gabrielle did not want to make that choice.  It was not fair for her own heart could see that every man in the room had a chance to survive.  Xena harshly explained that there weren’t enough supplies to finish what Gabrielle had started.  The suffering and the dying would have to starve in order for the living to survive.  Xena had specific orders for Gabrielle.  She wanted all of the dead men to be brought to the south wall to portray the illusion that there were more men within the fortress.  Her goal was to fool the enemy into thinking they would be in for a battle that they could not win.  Yet Gabrielle was not so certain that the hoard men were the enemy.  It seemed to the bard that the true enemy was misunderstanding and its cycle of violence.  Xena ordered that all of the walking wounded were to be given swords.  All food and supplies would be rationed to the fighting men.

     And then Xena was gone.  Gabrielle was left to tend to the wounded without a choice.  They would have to die by a command.  The bard realized now that her only choice was in hospice.  She would only be able to comfort the dying with soft words and a gentle touch.  Prayers to the gods if any man still believed would accompany them to their deaths.  It was the only care she could offer now that Xena had forced these harsh seemingly unncessary choices upon Gabrielle. 

     Not long after Xena had left Gabrielle could hear the sounds of the fortress gates opening.  She was curious to know what was going on out there.  If danger was indeed there no one would be opening the gates.  She hoped that Xena had finally come to her senses.  Yet the sounds of battle began to rage just outside the gates between the Athenians and the hoard.  Twelve Athenians went out and only seven men returned followed by the hoard men who had been fooled into entering the fortress walls.  Suddenly they found themselves trapped and surrounded as Xena gave a command from the wall above the gate.  Archers emerged from hiding within the empty supply barrels bringing their wrath of arrows down upon the seven victims within the fortress.  The hoard men screamed as they fell in battle.  To the bard it seemed an unfair fight as she watched the horrors unfold.  Standing in the infirmary doorway she observed the warrior princess who took hold of the action grabbing a bow from one of the archers using it as a weapon against the approaching hoard men.  They were trapped like animals beaten down and demoralized.  There was no fairness in this fight when they were clearly out numbered within the walls.  The seven brave hoard men desparately tried to regain their dignity as they fell into death one by one.  As the gates began to close to seal them off one of the seven men escaped.  The warrior princess grabbed a hoard ax and ran to the wall ready to strike down the one who had escaped the trap. 

      Gabrielle had never seen Xena fight dirty, but this time she held no inhabitions.  She hurled the ax into the back of her enemy.  He did not have a chance against the skilled warrior woman.  When Xena turned to face the men there was no pain to be seen.  Only excitement and blood lusting becomming thirsty for more.  She was grasped by the hand of evil and seemingly had no desire to fight against it.  Gabrielle was disgusted for Xena had thrown away all that the bard had ever taught her about love.  The bard did not know this Xena who stood before the men as they chanted her name victoriously.  They won a small battle, but had lost everything they may have had to live for.  Gabrielle’s eyes could no longer take the sights they witnessed.  She returned inside the infirmary and looked for someone in need of comfort.  Another man was being brought in suffering on the brink of death.  This was a young one not more than seventeen.  Gabrielle imagined that he was probably once a farm boy like Perdicas had been.  The glory and adventure of war had probably lied to him telling him stories that were untrue.  Today he had learned the truth and it had cost him his life. 

      Even before he could die more men came to take him from her.  She had decided that she would defy the warrior princess.  Gabrielle would not allow him to take his last breath within the pile of decaying bodies that were now ridiculously propped upon the south wall.  There was no comfort in that.  As she took his cold hand in hers she soon realized that he was already gone.  She looked into his blank staring eyes and gingerly reached out to close them.  There was little time to mourn now.  Frustrations were building for Gabrielle’s choices had been robbed from her one by one.  It was all because of the fear and determination of Xena’s darkness.  Soon Xena appeared in the doorway, but Gabrielle could no longer face her.  This was not the friend that she knew.  The bard was alone, but hardly afraid of the warrior princess.  She would defy her till the end.  Her heart would not bend.  Gabrielle retreated to the supply room hoping to gain solace there.

     Solace did not last long for the warrior princess had found Gabrielle there only to scold her for not rationing the food to only the men outside.  Gabrielle could only counter by scolding the warrior princess for her own wreckless choices.  Xena defended herself quickly reminding the bard that the hoard outside would kill every man inside the fortress.  Gabrielle did not care about that.  She raised her voice to Xena angry that the warrior princess had used dirty tactics axing a man in the back.  The warrior princess fumbled to defend her actions.  It seemed that there was a slight crack in her story for her only defense was that the man had seen the Athenian defenses.  Xena was certain that he had to die in order to protect the Athenian position.  Gabrielle would not accept that answer.  She was begining to find Xena’s presence freightening.  It was even more freigtening that Callisto’s presence.  The bard’s nightmare was growing into a vortex of darkness.  Xena sensed her loss of control over the defiant bard and she grabbed hold of her soldier’s shoulders.  Then she wanted to know what Gabrielle had expected of her.  Xena declared that what they were experiencing was what war was truely about.  It wasn’t glamourous or adventurous.  It wasn’t glorious or heroic. 

     Gabrielle struggled to walk away from Xena’s grasp.  Without love she could see no reason to be a warrior.  Hope without good intensions was not hope, but evil.  Xena spoke of the unthinkable.  She declared that there were no good choices that could be made within this situation.  There were only lesser degrees of evil that could be embraced.  Yet embracing evil would never be a choice for the bard.  To embrace evil would be to embrace the darkness that she would fight against.  Gabrielle did not embrace darkness when Perdicas died at the end of Callisto’s sword.  She would not embrace it now even if it meant saving her own life.  Life was not worth living within darkness.

     Gabrielle countered Xena’s arguement with her own desparately trying to win back the warrior princess’s heart from the evil which had now consumed it.  She wondered how Xena could be so convinced that there was nothing to understand about the hoard.  Gabrielle was not so certain that the hoard were so different than people.  There were good souls inside of them just like there was a good soul inside of Xena.  It was the effort it would take to find the goodness that would be harder than dying within the never ending pointless violence.  Xena’s darkness would not let go of the warrior princess.  It refused Gabrielle’s hopeful notions of the hoard men.  The commander ended the debate abruptly reminding Gabrielle of how it began.  All rations were to go to the men on the wall.  All others were to suffer and to die.  With that the warrior princess forced the bard out of her way as she barrel back through the wooden doors and into the darkness once more.

     The bard was now faced with a choice.  It was a new choice.  She could surrender to Xena’s darkness and to bloodlust or she could take Xena back from the darkness within.  Gabrielle decided to follow Xena hoping to understand these strange choices that her friend was making.  The bard followed her to the command hut where she listened from just beyond its shallow walls.  There inside Xena spoke with Mercer and his second in command. Gabrielle had to know what Xena was plotting.  She heard the second in command inquire of a new device that Xena had suggested that they prepare.  The warrior princess indeed had a plan despite her out of control rage within.  It seemed that embracing her rage had somehow cleared her thoughts.  This made little sense to the bard as she continued to listen.  Xena had planned for the weapon to be used a smoke screen.  She was preparing the leave the fortress under the cover of smoke so that she could rally for reinforcements.  There was a new courage and confidence in Xena’s voice.  It was caring for she was willing to risk her own life out there alone in order to bring the help that all within the fortress so desparately needed.

     Gabrielle’s mind tried to wrap itself around the necessity of Xena’s darkness, but there was still great distrust of it.  The second in command argued against Xena’s leaving the fortress stating that without Xena the men would be unable to sustain their confidence and their defenses.  Xena agreed with him without question.  She quickly volunteered Mercer without a second thought.  It was as if she had planned the conversation between them before it ever happen.  As if Xena had known what would be said.

      The bard moved her position as the three commanders moved to the outside of the hut.  She roamed about the fortress investigating Xena’s intensions.  Gabrielle was preparing her own strategy against the warrior princess hoping to regain the light from the darkness.  The bard watched as the men prepared the smoke weapons.  Soon Mercer was prepared as Gabrielle spotted him down by the south wall alongside Xena and the other commander.  Xena had originally planned to follow the river down the the cliffs to reach reinforcements.  Yet she had decided that Mercer should take the long route away from detection by the horde.  She was certain that the river was swarming with them.  Mercer was convinced that it would take too long if he were to go away from the river. Xena handed him a weapon telling him to go north and double back south on the other side of the forrest.  Mercer took the weapon looking ragged and weak.  He wore no armor.  Gabrielle sensed the danger that Mercer would face.  She watched intently as Xena called the men to be ready for action.  The second commander followed up the command to the men who prepared the smoke screens.  Soon Mercer would disappear.  The bard knew it was not likely that he would return.  She was watching another man walking into his own suicide at the hands of the warrior princess. 

      Suddenly the command was given and the men began to throw their smoke screens over the walls.  The cloud of smoke thickened quickly.  Its intensity made visibility difficult.  Part of the bard was relieved that Xena had chosen to stay despite all of her actions of the day.  The smoke caused great fires just outside the walls as Xena commanded that the gates be opened.  Gabrielle watched Mercer dash out into the smoke and disappear into the abyss of a battle which began to rage on.  Horde men stormed the walls moments after the gates opened.  The Athenians were tough and confident now.  This small battle was just another diversion that would last a short time.  As horde men spilled over the walls they were greeted with certain death. 

     Soon the small battle was ending as the horde found themselves overwhelmed a second time.  It all came down to which army of men had the stronger will.  In this battle and in the previous two before it the Athenians had somehow been able to hold that advantage.  It had been out of the charisma of Xena’s darkness.  Gabrielle found this to be a stunning revelation.  Suddenly the second commander shouted out a command to cease fire.  He commanded the men to save their arrows.  Gabrielle found this odd for she did not hear Xena make those commands before him.  Her eyes searched frantically about the fortress unable to locate the warrior princes.  Just as the men were begining to celebrate again Gabrielle shouted out a command of her own.  She cut through the cheers with concern.  Gabrielle wanted to know where Xena was.  This quickly hushed the chanting and the cheering.  The bard ran to the gates to look out.  She saw Xena sneaking about the field of dead horde men.  It was as if she were checking for the men who were still alive.  The bard was yet again confused by Xena’s actions.  None of her decisions made any sense.  Then the commander shouted for the gates to be opened again as Xena entered through them with one of the horde men.  She had disarmed him throwing his weapon to one of the soldiers as he stood by the commader.

       Xena called out for assitance from the men.  Men quickly responded taking the horde man from the warrior princess as she commanded that he be taken to the hut.  She reminded her men that it would be dark soon.  The warrior princess demanded that double guards be posted there and that the torches stay lit through the night.  Then Xena moved on as if there were little time to stop and rest.  Gabrielle followed the warrior princess who appeared exhausted yet unshaken.  She wanted to know why Xena had suddenly shifted her choices from killing men to saving them.  This horde man that Xena had saved was not badly injured at all.  Xena looked to Gabrielle with frustration.  She suggested that this man was not being saved.  He was a prisnor being held for questioning.  This made even less sense to the bard for Xena had previously stated to her back in the supply room that there was nothing that she wanted to know or nothing that should be known about the horde.  Suddenly she was going to try to question one of them.  She didn’t even speak there language.  In fact, no man within the fortress walls could.

     Gabrielle followed Xena to the hut where she was to attempt to question the horde man.  Xena spoke to the man with attempting bit of respect.  He did not understand.  The horde man was alone in a place full of strange unkind men.  He had no one to defend him.  Gabrielle decided that she would stand up for his rights.  Xena brought out a map hoping to find out where his people were hiding.  She pointed to the map and then pointed to herself hoping that he would understand.  The horde man seemingly understood this as he shook his head.  Then Xena touched his shoulder softly and made a gesture back to the map.  It was as if she were treating him with kindness.  No one standing in the room believed that this horde man would be capable of answering back with kindness.  It seemed to Gabrielle he did not wish to answer the question though he understood it very well.  She could feel that he was concerned for his fellow horde men.  The horde man hesitated as he thought of the consequences.  Yet just as he was seemingly about to return the respectful gesture given to him the Xena the second in command pulled his sword lunging forward hoping to take command of the situation.  He was lusting to kill the prisnor before the prisnor was given a chance to communicate. 

      This action broke any trust that could have been gained between Xena and the prisnor.  Xena did hold back the commander yet she was afraid of losing control.  Gabrielle could sense this.  She soon shifted back to the darkness desparately trying to regain control.  The horde man struggled out of anger for the savagery of the commander’s actions.  Xena’s frustrations were mounting quickly.  She commanded Gabrielle to go outside.  Gabrielle refused the command.  She was not just another soldier.  The bard was Xena’s friend and she was the only friend that the horde man had within the walls of the fortress.  She would stay no matter the consequences.  Xena did not argue any more.  She was aware of the instability of the current moment.  Losing Gabrielle’s loyalty seemed trival to her now.  Her next move was cold.  Xena used her pinch of death upon the prisnor forcing him to suffer an unkind torture.  Gabrielle objected openly to this use of unfair and disrespectful tactics.  The commander was unaware of Xena’s technique as she had to explain it to him.  She was calm and calculated as she told of its horrific deeds to men. 

     Gabrielle watched as the horde man suffered.  His eyes were full of fear and lonlieness.  The bard could see that Xena was not going to release him from the clutches of death.  She was just going to make an example of him to prove some kind of commanding presence to the commander whom had just defied her.  Xena was desparately trying to assert her power in front of everyone.  Gabrielle could not allow this behavior from the warrior princess.  She knew that although Xena was giving into her darkness she was not unaware of it.  Xena could control it.  She was chosing not to.  Gabrielle pleaded with Xena, but the anger was building.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that she was becoming a murderer again.  Xena snapped back at the bard commanding her to go to the hut.  Gabrielle defied the warrior princess’s command.  She knew that if she continued to obey these commands as the men did that it would only feed the darkness more.  Gabrielle was now struggling to starve the darkness within the warrior princess.  She wanted to make it suffer if it meant relief to those who suffered because of it. 

      The bard continued to defy Xena openly in front of the men that did not belong to her.  She reminded Xena that she would not go back to the infirmary to play Celesta chosing death for some, but not for others.  Gabrielle would not be a murderer because darkness commanded it.  She would lash out against it.  The struggle of evil Xena verses the goodness within soon ended.  Xena’s good conscience seemingly won out as she released the horde man from death’s grasp.  It was clear that she was emotionally drained and weakened mentally.  Frustrated and tired the warrior princess commanded the men to take the prisnor to the supply room and chain him up.  The commander’s rage chimed in certain that Xena wanted the horde man to be executed.  Xena snapped back at him again stating that the man was to be chained up.  The conversation ended as the commander took the prisinor with the other soldier to the supply room.

     Gabrielle found herself to be relieved for the moment.  She reached out to the warrior princess and thanked her for saving the horde man’s life.  The pressures that she faced within as well as from the commander had been taxing for her.  Gabrielle knew it.  She hoped to comfort the warrior princess somehow, but was uncertain of how to accomplish this.  Xena did not accept the thanks from the bard.  She lashed out with anger that the bard had embarressed her and defied her openly in front of the men.  Xena then reminded the bard that she would kill the prisnor if it would save her troops from death.  This was about survival and nothing more.  Gabrielle had been right in her observations of the warrior princess.  Her heart was torn by its past and the suffering of the men she could not save.  There was something phsycotic about the warrior princess now that Gabrielle could not understand. 

       Xena continued as Gabrielle’s thoughts began to escape her lips.  The warrior princess’s mind was now focased on the battle and of the blood that would come with it.  She reminded Gabrielle that none of them had asked for this war.  It just was.  This would most certainly be a fight to the death.  Xena wanted to know what part of war Gabrielle could not understand.  Gabrielle realized that it was Xena who did not understand.  She did not understand herself.  The bard understood war, but she did not understand the out of control darkness that now relentlessly consumed her friend.  Gabrielle’s heart was broken by these thoughts of Xena’s darkness.  They went to a place that she could not travel to.  It was too much for the bard.  She was desparate to reach her friend.  Gabrielle cried out softly for the good Xena who was always wise and with good intensions.  The dark warrior princess turned to the bard and explained that only her darkness could help them now.  There would be no revival of goodness for it could not live in this reality of war.  Xena was willing to let her soul die in order to save every man within the walls of the fortress.  She left explaining coldly that the darkess was a part of her she had not realized she would ever need to call upon again.  With that the conversation ended as the warrior princess left Gabrielle’s heart to fend for itself once again.

      Gabrielle knew that she was losing the battle for Xena’s soul and Xena’s heart.  It was almost too much the bear.  The death and war outside seemingly did not matter to her anymore.  She went to the supply room where the horde man was being held knowing that he felt just as alone in this as she did.  Gabrielle could relate to him in a way that no one else could.  Yet she could not speak of this with him or understand him.  The bard decided that her only chance to save her own soul was to face the danger alone.  She would leave the warrior princess here with the darkness that consumed her.  Gabrielle was ready to die outside the walls in an attempt to escape darkness.  She began to gather water for her leather water bag.  As she grabbed a laddle off of the wall she began to fill it only to hear the prisnor struggle to speak.  He kept saying that word again.  The man cried out “caltucca” as he reached for the bard.  She looked to him soon realizing that he was desparate for a drink of water.  Caltucca was water and not a god of war.  It was life.  Gabrielle approached the man with water as he drank it thankfully.  The dying men wanted water and nothing more.  The magnitude of this misunderstanding between men and other men had spun out of control.  It was all over a lack of communication and willingness to try.  It was all over a lust for violence out of control.  It was about Xena’s lust for violence. 

      Gabrielle’s heart reached out realizing that this was the price.  The price was in losing one’s humanity when it came to the drums of war.  No matter what people were willing to lose themselves and for nothing more than a ridiculous war.  The horde man had finihsed his drink as Gabrielle had knelt down beside him to take the ladle for more.  She wanted to touch him and to let him know that it did not have to be about war.  Yet he was just as mezmorized by it as was Xena.  Xena had been right about only one thing.  If all were going to die there was only one choice left to make.  Gabrielle would die her way.  She prepared for her death without a weapon.  The bard would go onto the battlefield to save lives until hers was taken from her by the hand of the fates.  She soon filled her water bottle and then went outside back to the wall.  Gabrielle spoke to the gatekeeper telling him it was Xena’s command was to send her out to tend to the wounded men.

      The gatekeeper did not give it a second thought.  Xena’s commands were like gold to him.  That was the key to Gabrielle’s chosen fate.  She quietly went from one man to the next looking for those who still had breath.  Gabrielle shared the precious caltucca with her distant brothers as they lay suffering, thirsting, and dying on the battle field.  It was not long before Xena had realized that Gabrielle had been let out.  The warrior princess was enraged that she was defied yet again.  Her control over the bard’s fate and the fate of her men had been lost.  As the sounds of battle preparations from behind the walls began Gabrielle found herself facing death.  There surrounding her as she shared water with another one of the suffering men were his comrades waiting for the kill.  Gabrielle was surrounded just the way Xena had described it to be.  She looked up into the eyes of the men who raised their weapons, but did not strike.  Instead the began to gather their friends who lied dying on the ground.  The wounded horde men were taken back with their friends as Gabrielle rose from the ground carefully watching with amazement.

     No one was trying to kill anyone.  There was love and care in the air.  For the first time in a day it seemed that this battle could end and be fair.  Gabrielle then continued to share the water with every man there.  More horde men came to retrieve more of their dead and wounded as the Atheninans finally found the courage to venture out to retrieve theirs.  As Gabrielle continued carefully across the battlefield Xena came charging out of the gates after her.  Xena pushed her to the ground commanding her to get down.  She was extremely against the choice the Gabrielle had made.  Gabrielle did not care what the evil warrior princess wanted.  That was not the friend she had traveled into this mess with.  Then Gabrielle’s eyes caught Mercer struggling across the field.  Mercer struggling to move.  Gabrielle ran to him calling out.  He struggled to call back.  Mercer was lying on the battlefield wounded.  Xena followed Gabrielle to the wounded commander.  Mercer had not taken Xena’s advice.  He explained how he had tried to go the shorter route.  His attempts to rally reinforcements had failed.  It had been for nothing.  Gabrielle comforted Mercer with a drink from her leather water bag as Mercer lied there upon her lap.  Xena muttered under her breath that it was time to get back inside the fortress for she did not know how long this sudden truce would last.  Gabrielle looked to the dangerous warrior princess confirming to Xena that she had most certainly gotten what she had wanted.  Her war to the death.  It was now certain for all that hope was lost.  Without Mercer’s reinforcements no one would get out of the fortress alive.

     Gabrielle soon returned to the infirmary with Mercer and the other wounded.  She prepared the fire, and more clean bandages alone as she began to mourn the loss of the soul of her friend.  Gabrielle had fought hard to hold onto Xena, but she could not win.  The darkness was just too much for her to purge it of its sin.  In the darkness of the night she worked to ease Mercer’s suffering wrapping his head in the new bandages that she had prepared.  As she continued her work three men entered the infirmary.  They were not injured like the rest.  One of them spoke to Gabrielle explaining that Xena had commanded them to take order from Gabrielle.  The bard could not believe it.  She was insulted for a moment sarcastically reminding the men that Xena desparately needed at them the wall.  The man pleaded for a command from Gabrielle explaining that the basket of food that he held had been rationed by Xena for the men in the infirmary.

      Gabrielle’s heart found a bit of hope in this gesture.  Her soul felt relief realizing that her battle against Xena’s darkness had finally broken through.  Gabrielle began to ask the men distribute the rations to the suffering hungry men surrounding them.  She asked for more bandages as well.  Then Gabrielle continued her work deciding that her heart still loved Xena despite all that had transpired.  The bard mended wounds through the night and through the early morning when all was silent.  While the soldiers slept Xena finally found the courage to speak to her friend again.  Gabrielle was glad that Xena was by her side again.  Xena spoke with hope once more praising Gabrielle for discovering the key to the misunderstanding.  Knowing that caltucca was only water had led to the temporary truce between the two armies of men.  Xena spoke of how Gabrielle’s kind gestures to the strangers had made them think there was peace.  The warrior princess was disappointed in herself knowing that the peace was not her own.  She had let her fear and hatred blind her and she was regretful of it. 

     Gabrielle had already understood this.  She had spent the entire day and night trying to figure it out.  It all made sense to her when the war cries had finally settled down.  Gabrielle tried to comfort Xena and to apologize for her own actions against the warrior princess.  She had pushed her friend hard yet with little understanding until now.  Yet Xena would not accept Gabrielle’s apology to her.  Xena wanted to accept full responsiblity for her actions and wreckless choices.  She did not blame the bard for any of it.  The warrior princess wanted to express her admiration for Gabrielle.  Xena knew that Gabrielle understood hatred, but she had always fought against it.  Gabrielle would never step across that line despite being aware of it within herself.  This was what Xena wished to share with her friend.  The understanding of hatred and Gabrielle’s passionate fight against it.  This was how the rest of the peaceful night played out.  Forgiveness and a sharing of peace between two friends who could finally come to that understanding of each other.  Their differences within one another were to be loved just as much as the things that made them so much alike.  Gabrielle’s heart was warmed by Xena’s gestures of admiration.  It was more than she had ever expected from the warrior princess.   

      As personal issues were being resolved and peace embraced for all within the walls the sun rose without remorse.  It brought upon all the time to hold their resolve for there was a new challenge.  As Xena approached the gates Gabrielle followed desparate for a solution beyond a sacrfice.  Xena had declared on the night before through her prisnor’s release that she would fight only their leader and that would settle the fight for all.  Gabrielle pleaded with Xena hoping that there would be some other way.  Maybe they could talk to the otherside, but Xena knew this possibility was nothing more than a flaw.  It was not logical for peace to have come overnight, but indeed it had.  There was still a great divide between the two sides as misunderstanding still thrived.  The only two things that both knew was that caltucca was water and that a warrior code must always be honored.  This was Xena’s statement to Gabrielle as she prepared to do battle against the horde leader.  She had tried to encourage a duel against the prisnor the night before, but he refused her sword.  He would only accept that of the men who stood behind Xena.  This was the solution that Xena had seeked to release all from this impossible situation. 

      In the warrior code of the hord she had discovered that only a leader could fight another leader.  It was their law.  Xena would fight within the confines of their law hoping that in defeating their leader she would gain a permanant truce and a binding peace.  Soon Xena turned to her friend pleading that Gabrielle leave and go to the river in the event that Xena’s attempt at fighting for peace did not end in triumph.  Gabrielle again refused Xena’s request that she leave to go on without her.  The bard reminded Xena that they had traveled into this place together which meant that they must leave together.  Gabrielle would accept no other code between friends.  It seemed that for Xena there was some comfort in this loyalty that the bard had expressed.  She took the bard’s determination as she walked into battle.

     The gates opened slowly as all was quiet about the field.  There were only the sounds of the horde leader as he stood alone on the battlefield to await his challenger.  He appeared tall, strong, and intimidating as he prepared his moon shaped metal weapons for battle.  The horde leader swung his chains about him preparing to do battle.  Xena approached him calmly and without a single sound.  She did not try to intimidate him with her battle cry for she was fearful deep down inside.  Only the bard could see this and she was glad for if anyone else could have seen or known Xena’s fears then her chances of survival would dwindle.  Xena was brave as she made her final steps stopping before the enemy with a smirk and a slight smile.  There was a certain delight for the battle and she could see her enemy’s strategy.  For the first time the warrior princess knew that the enemy was just as afraid of her as she had been of him for so many years.  This empowered the warrior princess with strong confidence as she slowly reached back behind her to draw her sword.  She did not do it quickly for it was clear that the enemy would no strike until his challenger’s weapon was ready for battle.  In the moment that Xena would flash her weapon he would strike.  He was ready and poised, but the warrior princess refused to hand him his obvious advantage. 

      There was a slight admiration for the brave horde leader who stood before her.  Gabrielle could sense that the warrior princess admired his strict adherance to his own code.  He suddenly looked to the warrior princess making a loud grunting growl urging the warrior princess to begin the battle.  Xena did not delay as she grabbed for her weapon.  It slid smoothly and stealthfully out of its shealth upon her back.  There was barely a moment between the sound of Xena’s weapon emerging from its fortress to the sudden clashing advances of the enemy upon it.  Xena immediately went into a defensive battle stance.  It fooled the enemy into thinking that he could over power her quickly as he charged forward with his own weapons.  The enemy was powerful yet slow while Xena was quick and agile dodging each strike he attempted to make.  Xena held her sword steady as she successfully blocked every move the horde leader made.  She gave him some ground leading him into her trap.  He was begining to spin around moving forward with certain victory on his warrior mind.

      Suddenly there was an unexpected shift in the battle.  Xena had discovered another part of his code.  The horde man would not fight with his weapon if Xena would not charge with hers.  Gabrielle could see this in Xena’s eyes.  She could see that Xena was searching the eyes of her enemy for his intensions.  He began kicking with force as Xena dodged defensively.  His legs were poweful muscles driving forward.  His voice made sounds of frustration and irritation for he had come out for the kill and now he had to fight to obtain the blessings of his people.  He was not allowed to kill the enemy if the enemy did not go in for the kill.  This threw the enemy off balance.  He had been unprepared for this strategy. 

     Xena had to regain control of his mind’s focas as he powered toward her out of control.  His furious kicks began to connect with her face.  Her chest rose and fell with the rush of warrior adrenaline as she blocked an advance from behind her back with her sword.  She had to regain some ground from the enemy in order to win this battle.  She began to reflect his movements as if she were learning a new method of fighting.  It was amazing to see all of this unfold.  Xena could adjust to any situation so quickly.  She suddenly shouted out a warrior cry swinging her sword in front of the enemy to threaten him convincing him to give up ground.  As he lepted backward Xena was expecting his next attack.  He drove both of his sharp weapons down upon her as she readied her weapon long across her shoulders above her head.  Xena spun around throwing a hard elbow across his jaw.  She threw him back ward driving her thick leather booth into his abdomen grabbing back more ground from him.  Xena used her sword making contact across both of his weapons shaking his balance from beneath him.  The horde leader fell across Xena’s boot upon his back.  He did not stay there long as he popped himself back up onto his feet.  Xena countered for more ground as she used a jumping spinning back kick across the enemy’s face.  He lost more ground and did not recover as quickly from this move against him. 

      For a moment he appeared disoriented, but Xena’s advantage did not last long.  The horde warrior reached from within his inner warrior strength to gather the energy to attack.  There was anger and frustration behind his warrior emotions as Xena’s emotions were steady and focased.  Every time Xena would take ground in the battle she would do it defensively.  He could not compete against this strategy though it was clear to the bard that this warrior was equipped with much more physical power and strength that the warrior princess.  It appeared that Xena’s strategy of following his warrior code rules was working.  She was wearing down the enemy and his mental focas was weakening.  It was soon to be realized that his next move would lead to a violation of his own code. 

     Suddenly the enemy jumped forward charging with great force and awesome power.  Xena was seemingly prepared to lose what she had gained as she dodged his strike yet again.  His weapons drove down upon her only to miss their target and connect with a war wagon which had littered the field.  For a moment the battle was a stalemate as the horde leader cried out in frustration.  It was clear that he was tiring of Xena’s mental games.  Xena moved quickly to try to take the offensive knowing that this might be her only moment of offensive advantage.  She spun her sword in her had swinging her arm around for a power move against him, but he had been ready to defend.  Using one had to free one of his weapons from the wagon and the other to block Xena’s sword.  He was successful at stopping Xena holding her sword by its blade as blood dripped down his hand.  The horde warrior gripped the sword tightly and fearlessly with strength.  Xena was now at the disadvantage.  She had not expected him to move quickly. 

     Gabrielle could see Xena’s eyes trying to focas and search for a way out as the horde leader freed one of his weapons with his other hand.  Before the horde warrior could act on his advantage Xena took hold of his surprise as she grabbed his offensive arm releasing her grip upon her own weapon.  She ran up the front of his chest with he boots launching herself into a backwards flip sounding out a confident battle cry.  By the time she had landed upon her feet she had regained the advantage slyly swiping the enemy’s oww weapon.  Gabrielle watched the warrior princess’s own surprise realizing that Xena had not expected that she would come out of that moment alive.  Xena had impressed herself and built upon that momentum as she looked at her new weapon.  The warrior princessed smiled with delight for she throughly enjoyed the challenge of a battle with new weapons.  She was a natural at learning new warrior arts and using new weapons. 

      Quickly the enemy made his move with her sword.  He went in for the kill swinging the small weapon in his had wildly forward.  The horde warrior was unable to control the weapon for he did not know how to balance his moves with it.  Xena dodged his advances gracefully as he fell forward slumping over in his stance.  The warrior princess used his fatigue to her advantage grabbing him on one of his spin around moves using her new weapon to disarm him of her sword.  She now had his arm pinned and his own weapon to his neck.  There was a struggle of wills, but it was clear that Xena had the larger will.  She held the enemy steady as he continued to wear himself down trying to escape her grasp.  Xena attempted to use her forearm to drain the life and strength from within her enemy as he continued to struggle to escape weakening with every passing moment.  Just when it seemed that he would lose conscieneness due to lack of oxygen Xena freed him from her grasp throwing him to the ground releasing him from death.  She threw down his weapon next to the defeated leader picking up her own and walking away back toward the gates of the fortress. 

     All was silent for a moment except for the sound of Xena’s warrior boots making crunching their way across the dirt upon the battle field.  Gabrielle cried out for Xena to watch out.  The horde tribe stood just beyond the woods as they had watched their leader be defeated, but not to the death.  Soon their leader rose from the ground and shouted out in agony over his defeat.  It seemed that he was calling for his men to attack and the warrior princess paused prepared, but then she realized what he was doing.  He was trying to intimidate her into allowing him to save his own honor.  The horde leader wanted his battle to the death.  Xena refused it knowing that she had already won the honor and the blessing of those men that he had led into battle.

      As the defeated leader cried out his men raised their weapons and aimed them not at Xena, but at their unworthy leader.  Gabrielle watched as their axes flew across the battlefield and into the back of the defeated leader.  He fell to the ground defeated by his own code and his own society.  There was a lonely feeling which swept the battlefield in that moment as a great leader had perished alone.  All of the men whom had once followed him then retreated back into the trees.  It was clear that for now the war was over.  It all made little sense to the bard.  As little as the word caltucca.  When Gabrielle approached the triumphant warrior princess Xena explained that she did indeed understand that one leader had to die.  Then Xena looked to the Athenian commander and suggested that this was the time to send out a patrol to fight them if war was meant to continue.  The commander rejected this idea.  His only want now was to abandon the fortress and be certain that he could get his surviving men back home to safety.  With that statement he walked away.  There was little time to talk about all that had transpired.  It would be only a few hours or so before the horde had chosen their new leader who would most certainly return to fight the Athenians another day if they had chosen to stay. 

       When Gabrielle asked Xena if they would return Xena only cofirmed that it may be longer than hours.  She surmised that in a few years the horde would rebuild and return to fight again.  Gabrielle wondered if their rampage could be stopped somehow.  Xena explained that it would not be by warriors.  She was certain that it would be by someone who seeked peace.  The warrior princess grabbed Gabrielle’s shoulder squeezing expressing her admiration for the bard once more.  She explained that it would be someone like Gabrielle that would put a stop to the endless bloody misunderstanding between humans and horde.  Xena only hoped that the horde people had a Gabrielle within their tribe for that was what she felt it would take to be certain that peace would be obtained.  For now the price for war would continue to be losing one’s humanity to the cycle of misunderstanding.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #45: The Lost Mariner

 The Xena Scrolls

By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #45: The Lost Mariner

May, 47 B.C.

My story begins with a violent stormy black night and the uncertainty that is brought to us all upon our own fears.  Xena and her friend Gabrielle had been sailing upon the merchant ship which had left Ithica just days before.  Poseiden had been quiet for a while yet Ulyses’s defeat of the pirates in Ithica had led Poseiden to promise his pirate henchmen the riches upon the merchant vessel.  They were to go in pursuit of the merchant ship.  For three days and three nights Xena had been able to successfully maneuver the merchant ship safely away from the pirate ship yet on the third night Poseiden intervened sending his wrath down upon both vessels in anger of the pirates for their inability to conquer Xena, and for Xena’s role in assisting Ulyses in his triumph back in Ithica.  The pirates took advantage of Poseiden’s storms gaining ground over the merchant ship which finally led the two ships into battle against one another at the height of Poseiden’s storm.

The last thing the bard could remember was calling out to Xena as the waves rose higher washing up onto the decks.  Xena quickly acted throwing her sword down to Gabrielle from the top of the crow’s nest to the deck commanding her to cut the ropes releasing the sails attempting to slow the ship from colliding with the rocks just ahead.  As Gabrielle completed Xena’s command the pirate ship rammed the merchant ship sending it wobbling over onto its side into the rocks smashing them right through the center of the merchant ship’s hull.  Gabrielle desperately called out to Xena as the water burst through the ship into the lower cabins swiftly sweeping the bard off of her feet as she disappeared into the sea.

As the sun rose overhead the next morning another old rickety ship approached the wreckage.  Those aboard noticed that there were two survivors of the storm from the night before.  Miraculously the battling bard Gabrielle had been overlooked by Celesta’s touch.  Gabrielle’s eyes opened as a result of the stinging salt water and the sounds of men’s voices shouting out from over the starbord side of the ship.  Her eyes focased on a tall dark man who stood upon his ship seemingly reluctant to rescue the stranded mariners.  As the helpless bard lazily floated upon a piece of the wreckage one of the other men upon the ship stepped up to the dark captain addressing him as Rama.  Following that strange name the bard’s ears caught only the word sharks for she was barely conscious.  Few moments passed on between that moment and the next as they had finally decided to bring her and her companion on board their ship.

As the bard’s body finally hit the deck she could feel that her lungs were full of salt water, her soaked clothes clung tightly to her body, and all that could be sensed was the horrifying smell of rotten fish.  It was a smell so aweful that it could revive the dead.  The bard moaned in anquish feeling the punch of seasickness begining to kick into her stomach.  She heard the sounds of a sword being dragged across the deck as it verberated beneath her body.  The captain of the ship had noticed that the young girl had been carrying a beautifully crafted sword.  He smiled so impressed with it that he ordered it to be taken to his quarters to reside with his many other riches.  As Gabrielle’s mind began to clear itself from its state of disorientation she noticed something familiar about this dark captain.  He had made sarcastic reference to Poseiden as if there was an unsettled debt between them.  Just as Gabrielle’s mind wrapped itself around this thought she removed her wet hair from her face to get a better view of the dark captain.  She hoped to jar her memory with a tale from the tavern back in Potedia.

Before Gabrielle was able to muster another thought she was boldy addressed by the captain of the old rickety ship.  He wanted to know which vessel the bard had been sailing upon on the night before.  As Gabrielle struggled to recall the events of the previous night between the merchant vessel and the pirate vessel she slowly tried to rise to her feet.  Her mind was begining to sharpen again.  She reached out to her companion lying motionless on the deck next to her.  The bard began to recall her horrifying experience from the night before.  As she spoke she thought that it was rather odd that Xena had been silent.  Then Gabrielle looked to her companion suddenly realizing that the companion they had brought on board with her was not the warrior princess.  This thought instantly ripped Gabrielle’s mind into clarity as she inquired about her friend.  There was no response only a look of curiosity and interest coming from the captain as he leaned in closer as if he could hear Gabrielle’s thoughts.

It felt like a violation to the bard as if there were something not quite right about her situation.  Gabrielle quickly rose to her feet frantically searching the deck for her familiar companion, but Xena’s face did not emerge from within the crowd of men.  The bard suddenly felt alarmed thinking that maybe she was now on the pirate ship.  Gabrielle’s next thought was more horrifying as she surmised that these pirates had captured Xena or maybe even worse.  Suddenly Gabrielle’s response to this idea was to defend and to gather strength.  As she looked to the captain glaring she demanded to know where Xena was.  The captain appeared surprised at the young girl’s sudden change in demeanor.  She instantly went from a helpless mariner to a threatening foe.  Yet the captain answered in both tones explaining that if Xena had been on the merchant ship she could not have survived.  His tone turned away from empathetic concern to an angered spite as he explained that the pirate ship had been lucky as it had averted disaster upon the rocks.  It seemed that the captain had answered his own question about the young girl.  Her companion had been a young pirate and only the pirate ship had survived.  These two factors combined with the knowledge of the merchant vessel’s demise had led him to believe that Gabrielle was a pirate.

Gabrielle spent little time thinking about this for her mind was still wrapping itself around the idea that Xena had most certainly drowned.  The image of her friend pushing up seaweed in death was not pleasant, but it was the only solace that the captain could seemingly offer her.  Yet Gabrielle’s heart reminded her that Xena was too strong to allow Poseiden’s wrath of storms or his pirates take her away from the bard.  Gabrielle looked out into the sea for an answer noticing that there was land seemingly with in reach of the ship.  This filled the bard’s soul first with relief and then fluttering hope as she turned to the captain in defiance of his own asessments.  Gabrielle insisted confidently that Xena had made her way to land pointing in its direction as she stepped down toward the lower part of the deck.  The idea of land so close tempted the bard to jump over the rails on the side of the ship.  Her mind quickly interrupted the idea as her ears caught the captain’s weak acknowledgement of Xena’s survival which led him to his next command.

The captain instructed his men that it was time to get back to their duties for his goal for the day was to get his ship around to the other side of the island by dark.  This snapped Gabrielle back into reality as she turned back to the captain asking him to take her back to land.  Yet the captain seemingly did not care.  He just stated that he was keeping Gabrielle on board now despite what her will otherwise would argue for.  The captain was calm and cool as he explained this stating that he was certain that there would be danger for the bard should she resist the idea.  Gabrielle could not believe what she was hearing.  Her heart was full of laughter for it could clearly be more dangerous for the captain.  He would have to endure the constant sea sickness that would plague the bard causing his deck to become very colorful.  She was certain now that she was indeed on a pirate ship if not the one from the night before.  Gabrielle was determined not to become the slave of a ship full of pirates.  It may have been Poseiden’s idea of a punishment fit for a warrior princess, but Gabrielle’s will was most certainly greater than that of Posieden.

As she graphically argued her point with the captain and demanded to be taken on another boat to the shore the captain laughed.  He was seemingly more amused by the bard’s colorful and passionate spirit than any thing else.  It was obvious to Gabrielle that he was not taking her seriously.  As he laughed he shared his laughter with his first mate Hidsim.  It was as if the captain was entertained for the first time in a while, but that was not the tone Gabrielle had been going for.  As she thought of this the captain softly reached out and gently touched her face reiterating that his decision was final.  He would not be allowing her to leave his ship.  Although Gabrielle felt that she was being held against her will she could sense that even the captain himself seemed regretful as if he felt that he had no other choice, but to imprison her.

This intrigued Gabrielle for a moment as her pirate companion began to rise from the deck into consciousness.  When the young pirate finally rose to his feet he looked up to see the face of a legend recognized by all mariners and pirates sailing the seas.  When the bard heard the familiar name escape the lips of the alarmed young pirate she realized who the captain really was.  It was begining to make sense to the bard as the legend of Cecrops surfaced into her thoughts.  He was the lost mariner who by Posieden’s rule could never find his way home from the sea.  Before Gabrielle could say any more the young pirate quickly drew his sword in fear of the lost mariner.  He declared to Cecrops and all the other men aboard that he would not end up like one of them.  Cecrops was seemingly fearless and valiant as he declared to the pirate that it was his choice.  The rules of Poseiden were clear.  The young pirate could choose to live out the rest of his life cursed alongside the lost mariner or he could choose death.

Suddenly the young pirate charged at Cecrops with his sword swinging it wildly once and then a second time as Cecrops smoothly dodged each move.   Then Cecrops effortlessly robbed the pirate of his weapon and took control striking the young defiant pirate upon the head with his own sword knocking the pirate at his feet.  The lost mariner then declared with authority that the young pirate would not be leaving his ship.  It was as if this had been some old ritual between Cecrops and his pirate captives.  The young pirate had lost the duel against the cursed Cecrops which meant that he now belonged to the lost mariner.  Yet the young pirate was still defiant refusing to become a part of the decrepit old curse.  The young pirate screamed in emotional anguish as he rose from the deck and ran like a mad man to the railing throwing himself overboard unto his own doom.

Gabrielle watched with great interest to see what the pirate’s fate would be.  It seemed for a moment that the curse was only another myth as the pirate swam halfway to shore as if trying to out swim Poseiden.  Yet Gabrielle’s hopes were crushed by the power of Poseiden as the young pirate was engulfed by the green glowing power beneath the sea.  The man’s life was instantly taken as he screamed in agony until his screams turned into an eerie silence.  Gabrielle’s heart sank with defeat knowing that her hopes of reaching the shore were crushed with the body of the young pirate who dared to defy Poseiden’s curse over Cecrops.  As she looked on she watched the lifeless pirate floating back to the surface.  The bard was angry for Cecrops had not tried to stop him from jumping over board.  Gabrielle scolded Cecrops with a calm, yet quiet firm tone.  Cecrops’s only response back was harsh reminding Gabrielle that the choice had been made by the pirate whom had unsuccessfully tried to defy 300 years of curse.

The bard still gazed out over the water seeing the land that she now knew that she would never reach.  Soon the sharks had approached to finish Poseiden’s bidding of them.  As Gabrielle watched them move into take the body of the pirate Cecrops gently forced Gabrielle to look away from the horror.  He possessed the concern of a father as he softly asked the bard to look away from the tragedy before her.  Gabrielle was stunned as the sounds of the sharks destroying the body of Poseiden’s latest victim as they cut through the calm splashes of the waves upon the sides of the ship.  The only thing Gabrielle could hope for was the strength to cope with the idea that she would be imprisioned on the ship for eternity.  She spoke her thoughts outloud as if inquiring of Cecrops a way off.  Her hope was that he would have the piece of the story that was missing.  The resolution that could free everyone from the cursed ship.  Only the idea of freedom by the touch of Celesta could be offered to the bard by the lost mariner.  One day Gabrielle would finally grow old and die just like all of the others except for the lost mariner.  Only he was cursed to live on through eternity.  This did not comfort Gabrielle in the way that she had hoped.  Although Cecrops was kind he was harsh within the same breath for he stated that Xena had been the lucky one.  Cecrops reminded Gabrielle that Xena had probably drowned as he stormed away from the bard with disgust.

With all hope of ever seeing the warrior princess again lost Gabrielle found herself succumbing to the dreaded seasickness once again.  The bard spent most of her day hanging over the railing of the ship realizing that she might be doomed to be ill for a lifetime.  If she was lucky one day she would become so ill that Celesta might have mercy and come to touch her softly releasing her from her now cursed life.  As if the idea of seasickness wasn’t enough to bare Cecrops returned to Gabrielle to deliver news.  He explained that he had come to a decision.  The battling bard would now be the new ship’s cook.  Thinking of cooking and the smells of food made Gabrielle’s stomach turn over once more as she released yet another bout of sickness into the sea.  As she struggled to respond to Cecrops she pleaded for some sympathy.  The bard was still trying to accept her new life on his ship.  Cecrops was cold and uncaring explaining that she would be needed soon.  Gabrielle would have to forget about life outside the ship for it no longer existed for her.

Then he spoke under his breath explaining the real reason behind his urgency.  It had been a very long time since he had had a woman aboard his ship.  With an all male crew he was certain her presence would cause problems for his men would not be able to resist their new distraction.  Gabrielle looked about the ship to notice that almost every old decrepit man was staring in her direction.  It was as if they were entranced by something mezmorizing.  Yet there was little to be excited about.  She felt very tiny now as if waiting to be taken by the wild beasts upon the ship which was more freightening than being sick until the mercy of death.

As Cecrops walked away Gabrielle caught sight of one of the old men approaching her as if preparing to court her.  She was not certain how she would deal with this new issue.  He began to speak standing extremely close.  The bard did not find anything the least bit attractive about a man who had a thin layer of white hair barely clinging to his balding head.  He was no Adonis yet this dirty old man was determined to give something special to the bard.  Just as he was about to pull out the unthinkable the first mate Hidsim approached to rescue the bard from the old man whom had just introduced himself as Altrek.

Altrek was determined to offer his services despite Hidsim’s interruption as he displayed a small brown pouch and pulled ash out of it.  Altrek explained that eating the ash helped settle his stomach of the sea sickness.  Then he began to stuff the ashes into his mouth demonstrating his remedy to the bard.  He looked like an adolescent who had just rolled around in a pit of mud after having a day of sport with his friends.  With the sight and smell of this new crush Gabrielle found herself barely able to fight back another urge to hurl over the rail of the ship.  Hidsim firmly swept Altrek away ushering him to return to his post.  Gabrielle could not hold back her urging illness as she hurled over the side and Hidsim tried to comfort her.  He was more like a fatherly figure rather than an irrational teenager who could not control his hormones.  After several moments of anxiety and illness Hidsim urged Gabrielle to go below decks and rest for a while.  He was seemingly the only sympathetic soul aboard the ship of the lost mariner.  Gabrielle hoped that he would be on for a while.

After spending several moments of thought in an attempt to distract her mind from reality Gabrielle imagined what Xena might be doing if she were alive.  The bard imagined that the warrior princess might have jumped onto the pirate ship in order to survive the wreck.  Maybe the warrior princess had to battle her way to safety on the island after reaching the shore with the pirates.  Most likely Xena was enjoying the games she was playing with them as if she might enjoy being out numbered.  Xena always liked a challenge.  Her goal would be to find Gabrielle hoping that the bard had somehow reached safety on the shore too.  That thought led Gabrielle to a feeling of sadness realizing that Xena might someday give up when she realized that her friend would never return.  Gabrielle knew that Xena would never find her on the cursed ship for the warrior princess did not believe in legends and stories.  The bard decided that the only way to accept her fate was to learn to love Cecrops for he would never ever leave her.  There was some comfort in knowing this, but first she had to get to know his heart if he indeed possessed one.

This led to the bard investigating Cecrops’s cabin.  She wandered into it alone looking about to notice the vast lost treasures it held.  This was an adventure within itself for it reminded Gabrielle of what it was like to hold a fistful of dinars.  That day had been exciting for she had seen the vast treasures of the ancient sumerian people.  No one had ever thought they had existed.  Maybe pirates would catch up to Xena and she would find out about the lost mariner.  It was all Gabrielle could hope for as her eyes caught sight of a large emerald stone placed on top of a black silk box decorated with smaller stones and pearls.  The bard could not resist picking it up as it shimmered in the light finding its way down into the dark cabin.  This brought a smile to the bard mezmorized by its beauty.  She imagined that it came from a treasure like that of Sumeria or some other exotic ancient place.  She held it up to the cabin windows hoping to get a better look as she laughed thinking of how worthless it was aboard a cursed ship.  After looking at it more closely she wondered if it was even real at all.

It was in the next moment that she had been caught by Cecrops snooping about his cabin.  He confirmed that it was indeed worth something for it was real.  Gabrielle found herself suddenly embarressed realizing that she had been very inconsiderate in not asking permission from Cecrops to investigate his treasures.  She feared he might be angry and was uncertain of how he would deal with her intrusion.  Gabrielle desperately fumbled for a good reason for her actions explaining that she was only trying to forget about her sea sickness caused by the constant rocking of the boat.  Cecrops calmly approached the bard and gently took the emerald from her grasp relieving the bard of having to explain her curiosity about him.  He continued to devalue the emerald’s worth explaining that it was worth little more than a grain of sand to him.  Gabrielle was still astonished by the size of the emerald for it had been virtually the same size as her own hand.

Cecrops continued as he praised the emerald for being valueable for what it represented to him as it glistened in the sunlight.  He was happy within one moment and then saddened by a seemingly distant memory as he gently handed the emerald back to the bard.  Gabrielle realized that he did have a heart for it must have been sentimental for someone he had once loved.  She complemented him on his wisdom agreeing with him that his love for that person of long ago was the only way to truely judge beauty.  His soul had once been touched by someone and Gabrielle hoped to help Cecrops find that special part of himself once again.  Cecrops was quiet for a moment as if there was something more he wanted to share.  Then he walked over to reveal from underneath a plain old cloth something more elegant than the emerald.  It was the golden bust of a woman.  Gabrielle recognized it to be the lost Athena of Antigous.  Her hair flowed within the light as it bounced off of the solid golden lockes.  Gabrielle approached the magnificient bust inquiring Cecrops if he had heard of it.  She wanted to see how much he knew of the legends beyond his own.  Gabrielle was curious if the story of this beautiful golden bust was true.  As Gabrielle spoke of the carving men swore came to life of its beauty she touched the golden face hoping it would become real.

Cecrops confirmed that indeed the lost Athena did come to life and offer its wisdom, but only in the magic of the moonlight.  He continued to tell the story of the journey of the lost Athena explaining that she had come to be lost by pirates whom had stolen it.  Cecrops proudly declared that he had stolen those same pirates some of which were still among the crew on his ship.  This reminded Gabrielle of her own predicament.  She had become another one of Cecrops’s lost treasures making her part of his current crew.  As she said this out loud without another thought she realized that she had upset Cecrops who quickly covered his pride.  It seemed the bard had ruined any chance at easing his pain.  The sharing was now over as Athena was now hidden away again.

He looked to the bard and then walked away back toward the door out of his cabin.  Gabrielle regretted having said anything at all for Cecrops had retracted from her attempting to guard his heart from more pain.  Just when she was certain that he would value her as he valued his lost treasures Cecrops inquired of Gabrielle her knowledge of how Athena had been declared the goddess of Athens.  The bard then turned from her defeat and felt that maybe she had not lost all that she had worked for in these precious personal moments with Cecrops.  She began to recite the old story feeling rejuvenated by a bard’s passion.  Gabrielle told of how both Poseiden and Athena desired the affections of Athens.  It was decided that a contest would be held for them.  The first citizen of Athens was chosen to arbitrate.  Suddenly Cecrops interrupted Gabrielle’s story as if he were an authority on it explaining that it had not been the first citizen whom had arbitrated the contest between the Poseiden and Athena.  Yet he was willing to allow this minor mistelling of the story.  Gabrielle was intrigued by his interest in the detail, but she continued on as if feeling challenged by Cecrops.  Her passions grew as she continued explaining that Poseiden had brought forth a spring upon the acropolis while Athena had created a beautiful olive tree sprout upon the fruitless rocky soil.  Gabrielle continued explaining that Athena had been declared the winner by the arbitor and then her story trailed off for the rest of the details were seemingly lost to history.  There was something unnerving about it, but Gabrielle hoped that maybe Cecrops could finish the story since he was so keen on its details.

Cecrops continued explaining that people had long since  forgotten the most important details of this story.  He passionately explained that the arbitor had only been reflecting the will of the people and that Poseiden had become so angry over the decision that he had put a curse upon the arbitor.  Yet to Cecrops the detail that mattered the most was that all had forgotten that the story of the lost mariner, the story of the lost Athena of Antigus, and the story of how Athena had won Athens were all details that belonged to a single story.  Cecrops had been the name of the man whom had been chosen to arbitrate the contest that Poseiden had lost over 300 years ago.  It was within that moment Gabrielle could feel Cecrops’s sadness.  She understood that being forgotten by the world was a worse fate than dying on a cursed ship.  The bard could see that Cecrops felt a lonliness beyond life without Xena.  He would never be able to leave lonliness for it had somehow become his true companion.  It had been the only thing he could count for the past 300 years.  It was like being an imprisoned immortal, but without the power of the gods.

Cecrops continued his story explaining that Poseiden’s curse was that he would never be able to return to land until love redeemed him.  This part of the story did not make sense to the bard for at least six lifetimes had passed since Cecrops had been cursed.  He should have died, but Cecrops explained it was Athena whom had given him immortality which for him made both Poseiden and Athena his enemies.  It was obvious to Gabrielle that Cecrops’s anger against the gods had made him blind to the solution.  She explained to Cecrops that Athena had given him a gift which shouldn’t have been shunned.  It was the gift of hope for eternal life would give him the time he needed to solve Poseiden’s riddle and return to land.  Athena had given Cecrops the chance to live life again despite Poseiden’s anger over losing Athens to her.  It was love versus hate all over again.  Gabrielle had learned through the death of Perdicas that love was indeed more powerful than anger and hate and indeed Athena was wise of this too.  Suddenly Gabrielle was hopeful again now knowing that everyone could be released by the power of love.

As soon as love redeemed Cecrops, but that was the problem.  Gabrielle was stuck for the answer of how this would be possible.  While she thought of this Cecrops just shunned the idea of freedom and life once again.  He retorted explaining that no one could love a cursed man.  Sarcastically grim Cecrops continued reminding Gabrielle of how rare it had been that he had ever had a woman aboard his ship.  He spoke slightly fondly yet bitterly of the last woman aboard whom had lived 200 years before.  She had been angry at Cecrops her entire life for he had sunk her ship.  Before anyone had a chance to investigate the solution further Altrek had entered into Cecrops’s cabin with exciting news.  He urged Cecrops to come up to the deck to witness the miracle.  As Cecrops went to the stairs Gabrielle quickly followed with curiousity.  Unfortunately Altrek was waiting for her at the door which made it difficult for her to ignore him.  She reluctantly thanked him for something, but she was not sure what.  Then the bard pushed her way up to the deck.

Yet there was seemingly no escaping Altrek’s advances for upon reaching the deck starbord side Gabrielle stood next to Cecrops only to find that Altrek was closing in on his new love.  There was a strange sensation as the 60 year old adolescent sniffed as if trying to capture the bard’s essence somehow.  All that Gabrielle could think of was how uncomfortable this made her feel.  There was something icky about the idea of Altrek being her only hope for love on the ship.  He had become obscessed with someone who did not feel quite the same about him.  Hidsim came to the bard’s defense again scolding Altrek for his advances toward the bard.  Gabrielle found this to be a bit relieving as she stared out over the water to get a glimpse of what everyone was fussing about.  In the next moment Hidsim pointed out in the direction of the island to a sight that Gabrielle could almost not have believed.  Yet there she was the warrior princess as the bard had imagined.  Xena was fighting her way through several pirates on the coast of the island as the warrior princess dashed toward the rocks above her.

As Gabrielle watched she could see that Xena was going to try to jump onto the ship of Cecrops.  The bard realized that Xena had indeed discovered the story of the lost mariner.  It was the first place the warrior princess had gone looking for her friend.  Gabrielle’s faith in the warrior princess’s abilities had been restored as she shouted out to Xena from the ship with excitement.  Xena paused for a moment from her battle against the pirates looking up to catch a glimpse of her friend upon the ship.  The warrior princess then shouted out to her friend flipping over the remaining pirates in her path toward the rocks above.  Gabrielle’s heart was joyful seeing that soon she might be reunited with Xena yet Cecrops interjected a dose of reality.  He reminded Gabrielle that Xena did not want to become another lost soul on his ship.  Cecrops played Gabrielle’s heart against her for a moment as Gabrielle thought of the consequences of Xena’s jumping onto the ship.  The bard realized with annoyance that Cecrops was right.  Gabrielle did care about Xena, but life without the warrior princess upon the cursed ship of Cecrops would be unbearable.  Gabrielle could not allow herself to give up the chance to be with Xena once again.  The bard decided to wait patiently to see what the outcome of the situation would be.  She deeply hoped that Xena would succeed despite Cecrops’s advice.

The bard continued watching the events unfold as Xena had reached the bottom of the hill which had led up to the rocks above.  Gabrielle could see that there were plenty of tall trees at the top which might be just what the warrior princess needed to reach the ship.  Yet Cecrops was just as determined to keep the warrior princess off of the ship as she was to find her way onto it.  Gabrielle head Cecrops give the order to man the sails and to sail the ship as far away from the rocks as possible.  This was disheartening for Gabrielle knowing that Cecrops just might succeed.  She watched desparately hoping the warrior princess could run faster than the wind could carry the sails.  The odds were against Xena this time for not only did she have to out run the wind, but she had to do it while keeping the pirates from slowing her down.

Suddenly the ship began to turn away from the island as Xena began to take a barrage of arrows from the pirates.  It was becoming difficult for Gabrielle’s hope to hold onto the promise of Xena, but just as the ship turned away the bard heard a familiar sound.  Xena’s chackram hit the water deflecting itself high up into the air hitting the top of the ship’s sails.  The chackram had hit its intended mark perfectly as it sent the main sail crashing down upon the deck of the ship.  Gabrielle looked out over the water seeing that Xena had found her way up into the trees still taking arrows heavily.  Then the bard heard Altrek shout out to the captain explaining that the ship was now heading back into the shore.  Cecrops’s voice was laced with frustration as he declared death overboard for his men if they did not restore the sail instantly.  Gabrielle smiled with confidence for she was now certain that the warrior princess would win this battle of wills.  It was the faith in their friendship that would bring them together once more.  The warrior princess was fearless as she caught two arrows intended for her.  Gabrielle watched as her friend used the arrows to scale her way to the top of the tallest tree upon the island.

By now the pirates had reached the bottom of the tree ready to take Xena, but the warrior princess was too fast.  She quickly jumped off of the flipping over to the longest branch reaching over the rocky cliffs of the island.  Xena then grabbed the branch firmly as she swung around several times to gather momentum for her long jump.  Gabrielle could hear Xena’s voice battling for strength and hope.  Faith was certain to prevail as Xena flipped up to the top longest branch narrowly being missed by the cross bow arrows sent up to knock her down.  As Xena landed firmly upon her feet on the top longest branch she then gave her signature battle cry flipping out into the sea toward the cursed ship of Cecrops.  It was a spectacular show of acrobatic skill as Cecrops watched stunned alongside the bard.  Xena’s jump was perfectly calculated for she landed upon her mark grabbing onto the ship’s netting.  The warrior princess let out a brief triumphant sigh for all of her hard work.  Gabrielle could see the smirk of triumph within the warrior princess’s smile for she had succeeded in her quest to reach the ship.  With style and confidence Xena then grabbed a rop swinging down from near the crow’s nest toward where her chackram rested awaiting her return.  She then yanked it from its resting place flipping backwards down toward the deck.  Then Xena turned to face her defeated opponant who took a moment to congratulate the warrior princess silently with a glance.

The crew cheered with excitement for now there were two woman aboard the ship.  Gabrielle ran toward her friend for a tight embrace of relief.  Xena returned the embrace still holding her chackram tightly.  Cecrops interrupted the happy reunion with anger over his defeat.  Xena looked up for a moment, but then decided to ignore Cecrops for the moment to express her concern for Gabrielle.  The warrior princess looked her friend in the eye brushing back Gabrielle’s hair to check for harm.  As Xena inquired her friend of her well-being Gabrielle only sighed with joy and relief explaining that she was okay beyond the seasickness and the curse.  Then the bard buried her head into the warrior princess’s breast plate feeling greatly ill over the idea of a long life at sea.  Xena stroked the bard’s hair as Cecrops interrupted again with an angry question.

Finally the warrior princess decided to acknowledge his angry concerns explaining that she had known that he was indeed Cecrops.   Before Cecrops could say another word Xena was firm in stating that she was not going to allow him to go out to sea with Gabrielle.  It seemed that Cecrops was flustered by mumbling barely over his breath.  Then he spoke firmly and loudly proclaiming with frustration that he now had to deal with both women aboard his ship.  Although Cecrops did not find any humor within his new situation Xena could not stop from pointing it out as she confirmed with a slight bit of sarcasm.  Then she looked to Gabrielle who looked back to her friend.  They shared a quiet joke as Gabrielle answer Xena’s unspoken inquiry with her eyes.  The warrior princess had wanted to know if Cecrops was always like this.  Gabrielle confirmed that indeed he was an angry old mariner.  With that Cecrops just growled and then stormed off down into his cabin.  Hidsim followed, but not without interest in the warrior woman.  Hidsim exchanged a brief glance and then followed his captain down into the cabin.

Then Xena turned to Gabrielle as the bard inquired of Xena’s own day long adventure with the pirates.  Xena explained that Basculis was the one who had let her in on the secret of the lost mariner.  Basculis had wanted to capture Xena and sell her for money yet the warrior princess was not about to let that happen.  She had spent the entire day dodging the pirates and looking for a way onto the ship.  When the warrior princess questioned the bard about the truth of death by way of jumping ship Gabrielle recounted her experience of the young pirate whom had jumped to his death earilier.   This led Xena onto the next quesiton.  The warrior princess wanted to know the lay out of the ship.  Gabrielle began to show Xena around as she filled in the missing details to the story of the lost mariner.  As she was finishing her story she took the warrior princess down into the mates’s quarters.  The bard was not too keen on spending a lot of time down in their cabin for it was not all that comfortable and the smell wreaked of sweaty old men.  Not only that, but Gabrielle was reminded of Altrek everytime she had set foot into the mates’s quarters.

As they walked down the steps to the main cabin Xena wanted to know where Cecrops’s cabin was.  Gabrielle explained that it was in the back of the ship.  She was not certain what Xena was planning on, but when she inquired the warrior princess explained that she wanted to convince him that there was a way out.  Gabrielle was not so certain of this.  After her earlier experience it seemed hopeless.  Xena then explained that Athena would not have given Cecrops the gift of eternal life if there was no solution for him.  Then the warrior princess joked sarcastically proclaiming that there would be plenty of time to figure out the answer to the riddle.  Gabrielle did not find this funny at all for she could feel the power of illness building its intensity within her stomach.  It was begining to cause her head to ache.  The bard stepped in front of the warrior princess forcefully slamming her hand into Xena’s stomach.  She was hoping to give the warrior princess a tiny sense of her unbearable illness.  Gabrielle moaned to the warrior princess declaring that she would not endure a life time of fulile seasickness despite Xena’s company.  Then the bard helplessly tripped over a crate and fell onto it.

Gabrielle surrendered to the crate deciding that it would be as good a place as any to try to relax and forget about being sick.  Just then the warrior princess knelt down with empathetic concern for her friend.  Xena then took Gabrielle’s arm into her hands explaining to the bard a way out.  She gingerly touched Gabrielle’s wrist pointing out a small bump.  Gabrielle weakly listened and then suddenly Xena jabbed her index finger deep between the bones.  This sent a sudden  pain through Gabrielle’s body as the bard shrieked with surprised irritation.  The bard desparately tried to slap away Xena’s grasp upon her wrist, but then found herself to be quickly soothed and relieved of illness.  Xena was patient as she waited for the bard’s response.  Gabrielle smiled with excitement for this new way of getting rid of her illness.  Xena then explained that this was the way to get rid of illness any time it came creeping back into the bard’s stomach.  With that thought Xena left Gabrielle to seek out Cecrops.  The bard wondered for a moment why Xena had not shown her this before.  Just as Gabrielle was about to look up and ask she saw the most horrific sight.  It was slimy with tentacles and wet.  Gabrielle shrieked again with surprise only to find Altrek behind the ugly beast he was displaying.  He politely explained that he had brought a gift of squid.  Gabrielle found herself unable to enjoy this gift instead quickly jabbing her wrist desparately hoping to hold back any urge to hurl.  The bard’s attempts to relieve herself of the urge did not succeed.  Her next instinct was to jump up off of the crate and dash for the deck to hurl over the rails.

After the exhilerating release of illness into the sea Gabrielle decided to return down into the pirate’s cabin for some rest.  With the illness now gone the bard was finding herself to be extremely hungry.  There was seemingly little food about the place yet Altrek’s raw squid was still lying in a wooden bowl next to the crate Gabrielle had been sitting on.  She decided that raw squid would be just as good as any other morsal she could scavange about the ship so she risked a taste of it.  If nothing else the bard thought that she could just release it from her stomach instantly if it did not satisfy her appetite.  She had not eaten anything since the night before Poseiden’s nasty storm upon the merchant ship.  With the first careful bite of it she found it to be quite tasty.  It looked horrid and was quite messy to handle, but despite these drawbacks the bard enjoyed the sweet fleshy flavor of the raw squid.  She had not tasted anything so satisfying with the exception of her absolute favorite food which was nutbread.  The more she delved into the taste it almost had the a familiar flavor yet it was extremely chewy.  Despite that Gabrielle continued to enjoy the raw squid.  Her only hope was that Altrek would not return to catch her eating his gift to her.

As she stretched out a few more bites from the long tentacles she caught sight of Hidsim across the cabin who politely asked her how her stomach was feeling.  Gabrielle was pleased at his concern and responded cheerfully that her stomach was now able to again sustain digestion.  This was a good sign for the bard.  It meant that she could now try to enjoy sea life and the experience aboard a ship.  The bard suddenly thought of sharing in her meal with Hidsim for there seemed to be plenty of squid to go around for all.  Gabrielle rose from her spot upon her crate and walked across the cabin to offer her lunch to Hidsim.  Hidsim declined Gabrielle’s offer politely explaining that he could not eat and twine rope at the same time.  Then Hidsim smiled brightly as if glad to share company with the bard so Gabrielle took this as an invitation to join him.  She sat down next to him on his crate while leaving her bowl of squid upon the floor.  The bard was curious about how to twine rope for she had never tried it before.  She asked Hidsim if it was as difficult as it looked.  The old pirate responded light heartedly explaining that it was mindless work.  He explained that twining rope was simple once the pattern was learned.  Then he offered to help Gabrielle try her hand at twining rope.  The bard accepted with a bit of relectance yet it soon shifted to confidence as she realized how easy it truely was.

Hidsim helped Gabrielle twine and just as she was recognizing the pattern of the task he handed it completely over to the bard saying that she was condemned to twining rope for life.  He said it with a serious unfaltering tone.  Gabrielle was suddenly alarmed feeling betrayed by the seemingly old kind hearted pirate, but before she could respond from within her own surprise he smiled laughing stating that it was only a small joke.  The bard’s betrayed heart transformed into laughter itself as she then continued to twine rope while Hidsim grabbed another for himself.  He sighed with relief and then expressed how happy he was to hear laughter again for Rama did not laugh.  It was then that Gabrielle realized that Cecrops’s shared misery was an additional part of the curse.  No man dared to laugh when Rama was about.  Then Gabrielle inquired Hidsim of his first encounter with the lost mariner.  Hidsim explained that it had been a great while since that fateful day in his life.  For a moment he paused as if trying to grasp the memory from the distance of time aboard the ship and then he continued.  He explained that he had been rescuing orphans from a tidal wave that had hit his village upon the coast while trying to save his mother from drowning with them.

Gabrielle listened feeling a bit of sadness and regret for the hold cheerful man for he was not a pirate at all.  It made sense when she heard this story for he was the only friendly mariner aboard since she had arrived.  Just as Gabrielle was about to commend him for his courageous unselfish actions he again laughed and sighed explaining that his story was only a wishful lie.  It seemed that he was carrying a bit of shame in knowing that he had been a pirate in his younger days.  Yet Gabrielle did not judge him for his past deeds for she could feel that he was good at heart.  Hidsim continued explaining that he had actually been planning on getting out of the pirate business when he had met Cecrops.  He said that he had only promised to go on just one more raid with his pirate ship and then he was to retire.  The fates had decided to punish him for his wreckless choices condemning him to be cursed with the lost mariner for it was the ship of Cecrops that he and his pirate friends had decided to raid and attack.  Gabrielle continued to listen quietly with understanding realizing that Hidsim’s life lesson had already been learned long ago.  It was time for Hidsim to be released from the curse as it was all the other old men aboard the ship.  Gabrielle’s next curiosity was in knowing how long Hidsim had been aboard the ship.  Hidsim seemingly could not remember as he sat back and tried to think of the answer.  He explained that he did not even know how old he was anymore for he had given up on life without the ship many years before.  The bard could see that there was now new and restored hope with the arrival of the warrior princess.  Gabrielle reassured Hidsim that his hope was not in vain.  She explained that it was okay to be confident in his faith in Xena for Gabrielle’s faith in Xena was undying.

Hidsim’s heat seemed to melt at this idea of freedom as he spoke genuinely to the bard.  Gabrielle could see his face light up as he remembered life before his time aboard the ship.  He spoke of how he had once enjoyed laying on the green grass with his daughter.  It was as if Hidsim were at that place again within his heart as he painted a beautiful picture for Gabrielle to imagine.  She could see Hidsim as a young father lying on the grass with his lovely daughter sharing a sense of peace together as they looked at the clouds.  Gabrielle expressed her surprise at this for a moment as Hidsim continued explaining to her that his daughter would be just about the same age as the young woman who sat before him.  He then addressed the bard as “little one” almost as if he were imagining that Gabrielle was his long lost daughter.  The bard did not mind sharing the memory of his daughter in this way .  She felt honored for she imagined that his daughter must have a heart as genuine as her father’s.  Then he sighed leaving his happy place once again still full of uncertainty about how Xena’s attempts to release them all from the curse were going to be realized.  His sadness came from another place it seemed to the bard.  Hidsim was certain that his daughter had almost certainly forgotten about him by now.  This was even more of a reason for Gabrielle to convince Xena of the importance of releasing the curse soon.

Suddenly there was a shout from up above the decks of and approaching ship.  When Gabrielle and Hidsim had reached the deck Xena stood alongside Cecrops to view the incoming ship.  The man in the crow’s nest pointed out over the horizen in the direction of the ship.  Cecrops was the first to respond exlaiming that the ship was a pirate ship.  Xena stepped toward the rails to get a better look certain that it was Basculis the one who had been chasing her on the island.  She was certain that they were chasing Cecrops’s ship in the hopes of robbing it of its vast treasures.  This only irritated Cecrops for he stated that they were not making a wise choice in pursuing his ship.  Yet it was all the same to him and as Altrek pointed out he was in need of a new crew.  The new ship’s crew was now fast approaching their destiny.  A fresh young crew was just what Cecrops was looking for to relieve his old decrepit pirate crew.  Cecrops seemed delighted at the least for he had been waiting for a moment just like this.  Just as Altrek asked Cecrops if they were to turn back to attack the approacing pirate ship Cecrops stated that they would not turn around.  He ordered that they would continue east on course as they had been.  Cecrops was certain that the pirates would eventually catch up to them and there would be no need to turn to face them.  Then he barked out an order to Hidsim to grab the wheel.  Hidsim jumped into action running up to his post with great loyalty to his Rama.

As Gabrielle watched Hidsim dash up the stairs to the wheel her attention was turned back to Xena who had spotted something else upon the other horizen.  When the bard looked in that direction she could see what Xena had spotted.  It came from within the sea a bright blinding light within the deep blue waters.  The sounds were like violent waves crashing upon the side of the ship and then emerging from within the sea was a titan.  It was the familiar essence of Poseiden that Gabrielle had seen once before.  As he rose from the sea he growled with fury and anger.  His eyes glowed piercing all who looked into them with their fury.  He held his mighty golden trident as if threatening all who dared to defy him.  Posiden’s shoulders splashed out like waves spraying out upon his golden crown.  His entire body glowed transparent with large defining chest muscles.  The ship shook as if there were an earthquake beneath it nearly knocking every man aboard to his knees.  A sudden mist emenated from his essence brushing across the deck spraying everyone aboard.  Then Xena shouted out to the mighty god of the sea.

It seemed that none of the pirates aboard had ever been in the presence of Poseiden before.  They all shook with fear cowering waiting for him to crush them with his mighty fist.  It seemed only Xena, Gabrielle, and Cecrops did not fear his presence.  They were more intrigued by him.  His decision to appear before them had been calculated.  Only Xena was bold enough to challenge him with a question.  She demanded an answer for what he had planned next for the lost mariner for all that he had been through at Poseiden’s will already.  Poseiden stood before all aboard with his hand upon his hip and his trident planted firmly into the sea.  He declared that his latest issue was between himself and Cecrops.  The god of the sea did not address Xena with a threatening tone.  Poseiden was seemingly amused by the warrior princess’s will to defeat his curse.  It was in that moment that the bard herself had gathered enough courage to address Poseiden reminding him that all others aboard the ship were not given a choice.  Cecrops added with digust reminding Poseiden that it was he who had made the rules to the curse not the warrior princess or any other soul trapped aboard his ship.

Poseiden quickly responded to this offering safe passage off of the ship of Cecrops for the warrior princess without a second thought.  Xena looked to the god declaring that she would not leave the ship without Gabrielle.  Poseiden’s next act was surprising.  He offered both Xena and Gabrielle safe passage off of the ship.  It did not matter to him.  Poseiden was more interested in keeping Cecrops imprisioned for enternity.  Poseiden declared with laughter and amusement that it did not matter how many people he released safely from the ship.  He continued defacing the will of Cecrops promising that there would be more victims as long as Cecrops chose to face the curse rather than the risk of life without it.  Xena’s response to this was more of a shock to the bard.  The warrior princess declared with defiance that she would choose to stay aboard with Gabrielle for a while longer.  She was deterimined to accept the challenge of breaking Poseiden’s curse even if Cecrops was not up for it.  Gabrielle could barely bite her tongue realizing that Xena had just chosen to throw away the only oppritunity that they would ever have of leaving the ship.  She had committed the greatest sin in defying the gods.  Gabrielle was uncertain as to how the warrior princess would recover.  Even Cecrops spoke up scolding Xena for her seemingly foolish choice to stand up against the gods.  Then Poseiden just laughed boisteroulsy declaring that there would be no second chance as he sank back down into the sea disappearing within the mist which brushed across the deck and shook the ship violently.

The bard decided the only thing to do now was to retreat back to her bowl of squid for the stress of knowing that her chance at life upon land again was fading away with Poseiden.  She sat upon the deck near Cecrops’s cabin door awaiting Xena’s grand plan.  Gabrielle had to have faith that Xena had a plan for it seemed that she would not have taken that risk otherwise.  Although Gabrielle was reminded as she chewed through her dinner that Xena had almost gotten her killed during the war between the Mitonians and the Thessalians.  The bard was uneasy about Xena’s passions for a challenge more now than even in that time.

When Xena returned emerging from the cabin her first response was of repulsion as she inquired Gabrielle what she was eating.  Gabrielle’s mind was drunk with numb feelings about the situation.  All she could offer was some of her raw squid to her seemingly dilusional friend.  Of course Xena refused this only to follow Cecrops about the ship who was seemingly uninterested in the warrior princess’s company.  Soon Xena returned to Gabrielle who had decided to forget about her squid friends for a while and examine the situation more closely.  She was curious to know what Xena was going to do next.  It was then that Xena told of an earlier conversation with Cecrops down in his cabin when she had first arrived.

When she had entered his cabin he had been looking over his maps of the sea.  Then he looked to the warrior princess and began to speak to her as if he had already gone mad.  He had spoken passionatel of land.  What it felt like to touch the sand, the dirt, and the earth.  How he often closed his eyes reminded by the smell of the land when his ship had been the close to it.  For hundreds of years reaching land again had been only a dream for him.  Once he had finished raving about his dreams of reaching land he returned Xena’s sword which pleased the warrior princess.  She had actually gone down to retrieve it.  Her interest in Cecrops’s problem had been minimal.  Although she had been irritated to find out that he had even thought of throwing her sword overboard.  He proclaimed that it was not a necessity aboard his ship.  It was then that Xena decided to call him on his declared wishes.  He had boasted his reason for deciding not to throw her sword overboard was in defiance of Poseiden.  Cecrops explained he never gave anything away to Poseiden.  Yet the warrior princess did not see this.  She was certain that he had given up on hope a long time before that.  He had given everything to Poseiden despite the vast treasure he carried aboard it.

When the warrior princess challenged his will having chosen to give up hope he only mocked her calling her a warrior philosopher.  The bard found this part of Xena’s story to be amusing for Xena hated philosophy.  Not only that, but he had compared her to Centaries whom Xena had defeated long ago.  What intrigued the warrior princess most was that it seemed to her he was desparate for someone to rescue him for he did not have the will to rescue himself anymore.  He had gone into great detail with her his story.  Cecrops filled in the blanks with Xena where he had left off with Gabrielle.  The bard was jealous of the warrior princess for she had missed this moment with Cecrops.  Yet she was satisfied in knowing that he had finished telling someone his story even if it was the warrior princess.

It had been three days before the summer solstace and twenty-seven years after Poseiden had cursed the lost mariner when he had decided to give up hope.  Then he picked up the large emerald that Gabrielle had held in her hand explaining who his love had been.  Her name was Terraye.  Cecrops described to Xena a woman who had hair like the midnight sun, skin as soft as silk, eyes so green and deep that a man could fall into them, and a face that lit up with the power of faith so great that it seemed nothing could separate their love.  Terraye had been the love of his life and it was clear to the warrior princess his passions for a woman who had died long ago.

When the warrior princess had tried to offer him her condolances he continued his passionate story of love shifting into anger and loss.  He explained that three days before the summer solstace he had been on his way to see Terryae.  Just before he had arrived at the port where Terraye’s village had been Poseiden had risen out of the waters and cursed him.  The god of the sea had separated the soul mates before each other’s eyes creating the mighty whirl pool Caryptous to separate them further.  It was a reminder to both that they would never be able to hold one another again.  Although they had been separated by Poseiden their souls searched for one another every night for Terraye would meet Cecrops along the cliffs of the island she lived upon.  The two of them would spend hours admiring one another and loving each other despite their tragic separation.  Cecrops never aged, but Terraye fell victim to the cruelty of mortality aging as the years went by.  Despite this Cecrops grew to love her even more declaring to the warrior princess that Terraye had grown more beautiful as her years went by.

Cecrops’s emotions eventually got the best of him for one night Terraye did not return to the cliffs to meet with Cecrops.  It was in that moment that he had lost his sanity and realized that his faith in love was lost for he could never be with the one he loved most for she had finally left him.  Celesta had taken her and it was then that Posieden had defeated Cecrops’s heart.  The warrior princess’s heart reached out to Cecrops as tears streamed down the broken mariner’s face.  She declared with hope and excitement that they should return to Terraye’s village, but Cecrops could only reject the idea with anger reminding Xena that Terraye was already gone.  He cursed Poseiden, Athena, and the fates for not bringing Xena to him sooner.  Cecrops reminded Xena that the power of Caryptous had been the reason that even Terraye’s village had succumbed to death.

Yet Xena was determined that it was Caryptous that held the key.  Poseiden would only have created it if it meant something.  Xena was also reminded of Athena and how her gift of immortality was a part of this hope.  The warrior princess pressed the issue with Cecrops, but he refused to accept faith and hope.  Instead he angerily declared that faith had killed more people than war.  It was nothing to give his life for.  Xena scolded him out of frustration retorting that his story of passionate love and faith in Terraye was all a lie.  She was certain that he had been lying to her or maybe worse he had been lying to himself and his lost love.  Cecrops did not have a response to Xena’s determined will.  His own will was to weak to fight it.

Later Xena had followed him onto the deck hoping to convince him that Caryptous was the answer, but he was seemingly more interested in collecting more pirates to man his ship condemning them rather than to save those who were already cursed.  This greatly disheartened the warrior princess.  She was certain that Cecrops was afraid that she had figured out the answer to the curse.  He was afraid that he had allowed himself to live with and to accept Poseiden’s curse upon him for three-hundred years.  The warrior princess was certain that he hated himself for condemning so many others whether they were innocent souls or not.  Then she retreated from the conversation with the bard declaring that soon darkness would fall upon them which meant Posieden would be waiting to lash out in the night.  It seemed to the bard that there was a part of the warrior princess that could relate to the pain of Cecrops.  The bard had seen how often Xena had blamed herself for the life of Callisto and the lives of so many others she had once harmed.  This made understand Cecrops possible.

Gabrielle follwed the warrior princess helping to secure and prepare the ship as the moon revealed itself and lightening struck out into the distance.  For the first time Gabrielle found herself truely enjoying the labors of the mariners.  It helped that she had not felt sick since before the sun had been high over head.  As the storm clouds began to roll in closer Xena ordered almost all of the men below decks explaining that their preparations made it possible for fewer men to be endangered.  Altrek followed her down into the cabin warning that Poseiden’s storm was going to be massive, but the warrior princess expressed little fear over Poseiden’s threats.  She was certain that she had experienced much worse when sailing with Ulyses.

Morale was now high aboard the cursed ship of Cecrops for the news of hope had been delivered by Hidsim to all of the men that Xena was going to defeat the curse.  When he approached the warrior princess with more hope than he had displayed earlier the warrior princess fed it with her confidence and determination.  It was all that Hidsim needed to hear.  He was ready to be loyal and do whatever the warrior princess asked to get a chance to see his daughter once more.  Gabrielle found herself thankful that the curse would be ending soon so that she could stop jabbing her wrist although she was thankful to the warrior princess for introducing the remedy.   She shared her new found content with sea life alongside the warrior princess.  Xena’s concern was less with Gabrielle’s sea sickness and more of Poseiden’s intensions.  She shared her suspicions about Poseiden not wanting them to reach Caryptus.  This was an exciting idea for the bard for it meant that Xena had solved the mystery of Poseiden’s curse.  The warrior princess appeared to be less certain about herself, but only in front of the bard.

Gabrielle reminded Xena of the importance of defeating Poseiden and his curse if not for her sea sickness for another matter.  Altrek passed by brushing closely next to the bard who suddenly felt another bout of illness.  Then she jabbed her wrist again explaining her latest delemma to the warrior princess.  Xena found Gabrielle’s sarcasm over the bard’s admirer to be amusing as she smiled silently agreeing that it was a problem.  It was in this moment that the bard finally remembered what she had wanted to ask the warrior princess earlier.  She wanted to know why Xena had not shared her  wonderful remedy for illness aboard Ulyses’s ship.  Xena’s answer was reluctant as the warrior princess explained that there were side effects to the pressure point.  When Gabrielle inquired of the side effects that she had yet to feel the warrior princess explained that the pressure point numbed the tastebuds.  It took a moment for the bard to realize what Xena was trying to tell her.  Then the warrior princess continued explaining that the side effect was in chosing to eat things that don’t normally taste good.

Suddenly Gabrielle came to the realization that the raw squid she had been eating all day was what the warrior princess was talking about.  The bard dreaded what she would feel when her next bout of illness showed its ugly presence.  As Gabrielle found herself fighting the urge to hurl again she realized that there would be a cabin washing in the near future for it was now too dangerous to run up to the deck and hurl over board.

As Gabrielle purged herself of lunch and dinner Xena was approached by Hidsim who explained that Cecrops was keeping something from her.  Hidsim explained that Cecrops had decided that they were not going to make their way to Caryptus.  Instead they would turn back to attack the pirates at dawn.  This led the warrior princess storming out of the pirate’s cabin into Cecrops’s cabin to confront him about the decision that affected everyone aboard the ship.  Cecrops’s answer was calm and defiant of the warrior princess as if he were reminding Xena who was in charge.  His ego was becoming larger than even the ego of Poseiden himself.  As Cecrops looked over his maps of the sea casually explaining that he had changed his decision the warrior princess charged forth forcefully declaring that he had changed his mind out of fear.  Cecrops did not enjoy having his ego being bruised in this way and he retaliated shrugging off Xena’s remarks reminding her that Poseiden was nothing to fear.  The warrior princess retracted her emotional attack against Cecrops for a moment to explain that there was more to fear than Poseiden.  She challenged him again carefully.  Xena was certain Cecrops was afraid that Xena had come up with the answer he had been unable to find for hundreds of years.  When the warrior princess received no retaliation to this statement she continued attempting to use hope and faith as weapons within the emotional battle.  For the first time the warrior princess found herself having to use kind words with passionate heart to defeat darkness.  Xena again reminded Cecrops of Athena’s gift to him.  She urged him to take Athena’s gift and end the curse.  Then she ended her statement reminding Cecrops that she had been the first person to ever be offered the chance to leave the cursed ship alive.  There was something to that.  It meant that Poseiden had something to lose.

Cecrops found himself to be angered and irritated knowing deep down that the warrior princess was right.  It was painful for him to realize that he had been able to end the curse all along, but he had chosen the condemn himself to it instead.  When Cecrops challenged Xena’s confindence in his miscalculations she only struck him down with firm facts.  She could relate to his pain for she too felt guilty for what she herself had done to condemn others to great pain and suffering.  Cecrops was suffering the same trama.  He was seemingly unable to over come it.  It was obvious that his soul was turning dark underneath all of his emotions confusing itself into feeling empowered by a curse so old waiting to be broken.  For a moment Cecrops retreated as if struggling to decide which side he was on.  He agreed that he had wronged many innocent people kidknapping merchants to man his crew in the first hundred years of curse.  Yet he felt that now he only condemned pirates which was justice.  Cecrops seemingly enjoyed dealing out justice even if it was justice for himself for his own mistakes against the innocent.

With every retaliation Cecrops used against Xena’s reason she had a better retort.  She reminded him that although the men on his ship were pirates they eventually became friends who were close to his heart.  The warrior princess could think of no better emotional anguish to edure than to allow oneself eternal loss and emotional suffering.  Losing friends, and lovers all to the justice he imposed upon himself.  Despite Cecrops’s attempts to shrink away from his own emotional issues Xena kept gently pressing forward hoping to help him realize that she could relate and understand his plight.  Yet Cecrops could not accept redemption even from the woman who seemingly would not accept her own redemption.  It was the blind leading the blind and Cecrops pressed on that point.  He wanted to hear it from her her greatest fears.  Cecrops was certain that the loss of Gabrielle was a fear within the warrior princess for her determination to board his ship had displayed it well.  He was certain injury and death were things that Xena did not fear, but there was something far worse to fear.  Cecrops himself feared his own life for every day that it dragged forward meant another day men continued to suffer under his self made justice.  Enemies had become his greatest and truest friends which made him despise himself even more.

As it seemed that Xena was succeeding at breaking down the fortress of emotional barriers Cecrops had built around himself Cecrops retreated again. When Xena attempted to empower him with the right choice in following through with the trip back to Caryptus Cecrops shunned it yet again.  He sarcastically asked the warrior princess if her great plan was to fall in love with him for he did not yet understand.  With this remark Xena could only walk away and return back into the pirates cabin for his defiance of faith seemed hopeless to her.  She could take no more of this.  Just before she opened the door Cecrops inquired about her choice to sacrfice the freedom of herself and her friend.  Xena’s answer was simple.  The warrior princess desired to rescue every soul that sailed aboard the cursed ship even the soul of the lost mariner.  Cecrops appeared irritated by this, but not yet defeated.  Now he was fighting against Xena to retain his self preserved eternal justice.  The cost no longer mattered to him as he sunk into darkness isolated from all.

The night wore one and with it came a giant tidal wave created by the wrath of Poseiden.  A god expressing his anger over the defiance displayed by the warrior princess.  Gabrielle held on for dear life as the water came crashing into the cabin from the deck.  The warrior princess rushed to retreive her friend from the danger as Gabrielle reassured her friend that she was not injured.  Cecrops suddenly burst into the cabin barking out orders to his men.  He was concerned about the large heavy crates that were now loose about the cabin.  Xena and Gabrielle were narrowly able to escape being crushed by one of them.  Suddenly a second tidal wave came crashing in from the deck sending another crate across the cabin toward Cecrops.  Before Cecrops could react Hidsim shouted out to his Rama and dashed across the cabin sacrificing himself for his beloved Rama.  As the crate crused Hidsim a large gasp came from within the old pirate’s body as his eyes displayed the physical suffering he was trying to endure.  Xena shouted out to the other pirates to remove the crate, but it was too late.

As Cecrops and Gabrielle helped Hidsim lie down on the cabin floor Cecrops wept asking Hidsim why he had risked himself for an immortal.  Hidsim’s only answer was that he reacted wishing to protect his Rama.  The consequence of this was nothing for the old kind hearted pirate.  While the warrior princess attempted to find a way to save the old pirate from Celesta’s grasp Hidsim looked to Gabrielle addressing his little one once more.  He regretted that he would not have the chance to live for the day he would lie on the grass with his lovely young daughter once more.  Although the bard could see the old pirate’s eyes begining to glaze over into an entranced stare she grasped for hope to offer him declaring that he would be okay.    The old pirate called out for his Rama once more as Cecrops called back to him knowing it would be the end.  Hidsim’s last words were a plea and a promise that Cecrops would touch the earth for him one day.  With that the final breath and last life left the old pirate’s body as his soul was finally free from the curse.  Although it had been Celesta who had rescued him instead of the warrior princess this only drove Cecrops to become even more determined to beat Poseiden at his own game.  The lost mariner retreated in emotional anguish suffering the same torture he had subjected himself to for over 300 years.  Everyone else stood still and quiet in silence as the bard and the warrior princes gently closed the staring lifeless eyes of a man all had loved and admired aboard the ship.

After holding a small vigil aboard the ship in the middle of the night when Poseiden’s wrath had finally subsided for a while the warrior princess and the bard helped the men prepare the body of Hidsim for burial in the morning.  Many could not sleep over their grief, but the warrior princess most of all for now many more lives were at stake for her own actions against Poseiden.  The warrior princess decided to try to convince Cecrops to continue onto Caryptus once more.  When she was about to enter Cecrops’s cabin the sounds of Poseiden could be heard echoing within the quiet darkness.  The god had more in store for the defiant warrior princess.  This time he decided to offer someone else freedom.  Poseiden had decided that he would make a trade with Cecrops in exchange for the warrior princess.  He assured Cecrops that not only would he free the mariner from the curse, but he would allow the pirates aboard to go free as well.  Although Cecrops was confused by this offer it was hardly an offer he could refuse.  The warrior princess had been foolish in her choice to have faith in Cecrops and hope for all aboard the ship.  When Xena entered his cabin once more hoping to change his mind Cecrops had already decided that they would stay the course toward Caryptus to end the battle.  As the lost mariner bolted out of his cabin Xena was left to wonder if he had finally figured it all out.  All that was left was faith and hope.  These were things that the warrior princess needed to hold onto if Cecrops could not.

When day broke the clouds Poseiden had brought in laced with violent storms were begining to dissipate into clear blue sky.  It seemed as if Poseiden were still trying to entice Cecrops into the deal for it was clear that the lost mariner’s mind had not been set on a choice.  Gabrielle looked out into the sea noticing that the Basculis and his pirates were still following closely behind.  Surprisingly the storms had not taken them out.  Just then Hidsim’s body was brought out onto the deck for its departure.  Gabrielle watched as the men were silent.  Their respect for their beloved Hidsim was enduring even in death.  As then men placed his body upon the rails ready for burial the warrior princess helped to secure it for final words.  Cecrops reached across the wrapped corpse and gently placed his hand over where Hidsim’s heart once resided still stunned at his old friend’s unneccessary sacrifice.  Once enemies Xena reminded Cecrops that Hidsim had grown to love, care for, and respect the lost mariner despite the curse placed upon him.  Cecrops remembered the name Hidsim had given him.  He spoke of Rama as someone who may have been a hero in the place that Hidsim had once called home in life.  Cecrops expressed that he did not feel he deserved the honorable name, but the men silently expressed their difference of this opinion held only by Cecrops.  With one last moment Hidsim was finally sent off into the sea to rest enternally.  Gabrielle wondered if one day she would meet his daughter.  She thought that if she ever did she would sing to her the wonderful story about his kind hearted soul.

As all continued to look out into the endless sea there was a suddenly jolt from beneath the ship.  The warrior princess was certain that they had finally reached the outer rim of Caryptus.  She explained that they had to break free of it for the safety of all aboard.  Cecrops ordered a man up into the crow’s nest, but as he called out the names of Diniasis, and one-eyed Pellerman all of the men shrank back in fear.  Gabrielle could see that even if there was a brave soul left aboard none were young and vibrant enough to survive what was about to come.  Finally Hidsim’s replacement stepped up and reminded of the danger that no man was willing to face.  It was as if he was trying to explain that Cecrops was asking too much.  He painted the image of the lines holding the nest together severing and bringing down the entire crow’s nest into the sea.  No one wanted to fall into the mouth of Caryptus.

Despite this the warrior princess volunteered without a second thought quickly scurrying up the ropes and into the most dangerous place aboard the ship.  Cecrops and Gabrielle ran over to the ropes to try to hold them steady, but they were so old and frail that the weight of the warrior princess snapped one of them at the top as Gabrielle watched in horror.  The bard called out to her friend with grave concern who was now swinging above holding tightly to the remaining ropes.  Xena did not answer for she was concentrating on the winds picking up rapidly making her journey to the crow’s nest more treacherous.  Quickly the warrior princess regained her balance and finished her journey up into the crow’s nest.  Then the warrior princess looked about to see Caryptus’s massive strength and power.  When Gabrielle was certain that the warrior princess was safe in the crow’s nest she looked out across the sea hoping to see Caryptus herself.  Instead she noticed the pirate ship still following them closely.  When the bard thought of their rash decision outloud Cecrops just confirmed that the pirates had made a fateful choice in chasing his ship into the mouth of Caryptus.

The ship began to shake violently as if it were being pulled apart.  Xena shouted out several decisive commands hoping to release the ship from the grasp of Caryptus, but it was too late for now the ship of Cecrops was deep into its mouth.  The men struggled to stay on their feet as they were thrown about the deck unable to stand.  Debris was flying about as the warrior princess lost her footing upon the crow’s next.  Her sword came crashing down from above digging itself solid into the deck.  Somehow it seemed that Xena had gotten caught up within the ropes of the crow’s nest as Gabrielle still held tightly to the bottom ropes.  Cecrops struggled to retreive Xena’s sword from where it was sticking out of the deck.  Gabrielle could see that this was now the moment of truth for Cecrops.  He could make two choices.  The lost mariner could use Xena’s sword to cut the ropes sending her crashing down into the sea or he could choose to have faith that Xena was right all along.    After a few short moments of debate Cecrops had made his choice.  He called out to Xena throwing her sword back up to her.  The warrior princess caught it using it to cut herself free of the ropes she had become entangled with.

As Xena freed herself she flipped down from the crow’s nest returning to the deck as Cecrops declared in defiance of Poseiden that he had finallly figured out the curse.  He shouted out with triumph that love redeemed.  It was not that someone had to fall in love with him, but the love that he had for others.  Cecrops then reminded himself of those who had shown him the answer.  He remembered the love Xena displayed in sacrificing her freedom for Gabrielle upon entering his cursed ship.  Cecrops remembered the love that Hidsim had shown by chosing to die in order to protect him from death.  The lost mariner suddenly realized how simple what Xena had said to him truely was.  With that he laughed joyfully and then shouted out his grateful thanks to Xena and all of his friends.  Then Cecrops dashed for the rails of the ship and plunged himself deep into the mouth of Caryptus without a second thought.  Before Xena and Gabrielle could respond in the hopes of trying to save him from Caryptus he was already gone.  He had disappeared as the rest of the ship and its crew sailed down into the mouth of Caryptus with the pirate ship alongside them.

The next thing the bard could recall of this experience was waking up on an island along a coast someplace alongside Altrek.  It was a horrifying experience through the hazy mist that had once been Caryptus.  As Altrek tried to comfort the bard from her left over sea sickness he patted her gently on the back.  Gabrielle just struggled to rise from the ground to assure him that leaving her was the best thing for everyone.  With that he waved good-bye finally ending the two day relationship that they had endured together.  Gabrielle was relieved, but sore from all of the illness and the bruises Poseiden’s wrath had given her.  Just then the warrior princess aproached kneeling down concerned for all that Gabrielle had endured with her.  Gabrielle responded that everything was becoming normal again for she was glad to be ridding herself of the last squid and her latest flame.  The bard waived reluctantly spotting Altrek who still had not left yet.  Xena looked up sharing Gabrielle’s misery with her friend in an attempt to comfort the bard.

The warrior princess assisted her friend to her feet and then carried Gabrielle along helping to hold the bard up for a short walk along the shore.  As they walked along the bard began to think of how Cecrops had truely known the answer within his heart.  Gabrielle could not believe that she had been unable to figure out the riddle for herself for the love given to others was most certainly more important than the love recieved by oneself.  As the bard looked to Xena for an agreement with this philosophy the warrior princess did not give and benefit to a bard’s philosophy.  Instead she stated that what had given the riddle away for her was Poseiden’s statement directed at Cecrops.  He had said that the lost mariner never known where to look for the answer.  It was then that Xena had realized that the answers inside oneself were the keys to freedom even if it was only freedom of the soul.

Sadly it seemed that Cecrops would never be able to enjoy his own freedom for the friends spotted him lying face down among a pile of debris from his old ship.  It seemed that he had been taken by Celesta after all.  Yet as they approached him to be certain Cecrops flipped himself over laughing hysterically with joy shocked that he was even alive.  The warrior princess found herself to be just as surprised after watching him throw himself into Caryptus.  It was a wonder than anyone had survived the ordeal.  Yet it had been Athena who had made it possible for she had given him immortality which had almost been forgotten by everyone.  He declared that he owed the goddess his deepest apologies for cursing her for hundreds of years.  Cecrops rolled about like a young boy as if he were experiencing land for the first time.  He reveled in it and could not believe he had been away from its wonderful sensation for so long.  The lost mariner suddenly jumped up from the earth and hugged the warrior princess who did know how to accept his gratitude.  Gabrielle was humbled to see the true man behind the curse.  He was just like Hidsim only more vibrant and much older in a manner of speaking.

Just then Gabrielle wondered what the lost mariner would do next.  Anyone he had ever known had long since gone, and the only people he knew were the old pirates that had surrounded him aboard the ship.  Cecrops had yet to think of this for himself for he had spent 300 years trying to reach the land again.   Then he fell back onto the ground and pulled from his clothes the lovely memory of his beloved Terraye kissing it softly.     Even the warrior princess could feel the joy of the lost mariner sharing in his memory of the woman he had once loved so dearly.   His dream had finally come true and now he had to discover a new life for himself.  With that Cecrops rose upon his feet once more reaching out to thank Xena for her determinated will to help him break the curse.  He thought that maybe he could help others in the way that Xena had helped him.  Gabrielle suggested that Cecrops seek out and find Hidsim’s daughter.  The bard was certain that this would be a nice place for the lost mariner to start.  He could honor the memory of Hidsim and who knew what might happen to the lost mariner beyond that.  With that he kissed his fingertips and then softly touched Gabrielle’s cheek taking in the guidance offered to him.  Then the serious tone turned to joy once more as he joked that he would gladly walk there.

The final thought from the lost mariner came from his certainty that Poseiden’s anger was more fierce within the sea now that he had lost the battle.  As the three friends looked out into the sea Xena hoped that Poseiden might release his new anger upon someone who warrented the reception.  This led the bard to a fascinating thought.  The new lost mariner was most likely a pirate named Basculis who had been involved in the misfortune of attacking a ship with treasures so vast that they could belong only to the mighty god of the sea.   Angered by the destruction of Caryptus during Basculis’s attack Poseiden cursed Basculis to enteral life at sea destined to be lost within the misinformed legends forever.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll# 44: Ulysses

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#44:  Ulysses

May, 47 B.C.

As time passes by the spirit wonders.  It ponders what life means and the why the answers are unseen.  The battling bard had been traveling alongside the warrior princess now for nearly eight seasons.  When she had left her home village of Potedia at the age of sixteen she had seeked adventure and glory.  She had come to the realization that a warrior’s life was not at all what the stories had always told.  Instead it had turned out to be turbulant and unpredictable.  Most days living alongside the warrior princess had been at the mercy of the fates, the gods, and Celesta’s touch of death.  Now Gabrielle sensed that there was more that she wanted beyond the adventure she had once seeked.  She had learned so much about being a warrior and about how to fight.  Gabrielle had discovered the greater good and the passions that came with it.  The bard had learned hard lessons alongside the warrior princess and lost many things she held dear within her heart.  Her husband’s life had been sacrificed to the wrath of a soul destroyed by the evil that had once been Xena.  Gabrielle had only recently known this evil side of the warrior princess, but she was confident that it was now very distant from the warrior princess’s heart.

Gabrielle hoped to teach Xena about love and about hope.  She hoped to bring Xena out of the depression that had consumed the warrior princess for so long.  Gabrielle had gotten to know the heart of the warrior princess very well.  Though Xena did not often like to admit it Gabrielle knew her as well as Xena had known herself.  There was a certain vulnerability to this for the warrior princess.  It was a vulnerability that Gabrielle had admired about her friend.  She knew that this was what made up the true heart and soul within the warrior princess.  It was this vulnerability that few knew which made Xena so special.  There was power within it, but Xena had yet to realize it.  For Gabrielle there was only one way to help her friend learn to cope with this and be okay with it.  This recent sharing of the hearts led the two friends to the coast of the Agean.

The day was beautiful and quiet.  Gabrielle listened to the soothing peaceful waves crashing upon the shore just below the steep cliffs.  She was desaparate to walk down to get a true feel for the cool breeze that was certain to beckon all to caress the waves upon their feet.  Gabrielle’s excitement began to spill out into a conversation between herself and the warrior princess.  Yet the conversation was more one-sided as the bard beckoned the warrior princess to stop to take some time to smell the flowers surrounding them.  Xena just scoffed at the idea for smelling flowers was not productive in her warrior opinion.  She even questioned the bard’s philosophies as always challenging Gabrielle’s request.  Gabrielle of course had meant this philosophically and not literally.  She wanted Xena to realize that it was okay to stop and take a breath in life every once in a while.  Gabrielle wanted the warrior princess to see that life did not always have to be rough and full of adventure.  There were times when it only needed to be appreciated for what was being given.  Gabrielle was feeling that in this peaceful moment of walking the two friends were sharing was something to be appreciated.  This led into a tinge of frustration as Gabrielle realized yet again that Xena had been ignoring her the whole time.  The bard was determined to get through that thick warrior skull which housed Xena’s clever warrior mind.

She decided to ask Xena to stop and close her eyes.  She wanted the warrior princess to concentrate and meditate yet feel a sense of peace sweeping over her.  Xena was not excited about what she viewed as just another challenging game, but she decided to humor Gabrielle stopping to listen to the words that her friend spoke.  Gabrielle was desparate to capture Xena’s warrior imagination and to take it to a place beyond violence and beyond constant spiritual burden.  As Xena stopped and closed her eyes to listen Gabrielle then softly asked her friend what she heard.  Xena’s response was slightly candid and irritated as she spoke of the many seagulls flying above them.  Gabrielle felt for a single moment that she might be getting through to her friend as she asked her what the sounds of the seagulls made her feel.  Standing with one hand on her hip and her other to support her leaning against the staff the bard patiently and calmly awaited Xena’s answer.

Xena pursed her lips with her eyes still closed as she made a contorted face speaking of the irritation that she could not deal with because to her the gulls were extremely noisy.  The warrior princess then opened her eyes and turned to the bard as if pleading for her to stop what she viewed as nonesense, but Gabrielle would not surrender to Xena’s will.  Instead she asked Xena what else the warrior princess could hear.  Again Xena closed her eyes and then spoke of the sea.  Gabrielle felt that there was nothing the warrior princess would say that could possibly make the sea sound as horrific as the seagulls.  Yet the bard was wrong for the warrior princess again opened her eyes and turned to the bard explaining that the sounds of the sea only led her to the thought that she was glad to be standing upon dry land.

This of course was not the kind of response that Gabrielle had hoped she would be able to dig out of the warrior princess, but it was better than the feeling of irriation.  It was a start, but it also only meant that Xena had beaten her again.  She had made a game out of something that Gabrielle had felt was serious.  Xena quickly moved away from the bard continuing on down the path in triumph as the bard ran to catch up to her friend.  Gabrielle could not fathom the endless practical nature of her friend.  It was an irration in itself.  This made it nearly impossible for even the peace loving bard to stop and smell the flowers in life.

Gabrielle began to argue with Xena’s point of view defending her own position explaining that the sea was simply one of nature’s most beautiful and personal expressions of itself.  Xena responded with little interest in the bard’s statement.  She was practically ignoring Gabrielle who had decided that she would not allow this kind of ignorance from her friend.  She decided to demand concentration from the warrior princess asking her to again stop to close her eyes, listen, and hear the sounds of the peaceful waves beating upon the shore.  Her passion for this request was seemingly taken seriously for a moment as Xena stopped to try Gabrielle’s meditation excersise once more.  Gabrielle demanded that Xena learn to have a sense of peace, and some patience for new ideas to go along with it.  As Xena began to concentrate Gabrielle asked her what she felt.  Without a beat or an extra moment between Gabrielle heard Xena’s sword sliding out of its shealth upon her back.  Xena’s eyes were now open as she was ready and alert.  Gabrielle could not believe it.  The sound of the sea seemingly made Xena want to draw her sword.  It seemed that everything was about drawing her sword.  This was a frustration the bard was having trouble dealing with.

As Gabrielle spoke her thought outloud Xena replied that it wasn’t the sound of the sea that had caused this action.  It was the sound of a battle.  With that statement the warrior princess was off down the path of reeds further positioning herself for the next move.  The bard watched noticing that Xena was seemingly more at peace when her body and mind were poised for war than at any other time in life.  Gabrielle was shocked that she herself had not heard the battle for she had been listening to the sounds of life around her for some time.  The bard searched the landscape with her eyes curious to know where this had crept its way into her sense of peace.

Just below the cliffs on the beach there was a small battle between one rather strong and handsome man who was being attacked by three pirates.  Gabrielle had decided that with these odds it was time to jump into the battle to help the man who was being over run.  Yet the warrior princess did not make another move toward the battle.  Instead she just settled into her position in the light brush and reeds as if she were entertained by the battle.  Her sword was still drawn, but she did not move.  Gabrielle found herself confused by this wanting to know what Xena was doing.  Xena’s response was candid as she mocked the bard explaining that she was only taking Gabrielle’s advice.  The warrior princess then picked a tiny dandillion and threw it to the ground lazily explaining to the battling bard that she was only smelling the flowers.  Gabrielle was insulted, but this reaction from the warrior princess was hardly unexpected.  It was just another part of her friend that Gabrielle had to deal with.  She could not change it.

Gabrielle decided that although this was not what she had planned somehow it had worked for Xena was relaxed.  If watching someone else get clobbered in battle made the warrior princess feel a sense of peace then Gabrielle would not argue with it despite the morbidity of it.  As the battle raged on Gabrielle relaxed for a moment finding herself amazed at the skill of the lone handsome warrior.  He was dressed in black leather pants with a blue flowing blouse which revealed his masquline chest as he fought with double swords.  The blades of his swords appeared graceful and powerful as he defended against the advances of his enemy while using only powerful kicks against them offensively.  It was impressive.  These moves were uniquely similar to the natural flow of the warrior princess whenever Gabrielle had seen her friend in battle.  Maybe there was more to this sense of peace than Xena had been letting on.

Yet just as the bard was begining to wrap her mind around this idea the two friends watched the battle escalate.  Suddenly nine more pirates swept down onto the beach from behind the cove and cried out in an attack against the lone warrior.  Xena suddenly got serious determining that now was the time to jump into the battle.  It seemed to her that the odds would somehow be fair.  Gabrielle did not understand this at all.  Yet she did not argue.  Xena could probably take on at least five of them, and the other man three was certain.  tThis left about four more.  The odds weren’t comepletely even, but Xena loved a challenge and so Xena the warrior princess and the battling bard decended quickly down onto the beach from their position to enguage themselves into the battle.

Upon their approach the lone warrior took a stronger stance preparing ahead of his back up for the onslaught.  He was prepared to defend, but soon realized that he had the advantage as Xena came in from behind his right on the offensive.  Gabrielle took the left flank and deflected the pirate advance with her staff.  Xena took on seven men alone plowing through them with her sword clashing against their swords as they passed by.  Gabrielle took on the two to the left knocking them to the ground with her staff holding steady as the handsome warrior continued to handle the three he had been dealing with already.  The battle appeared effortless for the warrior princess and the lone warrior who seemed surprised that he had reinforcements.  In the middle of the battle as Gabrielle continued to fight and defend Xena held out her hand to her new friend and extended an introduction to him.  He smiled introducing himself as Ulyses.  Then he invited the warrior princess to lock arms with him for a thunderous move.  The two skilled warriors planted their weapons into the sand locking arms together.  Ulyses hurled the warrior princess around him through the air as Xena delivered kicks of fury out toward the men recovering from the initial attack from the right flank.  It was the most powerful defensive effort the bard had ever seen.  She rounded the perimeter creating a second barrier knocking each man back to the ground as he tried to rise to his feet.  Yet the fury of Xena’s kicks was too great for the twelve pirate men as they began to scurry away in defeat and retreat unable to recover.

As Gabrielle ushered the last of the pirates away she rejoined the warrior princess who was questioning the lone warrior.  Xena wanted to know why these pirates did not like Ulyses.  Ulyses began to explain that the pirates did not even know him.  He continued explaining that they owed their allegiance to someone else.  Someone who did not want Ulyses to reach his own kingdom.  Xena’s next question was in wanting to know what kingdom was that of Ulyses.  Ulyses’s next answer was shocking for the bard.  He was the Ulyses of the great greek legends.  His kingdom was Ithica and he was the king.  This knowledge was exciting for the bard who had heard that Ithica was one of the most beautiful islands in the Agean.  Ulyses confirmed with great pride that his kingdom held legendary beauty.  Xena seemed slightly jealous of the sudden relatability between the bard and Ulyses, but she continued to listen.  Ulyses explained with regret that he felt his kingdom would not stay beautiful for much longer for the pirates seeked to sack Ithica and destroy it.  They were prepared to lay claim to it for it had been promised to them as their spoils if they were successful in preventing Ulyses from reaching his home.  Ulyses was afraid that soon his home would be known as a wasteland.

Xena interjected with hope reminding Ulyses that those pirates were beatable for they had just gone up against them in a three to twelve battle ratio.  The victory against the pirates had come rather effortlessly.  Yet it wasn’t the pirates that Ulyses worried about.  It was their lord that he feared held the true power.  He was certain that the true foe was a force to be reckoned with.  Xena spoke up again showing off a bit certain that both she and the battling bard had seen some formidable foes as equal to the power of that of Ulyses.  Gabrielle was surprised that Xena had finally included her in the battle plan with confidence.  There was something flattering about this.  The bard confirmed Xena’s confidence with her own as they awaited more details from Ulyses.  Yet Ulyses was still uncertain of the skills that Xena the warrior princess and her battling bard possessed.  He looked out over the ocean and there before them arose a giant wave.  The wave formed into a large figure glistening and blue.  An uncanny aura of ultimate power could be felt within the soul as the being rose from the waters towering above all high up in the clear blue sky.  It was the god of the sea Poseiden.  Gabrielle recognized him with his trident and golden crown which he wore upon his transparent head.  Poseiden had a grandfatherly beard and piercing saphire eyes.

For a moment there was a bit of fear within the bard’s heart for she had not expected to ever meet a god who appeared to be a giant next to the titans.  Yet it was intriguing as Gabrielle walked toward the sea to get a closer gaze at the wonder that was Poseiden.  Then she looked back toward Xena and Ulyses who were much smaller now that they stood below the mighty god of the sea.  They appeared only a fraction of the size of one of the mighty god’s transparent toes.  He looked down upon them growling with rage as he asked Xena not to get involved with the plight of Ulyses.  Poseiden stated that he was aware of his newphew Ares’s fascination with her and their history, but that he the god of the sea would not show patience for the warrior princess’s participation in his own affairs.  Xena was cautious, but not afraid.  She stood before the god of the sea beside Ulyses asking Poseiden what it was that Ulyses had done to bring the god’s anger down upon him.

Poseiden responded within his booming echoing voice that Ulyses had blinded his son Polithimus.  It was apparent to Gabrielle that the warrior princess did not fear Posiden although Gabrielle felt that his power would be greater than that of Ares.  Gabrielle found herself slightly fearful of this billowing god as Xena looked to Ulyses and shared in a moment of triumph stating that she had blinded a cyclops before which meant they had more in common than Xena had previously thought.  Poseiden interrupted the moment angered that she spoke under her breath.

Xena then reminded Poseiden that she had never been afraid of Ares or any of the other gods she had encountered before him.  She declared that Ulyses was the rightful ruler of Ithica and that she would insure that he arrived there safely to rescue his people from the wrath of the pirates.  Poseiden then looked to Ulyeses and demanded that he stop the warrior princess in her foolish decision.  He continued by demanding that Ulyeses give up on Ithica and begin a new life without his homeland.  Ulyses looked to the god of the sea defying the request put forth to him.  His conviction for his people was passionate as he assured Poseiden that he intended to reach Ithica no matter the cost.  Poseiden reminded Ulyeses that there was nothing left for him in Ithica since the death of his beloved wife.  Gabrielle watched as Xena looked to Ulyeses unaware of this twist of fate.  Still Ulyeses stood firm in his decision as did Xena alongside him.  There was tragedy in the life of Ulyeses and it appeared that he had nothing to lose, but life itself.

Poseiden assured both of the great warriors that stood before him that no one would make it to Ithica alive for he would unleash the wrath of the sea down upon them for it was the only way to reach Ithica.  With that the great god of the sea disappeared back down into the violent waves of the ocean laughing until his laughter turned into the sounds of the waves crashing upon the cove below.  Xena and Ulyses wasted no time as they led Gabrielle down the path to the edge of the cove.  The path was treacherous with jagged rocks, but it had provided Ulyeses with the perfect hideout.  He had been living in it since the pirates had captured and killed that last men in Ulyses’s crew.  They had stolen his ship from him and been chasing him ever since.  It seemed that the warrior princess was uninterested in the problem which was rather unusual.  Her next question was not what Gabrielle had expected.  The warrior princess wanted to know how Ulyses had found himself blinding the son of Poseiden.

Ulyeses explained casually that he had stopped on the island of Polithimus on his way back from Troy.  Xena’s response to this answer was intriguing for she appeared to feel strongly that Ulyses had made the wrong choice which had put him in this terrible poasition.  Ulyses defended his decision at the time replying that he and his crew had gone there for food and supplies.  His men were starving and weak, but unfortunately Polithimus was just as hungry as the members of his crew had been.  It was obvious that some of them had been eaten by the cyclops which had led to the blinding of Polithimus at the hand of Ulyses.  Gabrielle found herself just as impressed as the warrior princess seemingly was.  It was no easy task to succeed at blinding a cyclops.  The bard remembered having to talk her way out of being eaten by one of them.  If it had not been for Xena’s blinding him Gabrielle would have become cyclops food herself.    Gabrielle joked with Ulyeses about his triumph over the cyclops which she could share in some small way as Ulyses responded back explaining that he was not about to be eaten by a cyclops.  Although Ulyses responded jokingly he was still serious minded about the task at hand.  It was as if the man never stopped.  He was a lot like the warrior princess.

Once Xena had satisfied her curiousity about the cyclops encounter she explained that the first thing that had to be done was to retrieve Ulyeses’s ship.  Yet it seemed that Ulyeses was about one step ahead of the warrior princess as he explained that he knew where the pirates were holding it.  It was in a harbor on the other side of the cove.  Gabrielle was impressed to find that there was someone out there in the world who was seemingly as savvy as the warrior princess.  There was a bit of fascination in this.  As Gabrielle looked to the warrior princess it seemed that Xena was suddenly experiencing some kind of regret as she began to explain herself to him.  He had been fighting on the other side of the war in Troy and Xena did not feel that she could ally with him until she explained herself clearly to Ulyses.  It seemed that he did not care which side Xena had chosen to fight on.  He was certain that the war in Troy was complete madness and wasteful at best.  Xena was determined to explain that her only interest in being involved in that war was to end it and to help her friend Helen.  It was obvious that Ulyses was beyond that scar by now.  He had moved onto the present.  Again he was a step ahead of the warrior princess.  Yet the air had been cleared despite there having been no hard feelings.  He assured Xena that his only enemies now were not those who fought alongside the Trojans, but those who stood between him and his homeland.  He was grateful to now have Xena as an ally.

With that Ulyses went to work preparing to scout the pirate position as Gabrielle approached the warrior princess noticing just a slight bit of romantic tension in the air.  She could see that Xena was taken with him and that had been the real reason for clearing the air.  Yet it did not matter.  It was a glimmer of hope for Gabrielle who could see the power of love creeping into the heart of the warrior princess.  She was hoping to get a little bit of feedback from within the warrior princess’s mind as she playfully commented on the handsome Ulyses.  Yet Xena just shrugged the tension off as if it wasn’t really there.  Gabrielle knew the truth about her friend, but was aware that Xena was not ready to accept this truth for herself.

By the time night fell Gabrielle and Xena had set up a camp within the forrest just a quarter marathon off of the beach.  It was perfectly positioned between Ulyses’s cave and the pirate harbor position.  Gabrielle had found herself to be exhausted waiting up for Ulyses so she fell asleep, but after about two hours she awoke to the sound of Xena suddenly drawing her sword.  Gabrielle did not move pretending to still be within slumber until she could determine the situation.  As she listened quietly she heard Ulyses complement Xena for her move against him, but call Xena on not moving to protect her friend from the intruder upon the camp.  Xena explained that she had heard his every move.  She continued explaining that she had found no need to adjust for he had not moved to attack the bard.  There was playful flirting going on between the two master warriors.  Gabrielle was pleased to find that Xena was taking a liking to Ulyses.  She liked the fact that he challenged her skills.  Xena’s next question was concern for Ulyses ship.  Ulyses explained that the ship was fine, but getting to it wasn’t going to be as easy.  He described the scene as swarming with pirates, with several look-outs, heavily armed, and with them having the advantage of position there would be little left to the imagination.

The bard felt these odds sounded grim although both Xena and Ulyses appeared to embrace the impossible with wit and confidence.  Even if they were feeling just a little bit threatened by their chances they didn’t appear to be phased by the threats they faced.  Xena then suggested that they wait until dawn to launch an attack, but it seemed that Ulyses had already made that decision.  It did not matter for the warrior princess seemingly liked a man who could plot battle plans like her.  After he agreed with the suggestion the bard heard a slight bit of giddy laughter between them, but mostly from the warrior princess.  Then there was a long pause of silence, but tension could be felt.  It was not anger, but something more passionate and sensual.  Gabrielle waited to hear more until Xena broke the uncomfortable silence with a direct and personal question.  She asked Ulyses about his wife Poseiden spoke of.  Yet before Ulyses could respond Xena tried to retract her question realizing that her crush on him was becoming a little too obvious.  Ulyses did not find the question so uncomfortable.  He wanted to answer it and put Xena’s fears about getting to know him to rest.  It was as if Ulyses wanted the same thing Xena wanted.

Ulyses spoke softly to Xena with appreciation for her concern within his voice.  He explained that he had not had a chance to talk about his wife’s death with anyone.  Ulyses then told the story of how he had run into some fisherman whom had seen the wreckage of the ship which had carried his young loving wife.  They told hiim she had gone out with a search party to find Ulyeses when he did not return home from the war that had lasted ten years.  While she was out looking for him Poseiden had taken his revenge upon Ulyses for the blinding of his son by bringing the wrath of the sea upon his wife’s ship.  She had been caught within Poseiden’s powerful storm which had crushed her ship.  No survivors were found according to the fisherman.  As Ulyses spoke there was a slight bit of anger and regret which had seeped through his cool calm demeanor.  Soon after he replaced these thoughts with the gentle thoughts of falling in love with his wife all over again.  They had met when they were only 17 years old.  It had been the moment that they had fallen in love marrying soon after.  Bliss did not last for them for just a few months later Ulyses had responded to the call to arms to fight at Troy.  He seemed confused by these thoughts as he spoke of how he had been thinking of his wife in all of the time since.  Xena spoke up with hope in her voice that assured Ulyses that love would find him again.  Gabrielle was surprised to hear this from Xena for it sounded like something she herself might have said to encourage Ulyses.  Ulyses then whispered back to the warrior princess as if he were uncertain of these feelings he was having within his heart and soul.

Gabrielle knew what he was feeling.  She could feel two people falling in love.  There was something scary about this for the bard.  It could mean a change for her and the warrior princess.  The thoughts scrambled through Gabrielle’s mind of all of the possibilities.  It was more than she could deal with in the moment.  She decided that it was time for a drink as she rose from her bed roll grabbing her leather water bottle.  Gabrielle quietly approached the couple sitting upon the log away from the camp fire in the moonlight.  She tried to move through the brush undetected, but her movements immediately grabbed the attention of the two warriors whose swords were drawn ready for action.  There was suddenly a sense of embarressment between them all.  It was obvious that a kiss may have soon followed, but for now the only response was thirst.

At dawn it was time to take action against the pirates.  The plan was simple and it was brilliant.  Gabrielle went to the harbor market to purchase some fine pirate wear.  She would be the distraction that could allow Ulyses and Xena to sneak onto the ship undetected.  Ulyses and Xena had built two canoes one for their sneak attack and one for Gabrielle to use to get a little attention.  By mid morning they were ready to go in for the attack.  Gabrielle approached the ship first calling the pirates attention to her.  She was seductive as she danced and demanded an invitation onto the vessel.  The pirates accepted her dance and her offer of pleasure for all as she danced them into a frenzy of sexual attraction.  Wild hormones were becoming difficult to control as some of the pirates began to grope the young maiden as she danced and held them off sneaking in a little kick or a small throw back move over the shoulder.  This only made the pirates more excited, but luckily Xena and Ulyses had finally approached the vessel, released the anchor, and prepared the sails making their way to the helm.

Suddenly Xena broke up the party demanding some attention for herself.  Gabrielle found herself relieved that her work was finally done as their attention shifted from sex to war.  Xena let out her signature battle cry as the pirates raced forward charging up the steps to the helm toward Ulyses and Xena.  It was obvious that once they had taken away the pirate adavange of scope and position there were only weapons and numbers.  The fight was now even with Ulyses and Xena up against pirates who had no time to grab their weapons.  They had been taken by complete surprise which meant the battle was fought with fists and boots rather than swords.  Gabrielle watched the scene suddenly unfolding as the action shifted from the deck toward the helm.  Yet she still found herself in the middle of the battle as some of the pirates realized that they had been taken by her seductive dance.  She had to act as she searched the deck for assistance.  The battling bard caught sight of a mop bucket which held just the right weapon.  She grabbed a firm hold of the mop using it to knock over the bucket of water as she turned it into a staff with a wet smack at the end of it.  It was lighter than her usual staff which allowed her to move more gracefully with it as she took on three pirates alone.  The movement of battle was just like the seductive dance although it was seemingly more empowering for the bard.

Xena and Ulyses kept themselves busy with the rest of the crowd of about twenty pirates as they threw each man overboard one by one.  As each pirate went splashing down into the water the battle became less of a burden and more fun.  Ulyses’s confidence was so great that he slid down onto the deck and began to help Gabrielle with the men on the deck.  Just as the last few men were thrown over board one pirate had gotten wise grabbing his cross bow from below decks.  He returned to find that only a young pirate boy facing off against Gabrielle were left, but just above him was Xena and Ulyses still across the deck.  The pirate aimed his weapon as the cowardly young boy jumped over board into the water.  Gabrielle prepared for the impact as Xena drew her chackram shouting out Ulyses’s name.  The moment was quick as Gabrielle watched Ulyses jump in front of her taking the arrow from the cross bow in the right shoulder.

Ulyses fell to the ground as the pain stung his body.  The pirate then drew his sword as Gabrielle tried to hold onto the injured Ulyses as he slumped over.  Xena jumped off of the helm onto the railing of the ship running toward the deck and then flipping into action.  She landed at the bottom of the steps just behind the attacker as she disarmed him and then threw him over board.  All was quiet except for the sound of Ulyses struggling to breath.  Xena looked to Ulyeses with concern as she quickly approached him knealing down to examine his wound.  Gabrielle was regretful that Ulyses had taken the arrow meant for her.  Yet it was obvious to the bard that Xena did not blame Gabrielle for she had been prepared to block the path of the arrow with her chackram.  Although Gabrielle had known that Xena would come through Ulyses had not trusted in Xena.  He did not know Xena the way the bard did.  Xena appeared to be disappointed that Ulyses had not known that Xena would be able to act upon that seemingly dire situation.  It was the first time since the two had met that they had not connected in battle.  Instead Ulyses’s passionate conviction and bravery had gotten him a cross bow in the shoulder.  It was not a pretty sight.

Xena comforted Gabrielle by stating that the injury was not serious.  Ulyses
responded sarcastically as if Xena did not understand his suffering, but Gabrielle knew that wasn’t true.  Xena explained to Ulyses that what she was about to perform was going to be painful.  Again Ulyses was sarcastic still blinded by his passionate convictions.  It was as if he were trying to defend his choice to jump into the path of danger.  Suddenly Xena broke off the shaft of the arrow pushing it violently through Ulyses chest freeing it from the obstruction.  Ulyses was shocked with a greater pain than before yet his chest was freed of its burden.  Xena was still frustrated at Ulyses for jumping in the way of her shot with the chackram.  Gabrielle tried to comfort his pain with a gentle touch, but the only thing Ulyses could think of was to stand back up and jump back into his work.  Xena would not allow him to rise to his feet explaining that it was time for him to finally rest.  Ulyses’s ego was begining to rage against Xena’s as if he were trying to keep up with the warrior princess in some measuring of skills and bravery.  When Xena realized this she just smiled as she explained that she would take care of the ship without him.  He appeared shocked that Xena knew how to operate a ship.  Xena only replied that she had many skills.  Then she bounded off and began to prepare the ship as she flew through the air gracefully using her sword to take care of the ropes to tie them off  for sailing.  As Gabrielle watched her amazing friend sailing through the air taking care of everything as always Ulyses uttered his admiration for the warrior princess.  If he had not felt strongly about Xena before he truely did in this moment.

Not long after Xena had finished manning the ship she took Ulyses down below decks to clean up his wounds and bandage them for him.  Gabrielle had never seen the warrior princess this interested in a man.  Something about Ulyses captivated the warrior princess and made her appear even more invincable and extraordinary.  Gabrielle sat down softly and listened quietly just below the deck upon the stairs leading down into the cabin.  Ulyses asked the warrior princess about her chackram and Xena shared her pride of the magnificient weapon.  The king of Ithica appeared impressed that Xena was the only one who could harness the power of the chackram.  This was another thing the two had in common with one another for Ulyses had such a weapon back in Ithica.  It was a bow made out of the strongest iron wood that only he could string.  It could send a single arrow through three straight men before stopping its momentum.  Xena was impressed that he had such a weapon and was thankful that Ulyses was the only who could use it; however, she herself had not tried it yet.  It was obvious to the bard that Xena would love to have a chance at it someday.  Her next question was in how he had come to secure such a weapon and Ulyses continued explaining that it had been a family heir loom passed down through the generations.  It was forbidden that he take it off of the island.  This satisfied Xena’s curiousity about Ulyses special weapon.

As they spoke Ulyses appeared impressed that not only could Xena unleash the fierce beast that loomed within every warrior’s heart, but she had a tender and soft touch as she repaired his wound.  Just before Xena could speak he interrupted her as if knowing what Xena would say next as he thanked Xena for using all of her many wonderful skills and talents to assist him in retrieving his ship.  Despite this seemingly perfect relationship between two warriors Ulyses was planning on dropping Xena off at the next port with Gabrielle and moving on without them.  Xena objected to the idea challenging Ulyses excuse for dropping them off.  He had said it would take at least a crew of three to successfully man his ship.  Ulyses was planning to seek out some local adveture seekers to go up against Poseiden.  Yet Xena explained that by her count they already had a crew of three between herself, Ulyses, and Gabrielle.  Ulyses tried to talk Xena out of the idea of traveling to Ithica with him for he remembered that Posieden would be certain to unleash his power.  It was as if Ulyses had resigned himself to death at the mercy of Posieden and he did not want to take Xena and Gabrielle there with him.  Yet Xena explained that she had already made up her mind.  She was going to see him through this voyage against Poseiden.

When Ulyses tried to object on Gabrielle’s behalf Xena explained that she had learned that leaving Gabrielle behind was never an option.  Gabrielle found herself entering into the conversation from her perch just upon the stairway leading back up to the deck explaining that she would go where Xena would go no matter where that was.  The bard hoped to help ease Ulyses’s concern for their safety.  Gabrielle was certain that Xena enjoyed Ulyses company too much to let Poseiden’s threats stop her from going to Ithica.  Yet Xena responded to Ulyses’s concern as if they were rejections of her company.  He quickly put those anxieties the warrior princess was feeling to rest explaining that he truely desired Xena’s help, but mostly her company.  His appreciation for the beauty of the warrior princess beyond the leather, breast plate, and chackram was obvious to Gabrielle.   Although as Gabrielle struggled to walk and stand up straight she found herself also feeling extremely sick to her stomach as the ship rocked back and forth over the calm seas.  This interrupted the wonderful moment everyone shared, but Gabrielle could suddenly think of nothing else.  The bard found that this upset stomach was irritated with the motion of the ship which made it difficult to concentrate on anything.  Her conclusion to the problem was sea sickness as she passed both Xena and Ulyses in an attept to find a spot that would be less likely to rock, but the attempt was futile for the bard.  There were seemingly no stable places to rest on the ship.

The sea sickness was growing more intense with each passing moment.  Gabrielle struggled to take in breath without the feeling of wanting to hurl.  The smells of the sea creeping down below decks were part of the problem Gabrielle had surmised combined with the constant rocking.  As Gabrielle tried again to move and change positions she found herself perching upon an old crate next to the navigation table where Xena and Ulyses studied a map of the sea planning their battle against Poseiden.  Gabrielle tried to focas on their conversation hoping that it would help her forget about the sea sickness.  Yet it was nearly impossible as Gabrielle found herself standing up and pacing across the cabin once more to the other side of the navigation table where Xena and Ulyses continued to talk about Ithica.  Ulyses spoke of how it would be several days of sea travel between them before they could reach Ithica.  Not only that, but he continued explaining that the days of suffering that Gabrielle would have to endure would be just as futile as trying to combat the sea sickness.  Posieden’s storms had been too furious for him to ever reach Ithica in the past.  Gabrielle was certain that this voyage would be no different.

Xena of course had the answer.  She asked Ulyses if they could take the shorter route along the chain of islands that connected Ithica to the mainland.  Yet Ulyses shot down this idea reminding Xena of the island of the sirens.  Gabrielle had heard of the sirens and as she tried to remember why their story was so important to her.  Then it came to her through the ill feelings which plagued her.  Gabrielle explained to Xena seriously that the sirens were said to have a song so powerful it could call all men to their deaths upon the rocks of the island.  Ulyses was certain that Poseiden would call upon them to help him battle against Ulyses, and Xena.  Gabrielle found herself to be alarmed imagining how a song could kill them all smashing the ship to pieces, but Xena calmed Gabrielle’s concern quickly reminding everyone that she was not a man which meant the rules didn’t apply to her.  There was a slight bit of relief in knowing that it was now possible to travel the shorter route that could offer cover from the wrath of Poseiden’s storms.  Not only that, but Ulyses’s interest in Xena was growing as he joked that he had noticed that Xena was indeed not a man.  With that the flirting continued as Xena looked to Ulyses and responded to his question.  He wanted to know if she was going to be able to singlehandedly get them past the sirens.  She was certain that the challenge of the sirens would not be an issue.  With that statement Gabrielle was satisfied.  It was certain that they would be taking the shorter route, but Gabrielle was uncertain of how much longer she would have to endure sea sickness.  She rose from her crate hoping to escape the constant bobbing up and down by breathing in some fresh air above decks.  The bard hoped that the open high seas would help relieve her of the unbearable nausia.

Yet even the open air upon the decks above held no solace for the bard.  Even worse Gabrielle found herself having to man her part of the ship duties between each burst of vomit from the inner wall of her stomach.  The bard spent most of the rest of the day trying to keep up with Xena and Ulyses, but she was unsuccessful.  There was misery within embarressment in the self discovery that Gabrielle could not handle sea life.  Xena approached Gabrielle on one of her bouts of painful misery as the bard hung her head over the side of the ship.  The warrior princess was sarcastic with pleasure at her friend’s suffering.  She used this opportunity to tease the bard about her philospohical lesson with the warrior princess on the day before.  Xena suggested that Gabrielle just close her eyes and smell the seagulls.  Gabrielle sensed Xena’s heavy sarcasm realizing that Xena was comparing a discussion of life’s traquil beauty to physical pain and suffering.  Through the emotional irritation Gabrielle was feeling she realized Xena’s humerous remarks were the honesty of how Xena viewed most days of her own life as a plight of suffering and sea sickness.  The bard once again found herself defeated not only by physical issues, but by Xena once again.  It seemed that Gabrielle would never win this battle of views between herself and the warrior princess.  Everything was always so cynical with Xena.  This thought added to the irritations within Gabrielle’s stomach as Xena delivered the final blow which delcared her victory over Gabrielle’s philosophies.  She reminded Gabrielle that they had yet to reach the roughest part of the journey.  The seas were calm in comparison to what they would experience later in the voyage.

Gabrielle could not believe that it would be possible for her to suffer worse than she was already suffering.  Suddenly Ulyses piped up that there was a major storm coming upon the horizen.  It was most certainly Poseiden’s first battle move against them.  Gabrielle realized that this voyage to Ithica was extremely symbolic of her travels with Xena.  It always seemed that when things couldn’t possibly get worse life would throw a major storm toward the ship being sailed no matter how good or how comfortable the ship seemed.  By nightfall they had reached the storms.  Ulyses, Xena, and the bard escaped the wrath of Poseiden down below decks as they tried to ride out the violence.  Gabrielle only wanted death now for it was seemingly the only thing that could bring peace back to her soul.  If she could no longer feel the physical suffering then her soul could be free to find peace.  Several times the bard begged Xena to knock her unconscious, but Xena would not honor this request.  When Gabrielle pleaded with the warrior princess for death Xena just held her friend steady as the ship rocked violently throwing its mariners about like loose dinars.  It was almost as if the warrior princess were still gloating in her glory.  As Poseiden’s wrath raged on through the night and into the early morning Xena calculated that they would be reaching the island of the sirens.  Xena decided that the only way to save the ship from their songs was to tie Ulyses up so that he would be unable to take control of the ship.  Xena would take over the helm during this part of the journey leaving Gabrielle to guard Ulyses until they began passing the island of the sirens.

The sun rose from within the darkness of Poseiden’s powerful storms bringing calm back into the water, but Gabrielle’s stomach was still battered deeply within.  It was as if Poseiden himself had been directing his wrath from within the walls of the bard’s feeble stomach.  There was no rest for the weary as Gabrielle found herself struggling to stay awake now that a large portion of the pain had subsided.  Nautia was still within the pit of her stomach, but it was no longer with the edge.  This was manageable unlike during the night’s storms.  However, the quiet calm continued the sounds of the wind soothing Gabrielle as she lied her head down upon the map table hoping to ease her physical exhaustion.  Just as the bard was about to fall asleep the sound of the wind seemingly blended itself with the sounds of a faint whispering song.  Gabrielle was not certain that it was anything more than being between a dream and real life.  Yet just when Gabrielle was about to drift into the dream Ulyses spoke.  He asked the bard if she could hear it.  A beautiful song so mezmorizing that its beauty could not be described.  Although Gabrielle was not impressed by the sounds of the sirens Ulyses was captivated.  His eyes lit up as his body longed for the extasy that seemingly beckoned him to follow the songs.

Gabrielle slowly woke from what was seemingly the dream into the reality that Ulyses was about to try escape Xena’s binds.  The bard was already weak with illness.  She was certain that if Ulyses were to escape she would not be able to stop him.  Gabrielle first tried to help Ulyses get his mind off of the deep soothing song of the sirens.  She was not certain what he was hearing for he was a man.  Whatever it was it unnerved him into insanity.  It was obvious that Ulyses had lost all self control.  When Gabrielle tried to think of something to talk about all she could think about was discus throwing.  This subject was weak in comparison to the illusions of the sirens and their songs.  Gabrielle could only imagine that their songs were filling Ulyses’s mind with beauty beyond that possessed even by the warrior princess.  Gabrielle cautiously rose from her spot upon the crates next to the map table slowly approaching Ulyses who had now picked up a piece of broken pottery from the floor with his boot attempting to free himself from Xena’s binds.

The bard realized that it was only a matter of time before he would escape.  She desparately hoped to somehow distract him from the voices which called to his soul.  Yet Ulyses was unstoppable for he was too powerful and too strong for the weakened bard.  He begged Gabrielle to help him escape, but she could only weakly remind him that it was not in his best interest.  As she approached him attempting to stop him from his madness Ulyses’s kicked her to the ground sending a whole new sense of pain through the bard’s body.  Now the only thing Gabrielle could feel was the numbness of her leg which was nearly broken by the force of Ulyses’s powerful kick.  Ulyses fled from the cabin dashing up the stairway onto the deck.  His only hope was Xena who was already busy steering the ship.

All that could be heard for several moments above were the sounds of a fierce battle between the warrior princess and Ulyses.  They battled for control of the ship which did not help the pain of Gabrielle’s leg combined with the sickness still plaguing her stomach.  The sounds above were of feet scurrying, and bodies slamming onto the deck.  After several moments of battle and of the ship being steered into the jagged rocks and away from them the course held steady.  Gabrielle was uncertain who the winner was until she heard Ulyses’s heavy boots scurrying down the stairs of the helm onto the main deck and then they were quiet.  Xena shouted out for Ulyses to stop for she could not leave the helm as the path through the jagged rocks just off the island’s shore was too treacherous.  Gabrielle knew that Xena would not be able to stop him for the sounds of the sirens were beyond her control.  Yet just when Gabrielle thought that Ulyses might face his death upon the rocks Xena began to sing her own song.

Xena’s voice began low and uncertain.  Yet it seemed to be working for it broke Ulyses’s attention away from the voices of the sirens for a moment.  The warrior princess continued to sing with more depth, and more power.  Her soul reached down into its pit to draw love and affection from within attempting to sway Ulyses’s soul from its demise.  Xena’s voice held steady for hours until finally the sounds of the sirens became more faint as time passed.  As their songs weakened blending into Xena’s voice there was no way for Ulyses’s mind to be drawn to their power.  Gabrielle heard Ulyses’s boots step back down onto the deck as the sounds of the sirens faded into the sounds of the wind and Xena’s virtuostic voice.  Suddenly all was quiet and the danger was seemingly over.  They had made it through Poseiden’s storms and successfully averted the rocks upon the island of the sirens.  It was now onto Ithica with nothing, but smooth sailing ahead.  For Gabrielle this was a relief for she would not have to bear the harshness of rough seas for the rest of the voyage.

The pain of her injured leg was also begining to subside as Gabrielle decided that it was safe to emerge from within the cabin out onto the decks for some fresh air.  Ulyses caught sight of her and inquired of her injury fearing that he was responsible.  Gabrielle would not accept sympathy from him for his irrational behavior as he desparately tried to apologize to her.  The bard knew that the power of the sirens was beyond a man’s control.  She tried to make light of the discomfort explaining that for a brief moment Ulyses had allowed her to forget about her sea sickness.

As the third day at sea had come to an end Gabrielle found herself sinking into the hamock in the cabin for some much needed rest.  Xena and Ulyses were seemingly unaffected by all of the excitement of sea life and by Poseiden’s obstacles.  Instead the two continued to enjoy sharing in each other’s company in a way that only soul mates can share with one another.  It seemed to the bard as she listened pretending to be asleep that Xena had finally found her tree within the forrest.  It was Ulyses.  He was Xena’s other half and the bard knew it.  There was uncertainty within these thoughts for Gabrielle although if Ulyses was indeed her other half then maybe the warrior princess could find the peace that Gabrielle hoped her heart would find.

Gabrielle continued to listen as Xena offered Ulyses some bread and cheese that she had gathered and cut up for him.  Ulyses seemed pleased at her gesture.  It was behavior coming from the warrior princess that Gabrielle rarely ever saw.  Xena was in love.  Gabrielle hoped that Xena could be honest with her about this at some point.  Ulyses just chuckled when Xena suggested that she had messed up the bread and cheese referring to her lack of experience with cooking.  Ulyses responded by explaining that he had a wonderful cook back in Ithica.  There was an awkward silence between the two which was smoothly broken by Ulyses who attempted to infer that he was only speaking of how Gabrielle and Xena would both be well fed if they were planning on staying in Ithica for any lengthy period of time.  It was as if Ulyses was inviting her without actually saying so.  Gabrielle sensed what Ulyses desired.  He desired Xena as she was certain Xena had desires for him.  Yet it seemed that Xena had yet to be honest with herself about this.  It was why Xena had not approached the subject with Gabrielle.

When Xena did not respond right away Ulyses then posed the question.  He wanted to know if Xena was committing herself to a chance at a relationship with him.  Xena’s response was a fumbling of words at best.  Then Ulyses charged forward within the conversation knowing excactly what he wanted to say, but chosing not to say it.  It was as if he were begging Xena to make the first move, but Xena’s heart was afraid.  This brought concern to Gabrielle’s heart for her friend wondering if Xena’s heart could remember what love truely felt like.  Then Ulyses bared his soul saying exactly what he had been yearning to say to the warrior princess.  He explained that he was in love with her.  Ulyses was even prepared for Xena’s retort about his wife Penelope.  He explained that her memory would live on despite his love for Xena.  Ulyses was not even certain if his feelings for Penolope had been real for they had been only seventeen when they had parted.  He had been certain that his love of Penelope was a love for his own ideal of her rather than the woman herself.  There was concern, and romance.  Ulyses’s words were swift as he was attempting to sweep the warrior princess off of her feet with words of love.  Xena tried to put more value into the ideal that was Penelope, but Ulyses had already devalued it within his heart and his mind.  He agreed with the warrior princess that Penelope had been a special woman.

Before Xena could say another word Ulyses explained that with Xena things were different.  He had felt like he had known Xena his entire life.  With that statement it seemed that Ulyses had somehow lost his edge and his confidence in himself.  He was uncertain that his heart was telling him the truth, but Gabrielle knew that Ulyses was smart.  He knew more about his heart than he realized.  Xena was not equipped to handle his inquiry.  He wanted to know if he was crazy for having these thoughts and feelings.  The warrior princess’s only response was of uncertainty and to remind herself out loud of what the bard’s own beliefs were.  Xena reminded herself of the story of when all people had two heads and four legs.  Gabrielle could hear this within the warrior princess’s mind.  In this moment it seemed relevant to her somehow as her thoughts surfaced into Ulyses’s reality.  Xena spoke of everyone having their soul mate.  Ulyses was softly delighted as his confidence in his heart’s voice was restored.  He was certain that Xena was his soul mate and he pressed this into Xena’s reality.  Gabrielle again heard a long pause, but this time it was of passion.

After the long moment of nervous passion Ulyses posed his question straight.  He wanted to know if Xena was planning to stay in Ithica with him to see how things might work out between them.  Xena’s response was giddy yet obviously uncertain.  Gabrielle sensed fear within Xena’s voice yet it was barely noticeable to anyone else.  It was as if Xena were falling in love for the first time. As Gabrielle began to weigh the situation heavily Ulyses went back to the helm to guide the ship during the rest of the night.  As he left his genuine concern for the warrior princess was powerful as he suggested that she gather some rest for herself.  As he left Gabrielle’s eyes were wide open now as she hoped that Xena might ask for her advice.  Yet Xena kept silent as Gabrielle realized the difficult decision Xena’s heart faced.  It was as if Xena would have to chose between her life with Gabrielle and a new life in Ithica with Ulyses.  Gabrielle found herself slightly saddened knowing her travels with Xena could end as this voyage triumhped over Poseiden.  Then she remembered how Xena had handled things when Perdicas came to ask for her hand in marriage.  With that thought Gabrielle was ready to give life alongside the warrior princess up if it would tame Xena’s anguished heart.  The sacrifice would be worth it.  As the bard recalled to herself the entire journey and purpose with Xena was in showing the warrior princess how to love again.

Finally the thoughts of hope mixed sweetly with sadness faded into the slumber which captured the bard after a few days of sleepless nights.  Gabrielle found herself awakening when the sun was high overhead which meant that she had slept in for the first time in a great while.  She felt refreshed despite the events on the night before.  The sea sickness had subsided and was barely noticeable to her now.  She thought it might be for her concern about Xena and about their friendship.  Gabrielle decided that if Xena was not going to approach her then she would open up the subject herself.  When Gabrielle approached Xena as the warrior princess manned the deck Xena expressed a friend’s concern.  Xena inquired of Gabrielle’s sea sickness.  The bard quickly answered stating that although it was not completely gone she would survive it just fine.  What Xena had really hoped to do was to avoid the unavoidable.  Gabrielle quickly shifted the subject to Xena’s  feelings about Ulyses.  The bard seeked an honest answer from Xena whom appeared surprised that Gabrielle was aware of anything.  Xena then moved away from the bard onto another part of the ship to tie off some more ropes.  The warrior princess tried scolding the bard as she joked Gabrielle did not sleep all that soundly.

Gabrielle had to accept defeat in this for she had been eavesdropping on several of Xena’s personal conversations with Ulyses.  The bard joked back explaining that it was the torture of her illness which had kept her awake and listening to the passions unfolding.  Xena used this as an oppritunity to escape the real issue as she instructed her friend to try lying down on her stomach while at sea.  Gabrielle would not allow Xena to get out of answering the serious question.  The bard scolded Xena for trying to escape her inquiry.  Gabrielle hoped Xena would answer her so that she could plan her next day preparing to be alone without a soulmate.  Gabrielle needed to know what was next for her in life.  Xena paused for a long time and did not answer.  Yet Gabrielle already felt the answer.  The bard felt as if she wanted to release a tear from her eye for she could already feel the lonliness of  life without Xena.  Then she asked Xena to promise that whatever Xena’s answer was it would be the answer that followed Xena’s heart.

The warrior princess knew instantly what her friend’s fears were.  Xena knew that Gabrielle was afraid of going on without her.  The warrior princess finally answered immediately dissolving Gabrielle’s lonliness reminding the bard that Gabrielle was a part of her heart.  For a moment Gabrielle was embarressed realizing her own selfishness.  Then she reminded Xena of the advice Xena had given to her when Perdicas came back into Gabrielle’s life.  Xena had told Gabrielle that seeing her friend happy would make Xena happy.  Gabrielle wanted Xena to know that she now understood Xena’s advice more than ever.  She wanted Xena to know that she felt the same way about the warrior princess’s choices despite her own selfish heart.

There were more moments of tranquil silence, but Xena cut them with confident reassurance of Gabrielle’s place in her life.  She explained that Gabrielle had been good for her heart.  Xena continued by saying that Gabrielle being a part of her heart and her life was the reason that Xena could find herself having feelings for Ulyses.  She had learned how to love through Gabrielle.  Gabrielle realized that her place in Xena’s heart was still secure despite her having fallen in love with Ulyses.  Suddenly Gabrielle came to another realization.  Xena had finally openly admitted that she had fallen in love with Ulyses.  This led Gabrielle to rejoice urging Xena that they had already decided within their hearts that staying in Ithica with Ulyses would be their next challenge.  Just as Gabrielle blurted this revelation out Ulyses shouted out “Ithica!”  The excitement of reaching land was like no other.  Gabrielle ran to the side of the ship to view the land that was now within her grasp.  Soon her body would be released from the torture it had faced for four days.  Indeed there was a lot to celebrate upon landing.  Gabrielle thanked all of the gods all accept for Poseiden as she rolled about in the sand basking in her glorious release from illness.  Ulyses ran his fingers through the sands upon the beach.  He was finally home after ten long years of war, and battles against Poseiden.  His triumph would be remembered forever.

Soon Ulyses was showing off his childhood home to Xena and Gabrielle as if he were only seven.  He introduced his new friends to the hill in the woods that he and his friends had played childhood games upon.  Of course he remembered that it had been much larger when he was five.  As they continued on Ulyses caught sight of an old carving within one of the trees near the hill.  It was as if he had forgotten about it.  He was so excited to show off his carving to Xena who appeared to be uninterested at best.  She was more interested in the innocence of Ulyses rather than his actual childhood exploits.  Gabrielle decided to ask him what his carving represented and he proudly declared that it was an eagle which had been his favorite animal as a child.  Xena interjected that she thought it looked more like a fish, but this was typical of the warrior princess.  Everything peaceful and innocent was about fish to her.  Gabrielle took note of this observation in her mind.  Then Ulyses defended his work proclaiming that it was magnificiently done by a five year old boy.  He appeared surprised at how much had changed upon Ithica in his abscence.

Just as Ulyses contemplated these thoughts the sounds of a battle interrupted the innocence from above.  Upon his childhood hill he spotted five pirates attacking one of the islanders.  Ulyses, Xena, and Gabrielle dashed up the hill into action quickly disposing of the disturbance and rescuing the native who was now lying on the ground.  Ulyses instantly recognized the victim as his old friend Mentacles.  At first Mentacles did not recognize Ulyses until he took a moment to study the face before him.  As soon as Mentacles realized who Ulyses was he immediately rose to his feet to greet his old friend with a strong embrace.  Mentacles spoke quickly with excitement asking if it really was Ulyses and not an apparition.  Ulyses confirmed with a bright smile that he was indeed alive and well.  Mentacles gratefully thanked the gods for Ulyses’s safe return has he smiled with joy.

Xena interrupted his declared celebration reminding everyone that her respect for the gods was not high.  She pridefully declared that it was not the gods, but the three companions together whom had triumphed returning to Ithica safely.  Gabrielle looked to Xena as if slightly irritated that the warrior princess could not contain her own ego.  Yet the moment of irritation passed as Ulyses looked to his new friends introducing them to his old friend Mentacles.  Ulyses then explained that Mentacles had grown up with he and Penelope.  The three had all been very close.  Gabrielle’s heart was tickled with warmth imagining two childhood sweethearts eventually marrying as young lovers.  The mood was contagious as Ulyses joked with Mentacles asking if he was crying after being beaten up by pirates.  Mentacles explained that his tears were of joy and not pain or sorrow for now Ulyses could reclaim his kingdom and be reunited with his lovely wife.

There was a sudden wave of emotional shock which swept its way through the small group.  Ulyses quickly responded reminding Mentacles that his wife had died, but Mentacles pressed further with more truth than anyone could fathom.  He explained that it was a lie.  Penelope was not deceased for he had only seen her just an hour before.  She was still full of sorrow over the loss of Ulyses, but very much alive.  Gabrielle then looked to Xena realizing that the warrior princess’s tree in the forrest was not Ulyses.  The warrior princess appeared upset at this new discovery, but not hurt.  It was not the fault of Ulyses that he had fallen in love with another for he had been told a lie most likely orchastrated by Poseiden himself.  With a serious tone Mentacles continued explaining to Ulyses that things in Ithica had changed a great deal since he had left.  As if Ulyses did not have enough to sort through in his heart Mentacles explained that Poseiden’s pirates were pressuring Penelope to take another suitor to replace Ulyses.  Mentacles continued explaining that all on the island had been led to believe that Ulyses had been killed as Ulyses had been tricked into believing that Penelope had been gone.

Gabrielle could see Ulyses’s sadness in knowing he now had more responsibility beyond that of saving Ithica from the pirates.  He now had to figure out how to let his heart release itself from love for Xena or release itself from Penelope.  Xena was understanding of Ulyses’s situation.  Instead of responding with anger or jealousy she responded by taking action.  She wanted to help Ulyses get his restore his kingdom and to release it from the swarming pirates.  Ulyses then asked Mentacles if the old moat still led under the castle.  Mentacles responded with uncertainty explaining the delapidated conditions of things without a leader to restore them.  Xena spoke up to take the lead in the situation.  With Ulyses’s hit with all new confusion the warrior princess took over.  She asked that Mentacles lead them to the old moat to check it out.  If it was still there she was ready to take action against the pirates and to help restore Ithica even if it meant losing her tree in the forrest.

By nightfall Ulyses and his companions had reached the old moat to discover that the secret passages beneath the castle were still clear.  The passages led them to a stairway which led up into the servants quarters where Ulyses instructed Gabrielle to collect some robes.  They would prepare to attend the banquet that was about to begin as servants and peasants.  A rumor had cirrculated about the kingdom that Penelope would choose a suitor on this night by a specific test.  The test was to see who in the kingdom would be the first man to be able to string Ulyses’s bow.  This proved that Penelope was a shrewd leader.  It was the perfect way to keep the kingdom from the pirates for Ulyses was the only man able to string it.  There was still hope for Ulyses to reclaim his kingdom yet he had different plans.

When Gabrielle had returned from the servants quarters back into the passage way where Ulyses and Xena conversed she over heard something unexpected.  It began with Ulyses explaining that he had spent ten years wanted to return to his home, but now that he had returned he sensed that it was no longer his home.  As a boy he loved Ithica more than life itself, but he had left to go to Troy as a boy and returned as a man.  When Xena asked him about Penelope he pushed on declaring that he did not love Penelope anymore and felt that he had never truely loved her.  There was a quiet moment of pause and then Ulyses declared his passionate love for Xena.  He explained that he loved Xena more than Ithica.  It was a strong statement to make for all that he had sacrificed to return to Ithica.  He explained that the kingdom of Ithica was no longer his, but belonged to Penelope.  Ulyses wanted to finish the journey that he had begun.  He wanted to rid Ithica of the pirates and then leave the kingdom to Penelope.  Then he would travel with Xena and Gabrielle for he desired this more than being king and protector of Ithica.

Xena had a retort ready.  She began by apologizing to Ulyses about being more honest.  Xena surrendered Ulyses to Penelope with little arguement.  She explained that she could never love Ulyses and that she liked her life as it was without him.  It was a weak retort and Gabrielle sensed that Ulyses could see right through it.  Ulyses argued with Xena knowing that she truely did have feelings for him.  He was not about to allow Xena to surrender them now.  Yet Xena was not about to steel love from another woman.  The warrior princess desired a chance for Ulyses and Penelope.  She realized that war, and revenge had kept them apart for too long already.

The warrior princess also knew that Ulyses could not see beyond the past several days that he had spent with Xena.  Gabrielle desparately wanted to step into the middle of this emotional crisis and help ease everyone’s confusion about this complex situation, but was stopped by Xena’s next choice.  With great regret and sadness Xena pulled out pain and delivered it with harsh words to Ulyses.  She shunned his love with aggression declaring that all of her flirtation and advances had been nothing more than a show.  The warrior princess declared that their passionate kiss on the night before had been nothing more than a fling for her.  She continued with embarressment for Ulyses delcaring that she herself had been embarressed by his romantic words to her.  Xena went on to say that she had chosen not to reject Ulyses then because she had not felt that he could handle her rejection.  Gabrielle knew the truth of this.  It had been Xena who was most concerned by being rejected by Ulyses.  Xena capped off her aggressive rejection of Ulyses explaining that he could never be her kind of lover.  For Ulyses it was as if the cross bow had gone through his heart.  The blow took the breath right out of him.  All he could do for a moment was stand still and stare at Xena in confusion.  Soon the confusion turned to emotional hurt and then Ulyses retreated back upstairs toward the servant’s quarters.

Gabrielle passed Ulyses returning to the bottom of the steps feeling his heartache within her own heart.  Yet she also felt Xena’s deep regret for the harsh rejection that she had chosen to deliver to him.  Gabrielle felt that there could have been a softer way to accomplish this, but she also understood why Xena had chosen to deal with Ulyses in this way.  The warrior princess was afraid for her own heart for if Ulyses caught sight of Penelope again it may be the end for Xena anyway.  It was in this moment that Gabrielle realized just how soft and genuine the heart of the warrior princess truely was.  It was fragile.  There was so much of it that needed repair for it could not handle the thought of losing someone it held dear.  Xena had not completely committed her heart.  Yet she had come very close with Ulyses.  Xena tried to reason outloud with Gabrielle her choice to hurt Ulyses in this way.  She explained that both Ulyses, and Penelope deserved a chance and a clean homecoming.  Gabrielle could not argue with this for the warrior princess was right.  Yet the bard had faith that Ulyses’s love was still true for the warrior princess.  She was certain that if things did not work out with Penelope that Ulyses would eventually understand why Xena had intentionally hurt him.  Gabrielle was certain that Ulyses was a smart man.  It seemed that this idea comforted Xena just a little as she allowed a small bit of hope to creep into her heart explaining that maybe the three of them would one day fight for the greater good.  The bard smiled and agreed with Xena that this idea was very appealing.  It seemed to her that Xena might release a tear and be vulnerable inside.  Xena quickly averted this by reminding the bard that it was now time to prepare for the real work and so the two dashed up the stairs to bring a triumphant close to the story of Ulyses.

The banquet had already begun by the time Xena and Gabrielle had arrived.  Ulyses had gone on ahead for it was clear that there was only one thing left for him to do.  He had to prove that he was the true ruler of Ithica.  No other man would be suited for the task.  As Xena and Gabrielle circulated the banquet hall playing their roles as servants Ulyses appeared as a peasant man.  The leader of the pirates declared that it was Poseiden’s will that a successor to Ulyses be chosen on this night.  Penelope faced his challenge with courage and dignity as she explained the rules of the contest again.  The pirate took the bow and tried desparately to string it, but found it took more strength than he could muster.  He found himself irritated and almost angry at Penelope declaring that no man would be able to accomplish the task except for Ulyses who had already died.  It was in that moment that Ulyses spoke up from beneath his robe.  He declared that he could do it.  When the pirate heard this from a peasant he struck down the peasant’s request.  The pirate did not want to face the possibility that a peasant could string a bow that he could not.

When the peasant’s request was struck down there was an urgancy brought on by Ulyses.  He ushered the crowd to join him in pushing for a chance for the peasants as well as the pirates and those who had wealth.  Penelope took this idea and decided that she would agree to it yet the pirate was not so enthusiastic.  He declared that he would agree on the condition that only the one peasant would be able to have a try.  Ulyses was confident as he approached the front of the banquet hall where Penelope stood.  He took the golden bow from the pirate and prepared to string it before the crowd.  As Gabrielle and Xena looked on with the crowd they watched the intense process.  Ulyses struggled to bend the bow down as he rested it upon the floor to string it.  His face struggled as his muscles tensed.  Then Gabrielle remembered why Ulyses was having trouble.  His injured shoulder was preventing him from commanding all of his strength necessary to string the bow.

It was in this moment that Xena decided that she would help Ulyses one final time.  She was inconspicuous as she dropped a golden cup of wine onto the floor kicking it underneath the banquet table.  The warrior princess then slipped beneath the table as Ulyses continued to struggle as he got closer and closer to winning the prize.  Just when it seemed that he had no strength left to hook the string onto the bow it began to bend slightly more.  Suddenly Ulyses gathered his last bit of strength and then triumphantly he hooked the string onto the top of the golden bow successfully winning back the kingdom of Ithica.  There was a sudden pandimonioum within the crowd as people began to talk amongst one another about the event that they had just witnessed.  Yet the pirate cut the noise with his loud proclaimation that the contest had been fixed by Penelope herself.  Before Penelope had a chance to try to defend herself Ulyses uncovered himself from disguise and declared that he was Ulyses king of Ithica.

Suddenly the pirates were ordered by their leader to charge forward to attack Ulyses.  The banquet hall broke into a battle of the pirates against the king of Ithica.  Ulyses grabbed an arrow from Penelope’s throne preparing it within his bow launching it through the hearts of three pirates as people screamed and scurried about it terror.  Ulyses was fierce with his weapon as was Xena when she used her chackram in battle.  Xena burst out of her disguise jumping onto the banquet table to assist Ulyses in the fight yet she allowed him to handle most of the battle on his own.  The warrior princess understood the need for Ulyses to prove his courage, skill, and bravery to his people in this final battle against the pirates.  After unleashing the fury of his bow Ulyses grabbed a blade and began an offensive against his enemy that was comparable to the skills of the warrior princess.  Gabrielle released herself from disguise to help finish the battle as she grabbed a chair for defense against her attacker.  Xena battled with only her fists and her thunderous kicks as Ulyses was displayed to be the true warrior of Ithica.  As the swift battle drew to a close and Ulyses triumphed Penelope’s happiness in being reunited filled the banquet hall.  It was in this moment that the warrior princess decided that it was time for the battling bard to slip out alongside her onto the next voyage together.

Although Xena had tried to leave the story of Ulyses to Ulyses and his beloved Penelope even Ulyses could not allow it for on the next day as the Warrior Princess and the battling bard were to set sail he came aboard seeking her company.  There was an uncomfortable moment of embarressment for the warrior princess knowing what she had put Ulyses through.  Despite that painful rejection of the night before and the chance at a night alone with his wife Ulyses was still certain of his feelings for Xena.  Indeed he was a smart man for he had realized what Xena had done for him was out of love and not rejection.  Ulyses appreciated Xena’s concern for his marriage to Penelope yet his heart still yearned for the company of the warrior princess.  Gabrielle looked on as the conversation transpired realizing although Ulyses loved Xena Xena truely could not allow her heart itself to him.  Xena had chosen this out of her own fears and insecurities.  She had decided for Ulyses that his path would not be with her.  They had not made the journey through Poseiden’s wrath only to leave Ithica again.  Ulyses belonged there with Penelope and he would learn to love her again.  Xena was not as harsh this time when she again rejected Ulyses.  She was soft and tender as she spoke to him wishing only to convey concern and friendship rather than pain and confusion.

It was not easy for Ulyses to accept that the warrior princess would not surrender her heart.  As he left the ship his heart was saddened realizing that it held responsibility.  Ulyses was no longer a boy and could not afford the luxuries of a young man.  It was in this moment that the man had truely returned home from his long journey away from home.  The man would learn to love Ithica again and alongside Penelope he would restore it to its splendor once more.  Gabrielle watched as the ship began to turn
away from Ithica and Xena called out to the crew.  She saw the uncertainty of two young lovers as they waived good-bye to their newfound friends.  Finally Gabrielle approached Xena still confused that Xena sacrificed her happiness to someone she did not know.  Xena’s answer was simple.  Her heart was rewarded in knowing that she had helped Ulyses win back his kingdom and the life that he would have with the woman who courageously stood up to the pirates in the abscence of her beloved king.  As for the story behind it all Xena felt that it was only worth telling if it were the story of Ulyses and how he bent his golden bow to save the people of Ithica.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #43: Been There…Done That

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#43:  Been There…Done That

April, 47 B.C.

        If today was actually yesterday for the warrior princess then for all others today is today because no one else can remember that yesterday was actually today.  Is it the furies?  No.  Has baby bliss escaped cupid’s attention again?  No.  It seems that the warrior princess has been suffering from some type of stress which has caused her to go bonkers it would appear.  Despite all of these thoughts and ideas the bard of Potedia had decided that she will tell the story as told by the warrior princess herself.  However, going against the first rule of the bard’s scrolls Gabrielle can not write what she knows for the following events did not actually occur within her own reality. 

       On the first time today occurred for the warrior princess she awoke within the village horse stables to the sound of a rooster crowing.  Just as she would come out of slumber sitting up slowly the stable door would open allowing the bright sunrise to blind her eyes.  This would cause Xena to try to block the sudden brightness with her hand.  She found this rather annoying, but what always made it worse was that the person who would enter after the door opened was Joxer.  He would shout out at the top of his joyful lungs that it was time for everyone to rise and to shine.  Joxer would repeat this statement twice everytime.  The warrior princess would begin to reach for her wrist plates realizing that it was time to get up anyway.  Just about that moment Gabrielle would be grumpy and defiant of Joxer’s interruption of slumber.  She would comment that she would rise, but she would never shine.  Then Joxer would declare that he had fetched breakfast for everyone.  His choice was not anyone’s favorite and no one ever appeared to get very excited about goose eggs.  The idiot would hold out his great find triumphantly and in the next moment it would happen.  A large horseshoe would seemingly fall out of the sky and knock the idiot squarely on the forehead.  It would bounce off of his forehead and into his hat full of goose eggs.  The chain reaction would cause his goose eggs to spladder all over his face which would amuse both Xena and the bard everytime it happened.

      There would be a long pause as Xena would look up to see where the horseshoe came from and there in the stable loft would be a Menos stableman who would hope that he had not hit anything.  Xena would never comment on this, but Gabrielle would always state that it was nothing important.  Then both Xena and Gabrielle would rise dusting off the hay that they had slept in the night before.  Xena would ask the stabbleman where she could get shoes for her horse.  The stableman would answer that the Likos blacksmith across town could do it, but he wouldn’t be able to shoe Xena’s horse.  Then he continued explaining that he could shoe Xena’s horse, but he would not be able to pick up the shoes for the blacksmith was from a rival house.  Xena would have to pick up the shoes and bring them back to the stable herself.  The warrior princess stated that she thought this to be ridiculous, but it was just another minor annoyance like Joxer. 

     Then Xena would leave the stables with Gabrielle and Joxer to go seek out the blacksmith for the horseshoes.  Gabrielle would attempt to find a way to ditch Joxer.  The warrior princess was aware of how the bard was not so fond of having the extra travel companion.  For Xena he was annoying and in the way, but these were minor issues to her.  Gabrielle would always try to trick Joxer into going to get some more goose eggs to replace the ones that had been ruined by the falling horseshoe.  She would begin by telling Xena she was going to get the eggs.  Joxer would then beg to go with her.  He would always tell Gabrielle that retrieving goose eggs was a task too dangerous to accomplish alone.  Then Gabrielle would agree with Joxer and say that Xena should go get the eggs.  The bard was really hoping to stick Xena with Joxer while she could enjoy a pieceful morning without his company.  It had been a few weeks of putting up with his antics.  Everyone’s nerves were shot.  This could explain Xena’s repeating day. 

     Despite that the conversation would continue with Joxer feeling as if the bard were insulting his warrior talents.  Joxer would whine about how he had been the one who had retrieved the first batch of goose eggs.  Xena could see that Joxer was desparate to prove himself and impress Gabrielle.  If he could be more warriorlike he was certain that he would get his prize.  The warrior princess knew that Gabrielle was definitely not into Joxer that way, but it was an entertaining exchange.  Joxer would turn off of the path and walk up a set of stairs ranting to himself about being the man to send on a goose egg hunt.  Then he would nearly fall off the side of the village walls before realizing that he had not been paying attention.   Xena was certain that he was lovestruck for Gabrielle.  Gabrielle just liked to point out Joxer’s mishaps.  She was not about to be replaced by the idiot as Xena’s sidekick.  Then Joxer would calmly walk back down the steps and suggest to everyone that he would take the safer surface streets to accomplish his important goose egg mission. 

     Gabrielle would be delighted that she had succeeded in sending him away as she and Xena would be at peace without his presence.  Xena would then ask her what she was going to do when Joxer came back with goose eggs beyond her wildest dreams.  Gabrielle did not like goose eggs.  Gabrielle would never think that far ahead with her plan and her response was always a laugh at Xena’s question.  Just before the bard would have time to think about her comeback the conversation would be interrupted by two men in the town square having an argument.  On the first day Xena only heard the beginning of the argument.  Tybolis demanded of the Menos house where they learned to drive their carts.  The Likos man would respond saying regretfully that he had heard about Caska and that it was a terrible accident.  Tybolis then aggressively approached  the young Menos gentleman and he would push for the duel certain that there were no accidents between the two houses.  On the first day Xena drug Gabrielle away from the fight on down the street for she was not going to get involved in this personal issue between two men.  She sensed that it was going to get ugly and though Gabrielle was fascinated Xena would not allow the bard to dwell on it. 

     Xena then turned the corner with Gabrielle hearing the men draw their weapons and one of them apparently did not want to fight.  It was none of Xena’s concern so she moved on alongside Gabrielle as they looked for the blacksmith who could sell Xena some shoes for Argo.  Neither Xena nor Gabrielle exchanged any words.  It appeared to the warrior princess that even Gabrielle had picked up the art of paying attention to one’s surroundings no matter how insignificant.  Xena heard the other man respond in the distance demanding that his rival defend himself.  There was the clashing of swords and then there was the voice of a third man.  It was Joxer who interjected.  Xena heard Joxer state the names of both houses and ask them candidly what was in a name.  Before Xena could think her body acted as she grabbed Gabrielle without thinking and both of them turned to stop Joxer from making a mistake.  The warrior princess was certain of the consequences of getting involved in a family fued.  Joxer the idiot had just put himself in mortal danger and he wasn’t capable of defending himself against it. 

     As Xena dashed around the corner and gazed down the street she saw the two dueling men standing with their swords resting and Joxer standing in the middle of them.  There was not a sound and all was silent as Xena shouted his name across the street.  As she approached the motionless Joxer the two dueling men began to sheath their weapons.  It appeared that Joxer had succeeded at stopping the duel which was odd to the warrior princess.  Then Xena heard Gabrielle call out to Joxer as she approached the scene behind the warrior princess.  In that moment Xena noticed that Joxer had been mortally wounded as Gabrielle suggested with concern in her voice that she thought that Joxer had gone to get the goose eggs.  It appeared that Gabrielle was about to scold Joxer for his stupidity, but Xena realized that there would be no scolding this time.  She was uncertain of how Gabrielle would take Joxer’s death.  Xena was lost for words. 

Xena turned to Gabrielle as the bard approached.  Then Joxer turned around slowly to face Gabrielle as if he wanted to apologize for getting wounded.  Xena watched helplessly as Gabrielle could suddenly see the gaping hole through Joxer’s stomach.  It was bleeding a lot.  Joxer was in shock as he looked to Gabrielle and then looked at his hand as if he could not speak.  Then his eyes rolled back into his head as he began to fall into Gabrielle’s arms.  The bard could not support Joxer’s limp weight as she fell to the ground with his lifeless body.  She called his name again as they fell together and then picked his head up and put it into her lap.  Xena could see that now Gabrielle was in shock over this sudden unexpected loss.  Gabrielle spoke softly to Joxer hoping to bring him back into consciousness, but Xena knew that he was gone.  The bard patted his face gently attempting to wake him from death’s grip, but there was nothing that could be done to save him now.  Gabrielle began to cry as tears rolled down her face.  Xena looked down upon Joxer and then into her friend’s eyes with regret.  The warrior princess knew that she should have gone back to get Joxer as soon as she sensed the trouble between the two houses.  If being more careful would have saved both of her friends the warrior princess would have gladly done it over again.

      Xena hurt inside for Gabrielle’s pain over the loss.  The warrior princess and the bard spent the rest of the day preparing a funeral fire for Joxer.  Argo’s shoes seemed unimportant now.  They would have to wait for a better day.  By the time the sun began to set Xena, Argo, and Gabrielle had left town.  They had built a beautiful funeral fire upon the lake where they laid Joxer to rest.  Xena sang her beautiful funeral song.  It was the song she had sung for Marcus she said.  As Xena had finished singing alongside Gabrielle the bard looked to her friend and spoke of her guilt.  Gabrielle blamed herself for Joxer’s death for she had been the one who had sent him away to search for goose eggs that she hadn’t even wanted.  The warrior princess wanted to ease her friend’s guilt explaining that Joxer had died a hero just the way he had always wanted to die.  There was no one to blame for the warrior princess knew that because of Joxer’s death he had stopped a family fued from errupting into a death nightmare for an entire town. 

      Xena sensed someone was watching them within their grief.  She looked back into the brush in the distance.  It was lit up by the fire.  She noticed that there was a young couple standing there.  They seemed saddened for the loss of Joxer despite having not known him.  Xena noted within her mind that she had seen the young girl earlier back in the street.  Joxer had saved her lover from his own death.  It seemed they were appreciative of Joxer’s sacrifice.  Xena then looked to Gabrielle and embraced her friend suggesting that they get some rest.  Gabrielle was doubtful that she would be able to sleep through her heavy grief.  Xena would not allow Gabrielle to continue to blame herself.  The warrior princess was well aware of her friend’s heavy conscience.  Xena laid down with Gabrielle and continued to embrace her friend.  It was obvious to the warrior princess that her friend was emotionally exhausted as she stroked Gabrielle’s hair softly.  Gabrielle snuggled up next to her friend closer.  The bard touched the warrior princess softly as if trying to hold onto what she had left within the moment.  Xena softly spoke to her friend whispering to her to sleep for in the morning the pain would hurt less.  The warrior princess only hoped that she would be able to help Gabrielle through the guilt.  It would be a rough task.  The friends fell into sleep together to the sound of the crackling funeral fire. 

      Suddenly there was that familiar irritating sound of a rooster crowing in the morning.  Xena’s eyes popped open.  Her first thought directed itself into figuring out why there would be a rooster in the middle of the woods.  Then she looked around and focased in noticing that she was waking up in the stables.  The warrior princess was not certain if she was even awake for she had fallen into slumber in the woods the day before.  Then the warrior princess rose and stuck her hand into the hay attempting to awaken Gabrielle.  She needed to know that she was truly awake.  Xena spoke Gabrielle’s name,  but didn’t get a response.  Her hand could not even find the bard within the pile of hay.  Then the door creeked open again as the sunlight blinded the warrior princess like the day before.  Her body reacted as it had the day before as her hand rose to block the sunlight from her eyes.  Joxer appeared again repeating twice the statement to rise and shine just like yesterday.  Xena was in shock and extremely confused by this.  Nothing made sense yet everything was exactly like yesterday. 

       It didn’t matter as long as Joxer was alive.  The warrior princess jumped up with excitement as she spoke Joxer’s name.  She repeated his name stating the facts.  He should have been dead according to what had transpired on the day before.  Joxer’s response was candid as usual.  He said that he should have died a thousand deaths.  Then he hyped himself up as usual explaining that he had skill and nerves of steel.  Xena did not care as long as he had not died.  She grabbed him joyfully and gave him a friendly head rub as if he were Lycious her little brother.  The warrior princes suddenly felt playful and light as a child.  She pretended to play fight him only to find that Joxer was confused by her behavior so she decided that she had better explain.  The warrior princess began to tell Joxer the tale of her dream as Gabrielle began to rise up slowly out of the hay  from her slumber.  Then the bard said exactly what she had said in the dream about rising and refusing to shine.  Joxer responded to Gabrielle gleefully again telling everyone about his goose eggs.  Xena realized that there was more to her dream than she could understand.  She pushed Joxer and commanded him to step back for she was certain that the horseshoe falling out of the sky would come next. 

     Joxer complained about Xena’s response to the goose eggs and told her she didn’t have to eat the goose eggs.  Then the horseshoe fell only this time it fell onto Joxer’s toes which caused him to drop his hat full of eggs onto the ground as he grabbed his foot in pain and hopped about.  Then the stabbleman appeared as before and hoped that he had not hit anything.  Xena realized that she had not dreamed the events of yesterday because yesterday had really happened.  Gabrielle responded by saying that the stableman had not hit anything important and so the day began again.  Xena decided that she had better tell everyone what had happened, but no one seemed to remember.  Even Gabrielle had seemingly forgotten about yesterday.  Joxer appeared pleased that he was a hero as he continued to hype himself up.

      Xena led the group down the street again for she still needed horseshoes for Argo.  As they walked Joxer continued to talk about his warrior senses as he juggled Argo’s old shoes despite tripping over his own feet.  As usual Gabrielle ignored his attempts at swooning her.  The bard was more interested in Xena’s dream which was no surprise to the warrior princess.  Both Gabrielle and Xena stepped over Joxer who was face down on the ground now.  Gabrielle suggested to Xena that her dream may have been a vision.  Xena was certain that it was more than a vision for the experience for her had been too real to dismiss in that way.  The warrior princess thought that it was more likely for Gabrielle to have a vision than herself.  As the two thought of the riddle before them Joxer interjected that it might be his own dream that they were within.  Xena continued to wrack her mind with the evidence of the riddle as Gabrielle had grow annoyed with Joxer.  She began pinching the idiot carelessly battering his confidence as she often did.  The bard asked Joxer if he could feel her pinching him as he cried out in pain.  He responded with an affirmation and then Gabrielle walked away proving her point to him that he was not dreaming. 

      Then Gabrielle rejoined Xena up ahead confirming with Xena that she had actually forgotten all of the events of the previous day.  Xena turned around frustrated with Gabrielle for she had not just forgotten.  The warrior princess was certain that none of the events of the previous had happened to anyone, but her.  Gabrielle’s response was typical as she stated the facts.  If the day before had never happened then what was there to forget.  Xena realized that Gabrielle had a point, but she wasn’t quite sure how to elaborate further to come to an understanding with her friend.  Xena sensed that Gabrielle thought she might be going crazy, but Xena was certain that she was not crazy.  She reiterated that today did happen.  Gabrielle argued with Xena that today had not happened yet.  Xena’s frustration with her new situation was growing.  She insisted to her friends that today had happened to her despite everyone’s lack of knowledge.  Gabrielle responded by stating that today was yesterday.  Xena explained that it wasn’t yesterday, but the other today.  Xena felt that maybe Gabrielle was beginning to understand despite this breakdown in communication.  The bard was smarter than she had thought. 

      Then Gabrielle put it all together within one statement.  She said that today was actually yesterday for Xena, but for the rest of the world today was today because no one could remember that yesterday was today.  Xena was impressed as she gave the affirmation that Gabrielle’s complex jumble of words explained it all.  Just when Xena was certain that she was getting somewhere within the conversation Gabrielle said that she still didn’t understand what Xena was saying.  Xena could not believe it, but then it got worse.  Joxer interjected a thought.  He suggested that maybe everyone’s reality was just in someone else’s head and that the other someone was making up their day and their lives.  Everyone was quiet for a moment and Joxer was excited for he thought that he had made sense, but he hadn’t.  Xena wrote off Joxer’s idea and resorted to asking Gabrielle again why she couldn’t remember Joxer’s death.  That was the most real part of the day to Xena.  It was too emotionally painful to have been a dream, or a vision, or something other than a real day. 

      She decided that a description of the event might jar a memory from with the bard.  Xena spoke of the sword plunging through Joxer’s heart into his chest which was covered with blood as his eyes stared blankly into the sky.  Gabrielle just appeared more puzzled as Xena continued her description.  Joxer appeared appaulled by all of this as he imagined himself within this scenario.  He gabbed his chest and almost fainted in the exact same way Xena had witnessed it the day before.  Gabrielle had been there too, but she didn’t seem to be able to recall the experience in the slightest.  Joxer had fallen to the ground by this point as Xena continued hoping to remind Gabrielle of the beautiful funeral they had prepared for Joxer.  Gabrielle had cried for Joxer as Joxer stood back up excited at the idea that the bard could have an emotional response to his death.  The bard appeared very frustrated with Xena for the warrior princess was so certain that Gabrielle had experienced things that to Gabrielle had never happened.  Gabrielle was so irritated at Xena and Joxer that she couldn’t remember these things about herself.  She decided to give up on trying to relate to Xena and suggested that she would go get her own goose eggs for the road.  Joxer decided that he would go with Gabrielle, but Xena stopped everyone.  She was not about to screw up the day again.  The warrior princess was determined to keep Joxer from getting killed, and Gabrielle from having to feel guilty about it.  Xena decided that all of them would stick together for the day to avoid the tragedy that was certain to happen if they did not.

      Then the Likos, Menos duel began to fire up right on queue.  Joxer responded remembering this part of the story from earlier as he looked to the two friends.  He could not believe that they would think that he would be stupid enough to step into the middle of a feud.  Gabrielle did not hesitate to answer with an affirmation as Xena agreed with her from personal experience.  Xena decided that she had better stop the duel herself as Joxer had the day before.  His death had prevented an all out family war.  She instructed Gabrielle and Joxer to go wait for her in the alley.  Joxer complained citing that he was Joxer the Mighty and that he did not need to go to an alley to be protected.  Gabrielle followed Xena’s order as she usually did without question.  That was the one thing Xena could count on from the bard if nothing else.  Xena approached the dueling men as they went through their argument word by familiar word. 

      Just as Xena was stopping one fight she heard another beginning in the alley behind her. That was where Joxer and Gabrielle and gone.  Swords were unshealthed as Gabrielle’s voice shouted out reacting to the scene.  Someone accused Joxer of insulting his house.    Xena heard Joxer’s voice again as he mentioned Menos and Likos and stated what was in a name.  Xena turned around to notice that the entire town was gathering at the corner near the alley.  She was irritated now for she had to hurry if she was going to save her friends.  Both were certain to die today.  She cursed herself as she flipped into action.  The crowd was larger than on the day before.  It was blocking her from running into the alley.  She flipped over the crowd for it was her only option as she gave her battle cry and landed right into the middle of the duel.  Yet she was too late for the next things he saw was a sword plunging into one of the strangers in the duel.  It was an unpleasant sight even for a seasoned warrior. 

     Xena quickly snapped out of that moment as she heard another man state that the other family was hiring mercenaries to do its killing.  The other older gentleman responded coldly as he denied that his family would hire mercenaries to do a job that they would gladly do themselves.  The other man responded back declaring that they were now at a full scale war.  His enemy was not disappointed at the declaration as the two older men drew their swords preparing to duel each other.  Xena decided that it must be the family feud that was meant to be stopped.  She drew her weapon and apologized for her action in advance.  The warrior princess kicked the weapons of the dueling parties and then destroyed them as the fell to the ground.  No one was going to duel anymore if she could stop it.  Everyone appeared confused at Xena’s actions, but the warrior princess was certain that stopping the family war and saving Joxer were the things she needed to do to get out of this terrible day. 

      Xena commanded everyone to go home until they could learn to get along.  One of the elders was unhappy about her interference.  He did not know Xena, but did not much care for her.  The man had written her off as a sworn enemy.  He declared that she was now with the other side despite Xena’s having no relation to either house what so ever.  This posed a new problem.  The warrior princess realized that the three of them would have to be extremely cautious for the rest of the day as long as they were still in town.  They had become part of the fued unwillingly.  As Xena watched the people of the family who lost another to the feud she felt sadness knowing that she could have saved him if she had just stuck to her original plan of staying together at all times.  Trying to stop the original feud meant nothing.  Suddenly Gabrielle expressed her amazement at Xena’s predictions.  She could not believe how exact Xena’s description of the events had been.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that her second chance to save Joxer had succeeded.  Joxer interjected with confidence that he had the situation under control, but if he had then no one would have died.  Someone did die.  Xena made her concerns for their safety known reminding everyone that they were now the enemy.  Every step made would have to be made with care.  Joxer seemed to be unaware of the seriousness as he always was. 

    After retrieving the new shoes for Argo from the blacksmith Xena, Joxer, and Gabrielle returned to the stable.  Gabrielle was certain that they would be free from the wrath of the village feud as soon as they had returned, but it turned out to be wrong.  Xena saw the stableboy had been seriously wounded as he lay struggling outside the door.  When Xena asked him what had happened he only said that he would not tell them which horse was hers.  Xena was afraid of what she might hear next as he explained regretfully that the rival house had killed all of the horses in the stable.  Xena quickly entered the stable calling out to her horse.  Her eyes scanned the scene of devastation to find that her worst fears were confirmed.  Argo her beautiful faithful horse was lying on the floor of the stable in a pool of blood.  She had been killed by a sword plunged through her heart just like all of the other horses.  Xena’s emotions ran high.  This time she was the one who had broken down as Gabrielle and Joxer tried to comfort her. 

     The three of them prepared a beautiful funeral fire for Argo in the lake as Xena had described for Joxer.  There was a lot of silence for the rest of the evening as Xena sat before the camp fire trying to figure out what went wrong.  Somehow there had to be a solution in which the day would end and no one would die.  Xena desparately wanted today to end, but she hoped for today again so that she could do it over again to save both Joxer and Argo.  As Gabrielle stood silent watching her friend suffer inside Joxer felt the guilt this time.  He told Xena that if the day did repeat again he would not want Xena to save him instead of Argo.  Joxer was offering his life to Xena if that was what would save her horse.  His gesture was of a true friend.  This was what Xena loved most about Joxer.  She did not blame him for the death of her horse.  If she had not tried to stop three duels no one would have tried to destroy her horse. 

     On the third day Xena awoke again with the rooster crowing.  She rose and looked about the stable and saw Argo’s beautiful eyes staring back at her lovingly.  Xena called to her horse, but just as she did the door swung open again, the beams of sunlight blinded her and Joxer appeared cheerfully with his goose eggs.  Gabrielle slowly rose from the dead of sleep complaining about rising and refusing to shine.  Xena asked Joxer to move.  The idiot was confused and asked why he should move.  Xena just commanded him to move again.  Again Joxer defied her order.  That was his problem.  Xena realized that his defiance of command and constant questioning of her authority was the reason he had died in the first place.  She decided that he could just get another horseshoe on the head.  He would have to learn the hard way.  Again the horseshoe knocked him on the head, but this time Xena noticed something different.  When his head had fallen into the goose eggs in his hat one had actually gone into his mouth which he spit out.  He looked a little goofy. 

     Then the Likos stableman hoped he didn’t hit anyone.  It was the same exact morning as the previous two.  She had not succeeded in moving forward to the next day.  All Xena could do was run through everyone’s predictable words out loud.  She was trying to figure out if there were any obvious clues with in action or words.  Both Gabrielle and Joxer again looked at Xena astonished by her insights.  Xena had to go through the entire story again for the second time to get everyone up to speed.  Again the bard thought Xena was losing it.  As they walked toward the blacksmith shop the conversation continued.  Gabrielle suggested that it might be a poison dart causing Xena to have these delusions.  Xena insisted that it was not her.  The day was just repeating itself.  Gabrielle’s response was sarcastic as she responded by telling the warrior princess that she hated when days repeated themselves.  It was obvious to Xena that Gabrielle did not believe her.  Xena needed Gabrielle’s help if she were going to solve the riddle, but she was beginning to realize that spending precious time to explain everything everyday was getting to be a pain.  She was certain now that she had to stop the village from itself.  Xena was repeating the day because she had to prevent the war. 

      The warrior princess was certain that only something that she could control was causing the day to repeat itself.  Gabrielle just reached out to her friend checking her for illness certain that Xena was going off the deep end over stress.  Then Gabrielle asked her what she thought made her so important.  Xena was extremely irritated with Gabrielle’s disrespect.  The bard was grouchy from having been awakened too soon.  That she could blame on Joxer as Xena swatted Gabrielle’s hands away in frustration.  No one could remember yesterday’s version of today or of two yesterdays.  Gabrielle wanted to calm Xena down, but didn’t know how as Joxer interjected another one of his idiodic ideas.  The good thing was that he agreed that Xena might be onto something with the feud.  Joxer was certain that he had the solution that would end it all.  He said the enemy of his enemy was his friend. 

      Xena was certain that if Gabrielle didn’t agree about the events of repeating days then she would at least agree that Joxer was insane too.  Joxer just smiled and waited for approval from everyone.  Gabrielle’s sarcasm shifted back to Joxer and away from Xena.  She asked him who the enemy might be although everyone knew the answer to that question.  Joxer did not dissapoint with his response.  He said that the three friends were the enemy.  Joxer continued to describe his master plan.  First they would all declare that they were the enemy and get the houses to unite.  Once the two houses were united then they could throw down their weapons and everyone could join one another in peace.  Joxer was disappointed when no one approved of his idea.  He was certain it would work reminding the friends that they often bonded over their mutual hatred of him.  Joxer hugged everyone as Gabrielle agreed with his last point.  Xena agreed with it too, but Joxer’s plan was not the way to stop the fight.  She felt that the only way to stop this nasty feud was to diffuse it at the source before it started.   Xena had to figure out how to break the cycle. 

       Just as the warrior princess was wracking her brain with all of the details she had learned so far she heard a man shout out the name Miron.  The man had been looking for him.  It was the same initial duel that kicked everything into motion everyday.  It always happened just as the three friends were passing by toward the black smith shop.  Xena listened more closely this time for she needed to know the details of the root of this fight.  She heard the insult about the Menos not being able to drive a cart again and then she heard the name Caska as clear as day.  Caska had to be the answer and the solution.  Xena was certain that she had to learn more about Caska so that she could save him, ending the duel for no one would have any reason to fight.  This would end the feud, the fighting, and create a day without a bloodbath.  Xena was relieved for she finally had her answer. 

     On the fourth morning Xena had never gone to sleep.  She had stayed up all night just to see if maybe she could keep the day from happening if she never went to sleep.  Anything was worth a try, but the sun rose, the rooster crowed, and Joxer opened the door to the stable again.  Xena decided her next course of action was to save Caska.  She jumped up from the hay bowled right through Joxer as if he weren’t even there and dashed out the door of the stable.  The warrior princess had been wasting precious time explaining herself to people who could never remember yesterday anyway.  She was determined to use her time wisely today.  As Xena approached the main road she heard the sounds of hooves, and a creaky cart.  She glanced across the street and saw an old man moving slowly with a walking stick.  It was obvious that he could not hear the approaching traffic or the three women who were screaming his name from across the street.  There was not enough time for Xena to save him unless she flipped out into the street and yanked him out of the path of the horse drawn cart.  Xena did it without another thought and saved Caska from the oncoming traffic.  He appeared to be startled, but soon noticed that his hat had fallen into the road and been run over by the Menos cart.  The warrior princess felt as if she had finally succeeded in stopping the outbreak of violence with this simple act.  She asked Caska if he were okay, but Caska could not even hear her from a breath away.  Xena repeated the question a little louder and more slowly.  Caska finally answered that he was okay, but instead of being thankful that he had survived he appeared more disoriented and extremely upset about the wreckless Menos driver who had run over his hat with the horse cart.  Xena was amazed at these seemingly clueless families.  She watched Caska grumpily pick up his hat and shake his fist at the Menos driver. 

       Xena decided that her work was done for the moment, but there was still the problem of getting Argo’s shoes.  She also knew that by the time she returned to the stable both Joxer and Gabrielle would be awake.  When she returned they were bickering probably because Gabrielle hated goose eggs and Joxer had ripped her from her blissful dream state.  Gabrielle’s first question to Xena was where she had gone.  Xena decided they had an entire day to kill so she told her story of the three yesterdays again and of what had transpired so far today.  As they walked through the town Gabrielle seemed confused like on every other morning for she could not grasp or remember that the same day had happened to Xena four times now.  She asked if Xena really did wake up in the stable every morning.  Xena confirmed with little excitement that this was true as Joxer continued to juggle Argo’s horseshoes which was what had started the fight that caused the Likos man to die on the second yesterday.  Joxer interjected his idiotic thoughts again suggesting that he help Xena stay up all night so that the day could not happen again.  Then Joxer began to sing his irritating sleep song to the warrior princess who was extremely tired and grouchy by this point.  She had already tried that and obviously it did not stop the day from repeating itself. 

     Xena could not take it anymore.  She snapped at Joxer although she felt the need to thank him for his attempts at helping her solve the problem for his idea had not been a bad one it just didn’t work.  Then Xena continued to express her frustrations to her friends stating that she had felt as if she had tried everything.  Despite her efforts it was still today.  Gabrielle interjected with her usual confusion trying to make sense of everything that made no sense.  Just before Gabrielle could ask Xena who she thought could be causing her the trouble Xena stated that it was not Ares, the fates, or something that she had eaten for Gabrielle had asked her all of those questions on the previous days.  Xena also knew that Gabrielle would ask her if poison darts were the cause or baccae bites for that would be Joxer’s next question.  Gabrielle would try to ask more questions, but they were always the same and Xena was tired of hearing the same questions everyday that only she knew the answers to.  Gabrielle looked to her friend frustrated that she could not get a word in when Joxer asked the first new question.  He asked if Xena had a hicky on her neck.  The warrior princess was surprised at Joxer’s observations, but ignored them.  She grabbed Gabrielle by the arm and gave her the facts.  Whether Gabrielle was going to believe her today or not Xena was certain that it had all happened before.  Xena then finished her statement explaining that she hoped by saving Caska today would finally end.

     Just then Xena heard Tybolis shout out to Miron the young Menos boy that was becoming quite familiar to the warrior princess.  Tybolis said angerly that he had been looking for Miron.  His next statement was new.  He demanded that Miron keep his eyes off of his cousin for she wanted nothing to do with Miron.  It appeared that the family feud was far worse than Xena had realized for it seemed that these young men would find any little excuse to fight one another.  Xena spoke her thoughts outloud to Gabrielle and Joxer who both were still unconvinced of Xena’s experiences.  The warrior princess turned her attention back to the fight for she wanted to see what else was different now that she had saved Caska.  Miron responded with more anger and force this time than at any other previous fight.  He was emotionally attatched to Tybolis’s cousin.  Miron pushed Tybolis across the square and asked him to allow his cousin to make her own decisions.  At that point the duel was on as the men drew their weapons with the passion for killing each other over a silly love affair. 

     Xena kept thinking outloud explaining that it would take more than saving Caska to end the hatred the Likos and Menos houses had for one another.  In the next moment Joxer interjected another one of his lame ideas.  He started babbling on again about the enemy of his enemy being his friend.  Before he could finish the desparate screams of a young woman came from across the street on the other side of the duel.  Xena observed this realizing that she must be the cousin and the lover.  As the duel continued Xena suddenly realized that she had to stop the fight for Tybolis had the advantage of strength and experience.  He would most certainly kill Miron in a matter of moments which wouldn’t be good for anyone.  Xena comanded Gabrielle to get Joxer to safety and pushed them toward the alley.  Joxer complained about not wanting to go to the alley again and then Xena mad her move into the middle of the fight  She walked straight for the swords and pushed them down.  Then Xena punched Miron sending him to the ground and kicked Tybolis down.  Xena looked up when she heard Joxer declare that he was a warrior as she watched her friends round the corner into the alley.  Suddenly Xena realized that she had made another mistake.  She had allowed herself to get separated from Gabrielle, and Joxer sending them straight into the second duel.

    As Xena began to dash toward the second duel she heard Gabrielle shout out to Joxer attempting to stop him from making the same idiotic mistake he had made on the second day.  Just as Xena rounded the corner she witnessed a new tragedy.  There standing at the end of the alley was Joxer, the two rival houses, and Gabrielle.  The bard was audibly struggling for her last breath as Xena watched the Likos man release his sword from her stomach.  As the sword slid out and Gabrielle’s stomach gaped open with blood flowing red Xena shouted out to her friend panicked.  Xena quickly approached the scene of the battle only this time it was Joxer who had survived to collapse in emotional shock.  He fell to the ground with Gabrielle’s limp body as she fought death’s grip, but could not hold on.  Gabrielle’s eyes rolled back and then stared blankly into the sky as Xena held her friend’s lifeless body helpless to save the bard now.  Xena was hurting and feeling the real emotional pain of her new loss as was Joxer, but the warrior princess promised Joxer that it would be alright.  The day would most certainly repeat itself for Xena was certain that this was not the outcome the fates had written for Gabrielle.  Xena looked about fighting the emotional anguish in her heart.  Her soul was ripping away as was Joxer’s.  The day ended with a funeral fire like on the first and the second yesterdays only it was Gabrielle who had died this time.  Again Joxer expressed his guilt for Gabrielle’s death offering his life to the warrior princess in exchange for Gabrielle.  The two fell asleep to the sounds of the crackling funeral fire and the warmth of its flames.

    Five times the rooster crowed and Xena awoke from her slumber.  The reality if Xena’s fresh loss was still with her as she sat up from within the pile of hay.  It took a moment for Xena to realize that she was back at the stable again.  Then she slowly looked over and reached into the hay hoping that she would find Gabrielle alive and well.  There was a person underneath and it felt like Gabrielle.  It wasn’t until Xena could hear the sound of Gabrielle’s yawning voice that she was certain that it was today again and that Gabrielle had not died.  The warrior princess stood up and reached deep into the pile of hay.  She pulled the limp body of her friend out of its slumber and hugged Gabrielle tightly with delight.  There was so much to be thankful for and Xena was overwhelmed with joy and relief.  Gabrielle was disoriented by this sudden rush of emotion coming from within the warrior princess.  Joxer opened the door again, but before he could finish telling everyone to rise and shine he noticed the joy and wanted to share it with his friends.  His goose eggs went onto the floor along with his hat as he shouted out at the top of his voice his desire to join everyone in happieness.  His face broke a large goofy smile as he swept both Xena and Gabrielle up into his arms.  Her embrace of Gabrielle had turned into a love fest free for all.  Gabrielle was annoyed and expressed it openly to Joxer.  For a moment Xena did not care, but then she realized that she had to pull herself together.  The warrior princess kicked him off like a fly, but he returned as if unphased by the rejection.  Next the horseshoe fell again knocking him upon his head.

    Again Xena went through the entire scenario as the three friends walked through the town on the way to the blacksmith shop.  The warrior princess was so frustrated with her personal hades that she began just going over the details of the day without trying to convince Gabrielle who would never be convinced of the repeating day she could not remember.  Joxer always offered his insights and though they were idiotic Xena was desparate to try anything.  On the fifth morning he suggested that the rooster was Xena’s problem.  Xena had never remembered him saying that before, but that was because she would normally ignore Joxer.  Today would not allow her to ignore anyone or any small detail.  She could not afford that luxury anymore and so on the sixth morning Xena had stayed up all night again so that she could kill the rooster with her chackram at sunrise.  Once that was done Xena decided to sleep the day away since there was nothing more she could do to stop it from happening.

    Despite having a nice long rest from the madness of the repeating day Xena was yet again awakened by the sound of the rooster’s crowing.  It was now day seven of today and Xena went through the entire story all over again with her friends who didn’t believe her or offered only stupid advice that solved nothing.  Xena was determined to keep her friends out of danger.  She ordered them to stay near the stable so that they would be out of the way of the duels.  Joxer argued complaining about Xena’s command.  Gabrielle was frustrated with his questions determining that Xena had a good reason and that it would be explained to them all later.  It was clear that Gabrielle still thought Xena was a babbling lunatic, but Xena did not care.  Her main concern was to convince Joxer to stay.  He thought for a moment that she was using him as a diversion for the enemy until he thought that it would be better if he were positioned on the other side of the court.  Xena decided that the only way to keep the two of them busy was to reveal the greatest secret of all.  She asked Gabrielle who was ignoring the situation in favor of observing  the fight that was about to start in the courtyard if she was aware of Joxer’s love for her. 

     This caught Gabrielle’s attention immediately.  She did not believe this load of nonesense either although Xena had known it to be true for a long time.  Since baby bliss had gone on his wreckless rampage of love the warrior princess had been keeping Joxer’s dirty little secret.  Today it did not matter for it would keep Gabrielle busy long enough while Joxer tried to explain away Xena’s lunacy.  That would buy Xena enough time to go across town to stop all of the fights that were certain to break out.  The day wore one as all of the other todays and one the eighth morning the rooster crowed again.      

     Xena woke furious, but did not waste any time.  She dashed out of the stable to save Caska and then returned to the stable to try to convince Gabrielle that she wasn’t crazy.  Then she would order her friends to stay put until she stopped the fight in the courtyard.  As she stopped the second duel in the alley Gabrielle and Joxer had finally caught up to her for Gabrielle had noticed that there was another fight starting across the square.  As Gabrielle warned Xena in urgency about the third fight breaking out Xena responded frustrated stating the obvious.  It was a lot easier to start these fights than to end them.  Gabrielle would always believe Xena by this point in the day and she actually was quite helpful this time.  She stated that she did not understand for both houses worshipped the same gods and suffered the same hardships.  Gabrielle wished that there were time to remind the sworn enemies of their shared liknesses.  It was a brilliant idea for Xena did have all the time in the world.  She spoke her thought out loud relieved at this new idea. 

    Xena didn’t even bother to try to stop the third fight for it would happen again anyway.  She was more interested in using her time to the advantage.  As she led her friends out of the alley and back into the square Xena noticed something new.  She looked upon the ground to find a broken vile.  When she picked it up she smelled the trace contents of the bottle and determined that it was nitesbane.  It was known to be a toxic substance that could kill someone if ingested.  Xena had two new things to think about on the eighth day.  Just as she continued down the street with her friends to ponder her new clues to the largest riddle of her life Joxer again suggested that the enemy of his enemy was his friend.  The warrior princess was frustrated with this idiotic idea.  She heard it come out of his mouth every single day.  Yet Xena decided that she would not reject it this time.  If it actually worked she would be free of this trip to hades and death would most certainly be better than awakening to the sound of the rooster’s crowing. 

     Joxer could not believe that Xena was going to go along with one of his plans.  He hadn’t even finished verbalizing his thoughts, but then Joxer was excited.  The idiot declared to the warrior princess that he knew that the day would come in which both of their warrior minds would share one will and one thought.  Gabrielle’s sarcastic response was that Joxer had only half a wit which Xena agreed with.  Joxer’s hands touching her arm were not soothing her either.  It was amusing to watch how Joxer responded to being given respect.  Xena finally asked him what there was to lose in trying this.  Joxer took the command of the warrior princess and stepped out in front of the crowd in the square.  His voice belted out boisterously as he insulted the families openly.  It appeared that only Joxer would die today, but then he implicated both Xena, and the bard into the plot to become the enemy to all houses.  He was more confident standing with his friends than without them.  This was no surprise to the warrior princess although a bit unpredictable.  As he cursed their names and laughed at their ancestors he whispered under his breath looking for approval, but no one responded for even Gabrielle could see what was coming next.  Xena braced for the impact as the entire town raised its weapons and released its wrath of arrows down upon the friends.  The last thing Xena remembered was the sound of both Joxer and Gabrielle screaming in fear of their impending deaths.  Then the rooster crowed.

     Xena was irritated that she had even tried Joxer’s plan.  As he opened the door and told everyone to rise and shine she reached for her chackram and plunged it deep into his chest.  That would most certainly shut him up so she could think without his constant interruptions.  There was not fear of death or consequence for neither existed when the day would just start all over again.  The shock in Joxer’s eyes as he was gripped with surprise at his killer was an interesting thing to notate.  Xena realized that he trusted her too much.  He was more vulnerable than she had thought him to be.  It didn’t matter for he would be alive again on the ninth today.  Gabrielle was slow to rise as always as Xena laid back down closing her eyes.  The bard was also way behind in realizing that Joxer had just been murdered.  When Xena didn’t hear the bard respond with her daily remark she knew that Gabrielle was in shock.  The bard rose from slumber snapping into sudden reality.  She could not believe that the warrior princess had heartlessly plunged her chackram into Joxer’s chest.  Xena did not fret for Gabrielle could spend the day dealing with reality while Xena tried to figure out what to do in peace and quiet.

    Xena had slept the eighth day away for she wanted to stay up all night to be up early the next morning.  She needed more time and she needed to keep her friends occupied with a little less cruelty.  As soon as it was the ninth day Xena woke her friends up before sun rise and tied them both up.  Then she prepared to save Caska, and stop all the fights that she was aware of.  Xena had part of it worked out, but there were still some missing pieces.  She would spend the rest of the day seeking out more clues.  Xena had created more time, but she hadn’t explored the problem of the nitesbane.  She visited the village druggist to find out more about the nitesbane.  The druggist  said that he treated both families despite his affiliations with one of them.  Xena noted that he was extremely scatterbrained and forgetful.  The man was quite old and unreliable.  The warrior princess asked him if he had sold any nitesbane recently, but he said he would have remembered the sale of something so leathal.  Xena wasn’t so sure of this.  Then the old man shuffled through the labels he could no longer read until finally he declared that someone had stolen the vile of nitesbane for it was missing from his collection.

     Xena decided that it was a lost cause to pursue the nitesbane so she decided to do what Gabrielle had suggested.  She went to the village midwife to find out more about the family histories.  She was a sweet middle aged woman who made terrible muffins.  Xena suffered through eating them so that she could retreive valueable family history.  The most interesting part of the conversation was to find out that this midwife from the house of Likos helped to deliver babies from the house of Menos.  There was trust there, but it was very small in comparison to the hatred.  Xena thought she might be able to use this information to her advantage at some point.  The time would present itself.  Xena went to bed knowing that she could finally stop the entire family feud with her newfound knowledge.

     Day ten came, the rooster crowed, and Joxer opened the door, but Xena robbed him of his joy in saying those aweful words rise and shine.  She bolted out the door and pushed Joxer out of the way for there was a full day’s work ahead of her.  After saving Caska Xena returned to the stable with new hope as she told the story of every day since it all began.  Gabrielle did not believe that they had repeated the day eleven times, but it was the truth.  Xena could not confirm or deny it.  Then before anyone could ask any more questions or make any more suggestions Xena covered it all within less than thirty seconds.  The warrior princess then left her friends in confusion and headed for the square to stop the first battle.  Trying to prevent their deaths had become a burden and a waste of time.  There was something else that would save them.  Xena watching them constantly never could.  As the warrior princess approached the square the two men were arguing over the young Likos lady.  Xena firmly interrupted them demanding that the time to talk peace was now.  Just as the two fighting men were lowering their weapons appaulled by the stranger’s interruption two more men entered into the square crossing swords defying Xena’s request. 

     The warrior princess had no patience for their behavior.  She approached them kicking their swords away.  After disarming them instantly she grabbed both of their arms and twisted them behind their backs flipping between them with a battle cry.  Then she used Lady Likos’s valuable legends and stories to help her stop the bloodlust.  She reminded the men that their legends said that if a man killed his own brother he would be cursed forever.  The warrior princess looked to Titus and asked him if this was the fate he desired for himself.  Lynarus the very man he was about to fight to the death was also the son of Titus’s father despite having the rival house’s last name.  Lady Likos confirmed this with the astonished crowd.  Both men were shamed before the entire town to be exposed, but it had worked for they decided to retreat from their passions for blood.  Yet Xena was faced with a third set of dueling maniacs.  The Likos man declared that he was certain he did not have any Menos brothers.  He reminded the crowd that his father Caska had almost been killed by a wreckless Menos driver.  The warrior princess had all the ammunition she needed to defy his angry passions.  She scolded the man about his own wreckless behavior revealing to the crowd that Caska was deaf and could not heard the warnings that had been given to him in an attempt to save his life.  Caska’s deafness proved itself to be very truthful when he asked his son what the warrior princess had just said.  Xena was standing just a few paces in front of him. 

     Then the father of the entire house of Likos stepped out into the square to challenge Xena.  He stated firmly that he did not need the lectures of a stranger.  As he faced the warrior princess she was not intimidated by his stature and experience.  She reminded him that he had almost lost both his wife and son in childbirth once.  He was softened by this memory as he had remembered that no one thought that they would make it.  Likos credited the gods for their family’s good fortune.  Xena would not allow the gods to take credit for what Lady Menos had done for the Likos family.  It was her caring and kindness that had saved the Likos family for certain loss.  While father Likos had been away fighting wars Lady Menos had come to his home and saved his family.  Father Likos could not deny that Lady Menos was indeed a good woman.  He looked to Father Menos who accepted the gesture of thanks for his wife’s unselfish actions.  Xena reminded the two men that Lady Menos the elder had hated their family feud her entire life.  She had passed on her generous love and caring to Lady Likos who now filled the shoes of a woman who had been taken from them  within this silly family feud. 

     Father Menos agreed that maybe the strange warrior woman was right.  It was time for peace to reign and for blood and war to end.  Father Likos surrendered his bloodlust and agreed that it was indeed time for peace.  Then Father Menos looked to Xena and asked the stranger how she had known so much about them.  Xena’s answer was candid for only she understood where she had been and what she had suffered to accomplish this great victory of peace.  The warrior princess had been studying the two families for eleven days now and finally Father Likos reached out to Father Menos in a peaceful gesture and handshake.  With that the town errupted with joy as everyone embraced their new state of being.  Xena walked away from the square relieved and completely ready to move forward.  Gabrielle had given her the inspiration for this solution only three yesterdays before.  It was no surprise to her when the bard came rushing up to Xena to congratulate her on her non-violent accomplishment.  Gabrielle was excited about the fact that Xena had saved two lives, stopped three duels, and made peace between two families who had a long history of hatred for one another.  Though Xena still sensed a bit of sarcasm and lack of belief within her friend none of it mattered.  They were free of today forever.  Gabrielle suggested that they have a party to celebrate the accomplishment.  Joxer agreed without hesitation.  For the rest of the day the three friends celebrated, but then came today number eleven.

    The rooster crowed again and this time Xena went mad.  She tore the hay as she popped up out of slumber and as soon as she remembered she jumped up and dashed out the stable door to go save Caska again.  When she returned she spent the morning recounting her entire eleven day experience.  She also thought outloud trying to figure out what went wrong and what it was that she was missing.  The warrior princess knew that it was something very small.  One tiny little detail had been the chink in the armor.  Gabrielle and Joxer were unable to understand Xena’s behavior.  They were insulted that Xena would even think for a moment that she was the only one who was special enough to save everyone from the day that would never end.  No one could seem to remember that they had lived this day before.  It didn’t matter as the warrior princess dashed out of the stables leaving Gabrielle and Joxer to figure it all out for themselves. 

     Xena rushed through the town to seek out the young woman that Tybolis and Miron had been dueling over.  As soon as the warrior princess spotted her in the street she confronted her demanding the girl hand over the vile of nitesbane.  The girl surrendered the vial.  When Xena observed it she noticed that it was now empty.  Xena’s first question was when had she taken the nitesbane.  The girl did not deny it.  She explained that she had taken it just after sunrise.  This drew frustration out of Xena’s soul for the idea of having to stop the young girl just after the rooster crowed was too much.  It was this young wreckless girl who was causing all of Xena’s trouble.  The warrior princess was at her wit’s end.  As the warrior princess wracked her mind with these thoughts the young girl ran away upset by Xena’s accusation.  Just then Miron stepped out of the alley near the stables declaring that it was not the young girl.  All of the repeating days were being caused by him.  He went onto explain that there was nothing that Xena could do to stop the day from repeating.  This idea was insane to the warrior princess as she continued listening to Miron’s explanation.  He explained that because the young girl’s house was at the north end of town and the stables were at the south end there would be no time for Xena to reach her before she took the nitesbane every morning.  Xena expressed her understanding of Miron finishing his sentence as she thought outloud. 

     Xena watched as the young girl disappeared into the distance while she thought about the unappealing idea of defeat.  If the day repeated itself forever then Xena would never die.  She could not take the thought of being imprisioned within the same day forever.  It was a worse fate than Tarturus.  There was one comfort.  At least Miron was living within this hell with her for only people who could remember the day would know the details that Xena knew.  Since the two of them had all of the time in the world to discuss and share their personal Tarturus together they sat down to discuss the problem.  Two heads would most certainly be better than one.  The warrior princess wanted to know why Miron’s lover had decided to take the poison.  Miron responded by explaining the one detail of the family saga that Xena had not known before.  Because she was a Likos her father was forcing her to marry a Likos man for he hated the Menos family.  Miron was a Menos.  Xena was saddened by the extent of the family fued.  It had taken such a toll on the townspeople that the young women were killing themselves to be free of the madness. 

      Miron continued explaining that he had come up with a solution to their problem.  He was going to suggest that the lovers go off to another town or village and elope together so that no one could prevent their love, but when he had told her about his plan that morning she began to sob.  Xena realized that she had already taken the nitesbane.  Miron himself had been too late to stop her from committing her own death.  He stated that when the day was over he had decided that he could not live life without his love.  She would be dead by the next morning.  Miron continued his story saying that he had prayed to Cupid for help.  Cupid had told Miron that Hermia his love must die tomorrow, but since Miron’s love for her was true Cupid had given Miron one wish.  Now all of the pieces of the puzzle came together for the warrior princess.  Her heart was sour with defeat for she realized that his wish had been that tomorrow would never come.  Miron smiled delighted that the warrior princess guessed his wish.  He continued explaining that Cupid had indeed granted his wish and said that the day would repeat until the day a hero would come to fix everything.  The hero would save Hermia, Miron, and end the pointless family feud. 

      Xena immediately responded with irritation that Miron had not asked for her help sooner.  It must have been obvious that she was the hero for she had spent every single today butting into the family feud.  That was no secret to anyone in the town including the rest of the world who never experienced the repeating day.  He responded a little embarresed and apologetic at the same time.  Miron had expected Hercules or Sinbad to arrive.  He had never dreamed that it would be a warrior princess.  Miron finished his statement explaining that the other reason for not asking for Xena’s help was because Cupid had said that Miron could not interfere in any way.  Xena could not believe this.  Her objective was to save Caska, stop the feud, and keep Hermia from taking the nitesbane just after sunrise.  Gabrielle had been wrong.  Xena did not have enough time.  Miron restated that no matter how fast Xena ran she would never make it to the north side of town in time to save Hermia.  That was the impossible task for only a hero could accomplish it.  Xena took this as a challenge.  She would not be defeated by the impossible.  Xena spent the rest of the day trying to devise a plan.  By the end she had returned to the stables to turn in for some rest.  As she took of her armor and laid down to rest she told her friends that today would be a busy day tomorrow.  For Joxer and Gabrielle who had not moved from their positions in the stable all day Xena’s joke meant nothing to them.  They were just certain that she was insane.  If tomorrow did actually come they might just leave Xena behind for fear that she was too crazy for them.

     On today for the twelvth time the rooster crowed again.  Xena jumped up ready for action bowling through Joxer and straight for the south end of town.  Today she would not bother with Caska for if she could save Hermia in time the day might actually end.  Although Xena had run at top speed she still did not make it to Hermia in time.  Xena had arrived at Hermia’s house just in time to see Hermia drink the poison.  Frustrated Xena flipped down into the courtyard startling Hermia who ran from the warrior princes in fear.  Obviously Hermia could not remember any of the previous days either.  There was only one solution left and not saving Caska had made the rest of the day more difficult.  The town errupted into an all out house war as every man an woman fought each other with deep running hatred of one another.  It did not matter to the warrior princess.  At least it kept everyone busy and out of her way while she measured the route that he chackram might take.  Only Gabrielle seemed to be bothered by all of the blood and gore.  She interrupted the warrior princess in a frenzy demanding that Xena stop the fight.  Xena ignored Gabrielle’s request knowing that there would be another chance tomorrow.  Stopping the fight alone would not work.  Xena had tried that and failed.  Gabrielle was persistant as usual.  She was about to interject into Xena’s deep concentration.  Xena responded by telling the bard that she was busy and asked her to go play with Joxer.  It was a minor joke, but it was fun for the warrior princess to push Gabrielle into Joxer’s chest.  It just added to the mystery of Xena’s actions.  That would most certainly keep the bard busy today. 

     As Xena measured she could still hear the sounds of the battle and she decided to follow Gabrielle’s movements.  She noticed that her friend was really blossoming into a talented fighter.  Gabrielle was holding her own quite well down in the pit of despair as Xena continued her work for the mighty chackram.  Xena decided as she watched the bard fight a man with a mase that she really could use Gabrielle’s staff to help her with some measurements that her sword could not accommodate.  Xena jumped down into the battle and grabbed Gabrielle’s staff in the middle of a heated battle.  If she died it did not matter for she would be alive again in the morning.  Then Xena had to removed a couple of men from the town square because they were in the way of her measurement.  She used the bard’s staff to disarm them and knock them out of the way.  As Xena measured the distance between the middle of the square and the highest point of the village she heard Gabrielle beg her to bring back her staff.  Just as she finished her measurement she realized that she had finally found the solution that would most certainly remove her from this neverending day. 

     Xena was so relieved and exasperated she wanted to share this insight with her friend.  Just as Xena shouted out across the square she looked up to notice Gabrielle was about to be clobbered by the guy with the mase.  Gabrielle had done well without the staff, but she gave Xena a certain glance that reminded Xena that she was being a little rude holding things up this way.  She tossed Gabrielle’s staff back to her across the square and apologized for keeping it so long.  Xena watched as her friend instantly caught her staff and turned to defeat the enemy approaching from behind.  She had used a powerful driving move low to rob him of his feet.  He slammed hard onto the ground.  Xena was impressed with how skilled her friend had become with the staff.  It was indeed the perfect weapon for her.  Xena praised her friend delighted and then went back to measuring for the chackram.  Moments later the fierce battle had come to an end for there was no one left standing except for Xena, and Gabrielle who was in shock at the scene of death that lied before her.  Xena had to spend the rest of the day comforting her friend and trying to convince her that no one would be dead in the morning. 

     Finally on the thirteenth day the rooster crowed, but Xena was already prepared.  She was on her feet as soon as she heard the sounds of Joxer’s footsteps approaching outside.  He had been whistling every morning and tossing his eggs up into the air on his way to the stable.  This bought Xena a few extra needed moments to accomplish the impossible.  Xena slammed open the door knocking Joxer onto the ground.  She wished him good morning as she lined up for the throw of her life.  As she released her chackram she hoped that it would be able to follow its path first to remove Caska’s hat so that he would stop to pick it up therefore miss getting hit by the Menos cart.  Then it would travel onto its final destination while Xena ran as fast as she could to the other end of town to catch it.  When Xena reached the north end of town she flipped down into Hermia’s courtyard to capture her chackram.  As soon as it had come to rest within her hand she looked up to notice that Miron was embracing Hermia and that the vile of nitesbane was broken on the floor.  Her chackram had been successful.  Xena had accomplished the impossible.  When Miron finally noticed the presence of his hero he asked her if it was possible for her to stop the family feud.  That was the easy part for the warrior princess and with that request she dashed off to the town square to remind the two families of their similarities. 

     It was the same on the thirteenth day as it had been on the tenth day according to Xena.  She interjected into the middle of the feud and demanded peace between both houses.  Impressed by her knowledge of their histories the families finally came to an agreement that there would be peace as both Father Likos, and Father Menos shook hands.  The townspeople errupted into joy and love as the warrior princess smiled brighter than the bard had ever seen before.  She approached Hermia and Miron who were delighted for Miron could now ask Hermia’s father for her hand in marriage.  They would not have to elope.  The bard did not understand it all, but it didn’t matter for it seemed that there was love and peace everywhere and Gabrielle could live with that idea no matter how insane, crazy, or nutty the warrior princess appeared to be.  The bard agreed with Miron as she gave a gesture of congratulations to the bride to be.  Miron then looked to the warrior princess and thanked her for she had accomplished the impossible.  Everyone would be able to look forward to tomorrow for today would finally be able to end.  Then Miron looked into Hermia’s eyes with a deep and true love as he leaned in to kiss her softly.  It was a beautiful moment to witness.  Although Joxer quickly ruined it with his large bulbous head as he leaned into Gabrielle as if he wanted her to kiss him.  Gabrielle looked to Xena with disgust for it was baby bliss who had allowed Joxer the false hope of love.  Xena responded by rolling her eyes as if she wanted to laugh at the bard’s puppy love. 

     As two weeks had passed the warrior princess awoke to the sound of the rooster’s crow.  Then the stable door opened as the sunlight shun in upon the warrior princess who was annoyed by the bright light.  Joxer appeared stating his familiar phrase to rise and to shine.  Xena was worried for it appeared that things were repeating yet again.  Gabrielle awakened with the same rebuttal as on every other previous day.  Joxer declared that he had found their breakfast.  Turnips were on the menu for tomorrow.  This was the first time something seemed different.  The warrior princess wasn’t sure for it had been several days since she had listened to the entire run through of events within the stable.  She had to get up and check Joxer’s hat to be sure that he had brought turnips.  When she reached into the hat there they were the most beautiful vegetables in the world. 

     Gabrielle watched Xena’s strange behavior as she wrapped her arm around Joxer’s neck holding the turnips and kissed him with joy.  Xena was acting strange for she never kissed anyone.  Gabrielle decided to ask the warrior princess if she were okay, but then she decided that there was something that she was missing about all of this.  The bard demanded to know what was going on.  Xena’s response was a simple one.  She grabbed the bard dragging her into a large joyous embrace exhuberant about life for it was finally happening again.  Gabrielle was surprised for Xena seemed to be burdened by it most of the time.  The warrior princess was like a young woman who was experiencing her life for the first time.  It was odd, but it was a pleasant surprise.  For once Xena was smiling and happy and peaceful.  Xena started ranting in philisophical terms telling the bard that she had to sieze the day for tomorrow might never come.  Gabrielle thought of this for a moment.  It made sense and it was a beautiful philosphy to live by, but it was definitely not vintage Xena.   Just then a large hammer dropped out of the sky and onto Joxer’s head knoking him out cold.  It was the funniest thing Gabrielle had ever seen.  Xena seemed to agree as the two friends laughed outloud together.  The bard’s heart quivered with happiness for Xena was experiencing love and joy at last.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume 2: Scroll # 35: Intimate Stranger

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#35:  Intimate Stranger

February 23rd, 47 B.C.

 

     In life there is a fine line between what is a dream and what is a reality.  Though sometimes it is difficult to define.  The warrior princess awoke from several nightmares which dealt with her guilt.  These nightmares were so intense that Xena awoke from them in a cold sweat.  Soon after she could not stand the lonliness which had set in as a result so she softly woke the bard from slumber hoping she could receive some comfort. 

     The cool morning air rushed over Gabrielle’s face suddenly for Xena had pulled back her blanket from her face.  It was still dark out for the sun had not yet risen.  Gabrielle looked over to Xena seeing the warrior’s chest violently rising and falling.  Xena’s eyes were distraught with worry and with guilt as she held her forehead with her right hand leaning her back up against a tree.  Gabrielle sat up on her elbows with concern and inquiry asking the warrior princess if there was anything wrong.  As usual Xena would not answer the truth.  She only said that it was time to continue their pursuit of Theodoras Callisto’s first in command.  Since Callisto’s death Theodoras had taken over her army.  His goal was to take Athens though the bard had heard that all he really wanted was to sooth his heart’s pain.  Theodoras had been in love with Callisto and now his violent army expressed his pain with each village it retained. 

     As the two women prepared to scout Theodoras’s nearby camp the uncomfortable silence between the two friends ceased.  Xena broke in with an inquiry of dreams.  She asked the bard if she had ever experienced a dream.  Gabrielle sensed Xena’s heart was within a confusion.  It was obvious now that it had been a dream that had brought it to this place.  Gabrielle then replied that she had indeed dreamed before.  She said that it was within her dreams that her best stories would come flowing through her soul.  Yet it had been a long time since she had dreamed.  Gabrielle had not had a single inspiration within her nights since the violent murder of her beloved Perdicas. 

      The warrior princess found herself saddened by this loss within the bard.  Gabrielle was still feeling numb with the pain of her loss despite Callisto having been gone.  Then Xena broke into the bard’s numb feelings with her own waves of guilt.  She began to open up her fears to her friend which had been building within her recent nightmares.  It was on this morning that she had awakened from them yet again.  Xena described having had four successive dreams.  The first began like a normal scouting mission.  She said that she was with Gabrielle and they were following two of Theodoras’s men.  Xena said that she remembered jumping down from the trees and then Gabrielle joined her upon command.  Gabrielle had asked Xena if she was certain that these men belonged to Callisto’s army.  Xena had confirmed that they had and were most certainly going to rejoin their new commander.  Then she asked Gabrielle if things were okay.  Gabrielle expressed her discomfort with the thought of Callisto again.  Xena understood her friend’s pain.  Then explained that Gabrielle’s pain was the reason that they had to stop Theodoras and his men so that they could all be brought to justice.  The bard seemingly understood this and then left Xena to rejoin Argo in the brush. 

      As Xena stood to hunt down the enemy she heard a familiar voice calling her name.   She turned with her weapon drawn and discovered that it was her mother.  Cyrene kept asking Xena when she was going to return home to where her friends and family loved her.  The warrior princess had said that she felt confused and afraid that Cyrene was present.  She then told her mother it was not safe for her to be there.  There was danger just beyond the trees where Theodoras was with his men.  Xena could not attack with her mother there for the guilt of her past deeds began to intrude.  Then Xena found herself realizing that it was all a trick.  That it was not really her mother who stood there before her.  And as she approached the imposter Cyrene revealed her true identity.  She was Ares the god of war.  He was still after his favorite warrior princess.  Ares commended Xena for rejoining his darkness for he was certain that she would one day command his next great army. 

      Xena was not at all amused by his presence.  She despised it and reminded him that his ambitions were only a dream.  Then Ares showed the warrior princess her recent fault.  He accused Xena of being a murderer.  When Xena tried to defend herself he only reminded her that she had been the one who killed Callisto.  The warrior princess desparately fought against her guilt.  She had killed Callisto for a justice.  Callisto’s death was justice for the death of Gabrielle’s Perdicas.  But Ares persisted with more.  He claimed that the warrior princess had murdered Callisto because she had allowed her to sink into the quicksand despite Callisto’s innocent pleas for help.  Ares declared that if Callisto’s death had been in the name of justice then it would have been a fair fight by the sword.  Yet instead Xena had just let her enemy die helplessly unable to rescue herself.  Ares insisted that this act had ensured that Xena was a murderer when she did not try to save the once innocent.

     Xena’s guilt began to rise as she tried deparately to hide it from Ares.  But the god of war then showed her a vision.  It was the dark memory of the day that she had watched Callisto die.  Callisto was sinking rapidly as she called out to Xena.  Her eyes no longer of firery rage.  They only spoke of a childlike innocence and fear.  Callisto reached out to Xena as she called for her rescue.  Xena tried desparately to distance herself from all of the guilt within, but could not.  Her hands which held her sword then pulled her toward the vicitm.  The warrior princess tried desparately to fight it, but the sword then plunged into the victim as Ares laughed triumphantly.

      Suddenly Xena awoke from this first nightmare with great fear.  She jumped to her feet from her slumber swinging her sword wildly ready to do battle.  Her warrior senses were confused as she scanned the camp.  There was nothing there, but a frieghtened crow and Gabrielle sleeping soundly alone.  Xena then slowly approached her friend desparate for comfort.  As she turned Gabrielle’s shoulder to awaken her the bard’s face turned into that of the dead Callisto.  Callisto’s brown eyes stared lifelessly.  They stared deeply into Xena’s freightened soul.  The warrior princess jumped back in disbelief as she saw the  endless blood dripping from her hands. 

       This time she awoke to the face of Gabrielle who had been trying to save her from her nightmares.  Gabrielle had shaken the warrior princess startling the guilty soul.  Then the bard’s soothing voice expressed its pity for the soul that could not release itself from deep guilt.  Xena then felt safe again as she asked Gabrielle if she felt what Ares had said  was true.  Had she really executed Callisto by allowing her to die helplessly within the quicksand.  Gabrielle’s voice was reassuring to Xena telling her that she had only done what had to be done.  These were the words that Xena desparately needed to hear from her friend.  Xena continued by expressing how every dream she had had was about Callisto and no one else.  The guilt ridden warrior continued by explaining that it was Ares taunting her and saying that she really had become a murderer when she did not try to save Callisto from her own darkness.  The warrior princess felt guilty for not giving Callisto a chance to change the way that Hercules had given Xena that chance to change. 

     Gabrielle  sharply yet confidently refused that statement for she said that Callisto had chosen her own path and demise.  It was not Xena’s responsibility to try to change Callisto according to the bard.  Gabrielle continued soothing the guilty warrior’s soul with more words yet they began to sound confusing to the warrior princess.  The bard said that just because Xena had not tried to change Callisto or to show Callisto any mercy as others had shown Xena that these things did not make Xena a murderer.  Xena began to move away from the bard slowly though Gabrielle’s hands did not release her shoulders.  Gabrielle continued her strange twisted soothing statements.  She said that if Hercules had chosen to judge Xena the way that Xena had chosen to judge Callisto then Xena would most certainly be dead by now.  Xena then questioned the bard with alarm.  Gabrielle continued as her words became more harsh and that soothing familiar sound suddenly began to change its tone.  She said that Xena deserved death more than did Callisto for it had been Xena who had created Callisto.  Though it was Gabrielle’s face that Xena saw her voice was now that of Callisto and before the words could finish the warrior princess awoke a third time.  That was when she had awakened startled Gabrielle out of slumber.  Finally Xena had reached the safety of  reality.  Yet even then there was seemingly little comfort for the warrior princess’s heart.

      As the two friends continued scouting on after exchanging their woes and dreams Xena’s pace suddenly quickened.  Gabrielle’s concern rose as her own thoughts of pain deminished into the alertness of preparing to do battle.  Xena then knelt down before some footprintes in the mud along the road.  Gabrielle followed inquring the warrior princess uncertain if they were following the trail of Theodoras.  Xena answered her friend with confidence saying that Theodoras and his men had gone over the river through the woods toward a deserted village.  Not only were they following the trail of the enemy, but there was another man following as well.  In fact, Xena was certain that this lone warrior was about to get himself killed.  Gabrielle pieced together the sarcastic comment and realized that it was Joxer that Xena spoke of.  Somehow he had managed to find himself right in the middle of the action once again.

      When Xena and Gabrielle finally arrived on the outskirts of the deserted village they found that Theodoras was about to execute Joxer.  The so called warrior challenged Theodoras proclaiming that soon the Athenian army would storm the camp and seize Theodoras and his army.  Theodoras was slightly amused, but more irritated at the annoying intruder.  He had decided that he was going to have Joxer killed this time for he was growing tired of dealing with his idocy.  Theodoras was angered when Joxer mentioned the name of the woman he had loved.  He then said that he would spill Joxer’s blood carving him from the inside out.  Joxer was defiant yet slightly fearful at the thought of his violent oncoming death.  He tried to talk his way out of it reminding Theodoras that he would need Joxer as a hostage when the Athenians came to take his army.  Theodoras ignored Joxer’s pleas as he and his men began to beat their victim senseless.  Joxer was helplessly hanging upon a rope as Xena’s battle cry raged out from within the woods.

      Suddenly Theodoras and his army dispersed into the woods looking to kill the warrior princess.  Yet she had already arrived into the village as she flipped violently crashing through the walls of a large barn.  Within the barn was Joxer hanging from the ceiling beams.  Gabrielle entered through the gaping hole left by Xena’s wrath as she and Xena scanned the barn for any of Theodoras’s men.  No one was present except for the idiot who proclaimed that he had been the one who had scared the enemy off.  Gabrielle was prepared to go after the enemy into the woods, but Xena declared that it would not be wise in the night.  She decided that they would camp and so Gabrielle went to fetch the blankets.  Xena began to pace within the barn planning her next move.  Joxer could barely stand being ignored any longer demanding that Xena free him from his ropes.  The warrior princess finally decided to free him, but not without punishment for his stupidity in acting alone.  Joxer suddenly found himself eating the dirt with little sympathy to follow.

     As the friends prepared to try to recapture their dreams Gabrielle approached the warrior princess staring off into the distance.  She brought a blanket to cover Xena’s shoulders realizing that though Callisto was gone from the world her presence still lurked within it.  Xena then continued expressing her guilt.  She was now certain after having her terrible nightmares that her guilt was real.  Xena really felt that she had committed an injustice allowing Callisto to die in the sinking pit of quicksand.  Gabrielle was disappointed for she now realized that Callisto had truely won despite her death.  Callisto had taken Xena’s light turning it into an endless guilt while she had handed Gabrielle endless pain and empty rage within her own heart.  Gabrielle expressed her disgust with the situation as she spoke these thoughts aloud.  For Xena was wishing that she had not killed Callisto, Joxer had developed a death wish because he had not succeeded in killing Callisto, and Gabrielle now felt that the world would have been a better place had the blonde nemisis never existed at all.  With that the bard left the warrior princess within her guilt unable to console her friend beyond her own heart’s lingering pain.  And so Xena’s nightmares continued relentlessly and without end.

     Upon the early morning before the next sun Gabrielle found herself suddenly awakened by Xena’s jolting her shoulder.  The bard was startled out of her slumber barely able to focas on Xena’s quick words.  Xena said that she had finally figured out what was really going on all of this time.  She said that Callisto was back somehow with the help of the god of war.  Gabrielle suddenly found herself alarmed by the thought of Callisto’s return.  She was uncertain of how she would deal with another face to face meeting with her worst enemy.  When Gabrielle inquired of the warrior princess what she felt that they would do next.  Xena responded with zest.  She said that they must immediately go onto Amphipolis for Callisto was certain to strike there next.  The bard did not understand how Xena had come to this conclusion so easily.  Xena continued explaining that because of Callisto’s undying revenge for her she was most certainly out to kill Xena’s mother.  There was someting eerie about Xena’s quick knowledge of her enemy’s certain motives.

      Just when Gabrielle was about to awaken Joxer to join them on their new mission Xena grabbed the bard’s arm.  She then told Gabrielle that it was best that they leave the idiot behind.  Xena was certain that he would only get himself killed.  Gabrielle could most certainly understand that.  And so as Gabrielle prepared herself and Argo for their journey to Xena’s home Xena vanished for a short time.  Gabrielle found herself increasingly confused.  She began to wonder if maybe she too had been having a strange dream.  Yet her concern dissolved upon Xena’s return as the sun began to rise.  Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo traveled together.  Yet the entire journey seemed like a strain and a struggle.  Argo was extremely fussy on this morning.  It was unusual for Xena’s horse to be so upset.  Gabrielle tried to figure out what may have spooked Argo, but most of her effort had gone into keeping Argo still.

     Then Xena started revealing her plan.  It was not typical for her to be so open and seemingly vengeful.  She said that Callisto most certainly had gone to fetch her army.  Xena was planning on reaching Theodoras before Callisto could regain control.  Argo continued to express her discomfort.  Gabrielle wondered if maybe it was because of Xena’s guilt.  She wondered if maybe it was the guilt begining to poison the warrior princess’s heart.  Then Gabrielle asked Xena if she would take Argo from her.  The bard was certain that Argo would calm down if Xena were to take the reigns.  Yet Xena refused to comfort her horse.  Instead she declared that Argo was only behaving in this way because she sensed Callisto as she had the last time they had gone up against Callisto.

     Then Xena turned to Gabrielle proclaiming that she had a confession.  She said that it was not right that she had been the one to kill Callisto before.  Xena said that Gabrielle should have been the one to spill the blood for her vengence deserved to be tamed.  The bard suddenly found herself disturbed by Xena’s sudden change.  Before Xena had fought desparately to keep Gabrielle from drawing Callisto’s blood.  And now she was determined to convince Gabrielle that it was her responsibility.  Gabrielle listened to her friend as Xena continued.  She said that her guilt over the issue was about to tear her apart.  The bard’s worst fear was seemingly playing itself out.  Gabrielle did not know what to do or how to visualize the truth.

     The bard then tried to verbally make sense of things.  She asked Xena if what she had said was the truth.  The bard wanted to know if Xena truely felt it was her responsibility to kill Callisto.  Xena’s reply was strange.  She disputed that statement only to say that Callisto was most certainly after her mother.  Gabrielle stated that Callisto had to be stopped short of killing Cyrene.  Xena did agree with this, but her blank stare pierced through Gabrielle like fire as Xena said that stopping Callisto wasn’t the problem.  She continued stating that once Callisto was stopped there had to be a resolution.  Xena seemingly did not know the resolution yet Gabrielle sensed that there was something beyond.  The warrior princess then stated that she was not so certain that she could go through with killing Callisto again.  Then she walked away from Gabrielle and Argo leaving the bard to contemplate Xena’s strange new demeanor.

     As the day wore on Gabrielle found herself even more confused for Xena began to teach her the art of vengence.  She had chosen a small tree to be the devout enemy and commanded the bard to strike it down.  But Gabrielle had already made up her mind.  She had already learned that the vengence would not calm her raging heart.  Gabrielle’s efforts were futile against Xena’s constant beckonings as she scolded the bard for not trying hard enough.  When Gabrielle tried to talk her way out of learning the truths of vengence Xena only pursued further.  She told the bard that it was not about vengence at all for Callisto was already dead.  All that she asked of the bard was to send her back to Tarturus where Callisto belonged.  Xena proclaimed that Gabrielle’s heart could bring the strength of vengance forth for it still existed within the bard.  Gabrielle knew Xena was right.  She had only buried those lustful feelings deep within.  Yet Gabrielle was afraid to release them openly knowing the damage that would most certainly follow.

     As Gabrielle prepared to strike at the tree once again Xena’s rage spilled out with even more power.  The bard suddenly found herself frustrated as she turned to face her friend.  There was definately something wrong within.  As Gabrielle searched Xena’s eyes for some light Xena calmed her tense muscles for a moment.  She shifted the sudden suspicion to a challenge.  The warrior princess then asked Gabrielle to allow Xena to play the part of Callisto.  Gabrielle found this sickening and not at all amusing.  Xena persisted with the charade saying that she only looked like Xena, but that she was really Callisto.  Though the idea seemed impossible the bard’s mind momentarily grasped the idea as truth.  She thought that maybe it was a true explanation to this situation yet her heart worked desparately to deny it.  Then Xena beckoned her to strike and so weakly Gabrielle struck for she did not wish to unleash vengeful feelings upon her best friend. 

     Again Xena persisted trying to belittle the bard with insults, but even that did not allow Gabrielle to strike a powerful blow.  Yet Xena tried once more to grasp the vengence with the bard.  She began to describe the sensation of killing Perdicas and of how she had felt his blood on her hands as he died.  Gabrielle’s rage began to surface as her soul began to boil and the darkness emerged from within her heart.  Then Xena finalized the statement by belittling the bard again telling her that she was incapable of killing the one who had taken her love from her.  And with that Gabrielle lost all of her senses.  Her self control was completely gone.  Her muscles tensed within her arms and her legs thrust forward with the staff as it struck Xena in the chest violently.  The warrior princess suddenly fell to the ground for Gabrielle had knocked the wind out of her friend. 

     As Xena rose slowly from her defeat Gabrielle’s darkness quickly retreated into realization.  The bard suddenly felt great guilt for what she had felt and acted upon.  She turned away from Xena who praised her yet Gabrielle did not feel like a celebration.  Instead her stomach felt ill.  As if she wanted to purge it of the evil lurking within.  Xena then continued to stroke the bard’s dark ego telling her that she was proud of the action against her.  Gabrielle expressed her deep concern for having felt hatred within that moment.  She had truely believed in her mind that Callisto was real within Xena’s eyes and that was what had allowed her to strike.  Gabrielle did not want to face that moment again, but Xena only commented that hatred had to be faced no matter the consequences.  Then Xena handed the bard her weapon, but this time it was not just a simple fighting staff.  Xena had fashioned it into a spear using the breast daggar that Gabrielle had once purchased for herself.  Then Xena said that she was going to take care of the one who was following closely behind.  Upon her abscence Gabrielle found herself barely able to move or to function.  Instead she just stood against the tree and stared at the weapon of death that now faced her.  She sensed that this was a moment of choice.  Gabrielle desparately hoped that she would not make the wrong choice.

     After many moments of spying the weapon Gabrielle finally picked it up.  She began to inspect the point of the weapon as she tested it up against the tree.  The bard questioned her resolve wondering if she would be truely able to make the choices that Xena had to make every day with the sword.  There was still a great deal of uncertainty within her as Argo began to stir upon Xena’s return.  The warrior princess seemed a lot more at ease as she grabbed a drink to quench the thirst of her passionate encounter with war.  When Gabrielle inquired of who had been following them Xena said that it had only been one of Theodoras’s men.  Then she confidently brushed off the situation stating that she had been able to scare him off. 

     Gabrielle prepared to grab Argo to continue on their journey, but Xena’s calm nature began to shift back into that crazy uncertainty for the bard.  She said that Argo would not be going with them onto Amphipolis.  Xena stated that she feared for Argo’s safety.  Again this was unlike Xena for Gabrielle had never known the warrior princess to go anywhere without her horse alongside her.  Gabrielle investigated this with a question for she wasn’t sure that an emotionally distraught horse should be left out in the woods alone.  With Callisto lurking about she might fall victim.  Xena was certain and persistant that she should leave Argo behind.  She was so confident that she asked Gabrielle to move ahead while she hid Argo’s briddle.  Gabrielle looked to Xena once more with grave concern, but she did not argue with the warrior princess.  She was often cryptic about many things. 

     Gabrielle walked on alone for about two hours until she began to hear some very strange sounds lurking behind.  The bard circled back upon her path to investigate what was just behind her.  To her surprise she caught sight of  Joxer walking alongside Callisto, and then suddenly she heard the distant sound of the roaring chackram.  Then the chackram was in plain view, but it was not Xena who tamed it.  Callisto took the mighty weapon as Joxer narrowly escaped its wrath.  He fell backward passing out after Callisto tamed the weapon.  Then she prepared to return it to the warrior princess only to find herself confronted by the warrior woman.  She warned Callisto not to send back her weapon for she would only recapture it.  Then Callisto demanded to know where the bard was, but Xena played her off without revealing a single detail.  Gabrielle strained to hear the dialogue between the two women, but found it muffled by the sounds of the wind blowing through the brush.

     All she could do now was watch and hope Xena would be triumphant.  The sounds of screams and battle cries broke through the rustling plants as the two women flipped across one another clashing their swords into action.  It seemed all of their battles began this way.  And then they would face one another swords ready.  Callisto was seemingly on the defensive in this battle as Xena attacked to perry.  The warrior princess swung missing Callisto as the blonde jumped backward.  Xena then charged forward with even more aggression and force.  There was great power and strength, but it was not coming from Xena.  It was coming from Callisto.  Callisto seemingly fought to avoid drawing blood.  She only fought to defend.  Strangely it seemed to the bard that Callisto was fighting like Xena and Xena like Callisto.  She thought maybe it was because Xena was seeking a justice fairly deserved. 

     Then Gabrielle saw Callisto flip and roll to the ground dodging another advance.  Gabrielle thought that Callisto could have easily taken the advantage against Xena, but for some reason she had chosen not to.  Instead she knelt down in the mud blocking Xena’s downward motion from behind.  Then Callisto spun around from the ground looking to strike at Xena’s feet, but the warrior princess flipped over her to escape the move.  Callisto rose to face Xena who attacked high against the blonde.  There was a massive struggle for control.  Callisto used her sword to hold off Xena’s.  Xena twisted her sword to disarm Callisto who suddenly kicked Xena’s sword from grasp.  Then something extraordinary happened.  Callisto ran up Xena’s chest flipped backwards and kicked Xena in the face.  It was the same move that Gabrielle had seen Xena use many times, but this was the first time Callisto had ever used it.  Then there was a pause in battle as Gabrielle thought of this.

     Yet her suspicions were rested when Xena mirrored the move that Callisto had made.  Then Xena flipped Callisto by the arm only to have the move reversed by Callisto.  Callisto then kicked Xena who fell back and then she slid a daggar from her boot returning to the offensive against Callisto.  The blonde warrior did not have a weapon.  Instead she dodged each strike and then jumped into a reverse flip using her legs to capture Xena into submission.  As the women fell to the ground Xena ended up on the bottom as Callisto took control.  The daggar held steady with neither woman taking the advantage.  Gabrielle suddenly sprung up from the brush realizing that she had to enter into the battle.  Callisto was about to take Xena’s life.  Gabrielle arrived behind Callisto with her spear pulled to attack.  The bard was prepared to take Callisto’s life.  Gabrielle was totally focased and could hear nothing.  Her blood raced through her veins as the vengence began to rise.  Suddenly her concentration was broken by Xena’s voice.  Xena commanded her to kill the blonde warrior, but before Gabrielle could respond her ears were filled with Callisto’s voice asking for soft mercy. 

      Callisto continued explaining to Gabrielle that she was about to tell her an impossible story.  Then it was out.  Callisto proclaimed herself to be Xena.  Her voice was calm unlike usual.  It wasn’t phsycotic or crazed.  Yet Xena responded quickly saying that Callisto’s statement was only a trick.  Callisto quickly replied with the trick being that of Ares.  She said Ares and Callisto worked together to use her own guilt against her.  This had been how Xena had become Callisto while she slept during the night.  Gabrielle found herself suddenly confused.  There was a fine line between vegence, and truth.  Xena then spoke up once again reminding Gabrielle that Callisto had taken Perdicas.  Gabrielle fought the urge to kill knowing that Callisto might be telling the truth.  Callisto’s explanation explained why Xena had been behaving so strangely and why Argo had been upset.  Then the vengence rose and almost overcame the bard’s resolve. 

     Callisto broke in one last time.  She asked Gabrielle to question Xena about her dreams since Perdicas had died.  The bard found herself confused by this strange request coming from the blonde warrior.  She wondered how the blonde even knew what she and Xena had talked about the night before.  Xena accused Callisto of tricking the bard once more.  But Gabrielle felt that the question was a valid one.  it would prove the truth in all of this confusion.  And so Gabrielle asked Xena to answer knowing that it would be simple.  Xena hesitated and then struggled to find the phsycotic words that would pull vengence from within Gabreille’s heart.  The answer Xena gave was wrong.  Xena said that Gabrielle had been dreaming of her vengence, but that was not the truth.  Then Callisto calmly broke in proclaiming that Gabrielle had dreamed of nothing since Xena had killed Perdicas.

     And so it was true.  Callisto was Xena and Xena was Callisto.  Somehow the impossible had happened and they had traded bodies.  Gabrielle was stunned and Xena relieved for she had won this battle of truth with words.  Xena looked to her friend who dropped her weapon as Callisto took the moment to escape running for the horse that Joxer had brought along with Xena.  Gabrielle then looked at Xena totally astonished by the incident.  In disbelief Gabrielle was stunned only interrupted by the sound of a flying daggar approaching her.  When Gabrielle suddenly snapped back into reality she looked up to see death.  Yet Xena was there to save her capturing the daggar within her hand.  Then Callisto rode off only she looked so much like her friend.  This left the bard with Xena who looked exactly like the one she despised.

     Again doubt rose within Gabrielle as she looked to the blonde woman who now stood before her.  The person that was once Xena rode off triumphantly as she recaptured the chackram and screamed through the woods.  This thought was chilling.  Gabrielle could not understand or comprehend.  She then asked the blonde if it was true.  Xena confirmed that she was really the bard’s truest friend.  Gabrielle was very upset.  She did not want to face this new reality.  The bard wished it were a dream, but this was truely reality.  Then Joxer awoke lost for a moment only to discover that he had missed his oppritunity to kill Callisto once again.  When Gabrielle asked Xena how this had all happened Xena revealed a plan and of how it all began.

     On the night before she had been standing staring out into the woods.  As she leaned up against the doorway she had fallen asleep.  Xena had been unable to distinguish her dream from her reality for she had just experienced the three nightmares hours before.  As Gabrielle and Joxer slept Callisto had come.  She beckoned Xena into the fog and into the darkness.  This led her into the depths of Tarturus where Callisto taunted her with her guilt.  Then Xena realized what had been happening to her.  She had been a victim of Ares who had taken the world of dreams and the world of reality making them into one.  This allowed Callisto to become his new warrior that would replace the many rejections of the warrior princess.  There was only one way to allow Callisto and Ares to succeed.  They had to bring Xena to admitting her own guilt.  The two had been successful and so Callisto was released from Tarturus as Xena and Xena found herself trapped forever.

     Xena had only one hope of escaping her guilt and eternal life within Tarturus.  She seeked out Hades who would be the only one that could help her.  Xena argued with Hades over the truth of her identity for he did not believe that she was the real Xena.  He too knew as Gabrielle had known that Callisto was very clever.  Hades continuously refused to believe Xena’s story though she seemed to know every secret of the underworld.  There was only one way that the dead could escape the underworld and it was through the guilt of those who had killed them.  This made sense to Hades, but he still did not believe.  Then Xena spoke of her beloved Marcus and of how together they had saved Hades kingdom from Atyminious.  Again Hades decided that everyone knew of that information too.  Then Xena reminded Hades of what had happened in the end.  She reminded him of how she had stabbed Marcus through the heart before him.  Her love had been unmistakeable.  Hades had been the only man to witness that knowing that Marcus would have kept that moment to himself.  Finally Hades relented although he was still displeased with Xena for allowing her guilt to free Callisto.  He said that he could only give her one day to repair her mistake for his displeasure would yield no more.  

     As soon as Xena had returned to life within Callisto’s body she found something that nearly broke her heart.  Argo had been badly wounded by Callisto though Xena was able to save her horse.  Joxer of course had to jump into the conversation reminding Xena that he had come to Argo’s aid.  The idiot was courageous and brave with his heart, but abscent with his mind thinking he could go up against Callisto alone.  Xena had thanked Joxer for his help in trying to protect her beloved horse.  She then explained that Callisto had meant for Xena to have to kill her own horse certain that it would break Xena’s heart. 

     Soon Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer had reached the cave near Amphipolis where Callisto had told Gabrielle she was going to take the people.  Armed with fire bombs Gabrielle and Joxer awaited Xena’s command for an attack.  Callisto had killed Theodoras and taken over his army as Xena.  She was preparing for Xena’s arrival as Xena had suspected.  Callisto was preparing to burn the people of Xena’s village to death the way that Callisto’s family and friends had suffered at the hands of Xena’s own army.  Then Cyrene called out to the dark nemesis unaware of the evil that lied within her.  Soon Cyrene’s senses were sharpened with truths as she gazed into the eyes of the enemy playing the part of her daughter.  Callisto then left her within fear and requested that the first torch be thrown at the feet of Xena’s mother.  She wanted Cyrene to meet certain death even if the warrior princess were to arrive before death had taken her. 

     Callisto was unaware of the danger that lurked within the cave waiting to strike.  She taunted the idea of the warrior princess’s arrival, but found herself interrupted by the arrival of Ares warning her of her out of control vengence.  Callisto did not heed Ares’s warning of Xena’s skills.  She was blinded by her vengeful goals against the warrior princess.  Callisto proclaimed that Ares was no longer in control of the situation for he had promised her satisfactin and she would have it.  She didn’t care what happened to Xena after that.  Callisto was certain that Xena would be reclaimed by Hades in Tarturus before she could stop Callisto.  Then Ares left his newfound creation with anger.  He too had underestimated his new warrior queen.  She had used him to have her vengence and now he was defeated.  As Ares disappeared Xena gave the command as Joxer and Gabrielle began to hurl the fire bombs into the cave.  Callisto’s army put out their torches immediately as the dispersed from the cave fearful of Callisto’s arrival.

     Yet Callisto had already been there and now Xena flipped into action.  Callisto was ready for battle against Xena.  She was ready to satisfy her vengeful heart.  And so the battle began as Callisto drew her sword and clashed with Xena’s.  This time Xena moved offensively within Callisto’s body.  She tried a new series of moves to catch Callisto off guard as she spun around several times an perrying with her sword after each spin.  Xena delivered a few kicks and then received a return kick from Callisto which disarmed her of her weapon.  Suddenly Xena began to fade into the setting sun as she warned Callisto that her vengence would never be realized now.  Callisto would not give up her victory over Xena for she reminded her that Xena would always know who had killed her loved ones despite being in Tarturus.  Then Callisto turned and ran for the people of Amphipolis locked away helplessly within their cell.  But before Callisto could get to a lit torch Xena made one last move.  She took a poison dart from the cuff of her wrist armor and plunged it into Callisto’s juggular. 

      Gabrielle and Joxer dashed into the cave with their weapons raised ready to do battle against Callisto.  Yet they were too late for Xena had finally disappeared forever returning to the depths of Tarturus.  Then Callisto ripped out the poison dart from her neck.  She appraoched the people of Amphipolis, but fell to the ground passing out into slumber from the poison dart.  Gabrielle realized what Xena had done.  She was making one last attempt to return Callisto to Tarturus.  Gabrielle and Joxer could only hope that Xena would return to them when it was finally over.  And so the battle raged on within Tarturus.  The battle of guilt and vengence persisted.  Xena put a face upon the vicitms that Callisto had ever taken.  She had called upon Callisto’s mother who came to reclaim her innocent child.  Callisto retreated to denial, but soon she put herself on trial.

     And then it was finally over as Xena’s body fell into Callisto’s.  As Callisto slowly rose to her feet those who had weapons held them steady.  Gabrielle then faced her enemy prepared to do battle, but the enemy had not returned.  It was Xena still within Callisto and Gabrielle was still in despair.  She did not want to believe that Xena could not return to her the way she had remembered her friend.  Callisto then proved her innocence to the bard with the words of her truest friend.  Xena spoke of Gabrielle’s own words about her belief in the power of love.  Gabrielle had once said to her friend that the true weapon against the cycle of violence was not vegence, but love.  Suddenly Gabrielle realized the she was seeing a reflection of herself within.  It came through the face of the enemy and the eyes of her truest friend.  Though Xena would never be restored to herself her soul had learned a lesson that Callisto could never understand.

     Early the next morning as Gabrielle awoke she found it difficult to rise from her slumber.  For the first time in weeks she had a dream though she wished it had been reality.  Then the bard found Joxer who stood with the blonde warrior princess.  He was clearly still shaken by the new home which now housed the soul of the warrior princess.  Gabrielle heard Xena thank Joxer once more for his courage in protecting Argo.  When Gabrielle approached Joxer’s nerves were on edge as he jumped back startled by her arrival.  The bard tried to calm him down reminding him that there was nothing left to be fearful of.  Yet Joxer protested that he was completely at ease.  As he left the two friends alone Gabrielle found herself missing Xena again.  Though her friend was right there with her it was still a great reminder of the one who had taken Perdicas from her.  Xena put Gabrielle’s heart at ease reminding her to think of Perdicas and the love she had for him when she looked at the face of Callisto instead of the hatred it commanded.  And so as the two friends moved foward together Gabrielle began to sing the song of Perdicas.  Her love for him was endless as was her love for the warrior princess.

Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll#33: “Warrior,Princess,Tramp”

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll  #33:  Warrior,Princess,Tramp…

January 28th, 47 B.C. 

     It seemed that word traveled fast in the land of Greece for Xena the warrior princess was needed by everyone.  Her schedule was so busy and so dangerous that she had gone off to Thebes alone and without Gabrielle.  Though the bard had wanted to go only close friends of King Capous had been invited to Thebes.  The bard found herself in waiting for Xena had sent word to her while away at Thebes.  Xena had been asked once before by King Lius of Liberia to be his daughter’s protector for Princess Diana’s life had been threatened many times before.  Yet this time it was different for Princess Diana and her husband Prince Phillimond.  They had a newborn child and King Lius’s health was not so well.  Now it was the Princess herself whom had sent for Xena’s help.  Diana was afraid of the future of the kingdom of Liberia knowing that she and Phillimond would soon be taking the place of her beloved father Lius.   There were many renegade armies in waiting just outside the castle walls and beyond to take over the kingdom at the slightest hint of the king’s impending death.

     Gabrielle got word of this from Xena and was instructed to meet with Xena just outside of Liberia at a local inn.  As the bard sat in waiting at the inn she overheard what she thought was the horrid voice of Joxer the idiot.  The bard was not certain that she had heard his voice until she heard it blurt out the names of Callisto and of Xena.  She began to listen in upon Joxer’s crazy tale.  He told it very well and held the crowd in the palm of his hand.  He was boisterous and full of excitement yet there was one problem.  He was telling the story of Callisto all wrong.  Joxer called himself “Joxer the Magnificient” and declared it had been he whom had been the hero of the story of Callisto.  He was telling a mistruth and the bard could no longer listen to his tale another moment. 

      Gabrielle stood from her chair and casually entered into the scene standing just behind the idiot as he told his tall tale.  Just as he was about to explain his heroics in saving Xena from Callisto at the moment of truth he noticed Gabrielle to his left.  For a moment his concentration was thrown off as the bard greeted him with irritated sarcasm.  Joxer knew that he was in the frying pan and so he cowered from his moment of triumph trying to recover from his folly before the audience.  If his story had not been so false he could have gone to Athens himself and beat out Homer, but Gabrielle could not ever let that happen if Xena’s reputation were to be on the line.  She expressed her displeasure with Joxer’s intentional phibs reminding him that not only was the bard herself tied up, but he was tied up with her on the same post in the ground.  In fact, it was Xena whom had come to save them both from the wrath of Callisto.

      Joxer quickly recovered delivering the unexpected to Gabrielle.  He swore that he had just seen Xena at the inn hours before and that she had asked him to join her at the castle in a few hours.  Not only that, but apparently Xena had suddenly become in lust with Joxer the idiot which seemed to the bard highly unlikely.  Gabrielle decided to ignore Joxer’s lies and to understand his facsination with tall tales.  According to the message that Gabrielle had recieved from Xena just days before Xena was not planning to be back from Thebes until the next sun.  To the bard it was just another of Joxer’s tall tales yet there was something strange about it.  She decided to leave him to his crazy antics and  to investigate his claim.  It was highly unlikely that it was Xena that he had seen and so Gabrielle made the journey to Liberia on her own.

     As the bard arrived at the king’s castle she was greeted cordially by Lius’s guards.  They invited her in immediately for they had remembered the last visit from the warrior princess and the bard.  Gabrielle was escorted into the castle and immediately taken to see the princess who was talking with the warrior princess.  Diana was just as shocked to see Xena as Gabrielle was knowing that it was a day earlier than Xena had expected to arrive.  Xena confirmed with Diana that indeed she had made very good time from Thebes.  Then Xena introduced a former advisor to the king of Thebes to Diana.  Apparently she had brought him along to help with the mission.  Xena then asked Diana about the status of her father’s health.  Diana was saddened when she answered and Xena expressed her shallow condolances yet promised that they would get through these times of hardship together.  Gabrielle entered into the conversation and was instantly welcomed by the grateful Diana.  The bard was pleased to see how well the princess looked and the handsome Phillimond too.  Then Diana introduced the guard to Xena and instructed him that Xena was to be honored as if her orders were those of King Lius himself.  Then the princess and her prince exited leaving Xena, Gabrielle, and Agus with her guard.

     Gabrielle instantly tore into Xena a bit disgusted by the lack of good communication between herself and the warrior princess on this mission.  In fact, Xena’s message never even alluded to the fact that she would be bringing Agus into the mission.  It didn’t even mention that there was anyone named Agus involved or even known the warrior princess.  As far as meeting at the castle the message she had recieved never mentioned that she should meet Xena at the castle.  It was back at the tavern that Gabrielle had expected Xena and not for another day.  Then Gabrielle found herself intrigued as to why Joxer would remotely think that Xena was in love with him.  The bard warned Xena that she needed to be more cautious about what she said to the idiot in the future.  He was a crazy lunatic at best.  Gabrielle continued her elaboration of her experience at the inn with Joxer who had the entire bar thinking that the warrior princess was a tramp by the time she had left him.  There was something very strange to this entire scenario, but before the bard could even put her mind and emotions back in order Xena gave the order to the guard to throw Gabrielle in the dungeon.

    Finding oneself in the lonely dungeon was not what Gabrielle had anticipated when arriving at the castle.  She paced in her cell trying to figure out what Xena had meant when she called her a big mouth idiot just before finding herself the dungeon.  The bard wasn’t sure if it was a new code or a test of her will and prowess.  One thing was certain and that was the burning irritation of being left out of Xena’s plan.  Moments later Gabrielle heard the door to the dungeon echo shut and then the warrior princess appeared.  Gabrielle quickly tore into Xena again demanding to know what was going on.  Xena explained to the bard that her being thrown into the dungeon was all part of her plan to protect Gabrielle and Princess Diana.  Gabrielle’s heart sank when she heard this coming from the warrior princess after all that they had been through together.  It didn’t make sense that Xena would suddenly be treating her like a kid again the way she had when they had first begun their travels together.  Gabrielle felt certain that she was very able to defend herself against anyone who might attack her. 

     Yet Xena persisted in saying that the man they were up against had a strange method of torture in order to extract information from his victims.  She said that he liked to shove burning splinters under the fingernails of his victims.  When the bard was asked by the warrior princess if she had ever had this experience Gabrielle found herself confused, but certain that she could not recall that experience within her realm of memories.  With that the bard was still concerned because Xena still refused to tell her what the plan was.  In fact, the bard was quite certain that if this shady character was to get a hold of her he would still shove the burning splinters under her nails despite Gabrielle’s lack of knowledge.  He would not know if she was telling the truth of not knowing the plan.  Xena then followed up with that being the main reason that Gabrielle should stay locked up inside the dungeon.  Before Gabrielle could think or respond to Xena the warrior princess was gone and out the door of the prison.  Gabrielle was still confused and still irrated by this latest mood of the warrior princess.  The bard had always known Xena to have mood swings, but never like the mood of this day.

    As the day pressed on and the moments dragged by slower and slower the bard’s frustrations rose.  If only those frustrations could have led to her escape from being locked up by her own best friend.  There was seemingly no response from the outside world and so the bard finally decided to stop pacing and sit down to relax.  Maybe relaxation was just what was needed to answer these burning questions about Xena’s mood.  Yet just when things began to calm down within the bard the dungeon door swung upon and Joxer the magnificient idiot was thrown in face first to the ground.  As Joxer tried to gather his composure he made mention of Xena’s unpredictable mood.  Gabrielle couldn’t agree more with the idiot yet it was a rare occasion that the two could agree on anything at all.  This lastest development sparked the bard’s curiousity.  She decided that this was the closest to the outside world that she would be able to connect with so she interrogated Joxer about his most recent experience with Xena. 

     Joxer began again with his lustful story that he had been telling about his first encounter with Xena on the night before.  Gabrielle could have spared those details and could barely believe anything Joxer spewd from the top of his fantasies.  Then he recapped his run in with the bard herself earlier in the morning.  Gabrielle explained what had happened upon her arrival at the castle and then Joxer picked up with his story explaining in triumphant detail how he had muscled the guards into letting him in despite their unwelcome reaction to his presence.  The bard could believe that one, but was having difficulty with Joxer’s muscle.  Yet he did get into the castle, but his story didn’t end there. 

     He spoke of how he had been thinking of his statements to the audience back at the tavern.  After talking to Gabrielle who had reminded him of what he was saying to the masses he had realized that it had truely been inappropriate for him to share his most intimate moments with a crowd of strangers.  Although he was quite exhilerated and confident of himself at the time.  Gabrielle had to interrupt the idiot again and pump more of the story out of him.  Her impatience with Joxer led to him explaining that he looked for Xena upon entering the castle.  He had wanted to apologize to the warrior princess after being advised by Gabrielle.  Yet when he finally found Xena she had seemingly been irrated by Gabrielle’s intervention into their romantic esacpades.  He even said that Xena called Gabrielle a big mouth idiot.  Gabrielle thought about that for a moment and then remembered that Xena had called her that earlier just before being thrown back into the dungeon.

       As Gabrielle began to pace again and to contemplate all of this new information Joxer continued on with the worst part of his story.  He swore to Gabrielle that Xena couldn’t keep her hands off of him.  Joxer must have been hallucinating.  It was the best conclusion to all of his fantasy for the warrior princess would never fall for the idiot.  And as Gabrielle argued this point with Joxer he explained to her that nothing had happened.  Even when Xena had tried to arouse him putting her hands on his thigh he was honorable.  According to Joxer he bravely left the scene despite Xena’s wild hormones for him.  Gabrielle felt good about his intensions, but only until Joxer finished his story.  He explained to the bard that as he was walking through the halls of the castle in manly confusion he ran into Xena yet again only this time she was wearing a beautiful red dress.  Joxer again tried desparately to fight his manly urges and scolded the warrior princess for trying to swoon him with a passionate dress.  But then Joxer’s manhood won out and defeated his resolve.  That was when he apparently reached for Xena’s buttox and grabbed it in pleasure.  That was how Joxer had ended up in the dungeon.

      It was all begining to make sense to the bard now.  All of it except for the part about Xena’s lust for Joxer.  The reason he had been thown into the dungeon was because he had run into Princess Diana.  He was unaware that the princess and Xena were one in the same when it came to their looks.  Joxer began to laugh boistrerously at his mistake yet he was embarressed and suddenly shamed of himself.  His shame didn’t last long though for he was excited to know that Xena was still lusting after him.  Gabrielle again argued against this.  It just wasn’t Xena.  Joxer smiled and showed his love marks apparently given to him by the warrior princess.  The bard didn’t want to see them and was becomming extermely distraught with confusion.  Joxer explained that there was nothing to worry about for he would still be honorable.  He was going to ask Xena to marry him.  Then the last straw for Gabrielle came when Joxer told Gabrielle that she could still be a part of their lives.  She could be just like their daughter.  The bard went off of the edge at that point.  The thought of Joxer’s fantasy possibly coming true was beyond her grasp of imagination or reality.  She ran for the door and grabbed the bars desparately hoping that someone would let her out of this nightmare soon.

     Her wish came true with the arrival of Diana at the dungeon.  She entered explaining that she had just talked to Xena who had told her the plan.  Yet when Gabrielle impatiently inquired of the plan Diana said that it was still not able to be disclosed to the bard.  Then Diana looked to Joxer and explained that Xena had told him of her lust for Joxer and of how Joxer had mistaken the two.  Diana was forgiving of Joxer as Joxer bowed his head down for her forgiveness.  His shame lasted very shortly as Diana explained that Xena needed his help with the plan and that he would take part in it.  As for Gabrielle she had to stay in the dungeon alone yet again.  Joxer was high with pride because for the first time ever he was at the top of the list of Xena’s sidekicks.  He was the important one and he was gloating within every moment.  As Diana dragged Joxer out of the dungeon Gabrielle followed in anger feeling very upset about being shut out by all of her truest friends.  The guards did not allow her to get two steps out of the dungeon before throwing her back in and slamming the door in her face.  The rejection was almost unbearable.

      Suddenly all of the anger within the bard unleashed itself in fury.  Gabrielle began to go insane as she punched and kicked an old sack of wheat lying on the floor of the dungeon.  The bard was envisioning what she would do to Xena once Xena came back for her.  This was too much for Gabrielle to handle.  Not knowng the plan, being called a big mouth, being thrown in a dungeon, and being thrown aside in favor of Joxer were more than Gabrielle could take.  A true friend did not treat someone like this.  All of the rage turned into pain as the bard kicked the bag so hard that her foot hurt.  As she tried to calm down for a moment and gather her composure the door to the dungeon opened again.  It was Xena and Gabrielle could do nothing, but yell and scream out all of her frustrations.  Gabrielle was certain that Xena’s real plan was to drive her insane for the day.  For a moment Gabrielle expected Xena to retailate against this accusation and emotional outburst demonstrated, but instead Xena coldy invited the bard to her freedom outside of the dungeon.  Joxer laughed at the bard still gleefully exstatic about his new status in Xena’s life, but Gabrielle didn’t allow his pride to last too long as she nailed him in the stomach on the way out. 

      Gabrielle had a million questions for the warrior princess as they walked down the hall.  She could barely contain herself or her loud rising voice.  The warrior princess tried to explain all that had been happening through the day starting with her own experience back at the tavern.  She began by stating she found it strange when almost every man at the inn wanted to take her to bed.  The warrior princess found it very irritating and filthy for them to all be trying to get her in the sack.  It seemed that everyone wanted to get their hands on the warrior princess.  Finding herself trying to ignore the scumb in the tavern she asked the bar keep if he had seen Gabrielle.  The bar keep explained that the bard had left for the castle earlier in the morning.  Not long after Xena had received that information she found herself in the middle of a bar fight with some warlords passing through who seemed to be targeting her specifically.  The warrior princess defeated them with one of her favorite techninques.  She used alchohol and a torch setting fire to the place.  This was to accomplish two things.  It only accomplished one for the warrior princess was still being hit on even after she had terrorized several warlords.

     When Xena had entered the castle she seeked to find Diana who seemed to be overly emotional about her father.  The warrior princess was hoping to discuss plans for securing the castle with Diana, but Diana insisted that she be left alone.  Xena had decided that maybe King Lius’s health was more serious than Diana had stated in her message.  Xena then decided to investigate the castle and check out what was going on for herself.  That was when she ran into Joxer who had just been let out by Diana.  At this point in Xena’s story Joxer chimed in with great confidence and manly pride as he told his tale of how Diana’s plans for him had begun with a passionate kiss.  This was very dificult to calculate or to believe.  Yet it explained why Xena was acting so strangely because it wasn’t really her.  It also explained why Xena had arrived at the tavern a day early.  It wasn’t Xena it was Diana.  Gabrielle had remembered Diana to be exhuberant about dressing up and pretending to be the warrior princess before, but Joxer again did not seem to fit her type.  Xena’s story was missing something important. 

       As Gabrielle thought outloud about the entire scenario presented by Xena Joxer again prided himself on being a cunning sex symbol for all women.  Gabrielle punched the idiot in the stomach for he hadn’t heard a single word the warrior princess had said.  Then Joxer defended himself explaining that he did.  Xena interrupted the squabble between Joxer and Gabrielle when she continued with her own version of the story.  She had seen Joxer admiring himself in the mirror and when she confronted him he couldn’t keep his hands off of her.  Naturally she had to put Joxer in his place and remind him that he wasn’t really her type.  She explained to Joxer that it wasn’t she who lusted after him, but someone else.  At the time Joxer was certain that if it hadn’t been Xena then Diana definately was in love with him and very cunning about it. 

      With all of this confusion within the castle the warrior princess was desparately looking for the bard.  She was certain that Gabrielle would be able to help her put together the pieces to this mysterious puzzle of princess’s Diana’s emontional state which had seemingly led her into the arms of Joxer the idiot.  When Xena confessed to Joxer that she couldn’t find Gabrielle Joxer explained impatiently that Gabrielle had been in the dungeon where Xena had left her.  Joxer had obviously found himself agreeing again with Gabrielle’s observation of Xena’ s mood swings.  It seemed that everyone involved was in a state of mass confusion. 

     As soon as Xena was aware that Diana had thrown Gabrielle into the dungeon she took Joxer with her to retrieve the bard.  It was on that journey to the dungeon that they ran into the third Xena.  This was the answer to all of Xena’s questions and those of everyone else involved as well.  Meg was her name and she was well-known, but only within her profession which was discovered to be that of the local tramp.  Xena and Joxer listened behind the tapestry as Meg spoke of how much of a man Joxer was.  Joxer of course was loving this part of the story.  Then Xena continued stating that she was with a warlord named Agus.  Gabrielle began to put the pieces within the puzzle together in her mind.  Agus must have been the advisor from Thebes that Gabrielle had seen upon her own arrival to the castle.  Only this person wasn’t an advisor or a friend.  Agus was the enemy that was trying to take control of Lius’s castle.  He was using Meg to pose as Xena and Diana so that he could make his move upon the castle using some insiders he had planted in the guard force. 

       The bard was finally able to put all of the pieces together.  It had been Meg who had thrown Gabrielle into the dungeon fearing that she would blow open Agus’s plan before it ever got off of the ground.  It had been Meg whom had been calling her a big mouth idiot.  Suddenly Gabrielle didn’t feel so rejected or ignored.  It all made sense now.  Every bit of the story and every part of her day.  Meg was lusting after Joxer and Meg was the one who didn’t respect Gabrielle.  It wasn’t Xena at all.  There was much relief within the bard as the three entered into the castle courtyard outside.  But the relief faded quickly when Gabrielle realized that she might not be with the real Xena.  This entire story could have been a fabrication.  The bard demanded some identification from Xena as did Joxer.  Xena’s reaction was to grab her chackram and toss it across the courtyard.  It deflected off of a guard’s shield and then the castle walls.  The chackram busted opon the side of a bucket, then deflected off the walls again slicing  through four standing spears.  Finally it circled back around deflecting off of another hanging shield which fell off of the wall, then it scraped across an urn setting fire to it, knocked over a piece of orange pottery as it rounded back toward Gabrielle.  Gabrielle’s eyes followed it all the way across the courtyard as it hurled back toward her face with great speed and velocity.  The bard began to fear that she may have just asked for her death until in the last moment Xena tamed the chackram and put it safely back into her belt.

      It was a sudden relief to know that it was really Xena and not Diana or Meg.  Now that everyone was straight on the plan and on what was really going on within the castle walls Xena suggested that the three of them split up to find Diana.  When Joxer asked how he would know which one was the real Diana Xena reminded him that the one who lusted after him was the bad one.  Joxer contemplated this for a moment,but quickly determined that despite Meg’s bad image it would be worth the suffering he would have to endure. 

     The grueling day wore on as this mission became more complicated.  It was tangled with look alikes that all resembled the heroin.  After an hour of walking through the castle Gabrielle ran into Xena again back at the courtyard.  Joxer’s point of confusion was well taken, but Gabrielle knew Xena well.  Especially now that she had met the best and the worst of Xena’s look alikes.  Xena had come up with a new idea for the plan to find Diana.  The warrior princess was certain that Agus’s men would know where Diana was.  Diana had been captured and they weren’t keeping her within the castle.  Xena decided to pose as Meg dressed as Diana.  She took Gabrielle outside the castle walls.  The two tracked down the camp of the enemy and then set up a rendez-vous point just outside of there. 

      The warrior princess called out to one of the men who were guarding the outskirts of the camp hoping to get his attention.  Her attempt worked as she concealed Gabrielle behind a rock where they waited.  When the guard approached Xena played Meg and said that she had found Gabrielle snooping around outside the castle walls.  Now that there was a prisinor Meg begged the guard to take her to the place where they had taken Diana so that Gabrielle could be locked away with the princess.  The guard was smarter than Xena had anticipated and he drew his sword from his belt preparing to strike down Xena.  Yet Xena did not move or even try to block the striking blow.  She held her cool and the man stopped short of loping off Meg’s head.  Once the guard was convinced that Xena was really Meg the plan went smoothly.

      Soon both Xena and Gabrielle were inside the dungeon where they were keeping Diana.  Diana was terrified as Gabrielle had expected.  She sat on the dirty dungeon floor with her arms chained above her head.  Xena played up her part as Meg almost too well as she dragged the helpless bard around making the sale that much better.  Gabrielle was tied to the wall alongside Diana who was complaining of her dire situation.  The bard ‘s heart chuckled as she recalled her last experience with the princess.  Gabrielle reminded Diana that despite her situation it was not the worst thing that could befall the princess.  Then Xena went into full action.  As Meg she suggested that she and the guards toy with their new prisnor.  The guards were delighted at this idea as they rose from their gambling and approached Gabrielle.  Of course Xena wasn’t about to allow the guards their way.  Instead she grabbed hold of one of their swords cutting the bard free as the battle in the dungeon began. 

      The warrior princess fought against the three guards as Gabrielle freed Diana from her binds.  Then Gabrielle picked up a large round weapon and used it in the battle assiting Xena in the defeat of the guards.  The warrior princess finished the battle with one of her favorite moves as she ran up the side of a wall and flipped back down into the pursuit of battle.  Her battle cry could be heard echoing through the dungeon as Diana found herself unable to resist taking a punch and a kick at one of the guards herself.  The battle was a quick one and it seemed to Gabrielle that she and Xena were becoming a more solid team with each passing adventure.  Despite this minor celebration there was a new issue at hand.  Agus’s first in command had gotten away and he was certain to return to the castle to give Agus the new word.

      Though Xena, Gabrielle, and Diana rushed back to the castle they were too late for the baby had been kidknapped by Agus.  Xena had decided that it was no longer safe for Diana and Phillimond now that Agus was certain to know of Xena’s plans.  He would be certain to assasinate both Diana and Phillimond if given the chance.  Xena asked if Diana knew of a safe place within the castle.  Diana spoke of the royal chamber known only to those within the royal family.  The warrior princess felt that it would be perfect to hide the prince and princess there until she and Gabrielle could find Meg and save the baby.  Yet Phillimond was against sitting by and waiting while his child was in danger.  Xena had to remind him that he too was in just as much danger if not more than the child.  She asked Phillimond to trust in her and then she said no more.

     Xena was off to find Agus leaving Gabrielle to search for Meg.  For Gabrielle it would be simple to find Meg for wherever Joxer was Meg would most certainly be there with him.  Gabrielle went to Joxer’s chambers in the castle and sure enough she found Meg although Joxer was not there.  As the bard stood in the doorway she watched Meg primping herself dressed as princess Diana.  Moments later as Meg peered into the mirror at herself she saw Gabrielle’s reflection in the doorway behind her.  Meg turned to face the enemy ready to take her down.  Yet Gabrielle was not afraid of a dirty tramp.  Meg demanded that she get out of her way, but Gabrielle proclaimed that it would be death before she would allow Meg to continued her dirty deeds. 

     Meg held a pair of sissors certain that she would win this battle of witts and braun, but Gabrielle was poised for action.  This tramp had damaged Xena’s reputation with Joxer just by looking like Xena and she had disrespected Gabrielle.  Meg was the reason for Gabrielle’s dismally confusing day.  She had to be stopped no matter the cost.  Gabrielle enguaged in battle with Meg who threated to cut the bard with her golden scissors.  The bard moved quickly using a kick to disarm Meg who then lunged forward grabbing Gabrielle by the back of her hair shoving her face first into the fruit on the table by the bed.  Then she slammed the bard face first into a large vase which led to a painful headache.  As the bard tried to regain her strength and control Meg stepped upon her boots. 

     Suddenly Gabrielle found her second wind.  She lept forward tackling Meg as the two rolled on the ground in a stalemate.  The two pulled hair and poked eyes as they screamed within their struggle of wills.  Meg soon had the advantage as she tried to strangle the bard, but then she grabbed a lock of Gabrielle’s hair ripping it from its roots.  The pain sent shocks of agony through Gabrielle’s body which turned to rage against the enemy.  Meg seemed surprised that she had been able to rip a handful of hair out of someone’s head.  Her hesitation gave Gabrielle a chance to take control of the battle as she tried to strangle Meg.  Instead of killing her Gabrielle raised her fist ready to rearrange Meg’s face.  Meg’s eyes were wide with fear as she panted and begged for mercy.  Then the tramp began to cry, but the bard felt no sympathy for the tramp. 

     Gabrielle wanted to hit Meg, but something inside her could not do it.  Maybe it was because Meg looked so much like Xena.  Gabrielle wasn’t certain.  Then Meg spoke after the moment of silence and it was clear that she was in shame.  The tramp was accustomed to being on the bottom in every way.  Gabrielle rose from the floor and helped the tramp up as they moved to sit down and relax their furies.  Meg expressed her pain as Gabrielle listened.  Strangely the bard began to feel sorry for the tramp despite Meg’s recent actions.  Although Gabrielle couldn’t forgive Meg for everything she wanted to give her a chance to defend her actions.  And so Meg continued explaining to Gabrielle why she went along with Agus’s plan to overthrow the kingdom of Liberia.  She was afraid for her life and Agus had played on the emotional weakness within Meg.  The tramp seemingly despised Gabrielle for being a good girl and doing the right thing when she herself could never make that choice. 

      Gabrielle still didn’t quite understand what Meg had to be angry about.  She didn’t understand why Meg would torment herself with the lifestyle of a tramp.  It was so disrespectful to oneself to life that kind of life.  But then Meg explained with sadness that she had been taking care of herself since the age of ten.  Gabrielle listened to Meg’s story for it was beginging to sound interesting until Meg said that her father had died in childbirth.  This sounded a lot like one of Joxer’s tall tales until Meg  continued by stating her father had been so drunk on the day she was born that he had fallen off of a roof to his death.  Meg looked to Gabrielle with envy knowing that because her father hadn’t been there she had grown up to be a tramp.  She had longed for a father her entire life.  Meg went onto express her envy more assuming that Gabrielle probably had a good father.  Gabrielle couldn’t deny that her father had been good to her as a child, but it still didn’t explain the other half.  Gabrielle inquired of Meg’s mother.

     Meg explained that her mother had not been a very good one.  She had loved her mother dearly, but her mother had kept bringing home bad men.  These bad men would beat her and her mother.  Meg was defenseless against it until one day she decided to run away from it all.  She never turned back until a year later when she had caught word that her mother had died one day.  Meg expressed her regret in not going home to say good-by to her mother.  She regretted not telling her mother that she had loved her despite the abuse she endured with her for all of those years.  Meg began to remenice in her heart the fun times she held closest within.  Suddenly Gabrielle began to feel Meg’s pain and she began to understand.  Meg was a lost child who was afraid and made the wrong choices because she had no where to turn.  Meg needed guidance and seeked it desparately.  Just when the two were begining to connect Meg stood up from the bedside and scolded herself for getting emotional in front of a stranger.  Yet Gabrielle was glad that Meg had shared that intimate story with her.  She was able to forgive Meg for her mistakes and hoped that Meg would be able to learn from them.

      Gabrielle decided that they should find the king now that she had rounded up the tramp.  The two went to his bedchambers to find that he wasn’t there.  They waited for his return or the return of the warrior princess.  The ill king had been walking about the castle looking for his beloved Diana.  He had returned to find her waiting for him with Gabrielle.  Lius then sat down beside his lovely daughter scolding her for not visiting him.   Meg played the part of his daughter knowing that it was another lie yet she longed in her heart for a father like Lius.  Of course Meg did not have the answer to Diana’s abscence.  All she knew was that she was part of the reason Diana had been missing from her father’s life for the past day.  Lius seemed pleased that he was with Diana again. Despite his illness it gave him strength to see her beautiful face.  Gabrielle watched as the king put his fatherly arms around Meg and cuddled with his daughter.  For the first time ever Meg was feeling a real father in her heart.  Gabrielle did not wish to interrupt this moment of bliss, but it was not up to her.

     After several moments of taming the wild heart Agus and his guards entered into the king’s bedchamgers.  Immediately Gabrielle was restrained as Agus took control.  Knives were pulled upon the king and Gabrielle as Agus handed the last knife over to Meg.  He gave the order for her to kill the king seeking to take advantage of her confused innocence as he had done for an entire day.  Meg took the knife in fear yet there was great reluctance within her eyes.  She held the knife to the king’s throat, but her hands shook with uncertainty.  Agus urged her to make the kill as he beat her down with disrespectful comments.  Although Meg was a tramp there was a pure heart within.  It didn’t deserve to be abused any longer.  Meg finally decided to stand up and defend herself against the abuse for the first time.  She turned upon Agus and held the knife upon him.  Determined to protect the king Meg held steady just in time for the warrior princess to arrive with Joxer.  Xena entered with a battle cry and a warning to those who dared to defy her.  Sword in hand dressed as the princess Xena began kicking through Agus’s men.  Gabrielle used the oppritunity to escape from her capture and join in the battle alongside Xena and Joxer.  She grabbed her resting staff and put it into action as Meg took the king to safety away from the battle.  The battle in the king’s chambers ended just as quickly as the battle in the dungeon to save Diana.

      There was just one person left to save from the wrath of Agus and his men.  It was the baby and the young heir who would be there for Phillimond the way Diana was there for Lius.  Gabrielle suggested to Xena that they allow Meg to stay with the king.  The bard was certain that she would protect Lius for his kindness to her.  Meg had demonstrated her strength when she saved him from Agus.  Xena agreed with Gabrielle that Meg could help them.  In fact she was certain Meg would be more helpful than Joxer for it was Joxer that had blown her cover.  When Xena had found Agus she pretended to be Meg again.  She tricked Agus into bringing the baby to her, but then Joxer walked in just before Xena was able to get the baby safe in her arms.  He mistook Xena for Diana as he tried to be brave and save the baby from its captures.  As always it didn’t work out and he bumbled away another golden oppritunity.  Yet who could blame the kindness of a heart so desparate for heroism. 

     It was this spirit of heroism that seemed to strike the hearts of almost everyone involved.  Xena had taken Gabrielle and Joxer to rejoin Diana and Phillimond at the royal chamber.  The two could wait no longer for their child was in great danger.  Xena decided that everyone should split up again and search the entire castle for the baby.  Xena traveled with Diana, and Gabrielle searched the castle with Phillimond while Joxer went on a search of his own.  After scouring the castle Xena and Phillmond ran into the nursemaid down in the dungeon.  She spoke of how the baby was taken from her care just moments before by Agus himself.  And so it all came down to one single battle in the castle.  It began with the arrival of Diana who tried, but failed to play the part of Xena.  She had everyone going until she had forgotten what Xena’s most important weaopon was.  Diana called it a round killing thing. 

      Just as Agus and his men were about to string the baby up in a basket above the burning alter a second Xena came rushing in.  This time it was Meg whose chackram broke as she called it a shamrock.  Her effort was good, but moments later the real warrior princess came leaping into the battle still dressed as Diana.  She smiled and then charged into battle against Agus and his men.  Joxer entered still confused despite all of the explanations.  Everyone including Gabrielle, and Phillimond were fighting to save the life of the baby who hung above the burning alter.  Swords clashed visciously, but it seemed that no one was winning the battle.  Finally in an attempt to end the struggle  the true hero of the story stepped into action.  Diana grabbed the rope and pulled it as hard as she could sending the baby catapulting out of the basket and through the air.  As everyone watched in horror and gasped with surprise the baby fell safely into a tapestry held by the princess herself.  And with that the battle was won as those fighting for the baby’s life had defeated enemy.

     For a moment everyone was relieved until Meg spoke of Lius.  He wasn’t doing so well and she hoped that Diana’s presence would be able to help him.  Meg spoke of the king’s surprise in finding that his daughter had two look alikes.  And just as the tramp was getting to know the king his breaths became a struggled silence.  All rushed back to the king’s bed chambers hoping that he had not yet passed.  Indeed the king was alive only resting within all of the confusion.  It was a lot to handle that there were three women who looked alike.  One was a warrior, another a princess, and the third a tramp.  It was a highly unlikely scenario.  As all was well again in the castle and everyone was safe it was because of the three women working together.  They used their skills in battle in their own unique ways.

     Gabrielle spoke again to Meg who was still concerned for the king.  Lius was going to be fine as Gabrielle tried to reassure Meg.  The tramp had adopted him as her father even though she would never be his daughter.  Meg spoke of writing him from jail, but then realized that she had never learned to write.  Gabrielle assured Meg that she wouldn’t be going to jail for her crimes for she and Xena had already decided that Meg derserved the chance to change.  Just then the king summoned Meg into his bed chambers and offered her a job within the castle.  Though Meg tried to refuse his hospitality for all of the wrongs she had committed the king would not accept those feelings for he trusted in her heart.  She had made the right choice when it counted despite being mixed up within Agus’s plot.  The king understood why Meg had been lost and decided that he would be the one to give her that second chance.  He declared that no one should talk bad about his personal cook.  With great surprise Meg found herself delighted that he was inviting her into his heart and into his home.  She was determined not to disappoint him. 

      And so the story ended with Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer leaving the castle together.  They were about to embark on a new journey together yet not to the delight of the warrior and the bard.  As Meg waived good-bye to her flame he left the castle vowing to return.  Despite Meg’s attempting to reform she still could not resist the sword of Joxer the Mighty.  He was mighty for Meg, but for the world he had a long way to go.  His heart was courageous, but he still had much to learn.  As did the tramp who looked just like a princess, and the warrior princess.

Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #32: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll #32:  Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

January 21st, 47 B.C.

     All was silent in the Baccae forrest for Gabrielle did not hear a single note.  The music of Orpheous did not speak.  It was now six young girls from the neighboring villages who had all disappeared without a single trace.  And so this place was the hunting grounds of Baccus whose wine was the blood of innocent young women.  It was said that only Orpheous’s song could tame the wild beast.  Xena was certain that the beast had risen once more into his furious spree of vicious crimes. 

     Gabrielle knew this famous old story all too well.  It was told to all young girls in her village who did  not behave.  They said that a single bite from a baccae could turn a young innocent woman into a wild soulless creature whose only allegance is to Baccus.  And once bitten she is loured into his lair to drink his blood.  If she does there is no way to save her.  She becomes a baccae forever.  They say that baccae women can take on many forms.  Sometimes they just go roaming the forrest as wolves.  Driven with an unquenchable thirst for blood they track their intended victim relentlessly.  Until they corner them.  Then they tear them apart lim from lim. 

     Carefully Gabrielle constructed the tale for Xena as they ventured through the depths of the Baccae forrest.  Xena had asked what the bard had known although Gabrielle was not so certain that these stories were of truth.  She was convinced that they were told only to scare people and there was nothing really to fear.  Yet the forrest itself seemed dark and treacherous like no other forrest they had traveled through before.  Just as the bard turned the corner around a tree she was instantly flattened by surprise.  There before her an idiot stood screaming and then Gabrielle screamed in terror as her imagination had been in high gear.  Then she fell to the ground instantly after being knocked over by the bumbling idiot known as Joxer. 

     Joxer was screaming and ranting as he went running up into the trees.  He had been running from a pack of wolves who were now attacking the warrior princess.  Two wolves ran right past the bard within a breath as Gabrielle stayed still upon the ground in terror. Xena quickly drew out her whip as she scooped up the bard protecting her from the vicious wolves.  The warrior princess held them back as they growled and sneared at their intended victims.  Then they barked and howled their warnings showing their vicious teeth.  These wolves looked bloody with their mouths foaming ready to strike at any moment. 

     Joxer began to taunt them feeling as if he had defeated them somehow escaping within the trees.  One of the two wolves then rushed up the tree toward him as if it had heard every word with complete understanding.  It growled as it sunk its teeth into Joxer’s boot.  He suddenly found himself challenged yet again as the wolf began to tear the boot off of Joxer’s foot.  As Joxer screamed and struggled the warrior princess suddenly shifted her attention in his direction as a third wolf brushed by from behind the bard.  Gabrielle shrieked and then Xena slashed her whip in the direction of Joxer’s enemy.  After several long moments of Xena’s whip against the wolves they finally retreated from the scene.  Soon all was quiet again as it had been before.

     Joxer began to laugh boisterously as if nothing had really happened.  He climbed down out of the tree and Gabrielle found herself concerned.  She asked him if he had been alright for the wolves had gone straight for his limbs as the stories told.  Joxer declared that he was just fine and that he had been in control of his unfortunate situation.  He said that the secret to defeating a wolf pack was to wear them down.  It was as if he were an expert, but Gabrielle found herself not at all convinced of his self proclaimed skill.  And then Xena asked him what he was doing in the baccae forrest.  He said that he was on a life saving mission.  Then the idiot handed Xena a package.  It was a large bag of some sort.  With pride he had said that it was from the great Morpheous and that it was exclusively for the warrior princess.

     Gabrielle found herself going from utter disgust at his antics to complete intrigue knowing that this bag was from Morpheous.  As the bard leaned in closer to get a better look Xena asked Joxer what was in the bag.  Joxer’s only statement was that the package could speak for itself.  Then Xena reached into the bag and pulled out something truely horrid.  It was the live head of a man who screamed in agony as the warrior princess held him by his hair.  Suddenly Joxer ripped the head from Xena’s grasp and sat down upon a boulder with it.  He began to part the hair down the middle declaring that Orpheous should never be handled that way again.  It was strange for he had seemingly been traveling around with this head for quite a while.  Joxer had a personal relationship with the head of Orpheous.

     As Xena began to analyze the situation she declared to Orpheous that she suspected that his demise had been the work of Baccus himself.  Orpheous did not argue.  He only confirmed that Xena was correct.  Gabrielle found herself horrified yet intrigued for it seemed that Xena knew everyone who she had thought to be only ficticious.  Orpheous went onto explain that Baccus had hunted him down and decapitated him leaving him alive to bear witness to the crimes he could no longer prevent.  Xena asked Orpheous of his lire.  Orpheous said that his friend Melodous was keeping it safe and in hiding.  He was certain that if they could return to Melodous that together he and his friend could stop Baccus as Melodous played the lire and Morpheous sang.

     Gabrielle suddenly realized that the events of the past few hours had all been a part of that seemingly false old legend.  She felt real fear now as she confirmed through Orpheous that the six missing innocent girls had been taken by Baccus himelf.  It was clear what their mission was.  They had to help Orpheous so that he could save the young innocent girls of the world.  And with that the warrior princess commanded Joxer to make Orpheous presentable and then they would be on their way.  Xena seemed almost disgusted with the situation yet she knew that it could not be ignored.  As long as Baccus could run free he would wreak havoc everywhere.  Not only that, but Baccus was certain to be on the hunt for Orpheous’s lire.  There was little time to spare.

     Then Gabrielle was curious to know just how Xena had met Orpheous.  As always her story was cryptic and tragic.  It had involved Xena’s army on a day when she had gone up against Baccus and his army.  During their fierce battle an innocent woman was caught in the cross swords.  Unfortunately there was nothing Xena and her army could do to protect her from Baccus and so the young woman perished.  Xena was certain that it had been Baccus who had killed her although Orpheous had blammed both.  Gabrielle found herself confused for a moment for she did not make the connection between Orpheous and Xena.  And then Xena revealed that last detail with regret.  The young woman who had died had been Orpheous’s bride.

     Soon the four friends arrived at the village of Melodeous where the lire was being kept in safety.  Gabrielle gazed down below at the foot of the hill through the gates and noticed that there was a festival in progress.  Joxer explained to Gabrielle that it was common for every year they held a festival here to ward off the wrath of Baccus.  He said that they even dressed up in fancy costumes and held a contest.  The winner would receive a prize.  As Gabrielle observed the people dancing in the streets and listened to the music from down below Joxer commented that he was certain he knew who this year’s prize would go to.  The bard knew who Joxer was talking about.  He was speaking of Orpheous whom Joxer had cleverly disguised as a scarecrow.  It was kind of amusing to the bard for she had never known a muscian without hands or a body.

      Upon entering into the village Orpheous rode upon Xena’s horse as he led his new allies to the home of his friend Melodeous.  When they went inside all was silent the way the forrest had been.  There was a strange feeling as Orpheous called out to his friend.  Yet there was no answer only more silence.  Then there was another gruesome sight.  It was Melodious hanging from the beams of the ceiling.  Again Xena proclaimed that it had most certainly been the work of Baccus.  Gabrielle heard women screaming outside as Xena then asked Orpheous if he knew where Melodious may have hidden the lyre.  When they looked to find the lyre it was missing for Baccus had taken it. 

     Now the stakes were much higher as Xena was about to rush off to hunt down Baccus, but the bard would not allow her to go alone.  Xena rejected Gabrielle’s protest asking her to stay behind to protect Orpheous.  Without him the lyre was useless and so Xena was off.  Gabrielle found herself very worried about Xena not knowing what Xena was up against.  Only the stories that she had heard could tell her, but they were not very comforting thoughts for the bard.  She tried to listen to Joxer and Orpheous chat about music only to discover that Orpheous was quite a crank.  He had a terrible attitude, but what could one expect from a muscian without his hands.  She continued to listen as Joxer played Orpheous’s instruments.  Joxer belittled the helpless musican for his craft proclaiming that his mother had dreamed of her son becoming a musican.  It was clear that Joxer had little respect for Orpheous.  Yet there was little Orpheous could do to get away from Joxer’s antics.  He yelled at the idiot to put down his instruments, but Joxer continued to annoy him. 

      Gabrielle found herself becoming frustrated with Joxer and Orpheous so she ventured outside onto the balcony.  She hoped that the excitement of the festival below would take her mind off of her irritation and her concerns for Xena.  As she watched the activities below something seemed very strange.  Everyone seemed like they were enjoying themselves yet she kept hearing those sudden screams like before when they had first entered into the village.  The bard decided that she would go investigate to be sure that there were no baccae lurking about.  If she could not help Xena find Baccus she could at least stop the baccae from taking more victims.

     As she entered into the festival something about it seemed very powerful and mezmorizing.  Though Joxer had said that it was a festival to ward off Baccus she soon discovered that these people were not against Baccus at all.  In fact they seemingly worshipped him as they chanted along with the music.  They chanted about blood and about dancing.  Gabrielle quickly decided that she would have to blend in so she began to dance to the sounds of the mystical music and chants.  So many women were dressed in costume that it was difficult to tell who was a baccae and who was not.  Gabrielle tried looking into the eyes of every young girl she danced along side yet she found herself seemingly surrounded by women with fangs.  Thought it was frightful Gabrielle found herself soothed by the muscial chanting.  She kept dancing, and dancing until she could no longer distinguish herself between what was real and what was play.

     Suddenly the moment of pure soothing pleasure was interrupted as Joxer had entered into the festival.  He had been looking to find the bard in the crowd and when he finally approached her he was abrupt.  Joxer grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the mezmorizing trance.  Gabrielle found herself angered by his intrusion.  He declared that she had been dancing with baccae and that he had come to rescue her from them.  Gabrielle was insulted by his comment confident that she would be able to identify a baccae if she had seen one.  As they argued with one another Xena arrived taking Orpheous from the stranger that Joxer had carelessly left him with. 

      Joxer then asked Xena if she had gotten the lyre back, but Xena reported that she had been unsuccessful in her conquest.  Instead she had run into the three baccae who had stolen it.  They had been attacking some innocent men by a campfire just outside the village.  Xena had to battle them fiercely, but she was certain that they would find the lyre in Baccus’s lair.  Joxer broke in once more going over Xena’s plan.  He asked her if it meant that they would be going to retreive the lyre.  Xena confirmed that he had been right as he continued to lay out the plan.  Not only did they have to retrieve the lyre, but they needed Orpheous to sing, someone to play it now that Melodeous was dead, and with that the girls would be freed and Baccus could be slain. 

      Xena was seemingly impressed yet irritated for she had not wanted her plans to be completely revealed before those who clearly worshipped Baccus.  Yet it was too late and now the word was out.  Joxer was proud of himself for having constructed Xena’s plan so successfully.  He smiled with his goofy teeth, and then Xena said that she and Gabrielle would be going on the next part of the mission without Joxer.  Joxer was suddenly crushed for he was certain to be a part of Xena’s plan.  Now he was offended and upset as he reminded the warrior princess that he had been the one that had assembled the group of four.  His initial greeting was not exactly genious, but he did have a point.  If it had been anyone else his persuasion would have succeeded, but this was the warrior princess he spoke to.  She could not afford to have such a careless idiot tagging along.  Xena was certain that his presence would complicate the plan so she rejected him once more.

     Joxer turned away from Xena angry.  Yet he had one last attempt.  Xena had everything she needed accept for someone who could play the lyre.  He then proclaimed that he had not wanted to reveal his secret, but he had indeed known how to play the lyre.  His mother’s pleas with him as a youngster had won out.  Yet Joxer wanted to be certain that his secret wasn’t made known.  He proclaimed that he had a reputation to protect, but Gabrielle could not see anything valueable about the idiot.  Yet Xena did need a lyre player and so that was his way to reenter the mission. 

      Xena and Orpheous then walked ahead as Joxer grabbed Gabrielle once more.  He was clearly upset again, but this time it was about Xena.  Joxer was certain that he had seen a baccae bite upon her neck as she had turned away.  Gabrielle was not so certain of his accusation for if she had been bitten she should have turned into a baccae.  Yet Joxer would not let the issue go for he proclaimed that it took time for a baccae bite to take effect.  Again he played expert to something that he was clearly without knowledge.  Gabrielle was only a bard, but had discovered very quickly that the lyre player was little more than a nusance at best. 

     He continued to persist about the bite he had most certainly seen.  Joxer said that it had been the real reason that Xena did not want him to be present at Baccus’s lair.  Gabrielle was still not at all convinced.  She decided that she would end his feeble charade at pretending to be a warrior once and for all.  Gabrielle was prepared to march right up to the warrior princess and ask her to reveal her baccae self.  Yet Joxer jerked Gabrielle backward fearful of Xena’s baccae tendancies.  He then took the bard’s staff and ripped out his daggar to sharpen it.  Gabrielle found herself busting with irritation as she took back her weapon struggling with the idiot as they argued.  Suddenly Xena turned around to notice that the two were quarreling.  She asked what the issue was over, but neither Joxer nor Gabrielle were inclined to answer.  Instead they stopped their quarrel and continued on down the path toward Baccus’s lair.

     Their travels led them into the darkness of the night.  At dinner Joxer’s imagination became even more dramatic as he stared at Xena with his beady brown eyes.  Suddenly the irritation was so great that the bard’s cooking knife slipped and she sliced her hand open.  Joxer took the knife which had dropped to the ground and implied that there was danger afoot.  Gabrielle knew what he had been referring to yet Xena was still in the dark.  Then Xena rose from her place on the log and walked over toward the resting head of Orpheous.  She tried desparately to comfort him knowing his pain and anger over his loss.  Though she felt responsible she had done the best that she could to try to save Euridicy.  Orpheous would refused to accept Xena’s apology.  It was obvious that he held her responsible despite all that she had tried to do.  Orpheous made it clear that this journey to take down Baccus was the price that would never be enough to bring back Orpheous’s wife.

     Xena was angered by his attitude and lack of appreication for her efforts to help him.  She picked up the knife and suddenly hurled at a tree near the fire where Gabrielle and Joxer sat.  The two looked at one another as Joxer was certain that her action had confirmed that Xena was indeed a baccae.  For the first time Gabrielle was filled with fear for if the warrior princess was truely a baccae then time was running out.  That night as they slept Xena stood guard.  She awakened the bumbling idiot with fright as she stabbed a sand spider with her daggar.  This made Joxer more nervous than before as he played off his fears of the warrior princess.  He proclaimed once more that he was an expert on killing baccae.  Yet Xena knew he was only fooling himself.

      On the next morning they set off for the catacombs where the graveyard of the driads was located.  There they would find the bones of the driad which was the only weapon that could be used against a baccae.  Both Gabrielle and Joxer had never seen a driad.  Joxer inquired about what it was as Gabrielle wondered if they would have to dig up the bodies of the dead.  Xena explained that they would not have to dig anything up as she jarred an old box loose.  Joxer then laughed for he was certain that the draids would not jump out easily.  Yet his laughter suddenly turned to screams as he was being dragged into a grave by something from beyond.  Xena and Gabrielle quickly rushed to his aid as he began to sink into the ground helplessly. 

     The struggle was difficult for even the strength of the warrior princess could not pull him out alone.  He sank deeper and deeper as Gabrielle held tightly to his arm.  Yet he was taken beneath the ground in the struggle.  Gabrielle pulled harder, but found that the arm she held was not Joxer’s.  It was the arm of the dead man in the grave which was a shocking discovery.  Gabrielle screamed, but then she and Xena dug down into the grave in search of Joxer.  Soon they found him and slowly pulled him out together.  He could barely breath, but was very fortunate for soon Xena and Gabrielle had been able to rescue him.  As Joxer rolled out of the pit of death he could only complain about his missing boot which he stated had been worth at least fifty dinars. 

      There was little time to complain for there was yet another startling surprise.  Suddenly fire pits shot out from the ground and from them emerged three winged creatures made only of bone.  They shrieked with a horrid sound that made the ears curl.  Xena and Joxer drew their swords as Joxer ran from the sight.  Gabrielle took refuge behind the warrior princess as Xena began to swing her sword wildly.  These were the driads that Xena had been searching for.  All it took to kill one was to make contact with the sword, but it was easier said than done.  One of the three driads attacked the helpless Orpheous as it tried to capture his head and fly away with it.  The warrior princess caught sight of the fury and drew her chackram to save him from capture.  Quickly is soared in the air and struck down the first driad.  When it returned Joxer was making his own kill striking down the second.

       Again he was quite proud of his accomplishment.  It only helped him with his delusions about being a true warrior.  He then taunted the third and final driad as Xena struck it down before them.  Again all was quiet as everyone began collecting the driad bones.  Orpheous had thanked Xena for saving him, but it had been the first time he had ever shown his appreciation.  Joxer was still gloating about his kill against the winged creatures as he declared that the bones of a driad were as sharp as a nail.  Gabrielle began to feel strange as she collected the bones left near Argo.  It was as if she were begining to lose her concentration.  She tried desparately to listen to what Joxer was saying to Xena, but all she could hear was that she had thought that Xena was a baccae. 

      Suddenly Gabrielle felt herself losing control.  It was like no other feeling in the world.  Her mind lost its wits and her body filled with hot blood as she popped up from the ground and turned to face the enemy.  Yet when she caught sight of her enemy it was her friends.  There before her stood Xena and Joxer.  Gabrielle’s mind confused beyond recognition as her eyes filled with nightmare visions.  For a moment she could focas only to hear Xena pleading with her to fight it.  Yet the short moment of clarity ended once more as Gabrielle had turned into a baccae and soared into the air with her invisible wings.  She whisked by Xena and Joxer flying into the catacombs nearby.  Gabrielle’s soul was being pulled toward a force so strong and full of darkness.

     The goodness in her heart fought desparately to regain control, but instead it was replaced by the insatiable urge to bite.  There below her she caught sight of the enemy once again.  Gabrielle scaled the walls and the ceiling of the dark catacombs following her intended victims.  Her heart continued to fight, but instead she had to bite.  Suddenly she swooped down upon Joxer catching him from behind.  As she knocked her victim to the ground he struggled, but Xena’s skill prevailed.  Again Gabrielle soared through the air her blood angered by the urge.  Xena pleaded with Gabrielle to continue to fight against the raging force.  As Gabrielle tried to fight within she was again whisked away by the darkness.  She found herself within the lair of Baccus the evil one.

      It was familiar like a vision.  The vision she had had two days before.  Her baccae eyes saw there before her more of her kind.  All were enthralled to dance, and to drink the blood within the alter.  Gabrielle’s eyes spotted the one and only Baccus sitting upon his mighty throne.  There were hundreds of baccae women lining up to drink from his wine.  As Gabrielle tried to rage against it she found herself within her own fright.  Slowly she reached the head of the line trying to regain her mind.  Instead she found herself face to face with the evil one.  He had horns wrapping around out of his head.  His face was red like blood and his eyes were yellow piercing through the soul.  As he handed her a cup of blood he encouraged her softly to drink from it. 

     Gabrielle’s mind was enthralled by the great one.  Yet her soul still fought the darkness.  But the harder she fought to regain her sanity the more Baccus’s eyes pierced through her light.  They reached deep down into her soul and lit it with agony and fire.  Gabrielle could no longer resist the temptation as her blood began to boil.  Slowly she raised the cup to her lips and as about to drink from its bliss, but a familiar sound pierced the air.  It was Xena’s chackram that had stolen the cup.  The blood crashed to the floor slowly as Gabrielle watched it splatter into oblivion.  Then she turned to see the light.  It was Xena the warrior princess. 

     Xena had prevented the fatal drink as she began to fight hundreds of baccae.  Joxer had arrived alongside her and quickly went  with Orpheous to seek the lyre.  Gabrielle began to feel her mind coming back although the blood still boiled violently within.  Her heart yearned to help the warrior princess fight, but her mind could do nothing.  Instead she had to use all of her strength to continue to fight the battle within.  Baccus soon raged against the light as he took Gabrielle to the alter once again.  He then drew another cup of blood and handed it over to the helpless bard.  Its power was so great that again she was pierced within her soul.  Gabrielle raised the cup to her lips.  She could almost taste its wonderful richness, but then she heard Xena shout out to her and then to Joxer to play the lyre. 

     Suddenly there was an aweful sound.  It was like the sounds of dying animals.  The sound screetched through Gabrielle’s ears.  It was unbearble as she dropped the cup of blood to the floor.  And then he was gone.  Baccus had left the alter for Joxer.  He flew up to the top of the lair where Joxer and Orpehous made music together.  Upon his arrival the music stopped.  Yet the warrior princess was already scaling the walls.  She struggled to the top to confront Baccus as she drew a daggar and thrust it into his stomach.  Baccus fell to the ground far below.  He was motionless for a short time.  All of the baccae women found themselves within a state of confusion as Gabrielle again fought the darkness within.

     Soon Baccus rose again he laughed with evil intent.  He declared that only a baccae could kill him and Xena was not one of them.  The forces within Gabrielle were like a violent storm.  Only the sight of Xena’s light could bring her out of her rage.  As she looked upon Xena above he heart realized what she must do to win against the rage.  Gabrielle then flew up to join Xena.  She approached the warrior princess who pleaded with her friend to bite her.  Gabrielle’s boiling blood lusted for Xena’s blood as she sunk her newfound fangs into the neck of the warrior princess.

     This victim’s blood was able to sooth the rage within Gabrielle’s body momentarily.  She could begin to feel some sanity returning to her mind.  Quickly Xena too developed fangs and piercing evil eyes, but together they swooped down upon Baccus.  The warrior princess thrust her weapon into his stomach once more and this time her attack was a success.  Baccus suddenly lost all of his power within the darkness and disappeared into a ball of fire.  As the darkness began to dissapate within and about all was restored to its original beauty.  Even Orpheous himself received a gift for his body was miraculously returned.  All the women seemed happy yet unaware of what had just happened to them.  And thanks to Xena the baccae were turned into the beautiful women they were before.

      And so Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer continued on down the path.  Joxer was already prepared for the next mission yet three can often be a crowd.  Neither Xena nor Gabrielle were prepared to deal with the idiot any longer.  Gabrielle decided that she would reveal their next mission.  She told Joxer that they would go up against Medusa the woman with the snakes coming out of her head.  This legend could be scary for a young man for it was said that she could turn even the mightiest of men into stone.  So Joxer quickly decided that he would sit this next one out.  He proclaimed himself to be mighty yet he would not test his strengths against Medusa.  As Joxer left the friends behind Gabrielle thanked Xena for saving her from her baccae self.  Xena told Gabrielle that she was thankful too for Gabrielle had saved the warrior princess from the wrath of  Joxer the Mighty.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #27: Is There A Doctor In the House?

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll#27:  Is There A Doctor In the House

November, 48 B.C.

 

     Pride holds a cost larger than ourselves.  If only we could choose the  peaceful value of life over blood and death putting our own selfish pride aside.  For there was once this king.  His name was Lubarious.  He was a brave warrior and a great hunter.  Lubarious was so proud of his hunting skills that one day he decided to test them in the sacred forest of the great goddess Artemis.  His pride was so costly that he had angered Artemis taking the lives of many of the beautiful creatures which roamed within her sacred forest.  She was so angry with him that she turned him into a deer like those he had hunted so mercilessly. 

     At first Lubarious thought of the misfortune of being transformed into the creature that he had once skillfully hunted down.  But then he became so fond of the peaceful ways of the deer that he actually grew to love them.  Of course he still missed his friends and family which made him very sad.  So Artemis took pity on him and turned him back into his human form.  For this he became a better king and a much happier man.  He  had learned that the true secret of life is to find peace within oneself and to share it with the world for life can only be what one makes of it.

     Gabrielle was reminded of this wonderful story when she and Xena found themselves traveling through the city of Thessaly for they had found it lying in ruins.  There was not one sign of life.  Not a man, nor woman, nor child were to be found alive within the terrible destruction.  It had only been a few weeks, but the pain of their deaths was still smoldering nearby.  Xena and Gabrielle continued on their way deep into the forest beyond.  It was not long before they found themselves trapped within the grasp of a bloody civil war. 

     This war was between the Mitoans and the Thesselians.  It had been going on for several months for there were the corpses of the dead lying all around the forest.  As the two traveled cautiously through the death and destruction they found themselves so close that one could hear the sounds of a battle raging beyond control.  Swords clashed, and men screamed.  It was one of the most tragic things that Gabrielle had ever seen.  She could not believe how much blood had been spilled over a battle between brothers.  Xena explained that the issue had been over religion for one side disagreed with the other upon their morals and beliefs.

     Gabrielle was fearful of what they might see next and suggested that maybe they should take the southern route around Mitoa in order to avoid becoming innocent victims.  But then suddenly there was the sound of a woman suffering not far away.  Xena and Gabrielle rushed to see who was calling out only to discover an old friend.  It was Ephiny of the Amazons and she had been hiding under a pile of leaves.  She had been there for at least two maybe three days and was quite weak.  Xena noticed that she had a large gash across her forehead and Ephiny mentioned that she had also sustained a broken leg.

      When Gabrielle asked Ephiny what she had been doing out in the middle of this terrible war Ephiny spoke of her pregnancy.  She and her loyal husband Phantes had been traveling toward Athens so that she would be able to give birth to their child.  While traveling they had found themselves caught in the middle of all of this war.  They had been attacked by the Mitoan army as the brave centaur Phantes was killed trying to protect his wife and unborn child.  The Mitoans had laughed upon killing the gallant brave centaur tearing his lifeless body to pieces before the eyes of his beloved.  They left Ephiny for death after she fought them upon losing the father of her unborn child.

     While Gabrielle was preparing Ephiny to travel to a safe place Xena had decided that she was going to save Ephiny and her baby.  Not only that, but she had also decided that she could stop this bloody war between the Mitoans and Thessalians.  Gabrielle was not so certain that this choice was a wise one for she could see no reason for them to get involved, but Xena was certain that she would be able to take on this challenge and  that she would be successful at accomplishing her goal.  Again Gabrielle feared the worst although she had seen that Xena had triumphed in battle many times before.  The bard scolded herself for expressing her sadness of this bloody war feeling that even Xena would not triumph within this battle alone for the devastation seemed larger than the largest of warriors.

     Not far from where Ephiny lay Xena discovered the general of the Mitoan army just beyond some trees rallying his troops.  They were planning on taking a nearby Mitoan healing temple for it was the only thing left standing between Mitoa and Thessaly.  He was certain that victory would be theirs if they could take the temple.  Xena allowed the general to send off his men and then she used her chakram to take him out, but not to kill him.  Then she approached the unconscious general and gave him something that he would never forget.  She took her mighty blade and thrust it into his shoulder. 

     Soon after the injury he awakened from his unconscious state and Xena took him with Gabrielle and Ephiny to the healing temple.  He was against going inside for he was certain that his rank would call death upon him as he entered this Thessalian temple.  Xena was determined to show him what his pride had done as she ripped the symbol of his rank from his clothing.  Marmax was shocked at the warrior princess’s action and her boldness, but realized that he could not argue against it.

     Once inside the temple the young bard found that her heart was breaking for what she saw was great pain and loss.  She could not understand why life was without value when it came to war.  There was  a bit of shock for Gabrielle had not imagined that she would find a healing temple that would house so many broken souls.  The warrior princess quickly glanced about to assess the situation.  She sent Gabrielle to find a place for Ephiny to rest and to prepare for the birth of her child.  And then Xena approached the priests in charge.

      The head priest was an older one.  He introduced himself as Gaylen.  Gaylen also had two other younger priests working alongside him.  Their names were Hippocrates, and Democratis.  Gaylen was enraged that this warrior woman would think to bring into his temple the injured enemy.  Quickly Marmax the general of the Mitoans was taken to the holding area with the rest of his captured and injured comrades. 

     Of course Xena ignored Gaylen for she could see that he and his apprentices were not able to heal with the help of their gods alone.  The warrior princess decided to take immediate action as she began to access the wounded.  First a young man came in suffering.  He was a Mitoan and Gaylen objected immediately to her intervention.  Again the warrior princess ignored him and proceeded to heal with the fine medical knowledge that she possessed.  And as Xena worked above the chaos and in openly defying the powers of the healing god Asclepius yet another pair of wailing wounded were brought into the already full temple.

     One of the men had a deep painful chest wound while the other had been shot through the windpipe with an arrow.  Gabrielle returned to Xena’s side listening to these awful sounds of suffering.  Men who wheezed struggling to take their last breaths of life as their chests violently rose and fell.  The sounds of the dying were almost unbearable to hear, but the bard knew that she must help in any way that she could.  Suddenly, Xena barked out an order for some rags and a hollow reed.  Hippocrates quickly jumped to aid the warrior princess as he found himself suddenly fascinated by this warrior women who seemed to have the power to heal. 

     Upon Hippocrates return Xena demanded to see Marmax at the operating table.  Upon hearing his name Marmax arrived intrigued by this woman’s disrespect for anyone.  He was clearly irritated that he had been brought here and at first refused to help Xena upon her firm request.  Yet Xena persisted in taking command of the general and he once again surrendered himself to her demands.  She gave him the rags and asked him to hold them down onto the chest wound sustained by the victim.  He did so as she inserted the reed into the man’s chest so that he could be given more air. 

     Suddenly, the second victim screamed and Xena responded quickly to his pleas.  He had a neck wound and the blood was flowing out quickly.   The warrior princess then asked for cobwebs as she broke the shaft of the arrow and then pushed the remaining arrow through.  Quickly she took the hollow reed from Hippocrates and inserted it into the hole so that the suffering man could breathe again.  Gabrielle watched as Xena then took the cobwebs from Hippocrates in an attempt to fill the wound and stop the blood.  Xena called to Gabrielle to compress the wound of this suffering soul.   The bard found herself putting her hands into the heart of the war holding the compresses upon the man.

     Soon his chest was calming and his cries were subsiding as these amazing healing women had given him breath once again.  Democratis was so very enthralled with the young bard and her beauty as Hippocrates agreed the taller one was impressive.  Xena and Gabrielle were momentarily annoyed for there was no time for love when the fight for life was not over.  The warrior princess realized that she could use the admiration of these two young priests to help save more lives.  She called to Hippocrates and asked him to separate between those who would live and those who would not be saved.  He was appalled at first for he did not feel that he could make that choice in the presence of his god Asclepius.  It had obviously been taught to him by Gaylen that life and death were not up to the people of the earth. 

     Xena realized that Hippocrates was not yet ready to accept his duty so she gave him a new task as she drew her sword.  She gave it to him instructing him to take it to the pregnant woman to set her broken leg.  Hippocrates could understand this kind of healing and so he took the sword and followed the warrior princess going to work.  The warrior princess had sent her sidekick onto tend to the soul of another wounded victim although his wound was one of the spirit.  Xena knew that the bard could heal that with her powerful words and the light that she carried in her heart. 

     Gabrielle had been reluctant to tend to the soul of a man who could not put his pride aside, but then saw the opportunity in which she had been given by the warrior princess.  The bard could not swing a sword, throw a chakram, or kill in the face of war, but she could  use her powerful words and a beautiful story to convince one of influence to call off this silly feud.  And so Gabrielle tended to the shoulder wound of general Marmax and told the story of Lubarious for she knew that Marmax could relate to a skillful hunter for it was he who hunted the beautiful people of Thessaly. 

     In the beginning of the story Marmax was pleased for he  admired Lubarious’s bravery, but then he scorned Lubarious’s choice of defying Artemis to hunt within her forest.  Gabrielle could clearly see that Marmax was missing the point so she continued on.  She spoke of how Lubarious’s choice to hunt within Artemis’s forest had been the best choice he had ever made for it taught him the valuable lesson of finding peace within himself rather than trying to create it externally.  Yet by the end of this beautiful story with a happy ending Marmax had still not understood what the bard had been trying to tell him.  She left his side upon dressing his wound disappointed that she had been unsuccessful in her quest to sway his mind.

     Upon returning to Xena’s side Gabrielle found herself in the midst of great suffering, pain, and agony.  These were all Thessalian soldiers about to be sent to their deaths for the pride of general Marmax and his army.  Suddenly, Gabrielle heard Xena call out for more supplies.  She needed another hollow reed and the bladder of a pig.  Hippocrates had returned to Xena as well realizing that Xena had been right to choose for some of the wounded could clearly never return to us despite what was done for them.  Xena then inserted a knife into the chest of the new patient as his body flailed about upon the Asclipious’s altar.  His blood spilled upon the alter staining it with the ugliness of war.  She then stitched up his neck wound hoping to stop some of the blood loss.

     Gaylen had returned to find the sacred altar in ruin defaced with the blood of the dying enemy for this man was a Thessalian.  It was the last that he could tolerate of this healing woman’s presence.  Gaylen demanded that the Thessalian guards within his temple kill the warrior princess for she was going against all that was allowed within the temple.  The two guards prepared to do battle as the warrior princess reached instinctively for her sword to find that it was missing.

     As the enemy approached she resorted to her powerful combat kicks which were a threat enough for this woman still tended to the sick and wounded as she fought against them.  Upon defeating their weak advances upon her Gaylen scolded the warrior princess for her disrespect of the gods.  Yet Xena had no remorse for her crimes against them for she declared that the gods would not heal these men.  Her belief had always been that one must take action in order to make something happen.  As the two argued over who was right and who was wrong within this realm of healing Gabrielle found herself unable to keep her patient from his suffering.  She and Hippocrates worked together pumping air into his lungs with the pig’s bladder and hollow reed yet as they pumped harder and faster the man lost more and more blood.  His breaths became shorter and fainter until finally his chest stopped.

     As the distraught bard called out to Xena for help Xena came to find that this man could not be saved.  She called off the efforts of Gabrielle and Hippocrates realizing defeat.  But Gabrielle did not want to be defeated.  She could not understand how the man could die when she and Hippocrates had worked so hard to save his life.  Xena tried to comfort the bard and to help her understand that there were just some things that were beyond what they could do to help in the face of suffering.  Gabrielle promised to Xena that she would work harder next time still feeling guilty that she had failed.

     Then Gaylen interjected into their conversation and spitefully declared that indeed the warrior princess could not heal that man.  Xena regretfully agreed that indeed that injury was one that could not be healed for the man had lost too much blood. 

     Marmax returned to see what a toll this experience had taken on the youth that traveled alongside this warrior woman as he watched the young bard try to comfort another dying man.  He could clearly see that Gabrielle knew the man would die, but she spoke gentle words to him knowing that it was those words that she could offer and nothing more.  The young Democratis sat alongside Gabrielle as he watched her tend to this man.  He too was enlightened by the bard’s great power and strength within.  Then Marmax confronted Xena for bringing the bard into this mess.  Xena could see that he was right for the pain that Gabrielle was feeling within was almost as great as the physical suffering that each of these men were experiencing within their dying hour.

      Yet the pain was still not over for another man came forth to the altar.  He was screaming in pain for his leg was badly diseased.  Xena proclaimed that for this man to live he must give up his leg in return.  The man was upset and could not conceive of cutting off  his leg.  But the truth was revealed bluntly by Xena for she said that his choices were very simple.  He could live without his leg or die with it.  Marmax was outraged yet again by her even emotionless tone.  Yet she looked to the victim and asked him what his choice would be.  The man sighed and asked the healing woman to take his leg in exchange for his life. 

     Xena then went to work once again asking for a sword, a shield, and  a torch.  Then she asked for Marmax to assist her again, but this time he stopped defying Xena’s request for he refused to help the enemy.  Marmax turned to walk away when the warrior princess boldly revealed to him that she would just give him another wound to match the one he had already sustained.  At that moment Marmax realized that it had been Xena who had wounded his shoulder.  He knew that she was serious and chose not to challenge her further.  He participated in this operation taking the shield as Xena heated the sword with the torch.  Then she used her pinch to mask the pain that was to follow.  Slowly she prepared to take the diseased leg and then with one motion his leg was separated.  The man screamed in shock, but the warrior princess knew that in time he would heal physically yet within she was not so sure.

     As the man who lost his leg screamed in terror and shock Gabrielle was stopped suddenly by another distraught injured soldier.  He pleaded with her speaking of a little boy lost out in the woods near the river.  The little boy was his son and his name was Perayous.  Gabrielle found herself becoming confused within all of the chaos and the pain yet realized that someone had to save this little boy.  She could not allow an innocent child to be killed for the pride of a battle gone sour.  As Gabrielle went for the door Deomocratis pleaded with her not to go out into the blood, but Gabrielle ignored him.  If she had to give her life for the life of that little boy then she would do it without question.

     The bard dropped her healing weapons and took up her staff to prepare to defend the innocent in the midst of all of this horror.  It was not far to the river and she knew that she could save the little boy.  She began to call out to him upon approaching the banks of the river finding herself suddenly confronted by a Mitoan soldier.  He moved to strike forward as the bard blocked his advances.  And then she saw the little boy behind her.  He was fearful and alone.  Her heart bled for him as she knocked the Mitoan soldier off of his feet onto the ground.

     Gabrielle quickly turned to run for the boy and carry him to safety, but just behind his innocence she saw another Mitoan soldier raising his sword to take the boy.  The bard threw herself in front of the boy using her staff to block the enemy, but was unable to defend against his fury.  The soldier slashed his sword across the bard’s shoulder and chest.  The pain was sharp, but quick.  She fell upon the little boy who was curled up in a ball in terror.  Then she waited for the enemy to leave and as they left she struggled to her feet.  She took the little boy although the pain was difficult to overcome. 

     Suddenly from behind a Thessalian soldier approached realizing that the young woman and child were in need.  He took them to the healing temple hoping that they would be safe there.  Upon her arrival Gabrielle was barely able to breathe.  She saw Xena approach in shock of what had just happened.  Immediately Xena tended to her badly wounded friend.  Xena hoped that she could save this victim for this victim was real.  It was not just another soldier.  As Xena worked diligently upon her friend’s wounds Gabrielle called out for Ephiny.  Ephiny came and Gabrielle asked her to lean in close for she wanted to give Ephiny her right of caste.  Ephiny would not take it for she would not lose another Amazon sister the way she had lost her husband.  She pleaded with Gabrielle as she took her hand.      

     As Xena worked the temple began to shake for the enemy was now on the doorstep.  There was no shelter left for the weak as the entire structure rocked and began to come down.  The young priests jumped into action telling Xena that they be sure to get the wounded and the innocent to safety outside the temple.  However, Democratis was distraught for he had allowed Gabrielle to go out alone into the battle after the little child.  As he and Hippocrates took the patients outside and down the steps Democratis himself was struck in the chest by an arrow.  He fell slowly as he was stunned by the sudden invasion into his body.

      In the next moment the old priest Gaylen knelt down before the altar crying desperately for the god Asclepius to descend down upon his temple and stop the madness.  As all was falling apart Hippocrates picked up the pieces bravely as Xena instructed him on how to treat his wounded friend.  Then she asked Marmax to step forward and to do his part in healing by encouraging his army to stop the fighting.  Marmax’s spirit had seen more than the light for the expecting mother had sung to him the tragic story of her husband and her loss.  She had convinced him of the  wrongs that he had committed and now he saw two more innocent before him who didn’t deserve to die for his pride and victory.

     Upon his decision the battle suddenly ceased as the first of his soldiers entered into the temple.  He was forceful with them for they didn’t understand at first what it was that they should preserve.  Marmax explained to them that negotiating would be how they would win the remainder of this terrible war.  So many had been lost already.  He would not be responsible for the deaths of anymore.  And so Marmax’s soldier went out into the field to deliver this peaceful message.  It was the first time in a long time that he himself had been humbled the way that Lubarious had been humbled.  Finally Marmax understood what Gabrielle’s story was meant to be.  It was his lesson, but he had learned that lesson only upon her nearing death.

     Xena sat alongside her friend regretfully as she expressed her mistake within her own pride.  The warrior princess had been so determined to prove that she could win this war against pride that her own pride may have cost her the one she valued most.  Marmax stood beyond and could hear all that Xena spoke of realizing that she too had been wounded deeply by this war senseless war.   Xena regretted not taking the southern route as Gabrielle had suggested, and then Marmax interjected with hope.  He delivered words of encouragement to the healing warrior confident that Gabrielle would make it through.

     Though death itself was near so was the promise of birth as Ephiny found herself about to bring her child into the world.  Marmax called to Xena unaware of what to do.  Xena responded yet again to her call to duty and realized that Ephiny’s baby was breech.  The situation was serious, but it was obvious that the exhausted mother was not going to give birth to her child naturally.  Xena would have to cut it out to save both of their lives. 

     Marmax retrieved the supplies needed to perform the miracle of birth.  Xena concentrated as she carefully took the pain from the expecting mother with the pressure points.  Then she placed a candle before Ephiny upon the table and asked her to focus onto it looking deeply within the passionate flame for Phantes.  Ephiny concentrated and felt her husband’s presence as Xena began the procedure.  She ran a knife through the flame of the candle and carefully made her incision.  Across the stomach and then down the middle.  Xena instructed Marmax to pull back the layers of skin upon the top and there just inside the gift was revealed.  It was a beautiful baby boy with four legs.  He was definitely the child of a centaur.  Marmax was delighted to be a part of this miracle as was Xena, but this joyful moment was interrupted by the other side of birth.

     Xena quickly ran to Gabrielle’s side as she saw her friend struggling.  The bard’s body shook and jolted violently.  The warrior princess was unable to act for she could not heal this.  This was beyond her control.  Gabrielle’s spirit then fluttered about seeing all who stood about.  She then saw the white light and the gates opening into a beautiful place.  It had vibrant trees and vast colorful fields.  She found herself greeted by those whom had already left her.  There were her grandparents, and her uncle Meropes.  Her spirit trembled with joy to be reunited with all of these people that she had missed. 

     But then amongst the laughter and the joy Gabrielle was touched by another vibrant young soul.  It was Talus the boy who had gone home with Celesta leaving her behind.  Talus was glad to see her, but told her that she must turn around and go back for there was still so much that she had to do.  Gabrielle was saddened for a moment for she did not want to leave this most peaceful place, but Talus insisted that she must go back.  Then he took her to a special temple and showed her the things that she must do before she could return.  Gabrielle’s soul was excited and agreed to return to Xena for she saw how much the warrior princess still needed her.

      Upon leaving the Elysian Fields behind she waved good-bye to all those that she had to leave behind again including Talus.  He smiled brightly knowing that Gabrielle’s spirit would not return until it had full-filled its promises to Xena.  And then her spirit floated above her body once more looking down upon what she saw.  Marmax’s army was retreating and sending out word of truce to the people of Thessaly.  Gabrielle’s spirit realized that she and Xena had succeeded in stopping this terrible war.  Yet her joy was interrupted by the sensation of emotional anguish.  It wasn’t her own, but the anguish of someone very close to her.  She saw Xena lying over her trying to bring her back to earth. 

     Xena was struggling and fighting a battle that she could only win if Gabrielle were to return.  The warrior princess’s heart began to break for the body did not respond.  Xena pounded on the bard’s chest jolting the lifeless body, but still Gabrielle did not return.  Marmax and many others tried desperately to convince the warrior princess that she must give up and let Gabrielle go.  But Xena would not give up for she could not allow herself to be responsible for the death of another beautiful innocent. She cradled the bard in her arms and rocked her crying with desperation.  The pain which radiated from Xena’s soul was so overwhelming that Gabrielle could not allow Xena to be alone any longer. 

      Gabrielle struggled to return into her lifeless body, but suddenly found herself taking a breath as her eyes flew open.  Xena’s spirit was suddenly relieved for her best friend had returned to her despite all that had been lost.  And so that is how the healing warrior, and Marmax found their own peace.  It was through the cost of their pride that their eyes were opened for the first time so that they could see the happiness of  a life without  blood and war, and the miracle of the birth of innocence.

Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #26: Callisto

The Xena Scrolls

By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #26: Callisto

October, 48 B.C.

I sing of the woes of Callisto. A woman who was struck down by the cycle of violence. Her life began in a village called Syra located somewhere between Corinth and Amphipolis. One day her village was attacked by a well-known warrior princess. On that day many perished in the flames. There was no discrimination for women and their children this time. The flames swept through the village of Syra with a vengeance for blood. It was the vengeance of a warrior princess whose village had also suffered the fate of blood and vengeance years before. It was said that there were only a handful of survivors from that attack and a young fair-haired girl named Callisto had been one of them.

Callisto had lost her entire family to this cycle of hatred. At first she mourned for her sister, father, and mother, but the mourning did not last for it was replaced with a lust for blood. This lust for blood consumed Callisto’s tattered heart and battered soul. Her mind soon raced into a psychotic rage as the years went by she plotted her vengeance. On a day not long after the salvation of the warrior princess Callisto had completed her plan of vengeance. She knew exactly how she would get to Xena and so it began with one village and then another. Callisto and her newly acquired following of warriors descended upon villages destroying them and each time leaving few survivors. But for those who did survive she always had a message for them. “Tell them I am Xena warrior princess.” And with that she would leave them with an evil laughter to remember her by.

Callisto’s wrath lasted for many seasons with little notice until one day a young farmer named Melos was traveling to his home. Melos caught sight of an old woman from his village. She was lying on the road helpless barely clinging to life. When Melos approached her she sung the tale of Xena the warrior princess and of what she had done to her and their village. Melos was alarmed knowing that his wife and child were there in the village. The old woman told him that everything was in ruin and that it was not likely he would find anyone left alive. This messenger of death and destruction took her last breath and died in Melos’s arms.

A few days later the farmer Melos sat in a tavern a marathon from his home drowning his sorrows. Sitting next to him was a warrior woman in leather with dark hair and piercing blue eyes. She looked over to him noticing his despair. It was familiar to her and she offered him her drink out of kindness and sympathy for him. He accepted it with gratitude and then he introduced himself. He held out his hand as the kind stranger introduced herself as Xena. Suddenly Melos stumbled to his feet with rage for this was the woman whom he was told had killed his wife and son. She was the bringer of death and destruction. Xena the warrior princess had taken away his entire life.

As Melos prepared to take his own blood vengeance against Xena he was no match for this strong stealthful woman. He lunged forward toward Xena yet she dropped him to the ground in an instant. Then the warrior princess drew her sword and held it threatening her attacker by the end of her blade. Melos was certain that this Xena was the one that had taken his family from him. Xena couldn’t believe what she was hearing for she had given up the business of blood vengeance a long time before. Not only that, but Xena was certain that these stories were false and impossible for she had never been so dark as to kill women and children. She had to find out more about this. Xena had to know who was disguising themselves as the bringer of death and destruction. It was told that every traveler from the tavern to Corinth had a tale of destruction caused by none other than the warrior princess herself. And as Xena and her companion left the tavern Melos promised that he would come after Xena to receive his vengeance.

On the path to Corinth Xena and her companion ran into a small group of battered villagers. They all had the same look as did Melos. They were torn, battered, and poisoned with hatred. All of them were full of fear. Xena explained to the bard that it was that fear that she had once craved during her days as an evil warlord. That fear commanded a certain respect. But now it was different of the warrior princess. She declared that she and the bard would continue on traveling toward Corinth until they were able to find out who was truly behind all of the needless killing.

Yet as Xena and Gabrielle waded through the group of fearful commoners there was one strangely dressed man with a strainer for a chest plate and a goofy looking helmet. He shouted out an inquiry demanding to know if the woman approaching him was indeed the warrior princess. Xena answered with disgust in her voice feeling very annoyed by his question. After she answered he introduced himself as Joxer the Mighty. He said that he was a warrior and desired to join Xena’s army. He was certain to be able to offer his services to the blood lusting warrior woman. This peculiar man did not act like a warrior. He claimed to have a passion for blood, but it was obvious that he had never killed anyone before. The bard could read him very well and she let him know that she did not take him seriously. This bumbling idiot was offended and declared that he had not even been addressing the bard, but Gabrielle ignored his insulting remarks. As Xena tried to ignore this bumbling idiot he did not give up trying to convince her. The more bloody his words became the more irritating to the warrior princess. He told her that had a nickname of bloody Joxer, and that he had once bathed in a pool of blood. In fact, he was so certain that he loved blood so much that he even went as far as to say that he suffered from depression if he did not draw blood regularly. He was definitely not convincing and sounded more like a lost child than a true warrior. Finally the warrior princess had enough of the antics of the idiot. She delivered a blow to his nose rejecting his pleas to serve her reign of terror. Then she warned him that if he did not stop his lusting for blood that she would show him the reality of blood lust.

As he sat up from his place upon the ground he was disappointed that Xena had rejected his offer to join her legions. For Xena things were getting serious because now strangers were looking for her just to be a part of all of the hatred. Xena and Gabrielle continued on toward Corinth and as they traveled Melos was not far behind. In fact, even Argo could feel his presence as she stirred with a warning to the warrior princess of the enemy within the brush. Once again he tried to get his vengeance on Xena as he leapt from above within a tree down onto the warrior princess, but a farmer could not defeat the warrior princess in battle. She acted to his advance and flipped him over her shoulder down onto the bottom of the hill. Then she took a rope and tied his hands. The warrior princess led the vengeful farmer toward the tree he had scouted her from and tied him to its trunk. Gabrielle could not help, but feel sorrow for a good man such as Melos. In her heart the bard knew that he was truly a good man, but this cycle of violence seemed never-ending. It was infectious like a disease and took the goodness away from the good.

This cycle had begun with Cortese when he and his army had killed Xena’s brother Lyceus. Then Xena’s heart had been infected with this vengeful hatred which had led her to kill, and now another dark force had come forth killing Melos’s wife and six-year-old son. Gabrielle tried to comfort Melos and to dissolve his hatred as she left him a bed roll for later. Then she bade the good farmer farewell hoping that he would soon be able to defeat the darkness and come to his senses. Yet as Xena and Gabrielle left him behind he swore to get his vengeance on the warrior princess. It was clear what had to be done. This cycle of violence had to stop. Xena blamed herself for it, but it began long before Xena’s own village of Amphipolis was ever attacked.

Soon Xena and Gabrielle arrived in a village along the road to Corinth that was suffering the wrath of hatred. At the entrance were many dead villagers tied to crosses on display for all to see. The smell of death was evident yet there were still many running about the streets screaming in agony for their lives to be spared as Callisto the fair-haired warrior woman reigned within her dark vengeance. The warrior princess charged into battle upon Argo as Gabrielle ran onto the scene with staff in hand. Xena caught sight of three warriors beating an innocent smith as he was unable to defend himself. The warrior princess could take no more of this violence. She quickly pulled out her chackram and threw it in the direction of the three attackers. It bounced off the three heads of the evil warriors and rounded the village square. Just as the chackram was about to round the corner back toward its commander it was snatched by the fair-haired warlord. Callisto appeared before Xena as if expecting her arrival. A sly smile spread across her face as she stood across the village looking Xena dead in the eye. She held Xena’s chackram within her hand triumphantly urging the warrior princess onto battle.

And so the face off began. Callisto taunted Xena into a jousting combat to regain possession of her chackram. Callisto drew her sword as did Xena. As they went for their first pass at one another the fair-haired Callisto screamed with a terrible vengeance as she charged forward upon her horse. Xena responded with a warrior grumble upon her horse. Their charge ended in a stalemate to the dismay of Xena’s new rival. Neither woman took the advantage. Upon their second pass Callisto screamed with vengeance again and with even more determination. Gabrielle had never seen a warlord with the kind of passion that the warrior princess had fought with yet Callisto had it within. They clashed swords, but Callisto won the second pass for she had gotten a clean shot on the warrior princess.

As Xena turned Argo about to face Callisto again she noticed the wound sustained within her left shoulder. Then she looked out across the field at her tough enemy realizing this would not be a simple match up. Callisto found herself to be delighted that she had gotten the upper hand within this battle as she declared with confidence that she was just as good as the infamous warrior princess. And it was true. Callisto was skilled for Gabrielle had only seen the warrior princess tame the chackram. And now the fair-haired Callisto had proven her skill. Then Callisto went onto declare that it was inevitable for Xena the warrior princess had indeed created her. The warrior princess became angry unable to believe that she could have created such a monstrous creature. And so they went for a third pass and this time Xena clashed swords with Callisto only to disarm her.

As the warrior princess rounded her horse for a fourth pass she slid her sword back into its place upon her back. Then she inferred that it was Callisto that had shot her with the poison dart that had nearly taken the life of the warrior princess weeks before. Callisto responded gleefully that Xena was indeed correct for what better way would there be for her to remove the real warrior princess only to recreate her darkness. The fair-haired warrior woman had an agenda which included reviving the evil warrior princess’s reputation for killing women and children. This accusation angered Xena for she had never been guilty of intentionally taking the lives of women and children. Even in her days of darkness Xena’s warrior code held integrity. Then Callisto screamed again chagrin forward as each warrior woman took a staff and prepared to make a fourth pass at one another. The two women were truly an equal match as they knocked one another from their horses. And amazingly both landed upon their feet as they flipped backwards off of their horses. It was as if looking into a live mirror. One had dark hair, the other light, one had dark eyes, the other light, and one was of the darkness while the other of goodness. But before the duel was to continue Xena asked what Callisto meant when she had declared that Xena had created her. Callisto responded asked Xena if she remembered Syra. Suddenly the warrior princess’s eyes told of a buried darkness within. It was a look of alarm and of concern at the same time. Yet before the warrior princess could dissolve this out of control nemesis Callisto screamed and charge forward with her staff as Xena blocked the advance. Then the fair-haired warrior woman flipped over the warrior princess using her staff and onto her horse. Callisto rode away from battle screaming violently all the way out of the village leaving the warrior princess stunned and visibly upset.

But before the warrior princess had time to think about her past mistakes in battles against the innocent she heard the battle between Gabrielle and another of Callisto’s men behind her. Gabrielle struggled against this skilled warrior of Callisto’s army. He was much stronger and well-trained. The bard was having great difficulty in battling against him despite her training from the warrior princess. Xena turned to see that her friend had been disarmed and was about to become a victim of this cycle of violence as the warrior lifted his weapon to kill. She charged forth with the staff and disarmed him quickly. Gabrielle acted rolling out-of-the-way as Xena disarmed him and then put her pinch upon his neck. The bard watched as the warrior princess demanded information from the victim. He was reluctant to give any information until Xena spoke of his impending death if he did not speak. He revealed to Xena after several moments Callisto’s name and identity. Xena wanted to know more about her relation to Syra. He told of how Callisto had lost her family to Xena’s army. The warrior princess was heart-broken for she was responsible for the suffering of these people within the village now despite her struggle against the darkness that she had seemingly created.

Then the warrior princess released her emotion once more and focused again asking him what Callisto wanted from her. His answer was simple. Callisto wanted to ruin Xena’s good reputation and then she wanted to kill the warrior princess after all else was destroyed. The warrior princess realized that she must act quickly to stop this dark nemesis for it was clearly out of control. And even if she did succeed at killing the warrior princess her vengeance would never end. Xena realized that she must be the one to seek out and destroy Callisto before Callisto could succeed with her vengeance. The warrior princess demanded to know where Callisto would be striking next. She was told of the sacrifice at Delphi that would occur on the following day. Callisto was after the oracle. Xena then gave the Callisto’s warrior a final message. She declared that she would destroy Callisto before Callisto would succeed at destroying the warrior princess. Suddenly Xena released her victim from the jaws of death and knocked him unconscious.

The bard watched the warrior princess walk away with a look of devastation and of guilt. It had been a long time since the bard had seen the warrior princess suffering with so much guilt and so much shame. And then as the chaos continued to surround them Melos approached Xena apologizing for his misjudgment of her. Yet the warrior princess was in no mood to talk to vengeful farmers. She warned him of her anger within and he tried desperately to ease her pain within. He explained that he had seen all that had transpired between the warrior princess and Callisto. Melos was determined to help Xena bring Callisto down. He was still ready for vengeance, but it was now redirected at the true enemy. Yet the warrior princess was certain that vengeance was not the answer for it had been vengeance that had tainted Callisto to become the ultimate darkness. Instead the warrior princess declared that she could at least keep Melos from getting himself killed for she was certain that Callisto would not be as forgiving of him as she had been.

That night Gabrielle was determined to try to help Xena dissolved Melos’s vengeance. She sat down next to Melos who was in the depths of his hatred. Gabrielle asked him softly when he had last slept and gotten a good night’s rest. His answer was the one that the bard dreaded most. He declared that he had not slept since the day he had heard of his son’s death and seen it with his own eyes. Gabrielle tried desperately to get him to let go of the vengeance for just one moment or two so that maybe he could lie down and drift off to sleep. Yet Melos declared that Gabrielle could not understand his pain. She could not understand his loss or his anger. He was certain that Callisto’s blood would allow him to face and release his hatred and his pain within. Melos was certain that if Gabrielle had lost someone she loved in the same way that she would feel the same drive and resolution through blood. Yet Gabrielle was not so certain that she would feel that way. She was against violence and she wanted nothing more than to be the champion of stopping it alongside the warrior princess.

Finally the bard gave up trying to ease Melos’s rage and to get though all of his hatred. Instead she felt that maybe she could help heal Xena’s heart of its heavy guilt for having been responsible for the loss of Callisto’s family so long ago. The bard sat down by the fire next to the warrior princess whose heart was in mourning for Callisto’s soul. It was clear to the bard that the warrior princess wanted to be able to help Callisto let go of it all the way that she had been able to do. Xena could relate to Callisto in a way that no one else could. Gabrielle invited the warrior princess to talk about her experiences and share her pain of Syra. The warrior princess was very open unlike in the past for this time she needed the inner strength that the bard seemingly had naturally. She began the story trying to reason and explain it all. The warrior princess spoke of the one time that her army had been responsible for the deaths of women and children. It had been in Syra. They had set fire to the houses, but she was uncertain if it all had been an accident or if her men had truly been behind the fires. Despite it being just another village to conquer they were taken by surprise when the winds began to pick up and blow the fires out of control. The flames had swept through Syra without remorse and they had claimed the lives of innocent women and children. Xena had said that there were only a few known survivors and today she had met one of them face to face. Her past had stared her dead in the eye. It had come back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined it to. It was one of the first times that Gabrielle had seen the warrior princess break down and cry as a tear dropped from her eye.

The bard found herself beginning to understand it all. This terrible cycle of violence and of hatred. She realized that Callisto had truly fallen into its wrath as Melos had. Yet Xena did not blame Callisto for her actions. Gabrielle could not allow the same reprieve for Callisto’s actions for she had known the warrior princess’s past. Xena too had been infected with the violence within her own village and despite it all the warrior princess had made the choice to turn it all around for herself. Yet Xena proclaimed that she was only lucky in having been able to be rescued from the depths of this cycle. Gabrielle was confident in her friend’s ability to do good and to be good. She could not accept the excuses that Xena tried to allow Callisto. Gabrielle was certain that Callisto must be taken by justice for her crimes against humanity. The bard argued that it was because of people like Callisto that made good people like Melos turn into vicious blood thirsty killers.

Gabrielle wanted desperately to erase Xena’s guilt for Callisto’s actions. But the warrior princess was still not certain that Gabrielle was right. She declared that she might find herself one day falling back into the cycle of violence if something were to ever happen to her mother, Hercules or even to Gabrielle. The bard refused to allow Xena that vengeance. Gabrielle pushed for Xena to promise her that she would never take vengeance on behalf of Gabrielle. The bard could not hold onto her own hope for the world if Xena were to fall into violence in her absence. To Gabrielle no death was worth a vengeance like that of Callisto or of Melos. Gabrielle pleaded with the warrior princess to promise never to turn to the cycle of violence again. Xena was still unable to make that promise to the bard. Gabrielle continued to insist that the answer was never through blood, but through love and forgiveness that would allow the violence to end. Then the warrior princess held the bard tightly and hugged her. She pleaded with her loyal friend to never change. Xena’s only strength was the bard. Xena needed her friend now more than ever. It was the light of the innocent bard that allowed Xena to carry on. The warrior princess feared her heart would grow dark without Gabrielle. Yet Gabrielle had a strong faith in her friend’s inner light. She again demanded a promise from the warrior princess that she would never go down the path of vengeance again. The warrior princess sensed the bard’s fears within and promised the bard that she would be strong.

Gabrielle continued to hold Xena for she could not bare the thought of evil claiming Xena’s soul again. She began to stroke Xena’s hair trying to settle down the demons which she could feel wrestling within the warrior princess. Yet Xena tried to close her feelings off tightly and away from the bard once more. She tried to urge the bard to leave her within her despair, but Gabrielle would not leave Xena. And so the night ended with two friends trying to be strong for one another as they prepared for their next battle against Callisto at Delphi.

As soon as the sun rose Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and Melos were on their way to Delphi. Upon their arrival Xena suggested that they split up to find Callisto more quickly. Gabrielle took Argo, and Xena went into the temple with Melos. Gabrielle scouted the village streets of Delphi alongside Xena’s horse and found herself approached from behind. Someone had grabbed a net attempting to capture the bard, but she escaped quite easily. Suddenly there he was. He called himself Joxer a warrior, but a warrior like no other. So inept, so clumsy, and no more clever than a bumbling idiot. He insisted upon battling against the bard. Yet the bard could see that he was not a true warrior. He had little skill, but plenty of will. His failure at capturing the bard within his net led to him drawing his goofy looking sword. The blade wide and he could barely control it. Gabrielle could not handle a sword, but after seeing this Joxer try to handle his over-sized blade it was clear that he was a small threat.

In fact this Joxer seemed more annoying than threatening. The bard quickly disarmed him of his blade with a thrust of the staff. He was still very determined as he then grabbed a tiny dagger from within the mess of his lame uniform threatening to take the bard down. His anger was easily defeated as the bard disarmed him of his tiny dagger and knocked his toes with her staff. His eyes rolled back into his head in pain as he hopped around on his good foot. The bard prepared for his response. It was a cross-bow which Gabrielle broke with a thrust of the staff across the bow. Suddenly he appeared upset as if he were nothing more than a child who had lost his favorite toy. Then he remembered his challenge and prepared to take the bard down with his bare hands. Of course Gabrielle was ready again for his feeble advance as she knocked him silly with her staff taking his feet from beneath him. The bumbling idiot Joxer fell flat upon his back as his tongue hung out in defeat. He prepared to regain his senses and rise for more punishment, but the bard was becoming quite annoyed by his presence. She had little time for his antics and idiocy as she demanded that he stay down. The bard was busy trying to find Callisto before darkness could kill the oracle. And so Gabrielle left Joxer behind.

As Gabrielle tried to lose the idiot inside of the temple Xena caught sight of a mysteriously cloaked woman. It was Callisto and she had pulled Xena’s chackram hurling it toward the unsuspecting oracle certain to incriminate the warrior princess in cold-blooded murder. There were plenty of witnesses, but Xena would not be defeated. She reached for her dagger and threw it toward the flying disc to deflect its path toward death. The warrior princess was successful as the chackram was tamed by the light and returned to the hand of the warrior princess. Suddenly Callisto realizing defeat fled the temple. The chase led through the back alleys of the village to Callisto’s horse. She jumped upon her horse riding out-of-town as quickly as she could. The fair-haired woman was determined to escape the warrior princess’s justice as Xena jumped upon Argo in pursuit. The chase led to the far reaches of the valley into the desert region ten miles. Callisto was quick and agile, but the warrior princess had the better horse. Argo pushed hard to catch up to the dark nemesis so that Xena could capture Callisto and bring her to justice. Finally Argo did catch up and Xena leapt from Argo onto Callisto’s horse forcing the enemy to the ground. The two warrior women tumbled to the ground down the hill near the water down below.

When they finally stopped rolling Xena regained her balance quickly tying Callisto binding Callisto’s hands. As the warrior princess took control of her accidental creation she put Callisto upon Argo knowing that Argo would not allow Callisto to escape. Callisto tried desperately to kick Argo into action as they made the journey back toward Delphi. Xena began to become angered at Callisto’s abuse of her beloved horse. She warned that she would break Callisto’s ankles if she continued to kick Argo. Callisto resorted to taunting the warrior princess once more knowing that she was defeated for the moment. She mocked Xena for turning toward the light and declared that the warrior princess was only fooling herself if she thought that changing her ways made it simple for those she had wronged to forgive her. The warrior princess was not proud of her past and Callisto’s presence only inflamed the dark memories and the shame.

Gabrielle arrived at Xena’s side to warn her of Melos’s vegeance gone out of control. He had organized a lynch mob for when Callisto returned. It was obvious that she had been convicted before having he fair trial the way Xena had when she had fought the dark hooded Ares. Callisto then asked the warrior princess if she had ever been tried for every crime she had ever committed against humanity. It was obvious to the bard what Callisto was doing. She was playing on the warrior princess’s guilt and placing all of her own guilt upon the shoulders of the warrior princess. Xena was taking it all feeling that she deserved all of it, but Gabrielle argued that Xena could not allow Callisto to place that guilt upon her. Xena was guilty of only what crimes she had committed and not those of the people she had committed them against. Callisto found it amusing that the bard was defending her friend in this way. She began to laugh and then asked Gabrielle if she knew what it was like to wake up every night hearing her mother scream with pain as she was being burned to death. Callisto’s heart and soul were very much scared. For a moment even the bard felt some sympathy as she began to put herself in that place trying desperately to relate and understand.

Gabrielle’s thoughts were interrupted as Xena proposed to Callisto the possibility of allowing her to go free. The bard found herself suddenly aghast that Xena would even fathom the thought of allowing such a killing machine to return to her life of violence. As the two friend began to argue over Callisto’s future Callisto interrupted again and proposed her exact plan. She proclaimed that if Xena were to allow her to go that she would dedicate her entire life to killing everyone and everything Xena loved including her family, friends, reputation, and even her beloved horse Argo. Callisto declared that Xena’s pity would be worse than death for her. She then insisted that Xena carry on with the process of justice for she had indeed created a monster with integrity. Callisto was determined to win Xena’s heart back into darkness no matter what the consequences to herself. It was her passionate hatred that made her heart stale and cold.

Upon arriving back at Delphi Melos was ready with his mob. They were prepared to take Callisto to her justice created by themselves without a trial. But the warrior princess would not allow it. She declared that Callisto would be taken to the village jail and await her fair trial. Callisto seemed to bask in the glory of her success. She had created a darkness so great that hatred was beginning to take control over the goodness which had once existed within the hearts of the villagers at Delphi. Melos led them certain to gain Callisto’s blood no matter what had to be done.

As Xena stood guard Gabrielle found herself confronted by the idiot once again as she watched the mob thirst for blood. He tried to capture her with a rope, but failed as Gabrielle whipped around to face him again. She grabbed his rope and yanked him forth into her fist to the nose. The bard was frustrated with the idiot as she demanded to know what his issue was with trying to capture and defeat her. He declared that Callisto would reward him well for capturing her and trading the bard for Callisto’s release. Yet Gabrielle did not find it to be a very convincing plan she sat him down and slammed a rag down upon his injured nose with frustration. She asked him why he insisted upon following her. He was clearly determined that he was going to be a real warrior and to be well-known by all. Yet he was not at all fierce. He was tame like a lamb, but his heart was definitely that of a lion. Gabrielle laid the truth before him. She explained that he was just not a warrior no matter how much he wanted to be one. He was disappointed for he claimed that his family was a long line of successful warriors. Joxer seemingly didn’t measure up. But that was okay for Gabrielle felt that there were other things that she could urge the kind-hearted idiot to do. She asked him what other interests he had. Joxer replied with zest that he liked to steal. Of course stealing was not at all what the bard had in mind. Instead she suggested fishing. The bard tried to convince Joxer that fishing was just as noble as being a warrior. For a moment it seemed as if maybe she had succeeded for the excitement began to build within his soft brown eyes. Gabrielle began to feel sorry for this mixed up fellow as she held out her hand and introduced herself. He accepted the invitation to friendship only to grab her arm and lock it behind her back at yet another lame capture attempt. The bard’s frustrations boiled over as he took her elbow to his now swollen nose. And then Gabrielle left the idiot to his idiocy feeling that he was a hopeless delusional case.

Yet Xena had problems of her own. As she sat guarding Callisto within the jail Callisto continued to taunt her and to work her conscience. Though Callisto was beyond help she was clever and she knew exactly how to play the warrior princess. She was determined to destroy what goodness lie within Xena’s heart. Xena fought to ignore Callisto’s words, but found it difficult for she still felt guilt within her heart for what had happened. Callisto had not accepted her apology earlier on the journey back toward Delphi. The fair-haired woman would not allow Xena to be forgiven. She continued to torture Xena. Callisto’s vegeance for Xena was strange for despite her hatred and anger she truly admired the darkness of the warrior princess for it had commanded such power. But she condemned the good warrior princess proclaiming that she was too sentimental for her own good. As the warrior princess sat wrestling with her demons and trying to decided if Gabrielle was right or if maybe Callisto could be changed for the better.

And then the mob won out. It hurled a torch of fire into Callisto’s cell hoping to flush her out. Callisto relished in the idea that she could die the same violent death as did her family. She urged Xena to allow her to burn to death for it would be the fitting justice. If that were the fitting justice for Callisto then what would be a fitting justice for a warrior princess. A part of Xena wanted to let it all go within the flames, but she could not. Instead she reached for the keys to the cell releasing Callisto from the wrath of flames. Callisto knew Xena well for she had studied the warrior princess for years. She had escaped her the binds of her metal cuffs and as the warrior princess came to her rescue she fell into Callisto’s trap. Callisto knocked the warrior princess into the fire and then locked her away to burn to death.

Quickly Callisto ran out into the square hissing with vengeance as she screamed and jumped upon her horse once more. As she galloped out-of-town she swiped the unsuspecting bard and rode out-of-town having won this round of the duel. Xena narrowly escaped the flames flipping through the top of the prison ceiling. It was made of only straw which had allowed the burning flames to consume the jail vengefully. As Xena emerged from the jail a distraught Melos began to punish himself for his mistake. He realized that Gabrielle had been right. Forgiveness was the only answer and as Xena jumped upon her horse she reminded Melos that she had made the same mistake which had created Callisto. Then she rode on in the direction that Callisto had disappeared with Gabrielle.

Soon the helpless bard found herself hoisted high above the ground within Callisto’s camp. Callisto was basking within her glory knowing that she was on the verge of Xena’s destruction. Gabrielle was certain to gain the advantage knowing Xena could stand up to the darkness of Callisto. Callisto seemingly did not care if she was defeated in battle against Xena or not. She was certain that either way she would win. If she beat Xena in battle it would mean Xena’s death and if she was killed in a fierce battle by Xena it would allow her to haunt Xena within death for it was certain to unleash the demons within the warrior princess’s heart once more. It seemed that there was no escape for Xena’s heart.

And then the idiot Joxer somehow ended up at Callisto’s camp. He had been found sneaking around within the bushes by Callisto’s men. When he was asked by the blonde woman of his intentions at her camp he was left speechless and unprepared. Then Callisto asked him why he had failed at capturing the girl. He had no excuse only a fumbling of words. Callisto reminded him that it was she who had captured Gabrielle and that he had lost his chance at entry into her army. Joxer tried to declare that he had worked hard at breaking down the bard’s defenses, but Callisto only mocked him by commenting on his swollen nose. Then Callisto declared that there was one more thing he could do to prove his worth to her army. Joxer found himself delighted that Callisto was about to give him another chance to prove himself as a warrior. He was determined to succeed this time.

And so Callisto commanded to have the bard brought down to be killed. She asked Joxer to slice the throat of the irritating blonde from one ear to the other. Joxer reluctantly took the knife. Gabrielle realized that this may be her demise. She prepared for her death as she held her breath facing the determined idiot once more. This time she was unable to defend herself. Joxer realized as he looked into the bard’s eyes that he could not commit such an act. He tried desperately to talk his way out of it. He declared that there should be a better fate for the friend of the warrior princess. Joxer was certain that the warrior princess would be angry to find that the bard had been taken for a possible ransom. Yet Callisto wanted more than money. She wanted blood. Callisto wanted the bard’s blood no matter the consequences that followed. She shouted out for the kill harshly as Joxer shook in his boots.

He slowly took the knife and put his hand upon the bard’s shoulder. Joxer prepared to insert the knife into the helpless victim bound by ropes. She could not defend herself and he could see no real valor in killing the bard in this way. So Joxer refused as he threw down the knife. He could not kill the irritating blonde. This sent Callisto into a rage as she ripped her dagger from it sheath and approached Joxer. She walked about the idiot as he stood awaiting his own death. He chose to die rather than to kill the bard. Gabrielle feared more for his safety than her own. She was prepared to die, but hoped that Xena would arrive soon. Callisto’s vengeance was clearly out of control. The darkness rounded the kind-hearted Joxer as she glided the knife upon his exposed skin. She declared him to be noting more than a coward and an embarrassment to warriors. Then she commanded that he be chained up alongside the bard to await the arrival of the warrior princess. Callisto had a great emotionally charged theatrical prepared for her victims.

Soon the warrior princess did arrived to see the challenge which was presented before her. Callisto declared that it was time to find out who was truly the most skilled and the best warrior. She commanded her men to raise the helpless bard high above the camp into the air once again. And then she asked that a flame be lit to add time into the challenge. So the ropes which held the bard’s life were lit as they began to weaken with each passing moment. The warrior princess gathered great strength and focus from within as she prepared her action within her mind. She was quiet within the short moment of silent peace. And everyone heard the battle cry of the fair-haired Xena. Though her dark nemesis fought bravely she was still no match for our hero.   Desperate to save her friend the great warrior woman leaped into action. Xena began to climb one of the many ladders within Callisto’s camp. Suddenly her fair-haired dark nemesis leaped from her post above and kicked Xena’s ladder into two parts sending Xena crashing violently to the ground. Gabrielle called out to her friend worried for her safety. Yet the warrior princess rested the ladder into a bridge between the two sides of Callisto’s fortress. Callisto stood at the other end awaiting Xena’s next move. The warrior princess charged forth and was kicked down by the irritating blonde. Xena slid violently back toward the other side. And then she regained her strength as she jumped up into hand to hand combat with her dark nemesis.

She took Callisto’s furious kicks and punches until she could block them and then deliver her return assault. Callisto defeated in hand to hand combat flipped backward out of the path of Xena’s fury as Xena broke the ladder bridge in two with a powerful kick downward. Separated from the darkness she jumped across the way giving out her mighty battle cry and landed on a ladder parallel to her dark nemesis. She then began to race Callisto climbing to the top of the ladder in a competition. Callisto’s men tried to slow Xena down, but she defeated them throwing them to the ground as she made her way to the top of the fortress. Then the warrior princess paused showing her confidence to Callisto who was now fighting to keep up with Xena’s clever plan. The warrior princess then traveled across to the other side of the fortress using the ladder to spin across. Her battle cry could be heard again as Gabrielle’s hope rose within. She was determined to cheer the warrior princess onto victory over the darkness.

As Xena looked back Callisto matched her with the same spinning move across to the other side of the camp. But it was a trap for the ego of darkness. While Callisto was busy matching the skill of the warrior princess Xena began to build a rescuing device so that she could reach the bard. She did a half spin across on a second ladder and then shoved it together with another building a very large lever. Callisto paused with interest as she watched the warrior princess work. Yet the ropes still burned and time was running out for Gabrielle. Callisto continued to watch as Xena pulled down the final piece of the lever and spun across and then leapt kicking the ladder onto the base of the lever. Triumphantly the warrior princess flipped upon the lever with a confident loud battle cry.

She slowly scaled down the lever and pulled the other side up toward the helpless bard. Gabrielle could feel the rope weakening quickly as Xena concentrated and assured the bard that she would be there. Joxer shouted out the obvious making the bard more nervous. Then just as Xena was within reach of her rescue attempt Callisto flipped onto the other side of the lever and drew her sword. She declared with a bit of remorse that part of her darkness hoped that Xena would win this battle between her demons and her dark nemesis. Yet her light was not bright enough for she was overcome with her dark vengeance and declared that it was all over. Again the fair-haired Xena was heard screaming her vengeful battle cry as she plunged forward with her weapon toward the warrior princess. Yet Xena did not lose focus. Not even for a moment for she reacted drawing her chackram with one sudden movement. It floated gracefully from her grasp into the air slicing through the weakening rope which held the bard high up in the air.

Gabrielle began to fall as her heart thrust itself into her throat. The bard was certain that she was to meet her demise, but just when it seemed that Callisto had won the battle Xena flipped backwards onto the lever sending Callisto high up into the air as the bard landed softly upon the lever where Callisto once stood. Gabrielle found herself relieved as her heart pounded violently within her chest. The warrior princess slowly let the lever down to release Gabrielle from the danger. Callisto grabbed onto the burning rope above and awaited her demise. She was certain that she had blocked any chance of escaping the demons within the warrior princess. And though her first in command tried to save her she commanded him to allow her to die.

Just as Xena had lowered Gabrielle safely to the ground the rope snapped and Callisto laughed with the depths of evil coming from within. She was about to fall to her death until the warrior princess suddenly grabbed hold of the broken rope, and Xena had saved Callisto from a fate she most desired. Her own death leaving Callisto short of her goal. The irritating blonde groaned with despair for despite all that she had done she had still been defeated by the warrior princess. And so despite all of Callisto’s efforts she was made to face her own justice as Gabrielle found herself glad that Xena had been able to save her for justice’s sake. And so the woes of Callisto were no more as Xena and Gabrielle traveled onto continue the mission of the greater good and the end to the cycle of violence.