The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll# 53: Aphrodite’s Enchanted Scroll

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll #53:  Aphrodite’s Enchanted Scroll

October, 47 B.C.

     As Gabrielle’s next adventure began she and Xena found themselves passing by one of Aphrodite’s temples.  The sun was just about to set over the horizon just beyond the trees in the forest.  The bard had only met Aphrodite once and recalled Joxer the Mighty having become the innocent victim of Aphrodite’s rage over the loss of her temples to peace between two kingdoms.  It seemed ridiculous that the goddess of love would appear interested in Joxer, but perhaps it was because that despite his idoicy the goddess may have found him to be kind-hearted.   The bard expressed her thoughts about the goddess that she had always admired despite her spell over Joxer with the ringing bell, and inquired if Xena had ever met the goddess of love.  Xena responded that most of her dealings were always with Ares for Ares was only interested in war which was something Xena had been interested in for a long time before the bard.  In fact, he was still obsessed with the warrior princess even though she had clearly renounced her allegiance to him several times since traveling with Gabrielle and being converted to the path of light by Hercules.

       Gabrielle found that she was getting to know the god of war quite well herself; although, she was still very interested in the goddess of love.  The bard expressed to the warrior princess that she hoped to one day be in the presence of the goddess again.  Xena just scoffed at the idea realizing that the bard was idolizing Aphrodite, but Gabrielle didn’t see it that way.  The warrior princess pressed her opinion of the gods upon the bard stating that in her experience with any god there were always alterior motives.  Those motives were usually not in favor of humanity according to the warrior princess.  Then Xena proceeded to remind the bard that it was Aphrodite’s son Cupid whom had left baby Bliss unattended leading to the disaster with the Hestian virgins, and the warlord Draco in love with Gabrielle.  This was all brought up in order to prove her point about the gods and their intentions.  Gabrielle argued with Xena explaining that it wasn’t all Cupid’s fault, and that he had resolved the situation as soon as he was able to.  The bard also gleefully reminded Xena of her own uncontrollable lust toward Draco at the time.  Xena just rolled her eyes at the bard’s comment.  Gabrielle pressed her argument stating that Baby bliss was the real culprit as she reminded the warrior princess of the unpredictable nature of children at play.  The warrior princess moved away from the bard as if becoming disinterested in the conversation.  At first Gabrielle was a bit offended that her friend was now ignoring their debate and conversation about the gods.  Yet there was something else upon Aphrodite’s temple that had caught Xena’s eye.

       The bard followed the warrior princess up the steps of the temple to see what it was that had caught Xena’s gaze.  Xena appeared to be slightly disgusted at what she saw scrolled upon the temple doors.  Someone had written messages all over the front of Aphrodite’s temple proclaiming their worship of Xena the warrior princess.  There were several phrases and praises scrolled upon the walls and the doors.  Xena entered into Aphrodite’s temple and followed the scrolled messages.  Gabrielle read them as she followed the warrior princess inside the temple.  Many of the phrases were taken directly from the writings of her many scrolls about the warrior princess.  The bard found herself to be pleased that so many people had either read or heard of them.  Xena was not impressed and was uninterested in the fame that the bard had seemingly created around the warrior princess and her deeds.  Xena suspected that Aphrodite would most certainly be offended by the defacing of her temple through the scrolled worship of Xena.  The warrior princess expressed her displeasure certain that Aphrodite, like all of the other gods she had ever encountered, would find a way to get her retribution against Xena.  Gabrielle argued that the goddess of love’s retribution couldn’t possibly be worse than Ares’s use of the furies against the warrior princess for defeating him in his bid to rid the world of Hercules.

      As the sun set Xena decided that the two friends would set up camp in the forest just down the road from the temple.  It was obvious that Xena was still quite mentally exhausted from her battle to win back her mind and her sanity from Ares.  All the warrior princess really wanted to do was relax her mind and not strain it upon any topic beyond that of the bliss of a good night’s rest.  As the two friends sat by the camp fire upon their sprawled out bed rolls, Gabrielle pulled out of her saddle bag the most glorious object.  It was a fresh scroll.  As the bard held it up she took a whiff of the empty new parchment she had just purchased back in Amphipolis before they had left Xena’s mom behind for their next adventure.  The bard proclaimed how much she loved the moment of bliss that she felt just as she was about to begin writing a new scroll.  The warrior princess, as usual, was not paying too much attention to the bard’s creative rant as she continued concentrating on making repairs to her leather accessories.  Despite this Gabrielle went on to describe the feel, of a clean, yet empty scroll.  She looked down at the new parchment as if the idea of it being so perfectly clean and empty was an inspiration with in itself.  It seemed as if the bard felt a burst of creativity coming from within herself as she went through the familiar ritual as she crinkled it.  Gabrielle loved that sound it made the first time she would open a new scroll.  Again the bard held the scroll under her nose and took another deep whiff of the freshness of a new story just bursting from within herself and the scroll.  It was a certain connection that would occur and it would drive her to write from with in the depths of her soul.  Gabrielle loved the untouched scent of her new story just waiting to be told.  The scroll was already almost a living breathing entity even with out words upon it.

     Then she offered her new scroll to Xena.  The warrior princess gazed up momentarily from her chore in repairing her leather accessories.  Xena appeared to be slightly curious about the bard’s ritual and process, but not enough to want to partake in it.  As the bard held out her new scroll to the warrior princess Xena politely declined the experience stating that from her viewpoint the parchment just smelled like a piece of musty old leather.  Gabrielle expected nothing less of the warrior princess.  Though it wasn’t a true insult, Gabrielle decided to take Xena’s opinion and turn it to her advantage explaining that for those who were not creative like herself it certainly would smell of musty old leather.  Then Gabrielle turned to her fresh scroll and began to bring it to life as she spoke the words she was about to imprint upon it out loud.  Xena barked at Gabrielle pleading with her not to write another story about Xena and her adventures with Gabrielle.  The warrior princess wanted to know if Gabrielle ever became weary of writing about every thing that Xena did.  The warrior princess suggested that Gabrielle create new characters and new emotional images as she cut the loose thread with her teeth that had been caught upon her breast plate.

     Gabrielle was slightly surprised at Xena’s suggestion or even that the warrior princess had a suggestion about the bard’s writing at all.  The bard inquired of Xena intrigued and wondered if it was fiction that the warrior princess was suggesting that she try.  Xena looked to Gabrielle and with a slight nod of her head affirmed that indeed it was fiction that she thought the bard should write.  Gabrielle could see that Xena was walking a fine line with the bard’s creative passions in suggesting such an idea.  It was as if the warrior princess was afraid of what the bard might think of the idea that Xena would want to alter how Gabrielle chose to express her writings.  Gabrielle took the moment of open sharing with the warrior princess and decided that it was a new break through.  For the first time Xena appeared to be just slightly interested in something outside of herself.  The warrior princess was genuinely interested in what Gabrielle might be doing with in her creative process.  The bard decided to respond with a positive comeback.  She expressed to the warrior princess that indeed she had thought about trying fiction before, but had to admit to her friend that she wasn’t so confident about her ability to create her own living, breathing, fictional characters.  Gabrielle wondered if Xena really respected her creative talents enough to believe in the bard’s potential.  The warrior princess pressed the bard to go ahead and try the idea of a fictional universe, but she asked that the bard do it quietly instead of out loud.  At that point, Xena had shared about all she was willing to share with in Gabrielle’s creative process.  With that Xena laid her breast plate and leather accessories aside, rolled over and declared to the bard good-night.

     Despite Xena’s request that Gabrielle experience her creative process quietly, Gabrielle could not do it with out telling her most intimate story out loud.  It was how she had begun telling her stories as a child in the taverns back in Podedia.  It was the way she would always write her stories upon the parchment.  She had a need to express her inner voice and passions out-loud.  There was no other way.  As Gabrielle began her next story she spoke Xena’s name out loud.  Xena chimed in suggesting that the bard make someone else the hero in her story this time.  Gabrielle paused as she was about to put her first words onto the new scroll.  She looked over to Xena who was lying down snuggling up within her bed roll.  The bard knew that Xena was only trying to force the bard to take her advice and to stop writing such wonderful and popular stories about the warrior princess.  The bard glanced back down to her scroll deciding that Xena’s idea was not such a bad one.  Gabrielle could still write a truthful, heart-felt story without Xena.  In fact, Gabrielle could write the story about the lone warrior Gabrielle.  And so that is how “The Quill Is Mightier” became inspired, and its power became enchanting.  Gabrielle found herself to be enjoying the idea of writing fiction for the first time.  The words just flowed from her mind, and soul like never before, but after only a few lines the bard found herself to be feeling a deep sleep coming upon her.

       “Suddenly, the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with a jerk as five barbarians rode out of the woods” toward camp.  The battling bard could feel the ground shaking beneath her as the hooves of their horses pounded violently upon the ground.  Gabrielle shouted out to Xena who was apparently still soundly sleeping.  It was the opposite of what would normally happen in this scenario.  Despite that Gabrielle did not think, but she jumped up into action as the barbarians approached.  Gabrielle jumped up onto a rock to get a better vantage point of the barbarians as they approached.  She awaited the warrior princess to choose a striking position of defense upon the battlefield against the barbarians, but Xena did not flip into action.  Gabrielle looked back toward the camp and shouted out for Xena to wake up again.  The barbarians were getting dangerously closer.  Gabrielle suddenly realized that she was going to have to take on the barbarians alone to defend the seemingly unconscious warrior princess.  Quickly the bard turned to face the barbarians and with out a thought flipped into action.  As the battling bard flipped over the on coming barbarian leader she kicked him off of his horse.  He fell behind her and his horse ran toward the camp.  Some how the bard was also able to knock the other four barbarians off of their horses in what seemed like an instant.  Her move was just like that of Xena.  It was amazing and soon Gabrielle realized that she was Xena and just as good.

      Despite that Gabrielle still needed some help.  This was five barbarians against one battling bard.  Gabrielle shouted out to Xena again for some assistance in the battle.  As the battling bard awaited Xena she flipped into action again.  “Twirling her trusty staff then jumping upon it she delivered kicks of such fury” flipping across the battlefield back toward camp “deflecting the thrust of a barbarian sword with her mighty abs.”  From below, underneath the bed roll emerged an eerie sounding scream.  It was Joxer terrified of the sudden interruption of his slumber.  Gabrielle suddenly rose up from her deflection of the barbarian attack upon Joxer and head-butted him into submission.  Gabrielle felt the agonizing pain echoing through her skull as she grabbed her forehead attempting to sooth the power of her uncontrollable defense against the barbarians.  The barbarian sword thrust high up into the sky and then fell back down upon the earth again knocking down the barbarian leader from behind.  As Gabrielle began to recover from the excruciating pain in her head she heard the barbarians shout out that they were retreating for the power of the battling bard had been too much for them to handle alone.  The bard looked out across the forest and watched them ride away in an attempt to escape her  new-found warrior wrath.

      Gabrielle’s adrenalin was coursing through her veins like never before.  She felt the high of the aftermath of her amazing battle and subsequent lone victory over the barbarians.  Joxer shouted out against the barbarians a threatening word of warning as he found his way to his feet.  Gabrielle turned to him with in her excitement and asked him if he had just seen all that had transpired.  The battling bard was proud of the back flips that she had just effortlessly been able to do.  As she was coming down from the warrior high she realized that there was something unusual about the fact that she had just done something that she had never been physically able to do before.  She had never even attempted to practice a back flip before this moment.  Joxer inquired about Gabrielle’s ab armor, but there was no armor.  It was just the bard’s mighty abs that had saved Joxer from certain death by barbarian sword.  Gabrielle began to find herself deconstructing what had just happened.  It had all happened so fast and with out a thought.  Xena was no where to be found.  Gabrielle had no idea where those barbarians had come from, and what was even more strange to her was the fact that Joxer was standing before her.  There had been no reason for him to be there.  Gabrielle and Xena had not sent for him, and what he had been doing sleeping in Xena’s bed roll made absolutely no sense to the bard.  Joxer was most certainly not sneaky enough to make it into their camp without either one of them knowing of his presence.

     Suddenly, Gabrielle realized that everything that had just occurred seemed eerily familiar in some way.  She dashed over to her bed roll and picked up her new scroll from its resting place and began to read it out loud.  Moving to her feet Gabrielle continued to read until she realized that everything that had just happened had been written upon her new scroll.  Joxer inquired of the bard asking her if what she said was true.  Of course he was laughing the whole time.  He didn’t believe that it was possible as he began to let out boisterous laughter.  Gabrielle realized that her staff was still drilled tightly into the ground from her onslaught against the barbarians.  She struggled to pull it out, but it felt very hot.  The staff burned to the touch as Gabrielle yanked it out of the ground and then threw it at Joxer.  Joxer caught the scalding staff and discovered what the bard had done with her fury and power.  He stated the obvious back to the bard who decided that it was time to write something special for Joxer to do.  “As the last of the barbarians fled the scene Joxer took the staff of Gabrielle unable to control himself.  He hit himself once, twice, and then three times on the head with the staff only to knock himself off of his feet falling onto the ground.”  Joxer was surprised by what he had just done and inquired of the bard why he had done that to himself.  Gabrielle’s suspicion had been proven to be correct as she responded to the idiot that she had written that Joxer would do that to himself.  She actually felt a little sorry about it, but the regret only lasted for a fleeting moment.  The bard proudly declared that she could write anything and it would most certainly come true.  Despite having proven her new theory she was still a little surprised at the power of the scroll that she had just begun to write the night before.  Next came a new thought.  The bard realized that she had the power to change the entire world just by the words that she would be inspired to write upon her scroll.

       With that the bard invited Joxer to walk down the path with her toward the nearest village.  They could go there and have a feast for breakfast.  Joxer appeared confused and in a bit of a trance, but he just blindly followed the bard as she continued to express that she now held the power of the world within her hands.  She was certain that Xena would be very proud when she had returned from her fishing trip that Gabrielle had written into the scroll.  Gabrielle could not have given Xena a greater gift of solace than a fishing trip.  Especially after suffering through the wrath of Ares.  Joxer interrupted Gabrielle’s train of thought wondering why Gabrielle was so certain that Xena had gone fishing.  Gabrielle had to explain to him that she had written it on her scroll so that was obviously where Xena was.  For a moment there was silence and then Joxer grabbed the scroll from Gabrielle and wanted to know what it was that Gabrielle had written that had brought him to her.  Joxer verbalized what he assumed Gabrielle had written by explaining that he had the heart of a lion and the soul of a warrior.  Gabrielle found that she wasn’t even exactly certain how that happened, but was certain that her scroll would reveal all.

     Joxer then began to read the scroll out loud from the beginning.  As he attempted to read it Gabrielle realized that Joxer wasn’t the most literate.  He mispronounced the word “fishing” and Gabrielle had to correct him.  Then he continued on reading slowly until he found himself to the phrase he described as “funny.”  As Joxer licked his lips within his confusion, the bard felt that he wasn’t completely wrong in thinking that the sentence which read “Gabrielle awoke with a jerk,” was strange and didn’t quite make sense.  There was nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence, but when Gabrielle had written the sentence she had intended it to be more of a description about the lone warrior’s state in the moment rather than a description of an unmentioned character.  The sentence had manifested itself to be more literal when it brought Joxer.  Gabrielle was waiting for the moment when Joxer would come to the same realization that she had already arrived at.  She could have written it stating that “the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with Joxer,” but instead the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with a “jerk.”

     The idiot didn’t disappoint deciding that he must have come to Gabrielle’s camp on his own.  He quickly lost interest in the said power of the scroll, rolled it up, and handed it back to the bard.  He wanted to know what they were going to do next.  Gabrielle repeated his question back to him with zest.  She then asked him what they wouldn’t do.  The lone warrior Gabrielle grabbed Joxer by the arm and began leading him down the road with her.  She was really beginning to like the idea of embracing a side kick and eager student of her very own.  The warrior bard expressed to her student that stories could be anything they wanted them to be and that happy endings could truly happen.  As she continued on down the mentoring path with her student Gabrielle noticed that two sisters were approaching them.  The appeared to be traveling with somber faces.  She greeted them inquiring if indeed they were the sisters of Guya.  Simultaneously they answered with a gracious affirmation of their identity as the bowed their heads upon approaching.  The bard was now ready to demonstration to her student the power of her mighty quill.  She then she inquired of the sisters of Guya if there was anything that she and her new side kick could do to help them.  The younger, taller sister explained that the two of them were out and about collecting goods for their orphanage.  They were collecting goods they could sell to raise funds at their shop in the nearby town.  As the young sister continued the older shorter sister’s eyes lit up as she looked to Joxer stating that his scabbard would fetch a very high price.

      As the older sister reached out for Joxer the jerk did not disappoint.  He was certain that she was talking about and reaching out for his manhood which he hadn’t realized until this moment was standing high and proud.  He glanced down and began to laugh and smile with a slight bit of embarressment.  The sister appeared slightly confused at his response not realizing what he was thinking was not the same thing she was referring to as he explained that he would not give it up for just anyone.  Despite that he was a man whore and expressed that he would be willing to take any pass at him for the sisters of Guya.  Gabrielle quickly intervened clarifying for the idiot that it was not his manhood, but his scabbard.  Joxer quickly became less excited by the prospect of giving something up for the sisters of Guya.  He explained that he couldn’t give away his scabbard for their cause because it was the only thing that his father had ever given him.  Gabrielle could relate to sentimental value.  For a moment she thought of the large Trojan horse that she had once wished she could have taken with her.  The older sister stated that it was unfortunate because it would have been a hot commodity back in Caucus.  Joxer continued explaining that he just couldn’t give it away as the bard realized that she could resolve the embarressing moment with just a few strokes of her mighty quill.

         “After realizing the power of the scroll, and the will of a mighty quill, Joxer and Gabrielle met the sisters of Guya.  The sisters were seeking a donation from Joxer to their orphanage.  But Joxer would not give up his scabbard because it had been given to him by his father.  And so the bard Gabrielle wrote her magic and suddenly a kind man came from the woods offering his own gift, a kinsman sword.  The sisters of Guya were delighted to receive such a wonderful gift.  And so the good that was to be done by the will of the mighty quill had only just begun.”

       Gabrielle wrote the above verse explaining to the sisters as she wrote that she was certain that they were about to receive a very nice surprise.  The power of the mighty quill went into action almost instantly as both the “kind man” and the “kinsman sword” arrived right on command.  As the younger sister held the magnificent weapon in her hand the older sister could barely contain her excitement at the gift.  She raved about how that one singular gift could fund their orphanage for many years to come.  The man vanished quickly down the road as the sisters found themselves to be utterly delighted to receive such a fine gift.  Gabrielle then showed Joxer the verse that she had just written proving to the idiot once and for all that the bard had the power to change the world.   The younger sister exclaimed that it was a miracle and with that the bard realized that her work with the sister’s of Guya was finished.  The lone warrior bard grabbed the jerk by his chest-plate and proceeded to drag him on down the road with her to the nearest village tavern.

     “The day went on as Gabrielle and Joxer entered a nearby tavern to have breakfast.  Out of the kindness of his heart the tavern owner offered to Gabrielle and all who were in the tavern free food to eat and drinks on the house.  And with that statement all who were at the tavern drank and ate joyfully together in the spirit of peace.”  That was the bard’s plan all along.  As the tavern keeper served the lone warrior and her sidekick breakfast Joxer began to pull out his bag of money.  Gabrielle held up her hand and pulled out her mighty quill explaining to him that there was no longer any need for his money.  Then she looked up to the tavern keeper and inquired of him how much they needed to pay for their meals.  The tavern keeper seemingly fumbled for the words for just a moment, but then declared that it would be free and that the drinks would be “on the house.”  The bard gleefully repeated exactly what she had written and exactly what had been declared by the tavern keeper.  As she finished her statement the tavern ceiling began to drip, but then pour down upon the tavern.  Suddenly, the bard realized that perhaps she needed to be a bit more careful in how she worded things because it seemed that the will of the quill was not always what she had intended.  Despite this minor set back beer seemingly rained down every where and Joxer happily grabbed his mug and began to fill it up and drink up all of the abundance.  The jerk then rolled over upon the table and drank like a fish.

      As Gabrielle finished her glorious plate of abundant food most of the tavern patrons had become inebriated.  Of course, abundant beer was still raining down upon them every where as patrons were passing out left and right.  No matter, the bard was ready for more action with her mighty quill and to do good out in the world.  She beckoned her student to come along with her for there was no time to waste as she rolled up her scroll.  Unfortunately, as the lone warrior and her sidekick began to make their way out of the tavern one of the drunken patrons began an argument with the tavern keeper who attempted to kick him out for drinking more than his share of raining beer.  The patron punched the tavern keeper and the bard commented that it was always that one drunk who would find a way to spoil to good drink for all.

     At that point the tavern began to erupt into a massive bar fight as Joxer commented that there was definitely an army of drunken patrons to contend with.  He then stated that at least things couldn’t get any worse than an all out brawl.  The bard attempted to defend her mighty quill explaining that it was not the intention for her story to unfold that way.  As the two companions turned to leave they were taken by surprise by the bold entrance into the tavern of the five barbarians that the lone warrior Gabrielle had defeated single-handed earlier in the day.  The barbarian leader expressed his displeasure with having been made a fool by the lone warrior’s amazing fighting skills.  He pointed his sword into the direction of the bard declaring that he and his vicious ugly men were barbarians.  Again the bard chose to battle against the barbarians with her mighty quill as she pulled it out and wrote feverishly upon her scroll.

     “Then the five barbarians returned for Gabrielle, but they didn’t stay long for they decided to go west instead.”   Although the barbarian seemed confused for a moment he declared his next order of business to be to lead his men west.  Gabrielle looked to Joxer and was pleased at how seemingly easy it was to change any given moment.  As the barbarians exited the tavern and ran out to jump upon their horses to ride west one of the bar patrons exclaimed that they would be heading directly into the path of the sisters of Guya orphanage.  “But the sister’s of Guya orphanage would be in their path so they turned east.”  Though the barbarians suddenly shifted their destination from west to east, it did not matter because the drunken female bar patron then declared that the barbarians were headed toward the village of Echinecea.  The sisters of Guya and their orphanage were now safe, but the innocent villagers of Echinecea were in grave danger.  “The barbarians disappeared from the land!”  Again the female bar patron exclaimed with alarm that the barbarians were now headed for the nearest port where they would most certainly kill all who sailed the seas.  Gabrielle realized that she had to come up with a better plan.  The bard continued to verbalize her thoughts as she wrote.  “The barbarians went to the caves and fell into a deep sleep.”  Joxer piped up a small word to the wise wondering if all of this sudden chaos surrounding them was all of the good that Gabrielle had planned on doing.  The bard found herself to be frustrated and experience extremely bad writer’s block.  With that she tossed her usual weapon of choice, the mighty quill, and the scroll of power into Joxer’s chest and declared that she refused to write another word upon the scroll.  With that the bard walked out of the tavern of chaos that she had somehow created.

       Joxer quickly followed behind attempting to comfort his friend feeling a little guilty for prodding her about her writer’s block.  Gabrielle accepted his apology knowing that it was really her terrible writing that had caused all of the chaos to begin with.  As they walked through the village she talked through her writer’s block with Joxer explaining that normally her writing is much more vivid and much better.  It just didn’t make sense what had happened to her creative talents.  For the first time it seemed that there was something missing from her writing.  Joxer chimed in that perhaps her writing in this case was a little too vivid.  Perhaps it needed a bit more work.  Joxer suggested that Gabrielle should edit it.  That idea sparked the bard’s mind and she realized that editing was exactly what her new magic scroll needed.  Her faith in her writing had been restored.  There was hope again.  The lone warrior Gabrielle had now discovered the simple power of the scroll.  She threw her arm around her student and declared that with careful editing she could easily end hunger, disease, and even war.  That statement verbalized instantly inspired Gabrielle’s next words.

     “Then the will of mortals won out…and war lost all its power.”  Instantly the sounds of a deep screaming male voice came falling out of the sky down upon the village.  It was Ares, the god of war.  He was in a panic as he struggled to harness his immortal power.  He was confused and upset for it seemed that his powers were now non-existent.  He then looked up and noticed that he had been dropped down next to the bard.  Ares glared at Gabrielle instantly realizing what had just happened to him.  He charged at Gabrielle in anger exclaiming that his new predicament was the bard’s fault.  The bard was confused attempting to defend herself from his accusation.  He was right, but he was wrong because Gabrielle had not intended her use of the word “war” to mean Ares.  Despite that she knew she had the solution and that she could fix the problem.  She had to think fast because the enraged Ares was about to strike.  “The force that enchanted the scroll lost its powers.”  And then the sound of a woman’s voice screaming fell from the sky and dropped into the village landing upon the former god of war.  Gabrielle found this to be very intriguing because the woman who had fallen from the sky was none other than the goddess of love Aphrodite.

      The bard began to suspect that there was more to her magic scroll and her mighty quill than she had previously recognized.  Something was definitely out of place.  Ares was buried underneath the pink flowing gown of the love goddess who was nearly knocked unconscious by her fall.  Ares barked at her inquiring if her solution of punishment against Gabrielle was to give her powers of destiny.  The former god of war had a few choice words of his own to describe Gabrielle which were not at all flattering, but interesting none-the-less.  Aphrodite responded in frustration that she had not given Gabrielle powers of destiny, but only enchanted a scroll.  The former love goddess pressed Ares reminding him that there was no reason for him to be surprised because it was Ares himself whom had instructed her to act against Gabrielle’s uncontrollable writings.  Ares rose up onto his elbows and explained himself to his sister again explaining that what he really wanted was to get Xena out of the way.  Aphrodite defended her actions reminding Ares that enchanting the scroll worked in at least getting the warrior princess out of the way.  However, it was not expected that Ares would lose all of his powers.

      At this point the bard decided that she would interrupted this little conspiracy conversation just to clarify what she had just heard.  She repeated that Aphrodite had enchanted her scroll with the intention of harming Xena as an inquiry.  Love and War glared  as the looked to the bard and then back at each other.  Then Aphrodite explained that Ares had only been using her to get what he wanted for himself.  He was indeed the master manipulator having been successful at turning love against the world.  Aphrodite rose to her feet and continued to explain to Gabrielle the situation.  She stated that he had an army somewhere in the valley that was ready to reign down upon every one and start a new war.  Ares simply wanted Xena out of the way so he had manipulated Aphrodite into becoming mad at the bard.  Gabrielle realized that in a way, Aphrodite was also a victim of her brother’s wrath.  She deduced that Ares was probably even the one who had convinced some young weak-minded children to deface Aphrodite’s temple in order to goad her into becoming mad at the bard.  Gabrielle was touched by both Aprhodite’s heart-felt confession of her crime and Ares’s interest in her scrolls.  He must have read at least a few of them otherwise he would not have known what to tell those vandals to write.

      Ares rose to his feet and badgered his sister patronizing her for figuring out his real intentions.  Aphrodite reminded her brother that though she was light at heart she was not stupid.  Then Aphrodite looked to Gabrielle and suggested a simple solution to the problem.  She politely asked the bard to just write upon the enchanted scroll in order to restore Aphrodite’s powers.  Once that happened Aphrodite could simply zap the scroll and everything would be normal again.  Gabrielle could see that Aphrodite was not malicious like Ares.  Indeed she had her selfish side, but she was playful and more interested in delighting herself with the pleasures of love than in reigning war down upon the land.  Ares also chimed in politely explaining that he needed his powers to written back in first so he could rejoin the waiting army and give them the signal that Xena was no longer in the valley.  Aphrodite reminded her brother that he wasn’t helping his cause by openly declaring that he wanted to rejoin his waiting army.  Ares tried again.  This time he promised that he would not allow the army to attack this time as long as Gabrielle gave him back his powers.  Aphrodite laughed at her brother knowing just how ridiculous a lie he was openly telling.  Ares took a jab at her reminding her that she could no longer fly now that she was as powerless as he was.

      Joxer finally opened his mouth again and addressed Aphrodite.  He was sure that if Aphrodite undid the power of the enchanted scroll then it would bring Xena back and the army would be too afraid to attack the valley.  Gabrielle thought for a moment and then looked to Joxer declaring that indeed what he had just said made sense.  It was a rare occurrence, but sometimes even Joxer had a good idea and that was what was needed in the moment.  “Aphrodite is as she was before.”  Instantly, Aphrodite’s powers were restored as she disappeared from her spot in the village and then suddenly there was the sound of a woman’s voice screaming raining down upon the village from the sky.  Again Aphrodite fell down upon Ares knocking him to the ground.  Joxer declared “she is as she was before.”  Then he stated in a matter of fact tone that it was definitely all in the wording.  At this point Gabrielle was afraid to write anymore.  She just wanted the chaos to end and for every thing to be back to the way it was before she ever began writing “The Quill is Mightier.”  Gabrielle’s next idea was that just maybe if she could fill up the scroll with random characters completely then maybe the curse upon them could end.  Aphrodite looked up at the bard from her place on top of the frustrated Ares and was offended that Gabrielle now viewed her gift of the enchanted scroll as a curse.  Aphrodite and Ares rose from the ground to their feet and Aphrodite continued explaining that once the scroll was filled up that was where it would end.  Whatever was written on it would stay the way it was as Gabrielle had written it.

       Joxer chimed in again and stated that all Gabrielle needed to write was simply that “everything is as it was before.”  Aphrodite sarcastically replied to the idot explaining that Joxer’s chosen phrase would not work.  All that would happen in that instance would be that every person on the earth would go out of existence as they were before they were born into the world and the gods would go back to their infant origins.  Aphrodite then inquired if the bard had written Joxer into her scroll.  She appeared to be annoyed by the idiot.  Gabrielle attempted to cover her mistake in calling him a jerk, but as she handed the scroll to Ares he read it out loud, “Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.”  Aphrodite laughed delighted at the brilliant double meaning of the word.  Ares nodded his head and Gabrielle carefully looked to Joxer hoping that his naive mind would still be unable to decipher what the enchanted scroll had done.  Joxer did not understand the double meaning because he didn’t understand why everyone thought waking up was such a funny phrase.

      Then it dawned on Gabrielle that the only real way to solve this dilema was to deconstruct everything she had written thus far.  He first order of business would be to bring Xena back.  It was the first thing she had written upon the scroll.  As Gabrielle stood flanked by both Ares and Aphrodite attempting to solve the riddle Ares had a brilliant idea.  His inspiration was, “Xena rides in at the head of an army.”  He was absolutely certain of the beauty of that phrase.  Gabrielle reminded Ares that it sounded great out loud, but when she put it on paper Xena might ride in heading up an army of ants or children, or even harpes.  Joxer interrupted reminding everyone that a description of the army and of Xena was they key.  A burst of inspiration flowed through Gabrielle’s soul as she jumped with excitement.  “Suddenly, there was the arrival of the woman.”  This was Gabrielle’s initial inspired creative thought interrupted by Ares’s creativity which included “leather.”  Gabrielle agreed that the leather should be at least mentioned.  She also thought it might be important to mention that Xena had black hair and that she carried a chakram.  Joxer interrupted the creative process as he was hunched over propping up the enchanted scroll upon his back.  He wanted to know if anyone really understood what Xena’s magnificent weapon really was.  He wasn’t even certain that the scroll would know what a chakram was.  Again, Gabrielle realized that Joxer did have a point.  Then she decided that Xena should be carrying her whip in order to clarify it for the scroll.

     Gabrielle suddenly moved to write the next phrase, “Suddenly, there was the arrival of the woman wearing leather carrying the whip of Xena.”  Just as the quill marked the last word on upon the parchment the sound of a whip whirred in through the air.  Gabrielle and her creative comrades ducked to miss being smacked by its fury.  Ares demanded to know who the woman with black hair and leather was that now stood before them with Xena’s whip.  Gabrielle couldn’t believe who she had brought with the enchanted scroll until she explained to Ares that Minya was a friend from the village of Laurel that she had Xena had met when fighting the giant Gareth and Zagrious’s army.  The bard suddenly remembered that the whip was a poor choice for the enchanted scroll because Gabrielle had traded Xena’s whip for a frying pan in that adventure.  Ares was clearly disgusted, disappointed, and frustrated all at the same time.  The enchanted scroll certainly had a sense of humor.  Minya expressed her confusion not knowing why she had suddenly arrived in this random village, but she was ready for action none-the-less for Xena’s whip never left her side.  As Minya approached Gabrielle she wanted to know who all of Gabrielle’s companions were.  Gabrielle introduced Ares, Aphrodite, and Joxer.  It seemed necessary.  Joxer was now standing next to Minya pleased to be acquainted with a new dark female warrior in leather, but Minya was much more interested in Ares.  Minya showered Ares with praise and worship ecstatic to be in his presence.  Ares was pleased to be openly worshipped as was Aprhodite who immediately received praise from Minya also.  Then Minya looked to Joxer and apologized for not really having ever heard of him.

     Gabrielle realized that things were becoming a lot more complicated with each and every word transcribed onto the scroll.  She decided that maybe it was time to go back to the tavern, relax, and grab something for her now empty stomach.  A full stomach might help the bard in being able to focus a bit better.  Minya was pleased by the idea as was Joxer, and when the five comrades arrived the chaos was still ensuing.  Beer still rained down from the ceiling and the food was still free.  At least that was something good that was happening.  And the longer the five of them sat at the table drinking, and eating, the less attractive the former gods became to their new found fan club.  Aphrodite was enjoying the experience of being mortal within her drunken stooper.  But then Minya chimed in that despite her boyfriend Hower being an extreme fan of the beautiful goddess, Minya had decided that she would go back to Laurel and share with him how plain and dirty and mortal Aphrodite had become.   Ares found Minya’s wit to be quite amusing while Aphrodite wasn’t so pleased to be described as dirty as a wagon wheel.  Both Ares and Minya were also drunk, but they were happy drunks.

     The bard had decided that she would stay sober in order to solve this problem with the enchanted scroll.  At least everyone else was entertained enough to stay out of her creative process.  Joxer was attempting to find the best way to capture the been falling from the ceiling.  He had built a contraption which fit upon his head and was trying to determine the best way to make it work for him.  Gabrielle couldn’t believe the absolute disaster her writer’s block had become.  She was supposed to be the great bard with the wonderful stories.  Now it seemed she wasn’t capable of writing a happy ending without creating it poorly.  Joxer snapped out of his obsession with beer and looked to Gabrielle.  He scolded her for thinking that all of her stories were bad.  Joxer expressed himself openly stating that he thought most of her stories were good and not everything always turned to disaster when she wrote them.  Then Joxer reminded Gabrielle that the sister’s of Guya had received a happy ending.  Just as Gabrielle was beginning to think that Joxer was very kind the sisters of Guya arrived in the tavern and told the tale of how they had sold their kinsman sword for a king’s ransom to the warlord Philiodos.  Gabrielle looked across the tavern to see the warlord gorging himself on the free produce he had collected as he ate the fruit right off of his sword.  Joxer was content with that knowing that the sisters of Guya orphanage was funded for many years to come.  Gabrielle was embarressed because she knew that now a warlord was well-armed with an amazing weapon.

     Gabrielle attempted to correct her most recent known literary mistake.  “The woman was not Xena, but her friend Minya of Laurel.  Xena goes to a number one friend.  Xena rejoins the woman who brought her new life.  And now Xena returns from her journey.”  Suddenly, a man dressed in golden armor burst through the doors of the tavern and declared Philiodos to be a dead man.  Gabrielle looked up from her writing and realized that somehow that kinsman sword belonged to the man now standing in the door threatening to kill.  The bard jumped up from her place at the table and demanded that the man in the door wait just one moment before acting upon his desire.   His attention was redirected and the bard asked him what his name was.  He stated that it was Scaberus and then wanted to know the reason for the bard’s interest.  “Scaberus the man whom had offered his kinsman sword to the sisters of Guya arrived at the tavern, and decided that he too would go to the caves with the barbarians to get some deep sleep.”  Then Scaberus made his declaration and exited the tavern for his new destination.  Ares looked across the tavern to Gabrielle and reminded the bard that the caves would eventually become dangerously full.  Gabrielle did not care too much for his comment.  It was stating the obvious, but it was all that she could come up with in order to keep the chaos at a distance until she could figure out a real literary solution.

     As Gabrielle left the tavern her dismal entourage followed.  Her endless creative frustrations were growing within.  The bard was barely able to contain her anger at the situation.  She openly decided that instead of writing in the scroll that Xena should come to them perhaps the solution would be to go out to the nearby lakes and streams in a search to find Xena themselves.  The bard guessed maybe it was a trout stream since Xena’s favorite fish was trout, but then again, it could be any body of water from the Strymon to the Agean.  Who knew exactly where Gabrielle had sent Xena.  It could take years to find her.  Gabrielle threw down her scroll upon the table outside the tavern and walked off.  She couldn’t handle the pressure any more.  It was too much.  As Gabrielle hoped that she might be able to find Xena somewhere fishing nearby the next verse found its way upon the unattended enchanted scroll.

    “A warrior Joxer the Mighty,

     asked a boon from the God Aphrodite,

     and what a surprise he saw,

     but love’s eyes three times…

Gabrielle had only gone back into the tavern to retrieve her staff that she had almost left behind, and when she found her way back out side to rejoin her companions there before her was something horrific.  Three naked Gabrielle’s were dancing in the middle of the town on top of a veranda.  They were intriguing yet quite an embarressment to see a reflection of oneself three times.  Gabrielle then looked to Joxer who was holding the quill in his hand.  Gabrielle suddenly realized that somehow Joxer had written Gabrielle naked into the enchanted scroll.  The bard was furious with Joxer.  She ripped the scroll off of the table and looked to see what it was that Joxer had written.  He attempted to explain that he was only intending to edit the scroll a little.  As Gabrielle read out loud Joxer’s attempt at a limerick.  Joxer explained that he had a little trouble filling in that last line and inquired if Gabrielle had any ideas on how to finish it.  Gabrielle could barely contain her anger as it boiled from the depths of her soul.  It wasn’t the kind of anger one feels when they have a lust for blood.  Instead it was extreme frustration and embarressment.  Gabrielle grabbed Joxer by his chest plate and dragged him up close to her.  She whispered an angry inquiry asking of him what “love’s eyes” had to do with her.  Gabrielle feared the worst as she ran through how to solve the new problem of three naked Gabrielle’s dancing and running around in the streets.

As Joxer fumbled for an answer to his riddle Gabrielle thought that perhaps it was Aphrodite’s eyes that Joxer had been looking at in the moment that he had written those words upon Aphrodite’s enchanted scroll.  Then that didn’t quite make sense.  Unless it was Aphrodite’s eyes that were looking in the direction of Gabrielle in the moment when the thought was inspired for the limerick.  Aprhodite must have fed Joxer those words who only transcribed what Aphrodite had told him to.  Joxer was in worship of the goddess and she enjoyed his admiration.  That made sense to the bard.  Joxer confirmed the bard’s thought laughing nervously as he instructed Gabrielle to send the naked Gabrielle’s away to the end line of the limerick,” three Gabrielle’s to the caves go nighty.”  Of course Joxer the man whore was in no hurry to send the girls away.  Gabrielle wrestled the quill from his grasp as he and everyone else continued to stare at the spectacle both he and Aphrodite had created.

The day had been truly exhausting not only for the bard, but for everyone else within her company that the scroll had brought along.  Gabrielle led everyone back to camp hoping that maybe Xena would return from fishing on her own.  The next morning came and the lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with an necklace upon her chest.  She was still half sleepying as she rose up from her slumber to get a better look at the unexpected surprise.  From behind she heard Joxer’s voice hoping that she would like the gift.  The bard was flattered that Joxer had given her a gift.  She accepted it stating that it was a beautiful gift.  The bard was not certain why Joxer would just go out and buy her a necklace.  Joxer explained that he had bought it to make-up and to apologize for writing the three naked Gabrielle’s.  Gabrielle chuckled at the simplicity of Joxer’s train of thought.  It was admirable, but before the bard could have another thought Joxer explained that he had to trade his father’s scabbard to buy it.    At this moment the tone of Gabrielle’s mind delved back toward frustration.  She was hoping that she had not heard him correctly.  She asked him to repeat what he had just said.  Joxer repeated his statement even louder than before.  Gabrielle rose to her knees and faced Joxer.  She scolded him for having sold his father’s scabbard because he had only on the morning before flatly rebuffed the sisters of Guya.  Joxer did not agree with the bard’s opinion that he should not have sold it for the necklace.  He tried to explain why the necklace was so much more important than the sisters of Guya.  Gabrielle didn’t want to hear it.  A new problem had just been created.  She hadn’t even written on the scroll, but she was sure that someone else would if they hadn’t already.

Gabrielle approached Joxer to reveal that she had hidden the scroll for safe keeping inside his father’s scabbard.  Joxer at first thought that it was a game until Gabrielle reached out, grabbed Joxer’s nose, and attempted to rip it off of his face.  Gabrielle screamed in frustration and Joxer screamed out in pain waking the rest of the sleeping beauties.  Joxer explained that he had traded a peddler for the necklace and that they could easily get the scroll back.  Joxer begged for Gabrielle to release his nose as he was certain that the peddler would not easily figure out the power of the enchanted scroll inside.  “And then it began to rain riches all over the town.  Dinars, dinars, all around the town raining dinars!”  In the next moment the woman from the tavern on the day before came running through the woods shouting out that it was raining riches around town.  She urged everyone to hurry to gather their riches.  All Gabrielle wanted to do next was to strangle Joxer for his idiocy.  It wasn’t enough of a challenge to be dealing with an unruly scroll combined with writer’s block, two mortal gods, Minya and no Xena.

After Gabrielle had taken out all of her lone warrior frustrations upon Joxer she regained her composure and gathered her misfit troops declaring that she knew exactly what she would have to write next.  The only problem now was that they had to get the scroll back.  Ares was obviously not convinced that Gabrielle had the answer.  She hadn’t proven herself worthy of the answer thus far.  She realized that he was just grumpy having been stuck within a mortal body for over 12 hours.  Despite his mortality he was no less manipulative.  She gleefully told Ares that the answer to his question was a creative secret she would keep to herself.  Gabrielle then commanded both Aphrodite and Minya to team up and go into town to find out where the peddler had gone.  Gabrielle then revealed that she would team up with Ares and they would go look for the peddler where it was still raining dinars.  Joxer wanted to know what his role in Gabrielle’s plan was.  Gabrielle walked over to the tree where she had tied him up to keep him out of her way.  She then untied him and instructed him to go to the caves with the rest of the bunch she had sent there.  She was pretty certain he would have no trouble taking that order.

It wasn’t long before Gabrielle and Ares found themselves to be hot on the peddler’s trail.  As they rounded the corner out of the woods through the meadow Gabrielle noticed that there were a pair of deep ruts created by most likely a pair of wagon wheels.  Gabrielle explained to Ares that she thought it might be carrying a load of dinars which meant that they were on the right trail.  Strangely Ares was impressed.  He asked the lone warrior where she had learned to read trails so well.  Naturally Gabrielle responded that it was the warrior princess who had taught her that skill.  Gabrielle explained that if one hung around Xena long enough one could learn anything about the warrior arts.  The lone warrior went on to explain that it was all about focus.  Ares agreed with Gabrielle on that point.  With pride he declared that he had been the one who had been able to harness Xena’s natural gifts and power and to give the warrior princess her ability to focus.  He explained that when Xena had first come to him she had just been another lost power-hungry warlord.  Ares prided himself on having given Xena a purpose.

Gabrielle took the opportunity to remind Ares that Xena had a different purpose in the present alongside the bard.  Ares regretfully agreed with Gabrielle on this point stating that he was aware of just how good Xena was at fighting for the cause of the greater good.    He went onto admire what she had done up against him when he had gotten her put on trial for the murders of those innocent villagers.  Gabrielle turned to Ares as they walked and stopped to face him.  She asked him about his opinion on how Xena was able to wiggle her way out of the bind he had recently put her in up against the furies.  Ares admitted that it was indeed a stroke of brilliance on Xena’s part.   He was like a proud father describing how Xena approaches all of her foes with her steel gaze.  He smiled as he thought of Xena’s gaze as did the bard.  The two foes were finding a moment of true relatability with one another as Gabrielle smiled at the image in her mind of Xena’s steel gaze.  Then there was an awkward moment of silence between them.  Gabrielle looked to the deep wagon tracks and then followed them into the distances toward the caves.  She pointed out her latest observation to Ares.  Ares agreed with her accessment.  Then within another awkward moment of silence between them Ares revealed that he felt that the two of them were just starting to warm up to one another with in their conversation.  Gabrielle did indeed notice the feeling too.  It was slightly off-putting.  Ares expressed that he really didn’t feel that he enjoyed feeling warm toward Gabrielle.  Gabrielle agreed that the feeling was mutual as the agreed to move on toward the caves together.

Upon entering the caves both Gabrielle and Ares prepared their weapons for they weren’t exactly sure what they would find when the ventured inside.  Soon they found themselves startled by Joxer popping his head up from behind the sleeping barbarians.  Gabrielle barked out a command for him to get away from the barbarians.  He pleaded with the bard to allow him to disarm them while they slept.  Gabrielle was certain that no matter what it was that Joxer thought he was doing to help he would most certainly make matters worse for everyone.  Joxer argued with the bard that he would not make things worse as long as he didn’t wake anyone up before he finished the job and found the peddler.  Obviously, even Joxer had learned something in his travels with the warrior princess.  He had been able to deduce that the wagon tracks belonged to the peddler.  From behind inside of another chamber with in the cave a man emerged holding a scroll.  Joxer turned when he noticed the man’ footsteps approaching and shouted out that the man was the peddler he had traded with on the night before.

The peddler appeared to be confused about his situation and suddenly Scaberus ran into the cave from another chamber.  His sword was drawn and he was ready to do battle to recover his kinsman sword.  Scaberus was certain that one of the people occupying the cave had to be carrying his sword.  He wrestled the scroll from the peddler with his sword as Joxer recovered it from the peddler from the cave floor.  Joxer then threw the scroll to Gabrielle as the barbarians a began awakening from their deep sleep.  Gabrielle caught the scroll and then ran toward the barbarians hoping to knock them out the the scroll before they had a chance to react.  Ares followed with his sword drawn.  Joxer attempted to run out of the cave entrance only to smack into Minya and Aphrodite who had just found their way to the peddler’s location.  Both Minya and Joxer laid flat on the ground as Ares shouted out to Aphrodite to follow him with Gabrielle and the scroll.  The dazed and confused barbarians scattered.

Gabrielle desparately searched for a quiet place with in the caves to transcribe her solution to the enchanted scroll upon the scroll itself.  She found herself blindly running into Scaberus again who swiped in from her grasp.  Scaberus then ran into Joxer, who ran into the peddler and the three naked Gabrielles.  Then the barbarians came along and swiped the scroll from Joxer’s grasp.  Everyone was descending upon the power of enchantment as Gabrielle followed the echoing sounds through the cave to everyone’s location.  She found a low position from which to attack the barbarians as they tripped over her outstreatched staff along the floor of the cave.  With that the bard had reached success and retrieved the scroll disappaearing alone through the maze of caverns until she found the perfect quiet spot to open the enchanted scroll and to end this chaotic literary mess once and for all.  “All who were enchanted went into the caves and then out again.  One following the other all in search of Xena the warrior princess the scroll went.”  Just as Gabrielle had finished transcribing her literary solution everyone in the caves descended upon her.  She waived the scroll high up into the air and demanded that everyone stay back.  Then she went for it she threw the scroll through the air at random and then the peddler emerged capturing it and running off through the maze.  Gabrielle instructed everyone that the scroll knew the way out of the caves and that all should follow.

And so the parade of chaos began led by first the peddler, then three naked Gabrielle’s, five barbarians, Scaberus, Minya with the whip of Xena, the mortal Ares, the lone warrior Gabrielle, the mortal Aphrodite, and finally Joxer the jerk.  The four original companions were out of breath as the took a moment to gather themselves.  Joxer wanted to know what Gabrielle had written in the scroll and the bard revealed to him that she had written to send it to the warrior princess.  She had only hoped that she had been able to phrase it right this time.  The four companions moved forward following the trail of the parade of chaos.  Gabrielle remembered that there was still one serious problem that even the scroll couldn’t solve.  She demanded that Ares find his army in the valley and stop them from attacking everyone.  Ares claimed that he could only do that if he had his godly powers.  Until then he was powerless to stop them.  Ares declared that he would later punish Thelonious and his army in some horrible way.  The bard reminded Ares that there would be innocent people who would die at the hands of his army if it wasn’t stopped soon.  Gabrielle was frustrated that Ares didn’t have the courage to just go into the valley where his hidden army was waiting to instruct them not to attack.  She boldly stated that with or with out the god of war she and the rest of her companions would fight the warlord to stop him.  Aphrodite turned to Gabrielle and expressed that she had no interest in being a part of fighting against Thelonious’s army.  She had never agreed to do that for anyone.  As Gabrielle was about to respond Joxer stopped, raised his hand and took a deep whiff of the surrounding air.  Aphrodite scolded Joxer for pointing out her mortal faults.  Joxer attempted to ease Aphrodite’s concern about what he was smelling stating that it only smelled like fish.  Aphrodite was upset knowing that her mortal hygene skills were not up to speed.  She was normally a goddess and had no need to worry about such matters.  Gabrielle watched as the mortal goddess of love began to have an uncontrollable emotional breakdown in front of everyone.  The smell was too strong to be just coming from Aphrodite herself.

Gabrielle took a whiff of the air also.  Then from around the corner emerged Xena the warrior princess dragging a wagon load of fish behind her.  Xena smiled when she caught sight of Gabrielle and her band of misfit companions.  Then she approached the bard and pulled out the enchanted scroll asking Gabrielle if she had been looking for it.  Gabrielle reached for the enchanted scroll, but Xena would not surrender it.  Instead the warrior princess explained that she had taken it from a peddler, chased by barbarians, then chased by three naked Gabrielles.  Xena looked to the bard showing Gabrielle just how amused she was by seeing Gabrielle naked three times.  Gabrielle chuckled to herself for a moment at the thought that must have been going through the warrior princess’s mind when she saw that particular group of gals.  Xena said that she then saw Minya chasing them with her whip and was indeed still chasing everyone.  Xena said that seeing all of that was what had led her to read Gabrielle’s scroll.  Gabrielle admitted that it was most definitely not her best work.  Xena agreed completely, but was curious as to who wrote the limerick.  She considered that it could have been Gabrielle, but then Joxer chimed in and proudly accepted credit for his limerick.  Xena wasn’t impressed nor surprised that it had been Joxer.  Gabrielle explained all of the ways that she had attempted to bring Xena back through the scroll.  “Xena goes to a number one friend.”  Xena stated that the scroll had taken her to a friend that she hadn’t seen since she was five years old.  It was her first friend ever.

Ares then chimed in asking Xena about his contribution to the scroll, “Xena rejoins the woman who brought her to a new life.”  Xena picked up a large fish and held it up saying that her mother wanted to thank Gabrielle for all of the fish that Xena had brought to her courtesy of Gabrielle’s scroll.  The bard was about to ask the warrior princess why she didn’t decide on her own to come back and find out what was going on with these strange urges that she had been feeling.  Xena already knew what the bard was thinking and admitted that after visiting her mom she had planned on rejoining the bard, but was overcome by the irresistable urge to return to fishing.  Xena was certain that was at about the same time that Gabrielle had written upon the scroll, “And now Xena returns from her journey.”  Xena continued as she explained upon feeling that second urge to go fishing that something somewhere was going wrong.  She explained that she had visited almost everyone she had ever known who had meant anything to her with the exception of Gabrielle.  The warrior princess looked to Gabrielle and said that was when she realized where she needed to go next.  She needed to return to Gabrielle.  Gabrielle felt warmth in her heart to know that all of her frustrations with the creative process had only brought out the best most tender-hearted moment in Xena.  Gabrielle was pleased at this break through in their friendship, but the mortal goddess of love interrupted their love fest with her own selfish concerns.  She was becoming extremely frustrated with suffering through mortality and wanted it corrected as soon as possible.  Joxer reminded every one that stopping the warlord Thelonious was also on the list of problems that needed a resolution with the help of the warrior princess.  However, Aphrodite was still very uninterested in the problems of war.
Xena then approached Aphrodite inquiring about the charm that Aphrodite had used upon the scroll when she had enchanted it.  She needed to know the exact words.  Aphrodite thought about it for a moment and then revealed to the warrior princess this phrase, “Lies will make the world go round till truer words are written down.”  Xena thought about it for a moment and then revealed that the solution was simple.  Instead of writing fiction, Gabrielle needed to write the truth.  In a way, it was Xena who had inspired Aphrodite to charm the scroll because it was on the night before the chaos that Xena had suggested Gabrielle write fiction.  It was obvious that Gabrielle should not at all be writing fiction.  There was still the problem of the warlord Thelonious.  Xena wasn’t at all worried about that.  She declared that she could handle that job on her own.  Her main concern was that Gabrielle write down upon the enchanted scroll exactly what she saw as Xena would fight the warlord and his army.  Aphrodite’s faith in the mortal ability to problem solve had been shattered over the past two days.  She wasn’t so certain that her godhood would be restored.  The former goddess wanted to know how she would be certain Xena’s plan would work.  Xena explained that she would know when her powers would restore themselves.  Xena had confidence in Gabrielle’s ability to write truth.  It seemed the warrior princess was a little soft toward Aphrodite realizing that it was all a set up by Ares all along.  Then Xena grabbed her wagon load of fish and began to look for a vantage point for defense with her fish against the army of Thelonious.

Secretly Gabrielle wasn’t as confident in her ability as Xena was.  Xena had not just suffered through the same two days of chaos that the rest of the crew had.  Joxer dragging one of Xena’s fish along with him after smacking himself on the chin approached Gabrielle and asked her what was wrong.  Gabrielle had hoped that she could hide her lack of confidence, but Joxer obviously could read her better than she realized.  Gabrielle had to openly admit that writing action was not exactly her strongest point as a bard.  Ares could not believe what he had just heard.  He stepped around to the opposite side of Aphrodite, pausing only to sniff her mortal stench momentarily, as he verbalized that he couldn’t believe that Gabrielle followed Xena around the known world all day, every day without being able to write in some action.  He wanted to know exactly how the bard was able to accomplish this as Aphrodite stuggled to keep composure over her brother’s momentary slam against her obviously poor hygene.  Ares eagerly awaited the bard’s answer.  Gabrielle began to explain gleefully that her method in doing this was simply in the fact that she used mostly metaphors.  Gabrielle stated that such metaphors included phrases like, “Xena burst on the scene in a blaze of glory.”  Then she realized that Ares was also taking a jab at her.  Gabrielle was frustrated enough.  She didn’t need to stand before the former god of war and take his verbal abuse against her.  The bard began to move away from her group of misfit creative partners, but before she could walk away Joxer grabbed her by the shoulder and reminded her that she couldn’t use metaphors this time.  For if Gabrielle used metaphors they might find themselves picking up the remaining exploded pieces of Xena’s body from the certain instant explosion that would happen immediately after writing that phrase upon the enchanted scroll.  Despite all of Joxer’s idiocy he seemingly continued to offer some interesting feedback in the process and this observation was no exception.  Gabrielle looked to Joxer slightly worried yet surprised at his morbid outlook.  She just hoped that she wouldn’t write anything more that would hurt anyone or kill anyone.  Killing Xena with her quill had never occurred to her, but apparently anything went with Aphrodite’s enchanted scroll.

Upon finding the perfect vantage point to view the battle which was expected to occur between Xena and Thelonious’s army Gabrielle soon heard the sounds of the army approaching from within the trees around the bend.  Suddenly, Thelonious appeared with his rag tag army following closely behind.  He barked out commands to them as they approached.  Xena didn’t waist time as she began her onslaught against them with her wagon load of weapons.  Before the men had time to act they were being pummeled with trout, and perch, and anything one could possibly imagine from the various species of known fish.  The smell was awful as the men collapsed onto the ground in a mass of expected chaos.  There was so much fish now covering the ground the rest of the approaching army slipped and fell to the ground unable to handle the massive attack of fish against them.  The warrior princess cried out as she battled them bravely.  Gabrielle and her creative comrades knelt down behind Xena in the trees just beyond Xena’s position as the bard began to write.

     “Xena fought the army of the warlord Thelonious.  For two days Ares had planned for this battle all day long.”  Gabrielle continued writing as Joxer began calling out the actions.  “Xena leads with a pike, then a trout, bam, bam two quick bass.  Oh, he is taking it on the chin.”  Gabrielle quickly added in to the scroll, “Xena threw a starfish at the warriors.  Then Xena laughed, picked up a giant squid, and wound her arm around for the throw.”  Joxer continued on, “That octopus came out of nowhere.  She must have thrown that just for the howl of it.”  Then Joxer laughed at his own ridiculous joke.  “Ares took over asking Gabrielle to write that Xena hit the warrior with a squid.  Joxer argued with Ares declaring that it was not a squid, but an octopus, but Ares countered confident that Joxer had been wrong and that it indeed was a squid that Xena had just thrown.” 

     “Gabrielle hesitated for a moment as they worked out their creative differences and then continued to write upon the scroll as Xena then threw a sword fish like a javelin at another warrior hitting him in the head.  As the enemy sank to the ground she reached for her chakram, but instead grabbed an eel, pausing to notice, then throwing the eel like it was her chakram knocking out two more warriors.  When the eel returned to the warrior princess it was no longer in the form of a chakram.  Xena threw it aside then she grabbed another big fish and slapped it across the faces of two other warriors.”  Ares interupted Gabrielle’s connection to her mighty quill and interjected that Gabrielle should write that Xena whacked the warrior with her sword.    Gabrielle wasn’t so certain that was even a real word.  Joxer interjected editing Ares’s literary suggestion with an alternate word for “whacked.”  Gabrielle was not convinced that Joxer’s word “hit” as a good literary choice despite that she continued writing,  “Xena hit the warrior with her sword then fought with the warrior leader Thelonious.  As Joxer continued to give Gabrielle the correct words, and descriptions of Xena’s battle against Thelonious he stopped for a moment, and inquired about the earlier phrase ‘Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.’  The bard was delighted at the thought and then Ares demanded that the creative writing team keep to the task at hand.” 

     “Suddenly, Minya arrived along side Gabrielle and her team.  She declared in a whisper that she was “ready for action.”  Gabrielle was surprised to see Minya.  She seemed to appear out of nowhere.  Gabrielle was going to be out of scroll soon as everyone stood up to get a better look at what was happening on the battle field.  Joxer inquired of Minya about what had happened to those barbarians she had been chasing.  Minya declared that the barbarians had suddenly decided to stop fighting and head back to Barbaria.  She defeated him as the barbarians turned around and went back to their homes in Barbaria.  And with that Minya stepped forward ready to join Xena in the battle.  Minya said, “I’m ready for action.  I’m going to crack some heads.’   Then Joxer and Minya looked to one another as Aphrodite became a goddess once again.  Then Aphrodite enchanted Joxer and Minya with a love spell and said, ‘I’m back!  Later.’  Then the restored goddess of love disappeared with in a bright light and went home to Mount Olympus.  As soon as Aphrodite disappeared her enchantment spell wore off.  Joxer’s fish stuck between himself and Minya turned Minya’s raging hormones off.  Joxer apologized for his slimy fish, but Minya instantly pushed him away.  Gabrielle’s eyes darted back into the direction of the battle.  She watched as Xena ducked the advance of Thelonious’s raging sword, and quickly took the offensive advantage against him using her sword to swipe his feat from beneath.  Thelonious fell to the groudn as Xena spun around and sheathed her sword into it’s scabbard upon her back.  Xena was intense in battle.  She jumped up and back flipped onto her fish wagon catapulting the remaining baskets of fish into the air across the battle down onto the warlord and his men.  Fish piled onto Thelonious rendering him helpless to continue the fight.  As Thelonious’s men began to scatter Ares become a god.  Ares wound up his fist into a ball, harnessed his godly force from within his breath, and managed to shake out a mighty bolt of lightening across the battle field.  The lightening bolt of godly force struck one of Thelonious’s men as he tried to escape the wrath against him.  Ares shouted out, ‘Run maggot!’  Then he laughed and Gabrielle was taken by surprise.  One bolt of the god of war’s fury against Thelonious’s man wasn’t enough as the god repeated his previous action.”

      Gabrielle paused in her writing realizing that the story of the mighty quill was coming to an end as things were begining to become normal again.  The god of war now had his powers back and Xena had won the battle the battle against Thelonious and his army.  Gabrielle felt the power from just over her shoulder.  It was an entrancing dark power as she turned toward the attraction she was beginning to feel toward Ares.  She looked into his eyes and he gazed deeply into hers.   His strong sexy appearance was nearly over whelming.  Then he pointed down to the bard’s chest and inquired about it.  Gabrielle looked down to see what he was looking at only to be smacked in the face by the god of war.  He then laughed maniacally at his own joke at her expense, as we walked off into the forest disappearing with in the power of his godly force.  His triumphant laughter echoed as he left.  Gabrielle shook her head.  She realized that she was finding herself to be attracted to him, but the moment had thankfully passed and she had regained her sane mind and senses.  She couldn’t believe the gall of Ares.

Then Minya comment that she had expected much more from the god of war.  She was clearly disappointed in his performance.  Minya continued describing her thoughts out loud of the god of war.  She thought that it was only his powers that made him.  He would be just another regular guy if it weren’t for his entrancing sexy self.  Gabrielle could relate to Minya’s sudden entranced hormones.  The god of war’s essence obviously wasn’t completely gone.  As Joxer stood by listening to this conversation of women and their hormones, Gabrielle inquired to Minya about how hers were feeling.  Gabrielle just wanted to hear her admit that they were uncontrollable.  Ares did indeed have power over the female urges.  Minya explained that she had to leave for it was very important that she return home to Laurel to visit her boyfriend Hower.  And with that Minya left for Laurel as Joxer expressed that he thought Minya was a strange woman.  Gabrielle nodded in agreement as Xena approached the conversation.  The bard looked to Xena and declared that things appeared to be well in the moment.  Xena very pleased at their work and agreed that indeed everything was now back to normal.  Joxer pointing toward Gabrielle’s scroll with his giant fish noticed that there was still a little bit of space left at the bottom.  Gabrielle thought about the idea for a moment and suggested that there was perhaps something else to write to finish the story.  And there was most definitely something else to write.  Xena made her creative suggestion as Gabrielle realized that she knew exactly what was missing in that space upon the scroll.  “Finally, Love’s eyes three times vanished from existence leaving the lone bard alongside her friends in peace once again.  Lies will make the world go round till truer words are written down.  The End! “

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The Xena Scrolls: Volume #3: Scroll #52: The Quill Is Mightier

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll  #52 :  The Quill is Mightier

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia & Friends

October, 47 B.C.

     Xena had gone fishing.  The lone warrior Gabrielle awoke with a jerk as five barbarians rode out of the woods.  Twirling her trusty staff she delivered kicks of such fury deflecting the thrust of a sword with her mighty abs.  As the last of the barbarians fled the scene Joxer took the staff of Gabrielle unable to control himself.  He hit himself once, twice, and then three times on the head with the staff only to knock himself off of his feet falling onto the ground.

  After realizing the power of the scroll, and the will of a mighty quill, Joxer and Gabrielle met the sisters of Guya.  The sisters were seeking a donation from Joxer to their orphanage.  But Joxer would not give up his scabbard because it had been given to him by his father.  And so the bard Gabrielle wrote her magic and suddenly a kind man came from the woods offering his own gift, a kinsman sword.  The sisters of Guya were delighted to receive such a wonderful gift.  And so the good that was to be done by the will of the mighty quill had only just begun.

      The day went on as Gabrielle and Joxer entered a nearby tavern to have breakfast.  Out of the kindness of his heart the tavern owner offered to Gabrielle and all who were in the tavern free food to eat and drinks on the house.  And with that statement all who were at the tavern drank and ate joyfully together in the spirit of peace.  Then the five barbarians returned for Gabrielle, but they didn’t stay long for they decided to go west instead.  But the sister’s of Guya orphanage would be in their path so they turned east.   The barbarians disappeared from the land!  The barbarians went to the caves and fell into a deep sleep.

     Then the will of mortals won out…and war lost all its power.  The force that enchanted the scroll lost its powers.  Aphrodite is as she was before.  Suddenly, there was the arrival of the woman wearing leather carrying the whip of Xena.  The woman was not Xena, but her friend Minya of Laurel.  Xena goes to a number one friend.    Xena rejoins the woman who brought her to a new life.  And now Xena returns from her journey.  Scaberus the man whom had offered his kinsman sword to the sisters of Guya arrived at the tavern, and decided that he too would go to the caves with the barbarians to get some deep sleep.

     A warrior Joxer the Mighty,

     asked a boon from the God Aphrodite,

     and what a surprise he saw,

     but love’s eyes three times,

     three Gabrielle’s to the caves go nighty.

      And then it began to rain riches all over the town.  Dinars, dinars, all around the town raining dinars!  All who were enchanted went into the caves and then out again.  One following the other all in search of Xena the warrior princess the scroll went.

     Xena fought the army of the warlord Thelonious.  For two days Ares had planned for this battle all day long.  Xena leads with a pike, then a trout, bam, bam two quick bass.  Oh, he is taking it on the chin.  Xena threw a starfish at the warriors.  Then Xena laughed, picked up a giant squid, and wound her arm around for the throw.  That octopus came out of nowhere.  She must have thrown that just for the howl of it.  Ares took over asking Gabrielle to write that Xena hit the warrior with a squid.  Joxer argued with Ares declaring that it was not a squid, but an octopus, but Ares countered confident that Joxer had been wrong and that it indeed was a squid that Xena had just thrown.  Gabrielle hesitated for a moment as they worked out their creative differences, and then continued to write upon the scroll as Xena then threw a sword fish like a javelin at another warrior hitting him in the head.  As the enemy sank to the ground she reached for her chakram, but instead grabbed an eel, pausing to notice, then throwing the eel like it was her chakram knocking out two more warriors.  When the eel returned to the warrior princess it was no longer in the form of a chakram.  Xena threw it aside then she grabbed another big fish and slapped it across the faces of two other warriors.  “Xena hit the warrior with her sword then fought with the warrior leader Thelonious.” 

     As Joxer continued to give Gabrielle the correct words, and descriptions of Xena’s battle against Thelonious he stopped for a moment, and inquired about the earlier phrase ‘Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.’  The bard was delighted at the thought and then Ares demanded that the creative writing team keep to the task at hand.”  Suddenly, Minya arrived along side Gabrielle and her team.  She declared in a whisper that she was “ready for action.”  Gabrielle was surprised to see Minya.  She seemed to appear out of nowhere.  Gabrielle was going to be out of scroll soon as everyone stood up to get a better look at what was happening on the battle field.  Joxer inquired of Minya about what had happened to those barbarians she had been chasing.  Minya declared that the barbarians had suddenly decided to stop fighting and head back to Barbaria.  She defeated him as the barbarians turned around and went back to their homes in Barbaria.  And with that Minya stepped forward ready to join Xena in the battle.  Minya said, “I’m ready for action.  I’m going to crack some heads.”  Then Joxer and Minya looked to one another as Aphrodite became a goddess once again.  Then Aphrodite enchanted Joxer and Minya with a love spell and said, “I’m back!  Later.”  Then the restored goddess of love disappeared with in a bright light and went home to Mount Olympus.  As soon as Aphrodite disappeared her enchantment spell wore off.  Joxer’s fish stuck between himself and Minya turned Minya’s raging hormones off.  Joxer apologized for his slimy fish, but Minya instantly pushed him away.”

     “Gabrielle’s eyes darted back into the direction of the battle.  She watched as Xena ducked the advance of Thelonious’s raging sword, and quickly took the offensive advantage against him using her sword to swipe his feat from beneath.  Thelonious fell to the ground as Xena spun around and sheathed her sword into it’s scabbard upon her back.  Xena was intense in battle.  She jumped up and back flipped onto her fish wagon catapulting the remaining baskets of fish into the air across the battle down onto the warlord and his men.  Fish piled onto Thelonious rendering him helpless to continue the fight.  As Thelonious’s men began to scatter Ares become a god.  Ares wound up his fist into a ball, harnessed his godly force from within his breath, and managed to shake out a mighty bolt of lightening across the battle field.  The lightening bolt of godly force struck one of Thelonious’s men as he tried to escape the wrath against him.  Ares shouted out, “Run maggot!”  Then he laughed and Gabrielle was taken by surprise.  One bolt of the god of war’s fury against Thelonious’s man wasn’t enough as the god repeated his previous action.  “Finally, Love’s eyes three times vanished from existence leaving the lone bard alongside her friends in peace once again.  Lies will make the world go round till truer words are written down.  The End! ”

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 #42: A Comedy of Eros

A Comedy of Eros

Scroll #42

By Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

April, 47 B.C.

I sing of the day when love ran deep and bliss was left unattended.  Love ran hard and rampant within everyone whom had crossed the path of bliss.  Even Xena the warrior princess and the battling bard of Potedia found themselves wrapped up within all of it.  Their adventure began with word of the warlord Draco in the valley.  He planned on kidknapping the last of the hestian virgins and to make a profit from their spoils.  As soon as Xena had heard of this she had decided that protecting the sacred rites of the last of the hestians was her personal responsibility.  Actually Xena was bored for there had been little good to be done in the world.  So this was a chance for the warrior princess to make another mark within her own legends.  The bard had known her friend to be unable to sit still within quiet peace for too long.

Now that the restless warrior princess was back in action she and Gabrielle found themselves attending a sacred hestian virgin ceremony.  The two warrior women stood watch over the young hestian virgins as the young women followed their priestess outside the temple and down the temple stairs.  Each of the women wore white flowing clothing and white veils which covered their faces.  They carried their white doves with them as the head priestess led a prayer to their virgin goddess.  Ceremonial bells rang as the young women released their white doves into the sky as a gesture and a promise to the goddess Hestia.  Their promise was to remain committed to Hestia for peace, and charity.  They promised that their minds and bodies would be free from impurity.  Gabrielle looked to Xena with a subtle opinion about this as the ceremony came to a close.  There had been no sign of Draco or his men yet.

Gabrielle watched the virgins head back into their temple quietly and then made her thoughts known to Xena.  She was amazed by the commitment of these young women to their goddess.  Yet Xena was unimpressed, but not about the virgins.  She was certain that Draco might show himself at the ceremony, but he had not.  Xena was speaking her warrior thoughts outloud to the bard explaining that she thought that Draco most likely would be scouting out the village first before bringing in his troops to take the virgins.  Xena was not amazed at all that Draco had not shown up for she commented that he was as smart as warlords come.  Gabrielle had not been thinking of the same thing that the warrior princess had been.  She interjected that her amazement was about the virgins and their commitment.  Xena’s mind was still focused on looking out for Draco despite having answered Gabrielle with a joke.  She added that the requirement beyond the commitment was something to be impressed by.  Xena was still scouring the village intently with her eyes as Gabrielle interjected into Xena’s thoughts more deeply explaining that being chased must be really difficult when the requirement was so difficult to keep.  Xena appeared slightly annoyed that the bard was even talking about chastity.  Her response to Gabrielle’s comment was to play it off explaining that she had been talking about having to listen to those annoying bells for a lifetime of commitment every morning.  Then Xena walked away.  Gabrielle was left to think of her own dirty mind for a moment realizing that she had been caught fantasizing.  The bard was not certain that Xena really knew what she had been thinking of or had been talking about so she just agreed about the bell comment and followed the warrior princess onto the main road through the village.

Gabrielle could not give up the thoughts trying to imagine and wrap her mind around the life of a hestian virgin.  She again tried to entice Xena into thinking about it explaining that it would be hard to give up the chance to fall in love again.  That was even more tragic than the passion that would obviously be missing in a virgin’s life.  Xena didn’t seem to care too much about that part of the commitment.  She was still looking for Draco or any sign of his men scouting the village.  Gabrielle pressed the warrior princess for more conversation despite the distraction of looking for Draco.  She explained that Xena could not give up on love despite the past and the many heartaches.  The warrior princess responded to the bard explaining that she had not given up on love.  It was obvious that love was the last thing on Xena’s mind.  Gabrielle was hoping to teach the warrior princess something about love on this day.  She continued by explaining that yes there were no guaruntees with love, but it was good that Xena had not yet given up on love for when love was right it could be the most potent force in the world.

Xena then responded to the bard attempting to snap Gabrielle out of her blissful love fest explaining that this was exactly the reason why they needed to stay focused on finding Draco and protecting the virgins.  The bard realized that Xena was in no mood for philosophical conversation.  She was totally focused on the mission.  Gabrielle realized that she had to change gears for Xena was in no mood.  Gabrielle began to talk about Draco something Xena appeared to be extremely interested in.  Her first question to Xena was why did he seemingly have the entire field to himself.  Gabrielle was certain that there should be a flock of warlords lining up for the chance to sell all of the hestian virgins for profit.  Every last one of them in the province were with in the village.  There were no others any place else.  Xena explained that only the most courageous  warlords would commit such a crime defiling the temple of a goddess.  She was certain that it would require even more courage for a warlord to go up against Draco himself.  Xena finished by stating that she could not think of any warlord by name crazy enough to defile the temple and go up against Draco.  If there were another warlord capable of this madness she would have remembered him by now.

Just then the answer to that question made his presence known.  He shouted out across the village market calling to Xena.  The voice was all too familiar.  It was annoying to hear its echo.  The ears could hear his bumbling approach from behind with the sounds of his breast plate clapping up against his cheap armor.  Xena realized in that moment that Joxer was truly crazy.  Only he would be stupid enough to show up in a duel against Draco.  Joxer was delighted to find Xena and Gabrielle there.  He explained that as soon as he had heard the rumor about Draco he was certain that he would find Xena there.  For several seasons Xena and Gabrielle had been able to avoid the presence of the bumbling idiot, but now that they had returned from their long journeys at sea in far away places it seemed that they could not avoid Joxer the Mighty.  Xena was clearly annoyed and irritated as Gabrielle muttered under her breath that the mission couldn’t be more difficult without his presence.  This only added to the difficulty.  Everyone would have to watch out for Joxer for he would be certain to find his own doom quickly.

As Xena and Gabrielle quietly continued on walking through the village Joxer wanted to be filled in on Xena’s plan for he had heard Draco was a tough guy.  There was a quick response, but it was not from Xena.  It was Draco himself.  He responded to Joxer affirming the rumors.  Suddenly the three companions turned around to see Draco riding into the village with three of his scouts.  Xena’s sword was instantly drawn to face the enemy.  Joxer had drawn his bulky dull blade, but did not know how to hold it properly.  Gabrielle just put her staff down relaxing herself as Xena approached Draco calmly.  The bard could see that Xena did not feel threatened for she was holding her sword by the side.  Usually the warrior princess would be in a ready for battle stance.  This time was unusual and different.  Xena greeted Draco casually, but with bravado.  Gabrielle sensed that Xena was trying to project a certain image to him.  Draco dismounted his horse calmly and approached Xena with respect and the same bravado.  He spoke her name attempting to read the warrior princess’s intensions.  Joxer had lowered his sword by now as if trying to understand what was going on.  There was a long pause between Xena and Draco.  Uncertainty cut through the air for no one could determine if there would be a move toward sudden battle.

Draco attempted to ease the tension reminding Xena that it had been a while since their last meeting.  Xena spoke nothing.  She walked casually toward Draco and then agreed that with him that it indeed had been a long time.  It had been too long for her as she went in for the passionate kiss.  Both Gabrielle and Joxer found themselves stunned for neither of them had expected that move from Xena.  The passionate kiss lasted several moments until Draco ripped himself away from the warrior princess in shock yet complete satisfaction.  It took him a few moments to regain his composure, but then he commented on the positive welcome and asked the warrior princess what he had done to deserve her passions.  Xena then responded as she walked around him with her back to his men.  She explained that it was what he would not do that earned her affections.  It appeared to be another warrior princess clever ploy, but Gabrielle thought that maybe that kiss was a bit over the top.   Xena continued that a lot more was to come for him.  She was smiling as if she were tickled inside by his presence.  Draco appeared irritated by this request and firmly stated that he would not allow Xena to foul up the largest score of his life no matter what she had to offer him.  Her passions were not enough.

Draco had put his hand upon his sword ready to make a move for he became instantly untrusting of the warrior princess despite the passion.  He turned to face Xena firmly standing his ground.  Xena appeared to feel little threat from him as she reached up to his face and began stroking it.  Her eyes were fixated into his as if she were entranced by the dark warlord.  She smiled gently reminding Draco that he had forced a love affair between them in the past.  It was as if she were hoping that he would still have feeling for her.  As Gabrielle watched the scene unfolding before her she struggled to figure out what was actually going on.  It appeared that Xena was in love with Draco.  Her performance was too genuine to be an act.  If it were the bard thought that it was the best performance she had ever seen from the warrior princess.  Joxer interrupted the moment of thought demanding to know what it was that Xena was actually doing.  He was on the same thought as Gabrielle just one verbal moment ahead.  Gabrielle was concentrating on her own observations.  Then she noticed Draco’s soft emotional response to Xena.  He had indeed remembered the past that Xena reminded him of.  For the moment Gabrielle was relieved voicing out to Joxer with reluctant confidence that this was all part of Xena’s plan.

In the next moment Draco took Xena’s hand and kissed it pausing for a long passionate exchange of emotion.  It was sexual tension screaming out to everyone who was witnessing the event.  It appeared that even Xena was no longer in control of herself.  Gabrielle was sure that something had gone terribly wrong.  She was just not certain what it was.  Then she responded to Joxer expressing her hopeful concern to him.  It appeared that Xena was lost as to where she had been taking things.  The warrior princess suddenly backed off from Draco’s recipricating passions and pushed herself away from him.  This prompted Draco’s men to dismount their horses preparing to do battle.  Draco stopped them shouting out that Xena was his alone.  Xena created more distance between herself and Draco.  Gabrielle realized that all of the sexual tensions and passions were about to explode into a full battle.  The bard began to create some distance between herself and Draco as Joxer followed her movement.

Xena then smirked at Draco and enticed him into battle.  Draco appeared to be angry with his male ego bruised deeply.  He ripped his sword into battle swinging wildly for Xena cutting through the air above and below as the warrior princess ducked and jumped to miss his throws.  Draco screamed out his powerful battle cry in frustration.  It was as if he were experiencing a bit of hurt inside.  He charged forward in for the kill as Xena flipped across his move toward her and landed behind him with a battle cry.  Draco countered her flip to recovered running up the body of his scout flipping backward turning to face Xena again.  His sword was already in motion before he had completely faced the warrior princess who was more than ready for his move.  She met his sword at her face with his defensive yet smooth.  There was power within her grip as she held steady against his brawn.

Xena interjected with excitement that he had picked up some new moves since they had last met.  Draco responded that he had been practicing well.  With that he spun around in the opposite direction and cut his sword from low to high, but Xena countered that move as well defensively down steadily.  She retorted that practice sounded exhausting.  Draco tried to grab the advantage of Xena’s seemingly out of control passions.  He stated that instead it was refreshing.  Draco powerfully threw Xena’s block down and tried to back hand his sword across her head, but she ducked the move and then blocked his reverse move edge to edge.  Xena responded by stating that she could think of other ways to get refreshed.  She was inviting him to her bedroll openly.

Draco quickly disarmed her, but did not raise his sword for the kill.  Instead he responded that he could not deny his passions for her, but if she stood in his way he would kill her despite the irresistable passion.  He was uncertain if the warrior princess understood him.  She responded that she indeed knew him better than he thought.  With that she kicked him across the face.  His ego had been greatly worn down, but Draco did not cave in.  Instead he ordered his men back to camp and shealthed his sword.  He stumbled away extremely hot and bothered as he mounted his horse and gave Xena another warning to stay out of his business.  Then he rode off.  Gabrielle suddenly approached Xena very disapproving of this methodical plan of passion.  It was more than anyone watching could handle without getting extremely excited.  Gabrielle demanded that Xena talk about this issue and get it worked out.  It appeared that Xena herself was unaware of her sexual energy and drive for Draco of all people.  When Gabrielle suggested to Xena that it was time for a deep conversation Xena was still distracted as if she were within her own erotic fantasy.  The warrior princess was caressing her breast plate.  Gabrielle could not believe that there could be a fate worse than madness until now.

Upon returning the camp just outside the village the warrior princess had decided that all she really needed was to work out her intense sexual desires.  She crafted a pig’s bladder into a punching bag and hung it from a tree.  For over and hour Gabrielle and Joxer watched Xena pummel the pig’s bladder hoping that Xena could enlighten them on her condition and poor choice of planning.  The warrior princess refused to admit that her sex drive for Draco had defeated her in some way.  Gabrielle found herself nearly disgusted with the idea that Xena was hot for Draco.  The bard stood watching with her staff trying to piece together what had gone wrong.  This was unlike the warrior princess, but it was definitely not madness this time.  Maybe Xena was enchanted by Aphrodite’s power.  Ares could have arranged for it as a way to get back at the warrior princess for outwitting him against the furies.  Then again he might find himself jealous of Xena’s lust for another mortal.  Gabrielle was at a loss for answers.  She continued to watch Xena pound the bladder and she began to count the number of punches.  Gabrielle was fascinated by Xena’s intense concentration despite the fact that it seemed to do no good.

Finally Gabrielle broke the long intense silence asking the warrior princess what was wrong with her.  Xena just continued punching the bladder responding that her workout would solve the problem.  Gabrielle was certain that if the workout had been the solution it would have been over by this point.  Then Joxer interjected as if amused at this new side of the warrior princess suggesting that she try a cold swim.  He expressed that it always seemed to work for him and then he laughed.  Gabrielle shot Joxer a disgusted glance irritated that he was even encouraging the warrior princess to take her desire seriously.  The bard was still very much in disbelief of the idea of Xena being in lust with Draco.  She did not like that Joxer was no solidifying it.  Joxer received the hint clearly explaining that he had only heard that cold swims cured desire.  He tried to regain serious thoughts, but appeared to be just as lustful about someone.  Who knew what could turn on the idiot.  Yet this was not Gabrielle’s immediate concern.  The thought passed quickly as Gabrielle questioned Xena about being hot for Draco.  If the idea was going to be real Gabrielle had to hear Xena speak it.  Xena replied that it was a ridiculous idea and brushed off Joxer’s personal discovery.  Gabrielle was seemingly more relieved that Joxer could be wrong about his observations of the warrior princess although it certainly did not appear that Xena was telling the truth about her feelings for Draco.  Gabrielle’s open relief was crushed when Xena explained that she was responding to the dark part of herself that had a weakness for bad boys.  There was no comfort in this thought for the bard.  It was just like dealing with the furies all over again.

Gabrielle continued to watch the warrior princess who had stopped punching the bladder.  She was now punching thin air as if she were a captive of her own desires.  Joxer quietly acknowledged that he was correct about Xena.  He was extremely amused by it.  Unfortunately this meant that Gabrielle would have to rely on him since it was obvious she would not be able to rely on the warrior princess in stopping Draco.  Gabrielle was irritated and frustrated that she had to deal with this.  She expressed this openly to Xena stating her thoughts outloud.  Xena was too worked up over the bad boy warlord to be useful to anyone involved.  There was not a chance of her coming out of this mission alive if all she really wanted to do was bang the warlord.  Xena’s response to this was that it would not be a problem for he had attempted to change himself for the better in the past.  Xena was seemingly fixated on this idea as Gabrielle found herself unable to believe that the warlord who had almost succeeded in selling her entire village to slave traders could be changed for the better.  There was not faith in Gabrielle’s heart for Draco.  Xena rebutted the argument reminding the bard that she herself had been able to change for the better after all that she had committed in the past.  She was certain that Draco was no different.  Gabrielle found herself wishing that the furies were still within Xena’s mind.  At least that would explain her irrational thought process and behavior.  The bard could have accepted that.  Xena ended the futile conversation with a powerful spinning kick knocking the bladder from the tree bouncing right off of Joxer’s forehead.  Then she proclaimed that she would be the one to save Draco and dashed off toward Draco’s camp more excited than ever.

Gabrielle decided that the best thing to do was to take Joxer and go back to the village to keep an eye on the hestian virgins.  Eventually either Xena, Draco, or both of them would return there to duel over their fates.  The bard found herself openly confiding in Joxer on the journey back to the village.  She obviously did not realize that he could at least read the warrior princess somewhat for it was Joxer whom had brought the issue of Xena’s sexual desires into the open.  Joxer could even sense Gabrielle’s uneasiness within their situation.  He confidently asked Gabrielle what there was to be worried about.  Xena’s plan was a good one.  Gabrielle explained that it was not Xena’s plan that worried her.  It was the fact that it now included saving Draco from his bad boy self.  This was unlike the warrior princess even in madness.  Joxer brushed off the bard’s concern reminding her that it was bad boy types like himself that got the warrior princess all hot and bothered.  Gabrielle could not classify Joxer as a bad boy, but that was not the point.  If Xena being attracted to bad boys was all it was then why would Xena want to put in the effort to change the bad boy.  Joxer paused in his step for a moment and realized that Gabrielle was right.  That course of action was abnormal for the warrior princess.  Gabrielle continued asking why the warrior princess could not just get a grip over her lustful desires, save the virgins, and move onto the next thing.  Joxer agreed without question to this theory brought forth by Gabrielle.

Gabrielle was running every moment through her mind in analytical detail.  She asked Joxer if he had been watching the way that Xena had fought Draco.  Normally Xena would have pressed her advantages, but she had not pressed any of them.  There were many moments within the battle against Draco in which Xena could have just taken control and the virgins would have been saved already.  Joxer appeared to miss Gabrielle’s point.  He didn’t appear concerned about that.  Gabrielle could only think of the trouble that they were now deeply buried in.  Not only that, but Xena was no where to be found in the village which meant that she was probably with Draco doing who knew what.  For several hours Gabrielle and Joxer stood in front of the temple of Hestia guarding the virgins inside.  Not a thing happened.  All was quiet, but there was still no sign of Xena or Draco.  Joxer voiced this same thought outloud thinking that it was possible that Xena had succeeded in changing Draco for the better.  Gabrielle was not so convinced of this idea for this was Draco the flesh peddling warlord who would sooner kill people than have mercy upon them.  She made her thought known openly as she paced over the steps and twirled her staff out of boredom.  Then she asked herself out loud as if she were alone now hoping for an affirmation of her own thoughts.

Suddenly there was a response from a familiar male voice.  It wasn’t Joxer, but Draco who had now arrived affirming Gabrielle’s certain thoughts.  Gabrielle was ripped into clarity for Draco had brought a few of his scouts along to defile the temple of Hestia.  Joxer was now held by the scouts upon their horses.  They had a large rope constricting his neck as if they were preparing to hang him.  Gabrielle’s staff was instantly raised ready to defend as if it had somehow become instinct.  Her muscles were tensed ready for battle.  She suddenly realized she was alone going up against Draco.  Draco responded to Gabrielle’s physical readiness explaining bluntly that if she resisted him that Joxer would most certainly be killed.  Now Gabrielle had to make a choice.  It was either Joxer’s life or the virgins as she whispered Joxer’s name regretfully across her lips.  As she accessed the situation with her eyes she realized there were at least four warriors against herself.  If Xena were there it would be a no brainer.  The risk would be worth it for Xena could most certainly press the advantages, but Gabrielle was certain that she herself could not handle a battle with odds of four to one.  As Gabrielle was accessing things Draco grew impatient and shouted out the command to hang Joxer to his men.

Gabrielle watched Draco’s men tighten the noose upon Joxer’s neck as the helpless inexperienced warrior struggled for a breath.  The bard responded verbally pushing Draco to raise his hand against the command.  He waited with confidence for Gabrielle’s final response.  The bard lowered her staff sideways and then slowly dropped it to the ground surrendering to Draco.  She was certain that Draco would most likely kill her next, but to save Joxer she would sacrifice herself and the virgins.  Draco gleefully commanded his men to round up the virgins which surprised Gabrielle for a moment.  She expected to die, but instead Draco’s men rushed into the temple and grabbed her taking her captive along with Joxer.  Quickly he commanded his men to tie up the captives and leave them at the center of the village.  Bound and gagged with Joxer was not a pleasant experience.  Gabrielle was angry that she had even been forced to make the choice to save Joxer or the virgins.  He was such an idiot.  If he had only been watching for Draco instead of talking about the warlord the two of them might have had a fighting chance to stop him.  Two against four would have been much better odds despite the fact that Joxer was one of the two.  There was little time to debate this being bound and gagged to a post in the middle of the village.  Gabrielle decided that while Draco and his buddies were occupied insidet he temple that it was a great chance to escape.  She tried to communicate this to Joxer who seemed to miss every command.  In fact it seemed as if he were trying to get physically closer to the bard.  She thought that he was trying to deny touching her, but she wasn’t certain that was what he had said.

Just then the temple doors swung open.  Both Xena and Draco had emerged calmly together.  It appeared that there was no tension between them of any kind.  They were relaxed and seemingly having a good time together.  Gabrielle called out to Xena through her binds relieved that she might be freed from being tied down to Joxer.  Xena exchanged a few words of banter with the warlord as they approached.  She was confident that Draco would not kill her friends for they would make good bargaining chips.  Draco just laughed for he was forever impressed with the warrior princess’s mind.  She was a master of war and could be a great teacher even for the bad boys who followed her career.  Xena approached Gabrielle taking down her gag.  Gabrielle thanked the warrior princess for being relieved of this torture in being with Joxer.  Just as Xena was loosening the ropes from their wrists Gabrielle suddenly felt a strange sensation within her left shoulder.  It felt almost like she had been pierced by a sharp object like an arrow or a poison dart.  When Gabrielle looked down to see what it was her mind suddenly went numb.  She felt a strange emotional response coming on.  It was almost as if her mind were lighter than it had been while under the influence of henbane.  Gabrielle called to Xena and looked behind for her friend, but Xena was not there.  When the bard turned to look the other way she saw something so serene and handsome.  The charm was unmistakeable.  He was so cute the way he wiped the sweat off of his tongue onto his finger, and that sour face was enticing and loveable.

Gabrielle could not resist the urge to reach out and touch his clothing.  As she stroked his chest gently and gazed into his manly eyes Xena said something about going off to play with Draco.  The warrior princess left leaping and bounding, but that seemingly did not matter any more for there before the bard of Potedia stood Joxer the Mighty warrior.  Joxer looked to Gabrielle expressing that things were strange.  For a slight moment there was focas within Gabrielle’s mind as she agreed with Joxer, but it passed quickly into complete and utter bliss.  All was crazy with in the world, but no one cared because everyone was surrounded with eternal bliss.  The bard had forgotten the problem of Xena being in love with Draco.  In all fairness Xena deserved a little rest and relaxation even if it was with Draco.  Gabrielle spent the afternoon with Joxer the Mighty singing his famous song.  She wanted to make sure that she had it recorded perfectly within her scrolls because Joxer deserved nothing less than perfection.  The first rule within the bard’s scrolls is write what you know.  Gabrielle had not had the true blissful experience when writing “For Him The Bell Tolls” because she had not experienced his bliss for princess Illiandra until now.

Joxer again blew his brilliantly constructed whistling instrument and began the tune.  His voice was soothing and sexy as Gabrielle tuned her own voice to his.  Yet he was much more lovely with his enticing smile as he belted out his famous tune.  The bard could not resist touching his arm and stroking it gently as she focased in on his manly bodice.  She was moving in closer as the song finished and Joxer’s smile glowed delightfully.  The bard used the opportunity to move into her love focasing on his lucious ear as she blew into it to entice his love for her.   Joxer missed this moment of passion eminating from the bard’s lust for him.  She decided that she needed to set the mood to losen his nerves as she rose from the bedroll they shared together and reached for her scroll bag.  There she would most certainly be able to recapture the essence of Aphrodite’s bell which tolled for Illandra and brought love’s passionate power out of the super sexy warrior.  Gabrielle longed to feel what princess Illiandra had felt and so she proceeded to remind Joxer and to read from the scroll.  When Gabrielle asked Joxer if he remembered the beautiful love story he agreed with her that indeed that story had been beautiful.

Joxer was seemingly unaware of Gabrielle’s growing passions for him as he sipped his water from his wooden mug.  Joxer the Mighty was seemingly unaffected by the reminder of his love for Illiandra so Gabrielle decided to move in close to him and to caress his chest as she pulled playfully with his clothing.  He was so cute when he was nervous as Gabrielle bit one of the loose strings of his shirt hoping to recapture the overwhelming lust that he had felt for Illiandra. Gabrielle asserted herself and her thoughts outloud explaining the rules of her scrolls to Joxer moving in even closer to him.  She could feel his pulse rising as was her own as she began to kiss his neck and shoulders while he continued to talk.  There would be time to talk later as Gabrielle pursued her love and began to kiss his face and then nimble upon his ear.  Joxer said something about keeping an eye out for Xena, but the bard did not have her eyes upon the warrior princess.  Her eyes were now only for Joxer.  No one else could quench her lust and her feelings of passionate love.  The moment of passion had come as Gabrielle thrust forward onto Joxer delivering furiously passionate kisses upon his sweet tasty lips.  She could still feel his nervousness.  As he grasped her shoulders to take hold of the passionate fire buring within his manly strength.

Just as the exstacy of passion was rapidly rising within their bodies Joxer was overpowered into a choking fit.  He pushed away from the bard trying to recover.  Gabrielle was delighted that he felt so passionate about her.  This was more than should could have ever dreamed or wished for.  Yet her delight turned to concern when Joxer could not stop choking and coughing.  She began to pound upon his back hoping to help him regain his breath once more.  The bard asked if he was okay as he responded through the coughing with an affirmation.  Then he whispered as if his mouth and throat were suffering from extreme dryness as he asked for some water.  He repeated the request a few times before Gabrielle could understand.  She was quick to respond as soon as she knew how she could rescue Joxer from his suffering.  Gabrielle dashed for the water bottle grabbing her staff along the way.  Then she rushed down toward the lake.  The bard’s feet could seemingly not carry her fast enough to get to there.

When Gabrielle finally reached the lake she saw Xena in the middle of it just sitting there submerged within the cold water.  Only the head and shoulders of the warrior princess were visible.  Gabrielle’s passions began to fade slightly as her curiosity of the warrior princess rose within.  As Gabrielle knelt down to retrieve water for Joxer the Mighty she inquired of Xena’s seemingly strange actions.  There was a hint of a reminder of slight jealousy creeping within the hazy passions for Joxer.  Xena soon reminded Gabrielle of her uncontrollable lust when she stated that she was taking Joxer’s advice and taking a cold swim.  Although the warrior princess stated that it was hard to believe that she was even taking Joxer’s advice Gabrielle didn’t find it implausible that Joxer the Mighty would be full of graet advice and ideas.  The bard then thought of his song again as Xena responded as if disgusted that Joxer even had a brain at all.  Gabrielle shrugged off the negetive attitude toward her love coming from Xena as she defended him explaining how wonderful his song was and how he had been teaching it to her all afternoon.

The bard began to embody herself with the passions as she imagined that she was pricness Illiandra and he was singing his beautiful song to her.  Somehow the song embodied him and his essence which allowed Gabrielle to carry it with her everywhere she went as long as she could just sing it.  The bard was enthralled as she sang and caressed her water bottle for she could not wait to get back to him with his request and to save him from dehydration.  Xena rose from the lake disgusted again stating that there was something off balance about Gabrielle suddenly complementing Joxer for in the past she had always detested him.  The bard did admit that there had been a time that she had felt that way about her love, but now it was all so very clear to her for the first time.  Gabrielle proudly declared to the world and to the warrior princess that she loved Joxer the Mighty.  Xena stood up from her seated place upon the log by the lake and she responded in disbelief as if she had not heard Gabrielle’s declaration.  The bard admitted that indeed these feelings and actions coming from her were a shock, but all Gabrielle could think about was the moment in which she had suddenly fallen from him back at the village after being untied.  It was a bliss like no other.  Even Perdicas had not evoked such deep feelings from her heart, her mind, and especially her body.  The bard declared herself to have been blind of her own feelings which led her to preach her philosophical thoughts outloud with conviction.  For maybe love truly was nothing more than blindness.  For a moment the bard’s thoughts turned to the idea that maybe she was ranting, but instead she decided that the idea sounded romantic and that it needed to be recorded upon her parchment when she returned to Joxer.

Xena was arguing the bard’s point reminding her that Joxer was nothing more and only Joxer.  Gabrielle witnessed the disgust eminating from Xena’s face.  The face that the warrior princess made when talking about Joxer was insulting and unattractive.  This only angered the bard for it demonstrated Xena’s lack of respect for the Mighty and sexy warrior.  She decided that there was only one course of action.  Gabrielle would entice Xena into a duel to fight for Joxer’s honor.  It would most certainly prove her love and commitment to him.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that Draco was not the prize that she made him to be on this day.  Then she drove her passion home by comparing Joxer to the bloodthirsty and unattractive warlord Draco.  Gabrielle declared that being in love with Joxer was most certainly more noble and worthy.  Xena was quick to defend her ugly lover trying to argue that he had seen the error of his warlord ways and that he was no longer the way that Gabrielle had described him to be.  She stumbled to defend him and Gabrielle could see that even Xena was not so certain of Draco’s truest intensions, but it did not matter.  Gabrielle knew exactly what Joxer’s intensions were.  They were of pure love and lust.  As the argument of lover’s escalated it was soon interrupted by the sounds of screaming virgins from the village in the distance.

Both Xena and Gabrielle sanpped into action as they dashed toward the village continuing their battle of verbal wits.  As they entered the village Gabrielle shouted out to Xena reminding her that he had not changed.   His present actions only proved it as he could be seen ringing the bell in the center of the village while his men were snatching up virgins all around them left and right.  Xena had been defeated in proving that her lover was the better prize.  She approached Draco with disappointment reminding him that she had thought that they had agreed that he would not steel the virgins.  He laughed defiant of the warrior princess and stated that she had thought wrong.  It was obvious to the bard that Xena was in love with a man that could never have respect for her.  Draco pushed the warrior princess away and onto the ground as he drew his weapon and prepared to rid himself of her.  Gabrielle knelt down to help Xena and then noticed Draco’s threatening presence behind her.  She turned to face him and defend the warrior princess with her staff as she pressed him back and away from Xena.  Despite Gabrielle’s anger for Xena’s disrespect of Joxer she would not allow Draco to treat Xena with the same disrespect.  The bard demanded that Draco leave her friend alone.  It wasn’t enough for him to batter Xena’s emotions.  The drove the bard mad with anger.  Gabrielle declared Xena’s love for him openly for all in the village square to hear.  There was silence for several moments as Gabrielle sensed a strange presence about the village.  Lust was growing stronger as Draco’s fiery bloodthirsty eyes transformed into tenderness as he looked to Gabrielle.  Maybe she had been able to get through to him.  Xena had risen from the ground and affirmed that Gabrielle’s declaration of Xena’s love for Draco was indeed true.

Draco refused Xena’s love immediately explaining that the warrior princess was too late.  Just when it appeared that Draco was about to go back into battle mode he declared that Xena could not keep him from what he truly wanted which was Gabrielle.  The bard’s mind could only process that the moment was one of complete insanity.  Draco the warlord who almost destroyed her home village on their first meeting was declaring his love for Gabrielle.  It was unbelievable.  Something was definitely in the air, but the mystery ran deeper now that Draco was suddenly infatuated with Gabrielle.  His stare into her eyes was eerie and powerful.  Xena expressed outloud what the bard was only thinking.  Something strange was going on.  Then Xena continued explaining that Draco could not possibly want Gabrielle’s affections.  Even if it was an insult to the bard Gabrielle agreed that she did not want Draco’s passions for herself.  Her heart began to pound with fear and uncertainty as love’s bliss was raging out of the realm of reality and control.  Draco ignored Xena’s attempt to degrade her friend’s value as he stated that he knew exactly what he wanted now.  Draco then barked out a command to his first in command Kragen and told him to round up the virgins for the warlord Penellous would be arriving soon to collect them in exchange for payment to Draco.

Then he smiled and reached out grabbing Gabrielle’s arm demanding that she go with him.  Gabrielle knew for a certainty that she could never love and spend her life with a warlord like Draco.  She smacked him away violently with her staff declaring that she would never go with him.  Xena took the advantage that Gabrielle’s rejection of Draco had created to make a mad dash for the virgins on the loose.  She attacked Draco’s army as Gabrielle struggled to get away from the creepy warlord who would not leave her alone.  Each time he would get close enough Gabrielle would strike him with her staff.  She warned him not to touch her as she battled him defending.  Gabrielle was prepared to do whatever it took to keep herself away from him even if she had to feed him to the gorgon monsters herself.  He was only enticed more by these threats as he referred to her as a sptifire.  Gabrielle responded by smacking Draco across his face and nose determined to tear him apart to save herself from the unquenchable lust.  He rose from defeat yet again to reaffirm Gabrielle’s passionate vengence against his lust for her.

Then Gabrielle saw her love.  Joxer the Mighty appraoched Draco from behind tapping him on the shoulder into distraction.  Joxer the Mighty then delivered a thunderous punch straight into Draco’s nose.  The sound echoed through the village like thunder.  Gabrielle cheered for him with delight for he had saved her from Draco’s advances.  Just then Draco drew out a knife and as he prepared to stab Joxer the Mighty one of Draco’s men flew across the village knocking Draco into the ground.  Gabrielle suddenly noticed that her love was hurt.  She quickly came to his aid as he expressed his pain stating with the cutest little whimper that the big bad warlord had injured him.  Suddenly the warrior princess barked out a command to all to head for the temple.  Gabrielle shouted out to all that they must be swift and hurry inside.  The bard led the way opening the doors of the temple alongside Joxer the Mighty as everyone filed into the temple.  The virgins were panicked with excitement and the thrill of being in fear of lust.  Gabrielle then instructed them all to hide in the back of the temple.  She looked outside the temple to see if Xena was close.  The warrior princess was rounding up the last of the virgins.  One of them cried out that she had dropped her prayer scroll.  The warrior princess assured her that they would retrieve it after the danger had passed.  As the battling bard watched the last of the virgins enter the temple with Xena she ran over to shut the door and secure it for their defense.

Just when it seemed that things were calm and safe again Xena asked Gabrielle where Joxer was.  Gabrielle could not believe that she had lost track of him.  His voice could be heard crying outside the safety of the temple doors.  He could be heard begged Draco to let him go and to put him down.  Both Xena and Gabrielle ran to the temple windows to catch a glimpse of Joxer’s fate.  He was tied to the back of Kragen’s horse as he begged and pleaded for Xena’s help.  The battling bard wasted no time in acting.  She was out the temple doors instantly to rescue her pookie.  Draco then declared that if she wanted to see her friend that she knew where he could be found.  It was an invitation to his camp.  He had the advantage and snatched up Gabrielle alongside him as he rode out of the village back to camp.  Gabrielle called out to Xena.  Being the lust of Draco’s life was more dangerous that even Callisto.

Upon returning to Draco’s camp he held Gabrielle hostage in his tent and promised her that his physical jewels would not disappoint.  Gabrielle warned him about touching her again as she rammed her head into his abdomen only to be nearly knocked unconscious.  He laughed gleefully and reminded her that he was indeed solid as rock.  Gabrielle spoke of his stubborn head comparing it to his painfully rock solid abs as she rubbed her own throbbing head.  He asked her what she had mumbled.  She was afraid that offending him would only empower him more.  She tried to twist the words explaining that she had said that she had agreed with him and what he had said.  Although it seemed that she had slipped one past him his reaction suggested otherwise.  He only responded by saying that if she kept agreeing with him then their relationship would be fine.  Draco was uncomfortably close now as he reached out and grabbed the bard’s chip.  She sensed a bit of physically forceful threat within Draco’s body language.  Then she sensed his lust building.  It was the same feeling she had felt eminating from within herself when she was with Joxer earlier.  As he moved into the bard to quench his lustful thirst she quickly pushed him away noticing a bowl of cherries sitting upon the bedtable.  Gabrielle moved in for the cherries and began eating them attempting to avert Draco’s intense lust for her.  The bard declared her love for cherries as she continued to stuff them into her mouth so that he could not kiss her.  He only knelt down to her eye level and agreed that cherries were something that they could love together.  The waves of lust were hitting her violently through Draco’s eyes.  Gabrielle was extremely unsettled now as Draco reached for her shoulder and began to caress it gently with his hand.

She hoped that mentioning that she was not a virgin for she was now a widow would discourage his intensity for her, but he only appeared to be slightly interested in this fact.  Instead Draco just laughed as he jumped upon the bed next to Gabrielle and stated that it was lucky for he would not have to kill the bard’s husband since he was already dead.  The bard’s heart jumped from within her chest as if it had been slightly cut out with a sharp daggar.  She had been disgusted before with Draco, but now he was infinately unattractive to her.  As he laughed with an idiotic evil laughter Gabrielle took rage upon him knocking him back with her elbow in the face.  Then she jumped up to face him preparing her next angry statement.  She decided that the best way to fight disrespect was not with more of it, but with compassion despite it being for a warlord.  She opened by stating that she had not wanted to hurt Draco’s feelings, but the reason she could not love him was because she was in love with someone else.  The bard hoped that this knowledge would deter his lust and he would get the point.  Being in love with someone who doesn’t love you is only setting oneself up for inevitable disappointment.

This statement most certainly retrieved Draco’s serious attention as he inquired the bard of her love.  For the first time Draco appeared to be softly concerned for Gabrielle’s feelings, but as he approached she sensed his evil intensions.  She knew that if she told him that she was in love with Joxer the Mighty that Draco would instantly go after Joxer and kill him.  Unfortunately Gabrielle’s nerves were running so high that she expressed her thought outloud before Draco unwillingly.  Draco’s argument that he would not hurt Joxer had somehow tricked Gabrielle into thinking outloud.  He had defeated her with the battle of wits.  The warlord was indeed a sharp minded man, but not at all someone to be falling head over heels for like Xena had done.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll # 41: For Him The Bell Tolls

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#41:  For Him the Bell Tolls

April, 47 B.C.

As my nightmares cease to end Xena has left me yet again.  She has gone off on a mission to see our friend King Lius without me.  When Xena left me behind she had said that it was only a ceremony, but that it was important that she attend.  At the time I didn’t really see the point of leaving me behind unless there was some sort of danger affoot.  Xena always leaves me behind when there is danger to be reckoned with.  Her excuse to me was that it would take too long to get to Liberia if Argo had to ride hard with both of us.  She said that it would take her at least three days to ride with Argo alone.  All I can think is that maybe she is still angry at me for selling her whip to Minya.  Or maybe it was when I hit her in the face with my staff that has led her to leave me on my own.  She left without me earlier this morning.  I thought that maybe I could at least be of some help if there was some danger.  I even suggested to the warrior princess that I would just follow behind and meet up with her when I got there alone.  My suspsicion is that King Lius has called upon Xena for security of some sort.  Although I pleaded with Xena to ask for my help in this matter she declined.  She was even a bit patronizing about it.  She told me to relax and take a few days to rest.  I can’t think of any reason why I would need to rest.  I’m perfectly fine.  So that brings me to my next challenge.  I have to prove to Xena that I’m worthy.  I have to prove to her that I can take care of missions without her help.  She doesn’t think that I’m capable of independence.  Xena can not fathom the idea that I could be self reliant.

Unfortunately for me not long after Xena had left I walked up the path to hear the sounds of a battle.  Yet it wasn’t the typical battle.  I decided to step off of the path and to scout from the brush to see who it was that was battling up the path.  As the sounds came closer it seemed as if it were really only one man swinging his sword wildly.  Maybe it was a warlord gone insane.  I wasn’t really certain until I heard his familiar voice.  Danger was not affoot.  Instead it was entertaining to watch a wanna bee warrior defeat his non-existant enemies.  He sheathed his sword once again as he came closer down the path.  Then he paused and started his drama from the begining.  Unsheathing his sword now he poised himself for attack.  He shouted to his enemy Megalopolis that he would be the next victim on his list of defeated.  In fact, he even went as far as to threaten to feed his victim to the fish.  It was almost more than I could bare to keep quiet.  My stomach was bursting with laughter ready to come apart at the seams.  Yet I stayed calm and poised in my place in the brush beyond.  My unsuspecting victim would most certainly defeat himself momentarily with idoicy.

His next moves were wild and uncontrolled as he perried with his phantom enemy and then suddenly went into the most horrid interpretation of Xena’s signature battle cry that I could have imagined.  I knew that I wasn’t so great at it, but as Joxer flew through the air attempting to emulate Xena’s famous flip he fell flat on his face as I sprang up from the brush to attack.  Yet I never had my chance to take him down unexpectedly for he had done that on his own.  He landed face first right next to my boots.  That was when I rested my staff gently on the ground beside his head and greeted him with a sarcastic glow.  If Xena thought that I was shameful to hang around with she would never believe it if I told her what I had just witnessed with Joxer the Magnificient or whatever he called himself these days.  He really wasn’t all that magnificient or mighty.

Naturally he was surprised to see me.  So surprised and even embarressed that he tried to play off his blunderous mistake.  He moved his ear to the ground as if listening for something.  As I watched his warrior skill he assured me that he was listening to make sure that he had not been followed by giants.  What he didn’t realize was that we were no where near where the giants lived.  Then he fumbled nervously to rise to his feet trying desparately to appear confident and in control.  He obviously wasn’t.  He then assured me as he shealthed his wide blade that no giants had followed.  All was safe and calm in the land of Joxer.  What a relief it was to know that I had run into the dumbest warrior that had ever lived.  He was hopeless.

His next move appeared confused as he looked about.  Then he asked me the one question I dreaded most.  He wanted to know where Xena was.  Unfortuneatly I had to admit that she didn’t need her sidekick.  She was perfectly capable of being a hero without me.  Within that moment Joxer’s face lit up like lightening.  It was as if he was having the revelation of his life.  He then spoke his thoughts outloud gleefully reminding me that I was a sidekick without a hero, but continued onto remind me of how he was dellusional in thinking that he was a hero who needed a sidekick.  Of course I could take no more of his insanity.  I challenged him asking him what he was a hero of.  He seemed irritated that I would even question his prowess.  Joxer insisted that he was a well-known hero and even went as far as to call himself Joxer the Mighty.  That was what I had thought he would do, but I wasn’t expecting what came next.  It was a dreadful theme song to promote himself as if he were Hercules or someone like that.  I didn’t appreciate it as he began to sing it to me passionately in his deep goofy voice.  I had to stop him before I hurled on the side of the path.  It was more than I could handle.  Danger was definately affoot now.  I was not going to find myself stuck with this man for the next several days.  If this was a vacation from my nightmares it sure didn’t appear that way.  Xena would have to pay for this when she came back.  A week of traveling with Joxer the Mighty would drive me insane.

I began to walk up the path attempting to ignore him, but he would not be ignored.  He was determined to convince me of his heroic talents.  All I could think of was how much shame he brought to the world of the heros for he knew very little about what made a hero.  I expressed my thoughts outloud knowing that Joxer would never understand any of it, but I didn’t care.  I was just trying to figure out how I could get myself out of this situation.  Joxer wanted to prove that he could be just as worthy a hero as Xena.  He then asked me what Xena would do in the current situation.  I was a bit confused by his question until I realized that I now held a golden oppritunity in my hand.  He had just given me my way out of this entire scenario.  It was so easy for the man was so eager to please and to prove his worth that he walked right into my trap.  I suggested to him in a serious tone that he guard the rear for that is what Xena would most certainly do.  We had to be sure that the enemy was not going to approach us from behind.  Joxer seemed pleased and excited about this for he was certain that he could guard the rear.  I even told him that he had to go way back because that was what Xena would do.  So Joxer the Mighty went running down the path with his sword ready for battle.  He wanted so desparately to be something that he could never be.  Yet that was alright with me.  I could once again enjoy some solace and time alone.

Life was good for the moment for I had decided that I should just take Xena’s advice and try to relax.  With Joxer out of the way I had decided that I should count my blessings from the gods and enjoy the tranquil walk in the sun.  How bad could a vacation be when there was the warm sun to enjoy and the sounds of love in the air as spring was just about to turn to summer.  What I didn’t realize was how true love would be for the next couple of days.  I didn’t realize that I would be meeting the goddess of love herself.  It was only a matter of love.

My tranquil walk did not last long for soon I ran into some trouble up the road in a small village.  I heard the screams of young women as I watched them scramble about for their lives.  They were being attacked and kidknapped by a small band of renegade soldiers.  This was the moment of truth for me.  It was the oppritunity I had been waiting for.  I was determined to defeat the enemy without the assistance of the warrior princess.  Though I felt courageous my confidence was not solid yet now there was little time to question that.  I had to jump into battle alone and so I made my choice.  Quickly I ran into the chaos about the small village.   From behind one of the men whom had found himself a captive I charged in.  With full force I swung my staff nailing him from behind.  My confidence was building as he fell to the ground releasing his victim from harm.  Then I went for my second enemy with a swift move across his face with a one handed staff move.  I had never tried it before, but it worked.  Suddenly I felt a force charging in from behind as I spun around to take him down with a jab underneath the chin.

There was a fourth man whom had jumped into the fight, but he was strong.  He grabbed hold of my staff attempting to rob me of my weapon.  I struggled desparately to get control, but after serveral moments I was overpowered by his force as he kicked me to the ground and threw down my staff.  Suddenly I was defeated and uncertain of what to do next.  My confidence had been shattered, but just when things seemed grim something amazing happened.  Flipping into battle was the cheerful voice of Joxer the Mighty.  He seemed extremely athletic and graceful as he entered into the battle.  A large gleeful smile spread across his face from ear to ear as all of the women in the village were seemingly swooned by his presence.  Even I felt the energy and the love eminating from this sexy warrior.  It was Joxer, but then Joxer ripped off his ugly breast plate along with the rest of his mismatched armor revealing his sexy style.  He looked almost like a handsome prince with his brown hair slicked back almost perfecty in place.  Suddenly he adjusted the cuffs on his sleeves and then gracefully drew his sword to fight against the enemy that had taken me down.

It was time to rise to the occasion for I could not bring myself to allow Joxer the Mighty to be the hero.  Yet as I rose to my feet Joxer had already defeated the enemy with just three perrying moves and a kick.  He now had control of my staff and was using it against the enemy.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It was like having a silly dream.  For a moment I thought that maybe it was a dream that I had just drifted off into mistakenly.  Unfortunately it wasn’t as Joxer continued to battle on.  He suddenly looked to me and threw my weapon back to me.  It was a perfect throw and it was solid.  Normally Joxer was weak, but he seemed so manly.  The impossible was happening as he continued confidiently and valliantly.  He finished off his second attacker by doing some fancy acrobatic move that I hadn’t thought possible.  The enemy was at the mercy of this joker pummeling him in the face while the superhero’s ankles had him in a head lock.

Joxer then flipped backwards sending the enemy over his head rolling violently down the hill.  He continued to show off his grace as he threw his sword down into the ground and fought his next attacker in hand to hand combat.  I didn’t think Joxer could throw a punch straight, but somehow he was landing each jab perfectly.  As the last man went down the girls began to scream while Joxer continued to woo them with his tricks.  In fact, he finished off his side show by proclaiming to the ladies that his sword was there to pleasure them.  With that he threw his sword up into the air spinning above his head.  Then he managed to capture it perfectly into his scabbord without even breaking a sweat.  This was all too much for the women who witnessed his prowess.  They suddenly came rushing over to him swooning over the idiot.  I was begining to feel that I was the only one who knew the truth.  Yet it didn’t matter because the girls were saved as it was so eliquently put.

Suddenly I was feeling quite jealous for Joxer had stolen my chance to prove to Xena that I could be a hero.  It was time that I made things absolutely clear to him before he was to get any other ideas.  As I approached the crowd of women surrounding him I was pushed aside.  It was as if no one had even noticed that I had been involved in the battle.  There was quite a bit of pandamonioum surrounding him as he glowed within all of the female fans he had just aquired.  There was more lust than love within all of this and something was definately abnormal.  Joxer then proclaimed that he had come to deliver a gift to the one they called princess Illiandra.  This naturally upset all of the other women who had surrounded him as the princess stepped forward with enthusiasm.  She was definately under his spell.  I felt a little sorry for her as she approached him.  He then produced a trinket which was a golden bell.  It was held by a pink ribbon which was to be given to the princess.  As Joxer proceeded to put the trinket onto the princess she seemingly could not wait for she insisted that he hurry.  Joxer sang praises to her of her beauty and began using strange yet smooth metaphores to enhance her beauty for all to notice.  There was definately some kind of love in the air, but I couldn’t really figure it out.  None of this made sense.

What happened next was even more strange for when Joxer leaned in to touch lips with the princess he missed cracking heads instead.  Now that move was more like the Joxer I knew.  At this point the pandemoneom had finally died down so I decided that this was my chance to interject a question.  I began by complementing Joxer on his performance, but I was wondering more about his sudden sexy side that had sprung out of nowhere.  Joxer looked to me and appeared just as confused as I had been feeling.  He seemed oblivious and unaware of what had just happened.  Princess Illiandra was still swooned by his presence and begged that he again repeat the elequent poetry that he had just spouted off.  He looked to her and then looked to me confused.  It was as if he were asking me to repeat his poetic words so that he could impress the princess again.  I did not feel sorry for the guy at all.  In fact, I felt like laughing at him because it was just so funny to me.  Shrugging my shoulders was the only answer I could come up with for the guy.  Suddenly he just walked away back toward the trees in confusion.  It was as if he were trying to retrace his steps or even figure out how he had arrived within the current moment.

As I watched him walk away Illiandra interrupted my thoughts assuring me that she was happy that the two of us had arrived in time to save her and her enterrage.  I was flattered yet strangely fascinated by Joxer’s issues.  Maybe there was another side to the idiot that I had not considered.  Illiandra then intoduced herself and said that she was from Mylon.  Though I was more intrested in Joxer I tried to focas on Illiandra.  Politely I introduced myself to her and then asked her where she had been going.  With excitement she expressed that she was headed for Pylos to marry her betrothed Prince Sarpedon.  This led me to a strange thought that didn’t make sense.  Joxer was mysteriously courting a Princess who was about to wed her betrothed yet Illiandra seemed to be lusting after the idiot.  Both appeared unsuspecting of their lust for one another.  Illiandra continued to speak about how impractical it was to just run off and elope.  She continued on about how unexpectedly dangerous it was outside the safety of the castle walls back in Mylon.  Yet I was really not that interested in her plight.  It was familiar to me from my experiences with Princess Diana.  I tried desparately to focas on Illiandra, but Joxer just kept bumping his head and knocked his blade on the side of a tree that he had been standing next to.  Even Illiandra seemed a bit intrigued by the idiot in his clumbsiness.  Out of frustration we watched Joxer kick the tree only to injure himself.

Illiandra began to wonder if this was the same sexy warrior that had flipped into rescue her.  Indeed it was Joxer the one whom had somehow managed to save her.  I wasn’t sure where he had suddenly found his warrior way, but for a short moment in time he was  a real hero.  Now it seemed that he could barely remember who he was.  Suddenly he found himself deciding to rejoin the world as he sheathed his sword, rubbing his head, and stumbling back into a conversation with Princess Illiandra and myself.  Joxer then tried desparately to reconstruct his heroic act stating that there had been at least twenty men involved.  There had only been four.  He looked to me, but I could not reassure him of that being the truth.  He then reached for straws hoping that it had been more than twenty.  I couldn’t confirm that one either.  Joxer tried desparately to recover his story as he spoke of the non-existant cross bows that had been involved.  Only swords and a few fists had been the weapons that Illiandra had seen.  Then Joxer just decided to forget about the details of the battle and continue on with his poetry.  He tried desparately to recreate the moment of bliss between he and Illiandra, but this time it didn’t come off quite as beautiful.  Joxer confidently put his arm around Illiandra and began walking with her.  The next thing he told her was that her skin was like cream when it curtled.  No woman could possibly take that as a complement.  Even Medusa would have to walk away from an idiot like that.  Yet I was still intrigued because it seemed to be a serious problem that Joxer was experiencing.  An entire drama within his life had been wiped away from his memory.  The only thing that was left was his idiocy.

I decided that the only thing left to do was to investigate.  Joxer and I would escort Illiandra to her destination and then we would be on our way.  As we walked I found it pleasant to speak with the princess for she was very gentle and kind hearted.  The only problem was that she had trouble remembering Joxer’s name.  It seemed strange, but as I listened her talk about her betrothed with such love and conviction I had decided that the Joxer moment had been some kind of fluke.  Sadly for Joxer it was castastrophic for he had been given the chance to swoon one of the most beautiful women in the world, but botched it up in the end.  I had to feel sorry for him and when we finally met up with Prince Sarpadon my heart reached out to Joxer within his disappointment.

Joxer was desparate to know what Sarpadon had that he did not.  It was obvious to me that Sarpadon was handsom, sexy, extremely attractive, with muscles and he had Illiandra.  Joxer’s bubble had been burst at that point, but who could blame Illiandra for she was indeed meant to be with Sarpadon as the two shared in a passionate kiss together.  When their long kiss finally ceased Illiandra introduced Joxer and I to her love although to Joxer’s dismay she had forgotten his name for the tenth time.  Then both Illiandra and Sarpadon valliantly thanked us for our trouble and sent us on our way.  As the two of them walked away happily with their entrerrage I  expressed to Joxer how wonderful it was that we had helped them to have a happy ending.  Joxer didn’t seem to be as delighted about the ending as I was.  It was at that point I decided that my mission for the next few days while Xena was away would be to repair Joxer’s dismay.

As we walked down the path together I began the story from the begining when I had first run into him.  I wasn’t sure how far back he had lost his memory.  I went through every detail with him and when I reached the part about the battle that was where he seemed to be extremely lost.  He couldn’t remember a single detail about it until the part where Illiandra had first asked him to repeat the statement about her beautiful creamlike skin.  Joxer couldn’t believe that he had fought all four of the rouge warriors alone and was still standing in the end.  It was as if he had not believed a single word I had said.  As the two of us tried to figure out what went wrong I suggested to him it may have been because he had hit his head that he did not remember the details, but instead he had an explanation all his own.  He suggested that he had been within what he called a warrior haze.  It was an interesting thought.  I felt sorry for the guy, but he was begining to push my patience with that lame idea.  Joxer continued explaining what his warrior haze must have felt like as he spoke of the blood pumping, heart pounding, and muscles flexing.  He was so excited about it that I decided to let it go.  Whatever made him feel better would complete this mission a lot sooner which meant I could get away from him.  I patted him on the back and agreed with him to stroke his ego a little bit and reiterated that now everything was happy again.  Princess Illiandra and Prince Sarpadon were safe and to be happily married all because of this so called warrior haze.

As I thought of all of this I suddenly found myself alone again, but unexpectedly.  Joxer was walking alongside me in one moment and in the next he had vanished.  I found myself worried about him and was desparate to find him.  I tracked his moves down the path which led back to a place near where we had left the Prince and Princess together.  When I walked through the trees I took a glimpse to notice that there they all were.  The Prince, the Princess, their enterrage, a priest, and Joxer.  I was relieved to see that Joxer was safe and with the two lovers, but I had not expected that from him.  The only conclusion I could come to was that he had decided to share in their happiness since it had been his warrior haze which had brought them back together.  Just as I was approching to ask him what he was doing I found myself interrupting a marriage proposal.  It was all so peaceful and romantic as Sarpadon proclaimed his love for Illiandra.  I was feeling all warm inside until she proclaimed her love for Joxer who quickly stepped between them and swept her into the most passionate kiss imaginable.  Sarpadon looked to me broken hearted and with confusion within his eyes.  I didn’t quite understand it myself.  Joxer was seemingly going back into that mysterious warrior haze as he continued to kiss Illiandra.

Sarpadon interrupted with anger and hurt demanding from Illiandra an explanation for her behavior.  Joxer answered for the princess to Sarpadon with arrogance as he drew his weapon for a fight.  Sarpadon found himself challenged by Joxer the Mighty.  He was driven to respond by drawing his weapon.  Two handsome and sexy men fighting for the affections of one beautiful princess.  The passions of a battle for love were dangerous and things were spiraling out of control.  Joxer may have been able to defeat the four rogue warriors, but I wasn’t so certain that he could match the skill of Prince Sarpadon.  I stepped between the two with their passions flying demanding that Joxer wise up and lay down his weapon.  He was behaving wreckless and stupid.  I didn’t like this side of him.  Yet Joxer just brushed me aside proclaiming that he was destined to fight for the affections of Princess Illiandra.   Then Joxer invited passion and love to enter into battle as Sarpadon charged his enemy.  Sarpadon’s attack was gracefully deflected by a block and then spin by Joxer who could have easily taken the life of the helpless Prince.  Instead he threatened the Prince knocking the broad side of his sword upon the back of Sarpadon.  Then Joxer laughed and taunted the prince.  It was unfair.  Sarpadon vowed angerily to Joxer that he would never allow him to take Illiandra away.  Joxer just smirked at the passions of the prince as Sarpadon went on a full attack smacking swords violently with Joxer who was effortlessly deflecting every move that Sarpadon tried against his enemy.

Tempers were flaring as Sarpadon was about to take the advantage.  Joxer paused and interrupted seemingly impressed by Sarpadon’s passion for Illiandra.  Yet he declared that Sarpadon was without the warrior skill needed to win this passionate battle for love.  Joxer then powered through Sarpadon’s momentum pushing him back down the hill toward the lake below the trees.  Sarpadon desparately tried to spin around to confuse his attacker, but was instead taken off guard by a retaliation.  Joxer’s sword was to his throat before Sarpadon could even blink or think to take a breath.  The Prince was cunning in battle for he then looked to Illiandra expressing no fear and reached for the bell which hung from her neck.  It was the mysterious bell that had been given to her by Joxer earlier in the day.  Which brought me to my own inquiry.  I was curious to know where this bell came from.  Yet there was little time to think of this for Joxer’s answer was confident as he downplayed the significance of the gift.  Joxer stated that it was merely a trinket that could never be worthy the beauty of Illiandra.  Illiandra was wooed once more by the sexy Joxer the Mighty.  Her reaction sent Sarpadon into the final and painful last passionate advance upon Joxer as he snapped the bell from Illiandra’s neck throwing it in the face of the enemy.  As the bell flew through the air it rang and fell directly into the hands of Joxer the idiot.

Suddenly Joxer shouted out in fear calling out to me for answers.  He was back to his state of confusion and loss of memory.  It was not the ideal time for his warrior haze to suddenly dissipate, but it did.  Sarpadon took the advantage preparing to finish off the defenseless Joxer who cowered away from the fight confused.  He demanded to know what the problem was, but Sarpadon did not buy the trick.  Instead he shunned Joxer for interfering with the love of his life.  The Prince was offended by Joxer’s tricks, but I knew that this was no trick.  Joxer was sick, but I didn’t know how or why.  Sarpadon continued by reminding Joxer of the gift of love that had stolen the affections of Illiandra.  Joxer was terrified and desparate as he threw the bell back to the prince.  It rang again as it flew through the air and so again the warrior haze began.  Joxer again stood upright ready to do battle as before.  He taunted the prince again disrespecting the love that belonged to Sarpadon.  The attack was fierce which came down upon Sarpadon.  Joxer moved swiftly perrying forward and finally disarming the prince.  Now with two swords in hand it seemed that Sarpadon’s life was about to end.  Yet instead Joxer the Mighty took mercy upon Sarpadon calling him a valliant warrior.  He then handed Sarpadon his weapon holding the blade to his own chest.  Sarpadon took his weapon back by the handle as he was instructed to go home for the battle was now won.  Illiandra now belonged to Joxer leaving Sarpadon’s heart in ruin.  And so Sarpadon gently returned the bell to the hands of Illiandra shealthing his weapon in defeat as he left Illiandra with a bleeding heart.

I thought that the worst was over, but I was wrong.  In the next moment Joxer and Illiandra were lusting all over each other.  It was sickening in many ways, but mostly to my heart.  Because of Joxer’s illness true love was being torn apart.  I could not bare to see true love taken before it could start.  So my new mission was to be in making sure that Illiandra and Sarpadon were reunited for they were the true lovers and Joxer was delusional with illness yet it did not explain Illiandra’s sudden lust for him.  When I promised Illiandra that I would take her back to Sarpadon her true love she only proclaimed that she was already with the one she loved.  I was begining to realize just how difficult this was going to be as I tried to get between the two lusting to be.  Joxer then pushed me away attempting to convince me that I should not interfere with the powerful muscles of the heart.  The day was becoming a nightmare as Illiandra begged Joxer to become one with her.  He was very willing to give Illiandra anything including things that he shouldn’t have.  The moment of truth for me was in hearing myself being referred as Joxer’s sidekick.  That I could not let happen.  Joxer was the one who needed my help and not the other way around.

As evening fell into the night we found ourselves camping out in a nearby cave.  It was difficult to cook dinner and keep two walking hormones separate.  I tried distracting them with stories of who they were as opposed to who they thought they were.  Especially Joxer for I desparately tried to remind Illiandra of the idiot that she had met in the morning.  Joxer leaned in as I was cutting the potatoes to explain that he knew nothing of this idiot Joxer.  He only knew of himself and his love for Illiandra.  Illiandra was just as hopeless for it seemed that Joxer the Mighty was more sexy by the moment.  I tried to talk myself through what was causing the problem with Illiandra and as I thought it through there was only one idea that came to mind.  Maybe it all had something to do with the necklace that Joxer had given to Illiandra for everytime it rang Joxer became strange.  He was either strangely sexy or strangely stupid.

My frustrations were rising as I went across the cave to retrieve my water bottle.  I was hoping that maybe a drink would cool everyone’s passions down.  Turning my back on them for just one moment lead to passions beyond control.  Frustration turned to anger for this situation was absolutely insane.  I tried desparately to cool them off with torrents of water, but instead it seemingly made them more lustful.  Somehow Joxer the Mighty was turning into Joxer the Sexy.  It was madness and disgusting.  This night would last forever, but then it finally dawned on me.

The only way to keep Joxer from thinking of Illiandra was to appeal to his ego.  There was only one solution that I could come up with.  I asked him to teach me his little song.  I knew that it would work because Illiandra would be able to enjoy hearing about how wonderful her new lover was in the form of a song.  It was also certain that Joxer wouldn’t be able to control his urge to stroke is own ego.  Ego was a powerful thing and it was the only weapon I had against the heart muscle that I was fighting against.  When I tried my weapon it did not fail me as Joxer began to sing.  Unforunately in his warrior haze his voice was super sexy, but it soothed the lustful beast that had taken Illiandra.  We spent all night singing together.  Everyone sang until they dropped.  In the early hours of the morning both of them were finally sleeping peacefully and lust free.  As for me I was exhausted and a bit dillusional.  I found myself still singing the silly song as the sun rose over the horizen.

Joxer the Mighty

Roams through the countryside

He never needs a place to hide

With Gabby as his sidekick

Fighting with her little stick

Righting wrongs and singing songs

Being mighty all day long

He’s Joxer, Joxer the Mighty…

Joxer the Mighty

He’s very tidy

Everyone admires him

He’s so handsome its a sin

When things get grim

He’ll take it on the chin

If you’re in jeapordy

Caused by the enemy

Don’t call the calvary

There’s a better remedy

Although he doesn’t work for free

He’s every man’s trustee

He’s every woman’s fantasy

Plus he’s good company

Lookout, golly gee

He’s Joxer, Joxer the Mighty,

Joxer, Joxer the Mighty.

I was begining to feel safe as I was letting my guard down.  The last coals of the campfire were burning out by now.  Just as I was about to close my eyes and drift into wonderful sleep I heard the sounds of a small army coming from deep in the valley outside the cave.  Suddenly I popped out of the trance as I awakened Joxer the Mighty.  I grabbed his shoulder as I stood up to study the scene just outside.  Illiandra was awakened by the commotion as I viewed the field.  My warrior instincts were kicking in for a small army could be a serious thing.  Illiandra spoke up with some intelligence suggesting that it was probably King Linias father of Sarpadon.  This made sense because it appeared as if they were looking for someone.  There was only one person that could have brought a small army upon himself and that was Joxer the Mighty.

Joxer popped up from his slumber and prepared himself for the unthinkable.  One man against an army alone he did not stand a chance.  He was a super warrior, but even Xena would never fight alone with these kind of odds.  Joxer was still brave in his love for the princess assuring her that she did not have to be afraid.  Yet Illiandra’s fear was the least of our problems within the moment.  It was time to choose and the solution was obvious to me.  We had to escape from the wrath of Linias’s army.  There had to be another way out of the cave.  As I grabbed my staff from its resting place against the wall Joxer argued with my decision.  He had already decided that running was not an option.  This was a wreckless idea for I knew what he would say next.  Joxer the Mighty was prepared to fight and to die for no real reason.  Maybe it was warrior pride or male ego.  It could have been both, but neither made standing and fighting a wise decision and I firmly expressed my opinion to Joxer.  Yet he seemingly did not hear a word I said.  It did not matter to him.  He said death would not stand between he and Illiandra.  Joxer proclaimed that nothing could allow their love to die.  His words were lovely and sweet, but they were not well thought out.  Illiandra was entranced again.  All reason had flown out of the cave the way it had come in.

Joxer left the cave in his warrior haze as I warned Illiandra that his fate may not be so nice.  Illiandra was lost within the whirrl wind of it all, but not enough to be blind to what Joxer was about to get himself into.  Illiandra and I dashed out of the cave hoping to catch Joxer before his tragic mistake.  We watched him as we approached as he walked galliantly down the hill toward the army massed against him.  I saw the king as he instructed his men to wait before they were to attack.  He was obviously afraid of Joxer.  One could only imagine the tales told by Illiandra’s enterrage and Prince Sarpadon himself.  Joxer then paused standing tall before the army.  He then proclaimed fearlessly that the fates of those who chose to fight would be at the point of his sword.  Joxer the Mighty had just opened the battle as King Linias was to give the order for an attack upon a lone warrior.

As Illiandra and I approached the hopeless warrior her bell began to toll.  Just as I had suspected I saw an instant change within Joxer’s eyes.  He was becoming the idiot again, but this time was not the time.  I pleaded with him to stop the madness if it was possible for him to control it at all.  Then I watched him as he fainted out of shock and fear.  He dropped to the ground like a falling tree.  Nothing could have been worse for me.  All I could do was try to protect him and prevent King Linias and his army from bringing harm to my helpless friend.  As the small army approached they surrounded us.  I pulled up into a defensive position standing over Joxer’s limp body hoping to block and attackers.  King Linais did not give the order to strike, but instead proclaimed that we be arrested  and then executed for threatening the peace.  Our fate would be execution for our crimes against the two kingdoms that would have united as a result of union between Sarpadon and Illiandra.  Now the future of the two kingdoms was uncertain as was the fate of myself alongside Joxer the not so Mighty.

Illiandra pleaded for our lives proclaiming that we were her friends, but Linais of Amphous would not have mercy.  He accused Illiandra of being a harlot and warned her that another outburst could lead to her own execution.  Yet I knew that she would be safe as long as Sarpadon’s love was strong.  Joxer and I would be helpless and left to fend for ourselves.  There had to be a way to fix this.  If only I had some time to think.  There would soon be plenty of it for we were locked up awaiting our formal sentencing by Linias’s court.  They had decided that Joxer was too dangerous to be allowed to roam freely within our quarters so they chained him to a post.  I was actually relieved hoping that it would keep the sexy warrior from getting us into any more trouble.

As I paced back and forth I was in deep thought.  There was a piece missing within this rather complex puzzle of irrational events.  At one point I found myself listening to the conversation between King Linais and Princess Illiandra as they rode by our quarters through the sqare.  Linais was obviously angry by Illiandra’s choice to deface his son’s love.  Illiandra was desparate to explain, but didn’t quite know how.  She had never meant to cause Sarpadon emotional anguish or embarressment, but somehow she had gotten caught up into Joxer.  It seemed to me that their union had been an important event between the two kingdoms and now everything was in ruin.  Emotions were running high, but it wasn’t clear to me of who would want to sabatoge these two kingdoms.  Of course Joxer found this to be a blissful experience for Illiandra had chosen him over Sarpadon.  He was elated unlike the day before when he was let down by the fickle tastes of a beautiful woman.  Joxer was dillusional as I tried to explain to him that Illiandra had not picked him, but the other Joxer.

By this point I was becoming extremely frustrated realizing that even if I was unable to solve our problem I had to get us out of danger long enough to find Xena.  Unforunately I had to admit even to myself that I had not been able to handle even a mission as simple as love without Xena.  Being a sidekick was going to have to be enough for me.  I would have to accept it and after all of this I was begining to long for the lighter load of being a sidekick.  There was a lot of tension and anger boiling with in me over Joxer’s emotional decisions over the past couple of days.  He began to go off into his warrior haze theory again admiring himself for what he had accomplished while in that state of mind.  I was at the end of my rope at this point and had to stop trying to break through the walls of our quarters.  It was becoming a race against time.  I couldn’t give up.  There had to be someone behind all of this that I could go to and plead with.  Joxer was convinced that he could put himself into his warrior haze, but he couldn’t and I knew it.  I approached him and punched him in the stomach because that was the last thing I needed.  Then I went onto explain to him that he was under a spell of some sort.  It had everything to do with that bell or any bell ringing.  This led me to ask him if he could remember where he had gotten it.

Joxer tried to retrace his steps of the previous day.  Most of it was lost to him due to his haze, but he began to remember some things.  He began by waking up, and then having breakfast.  Joxer continued by meeting up with me, guarding my rear, he met Aphrodite,and continued on about eating a pommogram.  Suddenly there was a possible answer.  I asked him to repeat the part about meeting Aphrodite.  Joxer seemed enthralled with the goddess stating that she was nice to look at among other things.  This made sense to me.  I had heard of men being swooned by the goddess of love just has many women have been swooned by the god of war.  Aphrodite had a reason to break up the two kingdoms, but I didn’t know what it was at this point.  All that mattered was that I now had someone to go to and ask for help other than Xena.  I had to get the rest of the pieces to the puzzle.

Now that I had a motivation escaping from our wooden prison was a lot easier.  I had found a wooden spoon earlier which I used to pry loose the boards which held together the walls.  As I was working Joxer was certain that in my escape I would find him a bell to ring so that he could escape and become his alter ego.  That was not going to happen.  It was the reason that we were even in this mess.  I could take no more sudden changes in mood from him.  As I successfully pried open the side wall I kicked through the boards.  Joxer insisted that I was just jealous of his heroic accomplishments and he was right.  In the begining I was, but now it was about proving a point.  I was a sidekick, but he wasn’t even blessed with enough talent to find his way out of a barrel of meat.  Jumping out into freedom I shouted out to him promising him that a little faith could go a long way for him.  I was just finding my faith in myself again.  My determination to find Aphrodite was as fierce as the passions of Sarpadon for Illiandra.  As I ran back into the woods all I could hear was the voice of Joxer singing his mighty song as it echoed into the distance.  That was certain to get him executed sooner.

It wasn’t difficult to find one of Aphrodite’s temples.   She had at least a half dozen of them along the river on both sides.  The kingdom of Amphous on one side and the kingdom of Myon on the other led me to my next conclusion.  It seemed that Aphrodite had so many temples here that they had become a burden to the people of both kingdoms.  The best part was that because of love’s power some of the temples would have been replaced with a union of the two kingdoms.  This was why Aphrodite didn’t want Prince Sarpadon and Princess Illiandra to marry.  If they did then two of her temples would have to be destroyed in order to build the bridge that would unite the kingdoms.  It seemed selfish that the goddess of love would shun the love of others for her own pleasures.  Yet I decided that I would give her a chance.  Maybe I would be able to convince her it was wrong to break apart two people who were in love.

As I approached one of the temples on the Amphous side it was immense.  The steps were of gold and the doors stood taller than even the giants.  Pushing the doors open all seemed quiet and calm.  There were many gifts and offerings within Aphrodite’s temple which made it beautiful and inviting.  I could feel the power of love coursing through my soul as I called for the goddess of love hoping that she would appear.  There were candles burning, and offerings lying around everywhere.  I decided to leave by weapon against the door feeling that any sign of aggression might ruin my chances of seeing her.  Mezmorized by the beauty and the art of love I accidentally backed into a half marble column which held a large greek vase.  The vase was saved by the presence of the goddess Aphrodite who was seemingly annoyed at my clumsy move.

I was startled by her reaction, but then astonished by her beauty.  It seemed as if she had just appeared from within the fresh flowers which surrounded everything.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of her radience.  She wore a pink flowing gown and her hair was seemingly made of golden silk.  It was naturally waivy and perfect in every way.  Her eyes were green like emeralds sparkling with positive energy.  Joxer had been right.  She was truely a sight to look at.  It was almost like being with one’s mother only a bit more egotistical and selfish than a mother might be.  I followed her across the temple as she searched her archieves for my identity.  She caught my aura swiftly recognizing that I was a friend of Joxer’s.  Aphrodite referred to Joxer as her boy which I found to be exciting.  Had I known that Joxer had close ties with the goddess of love I might have had more respect for him.  This was my chance to win her over.  I told her that Joxer was the reason I was here.  My hope was that she would see how damaging her spell was to him and to many others.

I was especially concerned for Princess Illiandra and Prince Sarpadon.  There could be no reason to break apart their love for each other.  Yet Aphrodite seemed disinterested in love which surprised me.  She picked up a golden brush and referred me to cupid who suddenly appeared before me.  He was beautiful and tall with stiff white wings.  They were radiant and they appeared soft to the touch.  Cupid seemed annoyed that his mother was so wreckless in her selfish desires.  She seemingly didn’t have time for love anymore as she vanished off to the ocean.  Apparently she was going to enjoy the surf and her indulging lusts.  I decided that cupid was my only chance.  He listened to my pleas for help with sadness explaining that his mother’s mind was already made up.  She had won the battle over love using lust as her greatest weapon.  All of these lives were being ruined so that she could hold onto two more temples.  Suddenly I realized that ego would be the weapon I could use against her.  If she would not take off the spell then I would bring the destruction to her.  As long as cupid could restore the love between Princess Illiandra and Prince Sarpadon I told him that I would take care of the rest.

Time was running out as I dashed back to the square.  I only hoped that I would have enough time to track down a bell.  Yet it seemed that when I finally reached the square I was too late for Joxer’s head was already on the chopping block as the executioner was about to fill his duty.  King Linais was already shouting the command of death to the burly looking executioner who held a long massive ax over his head.  There was little time to think, but Joxer bought me some time as he made his last proclaimation to the crowd.  He proclaimed himself unable to understand what he was giving his one and only life for.  Whatever it was he was afraid and feeling cowardly.  His heart was still pure thought there was not one ounce of bravery left in him.  Suddenly I had an idea.  I grabbed the largest stone from the ground beneath my feet as I searched the square for a bell.  There were three of them with a slight wind from behind.  I thought that I would go for the closest one as I took aim my hopes were shattered as two men placed a large piece of cargo between me and Joxer’s savior.

Though it was the closest bell there were still two others.  I went for the second closest bell only to be cut off by the head of an innocent child whom had been brought to witness the execution of another innocent.  The third bell was quite a distance and I was not certain that I could make the throw.  I decided to wish for luck with the fates as I spit on my hands and rubbed the rock for their blessing.  Then I threw my arm back into position as I plunged the rock with everything I had into the side of the building above.  The rock bounced off of its roof and ricketed up to the bell tower above, but it missed the target miserably.  Yet the force of the rock bounced from the tower down upon the helmets of one of the royal guards sending him back a few steps.  It then continued on its path as if it were Xena’s chackram rounding the corner to its last mark bouncing off of a copper post finally hitting the second bell.  The sound of a bell tolling could not have been more beautiful as it echoed through the square and within my ears.

As the executioner’s ax came down upon the helpless idiot he sprang into Joxer the Mighty lifting his head from the block replacing it with the ropes binding his hands.  The executioner hit his mark perfectly slicing the ropes and returning freedom to the heroic warrior.  Suddenly he was back as he went onto antagonize the defeated executioner and the men who surrounded the block.  Joxer lept upon the block breaking the executioner’s ax turning it into a broad staff.  He laughed gleefully as he flipped down into the square to take on Linais’s guard. The crowd who had come to watch his demise was suddenly in awe especially the women, but no woman more than Princess Illiandra.  It was the price that had to be paid to save the life of the bumbling idiot turned super sexy war hero.  As Joxer approached the Princess and her enterrage he swiftly took a handkerchief from the breast of another fan and sniffed it passionately.  He then proclaimd that the woman’s scent would be his inspiration to continue into the battle as she could barely contain her own desires for the handsome warrior.

As Joxer fought two of Linias’s men in the middle of the square another one came to take revenge upon the Princess for her lusts for Joxer.  I stepped in to protect her for no one could know the truth of her lust came from the goddess Aphrodite.  After knocking him to the ground with my staff Prince Sarpadon proclaimed that he had forgiven the Princess for her blind lust.  Although he did not understand it his love was strong enough to overcome it as Illiandra pushed Sarpadon aside to watch the ensuing battle of Joxer the Mighty.  Joxer continued to fight with the broken ax which had now been reduced to only a handstaff as he flipped over the backs of men and beat others senseless with his weapon.  As I watched him fight I began to realize that although he wasn’t normally this graceful he fought the same without grace.  Joxer laughed within one moment, proud in the next, and then bravehearted to finish the job.  He paused for a moment with his comedy as he grabbed a ladle full of water in the middle of his wrath which distracted the enemy for a moment.  Suddenly another attacked Joxer as he drank only to be defeated by Joxer’s ridiculous weapon.  Joxer fought him one handed while still drinking with the other.  It was truely amazing and in the next moment he found himself defeating not one man with a sword, but four.  As he gracefully disarmed them he threw their weapons into the air replacing his own with on of their swords.  Joxer seemed delighted with himself.

While Joxer was having the time of his life Sarpadon was again feeling broken hearted as Linias approached watching Illiandra’s lusts grow for the sexy warrior.  Linias seemed more angry than Sarpadon who appeared only confused and defeated by all of this.  He did not have the desire to see his love punished, but Linias wanted someone to pay the price and so the King lept in to do battle with Joxer as he pulled his weapon for the challenge.  Joxer found himself  impressed and driven by adrenaline for he was about to fight the man known as the greatest swordsman in the kingdom.  This was truely an honor to one who had been recently known as the greatest warrior in the kingdom.  And so the two would do battle to prove which man deserved the honor of being the best.  Linais was powerful as he perried into attack the one who had disrupted the peace between two kingdoms.  The king was fierce and seemingly unstoppable as he pushed Joxer back quickly gaining ground.  Joxer appeared nervous as he swallowed hard, but only for a few moments.  The warrior then paused with a strong block complementing the king for his skill.  Howerver, Joxer then revealed the greatest secret of all.  He quickly threw his sword from his left hand to his right proclaiming that he had not been fighting with his best hand.

Suddenly the tides were turning as Joxer became the overpowering swordsman to King Linias who had obviously never been beaten by anyone.  This was shocking to the king and his loyal guards jumped into the fight to assist their king in battle.  Joxer was seemingly not phased by this as he flipped away from the king to defend his rear from the new players.  Now it was three men against one and I was growing weary of Aphrodite’s wrath for at this rate it would never end.  Joxer looked to me with glee as I demanded that he take the fight to the temple.  Suddenly I found myself engulfed within the passionate fires that were Joxer the Mighty as he swept me off of my feet and planted a large kiss onto my lips.  It was bliss like no other as the waves of passion rose uncontrollably within.  Then Joxer spoke within his sexy entrancing voice proclaiming that he would do as I wished and then he lept back into the fight toward the temple.  For a moment I was still engulfed within the lust and the pounding heart muscle until I came back to reality and wiped the essence from my lips.  There was something icky about having been paralized by the lust that was Joxer, but the moment had passed and I was back on the war path.

Suddenly I heard the screams of the goddes herself as she demanded that the fighting stop.  She was obviously upset that there was a battle within one of her beautiful temples.  Only destruction could follow and that was what I had hoped for.  As I entered into the temple.  Joxer was standing upon the golden table which was placed in front of a golden statue of the goddess.  There were many beautiful trinkets and flowers that were being destroyed by the clashing of the swords of men.  Though Aphrodite had picked a great weapon in the power of lust I had out witted her with the power of the male ego.  No man could resist proving who was the bigger man.  No spell of Aphrodite could defeat the power of a man’s ego.  I entered into the temple and demanded that Aphrodite stop it herself by removing the spell from Joxer.  Of course within all of her frustrations she could not admit defeat to the girl she had called innocent just an hour earlier.

So the battle continued as Joxer was having so much fun mastering the fight against Linais and his best swordsman.  He was becoming so comfortable that he decided to toy with them as he laughed, lept, and bounded about the temple.  Joxer then approached the large bell at the center of Aphrodite’s temple climbing the stairs slowly backward as he watched his rear with two men on his tail.  His sword drawn Joxer was ready.  I knew this could last, but only as long as Linais and his men could outlast Joxer if it was even possible.  All Aphrodite could do was watch in horror as Joxer threw one of Linias’s swordsman down into the bell pit and then threw Linias into her favorite vase from Thrace.  As it crashed to the ground I tried desparately to convince Aphrodite that she had lost, but her response was a grumble of frustration instead.  She would not give in.  The goddess of love was more stubborn than I had thought.

As Joxer continued to battle the second of Linias’s swordsman Linias rose from the bell and his other swordsman recovered.  Yet the next vase found its doom as Joxer threw another man into it.  Again Aphrodite was crushed as I tried again to convince her to take off the spell.  I tried aruging that love was soft and kind rather than violent and cruel.  It was obvious to me that Aprhodite knew a lot about alter egos.  That was how she had pulled off her spell on Joxer.  Aphrodite suddenly turned to me determined to convince me that I knew nothing of her or of love.  She was confident that her power over me was endless.  I argued that I knew that love was not war.  War was destructive just like what Joxer and Linias were doing to Aphrodite’s lovely temple.  This was the sore spot for the goddess.  She responded hoping to win my smypathy for her as she gave her reason for holding the spell on Joxer.  In that moment I realized that all the goddess of love was really about was material love and lust.

I promised her that I would be taking Joxer on a tour of all of her temples if that was the only way to win this war of love and lust.  Aphrodite didn’t appear to feel threatened as I held my staff as a symbol of determination.  Yet the sound of another vase crashing to the ground appeared more powerful than words or spells could ever be.

Suddenly Joxer decided to be funny again.  He jumped up and grabbed onto the rope of the large bell behind him and began swinging and shouting with joy.  The bell tolled once as Joxer began to scream in terror coming back toward us confused as ever.  Twice the bell tolled as Joxer shouted with joy and glee once more.  This truely was the most clever joke I had ever seen him play.  It was genious only I don’t think he was ever aware of it within either of his egos.  With each toll of the bell Joxer’s ego bounced from one side to the other and with each toll a vase was shattered into ruin.  It seemed that Linais and his swordsman found the joke to be a little confusing.  No one could control the wrath of Joxer.  Finally Aphrodite found herself feeling sorry for the idiot.  Not even the goddess of love could watch this bell toll forever.  She then proclaimed Joxer the be the idiot that he was and then with an effortless waive of the hand Joxer the Mighty was no more.  Linias’s sword then cut the rope leaving Joxer the idiot confused and unable to realize the danger falling toward him.  Yet even in the heat of battle Joxer the idiot had reflexes.  Suddenly the idiot screamed violently and then rolled out of harm’s way reacting to the danger of the large bell about to crush him.  It landed upon the floor with a thud tolling the defeat of Aphrodite and the triumph of true love.  With that the exhausted warrior fainted as his head hit the ground with a thud.

The rest of the week without Xena was quite dull and uneventful with the exception of the newly wedded Prince Sarpadon and his new Princess Illiandra.  They seemed happy and content together.  I was honored to have been able to play a part in the restoration of their love and peace with the kingdoms of Amphous and Mylon.  As Joxer and I prepared to leave the kingdom after the beautiful ceremony the prince and princess came to thank me once again.  Prince Sarpadon proclaimed me to be a hero.  Although I was pleasantly flatter I didn’t need that title anymore.  I wasn’t a hero at all only a sidekick trying to achieve excellance in her field.  My real strength was in philosophy as I reminded both of them that love was about trust and giving rather than anger and jealousy.  Then the moment was interrupted by the sounds of someone blowing his nose.  It was Joxer who seemed confused about how he had aquired a silky blue handkerchief.  The owner of the piece was not thrilled about it having been used by Joxer, but that was the least of his problems.  Prince Sarpadon and Princess Illiandra bid me farewell and swifty exited back into their court as Joxer and I began to travel down the road.  He asked me if they were afraid of him.  I tried to build his confidence agreeing that they were, but even Joxer knew the truth of it all.  He had finally realized that he was not a hero.  His disappointment was powerful and full of saddness.  Joxer was so depressed that he even proclaimed that I was the hero.  This was serious as I tried to help him feel better about himself, but he could not listen.  All Joxer could feel was what he had been seeking his entire life.  It had all been a lie in his heart.  He had been telling it to himself.  But he was wrong.  He was all of those things in his heart.  Joxer was brave, courageous, sexy, and all of the things his alter ego was.  At least that was what Xena had convinced him of later when we finally met up with her again.  It didn’t really matter.  Joxer was a true friend.  He was loyal and sometimes brave, but never really sexy.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll # 36: Ten Little Warlords

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#36:  Ten Little Warlords

February 28th, 47 B.C.

Pulling oneself out of the depressing nightmare that is reality can be tough.  And though the nightmare of Callisto had seemingly ended Gabrielle awoke just before dawn to the familiar sound of a crackling fire and the boots of Callisto stopping before her.  When she opened her eyes all that could be seen was not the comforting face of Xena, but the reminder of her rage that continued to stir within.  The voice that spoke Gabrielle’s name was soft and soothing yet it was Callisto’s voice.  Though it had Xena’s familiar tone Gabrielle’s body reacted as she jerked into sudden consciousness and realized again Xena’s face was now that of Callisto.  The bard worked hard everyday to get over that anger and that constant sadness of her loss which ate away inside her heart.  This pain seemingly bled so deeply at times that it found its way into the pit of Gabrielle’s soul. She felt certain that it would be much easier to deal with if only Xena could really be Xena.  At least then the constant reminder of Perdicas’s absence would be less of a burden to the heart.

Though it was Callisto’s face which stared softly into the bard’s eyes Gabrielle was still having much difficulty accepting it as the now true face of her best friend.  She felt almost saddened knowing that it must not be easy for Xena to understand that her presence was a constant reminder of the one who murdered Perdicas.  Not only that, but Xena had to endure the constant darkness which followed Callisto for no one else knew the truth that Gabrielle and Xena knew.  Then as the bard rose to her feet slowly with Xena’s assistance and attempt at comforting her Gabrielle expressed her frustration of the situation.  Xena did understand.  Though there was nothing that could be done about it all now.  At least together they had succeeded at ridding the world of the evil soul of Callisto, but her presence in their lives would never be completely gone.  Gabrielle attempted to come up with a temporary solution to this issue pleading with the warrior princess to at least try to change her hair color back to its natural darkness rather than the irritating blonde it had become.

Xena’s reaction was seemingly abrupt as the bard found herself being thrown by the mighty hands of Callisto the warrior princess behind the brush.  As Gabrielle quickly tried to recoil her suggestion the warrior princess moved her finger to her lips in an attempt to hush the frantic yet momentarily startled bard.  Gabrielle’s confusion was almost so overwhelming that she had forgotten that there was indeed one other person in the world who knew of the truth about Callisto the warrior princess.  As Xena held steady she knelt down beside Gabrielle as they watched and listened together upon the intruder’s entrance into camp.  He wore a small bush over his goofy yet ugly bronze helmet in a lame attempt to conceal himself from view.  As always the warrior princess had sensed his presence way before he had even been fifty yards from camp.  Despite being in Callisto’s body the bard found herself impressed by Xena’s ability to adjust to her new surroundings.  It was obvious that Xena was handling things much better than Gabrielle.

As the idiot entered from beyond the darkness and the brush Xena instructed the raging bard without words.  Gabrielle knew that this was a test to see if she could control the enemy’s approach.  Although the enemy was an idiot he was a perfect decoy for a young bard in training.  Gabrielle watched as the enemy took one, two, and then a third creeping step toward the fire ten yards away from their position.  Just as the idiot was about to turn the corner toward the crackling fire Xena squeezed the bard’s arm signaling the take down.  Gabrielle rose from her knelt position with her staff and lunged forward shouting out Joxer’s name and sweeping him to the ground with a kick to the knee and a leg sweeping staff move.  Joxer suddenly fell upon his back to the ground unaware of the danger which had awaited him

As he lied upon his back blinded by his crooked helmet Gabrielle took the advantage stabbing him in the breast plate with her staff.  There was a yearning for attack coursing through the veins of the bard as she looked down to notice that Joxer’s breast plate wasn’t really much of a plate at all.  It was more like an old strainer used in every kitchen she had ever seen back home in Potedia.  Yet this sidetracked thought soon left and any mercy she may have felt for the idiot quickly left her heart.   Joxer’s response to Gabrielle’s cunning move on him was sarcastic and less than complementary.  He tried to play off his blunder in battle stating that he had been noisy purposely as if he had conspired with the warrior princess before arriving.  As Joxer brought himself back to his feet brushing his brown trousers off Xena soon emerged from the brush.  She was actually quite surprised to see the idiot and was highly curious of his arrival.  Whatever the reason it seemed important to the warrior princess as Joxer continued to speak.  He took off his helmet with pride and confidence and removed the fern sticking out of the top.

After he finished his presentation of warrior prowess he continued his statement explaining that he had received an important message for Callisto.  Joxer was certain that the blonde warrior would want to know of this message.  Yet he was still quite confused for he couldn’t remember if Callisto was actually Xena or if Xena was Callisto.  He looked to Gabrielle who was reminded that there was just one other who knew the true identity of Callisto the warrior princess.  The bard could sympathize with his confusion for she too was still feeling it inside.  Yet Joxer’s presence was still as annoying as ever.  Gabrielle then thought as he continued to converse with Xena that maybe it would have been better if Joxer had been the one stuck in Callisto’s body instead of Xena.  At least she could deal with her frustrations by popping him in the nose or beating him with her staff.  The bard was very aware of Xena’s warrior skills and did not dare to move upon her frustrations against Xena who was still stuck in Callisto’s body.

Then the bard realized that even Xena was still having some difficulty in dealing with her new identity for she seemed irritated that Joxer would even think to bring her Callisto’s personal messages.  Xena turned from his ignorance with irritation in her voice declaring that he should burn the message rather than waste her time with it.  Gabrielle found herself in private agreement with the warrior princess’s attitude, but Joxer was not so certain that this message should be burned.  His persistence prevailed as he explained that this message was from none other than Ares the god of war.  Joxer was an idiot, but he did have at least a tiny brain working within his dumb skull part of the time.  His observation proved to be of great interest to the warrior princess.  She remembered that there was at least one other that knew that she wasn’t really Callisto.  Ares most certainly knew the truth for it was Ares that had helped Callisto escape the underworld by using Xena’s guilt to get into Xena’s body.

As Xena’s interest in Callisto’s message intensified Joxer demonstrated his pride in knowing that he had Xena’s undivided attention.  It was rare that Joxer had ever had Xena’s attention at all.  He then stated that Ares had sent only ten personal invitations to ten different warlords.  Callisto had been one of those ten.  As the warrior princess continued to listen and to run the scenarios through her mind Joxer fumbled through his lose gear to retrieve the actual message.  The bard’s curiosity of Joxer’s story turned to irritation, and then to a sudden uncontrollable impatience.  Her eyes darted about his clothing looking for something randomly hanging out until finally they spotted the misplaced scroll.  Gabrielle’s arms jerked her staff forth stabbing Joxer’s side where the message for Callisto hung.  Joxer looked up surprised yet annoyed that the bard had interrupted his performance for the warrior princess.  He then brought his sarcastic tone into the conversation once more downplaying Gabrielle’s impressive move.  He asked her if maybe she was a fierce warrior trapped within the body of the bard.  His implication was that she was clumsy and uncoordinated.  Yet the bard did not find his sarcastic humor at all amusing.  Xena continued to ignore the tension between the two inexperienced warriors still thinking of the message as she read the scroll.

Then she proclaimed that it was not Ares who had sent the letter.  He would have no reason to send such a letter to Callisto for he knew that the real Callisto was back in Tartarus where she belonged.  Yet Xena was uncertain of whom had sent the letter which brought her to her second question of why.  The warrior princess needed to know who really sent it and why they would send such an invitation.  Of course Xena’s thoughts were spoken aloud almost as if she had forgotten that Joxer and Gabrielle were there.  Joxer took advantage of the moment and tried once again to prove that he was a worthy sidekick.  He desperately wanted a mission and a quest and now he had found one.  Joxer asked Xena when, but Xena cut him off immediately.  She declared that he would not go with she and Gabrielle at first light.  Joxer’s face turned to extreme disappointment and Gabrielle felt a sense of relief in knowing that she would not have to spend the day warding off Joxer’s idiocy on top of trying to keep her anger in check.  Dealing with Xena as Callisto was difficult enough for the bard.  Yet Xena let Joxer down gently.  The bard couldn’t understand why the warrior princess didn’t just tell him the truth about himself.  Instead Xena gently placed her hand upon his shoulder and asked Joxer to stay behind to protect the local villagers from the nine other warlords that would be passing through.  She assured Joxer that his warrior presence could prevent panic from breaking out.  Joxer’s disappointment turned to sudden delight for he had never thought of doing that.  It was as if he had come to a sudden revelation.  His part in Xena’s plan was even more important than what Gabrielle would be doing.  Somehow he had gone from a childlike idiot to a confident and well respected hero within seconds.

As Xena ushered the bard away from Joxer leaving him to think of all the good that he would do without them he tried to thank her.  Yet he was still confused for he was getting this wonderful warrior advice from Callisto yet it was really Xena inside.  Gabrielle turned to face him and to try to sympathize with his confusing pain.  Yet even Gabrielle was finding that it was getting a little less confusing to identify what Xena now looked like.

As first light broke into the warm mid morning sun Xena and Gabrielle had approached the outskirts of the next village.  There they stayed hidden in the tall brush to watch as the other nine warlords arrived.  One by one each warlord made his dastardly appearance.  And each one had that suspicious look about them.  It was as if they held the key to the greatest secret in the world.  They were a select few, but no one knew why.  The first three warlords came quietly and did not think to speak to anyone.  They just entered into town trying to be inconspicuous, but the bard could see right through their evil presence.  Then two more came into town almost at the very same moment.  One was short and stout.  Xena named him as Tegasaur.  Then the bard spotted the fifth noticing that he was rather large almost like a giant cyclops.  The hairy giant pushed an innocent villager aside.  Xena declared the two approaching warlords as bitter enemies.  Gabrielle noticed that they seemingly recognized each other and  awaited the bloodbath to begin.  It was as if she yearned to see blood on this peaceful morning.

Suddenly Gabrielle realized the importance of finding out the answers to Xena’s burning new questions.  The who and the why was burning within the bard’s own heart like no other questions she had ever asked before.  She suggested that Xena close in quickly using her infamous pinch to defeat every warlord before he had a chance to strike back.  Yet Xena seemed calm and patient.  As the bard found herself to be extremely fired up with rage inside she was ready for an offensive move.  Xena noticed the bard’s unusual mood and spoke softly to her friend in an attempt to calm the raging heart within.    Gabrielle’s raging mood calmed for a moment, but the calm did not last.

As the bard prepared for the battle to ensue the two warlords suddenly stopped before one another.  Instead of drawing each others’ blood as the bard had expected the two men pooled their information.   The bard found herself in a state of confusion yet disappointment.  Just moments before Xena had declared that the two were certain enemies.  In fact she had compared their encounter to throwing oil on a raging fire, but it didn’t appear to the bard that they were about to draw any swords or daggers.  Gabrielle watched the two disgusting men spit upon the ground as if it were the sign of an ugly greeting.  It was clear that the two had not been raised with one manner within either of their bones.  They were truly hideous as they each held up a scroll.  The scrolls looked exactly like the one that Xena had received as Callisto.  Then the two shook hands firmly as if sealing a deal.  It was then that Xena and the bard realized that the two had decided to join forces, but their motives were still shady.

Suddenly the bard felt the need to pounce.  As her muscles tensed and she grabbed up her staff she began to charge forward.  Xena quickly grabbed her friend who was seemingly unable to control the burning rage within.  The warrior princess spoke soothingly to her friend.  She  encouraged patience and then tried to lighten the mood by asking Gabrielle if she had slept on another rock the night before.  Though at first Gabrielle did not see the humor in Xena’s joke she finally realized that Xena was right.  Xena insisted that she follow the warlords alone while Gabrielle should go on toward the market to grab something for her stomach.  The warrior princess was certain that it was the bard’s empty stomach that caused her friend to be so vengeful on this morning.  Yet Gabrielle herself was not exactly certain what the issue was within.  And although she was confused she listened to the warrior princess as always knowing that Xena understood her even when she herself did not.

As the bard watched Xena go in after the warlords she herself went in the opposite direction into town.  Gabrielle desperately tried to hold down the anger and the pain of her recent losses, but it seemed that the harder she tried the more the fire burned inside.  The bard thought maybe it really was her stomach that actually burned as she heard the sounds of the approaching market.  An old hag called out for a sale on fishcakes which actually began to sound very good for the moment.  Gabrielle remembered how much she really loved how the flavor melted in her mouth.  Fishcakes suddenly seemed to be the answer to all of the bard’s problems as she approached the old woman’s stand.  The bard was swooned by the sale of six for only one dinar.  That was unheard of and most definitely a deal worth cashing in on for the most seasoned of bargain hunters.  It was just one of the bard’s many skills aside from her storytelling.

As she approached the woman for the sale she found herself suddenly entranced by the man across the way.  The sound of his voice was so soothing as it called out fishcakes ten for only one dinar.  Gabrielle quickly turned away from the cheap old hag and rushed over to the peasant man who sold ten fishcakes for only one dinar.  Her stomach would be full for days for that kind of deal.  She wouldn’t have to feel the raging fire within the pit of her stomach for at least ten days.  Yet just before the bard could pull out the single dinar that would pave the way to her soothing happiness the old hag chimed in once more.  This time she offered twelve fishcakes for a dinar.  The bard’s head began to spin with confusion once more as her stomach felt that aching pain and the fire began to drive up into her heart once again.  It was more than she could bare to take.  Not only that, but she could suddenly feel that her arms were being torn apart by the two marketing fishcakes.  The competition was fierce as the battle began to rage between the peasants in the market for the sale of twelve tiny little fishcakes.

Gabrielle had reached her breaking point.  She suddenly ripped her arms from their restraint as she shouted out at the top of her lungs.  The bard no longer seeked fishcakes.  She seeked vengeance and rage.  She seeked blood and sweat.  Gabrielle needed to release her nervous energy in the heat of a battle.  And so the bard turned and took barely a glance at her new peasant enemies and began to smash her way through the market delivering thunderous punches to anyone who dared get in the way of her destructive path.  She tossed innocent peasant girls to the ground just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Then she focused back upon the two peasants that had been trying to make the sale.  They were the true culprits of it all.  And as the market had now broken out into total chaos Callisto appeared to investigate what she had missed.  Actually it wasn’t really Callisto, but everyone in the market stopped for they were certain that the wrath of the irritating blonde would rain down upon them.

Gabrielle was on the rampage determined to stop the raging peasants in their sale before anyone else fell victim to their entrancing fishcakes.  Gabrielle chose the first weapons she caught sight of as one of the fishcake dealers pleaded and begged for Callisto to spare his life, but Gabrielle knew the truth.  Callisto was not at all the one they had to worry about.  She was in control of her rage yet Gabrielle was not.  The bard suddenly picked up a large trout from one of the nearby stands and prepared to belt the fishcake dealer with it over the head, but just before the bard could strike Xena grabbed her friend by the ear and yanked hard dragging the bard out of the market and into the nearby tavern.  Xena then scolded the bard for her crazy actions.  The warrior princess realized that her friend was delusional which was strange and out of character for the bard.

It was a painful journey for Gabrielle as she could not break free of the grasp of the mighty warrior princess or the rage that boiled within.  As soon as Xena had busted through the doors she threw Gabrielle down into an old rickety chair and again demanded that her friend calm down.  It seemed that the bard’s mood was a result of more than just an empty stomach.  Xena found herself quite confused at this strange turn of events.  It seemed that no one’s true behavior could be predictable.  Her warrior instincts were not working as they normally would.  It was possible that the warrior princess was unable to judge the character of a warlord now that she was stuck within Callisto’s body.

As she thought out loud wondering why innocent peasants were ready to kill one another and why warlords were on their best behavior she was interrupted by the voice of an impatient bard.  Gabrielle shouted out to the barkeep demanding service for thirsty customers as she pounded her wooden mug upon the table.  Yet just as the bard was unable to control her mood swings her mind was still sharp as her ears caught the conversation between the barkeep and one of his obviously drunken customers.  The angry bard was determined to find out who it was that held the barkeep’s attention.  As she listened to the conversation she could have sworn that the drunken customer dressed in dark rags and leather pants was bragging himself to be a god.  Xena too had caught a bit of the conversation because she seemed to be focused on the drunken fellow.  As Xena approached him he turned around and flashed a crooked smile toward the warrior princess.  He then shouted out her name, but he didn’t call her Callisto.

Xena suddenly rose from the table and began to walk toward the bar uncertain of who knew her true identity.  At first the man with the black hood over his head didn’t look so familiar yet as she approached and listened to the voice she paused in her advance.  Suddenly it was all very clear to the warrior princess.  Yet to the bard it was still foggy.  Then escaping from Xena’s lips was the name of the god of war.  Ares grinned back as if delighted that the warrior princess had figured out his true identity yet Gabrielle found herself not so certain that the god of war would be found in a petty little tavern among peasants.  Yet the drunk was determined to make his impression.  He laughed as if amused that Xena didn’t recognize him.  Moments later Xena confirmed that it really was the god of war only he had been turned into a mortal.  Of course that was the real mystery because even Ares did not know how he ended up becoming mortal over night.  Yet it seemed like justice to Gabrielle who was still angry at him for not giving Xena her body back.  If anyone had the power to give Xena her true self it was him.  But now he was just a plain old mortal idiot just like Joxer or any other mortal man.  In fact, the bard noticed that he spoke with a bit of slur in his speech.  He was just as big of a loser as any.  Ares was hardly impressive and definitely not what Gabrielle had imagined a god to be like.

Gabrielle found her rage taking over as she rose from the table and approached the mortal god of war.  She wanted a piece of action and she was determined to show him what real pain was.  Yet he did not take her actions against him lightly as he tossed her aside out of drunken anger and frustration.  Xena did not allow his disrespecting ways to go unpunished.  The warrior princess suddenly picked up the mortal man and threw him across the tavern over her head.  He flipped  out of control until he crashed into some bar furniture before coming to a rest.  Gabrielle was delighted to see how truly vulnerable he really was.  She was ready to finish him off, but Xena would not allow it.  Instead Xena threw out a rag to the demoralized god and instructed him on how to heal his new wound.  His mouth was bleeding from the corner.  He looked like a helpless little child as if about to cry, but he didn’t.  Instead he made a notation of what mortal pain felt like for the first time.  Gabrielle found herself enthralled with the idea of giving him more pain, but was again scolded for her out of control behavior.  Xena demanded that the bard leave her alone with Ares.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that if she needed an extra warrior to be there she would be most definitely ready for battle.  Yet just as Gabrielle felt this energy surge she realized that her thirst called out to her and was again focused on the lousy barkeep.

The anger redirected itself as she tossed some bar stools aside and sat before the barkeep.  There was an unusual power that could be felt within the bard.  She had never before experienced this kind of power.  It was an uncontrollable driving force that could barely be controlled.  She snapped out to the barkeep for a drink and though he tried very hard to service the angry young blonde he was unable to appease her.  He must have served her at least three or four different drinks and none of them soothed that unquenchable thirst for blood and violence.  And then it dawned upon Gabrielle that she was feeling the wrath of warrior power.  She looked to her left and tried unsuccessfully to use Xena’s famous pinch upon an innocent drunk.  The drunk fell not because he was about to die of a blockage in his artery, but because Gabrielle had become frustrated with her failure in using the famous move as she threw his stool from beneath him.

And while the bard argued with the barkeep and continued her scene of rage Xena and Ares conversed and exchanged information.  Neither really knew the answer to who had been the one who invited Callisto and nine other warlords to the village, but the two had come to an agreement before leaving the tavern.  Suddenly the bard was ready for more action as Xena prepared to leave the tavern and Ares behind.  Gabrielle was glad to know that he would not be joining them on the next leg of their mission.  Yet as the day fell into night Xena explained to Gabrielle the conversation that taken place between herself and Ares.  He had told her that he was unaware of how he had ended up mortal.  His godhood had been stolen sometime during his preoccupation with Xena and Callisto in Tartarus.  By the time he had returned home to Olypmous his sword had come up missing which held the key to his immortality.

This was a big disappointment for the bard knowing that Ares could have helped Xena, but now there was no chance.  As the bard began to write him off of her list of known gods Xena explained that there was more at stake than her return to her own body.  She explained to the bard as explained by Ares that the world would never know peace again.  No matter how much Xena and Gabrielle wished to end war by condemning Ares to mortality the fact was the world was imbalanced without him.  Ares had said that without a sitting god of war no mortal would be able to control anger and every peaceful peasant would rage inside starting more wars than could be imagined.  When Xena revealed to Gabrielle that even she was falling victim to this imbalance Gabrielle’s uncontrollable anger began to boil even more.

Xena felt that she was losing her friend, but knew of no other way to save her from the imbalance and indifference of war.  Gabrielle rose from her log by the fire suddenly exhilerated and alert like Xena.  She was certain that what she had been feeling inside must be what Xena felt like inside everyday.  Finally the bard had made it to warrior status, but as she rejoiced over this new self discovery Xena interrupted her with reality.  The warrior princess explained that Ares had been right when he had said Gabrielle was already infected with uncontrollable hatred.  Gabrielle did admit to the warrior princess that she was infected with a boiling anger inside.  Her anger was so great that she felt the need to hurt Xena because Xena was in Callisto’s body.  It was difficult to deal with as Gabrielle desperately tried to hold onto her sane mind for a solution to her anger problem.  If only one of the other gods could put Xena back into her real body.  There had to be at least one of them that would be willing to help relieve Gabrielle of her painful anger.

As Xena realized Gabrielle’s confession and desire to hurt her she knew that it was the reminder of Callisto that kept her from regaining control of her emotions.  Xena knew that there was only one way to help her friend.  She had to go with Ares in the morning and she had to go alone.  Gabrielle was disappointed that Xena was going to help Ares the one who had caused all of this pain.  The bard was desperate to plead with Xena not to help Ares, but Xena’s mind had already come to its decision.  Before Xena left Gabrielle to join forces with Ares she asked the bard to try something in an attempt to calm the raging anger within.  Xena reminded Gabrielle of one of her most favorite poems about the Elysian Fields.  The warrior princess asked Gabrielle to remember that poem and to recite it when the rage became unbearable.  “Elysian Fields calm and green, love birds singing so serene….”    Before Gabrielle could finish Xena interrupted her reminding the bard only to recite it when she was feeling the anger inside.

Upon the next morning Gabrielle awoke from her slumber to find that Xena had gone without her.  She was confused at first, but suddenly the urge came over the bard to follow Xena’s trail.  Gabrielle knew the warrior princess well now that she had acquired that warrior anger and rage.  She was certain that she had what it took to take out even the most vicious of warlords along the way.  Gabrielle feared nothing as she took her trusty staff into town following every detail which led her to track down where Xena had gone.  After trying to use Xena’s pinch unsuccessfully to obtain information from the local villagers Gabrielle stumbled into someone she would rather have never even met.  It was Joxer whom had plowed her over with his sword drawn ready for action.  Yet Gabrielle was not at all amused by this.

Angry at Joxer for his clumsy blunder Gabrielle snapped at him as she used her staff instinctively to knock him to the ground from his feet.  Joxer’s sword flew out of his grasp into the air and then landed near the water in the harbor.  The boiling bard attempted to finish her victim off until he popped back up angerly questioning her action against him.  Gabrielle responded with impatience stating that she was on a mission to seek out and find Xena and Ares.  The bard was certain that Xena was in danger being in the company of the mortal god of war.  Joxer’s pride was high as a goofy smile spread across his face for he realized that Xena had trusted in him well this time.  She had given him two orders of command which directly related to the mission.  Yet Gabrielle had seemingly been ignored by the warrior princess.  Joxer bragged of guarding the docks in the harbor until the boat which carried ten little warlords would return.

Gabrielle lowered her staff and suddenly drove it into the ground.  Tapping her boot knowing instantly that Xena was only fooling the idiot with his overzealous warrior wanna be attitude.  Gabrielle was the real warrior for she knew that only a real warrior could follow one as skilled as Xena.  As the bard bragged and attempted to set Joxer straight on this fact he only scoffed at her statement against him and against his intelligence.  Joxer then explained that he already knew exactly where the boat was headed.  He even bragged of what he had seen transpire just before it had departed.  Joxer stated that Xena and Ares had ambushed one of the other warlords in order to gain Ares an invitation and passage onto the boat.  Gabrielle found herself laughing with disgust as she imagined the god of mortality trying to pose as a mighty warlord.  Joxer agreed with the bard on this point for he had witnessed the hung over god of war.  In fact he had run into Ares in the tavern just before the god of war had met with the warrior princess.  Joxer had seen the mortal suffering of another idiot hung over.

Suddenly Gabrielle’s anger rose within again for she was jealous that Joxer seemingly knew all of these important details.  She was becoming ill of his over sized pride as she searched for a point of attack against his confidence.  Gabrielle then asked Joxer what reason did he have for staying behind when he could have been on the boat with Xena and Ares.  Joxer thought about it for a moment only to reply that he had already been on the boat.  He had followed Xena and Ares and proclaimed himself the mightiest of warriors.  Though as he retold his version of the event to the bard his face turned from lit excitement to sudden disappointment for he had been reminded of the response.  He realized that no one respected him not even the bard before him.

Gabrielle knew what must have happened next when he did not finish his story.  The crowd of warlords must have laughed in his face.  Joxer finished his wonderful tale reminding the bard that he played his fine role of fear in the face of the evil Callisto although he knew that there was nothing to be afraid of.  He even went as far as to say that if it really had been Callisto he still would not have been afraid.  Gabrielle scoffed at the idea in her mind knowing that Callisto would waste the idiot in an instant if given the opportunity.

As Gabrielle and Joxer argued and bickered over what their next role in the mission would be Xena and Ares traveled across the sea with eight nasty warlords.  The best of the best had been invited to join the ranks of this honor.  There was a prize to be won at the end of the journey although no one had been allowed onto the boat with a single weapon.  Most of the warlords would not have complied with the phony Ares’s demand although it was said that one of them would obtain a prize in the end.  As they sailed the sea Ares tried desperately to deal with his throbbing headache unaware of what the hangover would deal him next.  Xena played the part of Callisto listening to the many warlords who bragged of dastardly deeds.  Many had staked claims on triumphs won by others.  One had proclaimed that he had personally smashed down the gates of Spartica, but it was actually Ares who had done that deed.

Another warlord proclaimed that he had defeated Xena shamelessly in battle only to be shown up by Callisto’s own claims to the same story.  There were a lot of vengeful feelings upon this journey as Ares played low key per the advice of the warrior princess.  After almost a day of sailing the boat finally docked upon a small isolated island.  On the island was a castle in which Ares was said to be residing.  As the true god of war and the warrior princess fell behind the pack the warrior princess wondered what it must be like for a god to have to ask for the help of a mortal.  Ares’s response was unexpected for he replied with his own question.  He wondered what it was like for Xena to be wanting to help the god who had made her a legendary warlord.

As the mortal god bragged of the talent of some of the other warlords he spoke of Virgileous proudly.  Yet he also stepped back from Virgileous realizing that his complements of the giant over-sized mongrel were not making Xena jealous.  The god was hoping to win over the warrior princess as always.  He finished the conversation adding that though Virgileous did him proud he had known no greater enemy and friend than Xena.  What Ares didn’t realize was that Xena was finding him more irresistible as a mortal than as a god.  He was human to her for the first time.  She even felt pity for the man who knew nothing of mortality until now.

By the setting sun the ten little warlords had reached the castle and entered in through its mighty doors.  Callisto led the way as the mighty doors opened magically and without effort.  Suddenly as the pack moved inside cautiously torches lit themselves to reveal an empty hallway.  In a circle they lit one by one and there were ten when it was finally done.  Xena suddenly found herself putting together the truths of this mysterious game.  There was only one whom she knew that would create such a show.  She recalled the beginning of the journey remembering the mysterious godlike voice that introduced all of the warlords to the contest on the boat.  It seemingly came from a spinning silver disk although Ares had not been flattered.  Xena remembered he had been right about the fake who tried to imitate his infamous voice.

Callisto then declared before the audience of warlords that it was Sysphus whom had most likely been responsible for sending them all on this wild goose chase.  Ares found himself confused for a moment reminding Xena and the other warlords that Sysphus had been condemned by Hades himself to push a rock uphill in Tarturus for an eternity.  All of the warlords had heard of this story fearing Hades and fearing death despite their dangerous career choices.  They had faith in only Ares whom they worshipped hoping that their beloved god of war would be there to save them in their time of need during battle.

Suddenly there was a bright flash and then a puff of smoke.  There before the warlords in the middle of the circle stood Sysphus.  He appeared irritated that Callisto had figured out part of his scheme.  Yet Sysphus played her down only to say that he was flattered to be in the presence of the mighty Callisto.  Sysphus also knew a secret about Callisto as he revealed it to the rest of the warlords.  Ares’s cover was now blown as all of those whom had once followed him had now seen him at his worst.  It was most likely one of the most emberresing moments the god of war had ever experienced.  The warlords suddenly realized that they had all been taken for fools.  There was no real prize to be won.  As they turned to leave Sysphus with his games he retook their attention disappearing like a god.  Then he reappeared before them at the doors explaining that though he was no god of war he held the ultimate prize within his possession.

It had all begun with Hades whom had said to bring together ten of the best and most skilled warriors.  One of these warriors would be the winner of a contest to slay a monster known only as the Barracas.  Each warlord was to draw number from the bowl.  They would go in order by number to see who would get the first chance at slaying the mighty Barracas.  Yet no one had ever really seen a Barracas or even heard of one.  Their chance to slay the Barracas would begin at sunrise with number one and then as each was defeated by the Barracas the next was to take his place attempting to slaughter the nasty beast.  Whomever was able to slay the Barracas successfully would win Ares sword which contained his godhood.

Ares was upset that his sword was being used as a mere prize in a silly game.  He felt disrespected and upset at Hades for allowing such an imbecile to steal his sword.  Naturally Vergilious stepped forth to claim the sword, but was rejected by Sysphus who was very much in control of these puppets who thirsted for the ultimate power.  Sysphus explained that his own reward for redistributing the godhood of  war would be immortality for himself.  He also declared that each warlord would be provided with a weapon to use against the Barracas in the morning.  And with that he disappeared as one of the other warlords announced that no one would leave the island on this night.  Their boat was no longer docked on shore for it had mysteriously disappeared.  This meant that all were staying within Sysphus’s castle for the night.

Soon Gabrielle and Joxer had landed upon the mystical island as the sun began to set.  By now Gabrielle was extremely irritated by the presence of Joxer.  No matter how hard the bard tried she could not get it out of her mind to want to kill Joxer yet she fought the rage.  Her heart was strong though her wits were tested by his stupidity.  Despite Gabrielle having thrown Joxer off of the boat after he argued with her about Xena’s wishes he would be fine she thought.  Yet she was still angry at Xena whom had left her behind to deal with Joxer and had gone off with Ares alone.  Gabrielle fought back the sails of the small vessel which she had arrived upon as the winds picked up off of the sea.  Then she felt a presence from behind.  Instinctively she picked up an or and swung around slapping the enemy across the face.

As the enemy fell to the ground she realized it was Joxer.  Gabrielle found herself shocked that he had been able to swim from the ocean and reach the shore.  She was beginning to get irritated that he kept sneaking up on her like that.  There was seemingly nothing that would rid her of his irritating presence.  When she asked the idiot warrior what he was doing he answered that he rethought Xena’s earlier orders to him.  He thought that just maybe this dock had been the one she had meant when he was told to guard the dock.  The bard could see that he was confused and out of his mind at best.  As he rose from the ground where he lied on the beach he stated that it was time to find the castle.  He began to walk in the opposite direction.  Gabrielle corrected him explaining that the castle was in plain sight straight ahead.

Joxer turned to see that the bard was indeed correct.  Yet he was determined to prove himself to be the best warrior.  Just before the argument was about to ensue once again there was a mysteriously strange sound coming from the wind.  The bard paused for a moment to listen.  It sounded dangerous and vicious.  Joxer was obviously afraid as he too had heard the sound.  Yet Gabrielle put the fear aside knowing that a true warrior fears nothing.  And so she led the way toward the sound.  Maybe it was a vicious monster that could kill Joxer so that she could find peace once again.

After following the sound into the night the two were led into the mouth of a dark cave.  This made things much more exhilerating and exciting the bard thought.  Her irritation of Joxer began to turn to a competition of warrior skills.  She knew that she could kill that monster if that was indeed what they were hearing.  Gabrielle tried desperately to focas on finding Xena knowing that there must be a drain pipe somewhere leading into the castle.  Of course Joxer the idiot had wanted to actually storm the castle doors.  Gabrielle realized quickly that he’d get himself killed that way knowing that even she could not go up against ten warlords alone.

Suddenly the sound of the monster echoed at the pass.  There were two choices.  One was to go toward the castle and the other was to slay the monster.  Joxer of course was cowardly stating that the castle was the obvious choice, but Gabrielle rejected that idea.  She was the leader in this search party and they were no longer searching for Xena.  It was all about killing the monster now.  She had to prove her superior skill to Joxer and she had to get rid of him somehow.  This had to be the way.  Yet he was still persistent in arguing with the bard who could no longer resist the urge to grab him by his nose and snap it off.  Of course she tried, but failed although Joxer let out a whimper of pain as Gabrielle twisted it around till it would twist no more.

Back at the castle the warlords were ready to kill one another as they had drawn their numbers only to discover that Callisto had drawn number one.  The number two warlord would not settle for second prize for he began a brawl warlord against warlord hoping to win against Callisto for number one.  Every warlord in the castle had known that he could not take Callisto on alone.  Yet eight against two was a certain victory.  Yet Xena in Callisto’s body was more than they could handle.  She fought them all off protecting the weakened god of war from a fate of certain death.  It was lucky for him that he had drawn number ten for no one feared Ares now.  As the battle ended someone died for there were left now only nine.  Number two whom had foolishly begun the battle found his fate.  Suddenly the voice of Syshpus chimed in pleased at what he had seen.  Yet he advised all to save their strengths till morning for it was the monster that deserved their warnings.

As the warlords went off for their slumber Xena found herself again feeling sorry for the mortal god of war.  He had been stripped of it all including his pride.  He that battle he had almost died.  Ares had sustained an injury to his shoulder as Xena cared for him.  She was feeling a strange love, but it wasn’t like any other.  The warrior princess knew that he didn’t really care wishing that he would understand.  Yet a god can never understand mortals though he has become a mortal himself.  Ares expressed how though Xena was within Callisto’s body he could still feel her true self.  Even her touch was real to him although he had mentioned that both had been his pleasures past.  It was just like a god to brag of all those he had.  So many mortals had played his victim for he had pulled their strings of passion and emotion.  As a god Ares was a master, but as a man only a helpless disaster.  That was what made Xena feel for him.  His helpless mortal state.

Yet the night was violent in the castle for each warlord plotted against the other.  They built shallow alliances with one another in an attempt to get a step closer to the Barracas.  The second to go came in.  It was number seven who had claimed number two.  He burst in through the door of Xena and Ares about to strike only do die before them.  After he fell all that could be seen was a huge ax in his back.  Xena and Ares had been given only a small dagger and a mace.  It was clear these weapons were meant to kill warriors and not monsters.  Yet the why of it all was still as foggy as the location of the sword.  Xena was certain that it was within the castle in plain view.  It was obvious now what they had to do.

As Xena and Ares searched the castle for a clue they stumbled upon two more bodies of dead warriors.  Three and four had now perished.  They had perished at the point of each others’ sword.  It was an obvious trick played upon them by those  warlords remaining alive.  The situation was grim as Xena knew that they would soon find themselves in another battle of warrior skill.  This time it would be four against two although Ares as a mortal was not much of a warrior at all.  As the two true allies searched for the sword Ares tried desperately to convince Xena to take his sword.  His mortal heart desired more to be with Xena than it did to reclaim his godhood.  He could not imagine being a god again knowing that Xena would never trust him.  She had made it clear to him back at the bedchamber that if he ever lived to see immortality once more that he would always forget what he had promised as a mortal.

Ares had tried desperately to convince her otherwise, but Xena was not easily fooled.  Even mortal men tell lies to full fill their own desires.  Of course Xena rejected his idea knowing that she was not the woman for the job.  She did not wish to be a goddess or an immortal.  Yet Ares agreed that she should be the goddess of desire rather than of war.  He was planting the seed for immortality with the mortal he loved most.  Ares would make her a goddess with his sword and then convince her to give him his own immortality so that they could reign together upon Olympus.  Xena refused his offer again as number nine approached from behind.  The warrior princess had spotted his reflection within a shield upon the wall.  He carried a sword as he struck from behind.

Effortlessly Xena pulled out her dagger given to her by Sysphus.  She sent the dagger into number nine sealing the deal with Ares.  She admitted that he was the right man for the job despite how much she wished to keep him from regaining his reign.  Not one of the other remaining warlords would be trust-worthy for as mortals they would turn on one another.  Ares had yet to try to kill Xena so she knew that his heart was true.  If he had been the evil that she had known him to be Ares as a mortal would have been without remorse.  Yet she could see it in his eyes as they placed the body of nine upon the alter of warrior’s sacrificed in the name of his sword.  Ares regretted yet another of his lost warriors on the battlefield.  Though soulless he wasn’t heartless which made him the one who should reign as god.

They continued on searching through the castle.  Their search for his sword led them into the castle dungeon.  Xena was cautious as they searched knowing Sysphus would have many tricks and traps set for anyone lurking about.  She was certain that it was down in the dungeon that he would hide the sword for it could be in plain sight and he could capture an unsuspecting victim.  As they walked Ares found himself stumbling over a dungeon rat which startled him with surprise.  The warrior princess laughed at the helpless god of war who mistook this mortal experience for fear rather than surprise.  Again Ares tried to convince Xena the become a goddess and take his sword.  He was not so certain that he would make it out of Sysphus’s contest alive.  The two were about to exit the dungeon as they slowly ventured up a staircase only to be surprised by an appearance by the magical Sysphus.

Sysphus was candid as he laughed in the face of his helpless contestants.  He was confident in having the upper hand.  Yet Xena interrupted his confidence by revealing that she was onto him.  It was a contest of wits between the magician and the warrior princess for it seemed at each of their meetings a new piece of the puzzle was openly revealed.  Sysphus shot back at Xena revealing he knew that she was Xena and not Callisto.  He tried to figure out how this could have come to pass.  And then he looked to Ares laughing at the god for his blunder.  Sysphus explained how he had taken advantage of Ares’s passions for Xena when Ares was not so careful to guard his sword.  It seemed that Hades was angry at Ares for tampering with the souls that belonged in Tartarus.  Switching Xena’s for Callisto’s almost cost Hades all the power in Tartarus.

Xena could see that Sysphus was setting a trap.  He proclaimed that he hoped that Xena would win the sword of Ares yet Xena knew that it wasn’t true.  Sysphus played on Ares emotions as he declared the former god a loser in front of the mortal he loved most.  Ares reacted as Sysphus expected.  He ran down the stairs toward Sysphus to attack and save his pride.  Yet he also was there to restore Xena’s honor for it had been  he who had stolen it from Xena.  Xena called out to the blinded Ares, but Ares was helpless at Sysphus’s hand.  Suddenly the stairs collapsed beneath the god sending him to the bottom back into the dungeon.  As Ares struggled to rise from his fall Sysphus pulled out one of his endless tricks.  Ares found himself hanging from a rope unable to free himself.

Sysphus then disappeared within the depth of his laughter as another trick revealed itself upon his exit.  Ares was about to meet his doom at the end of a floor full of spikes.  Fire shot up from beneath them as Ares screamed with fear and terror.  The warrior princess quickly acted saving him from certain death.

As the early morning hours began to wear on into the dawn Gabrielle continued searching with Joxer for the infamous monster.  Yet her irritations were rising as Joxer’s presence drove her blood to a boil.  Joxer mocked the bard of her irritations.  He had been dragging the point of his sword along the walls of the cave for the past ten minutes.  Suddenly Gabrielle stated that she was ready to kill at any moment.  She wanted to kill Joxer.  As he tried to speak she halted his comment not wanting to deal with another of his statements.  If only Joxer could stay quiet long enough for her to kill the rage inside or the monster down the corridor.  One of the two would most certain help her control her pain within.  She was beginning to understand that all of this pain could be controlled if only she could have that moment of peace away from Joxer.

Again Gabrielle began reciting the poem that she love most as Xena had suggested before leaving with Ares.  And then suddenly Joxer began to speak of blood lust.  He was certain that he knew exactly what Gabrielle was feeling inside, but Gabrielle knew that he was clueless.  Joxer tried desperately to out due Gabrielle’s anger as he drew his sword and prepared to slash open an annoying buzzing around his head.  It was a little fly that had been following him for sometime.  Gabrielle paused to watch  him within his dilusional battle against the small winged beast.  Then she realized that he had snapped.  She began to laugh hysterically for she had now seen it all.  There couldn’t be a worse situation than being stuck with Joxer in a cave with the worst anger within.  Not only that, but there was an unknown monster somewhere up ahead.

And then it happened.  Gabrielle heard the monster as if it were only moments away.  She needed something powerful that would be certain to kill it.  The bard realized that Joxer was a bonus for he had a sword.  She turned to Joxer and asked of his sword, but he would not give it up.  He whined declaring that a warrior never gave his sword away just before a battle.  This only infuriated the bard more as she lunged forward attempting to strangle the big lug who knew nothing about being a warrior.  She was tired of hearing his warrior stories and advice.  The bard had enough.  Suddenly she realized she had to get rid of the rage before she hurt someone even if it was only Joxer that she had to kill.

Gabrielle reached for Joxer’s sword removing it from the scabbard and then she charged forth toward the wrath of the monster.  Joxer tried desperately to follow, but instead decided that he was going to fight the monster with his bare hands.  He quickly passed Gabrielle in the race to see who would kill the monster first.  When Gabrielle finally arrived trailing behind she found Joxer beating a large machine with a stick.  He was intense in his battle against the contraption.  There was no real monster.  It was only a noisemaking thing.  Gabrielle found herself to be disappointed that she had been chasing down a machine with the world’s biggest idiot.  Someone was going to have to pay for this crime.  There was only one thing left to do.  It was time to find Xena at the castle.

Inside the castle darkness was giving way to the light of day.  Xena had finally figured out what Sysphus was planning to do.  There were now only five left of the ten that had been invited to participate in the contest for Ares’s godhood.  As Xena and Ares returned to the scene of the crime they were interrupted in a battle of three against two.  One of the three enemies stepped forward declaring that he and the other had decided to ally.  Yet just as his pride was high he found himself betrayed by two.  Vergilious and the other took his life stabbing him to death with a knife.  Now the odds were even two against two.  Only true warriors fought one another in this way.  Vergilious was definitely worthy in Ares’s eyes, but his new partner was a traitor.  Xena warned Vergilious that there could only be one god of war reminding him of his folly.  Suddenly Vergilious turned to see his coming demise.  He ducked missing the blow that would have surely taken his life.

The battle then ensued.  It was every man and woman for themselves.  Xena took on the betrayer as Ares found himself having to fight the second best warrior in Greece.  It was now a battle for survival as the weapons clashed and punches were thrown.  Gabrielle and Joxer could hear the sounds of the ensuing battle as the rushed up the staircases toward the bedchambers.  Joxer was determined to get there first and to settle things once and for all.  He had killed the monster and was worthy of the prize.

Suddenly Xena was looking death in the eye.  Yet now it was time to declare where the real sword lie.  She reached across the dead upon the alter of sacrficed warriors.  Xena grabbed what everyone had been searching for and rose to take her enemy with Ares’s sword.  There was a strange power in killing with the world’s most powerful sword.  The warrior princess felt a certain exhilaration and it was entrancing like no other mortal sensation.  As her victim fell before her she looked to the other warriors fighting.  Ares was losing against Vergilious.  Xena could almost feel her sense of duty.  Though she did not want to be a goddess she knew what she must promise.  If Ares were to die she had to take the sword.  Yet in the last moments before his certain death Ares reached for a loose dagger.  He acted quickly sending it through the heart of one of his most prized warriors.

Vergilious took the blow surprised at Ares’s sudden advantage.  He had been certain of victory against the mortal god, but now it was all over.  Xena watched Ares experience blood for the very first time as a mortal.  There was a look of shock and regret which she did not expect.  As the battle was seemingly over Sysphus appeared before the remaining contestants.  He tried desperately to convince Xena to take Ares before he could take her.  A momentary thought crossed her mind until she was interrupted by the sound of a familiar idiot.

Joxer entered into the room where the dead lied.  He declared himself to be the new god of war for he had been the slayer of the Barracas.  Gabrielle was not far behind entering into the room.  She revealed to Xena the truth of Sysphus’s contest as she described the machine that made all of the noise, but was nothing more than a ploy.  Xena was suddenly aware of what she had almost taken.  She had almost taken not Ares’s sword, but Sysphus’s eternal punishment in Hades.  He had planned on allowing the warriors to kill themselves leaving only one to push his rock uphill in Tarturus.  And the sword of Ares was to fall to him and he would reign upon Olympus as the new god of war.

Ares found himself disgusted that Sysphus had almost succeeded.  Had it not been for an idiot and a bard Xena would have taken his life and his sword only to spend eternity in Tartarus.  Ares wanted to strike, but couldn’t for he was about to meet his doom.  From behind there was a sign of life still coming from the fallen Vergilious.  The ax rose for the kill, but Xena acted quickly hurling Ares’s sword into the surviving warlord.  Vergilious fell  to the power of the sword leaving all with just one thing to do.  Ares removed his sword from the eighth fallen warrior.  It suddenly glowed with an immense power as he held it in his mighty hands.  Like fire it burned with passion as lighting struck about it.  And the rage within the bard began to dissipate into the storm.

There was a certain relief in knowing that it would be easier to deal with the pain, but there was one more thing.  Ares scoffed at the mortals who stood before him for they had allowed him to become a god again.  Yet he seemingly did not appreciate it as the evil Sysphus disappeared from mortality back into his eternity in Tartarus.  Gabrielle and Xena waited with high hopes that Ares would hold up his end of the bargain.  Yet he did not keep his promise for he had not made it as a god.  His promise to put Xena back into her own body was made while Ares was mortal.  And so he was not held to it and did not bind it.  Ares laughed as he disappeared leaving Xena as Callisto in sadness.  Gabrielle was disappointed and full of sorrow for her friend who would never know peace.  And now the bard had to make a choice.  She had to choose to stay with Xena as Callisto or to go.

Yet the choice was simple for the bard.  As the three friends left the castle and seeked out the ocean Gabrielle walked alongside her friend.  She expressed her regret that they had helped Ares at all.  Yet Xena reminded the bard that without him the world would have been full of uncontrollable rage.  Gabrielle understood what Xena had meant yet she still felt like killing Joxer whose presence was annoying beyond compare.  The two friends watched as Joxer frolicked about like a child along the beach.  At least there was something true about him.  He was as innocent as a child and could be trusted despite his lack of warrior skill.

Yet the bard admitted that life would still be hard though she was willing to stick by her best friend despite her forever being reminded of Callisto’s wrath.  Xena seemed satisfied at that, but then she tried to lighten the moment.  She then asked Gabrielle if she would even stick by her if she one day turned into a snake haired gorgon monster.  Gabrielle laughed, but admitted that she would have difficulty looking at her.  Yet even then Gabrielle would not leave Xena’s side.  And then for a moment there was an uncomfortable silence between the friends.  But Xena interrupted it with a complement to Gabrielle.  She praised the bard for not giving into the violence and the rage within.  The warrior princess expressed the strength that it required for one to go against the rage within.

Gabrielle found herself flattered that Xena had noticed her battle within.  She realized that Xena had understood all along and even understood the pain that still lingered.  Gabrielle laughed for a moment realizing that although she had survived  a world full of rage she had yet to survive the ride back to the mainland alongside Joxer.  But just when it seemed impossible to journey on a familiar voice echoed with in the bard’s ears.  As she turned around she saw Xena standing there on the beach before her.  It was not Callisto there anymore.  Ares had taken pity upon Xena and the bard.  Gabrielle tested Xena for a moment asking her which body would be the worst to be trapped in.  When Xena responded with the snake haired gorgon monster Gabrielle knew it was true.  Xena was back to her true self and within her true body.

And so the nightmare had finally ended although the pain would never die.  Gabrielle would always be reminded of how Perdicas had to die.  It was not because she saw Callisto’s face everyday, but because of his absence.  She would never see Perdicas again, but he would always be there forever in her heart.

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.