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 #38: A Day In The Life Of

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll  #38 :  A Day In The Life of

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

March, 47 B.C.

It has recently been brought to my attention  that waking up alongside Xena the Warrior princess must be described to all who dare inquire about a day in the life of.  The first step to a day is often treacherous and sometimes deadly.  In waking up on this day there were no exceptions for Xena and I were awakened by an attack of some henchmen sent by the warlord Zagrious.  The battle began with only two as Xena sprung out of sleep into action sending lightning speed punches and thunderous kicks at the two intruders whom had entered our small camp.  They had caught Xena somewhat off guard being that she had been in slumber, but the Warrior Princess is never sleeping as soundly as some might hope for.  Knocking one henchmen down, and then another she grabbed the nearest weapon she could find.  It was our only frying pan.

She smacked a third in the face and went choe-boe to pot with a fourth man. But even he was no match for the agile warrior princess.  Six more henchmen descended upon us from the surrounding woods and Xena decided that it was time for a wake up call.  Flipping through the air she gave her signature battle cry and landed squarely on my leather water bottle.  Water shot out like an arrow from a cross-bow rudely awakening me from my slumber.  Suddenly anger broiled from within for the action of the Warrior Princess, but there was no time to argue about her method of waking up. There was a battle to join.

Surrounded on all sides I reached for my old friend the trusty staff.  Then I delivered one blow and then a second knocking two of the henchmen flat on the ground.  As I rose up to my feet from the knees Xena could see that I was clearly out numbered so she quickly resorted to flinging the frying pan at them like a chackram.  It flew through the air with almost the same grace, but not the same sharpness as the chackram.  The frying pan wobbled through the air bouncing off the heads of one, then two, and knocking out three men with just one thrust.  As it continued on its course it was haulted violently by a tree so it could not make its return home as did its predicessor the chackram.  As the frying pan dropped to the ground Xena spun around behind her to take care of the man who was about to jump upon his feet to continue the battle.  She gave him the pinch with just one unified motion as the words began to fly.

Not only had she disturbed my slumber, but she had destroyed the only means of cooking that was left.  In fact, just the week before she had thrown our only cutting knife at yet another of the many warloards out to destroy her.  To Xena anything was a useable weapon and nothing was sacred.  No object organic or inorganic was safe from her wrath of destruction.  Now that the battle was seemingly over and Xena was in control all I could do was pick up what was left of my bent frying pan.  This was the last quill.  After all of my recent sacrifices to the warrior princess and this was how she respected me.  My next move was to argue and to express my anger over my loss.  This diverted Xena’s attention from the final moments of battle.  Our squabble over cooking utensils led to a  forgotten prisnor on the ground who was losing life fast as the blood flow to his brain was quickly thinning out.  The man struggled to interrupt our squabble reminding Xena that she had intended to interrogate him.  The pinch interrogation is the most quick and efficient way for Xena to find out vital details reguarding the enemy at hand.  It is the standard method and most preferred by the warrior princess.  Although it doesn’t seem all that humane I will admit that it is much less painful than other well-known forms of torture such as having burning splinters shoved under one’s fingers so eloquently described by a tramp I once met.

As was demonstrated on this morning waking up is not always pleasant in the company of the warrior princess; however, finding your way is entirely another challenge.  Based on the information of the interrogation Xena and I knew little of the location that we seeked.  On this particular day the goal was to find the village of Piedmont.  It was the village that the warlord Zagrious was planning to loot.  The only problem was that no one thought to ask for directions during the standard interrogation process so we were at a loss.  Xena had never been to this part of the countryside which was actually quite surprising since the warrior princess seemed to always have the answers to everything on any other day or in any other situation.  Yet who could think to complain for this scenario was quite normal.  As for me I was still irritated about the loss of my only good frying pan.  I decided that it was time to stick it to the warrior princess, and then it happened.

As I challenged the warrior princess on her mistake in gathering information Xena suggested that the next time she pinched someone for information that I should ask the quesitons.  She then stated that I often asked good questions.  Now there was shock for a moment.  Xena was actually complementing me for once.  This emotion quickly led to excitement.  Suddenly I was feeling confident in myself about asking quesitons.  And then it happened. Oppritunity soon came running just over the hill down the path. A heavy-set, blond haired, blue eyed village man was moving into our direction.  He was waiving his arms and calling out in desparation.  This was my chance to try my hand at the pinch interrogation.  He was going to give us the information we seeked.  Yet the warrior princess suggested that maybe this man didn’t need to be pinched prior to an interrogation.  Just as I was feeling my moment of glory she smacked it down yet again.

Upon his arrival the man was stunned by the presence of the warrior princess.  One would have thought that she was like the Goddess Aphrodite, or Athena, or someone of that status, but it was only Xena.  No one special really.  But Hower was dumbstruck.  He informed Xena and I of the giant known as Gareth.  Apparently Gareth was threatening to stomp their village to sticks if they didn’t pay him what he had asked.  There was only one problem.  This scencario created a delemma for Xena and I.

Making a decision isn’t always easy when so much is at stake like in this case.  Saving Piedmont or taking out the giant no one could decide really.  There was only one solution to this problem. There were the two villages Laurel and Piedmont.  Each had its own uniquely dire situation.   One was dealing with a gaint while the other a warlord.  To me it would be quite a contest of decision.  In sizing up the situation I  took out some fresh srcolls and began to make my list of the pros and cons.  There could not be a better method in coming to a fair decision.  And no sooner had I begun my list did the warrior princess whip out a dinar flipping it through the air.  She seemingly ignored my hard work, and had come to her own conclusion with just one simple action.  The fates stated heads we were to take on the giant.

Of course this was not an acceptable means of decision making in my opinion, but it is sometimes difficult to argue successfully against the warrior princess.  Not only that, but once again Xena had demonstrated her lack of confidence in my abilities as a sidekick.  There  was only one thing left to do.  Continue the arguement about the frying pan because after all it wasn’t a suitable choice of weaponry.  Without a good frying pan to cook that fish Xena liked to eat so much there would be only raw fish to sooth the beast with in my stomach now. Maybe the lovesick Hower had a spare pan back in his village.

Now in traveling to Laurel there had to be a way to pass the time.  One of the daily travel games Xena and I like to play is warlords and victims.  It always begins with my interrogation of Xena.   The first rule to the game is process of elimination.  One must find out if the warlord is male or female, and in our case living or dead.  This all stems from our travels together of course.  Xena naunchelanltely answered my first two questions easily.  We had a male dead warlord.  In fact, Xena stated that this particular warlord was “very dead.”    One would think that this game would be simple, but nothing is ever simple with the warrior princess.

Yet I had thought of the perfect question.  I wanted to know if the warlord we were talking about had been killed by a certain warrior princess.  Xena answered gleefully as if she were hiding the ultimate secret and riddle.  Her answer to my quesiton was of course a yes which for a moment led to personal excitement.  I knew of every warlord that Xena had ever killed.  At least within our travels together.  I was betting that Xena would not cheat and go outside the rules of the game.  She would never name someone that she had killed prior to meeting me.  It wouldn’t be a fair game and I would have to complain.  Xena hates it when I complain.  This is why I kept complaining about our current lack of a frying pan.  Yet there was a bright side to the day.  The weather was  completely beautiful.  It couldn’t have been more perfect with the sun shining warmly on our exposed legs and arms.  Usually it gets cold  a lot in traveling with the warrior princess.  Yet this moment of peace and tranquility quickly passed.

For a moment I tried to calm myself with the peace and serenity of mother nature as we traveled through the forrest onto Laurel.  I got lost in the moment, but only briefly for I was reminded of the presence of the lovesick Hower who was constantly turning back around in awe of the warrior princess.  He seemingly couldn’t get enough glances back at her.  Suddenly it occurred to me how I could get back at the warrior princess.  She would never expect my next move.  Suddenly I turned to the warrior princess spinning around with my staff in an attempt to knock her flat on the ground.  Effortlessly she stopped my staff dead in its motion with only one hand.  The look on her face was priceless for she did not even blink one of her blue eyes.  She just held my staff steady with that smirk on her face that turns me ridged.

This only frustrated me more yet I was certain that if I had been just a moment quicker in my motion that the warrior princess would have been on the ground.  I would have been laughing joyfully at my triumph over her.  Yet she insisted that I hadn’t even been close.  She wouldn’t begin to give me the satisfaction of almost knocking her flat onto the ground with my staff.  I was of course defiant of her confidence in her warrior abilities.  Yet Xena was more defiant of my fire against her on this day.  It was a battle of wills now.  I was determined to win it.  The stakes were suddenly raised.  Xena looked into my eyes as if she were going to give away something within our little warlord game, but again I was rudely interrupted as the warrior princess brushed me aside and consulted with Hower for more information about the giant Gareth.

Hower had said that Gareth’s actual size was unknown to his village people.  In fact, their only evidence of his existance was the fact that he had constantly been sending them threats.  The stomping of Laurel was the consequence if they did not comply with his demands.  It was at this moment that it dawned on me to ask another question.  I wanted to know why Hower and the people of Laurel were so certain that this Gareth was a giant.  To me Gareth sounded like another Zagrious with only a slightly better plan of attack.  It was genious like the warrior princess to state that a giant was coming to stomp the village if it didn’t supply the army with goods and services.  Yet Hower went on to explain that he and his village friends had seen the destruction of neighboring villages in the next valley who had not complied with Gareth’s wishes.  In my own mind I visualized what a village might have looked like destroyed by a warlord versus one destroyed by a giant.  It seemed to me that the two villans would leave little behind their wraths.  Of course a giant might flatten a village whereas a warlord might burn it to the ground.

Xena seemed convinced that there was a giant for she then wanted to know if Gareth had ever been to his village.  Hower replied that Gareth had never actually been there which led Xena to a new strategy.  Watching her mind work like that is often fascinating, but I can never let her know about that.  Her head is already way too big.  Suddenly there was a loud grumbling from the pit of the warrior’s stomach.  This was my chance to hound her about her mistake in chosing to use the frying pan as a weapon instead of a cooking utensil.  I wanted to burst with laughter, but Xena held it off when she reminded me that she hadn’t had breakfast.  Of course no one had had the pleasure of a good morning meal.  I held my tongue, but only because I was just as hungry.  The warrior princess might use this against me if I pressured her any further with the frying pan issue at this moment.

Xena then asked Hower if there was water nearby.  She was planning on having fish for lunch.  Now this was a laugh and I couldn’t resist it any longer.  I decided that I didn’t care if I didn’t get to eat.  I wanted blood and vengence for even if Xena did catch enough fish to eat it would all be raw and not cooked.  Again I needled the warrior princess about this issue.  Xena only responded with disgust and frustration.  She couldn’t control the beast with in that pressed me to argue about the old trusty frying pan.  Me without my frying pan is like Xena without Argo.  No one was truely happy.  We were all tired, hungry, and ready for action.  Except for Hower of course.  He was happy as a piece of flying parchment.

Briefly I decided to try to forget about the frying pan as we headed for the creek.  It wasn’t a long journey to get there and I was glad to get off of my feet for a bit.  Xena loved to fish.  Maybe that was her way of dealing with being hungry.  Somehow it seemed to sooth her.  Those slimy creatures slivering through her hands somehow gave her solace.  In fact, a sword in her hand gives her solace.  As for me I started back in my thoughts of our game from earlier.  I was hoping that would get my mind off of the pain in my stomach.  My next question to the warrior princess was if this was a warlord or royalty we were talking about.  Xena answered while tying her hair back for the kill.  She said that it was a warlord which was suddenly quite puzzling.  It was a victim obviously, but most victims are not warlords.  Yet it did make sense for Xena kills warlords sometimes.

I was truely stumped as I tried to piece all of these little bits of information together.  None of it made sense yet it all fit together somehow.  As I was falling within the depths of my memory Hower returned from his short walk.  I wasn’t really certain where he had gone off to, but he interrupted my thoughts asking why Xena didn’t use a fishing pole.  Most people don’t understand the tequnique of the warrior princess. As I sat there and stared at the warrior princess standing in the creek I found it quite barbaric to sit there and watch her leaning over into the water.  She would seemingly listen for the fish underneath the muddy waters.  It was like eavesdropping on nature.  Suddenly I had a new source of pain for her.  I would distract her from hearing the fish so that she wouldn’t be able to capture lunch with out a fishing pole.  In my opinion she was just showing off for Hower.   Yet who knew why.  He wasn’t all that attractive..  Hower had a more humble look about him unlike the warrior princess full of fire and rage.

My next question to Xena as I laughed at Hower’s inquiries was if the warlord was Dagnon.  Xena responded barely divided from her fishing stating that Dagnon was not the answer.  She was barely listening to me and suddenly she ignored me realizing what I was trying to do.  Xena loudly responded to Hower asking him if he wanted trout or perch.  Hower responded back greatly impressed with the skills of the warrior princess.  I decided to prove that she wasn’t capable of wining every battle.  My answer to the warrior princess ignoring me was in asking for salmon.  There was no way that she would be able to produce a salmon from that creek.

Xena called me knowing that salmon were out of season and that this creek was not capable of supporting salmon.  She had beaten my wit again.  Now this was getting really serious.  I decided to go for the kill.  She would never capture an eel out of that creek.    Xena’s response was candid yet irritated.  She read me like a scroll, but I had won this battle as I triumphantly smiled and nodded to Hower who was seemingly enjoying our little squabble.  He probably thought Xena was cute or something.  I don’t view the warrior princess as cute.  Anyone who has ever dared to do that has ended up on the ground or worse.  Yet triumph was interrupted by Xena’s next statement.  She had seemingly observed some wagon tracks just on the other side of the creek leading toward Piedmont.  This meant that Zagrious and his army would soon strike there.  It was a shame that Piedmont was going to have to suffer the wrath of Zagrious and all because of a dinar toss.  I would have personally decided upon saving Piedmont rather than Laural for I was still not convinced that the giant Gareth even existed.

Xena responded to my arguement of her dinar toss explaining that she was not going to allow the destruction of Piedmont.  The warrior princess was often too full of pride to even realize that even she could be wrong sometimes.  I argued with her that there was no possible way that she could be in two places on the same day at the same time.  Xena continued to listen for the fish as she responded saying that she didn’t have to be in two places at once.  It didn’t make sense.  I couldn’t figure out her angle.  In life and in sport Xena is always a tightly woven mystery.  Yet that is what makes the warrior princess so fascinating.  Just as I was thinking about this for a moment Xena suddenly moved into the water with her powerful arms.  She struggled with what seemed to be a dangerous beast below the surface.  It was definately not a trout or a perch.  Suddenly Xena shouted that eel was coming out of the water and lunch was about to be ready.

Water splashed violently as Xena had yanked the long slithery black beast out of the water.  She struggled with it for a few moments trying not to allow it to escape.  Just when it seemed she would lose the battle against the eel it came flying in my direction slapping up across my face slithering down into my lap.  It was slimy and slippery.  The beast sqirmed violently across my exsposed legs as I tried desparately to free myself of its grasp.  It screetched loudly as I struggled to my feet grasping the slime in my hands and finally releasing it into the tall weeds along the bank.  Xena just grinned with that silly triumphant smile.  It was actually more like a goofy childish smirk.  Then she leaned back down to listen to the fish in the water once more.  I was humiliated in front of a guest companion and I didn’t like it too much.  There had to be a way to beat her at her own game.  It was just a matter of figuring it out.

Hower quickly chimed in softly and with his soothing voice.  He tried to settle me down into a change of conversation.  Hower asked me if Xena might be interested in settling down and getting married someday.  I knew I was going to have to try to let Hower down gently for Xena would never settle down.  She was too wild and barbaric for that.  Somehow Hower seemed to find it attractive that she was throwing our lunch in my face.  I tried to keep my pride as I kept talking through the fish smacking up against my face.   With each fish it seemed they were larger than the previous fish.  Each bash was more harsh that the previous slap.  It was as if Xena were kicking me while I was down.  Again I tried to keep my composure and ignore her childish games, but she would not be ignored.  At least not by me.

I decided to surrender for the moment as I asked Hower to go fetch some firewood for our lunch.  He gleefully went off to fetch wood for Xena’s lunch as I loudly reminded everyone that we were going to have to find some way to try to cook these raw slimy fish.  As Hower left to seek fire brush Xena proudly sat down up against the tree next to me all wet, smelly, and sweaty.   She was a big nasty fish and could not have smelled worse.  The warrior princess obviously didn’t have time to take a bath after her catch.  I of course had given up on proving to Hower that the warrior princess was not for him.  He was too dumbstruck.  Even raw fish for lunch couldn’t dampen his lust for the warrior princess.

As Xena smiled I could not be angry for she was just being playful at my expense.  Yet I still didn’t appreciate it.  I began to explain to her that Hower was in love with her.  She wasn’t phased by it for all she could do was wonder why so many men kept falling for her.  I explained that some guys just liked her dark long flowing hair, and her deep oceanic blue eyes.  Even her leather wardrobe could draw a crowd as long as it was the warrior princess who was wearing it.  Of course our battle of wits was subsiding for the moment because our focas was now on Hower who kept staring and guawking at the warrior princess as he picked up firewood from afar.  As our conversation wore on Hower shifted his scavenger hunt from firewood to wildflowers.  I don’t think the warrior princess noticed his boyish smile meant to grab her attention.  Instead Xena was concentrating on how to deter Hower from his lusts for her.  She thought maybe a wardrobe change would do the trick; however, she was only joking.  Xena just didn’t seem to be herself when she wasn’t wearing her leather suit and golden breast plate.  Life wouldn’t be the same without those articles of clothing.  They were like a personal attachment and trademark.

Here was something new to attempt to tease her with.  I suggested a chainmail might help with her wardrobe issues, but she just laughed and stated that it would probably only attract a slightly more rambunctious crowd as if warlords like Draco weren’t bad enough.  This thought led me to glance back at Hower for a moment as he gingerly plucked another dandillion from the ground and admired his work.  He certainly took much more time and care for his courtship than someone like Draco would.  Xena interrupted my thought by explaining that life without bathing and wearing a smelly wolfskin might work.  She had a point and I could certainly imagine how much more difficult life with the warrior princess would be if she ever followed through with that change.  I could still feel the slime all over my own skin just thinking about it knowing how much Xena liked to fish.  She still smelled even now.  This led me to my only response which was to remind Xena that she would most likely be traveling alone if she made that a permanant new lifestyle.  Dodging all of the lovesick Howers in the world was not worth that.

This of course brought laughter to both Xena and I for the first time the entire day.  We were finally settling down with our rivalry as Hower returned with a handful of purple wildflowers.  He offered them to his obsession as Xena tried to accept them graciously, but somehow she appeared more disgusted with the idea.  Xena rose to help Hower get the fire started for lunch yet she appeared very reluctant.  Hower paused for  just a moment until he was certain Xena was not within earshot.  He then giggled with glee and celebration feeling that he had finally gotten the attention of his new found romance.  All I could do was smile and pretend to be excited for his accomplishment knowing that he would only find himself disappointed in the end.  As he walked away my thoughts turned to the challenge of cooking the slimy beasts that had attacked me earlier.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that the perfect tool for cutting the fish would be Xena’s chackram.  It was the sharpest weapon I had ever known and since she had thrown our last good cutting knife at a warlord the previous week it would have to double as a pearing knife.    Soon I was sawing off the heads of Xena’s catch.  Two pearch and one rather large eel.  I began with the eel, but soon had to resort to using a large stone on the ground to hold it in place while I worked.  The job was a bloody one, but I was determined to eat lunch reguardless that it was a an eel.  Before I could finish gutting lunch Xena returned and revolted against me in anger.  She ripped the chackram out from my grasp and shouted out that it would smell like fish for days.  The warrior princess wasted no time in whipping out an old rag to wipe the aquatic blood dripping from the chackram’s blade.

Hower appeared to be stunned and unable to respond or even begin to handle the anger of the warrior princess.  I handled it by snapping back.  Someone had to stand up to her fury.  As I rose to my feet I quickly yanked my rag from Xena’s grasp.  This was when I reminded her of how she had used our knife the previous week.  I wanted Hower to know exactly what he was getting himself into.  This was my oppritunity to gain some ground on the warrior princess.  Then I turned away and ignored her while she stewed in her anger over the chackram.  It was time for her to know how it felt when friends didn’t respect belongings.  She was going to learn manners even if it killed me.  Of course she turned away from me leaving Hower speechless until he came up with the perfect solution.  He offered to clean Xena’s chackram for her.  As I would have expected Xena refused.  No one is allowed to touch her prized chackram.

Instead Xena’s fury was high as she turned to Hower seriously and asked him how much further it was from his village.  Hower replied that it was directly east about a two hour’s walk.  I was waiting for the next blow from the warrior princess as I tried desparately to figure out how we were going to eat lunch.  Without a knife, a frying pan, or even the chackram we would definately be eating raw fish and eel from the bone.  As I tried to come to terms with raw fish in my stomach, and sinking my teeth into the outer layer of skin Xena told Hower that he had an important mission for him.  This snapped me to attention for if she were seriously sending Hower on a mission I needed to know why she wasn’t asking me to perform the job.  Of course Hower was exstatic to be asked to help Xena with a mission.  She explained to Hower that he needed to deliver a message from her to Zagrious.  It was simple yet cryptic.  Both Hower and I listened intently.  The message was this.  Xena would not get in Zagrious’s path if he agreed not to enter into hers.  And that was it.  Hower appeared confused and I found myself even more mystified.  When Hower asked Xena if there was more to the message she was candid and confident stating that there was no more.  She then turned away from her audience and walked to join Argo.  Hower then looked to me as if I had all of the answers to the mystical warrior princess, but I didn’t.  Instead I just explained it to him how it is.  I’ve learned that Xena works in mysterious ways and that one doesn’t question them.  Although I still do question the warrior princess often.  She hates that about me too.

And so Hower set off to find Zagrious while I tried to figure out what Xena was doing.  She obviously had a plan, but I was still trying to figure out how she could be in two places at one time.  There was no way that she could make it back to Piedmont in time to save it from Zagrious.  Not only that, but she had just told Zagrious that she had no intention of impeding on his territory.  I decided after thinking on this over raw fish that it wasn’t important for me to know.  Instead I just decided that I would work on one of my scrolls of a time when the warrior princess seemed a little less myterious.  The thought of Joxer was even a bit of a relief after the day that Xena and I were having.  Of course most days are like this one.

About an hour from Laurel Xena experienced a call from nature.  I was certain that it came about as a result of the raw fish not in agreement with the stomach of the warrior princess.  My stomach was struggling to keep them  down.  I decided that the only way to ignore the raw pain in my side would be to re enact a dramatic interpretation of my experience with Bacchus and his baccae slaves.  I was feeling the rage of a baccae over the rude wake up call, the raw fish for lunch, Xena’s constant insults ,  inconsideration, and the fact that when I reached into Argo’s saddle bag to write another verse a corner of my scroll was now missing.  The baccae in me had taken hold at this point.  This was the last straw.  My prize possession was being used as toilet paper for Xena’s call from nature.  Again she had gotten the better of me wining the battle of wits.  I had only used her chackram for fish, but she used my scrolls for far worse.

As I rounded the corner of the horse toward the bushes the triumphant warrior princess emerged seemingly relieved and in good spirits.  Yet she also seemed quite prepared to deal with my wrath over the scrolls.  As I ranted she made up a lame excuse stating that there weren’t any good leaves in the bush.  Yeah that was a good one.  There are millions of leaves in the bushes.  I’ve used them many times and there are always at least ten possible leaves amongst hundreds.  There was no way I was buying into that excuse.  I could see it in her eyes and all over her face.  Xena was about to laugh in my face boisterously.  Before she could let out a peep the earth beneath us moved.  I was almost knocked off of my feet by the loud stomping sounds approaching through the forrest.  The entire earth shook about us and then Xena just fizzled my anger by reminding me that the giant was our enemy not each other.

The warrior princess had a point, but I was still livid.

Although Xena appeared to travel with me for laughs and my own daily humiliation I do have a lot of skills to offer.  In my struggle to remind her of this she ordered that we take cover into the trees from the open field.  While running for cover I came up with a brilliant plan as to how we would buy time.  I suggested to Xena that we make a sign with Laurel  and post it in the wrong direction so that we could mislead the giant.  That would most certainly delay him since according to Hower he had never been to their village.  Xena ignored the suggestion as she scaled up into the tallest tree she could find.  The warrior princess was looking to see exactly how much time we had before we would be battling the giant.  I don’t think she had a plan of action in place for him just yet.  She had been too focased on Zagrious determined to prove to me that she could be in two places at the same time.  I was still unconvinced.  Although I did finish building my sign.  My hope was that I had been able to spell Laurel correctly.

About this time Xena had jumped down out of the tree and was in a bit of a rush to move on.  She was frustrated with my need to finish the sign telling me that giants didn’t know how to spell so it didn’t matter that I had even made the sign.  Even so I was determined to post it so I did.  I posted it right in front of an offering statue to Aphrodite.  As I struggled to get it to stay in the ground Xena grabbed me by the clevage point and yanked me toward Laurel.  She was still unappreciative of my work.

Soon we were back to our game of warlords and victims.  I had yet to determine if who we were talking about had dark hair or light hair.  Xena responded that it was someone with dark hair.  I was begining to think that this was definately a warlord, but I was still grappling with the victim status.  Then I thought that maybe it was someone with a heavy build.  Xena quickly replied to that with a negative response.  That eliminated a few people from my list.  Maybe it was Draco because he wasn’t fat, and he was dark haired.  He was also buff, but that would be too easy.  I decided that my next best guess would be Toxious.  Xena’s response trailed off with a no.  She had suddenly switched gears again as we were entering the village of Laurel.  The warrior princess was thinking out loud.  Her words were simple.  All she could say was the word interesting.  Of course I couldn’t figure out what was so interesting about this little village.  We had been to millions of other villages just like Laurel.  They all looked the same to me.  In fact, most of them reminded me of my home village of Potedia.  Peace loving villagers tend to live very similar lives all over the countryside.  Laurel was no different.

A thought occurred to me in that moment.  Lining the main road into the village with birch trees to go with those lonely goats and chickens might be nice.  It would be a step out of the normal landscape anyway.  Xena of course was not talking about the asthtetic appearance of Laurel.  She was more interested in the fact that there seemed to be no one there.  There was not once soul roaming the streets.  No one was shopping at the market.  It was ghostly and almost eerie.  Life in this village seemed a bit too quiet.  As Xena and I looked about we were suddenly on high alert until the silence was broken by the sounds of a struggle.  Xena and I turned to look behind our path to see a peasant woman with dark hair struggling with a baby goat.  She was the only voice other than that of the goat which had spoken since Xena and I had arrived in Laurel.

Xena decided to approach the peasant in blue.  It seemed as if the woman had not even noticed our arrival until she turned to see who it was that had called out hello.  This was when things turned into a strange surreal experience.  The peasant woman’s facial expression went from surprise, to awe, to excitement all in a matter of moments.  Then she requested confirmation that Xena was who she appeared to be.  Xena was modest confirming her identity as she looked behind her.  The warrior princess was clueless as to the fame she was experiencing.  She also failed to realize that it was because of my scrolls that she was enjoying this praise.

As the peasant woman struggle to hold onto her goat she could barely contain her exasperation for she was finally getting to meet her idol.  Xena the legendary warrior princess whom she had heard so many stories about.  In fact, the woman spoke of all of Xena’s adventures including how Xena had liberated Prometheous, and unchained Death.  It seemed that the favorite legend had been those that involved Xena defeating Callisto.  All of this was within what seemed to be a single breath.  Though this woman was seemingly impressed with Xena I found myself impressed that my stories had made it this far.  I was flattered that even people who lived in villages as quiet as Laurel have been able to enjoy my scrolls about Xena and our adventures together.  Xena appeared not to be phased by her status, and soon I found myself as unexcited about it when the peasant approached me unable to figure out who I was.  She didn’t even know my name although she did try to give me a name.  It was a miserable fumbling of syllabols.

Yet the peasant woman made up for it when she began to ask me what it was like to travel with Xena.  In fact this was my inspiration for a day in the life of Xena.  I was glad to oblidge the most intimate and embarressing details of Xena’s life for Xena had been indulging in my humilation all day long with Hower.  The first question was if Xena liked to snooze in the buff, but just as I was about to answer Xena interrupted.  She resorted to the mission as the reason my fun had to end.  Sudddenly that threw the peasant woman, whose name we later found to be Minya, into action.  Minya explained that she and her boyfriend Hower were the only people from their village who had been brave enough to stay behind to defend their village against the giant.  Everyone else had apparently run to the hills for safety.  Xena’s battles for the greater good had some how inspired these two villagers to become heros especially Minya.  Minya went onto explain that she was highly qualified to help with this mission.  She described herself as tough and bold, and that she was able to read quite well.  According to Minya literacy was scarce in this part of the valley.  If nothing else sounded promising within this situation one had to hold onto Minya’s determination and exhuberance to impress the warrior princess.  She was just as bad as Hower, but in a slightly different way.

Then Minya suddenly found herself wondering about Hower whom she had forgotten about within the presence of the warrior princess.  Xena then had to explain with a bit of guilt that she had asked him to do her a favor.  She promised Minya that Hower would return.  I found that to be quite funny since Xena had yet to figure out how to tell Minya that her boyfriend had fallen for her while he was away looking for help.  Suddenly even Minya was a bit demanding.  She wanted to know what Xena’s plan was to defeat the giant.  In fact, that was the big mystery that all of us had been waiting for an answer to.  Xena finally came right out and answered it.  She didn’t have a true plan formulated yet.  I knew it!  I had known it all along.  Xena had only been sending phony messages to Zagrious to delay him until she could figure out what to do.  That was exactly what I had done with the giant.  It was a good thing too since Xena needed some more time to think.  Yet as always Xena would prove that she still didn’t value my skills to be as crafty as her own.  Quickly Minya found herself begging the warrior princess for a command.  With one sly glance Xena had come up with the perfect plan.

That was when Minya graciously offered us a nice warm bath which was quite relaxing.  It had been quite a while since Xena and I had had a bath inside.  The water was blissfully warm and relaxing although Minya was a bit overzealous in attempting to please the warrior princess.  She was exactly like Hower only the female version of him.   As Minya kept returning with large buckets of hot water to keep the bath maintained Xena and I turned our thoughts again to the game.  My next guess was Mezentious.  Xena again replied that I was wrong.  Still determined to win the game I prepared to try at another guess.  Just then Minya returned yet again filling the steaming bath with more scalding water.  She must have been boiling endless pans of water over a fire the size of an Amazon funeral fire.  When she asked if the warrior princess was too hot Xena was gracious yet it was obvious that she was begining to feel just as uncomfortable as I was.

This led me back to thoughts of the giant Gareth.  I inquired if Xena had come up with any new ideas on how to deal with him.  Xena’s response was again without an answer.  It appeared to me as if she was struggling to find the answer.  These occasions were rare, but when they come along I always try to include my input.  For a moment I drew back from conversation as I scrubbed Xena’s back hoping to release some of the stress and the tension she was feeling.  Part of it had been of my doing, but I still wanted to make up for it.  So then I had a suggestion.  It was actually the perfect plan.  We had used it before against Golliath when he went up against David and the Isrealites.  It had worked before and the day couldn’t have been more perfect for this plan.  The sun had been out shining brightly all day, and there were no clouds in sight.  I spoke these thoughts out loud to Xena reminding her of the previous success of this plan of action against giants.  Of how we could ask Minya to gather all of the mirror in Laurel so that we could get Gareth to take off his helmet and expose his soft spot.  Using the mirrors to blind him with the sun’s reflection we could easily take out the giant.  Xena seemed uninterested in trying that one again.  I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t want a guarunteed win in battle.  It was almost frustrating and personal again, but I refrained from taking it personal this time.  I was begining to understand that what Xena enjoyed most about the heat of battle was that each battle was unique to her.  Each battle had its own personality and though Gareth was a giant like Golliath this was different for the warrior princess.  Xena sensed my understanding of her and it led her to offer to take away the tension in my back.  She too was begining to feel slightly guilty for all of the bickering that had gone on between us on this day.

Then it happened again.  Minya came running with the scalding hot water which fell directly onto Xena again.  This time Xena almost snapped at Minya demanding that Minya ease up on the fresh bath water.  I was glad that Xena finally put a hault to Minya’s overly gracious offers.  Her presence led me to remind Xena of how much she too was within the grasp of Xena’s warrior princess haze.  Xena reluctantly agreed that it was true that she had not just one, but two secret admirers to deal with.  For some reason this made her uneasy although she did complement Minya on wanting to be so helpful.  It was almost as if Xena felt slightly connected to Minya in some way.  Xena was finally learning to appreciate being idolized instead of despised.  In the days when we first met it seemed that Xena had enemies in every village that wanted her blood.  Now she was being worshipped like Hercules or Aphrodite.

This led me into reminding Xena of our third problem of the day.  The problem of Hower and Minya.  Hower being in love with Xena would definately put a damper in Xena’s new found relationship with Minya.  Xena did agree that this was an issue, but it was obvious that it was the furthest thing from her warrior mind.  I could allow her take on the giant and try to make it back in time to wrestle with Zagrious, but there would be no way that Xena could handle Minya and Hower’s relationship issue.  This was definately my territory because it always takes a more sensative person to help straighten these emotional issues of love out.  It was nice to know that there would be at least one thing that I could do to make the greater good better today.

Yet as I basked in my own pride Xena found herself offended that I didn’t feel she could handle that third issue.  Again she wanted to rise to the occasion and prove to me that she could handle that better than me too.  Xena’s zest for competition was begining to truely annoy me.  I asked her why she was so set on competing with everyone and being the best.  Her response was weak, but forceful in tone.  She accused me of being overly competative.  Xena did have a point.  I was and I had been all day, but mostly with her and she definately had me beat at that.  This I stated as a fact.  She could not deny it and just as she tried desparately to come up with a retort to the naked truth Minya arrived yet again with another bucket of scalding hot water.  It splashed a divide hotter than the lava of Vesuveous.  Minya obviously didn’t hear Xena the last time she requested that Minya cease in her work.  This time Xena shouted and it got Minya’s attention.  It was obvious that Minya was quite fearful of disappointing her idol.  Xena then thanked Minya as her new disciple knelt down with excitement.  Minya inquired of Xena’s plan hoping that there would be an answer.  Yet Xena was truely stumped.

As the warrior princess fumbled with her own confidence I stepped in to save the day.  I told Minya to go ahead and gather all of the mirrors in the village to prepare for the giant’s arrival.  If Xena was unable to come up with a better more ingenuitive plan then at least we would be ready when the giant came.  Minya looked to Xena for confirmation that this was the plan.  Now Xena was stuck for I had forced her into using her old plan, but the only problem was that Xena explained that it was only a contigency plan.  It didn’t matter to Minya though.  She dashed off faster than a bolt of lightening to please the warrior princess.  I found myself irritated that Xena was still not going to go with my latest suggestion.  The competition was on as our battle of wits continued.  Xena didn’t want me to ever get the last word or the last command.  I had found her weak spot and she was trying desparately to defend it.  Xena only responded by first playing it off as if she didn’t know what I was talking about and then she had a retort.  She accused me of being an ametuer reminding me that being a real warrior means being flexible within any battle situation.  This was just as irritating as the sudden lump underneath me which Xena discovered to be the soap.  Suddenly we found ourselves within a wrestling competion within the bath splashing each other until we couldn’t see anymore.  And again the warrior princess beat me.

I had finally decided that I had come to the end of my rope with her for the day.  While she was outside talking with Minya and Hower who had just returned from his lastest mission I went shopping.  Since there was no one around I couldn’t go to the market so I decided to trade, but there was only one problem.  Minya was the only one I could trade with since everyone else had run for the hills.  Yet it would be easy.  All I had to do was pick out a frying pan that I liked and I was certain that Minya would find something enticing that I could offer to her in exhange. When I finally managed to join everyone outside again I overheard Xena talking to Hower planning to send him on another mission.  She was still unable to deal with that problem too.  She just kept sending everyone away from Laurel hoping that her ulitimate plan would ferment in her mind.  It seemed to me that Xena had lost her mind.

Xena told Hower exactly verbatum that Zagrious had refused her offer.  When she repeated back to Hower word for word Zagrious’s response Hower seemed impressed and in awe.  Xena then told Hower to go back out and find Zagrious to warn him not to come near Laurel.  She also wanted Hower to make sure Zagrious knew that Piedmont and any other village was his for the taking.  Hower was exasperated and ready for action saying good-bye to Xena.  He practically blew the warrior princess kisses through his eyes.  Xena’s way of dealing with this was to order him to say good-bye to Minya whom he wouldn’t even take the time to glance at.  Hower did say good-bye to Minya, but it could barely be heard by anyone.  Then he went running, and leaping away to find Zagrious to deliver Xena’s latest message.  It seemed insane to me that Xena would continue to send Hower out to tell Zagrious a lot of nonesense.  Apparently Xena had known Zagrious before and they had been warlord pals in the past.  This led me to think that maybe Zagrious was the answer to the game.  As I approached Xena while Minya was finding herself struggling to deal with her new reality Xena ordered me to do something about their current state of emotions.  Although she didn’t actually say that I should she alluded to it.  Of course I had better plans for Minya.  Soon I was on my way to gaining ground against the warrior princess.  After trading to get Minya’s frying pan I had come up with my answer to Xena’s warlords and victims riddle.  Since I was on a role I decided that I would try my hand at the element of surprise just one more time.

As they say practice makes perfect.  I had seen Xena go into a barn up the path and decided that she would be at her weakest when in deep thought.  I took my staff and listened intently from outside.  There was not a peep.  The only thing that I could hear was Xena breathing deeply within meditation.  She was definately not expecting an attack.  Quietly I inched around the corner through the doorway of the barn.  As I peeked in I could feel that Xena’s eyes were closed.  She was totally focased on her thoughts.  I knew that now was my chance and so I went for it.  As I drove forward into the barn with my staff in the ready Xena suddenly jumped up high into the air kicking down two buckets full of water and giving her battle cry.  She hit each bucket simultaneously with her warrior boots as she spun around in mid air prepared and ready to face me in battle.  Although I knew now that I was whipped I still had to attempt to make the striking blow.  Just as I lifted my staff to thrust it into the chest of the warrior princess she landed spinning around to face me.  She kicked my staff effortlessly to the floor in the final movement of her entire body.  It was amazing I have to admit, but it didn’t help me in winning the battle.  All I could do was throw my arms down in frustration and aggitation.  Just when I had thought I would beat her with the one two punch I had lost my battle advantage.

Yet at least I still had my wits about me.  Quickly I brushed off my loss in the battle to approach the warrior princess with my answer to the riddle of warlords and victims.  Already she had turned her back to me and fallen back into deep mediation.  I approached her from behind and whispered slyly into her ear.  The answer was most certainly the great Centaries.  She responded quickly with a negetive answer.  It was short and it was spiteful.  Frankly, the warrior princess was driving me insane which led me to my earlier suspicion.  I then demanded to know if it was indeed someone she had fought before I had met her.  The answer had to be yes, but it was no.  My emotional breaking point was now for my wits had been smacked down just as hard as my staff had.  So far I had lost two out of my three advantages with little effort from the warrior princess.  Now that I had finally given up on warlords and victims I was dying to know the answer.  Xena slyly spun back around to face me smiling as she spoke the name of Theodoras.

Now that couldn’t be right for Theodoras had been killed by not Xena, but Callisto.  Xena had a clever supporting arguement for that as well.  She proceeded to remind me that Theodoras had been killed by Callisto when Callisto had been in Xena’s body.  Who knew that Xena would go that far in being certain to defeat me in cold blood, but she had.  She wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t right either.  Yet who could ever get the warrior princess with that.  As Xena stood in the barn within her own glory there was a nasty sound which had come from just outside the barn.  It snapped and suddenly Minya could be heard struggling and crying out in pain.  Xena quickly moved outside to investigate as I picked up my staffed off of the floor.  As we made our way outside all was still very quiet in Laurel, but Minya stood alone rubbling the sting of the whip off of her face.  Xena called out forcefully to Minya.  She wanted to know why a peasant woman would take it upon herself to play with weapons of mass destruction without proper training.

Minya argued with Xena reminding the warrior princess or me rather that she had traded her best frying pan to me in order to gain a piece of Xena memorabilia.  Okay so even though Xena had beaten me in battle and with wits I still crushed her with surprise.  I had forgotten about my trade from earlier and I had no idea that it would bring out the anger that it did.  Xena was furious that I had traded her weapon.  What she didn’t realize was that I had let her off of the hook for it was the chackram that Minya had truely wanted.  Quickly I had to defend my choice for Xena was fast approaching in her fury.  I retorted with the fact that we needed to be able to cook our food reminding Xena of the fact that the fish were still not settling within my stomach.  I had matched her fury with my own emotional fury, but it wasn’t enough to mask my real pain.  Xena called me on my excuse knowing that the real reason I had traded her weapon was to get back at her for using my scrolls as back up toiletry.  This was true, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Xena decided since that trade had already been made that there was only one way to resolve this issue.  She turned immediately back to Minya and demanded that Minya return it to her.  Minya was firm and did not budge.  She was certainly more assertive than her counter part Hower.  It was kind of nice to see that someone else could stand up to the warrior princess.  Minya reminded Xena that a trade had been made and in that transaction the whip had become her property while the frying pan had become ours.  Not only that, but Minya went one step further in reminding Xena that Hower was hers and that I belonged to the warrior princess.  That part of the deal didn’t sound all that attractive, but it certainly was amusing.  What was unfolding was emotionally interesting about the warrior princess.  For the first time that I could ever remember she was being told no.  I had never seen anyone be able to tell the warrior princess no and be successful in keeping their lives.  Minya was quite courageous and bold in standing up to her.  I was quite impressed.  Then Xena realized that she had lost.  Both Minya and I had ganged p on her and there was no way to win.  As Xena looked back at me with disgust I tried to hide me laughter, but I’m not really sure if I masked it all that well.  Then she looked to Minya and instructed her to be certain to get all of the mirrors ready at the north end of town.  Xena quickly brushed Minya out of her way as she went to find out how close the giant was.

Minya would not allow Xena to have the last word.  Instead she forced Xena to pause as she moved toward Argo.  The two dark haired tall women exchanged a glance of toughness as Xena walked away seemingly hurt by this gesture and disrespect.  As Xena saddled up onto her horse I realized that Argo was the only one who truely understood the warrior princess.  Argo was the only one that Xena could go to in her times of emotional need.  I began to feel even more low as I watched Minya drive the final nail into the coffin as she taunted the warrior princess as Xena rode out of Laurel.  I realized that I had deeply bruised Xena’s pride.  Not only that, but I had created a new enemy for Xena.  The poor warrior princess was having a bad day and all I had done was make it worse for her.  I decided that I had to do something to make up for it.  The begining of that would have to be in repairing Minya’s relationship with the warrior princess.

My scrolls were the perfect solution to the problem for it had been my scrolls that had given the warrior princess that certain glow within Minya’s heart.  It wasn’t fair that Minay had met the warrior princess on an off day.  And so I sat down in the barn with Minya and helped her read some of my scrolls.  In fact, we read the story of Baccus and the beautiful girls that Xena had rescued from his wrath.  I had to remind Minya of Xena’s heart and commitment to goodness.  As Minya read the final lines of the scroll I asked her how she liked the story of Xena’s kindness and bravery.  She really did enjoy the story which pleased me, but Minya then responded by asking for the stories in which Xena was the harlot that stole the men of good and decent women.  I looked to her and softly scolded her for having such mean thoughts toward the warrior princess.  Desparately I wanted to project my guilt into Minya’s heart knowing that it had been my fury that had been injected into hers.  I then reassured her that Xena was out to find Hower and to straighten things out for the two of them.  My lack of confidence in the warrior princess had not boded well for the faith and belief of others.

Yet just when I was about to turn Minya’s heart back to Xena Hower arrived in a tizzy.  He seemed nervous and unable to stop shaking with fear.  Yet his fear was more in hurting Minya for he began to confess that he had fallen in love with the warrior princess.  My own heart sank for it was as if Hower had broken up with me for it had sealed the deal of any hopes to restore Minya’s faith in Xena or Hower.  Minya looked to me with disgust and frustration.  Her anger was more from being hurt by her idol and her lover.  Both had gilted her today.  Suddenly Xena entered the barn with business and nothing more.  As she was about to discuss our dire situation I interrupted her hoping to remind her of how important it was that we restore Minya and Hower’s relationship.  Xena ignored this issue with the dire details of the giant.  She had confirmed that it was indeed Gareth by the size of his footprints.  Xena explained that our time was extremely short which meant that our mirror plan was out.  Then as Xena was about to address the situation with Minya and Hower Hower stepped in to explain to Minya who Gareth was.  But Minya already knew.  She quickly filled in the rest of the details cutting Hower off.  Minya detailed that Gareth was the meanest giant to ever walk the earth and she continued onto explain that he had killed Xena’s friend the giant Golliath’s family.  Both Xena and I were impressed for Minya continued on to tell the story of the battle of the Isrealites and the Phillistines and of how it was there that Golliath met his own demise against Xena.  It was as if Minya had been there herself and she explained that she had read it in one of my scrolls.

As exciting and impressive as that statement was there was work to focas on.  I turned back to Xena and asked her if Gareth was wearing a helmet.  Xena explained that indeed he was and that it also had a heay nose guard which would most certainly protect his soft spot.  I still didn’t understand why the mirrors wouldn’t work until Xena explained that heavy rain clouds were quickly moving in from the west.  It was all a timing issue and Gareth was moving slower than the weather.  Our situation seemed grim, but Xena seemed to be in control.  It was as if she had already made another plan.  As I waited with Minya and Hower for the answer to materialize Xena moved deeper into the barn.  Then she paced back and looked to me for an answer.  She wanted to know if it had been true that Zues killed giants with lightening bolts.  Indeed it was true, but my faith was being tested as she spoke.  Using a lightening bolt and actually being able to handle one were two different things.  Especially since neither Xena, nor I, nor Minya or Hower were gods.

We were racing against time through trial and error yet somehow the warrior princess kept trudging forward.  Xena led Howard, Minya, and I back out just beyond the lookout tree into the open field from earilier in the day.  It was about a mile just outside of the village.  Once we arrived she began constructing a strange new weapon.  It was made out of some old worn out blankets that Minya had provided, and one of Hower’s ropes from his stable horse.  There was only one problem.  It seemed that there was a piece missing.  Xena spent a few moments in thought as the three companions looked on hopelessly.  We all thought Xena had lost it by this point, but nobody had the heart or the will to tell the warrior princess.  Suddenly Xena called out to Hower who was excited that she needed him for something.  It was as if she were holding the key to a big mystery and only Hower would be important enough to be told about it.  The warrior princess quickly reached for Hower’s waste only to rip his belt buckle right off of his belt.  Hower’s pants did stay on, but there was a sense of embarressment within him as the warrior princess went back to operating on her new contraption.

It looked nice as she was tying the final touches onto it, but I still didn’t see the vision.  That was when I finally had to ask her what it was.  Xena’s response wasn’t all that promising.  She didn’t even have a name for her diamond shaped cloth with two sticks, and some old rags on a string hanging from a belt buckle.  Yet the warrior princess continued to be confident in her new accomplishment.  She went onto explain to me that all that needed to happen was to be certain to get the weapon up into the air.  I was still lost because I didn’t see exactly how this was helping us conquer the giant.  It was too soft and light to do any real damage.  At least with the mirrors one could attempt to blind the giant.  This was stretching it for me, but at least the warrior princess was creative.  Xena seemed to ignore my lack of faith in her vision explaining that it would be the perfect weapon to nail the giant with if we could just get it into the air to harness the lightening bolts.

Okay so it sounded great, but I was still lacking the vision of how this thing was going to get into the air.  Xena continued to explain her vision as she expressed it with such passion and glory.  She spoke of how the wind would carry it and in a sense there was the small possibility of success.  If only Zues were feeling frisky with the elements he might actually help the warrior princess with her plan.  Yet gods are not known for their respect of humanity.  I was actually shocked to see that Xena was evening turning to this as a valid alternative, but I decided to sit back alongside Hower and Minya and hope for the best.  That was all that one could do at this point.

The warrior princess then held the weapon straight up in the air pointing the top of the slender shaped diamond toward the heavens.  She let out a cry and released it into the air with force as the winds began to pick up slightly.  Suddenly the diamond began to fly as it took the string off of the small roller that Xena had designed to tame it.  It was amazing to watch as the wind began to carry the weapon further and further into the air.  Suddenly it seemed possible that it may be able to reach the heavens toward Zues and his lightening bolts, but just as I was about to feel the excitement and the confidence that Xena seemingly felt the diamond deflated as the winds died down and it plummeted dismally to the ground.  It slammed down with force as Minya let out a snicker and Hower looked extremely disappointed and confused.  Minya was still on her high in defeating Xena back in the village for possession of Xena’s whip.  Of course I had fueled that.  I was really begining to feel sorry for Xena.  This was a rare feeling, but she seemed to be a broken washed up warrior out to prove she was still the best.

I approached the warrior princess and knelt down beside her trying to offer some support.  It was like trying to let Hower down in knowing that Xena would never be his, but only worse.  This was my best friend and she was going off of the deep end to think that she could harness the lightening of Zues.  The desparate warrior princess was frantic in trying to repair the damage to the tip of her diamond weapon.  As she tried to smooth out the rough edges I tried to let her down easy.  She needed to realize that now was the time to move onto another plan or a more solid idea.  Her latest idea was too abstract even for me.  Yet the warrior princess was extremely defensive and could not admit defeat.  She snapped at me demanding to know what my plan was, but the truth of it was that I didn’t have one either.  Xena was extremely stubborn as I tried to hold down my temper.  I only wanted to explain to her that I was there to help, but she didn’t see it that way.  Instead she ignored me as I tried to explain to her that there would be a day that she would be wrong despite all of the times that she had already proven herself to be right.  On this day I was certain that fate would step in for it was about to become a rainy day for the warrior princess.  She was havind difficulty accepting this.

Xena continued to venture on her own out beyond the realm of normal thoughts as she decided that the solution to her problem would simply be solved by running with her new weapon.  Suddenly the warrior princess jumped up from her latest defeat and began running all about the field desparately trying to get a response from the weapon.  This self-humiliation went on for several minutes as I tried desparately to restore my faith in my friend and her skills.  I breathed in deeply and out slowly as I spoke within my mind and desparately called out to my soul for restored faith.  Hower simply became more enthralled with the warrior princess finding that she was rather cute when she was frustrated while Minya gave up on winning him over.  For Hower Xena could do no wrong and so Minya decided to return to the village.

There was a point that Xena had found that her weapon was tangled in a rather large bush, but even that could not stop her in attempting to defeat the wind.  I began to realize that no matter what she would never give in.  This made me feel less threatened by all of the times that she challenged my will.  If the will of nature couldn’t prove itself right then I would never be able to either so I decided to stop trying.  Instead I built up some faith again, but just as I was about to jump back into the game Xena hurled her weapon across the open field and it flew again for a brief time only to come crashing down right on top of my head.  It wasn’t a pleasant feeling to be attacked by a diamond that slightly resembled a giant amazon queen mask, but it did knock some sense into me.

If Xena was going to go down I would go down with her since I was her best friend and friends stick by each other until the end.  Even if it was against the biggest meanest giant to ever walk the earth.  And so we spent the next several moments working together as a team for the first time of the day.  I grabbed the parchment as Xena stood several feet away and began to run as I ran with her still holding the parchment.  Suddenly I felt the power of Zues lifted the parchement from beneath me and I let it go up into the heavens once more.  My excitement and hope were restored as I cheered with the warrior princess on our accomplishment together.  The parchement stayed in the air for several minutes until Xena finally decided that her weapon would work.  She handled it with percision as she controlled it like her chackram only it was more graceful as it floated freely.  Quickly Xena’s mood had changed from frustration to relief.  It seemed that she had now solved at least one of our problems, but there were still two more.  Yet the warrior princess had moved onto the final problem for she had already solved the problem of Zagrious.

I was impressed as she explained that her intentions in sending Hower with cryptic messages to Zagrious was to ambush Zagrious and his army at Laurel using the giant.  She was planning on being certain that both would face each other just before they reached the village limits.  Now that her flying parchment worked she would be able to harness the lightening to defeat Gareth as soon as Gareth has smashed up Zagrious’s army.  Now this was all very wonderful news to me and a bit of a relief, but Xena wasn’t going to stop there.  She decided that she was on a role and handed over her flying parchment for me to tame while she went back to the village to attempt to straighten out the mess she had made with Minya and Hower.

My taming of the parchement did not last long for became so powerful that it stole the weapon from my grasp sending it slaming out of control into a tree in the wood just beyond the village.  After chasing the parchment down I decided to return to the village to check on Xena’s progress with Hower.  When I arrived she was inside the barn again talking to him.  I was a little insulted by her arrogance in thinking that she would be able to resolve the relationship problems of Minya and Hower.  As I listened just outside the door I heard her tell Hower that he didn’t have a chance with her.  She tried to be forceful with him and nasty, but it didn’t seem to dampen his resolve.  Instead he responded to her force with denial.  Yet he insisted that it was Xena who was denying her feelings for Hower.  He was certain that the warrior princess would come around.  Then he continued to brush Xena’s horse as if it were going to impress her.  It didn’t matter anyway.  I had a new attack planned for Xena and she would never suspect it.

As the warrior princess exited the barn I found myself climbing up onto the roof in anticipation.  She called out my name in desparation.  I knew that her next command would be to take care of the situation with Hower, but that wasn’t enough for my ego.  I needed more and so as I waited she came out around the corner of the barn.  She knew I was lurking because I could see her shoulders tensing up in anticipation.  The warrior princess is always aware of her surroundings even when she can’t see them.  I still had the advantage because she would never suspect me from the air.  As she walked around the corner of the barn expecting me to jump out with my staff I lept from the top of the barn in an attempt to knock her down.  Instead I landed flat on my chest knocking the wind out of myself for a moment.  As struggled to rise back to my feet I grabbed for Xena’s breast plate for balance.  She just glanced at me with her warrior smirk knowing that she had beaten me again.  It was now becoming more of a game rather than a direct challenge of wills.  I had tried giving a battle cry on my way down, but realized that it had been what had given my position away.

Xena responded doubtfully to my assumption that my mistake had been the battle cry.  My next question had already been answered, but I still had to ask her how things had gone with Hower.  As I had expected she commanded me to take care of that situation and then I had to explain that her flying parchement was now stuck in the trees.  Our truce had not lasted long and so the day drug on toward the climax of all three of our issues colliding simultaneously.  I dreaded having to bring reality into the love life of Hower, but as I sat there with him in the barn for over an hour he kept proclaiming that he and Xena were destined for each other.  It became a saliloquey that drug on forever and repeated itself in circles.  My attempts at convincing Hower that Minya was the one he was meant for ended dismally as I myself had to admit defeat in the arena of emotional repair.

As I trudged back out into the world away from Hower’s fantasies I caught sight of Xena who had returned with her flying parchement in tact.  She was talking with Minya who appeared to be very responsive to the warrior princess.  Suddenly, Minya was running back into the village as if she were going to deliver a message to Zagrious only Zagrious was already coming.  I approached the warrior princess with curiousity as she explained that she had given Minya some personal advice on dealing with men.  Apparently whatever Xena had said sparked something in Minya although Xena didn’t appear so confident about Minya’s trust in her at this point.   Whatever was said I could only hope that it was going to work because Hower was hopeless as far as I could tell.  I decided that the only solution to his problem would be found in being kicked around by the warrior princess.  Xena jokingly disagreed with me stating that he’d probably enjoy a beating.  She was right of course.  The beast known as man is a creature of lust.

Our conversation suddenly turned to a more serious tone in the next moment when Xena reminded me of how important it was for her succeed in defeating Gareth.  If for no other reason than to repay Goliath for having to die against the Isrealites and for the loss of his family when he once saved Xena from Gareth’s wrath.  It was in this moment that I was reminded of why I traveled with Xena.  She need someone there to remind her that she was doing the right thing.  The warrior princess needed my support and to be reminded that Goliath’s death was for the good of others.  I soothed Xena’s concerns for Goliath reminding her that he could hear her thoughts.  He could feel Xena’s friendship and love for him even in death.  I had to remember this myself every day for Perdicas was forever listening to me.

As I was falling into that thought and that wonderful feeling it was interrupted by the sounds of stomping echoing through the woods and the ground shaking violently beneath me.  Hower quickly came running out of the barn shouting out about the approaching giant with worry.  Yet Xena was not at all worried.  She was extremely pleased for Zagrious had fallen right into her trap.  The warrior princess was reminded in this moment of how Gareth couldn’t resist stomping an army to pieces for he had stomped her army once on the battle field.  She spoke her thoughts outloud as Hower found himself surprised that one of Xena’s hairy brained plans had worked.  He suddenly had faith in the warrior princess and he wondered if all of Xena’s plans worked as she had constructed them in her mind.  Xena wasn’t certain that the rest of her plan would work, but it was all that she had to work with.  With Zagrious out of the way the only contender would be Gareth who was still coming to Laurel reguardless of the outcome.  Everyone had to be ready for battle.

Waiting for Gareth was the most uneventful part of the day.  Xena, Hower, and I spent what seemed to be hours just sitting and waiting in silence.  The only sound that could be heard was Xena’s chackram being hurled out at the campfire pot, to the dry bones hanging from the abandoned butcher shop, to the old wagon wheel at the edge of the village and then back again.  There was the occasional sound of the giant approaching, but he was certainly in no hurry.  He was probably consuming the army that he had just stomped to bits.  I found myself pacing and twirling my staff with bordom as Hower just stared at Xena attempting to figure out a way to get her to admit her love for him I would assume.  He kept shooting her these flirtacious glances that the warrior princess completely ignored, yet Hower didn’t seem to notice.  Finally the boredom became a bit overwhelming for me and I was getting impatient with Gareth.  I sat down next to Xena on the log by the campfire and asked her what could be holding the giant up.  Xena explained that he was probably taking a rest after all of his hard work destroying Zagrious’s army.

Then she finished wiping off the debris from the chackram’s blade and hurled it out again as I watched it hit the same three objects for the hundreth time.  Hower seemed impressed at how effortless and accurate Xena was with her weapon.  She never missed her mark.  This was nothing new for me, but I was very concerned for Minya now because we hadn’t seen her for the entire hour.  Hower was falling deeper into his warrior haze fantasy and the giant was about to arrive.  Xena explained that her hope for Minya was that Minya had finally looked past their differences of the day and taken her advice.  Just as she finished that statement the conversation was interrupted by the sounds of an angry and crazed warlord.

Hower jumped up startled from the chair in which he had been seated backwards in.  There was alarm and worry in his eyes.  I don’t think he believed that Xena was a real warrior because she hadn’t really demonstrated her skills well today.  Yet it seemed that Xena wasn’t the only warrior having an off day.  Zagrious was insane.  His anger and frustration had reached the boiling point.  The man couldn’t control his emotions which Xena has often said can lead to mistakes.  Xena was having a great time and agreed that it was a tough day for those who made their living as warriors.  Yet she wasn’t phased by Zagrious, or Gareth, or Hower, or even me and my antics.  She was completely poised and ready to battle as Zagrious approached expressing how much he despised Xena’s change from looting and steeling, to saving the day.  He spoke of her like a true bard, but without the admiration.  As he approached with his scratched up face, and his half sword he was suddenly approached by the dark haired woman dressed in leather.

It was Minya.  She stood before the battered warlord ready for action.  Hower suddenly appeared upset and worried as he ran around the side of the barn to save Minya from the wrath of Zagrious.  Yet just when it seemed that Minya needed a man to defend her Zagrious attacking finding himself running straight into the heel of Minya’s powerful hand.  She gave him a good beating with just one thrust under the nose sending him flattened onto the ground.  He was knocked out and defeated.  There was nothing left to pick up as Hower found himself enthralled with Minya’s warrior skills.  Of course Minya was dressed in leather which she assumed was the real attraction.  Indeed she had taken Xena’s advice and it was refreshing to see that Hower and Minya were back together with all of their differences worked out.  That was the last we had seen of them for the day.  As Xena and I found ourselves relieved that Hower wouldn’t be another tag along in our travels together.

There was somehow a sense of relief in the resolution of two of the day’s issues and Xena and I both breathed a sigh of relief for the load which had been lifted from both of us.  Yet there was still one problem left to tackle and it was a giant problem.  The sounds of laughter coming from within between Hower, and Minya were suddenly drowned out by the sounds of Gareth’s giant boots approaching the village.  As the earth shook beneath us again I looked to Xena who was no longer relaxed, but poised yet again.  Her first words in response to her poised body stated that Gareth was headed toward the giant’s burial ground before he would return to smash through Laurel.  There was a bit of good news to this for it gave Xena some time to set up her flying parchment, but it was still not certain if this wild plan was going to work.  Yet I had to have faith that the warrior princess would succeed in defeating the giant for she had succeeded in both Zagrious and the relationship of Hower and Minya.

Even Xena as she continued to speak was not certain of her plan, but her heart was where it always is.  She was concerned for the safety of the people that she was attempting to save.  Xena directed me to be certain that if her plan failed that I was to make sure that Hower and Minya’s lives would not end in a lost cause.  My heart was touched as the concern flowed out of the heart of the warrior princess and I decided that it was time for me to lay my irriations to rest.  I didn’t want to part with the warrior princess on bad terms for I had sold her whip for a frying pan just to get back at her.  It was wrong and it wasn’t thoughtful of me and as I expressed my regret and sorrow for my actions to her she only paused me to remind me that she too was sorry.  Xena apologized for disrespecting me when she had thoughtlessly used my scrolls for the call of nature.  It made me feel better about my bad behavior toward the warrior princess to know that she too had been able to stand up and admit when she was wrong.  Our arguements of the day had been silly and petty.  Xena established that by parting in saying that we were even despite all of our battles of will.

Soon the warrior princess was off for the final leg of the mission.  She rounded up her flying parchment and dashed out of the village toward the edge of the woods.  When she was close enough to the path of the giant she seeked out and found a tree that would bring her to his eye level.  Xena bravely scaled the tree with her flying parchment and positioned it at the top.  Then she awaited Gareth along the path toward the burial ground.  Soon all of nature felt to wrath of the giant approaching as all of the birds fled and the deer found themselves almost frozen with fear.  Every animal in the forrest scattered leaving Xena to be the last one standing against the giant.  As Gareth walked up the path Xena called out to him to get his attention.  With just two giant steps he was at the tree where Xena awaited him.  As soon as he recognized his old foe in battle Gareth was angry and tried to swat Xena down out of the tree.  Xena was ready to react for she jumped down from the top of the tree down to the waist of the giant.  She knew that his slow movement would be a distraction in itself as he tried to swat her from the tree.  It was then that she took the oppritunity to fasten the weapon to his metal armor near his belt.

Suddenly the chase was on and it was the most dangerous part of Xena’s plan.  She had to be able to outrun a giant, get him out into the open, and hope that Zues would be throwing down lighting by the time they reached the giant’s burial ground.  The chase was long and vigourous, but the warrior princess stayed steady as the approaching dark clouds gave her the hope that she needed to defeat the giant and win the battle for to pay her debts to her old friend Goliath.  As they approached death within the giant’s burial ground Xena kept tuanting her foe as she dodged the bones of the giants who had once ruled the earth before Gareth.  The grounds were littered with danger as Xena lept forward and rolled over an old jaw bone.  Gareth tried to use the bones to his advantage as he disrespectfully picked off an old arm bone and hurled it at the warrior princess.  She made another move to dodge him attempting to take cover within a giant skull.  Soon Zues came to the rescue as the winds picked up and the lightening bolts began to fly.

Gareth was still attatched to the flying parchment which had stayed strong up into the heaven the entire chase.  As the evening began to fall into the day and the day into the night Xena approached Gareth certain that Zues would soon throw down the final blow that would catch her flying parchment and send Gareth crashing to the ground.  Xena spoke out loud to Goliath whom she was certain was there with her in spirit guiding her to the defeat of Gareth.  Gareth found himself making one last stand against the heavens as he raised his giant powerful shoulder into the air preparing to smash Xena with his fist.  Just before he was about to take the final blow against the warrior princess and all of his enemies Zues threw down his most powerful bolt and hit the flying parchment which faithfully guided the power of Zues into the giant’s back.  Gareth had been stabbed by the power of Zues as he fell with a giant thud to the ground.  Xena was sent several feet into the air as her body absorbed the immense energy of Gareth’s fall.  The power of Zues and the death of a giant was so large that even I could feel the death of Gareth from the little village of Laurel.  Yet as soon as I heard it I knew that it was over and I had faith that Xena would return to Laurel soon.

Darkness had fallen by this point as I prepared the camp fire in the streets of Laurel.  I cooked dinner with Minya for Xena when she would return from her rough day of warrior life.  Minya’s frying pan was excellant and I was thankful that Xena would be able to enjoy the fruits of her loss of the whip.  Upon Xena’s return she was quiet and reflective as she sometimes is at the end of the day when the battles were tough.  I did most of the talking as I often like to do because somehow it helps to sooth the beast within Xena’s heart.  As we finished with dinner I had begun to prepare the bed rolls by the fire.  Both of us were exhausted and going to bed, but glad the day was over.  The storm clouds had passed by now bringing a beautiful scene in the night sky.  Xena began to talk about the stars and of how they seemingly formed giant pictures in the sky.  Maybe she was looking for Goliath up there in the heavens.  She even thought that she had seen a giant dipper that he could have used to eat dinner in the heavens with his family safe and together.  Of course for me it only looked like a giant bear with a giant head, but cute little ears.

The warrior princess was yawning by now and near sleep, but I was certain that she was poised and ready for anything that might come her way.  And so I decided to test my theory knowing that it would most certainly be true.  I grabbed my staff from my side and jumped into action lunging from my back to my stomach in an attempt to make contact against the warrior princess.  Just when I had thought that I would be defeated effortlessly by the strength and agility of the warrior princess I felt the tip of my staff make contact with the bridge of Xena’s nose.  This sent Xena’s body jolting with surprise and sudddenly I felt very small inside.  As I desparately tried to apologize for my mistake the warrior princess just brushed it off.  She was in a bit of shock and even some anger, but realized that the only way to get out of this new arguement was to surrender and call it a night.  She rubbed her sore nose and rolled over hoping to reassure me.  I felt guilt, but it dissolved into wonder for I would not have been so understanding had I been nailed by Xena.  Her forgiveness of me on this day seemed endless, and as I settled back down to that comforting thought I suddenly realized that it wasn’t forgiveness she felt for me, but pity.  Xena had felt sorry for me and decided to let me win just one time.  Now this I could not stand for.  This was why she appeared to have so much faith in me.  She wanted to go to sleep and didn’t have time to argue.  I decided that I would show her the truth of this.  I owed it to her since she had so rudely awakened me by jumping onto my leather water bottle and squirting me in the face with it.

As I attempted to start a new arguement with Xena her only response was a weak yet firm statement.  She just stated that it was time to go to bed.  I couldn’t really argue with that.  And so I lay still next to the warrior princess feeling the closeness of our friendship.  Knowing that we are there for each other through the good and the bad, the smelly, and even the ugly.  This was enough for me.  And so yet another day had ended in the life of Xena the warrior princess and her loyal companion the bard Gabrielle.  Yet I was still thinking about how I knew that she let me hit her though she has sworn otherwise.