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

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll  #33:  Warrior,Princess,Tramp…

January 28th, 47 B.C. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll #32:  Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

January 21st, 47 B.C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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