The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #31: Remember Nothing

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll # 31:  Remember Nothing

January 16th, 47 B.C.

I sing of a time when Xena the Warrior Princess never existed, and her best friend and loyal sidekick Gabrielle remembered nothing.  It all began on this day eleven years in passing since the death of Xena’s brother Lycious while fighting against the warlord Cortese.  Xena had lead the way in the fight to protect her home village of Amphipolis from the spoils of an evil warlord, but at the cost of the life of her dearly beloved brother.  The warrior princess had carried this guilt upon her shoulders for eleven years now as she had blamed her beliefs in fighting for the cause to protect her village, family, and friends.
Every year on this day Xena would come to the temple of the fates as she lit three large candles.  The first candle was for the maiden, the second for the mother, and the third for the crone.  She asked for the fates blessing and for their mercy upon her brother’s soul so that he may rest in peace.  After making this proclamation Xena’s sidekick Gabrielle entered the temple as she had been listening to Xena’s prayers for her brother.  Gabrielle expressed that she wished she could have known this great brother Lycious for she could feel how important he had been to Xena.  In fact, Lycious was still very much a part of Xena, and very much alive within her heart though she mourned his loss greatly.
Suddenly there were screams which came from outside the temple.  Xena the warrior princess and her faithful sidekick Gabrielle exited the temple to investigate the disturbance.  Once outside the temple they discovered that an army of evil warriors descending upon the monks of the temple attacking them in an attempt to destroy the temple of the fates.  Soon Xena the warrior princess burst into action as she twirled around upon the steps of the temple knocking out ten warriors with a quick move.  Then she flipped from the steps to the front of the temple where she met another skilled warrior in mask.  This skilled warrior appeared to know her quite well and most likely was yet another of the evil men she had encountered during her dark past.  She fought him gracefully as she blocked his kicks, but he slipped one by her as she took it across her face.
This mystical warrior flipped around her looking to set himself up for the next offensive strike, but Xena was not fooled for it was obvious that she knew his fighting style well.  She quickly took him out only to be attacked from behind by another young warrior.  Her sidekick Gabrielle shouted to warn her friend of the danger which lurked behind and with one move she put the final blow to her skilled enemy and whisked her sword from its resting place thrusting it into the attacker from behind.  The sword slid in smoothly.  Then as she turned to face the coward whom had met his death he fell to the ground and his helmet came loose.
It was only a young boy who had been taken by evil and had given his life in the thirst for blood.  He was now a lifeless young boy as Xena looked upon her bloody sword.  Once again she had caused the death of yet another young boy like that of her brother who had died at the tender age of fifteen at the battle against Corteeze.  As Gabrielle approached Xena, Xena stood as if she had drawn blood for the first time.  The guilt had built up within her and now after this event it had overcome her.  She stared at her bloody sword and then found herself drawn back into the temple of the fates leaving Gabrielle stunned with the lifeless young boy.
Once inside the temple Xena saw something extraordinary.  For the first time she had been given the privilege of seeing the faces of the three fates.  They proclaimed to her that it was rare that anyone was permitted to see their faces, but Xena had saved their temple from its attackers and now they were prepared to reward her for her heroic deed.  But Xena did not feel heroic.  She felt sick to her stomach as if this last kill had been her first.  Xena defied the fates offer explaining to them that she did not deserve a reward for taking the life of a young innocent boy.  She had known that he had only been caught up in the wrath of war as many young men and women do.  Xena’s wish was that she could have that young boy’s life back.  That was what she truly wanted and further more she had professed that if she hadn’t drawn blood and become a warrior in the first place life would have been simpler and better.
And so the fates bestowed their power upon Xena releasing her from all that she had done and they had given her a clean slate.  But there was just one condition for restoring all that had been lost as a result of Xena’s warrior path.  That one condition was that she was never to spill one drop of blood for if she would do so that would be the event that would turn the tables back to the current life path she had been on.  Xena explained to them that it wasn’t possible for she was a warrior.  How could a warrior live true to her way without spilling a drop of blood?  The fates proclaimed that it was not possible for a warrior to be a warrior without the spoils of blood.  They made it clear to Xena that in order for her to receive this gift they were bestowing upon her she must give up the warrior way.
Xena left the temple disgusted and almost unbelieving that they would give her such a gift.  When she stepped outside she called for Gabrielle, but Gabrielle did not come.  She looked frantically about, but there was no one around.  All of the dead warriors that had been there before she had entered the temple had disappeared, and there were no others around.  The moment was quiet as the wind whisped across the face of the warrior princess.  And then she was no more.  Xena looked down to see that she no longer wore that famous leather, and she no longer felt the weight of the mighty sword she had always carried upon her back.  As she looked down she noticed that she was dressed in one of her most favorite dresses as it felt soft and light.  There was no weight of blood only the power of pure light could be felt within.  It was a strange release for Xena for she did not understand at first.
And then she heard a familiar voice calling her name.  It was a man’s voice.  And as she turned around to see who it was she found herself to be greeted by the handsome young man named Lycious.  Xena could not believe that this was really happening.  Her brother was a grown man and he was alive.  Lycious was beautiful with his blond curly hair, and his dark piercing blue eyes.  Xena was overjoyed as she ran to throw her arms around the brother she had not seen in over ten years.  The brother she had lost had been given back to her for she had never drawn blood at the battle against Corteeze.  Lyious was surprised to see Xena in all of her excitement.  He didn’t understand that for her he had been taken from her for eleven long years.
And as they walked Xena couldn’t stop looking at him.  She couldn’t stop feeling the immense joy to be in his presence once again.  And as always Lycious still looked up to his big sister.  He still looked to her for guidance and support.  Lycious trusted in Xena as always.  And then Xena noticed that Lycious was wearing his barillas token.  It was a token worn by all of the young boys of her village as a sign of good luck and good fortune.  She couldn’t believe that he still wore it.  Infact, she teased him for it until he reminded her that it had been this token which had spared his life from the arrow that almost took it at the battle of Corteeze.  And then Xena realized how truly important this token was.  It was a symbol of her own good fortune.  Lyious was still confused at his sister’s sudden strange behavior so he suggested that she go home.  As he walked on down the peaceful green pasture in the forest Xena realized that for the first time in many years she was able to be home.
All she had ever wanted was to be able to have that place where she could be accepted and loved for she had shamed her village and family as a warrior, but now all had been restored.  As she skipped into the village the day was beautiful for life now had new meaning and it had joy for Xena.  She had never committed any of the wrongs that had caused her to hurt so many in her alternate life .  And when she arrived home she was still uncertain that all of this was real.  It was more like a beautiful dream than reality.  She looked upon the kitchen table and at the flowers upon the window.  It was as if she had been seeing life for the first time again.  Xena was as youthful and innocent as Gabrielle had always been.  She was the light of hope instead of the darkness of hate.
As Xena looked through her box she sifted through the keepsakes, the sentimental jewelry, and then suddenly from behind there was a presence.  Xena spun around with the reflexes of a warrior pinning her attacker to the wall instantly.  Only this was no attacker, but a suitor.  In fact, this suitor was none other than Mufias the boy next door.  According to Mufias he had been courting Xena since before the battle of Corteeze.  He was confused at Xena’s reaction to his entrance.  Mufias inquired if Xena had, had a bad day at the inn where she and Lycious worked side by side housing the great travelers of Greece.  But it had not been a bad day at all and Xena was hoping that Mufias was the only surprise that awaited her in a life of love.
And though Mufias was a surprise to Xena he was a pleasant one for he was tall, with dark coarse hair, and deep brown eyes.  His nose was a bit peculiar, but he would be just fine for Xena.  At least this Mufias was not some evil warlord like the many she had been courted by as a warrior like Draco, or even her great lover Marcus.  A passing thought of sorrow came to her as she thought of Marcus, but she knew and believed that things must have turned out better for him in this life because she had never gone to his camp to save that girl to stop a war.  Xena’s presence in his life had been a confusion which had led to his demise for he had loved her with all of his heart.
As Xena’s mind wandered Mufias interrupted reminding Xena that if she was getting cold feet about their wedding that he would only wait about fifteen more years on her before he would give up on courting the beautiful princess.  Apparently this Mufias was very much the comedian of the family clan.  But his comedy turned to sudden tragedy when Mufias also reminded Xena that it had been her mother’s last request that Xena and Mufias wed one another.  And so the surprises continued although this surprise was tragic for Xena’s mother had been lost as a result of Xena, Lycious, and the others deciding that retreating to the hills was their only hope against the wrath of Corteeze rather than to stand up and fight.  Mufias also mentioned that she and Lycious had been involved in the reconstruction of their village of Amphipolis and that her mother had died of a broken heart for the loss of everything she had ever known to Corteeze.
Xena immediately went to her mother’s tomb because although she had been gone for ten years it was as if she had just lost her mother.  She was mourning this loss knowing that if she hadn’t killed that boy in the battle at the temple of the fates she would never have been led to this alternate reality.  Xena cried for her mother as the tears streamed down her face from the depths of her innocent heart.  She professed to her mother that she was sorry and that though she would lose her mother and her friendship to Gabrielle at least the world would be a better place.  Without the existence of the warrior princess Gabrielle would never have left her family to join the warrior, and Xena would never have shamed her mother and all of the others she loved dearly from her village of Amphipolis.  And so Xena had reasoned that this choice was her only choice and it was for the best.
After mourning for her mother Xena found herself walking through the village once again.  It was a very vibrant place and she was happy to know that without a drop of blood she and her brother Lycious had been able to help lead the effort to rebuild their lives after war and destruction.  Yet while Xena was at the market she saw something that disturbed her.  An old man in the market was attacked by a warrior for accidentally bumping into him.  The warrior held a knife to the old man threatening his life.  And just when he was about to thrust the knife within the neck of the old man Xena pulled the rug right out from under him knocking the evil man to the ground.  She had clearly taken him by surprise though she played it off like a master proclaiming that she had only been checking the price of the rug and didn’t realize that the warrior had been standing on it.
The evil warrior held back from his anger and forgave the pure soul for her accident because she was a beautiful woman.  As he walked away from her he demanded that the rest of the warrior men bring out the slaves to collect the pickings for a dinner to the warlords in the area.  Xena was unaware of who was there, but all of these warriors she recognized for she had killed many of them in the battle for the greater good in the alternate reality.  But that was over now though there was a part of her that was still uncertain of how she was going to live her new life without blood shed.  It would be nothing short of the greatest challenge she had ever faced.  As she thought deeply the maiden appeared before her telling her not to have a second thought of it.  She was confident that Xena would make the right choice.  The maiden knew that Xena had a burning passion to be the warrior she had been destined to be in her other life.  Yet there was so much at stake for Xena.  No blood was allowed if she were to be a warrior here.
Then as the maiden disappeared into thin air Xena saw a vivid familiar face.  It was the face of her best friend Gabrielle.  Only Gabrielle was not who she had been in the alternate reality.  Gabrielle was a slave.  She was collecting food at the market for the dinner of her evil masters.  As Xena looked into the eyes of this familiar face she saw pain.  She saw grief, and she saw anger.  These were things she had never seen within the bard before.  How could it be possible that Gabrielle’s life would hold a worse fate than leaving her family?  But then as she tried to search Gabrielle with her eyes to be recognized within Gabrielle backed away from her with fear and suspicion.  And then she clumsily backed into the leader of the warrior gang in town.  It was the one that Xena had confronted about the old man.  The warrior leader was angered at the slave’s clumsy move and he raised his club to her to beat her as punishment.
Xena could not allow this to happen to her best friend.  She would not see Gabrielle beaten by these thugs.  Xena stepped in saving Gabrielle from the strike of the club only to anger the evil warrior even more.  Now she had made herself a target.  And then just as the warrior was about to attack Xena Mufias stepped in apologizing for Xena’s actions.  He claimed that it was all just a misunderstanding for they had been looking in the market to purchase a slave for themselves, and Gabrielle was perfect.  She was exactly what they had been looking for.  Mufias urged Xena to go along with his story and she did so with great reluctance for she did not see Gabrielle in the light of a worthless slave as did Mufias.  But that was all he had known.  He never knew Gabrielle the way Xena had known her.
Gabrielle looked to Xena with disgust knowing that she was just another piece of meat to be sold or a possession to be owned, used, and abused.  There was such a burning fire of anger within her emerald eyes.  And just when Xena thought that she would be triumphant in releasing her friend from the wrath of evil by a simple purchase the warrior leader rejected the sale for he said that the warlord Mezentious liked this one too much.  Xena was crushed for she couldn’t save her friend.  She couldn’t come to the rescue as she had always been able to do in the alternate reality of the warrior.  And then she watched helplessly as Gabrielle was dragged away in the binds of slavery as she struggled against Mufias to get to her friend.  Xena called out to her friend frantically, but her pleas were not heard by fate and not by Gabrielle.
But Mufias was not humored at Xena’s actions.  He scolded her for thinking that she could ever make a difference in the world.  In fact, he couldn’t understand why she would be so passionate about saving a worthless little slave girl.  But this wasn’t just any slave girl.  This was Gabrielle that they were discussing and for Xena there was no question about it.  Gabrielle had to be rescued from her binds in this life for if Xena had been a warrior Gabrielle would never have been a slave.  Again Xena was at fault for wanting this new bloodless life.  Xena could not live with herself knowing that Gabrielle’s soul was bound in chains.  As she argued with Mufias he reminded her that in this world she had to learn to go along to get along.  And then he left Xena alone to think about her latest actions.
Suddenly within all of her confusion the crone appeared before her.  She reminded Xena that Mufias had been wrong.  Xena did have the power to make a difference and Xena knew what the remedy was.  The remedy was to draw blood and to go back to the life path of a warrior which was true to her destiny.  But Xena could not believe that the world was a better place with the warrior princess in existence.  She argued with the crone that her life was better this way, but the fate reminded her of the life of Gabrielle and how different it was on this current path.  Yes things were different within this alternate reality, but this was Gabrielle that they were talking about, and Xena did not believe that Gabrielle was beyond saving.  Xena had faith that she would be able to find that light within Gabrielle that she had always loved during her life as a warrior.
Later that night Xena went to the supply market just before close to purchase a chicken.  She needed some information from the man at the market who dealt with the warlord Mezentious.  Xena was determined to save Gabrielle no matter what she had to do to get there as long as there was no blood spilled.  She had a plan and she would start at first light sneaking into Mezentious’s castle to retrieve the life and soul of her best friend.  Her plan was ingenious as it always was with the warrior princess.  She arrived at the castle within the delivery of goods under the wagon.  Xena had anticipated that they would do a check for stowaways so she was prepared.  And when the wagon stopped they did check only to find the red wine of a drunken wagon man.
As the goods were unloaded Xena made her way into the castle hiding around a nearby corner.  She watched her best friend work diligently in the binds of slavery.  And as she watched she noticed many of the other female slaves looked very familiar to her.  In fact, they looked a lot like the amazons she had known as the warrior princess.  Then she recalled her conversation at dinner the night before with Lycious of how he had said the amazons had been captured and demoralized by the warlord Chricous.  She realized that the only reason that these amazons were even here was because Chricous had been the one who had forced a war between the amazons and the centaurs which as the warrior she had been there to stop.  But now there was regret for she realized this too was her fault.  Lycious had wanted to start plans for an attack on these warlords last night, but Xena knew that she was bound to life without a sword and so she knew in her heart that there had to be another way.  The problem was that the answer had been eluding her.
Xena waited for the right moment and then suddenly she snatched Gabrielle startling the young slave girl.  Gabrielle was astonished for this woman from the market was obviously not one to take no for an answer.  The slave girl was almost angered for she could get in trouble if she were found talking to an outsider.  Xena reminded Gabrielle of their meeting in the market the day before.  Gabrielle confirmed that she remembered, but was less than pleased to see Xena.  In fact, this was unlike the Gabrielle that Xena had known before.  As her sidekick and best friend Gabrielle would have been over joyed to be reunited with her friend, but Xena had to remember that Gabrielle did not know her like she had known Gabrielle.
The slave expressed her disgust for the offer to be bought for her services while at the market the day before.  Xena had realized then that Mufias’s offer had offended her friend, but she couldn’t explain herself to this slave girl yet for her story was so outrageous that Gabrielle wouldn’t understand.  The explanations would have to wait.  For now Xena had to get Gabrielle back to freedom, and as she prepared to explain her plan to rescue Gabrielle to her freedom she was interrupted by a cold rejection.  Gabrielle walked away from Xena, and expressed that she was not inclined to do anything more than get back to work before being caught with Xena on a pleasurable break.  Xena could not take no for an answer.  She couldn’t accept that Gabrielle would not want to be free.  So Xena reached out to her friend once more with her heart, and as she did so Gabrielle reminded Xena of what happens to runaway slaves for she had tried her way at freedom once before.
The slave girl pulled down the sleeve of her old blue rags and revealed to Xena the marks of a scar that could never be healed.  She stared coldly at Xena as if she had convinced Xena that freedom was not an option for this slave girl now.  Her life path was that of a slave and nothing more as her fate had been sealed.  She was as worthless as the next slave.  Xena’s heart broke upon this sight for she could feel the pain of Gabrielle.  She could see how much had already been lost as a result of the fate of a slave.  Xena expressed to Gabrielle her sorrow of this great pain for it had been her fault again as Gabrielle’s name suddenly slipped from her lips with great compassion.
This intrigued the slave girl for just as she was about to walk away from Xena she looked upon this strange and stubborn young woman as if she had seen a ghost.  How did she know her name?  And just as the slave inquired of Xena, Xena revealed her own identity hoping to break through once again.  Xena could see how serious this truly was and how much of that beautiful light she loved about the bard had been lost.  And then she tried to convince the slave to try for her freedom once more, but was rejected once again until she mentioned that her brother Lycious would be able to protect her from this evil.
The slave girl was once again intrigued for she had heard of this Lycious person.  In fact, she had heard of him at dinner with Mezentious and Crichous on the night before as they had been disguising their plans to team up with a third powerful warlord.  Xena recognized all of these names from her life as a warrior, and in that life she had defeated them all.  In fact, she had defeated them all with the help of her loyal sidekick Gabrielle.  The slave girl continued by explaining that she had known about Lycious because it was said that he had run to the hills against Corteeze instead of standing up and fighting.  How was a coward going to protect her?  Xena could understand this reasoning and again she felt responsible.  The slave girl continued to express how though she was only a slave she could still see and she could still hear life happening around her yet life for her was over.  It had been over for a very long time.
Xena could see that Gabrielle though drained within was still as sharp as ever and this gave her hope for if Gabrielle could still hear and see life she could still write about it as she always had in the alternate world.  Xena knew that she had to get her back.  She tried getting through to Gabrielle’s heart by touching on that fiery part of her that had always believed in goodness and fighting for it no matter what the price.  But this slave girl once again rejected her.  It was as if she didn’t care.  This was unlike the Gabrielle Xena had known.  Xena reminded the slave girl of all of the people who would suffer as a result of these three sworn enemies banning together.  This certainly would snap her out of this dismal depression, anger, and hatred for Gabrielle had always cared more for others than she had for herself.  Xena thought of the time Gabrielle had taken an arrow to save a child during a bloody war almost ending her life.  But even that part of her had been seemingly lost as she once again tried to reject Xena.  Gabrielle reminded Xena that she didn’t even really know her.  But Xena did not believe that.  Xena recanted by reminding Gabrielle that maybe she didn’t even know herself.
And then it happened.  Xena could see a tiny bit of fire reviving from within this slave girl.  It was that fire that she had always known and loved.  It was that little bit of passion for others that was still within this Gabrielle that Xena had tapped into.  She had finally talked Gabrielle into another escape attempt.  Xena’s plan wasn’t going to fail this time.  And so they carried out the plan as the slave rolled Xena out in a large wooden meat barrel.  She rolled her right into the middle of the action as all of the slaves continued to work and unload the delivery.  Then the slave girl was stopped  under suspicion as one of the guards approached to check the goods.  He took a mug and unplugged the cork at the bottom of the barrel waiting for the liquor to come out.
Gabrielle waited nervously realizing that if this stranger’s plan failed she would be back under the whip to be punished for another escape attempt.  All that she could remember was the wretched pain and agony of the whip across her fair skin.  She cringed for a moment for not a drop of alcohol came out of the barrel.  Just as he looked to the slave girl for an explanation Xena suddenly exploded from within the barrel stringing the culrpit up by some rope.  She fought off a few of the close guards swiftly with a few kicks and punches, but without a weapon.  Xena instructed Gabrielle to put out the burning fire as she prepared a little contraption for successful escape.  This contraption was a simple one for it was only a large board placed upon a barrel on its side.  As Gabrielle put out the flames with a broom Xena called to her for the burning broom, and as always Gabrielle learned quickly and adjusted well just as she had as Xena’s trusty sidekick in the reality of the warrior.
Xena quickly took the broom setting fire to the armor of her attackers.  They screamed with agony, but not a drop of blood had been shed.  She quickly barked out another instruction to Gabrielle telling her to jump upon the contraption that she had set up.  Gabrielle was confused as to what this was supposed to do to help her escape.  For a moment she questioned this strange woman’s actions, but jumped upon the board obediently.  And then Xena cried out with her signature battle cry and flipped upon the opposite end of the board launching Gabrielle into the air out the chimney into the back of the trader’s wagon that Xena had arrived on.  But for the plan to be finalized Xena had to make her own escape so she burned the rope of the man she had strung up as she jumped upon the board ready to fly.
Soon she was back with her friend taking Gabrielle to the free life she deserved.  Xena was certain that Gabrielle would thrive once all was repaired for Xena’s faith in Gabrielle was strong.  She had no doubts that the bard would live once again.  When they arrived back home to Amphipolis Xena had given Gabrielle her mother’s dress.  It would be a first step in restoring that pure soul that she had always known and loved.  And Xena would accomplish this without blood.  She had to succeed.  Gabrielle took the dress with uncertainty for she had not yet figured out why this strange woman seemed to care.  She explained to Xena that the one thing she had learned in life was that she could trust no one.  Xena explained to Gabrielle her reasons for fighting so hard to bring Gabrielle to freedom.  She explained that Gabrielle reminded her of a friend that she had always known.  Xena described to Gabrielle a beautiful pure soul who was full of stories, light, and of love.  Gabrielle then glared back at Xena, and coldly reminded her that she had better take another look because she was not that person.
Then Xena knew that this was serious.  She realized just how much damage had been done to the young girl from Podedia.  But Xena was determined to breath life back into that vibrant soul yet.  She would not give up.  Xena left Gabrielle to change.  When she entered the front Lycious was there to congratulate her for rescuing this slave girl.  He looked up to Xena for it, and because of her action in the name of goodness he was determined and ready to plan an attack on these warlords.  Lycious was ready and willing to give his life for this cause of goodness.  He was full of drive, excitement, and energy as he went onto explain to Xena his plan of attack.  Lycious wanted Xena to lead one of the fronts for he knew how skilled she was from their sparring practices.  But Xena did not want this for there had to be a way to live and do good without shedding blood.  Lycious did not understand this as he continued to explain his battle plan.
As Xena argued with him Gabrielle appeared before them.  She was polite and apologized for interrupting them.  Xena looked upon her friend in her new clothes, and realized that it truly was the same Gabrielle for Gabrielle had always been one to eavesdrop because of her great curiosity in wanting to know what was going on around her.  In fact, it was this habit of eavesdropping which had given Lycious valuable information regarding the seriousness of their current situation.  This was almost comforting because for the first time within this life she saw the light of Gabrielle beginning to shine a bit brighter.  How pure she looked with her hair brushed and all cleaned up.  Xena was pleased and so was her brother Lycious.  It could be described as love at first sight.  Xena saw a chemistry between her brother, and this slave girl that she could never have foreseen, but was not surprised by it.
As Lycious looked into Gabrielle’s eyes she looked back.  He too could see that light, and Xena knew that he could love her the way she had always loved her as a warrior.  Lycious offered Gabrielle a chair graciously.  For the first time in two years this slave girl felt like a real human being.  A small smile spread across her pure face as she accepted this man’s charming offer.  And then suddenly there was a knock at the door.  Gabrielle jumped up from her perch in fear for it was her only reflex.  But Lycious tried to put her fears at rest explaining that it was only Mufias.
When Lycious answered the door Mufias appeared, but so did the army of Mezentious.  Mufias had made a deal with Mezentious.  In exchange for the return of his slave girl the deal was that the triple alliance would not attack Amphipolis, but as always the evil warlord cannot be trusted.  Then Mufias was left behind as Lycious tried to pursuade Xena to fight with a sword in the hopes that they could save themselves and their new friend Gabrielle.  But Xena refused to take up arms once again, and the three of them found themselves in Mezentious’s dungeon locked away in cages.  Lycious was not happy with Xena’s choice not to draw blood.  In fact, he was disappointed in her for this wasn’t the way he had thought that his sister would go down.
Lycious tried desperately to free himself with his barillas token as he was cutting with it in the wrong direction.  Xena tried to help her brother explaining to him that he should cut against the grains, but Lycious was not amused.  He was angry at Xena’s choice, and he couldn’t understand why she had not chosen to stand up and fight.  Xena reminded Lycious that it had been Mufias that had betrayed them, but Lycious was not in agreement for he felt that Mufias’s actions had been for the best intentions although they had failed.  Then Xena realized that somehow she would have to explain herself for she couldn’t bare to lose her brother’s respect.  She tried desperately to explain in some way as she fumbled for the right words, and then out of frustration she found herself about to tell the true story.  But then she realized that he would never believe her so she had said that it had been fear.  But it was never about fear for Xena.  It was about releasing herself from the shame of her past blood lust in the life of the warrior.  She then realized that if she had told Lycious she would not fight because it would result in his death that he would have gladly died to change things for the better.  Xena was beginning to realize that this life was a losing battle.
And then as she thought about this she heard sobs of anguish coming from below.  They were the sobs of a defeated soul.  Gabrielle had never sobbed that way before.  It was a pain within her that Xena did not recognize.  She realized that this pain was her fault too for Gabrielle would never have been a slave if Xena had not made the choice to live a blood free life.  Gabrielle agreed that it was Xena’s fault for she would never have remembered what it had been like to be free if it hadn’t been for Xena.  Gabrielle confessed to Xena through empty eyes that she didn’t know whether to thank Xena or to hate Xena.  And then Gabrielle scoffed at Xena’s earlier reference to a great friendship.  But Xena could not hear that.  She would not allow Gabrielle to sell herself short.  Gabrielle felt worthless again, and Xena couldn’t bare that feeling illuminating from her friend.  Xena then confessed her deep love for Gabrielle passionately reminding Gabrielle that she was her friend.  But this slave girl remembered nothing.
Suddenly two warriors came in to take one of them to Mezentious.  They chose to take Lycious, and just when they were about to cut him down one warrior turned on the other.  There was a great duel and Xena took advantage of the situation.  She grabbed hold of a loose knife hurling it to the rope which restrained her from the ground.  With great accuracy she hit her mark as always and released herself from her binds in warrior style.  As she reached the ground she burst out ready to face the warrior left standing at the end of the sudden duel.  But this was not an enemy.  The warrior removed his shroud of mystery.  He had been Mufias.  Mufias had realized his mistake and was now ready to follow Xena and Lycious in their beliefs.
Gabrielle looked down upon her new friends with disbelief.  Just when things had looked bleak they had come through again.  Xena and Mufias quickly released the two remaining prisoners, and Lycious had forgiven Mufias restoring their kinship of family.  Then Mufias explained their plan of a quiet escape to Xena and Gabrielle only to find that Lycious had plans of his own.  He was going to take on the entire party of warriors because they would be surprised and unsuspecting of his arrival.  Lycious also had faith in Xena that she would stand up and fight for what she believed in.  And so they soon found themselves within an epic battle.  It was the single event which Xena had fought so hard to avoid, but it was obvious that avoiding battle was impossible.
Lycious had entered triumphantly knowing that he would win his sister over in a decision.  Just as he had made his stunning entrance Xena saved him from an oncoming pickax meant to take his life by catching it barehanded.  And then the fight was on.  However, Xena still did not pick up a sword.  She fought skillfully as she disarmed a warrior only to pass the weapon onto Mufias.  Lycious kept urging her to arm herself, but she refused knowing the consequences of holding a sword.  Xena had always said that when you pick up a sword you become a target.  She refused to put herself in that position for she knew that she would most certainly have to draw blood.  Xena battled on without blood until Lycious looked her into her soul between kicks and punches only to say that she should not fight destiny.  And then Xena took a moment to reflect in the heat of a bloodless battle.
It was as if everything was in slow motion for her as she saw the events which were unfolding in this bloodless world she had been living for the past few days.  She compared the good with the bad on both sides of the dinar, and then as she gazed across this great battle to crush the evil triple alliance she saw her worst nightmare unfolding.  It was Gabrielle.  The young innocent bard from Podedia had a new fire within her as if she had made a new discovery.  A sword had fallen to the ground before her.  She made the choice to pick it up, and in less than a split moment she had made herself a target for blood.
Suddenly from across the battle the warlord Mezentious caught sight of his slave girl defying him in battle as he charged forward to take her life.  His last words to her were unkind for she was just another prize from the spoils of war to him and nothing more.  The slave girl knew this and she didn’t care anymore.  She had the power now  for she held the sword.  And then she made her choice thrusting the sword through the chest of the warlord Mezentious.  Xena watched as her friend died before her not in body, but in spirit for she had chosen blood lust, hate, and evil as her savior rather than to embrace love and peace.  At that moment Xena realized that this was not Gabrielle.  It wasn’t the friend that she had always known for the blood, and the hate illuminated violently from those tarnished emerald eyes.  Now Xena knew it was truly too late for the slave girl Gabrielle.
And so Xena had made her choice.  She looked to Lycious who had passed her a sword.  And then she looked to him one last time to say a regretful good-bye knowing that he had to die in order for her friend to live, and for all who had been saved by the warrior princess to be restored once again.  The warrior could feel the presence of an approaching enemy from behind as she thrust her sword into his stomach.  The battle raged into the sound of another familiar voice warning her friend of the danger which lurked from behind as she whisped around with one graceful quick move knocking the attacker to the ground without one drop of blood.  Her attacker had been only a young boy, and as the other evil warriors fled the scene Xena warned this young boy that he had been given a second chance.  She demanded that he change his ways avoiding bloodshed for her sacrifice to him.  He agreed to do so in fear, and then he too fled from the wrath of Xena the warrior princess.
Gabrielle stood beside her friend watching the young boy flee with the others, and then suddenly Xena grabbed the bard embracing her friend tightly.  The bard did not understand what was wrong with her friend.  But Xena laid Gabrielle’s suspicions to rest by thanking her friend for being the light.  Gabrielle then inquired of Xena about going back into the temple to see the fates once more, but Xena refused.  Gabrielle then asked Xena  why she seemingly was not herself, but Xena replied by telling her sidekick that she was more herself now than ever.  And as the two best friends left the temple of the fates Xena asked Gabrielle if she thought that the fates truly had control over our fates in life, and the paths we must walk.  Gabrielle wasn’t so certain that the story of the fates and their power of destiny was truth, but then Xena sung to the bard her story of the warrior princess who never existed and of the slave who remembered nothing.

The Xena Scrolls: Volume #2: Scroll #28: A Solstice Carol

 The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia

Scroll# 28:  A Solstice Carol

December 23, 48 B.C. 

     I sing of the king whose name was Silvus for he could not find the love in his heart to allow a celebration of winter solstice.  An older poor couple was brought forth to him in the king’s the court for they had not one dinar to pay him though they owed for their taxes.  Silvus had no mercy upon them and he sentenced them to ten winters in prison for their humble crimes against his kingdom.  Yet he was not finished for their crimes were not all read.  It was discovered that they had also been guilty of celebrating the time of the winter solstice.  This enraged the king even more for he gave them two more winters for this crime which they had committed.

      Thus on the very same night a warrior princess and her loyal sidekick Gabrielle entered into Silvace’s kingdom unaware of the laws which forbade the celebration of solstice.  Gabrielle was excited for it was the eve of solstice and it was a time of giving and of sharing love and hope.  Xena of course was not as excited, but the bard insisted that they each shop in the market and buy a gift of solstice for the other.  They were not to spend more than five dinars for their gift, but Xena did not see the point when she could just as easily give Gabrielle the five dinars.  Gabrielle argued with her friend reminding her that it was the surprise of the gift and the thought involved in choosing a gift that made this tradition a special one.

     Upon arguing the solstice tradition the two were interrupted by a thief who had stealthfully passed between them stealing Xena’s prized chakram.  As they watched the thief disappear into the crowd in the market they noticed that he was only a child.  They decided to separate splitting up to trap the thief between them.  The chase was on as Xena bolted closely behind the young thief watching his every move.  She noticed that he only tried to steal one other item from another unsuspecting shop keeper.  Xena decided to give him space and to follow him for he was not the typical thief.

     And then as he passed through the back alley way Gabrielle again caught sight of him.  She was about to confront him when Xena motioned quietly for the bard to follow.  The two women watched as the boy entered into a large old building which looked to be an orphanage.  This was definitely not a typical robbery.  Xena and Gabrielle followed their thief through the doors of the orphanage and looked to see why he had stolen Xena’s chackram.  There before them stood a large beautiful solstice tree with all of the beautiful trimmings and bright golden decorations.  There were candles burning upon each branch illuminating the room and there upon the top of the tree was the most lovely star the bard had ever seen.

     However, Xena was not so impressed by this beautiful star for it was indeed her stolen chakram which sat radiantly upon the top of the solstice tree.  Xena was a bit offended that someone would even think of her chakram as less than a deadly weapon, but Gabrielle was tickled to see the many functions that the graceful chakram held.  The young boy was scolded by the lady who ran the orphanage for indeed he had stolen Xena’s chakram yet the bard found it cute that he would go to any length to find a star in the spirit of solstice.  Xena approached the wonderful tree and took the chackram from its resting place on top.  It had been wrapped in little red, white, and gold bows which brought out so much color.

     Suddenly the doors of the orphanage were busted open for there were the guards of Silvus and the bailiff who sat upon Silvus’s court.  The bailiff held an order upon a scroll which read that the orphanage was to be vacated by midnight for they had been sentenced for celebrating solstice.  Not only that, but if they did not leave they would have to pay a penalty of 10,000 dinars for their crimes.  This was not fair, and seemed a cold-hearted deed.  Xena took matters into her own hands.  She took her chakram bows and all throwing it around about the soldiers wrapping them like solstice gifts together and bound. 

     As the warrior princess took the four guards of Silvus to a prison within the orphanage Gabrielle took the bailiff noticing that his heart was not as cold as the words upon his parchment.  She asked of his name and he said that it was Senticles.  Gabrielle had heard of this name Senticles as she searched within her memory to find out who he really was.  And then it came to her.  Gabrielle remembered that she had once been given a solstice gift that had been crafted by Senticles himself.  It had been a little wooden toy lamb whose mouth would open if it’s tail was pulled.  Gabrielle expressed her joy as she remembered how happy that toy had made her feel as a child.

     Senticles was delighted for a moment to see the joy that his craft of toy making had brought to Gabrielle, but expressed his sadness for toys had been outlawed the day solstice had been banned.  When Xena had returned she had wanted to take Senticles to the cell with the other solstice haters, but Gabrielle convinced her that Senticles was not one of them.  Instead they would use Senticles to help them in releasing the ban upon this most wonderful holiday. 

     Gabrielle then asked of Senticles why solstice had been banned, and Senticles told of Silvus’s wife Analia whom had passed away upon a Solstice eve many winters before.  His heart had been broken on a night that was meant for joy and so the bard could understand his loss, but now it was time for Silvus to stop mourning and to celebrate once again.

     Gabrielle had her own plan though Xena was opposed.  She wanted to fight this battle without weapons for the bard was confident that it could be done.  Xena of course wasn’t certain, but Gabrielle pleaded with the warrior princess reminding her that it indeed was a peaceful time which should be resolved with peaceful measures.  Gabrielle promised Xena that if her plan did not work that they would most certainly smash heads to release these saddened people of Silvace’s kingdom.

     The first thing that had to be done was to gather the necessary supplies.  Gabrielle was given 35 dinars for it was all that Xena had left herself.  There was a very long list, but Gabrielle promised Xena that she would be able to haggle and get everything on the list.  And as they parted Xena caught Senticles trying to escape his duty to the people of Silvus for he was a coward who could not bear to think of what Silvus would do to him if he found out about his deeds with the warrior princess.

      The hour was growing late as Gabrielle entered the market place.  It was now dark and some of the shops were beginning to close up.  Yet as her eyes roamed about seeking a deal she was interrupted by the sounds of a man cursing and a donkey screaming.  Gabrielle turned about to watch as she discovered that this stubborn donkey was not about to move anywhere, and the man shouted back.  She interjected hoping that she could be of some assistance to this man his donkey and their struggle.  The man declared angrily and with frustration that he was about to take this beautiful animal to the tannery.  He was certain to get 50 dinars for the donkey. 

     Gabrielle was suddenly upset for how could someone take a loving animal to the slaughterhouse on the night of solstice eve.  Without another thought she offered the scrawny middle-aged man 20 dinars for his animal.  He refused for he did not want to give up his 50 dinars.  In fact, the man said that he would not take less than 25.  But then Gabrielle reminded him that his donkey was only worth 50 dinars if he could get it to the tannery.  It was quite obvious to the bard that this donkey was not about to budge.  She then offered him 30 realizing that he wouldn’t even get 50 despite what he had claimed.  The man suddenly stopped trying to struggle with the donkey and he declared that he would take 35 dinars.  Gabrielle smiled with delight and then suddenly realized that she had just spent all of their money to save this donkey from the slaughterhouse.

     Yet then she realized that she had done something in the spirit of solstice and it did not matter that she had spent all of their money on this poor stubborn donkey.  So she took the donkey upon exchanging her last 35 dinars and gave him a name.  She called him Tobias.  Upon reaching the orphanage Gabrielle had been told that she could not bring Tobias inside.  As she tried to take him back out into the cold Tobias refused to budge once again.  She was beginning to feel the same frustration that the former owner had experienced with this stubborn animal.  Then suddenly someone whistled and Tobias responded.  Gabrielle was delighted to see that this donkey had been trained just the way Argo had been trained by Xena.  As Gabrielle took her new friend back out into the cold she tried to comfort Tobias and promised him that she would stay outside with him.  She did not want her new friend to be lonely.

     Upon Xena’s return Gabrielle realized that she had to explain why she had been unsuccessful at obtaining the list of things needed to complete their mission.  As Xena came into the orphanage Gabrielle confessed persuasively that she had made a wonderful investment by saving the poor animal from the tannery.  Xena could not argue or be upset with her friend for she knew how big the bard’s heart truly was.  Gabrielle had only done what she thought had been right.  That was what the warrior princess loved most about her misguided young friend.

     Xena then explained what had happened while she was at the castle.  She had found all of the things that they had needed to complete their mission, but King Silvus had not been so responsive upon her visit to his bedside.  He had called upon his guards when he discovered that Xena had come not to rob him, but to convince him to restore the celebration of solstice and to ease up on his tax laws.  It was clear that the next part of their mission was to be completed.  Yet they needed just one more person to get involved so Xena turned yet again to Senticles.  She found him in the court working very late as he always did.  Xena entered quietly behind him watching as this old toy maker changed sentences and numbers allowing some mercy to enter into the lives of the poor and unfortunate.  Xena found herself touched by this and was certain that he would get involved.

      She approached him complementing him on his good deeds, but he was modest and almost nervous that anyone had even discovered his small deed.  Xena then asked of him to join her and Gabrielle to carry out their plan yet he refused.  He would not go further than changing the numbers upon his parchment, but Xena reminded him that she could easily give word to Silvus of Senticles’s deeds against Silvus.  Senticles had no other choice, but to join the warrior princess and the bard in convincing Silvus otherwise.

      And so the first part of Gabrielle’s plan had begun.  Xena was dressed as the beautifully charming fate Clotho.  Clotho had been the fate of Silvus’s past and she was there to remind Silvus.  Silvus was afraid at first, but listened as he shook in his bed.  Clotho insisted that he come with her to visit his past, but Silvus refused.  Then Clotho reminded him of what would happen to his own future if he chose not to come with her.  While Xena performed before Silvus, the toy maker performed behind the curtain making his magic believable.

     Once Silvus was convinced of the power of Clotho he reluctantly put on his robe and joined Clotho and they went down to the basement of the castle.  It was old and musty.  There were cobwebs all about for no one had been there for years.  Yet the warrior princess had been there earlier when she had discovered the picture on the wall.  It had been of Analia and Silvus together and Analia’s eyes were very similar to Gabrielle’s.  As Clotho guided Silvus through his past there before him was a shadow .  It was the living breathing shadow of Annulya.  She spoke lovingly to him yet within a ghostly voice.  Clotho then turned to the king and began to speak to him as the suspended shadow fell suddenly to the ground.  Gabrielle fought violently through the robes which she wore for she could not see what was going on.  And then suddenly the shadow was hoisted back into the air.

      Analia then told Silvus that it was now time for him to let go of the pain of his past.  She encouraged him to leave her in peace though she apologized for leaving him in her death so many years ago.  For a moment Silvus was convinced of this mysterious shadow until he realized and reminded this shadow that she had not died, but she had left him.  Suddenly, Silvus became angry and almost distraught.  Then he fainted and fell to the floor.  Gabrielle was concerned that maybe they had gone too far, but Xena assured her that it had only been a drug that she had put into the king’s wine which would allow him to sleep, but for only a short time.

     Then Xena took Silvus back to his bed chambers and Gabrielle whistled for Tobias to take her back out to the ground outside the castle.  Once Gabrielle touched the ground she began to look for Senticles for he was supposed to have been watching Tobias.  It was obvious to the bard that his cowardice had won out and Senticles had abandon the people of Silvus once again.  Yet she saw Tobias and was delighted at how smart this animal truly was.  It was as if despite the absence of Senticles this beautiful animal knew just what he had to do.  For that he had saved the mission.

      While Gabrielle took Tobias to search for Senticles Xena returned with Silvus to his bedchambers.  There was little time before the drug from his wine would wear off and he’d be certain to figure out what was really going on.  Xena changed costume as well for phase two of the plan required that she become the fate of the present.   Lachesis rudely awakened the sleepy Silvus to take him on a journey of the present.  At first Silvus was angered yet again at his suddenly being ripped out of sleep, but Lachesis convinced him otherwise.  She began by asking him to change into common clothes so that he may walk about his subjects undetected.  Lachesis desired to show the king his ugly ways from the perspective of those who know him best.  Even Silvus seemed unaware of his arrogance being the king.  This showed in his initial defiance of Lachesis’s request of him, but it did not last.  With Xena behind the mask of the present convincing the king to so ask he had been asked was not a problem.

      Meanwhile Gabrielle found herself amongst the local townspeople in search of Senticles’s home.  The people knew just where to find Senticles and so Gabrielle followed his trail straight to his front door.  She knocked and called out to him for she was certain that he would be cowering there.  After a few moments of  persistence and determination Senticles finally answered.  Gabrielle was quite agitated that her new warrior friend was not so enthusiastic about helping in the greater good.  She scolded him for leaving and asked him what had happened.  Senticles was quick to defend his cowardice explaining that there were two guards that had come by while he was watching Tobias.  Tobias had been tied to a rope which acted as the pulley in making Gabrielle rise above the floor as the shadowy spirit of Analia.  When Senticles had run away it had almost blown the cover of Xena and Gabrielle.  Gabrielle questioned Senticles harshly wondering why he ran away from his responsibility to herself and Xena.  Senticles responded with a new defense.  He explained that he had seen Xena fight earlier and that he was confident Xena was more than capable of rescuing herself and Gabrielle.  Senticles’s faith in Xena’s interest in protecting him had been lacking.  Before Gabrielle could continue interrogating Senticles for his irresponsibility and cowardice Senticles responded that even Tobias was safer than he within the wrath of Silvus for a donkey would not be punished for a crime against Silvus.

     Gabrielle was disappointed in the toy maker whom had once brought the power of love and hope to children all over Greece.  She could not grasp what had taken that from him.  He seemed to be selfish as Silvus.  Gabrielle could not convince him otherwise for his heart had seemingly been damaged beyond repair.  With that Senticles had demanded that Gabrielle walk away and leave him alone for he wanted no part in goodness ever again.  As Gabrielle’s heart sank for his loss of hope she turned away preparing to give up and move on with the plan without Silvus.  But just as the bard turned away from Silvus she saw the most beautiful sight.  It was the sight of thousands of toys which Silvus had made for children.  There were dolls, and rocking horses, wagons, and more.  All were shimmering with hope waiting for the heart of a child to be their new home. 

     The bard was taken aback and in awe of the spectacle of all of those toys.  She felt like a child again as her eyes roamed about the beautiful toys.  Suddenly it came to her like Zues’s lightening.  She realized that the way to Silvus’s heart was still through the hearts of children.  The innocence within began to speak as she inquired of Silvus about the toys.  Of course he answered as she had expected, but then quickly scolded himself for leaving the toys about.  Gabrielle realized there would be a little work involved in winning him over, but she was confident that she could do it.  The bard then ran toward the toys and began to frolic about picking up a doll as she noticed that its eyes opened and closed.  Silvus rushed to Gabrielle’s side taking hold of the doll that Gabrielle had taken and began to explain how it worked.  But before he could get a second word out Gabrielle moved onto another toy. 

      She had spotted the very same toy that had been given to her as a little girl.  Gabrielle pulled a little wooden lamb off of the shelf before here and began pulling the tail as it made the little sounds of a lamb.  Her heart fluttered for in this moment she was a child again as Silvus followed watching how his work had touched the heart of someone he knew.  Gabrielle could sense Silvus’s heart opening up with delight and so she decided to take a leap of her own faith.  She planted the seed for Silvus suggesting that all of these wonderful toys could make more children happy again.  They could begin at the local orphanage.  For a moment Silvus was with Gabrielle again as Gabrielle began taking toys off of the shelf to be packed for delivery.  Yet Silvus was again reminded of the law of Silvus which stated that toys were illegal.  He was still hesitant despite the light in his heart.  Gabrielle continued to push despite Senticles’s doubts.  She moved ahead with new plan in mind taking the bag which Silvus held suggesting that it could be used for transport to the orphanage.  The bard continued to stuff toys into the bag as Senticles tried to plant doubt.  Gabrielle spoke against doubt explaining that when Xena was finished with Silvus that the king himself would hand out the toys to all of the children of his kingdom. 

     Then Gabrielle moved onto the issue of disguise.  Senticles would need a disguise to get past the guards so that he could deliver the toys.  Just then Senticles halted hope once again.  He did not like to be pushed into a small corner, but Gabrielle refused to allow his excuses to prevail any longer.  She reminded Senticles of his worst fears.  He feared being locked away in a small space.  Yet he was already locked up and had not even realized it.  His heart was confined to the law of the land which had been created by Silvus’s hand.  Gabrielle expressed that Senticles only had himself to fear for it was his own doubts that had held him back.  It was not Silvace’s law.  Gabrielle pointed out that Senticles was afraid to stand up for his heart’s desire and the heart’s desire of others.  Then she sealed the deal reminding him that he was the one in control.  It was Senticles who made the choice for life and the lives of others.  And so Senticles had seemingly been convinced to stop running and hiding to stand up and fight.  Even if it meant that fighting would entail making toys and delivering joys.  As expected Gabrielle, Senticles, and Tobias ran into the guards on their way to the orphanage, but they dodged them easily with Senticles’s new disguise.  Yet they would have to find a new way into the orphanage rather than using the front door in order to avoid the risk of their own arrest.

     It seemed as if the plan was back on track once again as Lachesis had just arrived at the orphanage with Silvus.  Upon entering the orphanage Silvus expected to have the door slammed in his face already aware of his impending deeds.  Yet the young boy whom had answered did not recognize his king without his crown and royal robes.  Instead the boy invited the stranger in for food and drink despite how little they had.  Lachesis urged the boy to continue sharing their hardships at the orphanage in order to paint a better picture of the king’s terrible wrath.  Silvus was angered as he listened to the boy speak of how terrible the king was.  There was not one thing nice about Silvus to the boy or to any other child at the orphanage.  Yet a stranger was welcome to share in their secret solstice celebration for the orphanage was to be shut down at midnight.  When the stranger inquired he was reminded of the law.  If taxes were not paid then the land went back into the hands of the king.  The orphanage had been taxed beyond its means and could no longer stay open.  All of the kids would be out in the street by the next morning.  Without a home the children were not afraid to break the law of celebrating solstice.

      After being described as the most tyrant king upon the Aegean the stranger listened as the children’s choir sang.  Lachesis was hoping that the king was convinced of his crimes, but instead she was shocked to find otherwise.  At the end of the celebration as the time struck the hour Silvus rose from his place with rage.  He blamed Lachesis for his nasty deeds of the past several years for it was she and the other fates that had separated Analia from him in the first place.  It was an unexpected turn of events that not even Xena could have predicted.  And so the king stormed off toward the doors of the orphanage.  He’d had enough of the fates’s silly games.  As he opened the doors he was greeted by the forces of Silvus.  The soldiers were not pleasant and they demanded his surrender, but Silvus resisted his own arrest.  When Silvus defied his own law the guards laughed in his face certain that he was not their king.  Instead the officer proclaimed himself to be the queen of the amazons and so the battle began.

      Lachesis transformed into Xena as she kicked down the columns which held up the foyer.  This gave her and Silvus the time to escape as she whisked him back through the doors inside of the orphanage.  When they reentered Lionel the young boy whom had been so kind to the stranger warned that they should leave now.  Yet just as he had spoken of the arrest that awaited them Silvus passed out from shock and Lachesis was no more.  As soon as Lynal realized that it was Xena that had brought in the stranger he warned that the guards they had trapped inside the basement earlier had escaped.  Xena was not so worried about those guards any longer.  She was more concerned with a new plan.  As Lynal directed her down into the basement she took Silvus to be watched by the keeper of the orphanage. 

     Lynal took the rest of the children to a safe hiding place as Xena looked about to design a last-minute change of plan.  But just when it seemed that things were beyond repair Senticles and Gabrielle dropped in through the air.  They had entered into the orphanage through a fire shaft which had been not so comfortable for the bard.  Yet Senticles was happy as a boy as he jumped up from the ground with his toys and danced with joy.  He picked up Gabrielle and began to dance with the bard as Xena watched with delight and Senticles chuckled within his disguise.  He wore a red suit with a large white beard that Gabrielle had found back at the basement of Silvus’s castle.  It was all too perfect for the warrior princess who now had a new plan with two new warriors at her side.

     Using Senticles’s toys and the decorations of solstice Xena, Gabrielle, and Senticles defeated the guards of Silvus.  It was beyond imagination that a battle could be won by the joy of toys alone, but it was all that had been needed to have Silvus’s laws defeated.  As the battle raged on an army of children arrived as they picked up arms and loads of toys.  The guards of Silvus were made fools for they were being defeated by women and children.  Just as the battle came to a climactic roar Silvus appeared defying his own laws.  He was the final blow to the demise of local law.  As the battle ended he declared that the orphanage would not close and that no one would be evicted. 

     In the next moment things turned solemn as a dark figure emerged from the basement.  Silvus’s fears rose as he begged the future not to take his life.  The king had hoped that this act to redeem himself would save him from the fates, but instead it healed him.  Just as Gabrielle was about to explain who was behind the dark robe the hood of disguise was lifted.  Silvace’s lips spoke the name of his beloved who stood before him with regret.  Analia had heard his desperate pleas as he had come out of his shock in the basements.  She realized now that she too had made mistakes.  Both of their selfish mistakes had caused the suffering of many innocent people.  And so the two worked out their differences and let love back into their hearts.

      As the morning sun rose Xena and Gabrielle took Argo and Tobias down the road onto their next journey.  Xena praised Gabrielle for her choice in battle plans for this particular battle and the bard was pleased that she had impressed Xena.  The giving did not stop at that for on the day of solstice the four of them ran into some weary travelers.  Gabrielle offered them a solstice gift reluctantly giving away her new found friend Tobias so that the three could make the long journey west.  Upon saying good-bye to Tobias Xena offered protection for the young couple and their newborn child, but it was refused.  And so as Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo continued on down the path Xena surprised Gabrielle with another gift.  It was one of Senticles’s toy lambs.  Gabrielle felt guilt for not having the time to find a gift for Xena, but instead the warrior princess insisted that the bard’s friendship to her was a gift.  The bard could not offer to the warrior princess any other gift worth more than her undying  friendship.