Xena Scrolls Volume #1

The Xena Scrolls 

Scroll  # 1:  Sins of the Past

July 2, 49 B.C.

 

     It was a warm day in Podedia when the bard awoke as she moved softly through the village.  It was a time for new beginnings.  For old allies to become new enemies and for new friendships to be born.  There was this tall dark woman roaming through the lands of Greece seemingly uncertain of who she really was or what life path she was to take.  This dark one was known as Xena the warrior princess.  It was said that she had a cruel heart and a violent horrific past.  Leading army after army into village after village only to leave them in total ruin and destruction.  She was known for looting small towns, and killing anyone who dared to defy her passion for rage.  That passion was said to be an evil passion among men throughout Greece. 

     Most feared her and if they did not fear the Warrior Princess they served her dark reign in the hopes that they would reap the riches that she took from many.  But this dark woman trusted no one.  Even those who appeared to be her greatest allies she did not see as friends.  They were only numbers to be controlled and power to take to the next level. 

      In the recent past word spread throughout Greece that Xena the warrior princess had had a run in with the great Hercules son of Zeus.  She defied Hercules and their confrontation was said to have ended in mercy.  It would seem that Hercules had seen something other than a cold-hearted war lord within this mighty warrior princess.  And thus this day in Potedia began.

     It was just as any other day in my small village.  Children playing on the farms, wives doing their daily chores of washing, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the brood loving their husbands faithfully while the husbands tended to their farms and shops.  Yet there was something about this day that was to change the face of world as I knew it.

     I had heard the great stories of this evil warrior princess and of the many other warlords that had terrorized the countryside.  Many travelers had often passed through Podedia and so my worldly education was satisfied.  And even though these wonderful travelers had stories of great pain and suffering there were always those that carried the stories of triumph and adventure.  Those were my most favorite stories to learn of.  They gave me a passion and I discovered my calling yet it was seemingly not a permissible lifestyle for a young maid such as myself.

     This was a frustrating thought knowing that all of this passion for storytelling would go no further than this small village of Potedia.  Who knew if I’d even be fortunate enough to tell my stories to travelers who might be able to pass them on,  But then again…what excitement is there to tell about a small village called Potedia?  What could the outside world possibly want to hear about us?

     All of my education meant nothing more to me than did my daily life in the fields helping my father or in the kitchen alongside my mother.  The only time I ever felt alive was when my sister Lila and I would sneak into the taverns late at night hoping to catch those weary yet exciting travelers.  Lila wasn’t as keen on going as I, but she always went. 

     And then late one night as Lila and I were enjoying the stories of one of the great travelers we heard word of a warlord planning to raid our village.  It wasn’t the great warrior princess that this traveler spoke of.  It was yet another dangerous kind.  His name was Draco.  It was said that Draco and his army were planning on sacking our village and taking all of the women to sell as slaves to others within the evil field of the warlord.  At that moment I came to a realization.  No matter what I had to stand up and fight.  I had to fight for my village, my life, my family, my friends, and for anything that I had ever loved.  The thought was scary at first yet I wasn’t going to let Draco and his approaching army take me for his cause of evil.  I had too much to live for to lay down for evil.  And so my mind was made up.

     Lila and I had a plan.  We decided to go through the village and warn every one of the danger which awaited us all.  Yet no one seemed interested in the cause.  They seemed even less willing to fight for what was important to them.  Everyone just brushed off the arrival of Draco and his army as a normal everyday event.  But it wasn’t.  People were afraid to fight.  They were afraid to protect themselves because of what they had heard about the pain and suffering of other villagers just like us.  The people of Potedia only hoped that Draco would spare them.  They were counting on bargaining with Draco.  Villagers had heard of warlords sparing others for a price, donation, or sacrifice if you would want to call it that.  It just didn’t seem fair.  And it didn’t seem right.

     Our village had been fortunate for several years.  We had had excellent luck and had been protected by the will of the Gods from these creatures of evil yet today it was different.  Draco’s army had moved in through the dense fog during the early hours of the morning.  It was just before sunrise.  He was calm and cool.  In fact he didn’t appear to be threatening at first.  Was it true that our village was going to be spared?  And then just a few hours later as the sun rose over the valley Draco’s army began rounding up all of the women of Potedia.  His army escorted us out of our homes and took us into the forest.

     They were going to use us as slaves and sell us to traders.  Draco’s men were rough and unkind.  Shoving the weak around, and beating the strong as they took us further away from home.  During the journey I kept thinking to myself that this couldn’t be.  How could the Gods we trusted have let this happen to us?  We had always done what we were asked in worship.  Potedia had a high respect for the Gods.  Wasn’t that what they wanted?  Or had we not done enough? 

     I thought about this all the while as mothers sobbed and young women wept for their husbands.  And then I knew that this great pain was only beginning for us.  For the moment I was with my sister, my mother, and my father, but once we were sold they would be gone.  We would all be slaves to evil.  Anger and fire began to burn inside me as I kept running the future over in my mind.  Things that seemed unimportant only hours before became very important.  My dreams were shattered and my life worth even less than what I had anticipated.  I couldn’t take the thoughts that were flooding through my soul and I couldn’t bare to feel the pain of my friends, and neighbors as we walked on.

     At that moment I had made a decision.  I had decided that I was going to stand up and fight once more.  What could I lose?  Even if no one else followed it wouldn’t matter because I knew that I would rather die a thousand deaths than to allow evil to take my soul.  And so as our group moved on I stopped.  I stopped moving forward and stood folding my arms as if I were a dissatisfied customer at the market.  And I was.  Others within our group began to follow stopping in defiance against Draco’s men who kept moving forward.  Then my sister Lila stopped beside me and asked me what I was doing.  Of course I knew exactly what I was doing.  Lila then beckoned me to keep moving for she feared that they would beat me for my defiant action.  She was trying to keep her voice quiet as she spoke to me, but I stood firm and I spoke loudly in response.  I wanted Draco’s men to hear me.  I wanted them to hear the people of Potedia.

     Speaking with great conviction and defiance of the warriors I tried to drive the rebel spirit into the others around me.  Then I stepped forward and demanded that the army take me if they were going to take anyone.  I demanded that they spare the others.  The warrior men didn’t agree to my offer and they began to shove me around.  Others in the group began to stand up and they too received the same treatment.  And then just as one of Draco’s men was about to raise his hand to me she appeared.  It was the dark woman.    My heart stopped as I was being restrained by the vagrant warriors.  It looked to be a confrontation between warlords.  Our lives were hanging in the balance at that moment and who knew which fate would be worse?

     And then it happened. The dark one who was unarmed and not in full armor took on the leader of Draco’s men.  She kicked him in the face once, twice, three times knocking him senseless.  And then she began to take on the rest of Draco’s men.  She took their spears from them knocking out two more.  She fought with a vengeance.  This woman was seemingly fighting for us, and so we began to fight back.  As we fought passionately for our freedom and for our lives Draco’s men began rounding up the women again including myself.  One of the evil warriors captured me, but my capture was short-lived for the dark one had soon picked up a broken spear and thrust it at my attacker.  I was now free from my restraints as I knocked him to the ground.  It felt good to be free again. 

     And as I gazed up to get a better look at this dark woman I saw another of Draco’s men knock her down from behind.  Then the leader of evil laughed for his victory was certain.  Now the warrior woman was surrounded by the remaining warriors, and just when it seemed that she had been defeated something extraordinary happened.  From underneath the earth she suddenly pulled two weapons.  One was a sword and the other a round thing known as the chakram.  And then she threw the chakram disarming all of the men surrounding her.  It was amazing the way that little round weapon glided through the air honing in on its targets all in one throw! 

      She leaped forward spinning around to face the leader of Draco’s men.  The warrior woman grinned with delight.  She fought off two more of Draco’s men with her sword and had finally reached the leader of Draco’s clan.  The leader shook in his boots for he now had to face this awesome woman warrior alone.  He thrust forward attacking her, but his attack was short-lived for with a single move she had disarmed him of his weapon into the tree above.  All was quiet for a single moment and then she laughed and declared that he must be from Draco’s army.  And then the warrior woman took her sword and ripped off the stripe of the leader.  He did not resist her for he was gripped with fear of this warrior woman.  Then she gave him a message revealing her identity.  She was Xena, the warrior princess!

     The small battle in the forest ended quickly with the lone warrior woman being the champion.  And what a rush it was!  Maybe she wasn’t so bad after all.  Maybe everything I had heard were stories and nothing more.  They always say that most great stories only hold a kernel of truth within them.  And even if the evil stories about her were truth I could see that there must be more beyond that.  She had given her life for us.  We were thankful.

     Xena had taken us back to the village and reunited us with our brothers, and fathers.  Husbands and wives rejoiced and yet with all of this wonderful energy the warrior woman seemed distant.  It was like having a celebrity such as Hercules in town, yet there was something different and mysterious about her.  Everyone knew Hercules, but no one really seemed to know Xena only her jaded reputation.  And then it dawned on me that this was my chance to have a real story to tell travelers.  I could tell them of the great heroism of Xena the Warrior Princess and how she was a changed soul.  Yet there was still one question.  Who had led the evil warrior princess onto a path fighting for the people rather than against them?  This I was going to have to find out.

     So I invited the great warrior princess to stay with us for a few days to rest before traveling on.  But the town’s people, and my father refused.  And so did Xena.  In fact she didn’t want anything to do with me.  She just kept brushing me off.  I tried to impress her with my education, but she knew what I was up to instantly.  She told me that I didn’t want to make her mad by trying to follow her, but with a little persistence I felt that I would make some sort of break through.  I wasn’t the kind to be put aside so easily.  Okay so I was only a lowly little bard from Potedia, but I was proud. 

     Later that day Lila and I spent a lot of time discussing the many possibilities for Xena’ s change of heart.  Lila thought that maybe the warrior princess was schizophrenic.  But I didn’t feel that way.  There was just something about her that I couldn’t put my quill on, but I had to find out.  And so I kept up with my persistence and I even decided at one point that I would take Xena’s suggestion.  I was going to travel with her.  I mean she was probably lonely and needed a companion.  All I could think of was the adventure and seeing everything that there is to see.  I wanted to meet the Gods, I wanted to meet the greats, philosophers and bards alike.  Heck maybe we could even go to Athens! 

     I couldn’t see straight in front of me.  My head was spinning with thoughts of the warrior princess.  And then at sunset Xena had returned to the our village briefly to prepare for her next destination.  In my father’s barn as she dressed herself with brass armor and sharpened her sword slipping into those leather boots she spoke of a meeting that she had just had with Draco.  She told me that he had spared our village only at the expense of turning south to attack her home village of Amphipolis.  The warrior princess was serious in tone and with a grim expression.  She was focused on her mission at hand.  The dark one had been summoned to her roots because she had saved mine.

     With this little bit of information I began to see just a little glimpse of this dark one.  It didn’t look as dark on the inside as some may have insisted.  My heart jumped with enthusiasm.  Not only could I travel with her I could show her the path of good.  It was my own little cause and with her there what could be lost?  Absolutely nothing and so I continued to persist in my suggestion of being her companion.  And again she turned me down.  As she jumped onto her great white horse she told me that she didn’t need anyone and that I wouldn’t want to go with her to where she was going.  And then she rode off.

     For a while I was stunned as she disappeared on the white horse in the distance of green hills.  I walked back to my home with such great disappointment as my high hopes had just busted into oblivion.  My thoughts were that she really did need me.  She just didn’t realize it yet.  Later that night as I was lying in bed in the darkness I decided that I was going to go after her.  So I quietly packed my sack with everything I expected I would need for my journey.  I knew once I met up with her I would have much to write about so I took some fresh scrolls and quills.

     Just as I was about to escape the dread of my little village Lila had awakened.  I couldn’t lie to her so I told the truth.  I spoke of my future and of my plans.  She needed to understand that my place couldn’t possibly be in the little village of Potedia for the rest of my life.  There was a much larger calling for me that I could feel strongly.  And I had especially been feeling this since the arrival of the warrior princess.  Although Lila was afraid for me and somewhat disapproving she was supportive of my decision.  She gave me a tight long hug as the tears rolled down both of our faces.  I loved my sister and family dearly, but I knew I had to go through with it all.

     The pain of leaving was greater than I wanted to deal with so I cut our good-bye short and exited through the quiet home and out into the darkness of the night.  It was a chilly early morning in late summer and there was a thin fog illuminated by the moonlight.  There was so much excitement within my spirit yet there was a tinge of fear.  I really had no idea where I should start.  Of course my education had included geography, but who knew that I would actually have to use it to travel to another village such as Amphipolis. 

      As the morning twilight began to fade into the sun rise I crossed over the last green hill that separated me from my past.  And then I could no longer see Potedia.  It was just me and the great forest.  I must have walked for many, many miles before I decided that I had better try to hitch a ride.  But on my way to the road to Amphipolis I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere for I found myself meeting up with this one-eyed blind Cyclops.  I didn’t know that they really existed, but as I had crossed over a bridge and reached the other side he captured me within his wooden cage.  At first I was struck with fear for the stories I had heard of Cyclops’s were that they enjoyed eating the flesh of humans.  I wasn’t about the allow myself to be this ugly giant’s breakfast.  So I did the only thing I could think of.  I told him I knew Xena the warrior princess.  Surely that would strike some fear into him.  But that didn’t work for she had been by earlier in the day and she had been the one who had blinded him in the first place.

     Just when it seemed I would be doomed I came up with another idea.  I swore to this giant ugly Cyclops that I was out to destroy the warrior princess.  That got him.  At first it was a little unbelievable to him, but I convinced him that she would never suspect such a youthful girl to be a sworn enemy to her so it would make it that much easier for me to get to her.  The fact that he was blinded helped my case for he couldn’t see how small I truly was compared to the warrior princess.  But he didn’t have to know that.  He demanded that I bring him back a leg of the warrior princess when I had finished my deed.  But who needs one leg when you can have them both?  Then he agreed to release me and upon my release he demanded more of the warrior princess, but I warned him that he was asking for a little too much.

     Luckily for me I knew that there was a main road somewhere near the village of Potedia so I headed in that general direction after my encounter with the dumb Cyclops.  Hours went by before a traveler passed and was kind enough to stop for me.  Of course I had to lie on the ground in the middle of the road to get some attention, but it worked.  The god Hermes had blessed me with this older fellow who was hauling some hay.  At first the old fellow wasn’t amused by my clever skill in getting his attention, but I pleaded with him.  In fact, I promised him a fresh steed for his services from my father Dolan of Amphipolis, and I promised to tell him some great stories.  I was going to tell him the story of Edipus King of Thieves which had been told to me by a great traveling bard once.  With a smile he helped me up onto his wagon although he has expressed to me that there were no horse dealers in Amphipolis.  Who knew he was a seasoned traveler?

     Things were already going very well.  I told so many stories, but most of them were my stories about the Gods or stories that weren’t my own.  And then after a while he asked me why I was going to Amphipolis and so I told him my great story of my encounter with the Warrior Princess. He couldn’t believe that she had agreed to a travel companion, but he didn’t have to know that the details had not been completely worked out.  In my heart I knew they would work themselves out.  Besides I was determined.

     Finally after many hours we came to my stop.  It was just five miles north of Amphipolis for we had to take a detour away from the army of Draco approaching the village.  The excitement was building within and as I said good-bye to the gentleman he wished me good fortune.  And then I was off on the last leg of my trip.  It took a long time to finally reach Amphipolis, but  when I finally arrived I knew just where to find the warrior princess.   Across the way I spotted her trusty white steed.  As I approached her horse there was a commotion just inside the tavern.  Deciding to investigate this little event I walked inside the tavern and all of the towns people were in a fury.

     They were furious with the one who had saved my village.  People cursed her and even her own mother had turned against the warrior princess.  They spoke of a great battle which Xena the warrior princess had led them into which had resulted in many village deaths years before.  At that moment I felt her pain and anguish although I didn’t fully understand it.  It seemed as if she had no one in the world.  Even Xena’s mother was angry at Xena.  All she wanted to do was to protect her people, family, and friends, but no one wanted to stand up and fight.  It was just like my village.  Xena was just like me.  Only I couldn’t figure out what had turned her to the darkness.  I had a few conjectures.  Maybe it was her failure to save all of the people in the last battle?  Or maybe it was something else.

     I kept listening and I stayed low.  After Xena’s mother had left Xena to the wolves Xena asked of her people to go ahead and fight her.  No one moved and not a word was spoken.  Xena then pulled her sword and asked the people of Amphipolis to take their revenge on an unarmed woman knowing that they feared her.  And then the towns people began to throw stones and other various objects at Xena.  She took all of it.  Every bit of anger, and hate that resided within that little village of Amphipolis she took.  There was seemingly so much sadness in her heart, but Xena was careful to stand strong.  It was as if she was taking responsibility for everything.  I couldn’t bare to watch this scene as they descended upon her.  She wasn’t going to save herself so that was when I stepped in.  I told every one of Xena’s real intentions.  I spoke of how she saved my village, and I scolded them for treating her with disrespect for her deeds.

     After convincing the villagers of Amphipolis to spare Xena’s life we were asked to leave.  Xena was bewildered by my actions, but I knew what I was doing.  I picked up her sword off of the table where she had surrendered it for her execution and returned it to her mighty hands.  It was quite a strange experience for it was the first time I had ever handled a sword.  She took it and lead the way out of the tavern.  I followed her with great pride for I was clearly in with her now.  But when we reached the outside of the tavern she jumped upon her white horse and was about to ride off again without me.  Now this couldn’t be right for I had just saved her life.  I suggested that I could jump upon the horse behind her, but she refused me once again.  So I played my final card.  I reminded her of what I had just done for her in the tavern.  I could see that it was not going to be easy to gain her trust.  That part of her legendary story was true.  But then for a moment she thought about my coming to her defense back in the tavern.  When I saw that look in her piercing blue eyes I knew I was in.  She reached down reluctantly and helped me upon her horse. 

     It was my first step in becoming her traveling companion.  I was excited to know where we were going to go next so I inquired of her.  She had said that we were going to go and visit her brother.  I couldn’t wait to meet him because if he was half as exciting and skilled as Xena then I knew we would get along and maybe we would have something in common.  He had to be better than Perdicas my betrothed back in Potedia.

       When we arrived at her brother’s I came to a sudden dark realization.  Her brother Lycious had been killed in the great battle at Amphipolis where it had all begun for Xena.  This explained why Xena’s mother had been so angry at Xena.  She must have blamed her daughter for the death of her son. At this dark lonely place Xena went inside to pay respects to Lycious.  For a moment I stayed outside with her horse, but I couldn’t resist knowing more.  I peaked quietly around the corner in an attempt not to disturb her.  Lycious’s tomb was beautiful and designed with much love from family and village friends.  Xena quietly approached his tomb as small tears began to trickle down the warrior’s cheeks.  What a contrast that was.  One wouldn’t visualize an evil warlord to have the ability to feel compassion.  Yet this warrior woman was feeling something.  There was light within her soul still after all of the horrible things that she had done in the days since the death of Lycious. 

     I was beginning to understand why all of the people of her village were angry at her.  They had blamed her for the deaths of their loved ones.  Even her mother was angry at her.  Again I could feel her pain and I knew that I had to make it known to her that she had someone.  She felt so alone.  She had to know that someone was there.  I approached her.  There was a great urge to console her, but I was afraid of what she might do.  I was afraid that she would reject me and I felt I needed her as much as she needed me.  She was still cold in response to my compassion for her, but there was light seeping through the cracks.

      Later that evening Draco came storming into Amphipolis with his army.  He made Xena an offer.  Xena refused it and she was defiant.  She challenged him to a duel.  It was to be a fight to the death.  This battle of two warlords took place on the heads of the villagers of Amphipolis.  It really was a peculiar location for a battle, but then again all great stories have this element of the impossible.  But believe me it was possible!  The battle was intense as Draco smashed Xena with his weapon.  Xena took a few shots, but delivered them back with the same caliber of force.  I felt the energy as I cheered my new friend on.  And after flipping and tumbling, jumping and leaping, the fight came to a standstill for a split moment.  Suddenly Xena delivered the final blow to her opponent the warlord Draco.  He fell backwards off of the townspeople’s heads and onto the floor in the middle of the crowd.  He was surrounded by the villagers of Amphipolis.  Just as he was knocked to the floor Xena maneuvered through the air gracefully flipping to the ground.  She held her weapon to him and had chosen to do the unthinkable.  She had decided that she would spare his life.

     As Draco rose from his defeat one of his men was about to pull a weapon on the merciful champion when Draco struck him down.  Though Draco was an evil warlord he showed his humanity by saving Xena and accepting his defeat.  It was as if he had a high respect for the one who had struck him down.  She had taken two villages away from him in the span of just two  days.  On a final word of this conflict it was made known to Draco that he was not to interfere in the affairs of the people of Amphipolis ever again.  Xena made it known that she would be there if he should ever try his fate again.  Maybe next time he wouldn’t be so lucky.

     After Draco’s exit Xena’s mother invited me to stay with her.  Xena didn’t seem to be too keen on the idea, but she didn’t have a choice because I had traveled all of this way and I wasn’t about to go back to little Potedia.  In fact, now I had two great tales of the warrior princess.  I wasn’t about to stop there.  I had to know more.  I had to do more.  Xena was the answer to all of my prayers to the Gods for a life of travel and adventure.  I was ready.

     Xena’s mother was kind and she seemed glad to hear that her child had done some good in the world by saving my village.  And of course I had to tell the story once again.  Everyone was going to hear about this kind-hearted warrior woman.  It was hope for all and it had to be spread throughout the countryside.  Yet Xena didn’t seem to carry much hope in her heart.  She just seemed more confused about her situation.  And she was still very secretive.  In the day or more that I spent in the village of Amphipolis Xena kept distant, but was tolerant of my presence.

     And so the next morning Xena was off again.  She was leaving her village with an uncertain destination.  I had to rush to catch up to her because I knew that she would try to leave me in the village hoping that she could get rid of someone who was seemingly a pest to the warrior woman.  But I knew I wasn’t anything of the sort.  I was a friend and probably her only friend at this point.  I followed Xena all day long until nightfall.  I was waiting for her to run into some more trouble so that I could prove to her that she really did need me and that I could be a great warrior too.  I just needed a little practice and education.  And though I had been following her all day she had known I was behind her all along because when I approached her camp I had to admit that I was an amateur at this traveling the high road business.

      She then insisted that I was going to be taken home to Potedia on the very next morning.  I refused her reminding her that I would just keep following her when she tried to leave me again.  I struggled to explain to my new friend of how I didn’t belong back there.  She didn’t understand what it was like to be different.  And just when I had expressed my disappointment in her rejecting my company once again she understood me.  She understood what it was like to be different and out-of-place for she too was different and out-of-place.  She had once been evil and now she had a new purpose in life.  Xena was just a little uncertain of what that new purpose was.

     And then I knew what it was that I must do.  I had to show Xena her light.  I had to show her what she was capable of and to show her what I could see within her.  Of course it was the least I could do for the one who had saved my life beyond the breath in my lungs.

     The very next morning Xena and I packed up camp.  We walked for a few miles and Xena warned me that we would be facing a lot of danger and trouble.  I told her that I expected that.  She then asked me why someone would want to follow her into all of that.  I told her that it was what friends do for each other.  And after  what seemed like a very long pause my anticipation was dissolved.  Xena the Warrior Princess grabbed my arm and helped me up onto her horse.  The strange thing about it was that even though I had traveled a great distance from Potedia stepping upon Xena’s horse felt like home.  I grabbed on tightly feeling great enthusiasm for I knew our journey together was going to be a special one.  And then as before it was a day for new beginnings.  It was  acquaintances beginning new friendships and for sins of the past to be forgiven.  And if not by the sinner by those who felt  great  compassion for her.

 

                                                            Gabrielle

                                                                                   The Bard of Potedia    

 

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#3:  Dreamworker

September, 49 B.C.

     There are many lessons to be learned from the warrior princess.  I know that she can teach me, but convincing her of my value and skill is another story.  Earlier this morning I was exploring what it felt like to hold her mighty sword for I have never held a sword before until now.  I picked up the large piece and felt it’s massive weight and then wondered how she made it look so easy.  When Xena handles her sword it looks like it weighs nothing, but that is purely illusion.

     Then I looked at it and studied the materials that it was made of.  It certainly wasn’t bronze which is the typical metal of choice for sword makers.  This was a special piece like no other.  It glistened in the sunlight and it was hot to touch the metal part beyond the leather handle.  It was wrapped and intertwined tightly in design.  The design looked similar to her chakram design with small precious stones on the bottom of the handle which was gold-plated.  If I were a thief I know I could sell it for a pretty dinar, but I couldn’t do that to a friend.

     After studying the craftsmanship of the sword I slowly lifted it into the air as if I were about to do battle with the tree stump in front of me.  It had once made a nice resting place, but now it was an evil warrior that I had to kill.  I battled him bravely yet with difficulty in handling my piece.  Luckily he was not very agile and much slower than I.  Then I said a few choice words to him just before I went in for the kill.  Quickly I struck the sword down onto his head and split him into two pieces.  The battle was over and I had won.  That was until I couldn’t get Xena’s sword out of his head.

     About that moment was when Xena caught me playing with her weapons.  She scolded me for handling them so carelessly as she yanked the sword out of the broken tree stump.  I tried playing it off  by suggesting that I had been using it to chop wood like she had asked of me, but she could always see through me.  Xena acted like I didn’t know anything about using a weapon let alone a sword.  Of course I couldn’t because  I didn’t really know so I challenged her accusation of my nieve view of what a sword was.  She explained to me that I should never want to use a sword and that it should be only a last resort. 

       I pleaded with her to teach me how to use a weapon even if it wasn’t a sword so that I could learn to at least survive and defend myself when we did run into trouble.  It wasn’t like I really wanted to kill anyone.  But of course Xena couldn’t allow me to have my fun or my way.  I’d been traveling with her for about two months now and it had hardly been safe for more than a few hours at a time.  Instead she told me the four rules of battle and said that they were all that I needed to know about using weapons.

     Rule number one was to run if you could run which didn’t sound like anything I’d ever seen the warrior princess do.  In fact, it seemed very cowardly to me.  Rule number two was if you couldn’t run to surrender and then run.  That didn’t sound any better than the first one.  Rule number three was if you were outnumbered by your enemy you were to let them fight each other which sounded a little bit better, but rule number four was the most valuable.  Xena told me that she was confident that I could at least accomplish rule number four in battle which was to talk my way out of becoming a victim.  I thought about it for a moment and realized that she was right.  My words had gotten me this far so they must be good for something.  I had never thought of words being used as a weapon before, but it was an interesting revelation.

     The moral of this was that it was wisdom before weapons no matter what.  That I could agree upon because I could see how wise Xena really was and I admired her for that.  Then Xena continued on by explaining that the moment you kill someone everything in life changes.  She seemed very disturbed by that thought and almost in shame that she had to kill so many to do what she did.  Xena didn’t realize that she had been fighting for good for at least the past couple of months since I’d known her.  That was commendable in my eyes.  That was when I realized that I never wanted to know what she knew about life after the killing. 

     Then we heard the sound of Argo warning Xena of some enemies approaching.  I turned around to look and saw a band of five thieves approaching us.  They looked like trouble and they were indeed.  I asked Xena if this was the time to run and she told me that it was not time to run just yet.  So I stood behind her as she grabbed for Argo’s saddle and took out a knife throwing it into the ground behind a nearby rock.  It was concealed and out of view.  Obviously Xena had a plan, but I had not idea what she was thinking.  I had to figure her out.

     The ring leader of the group approached Xena candidly and smiled commenting on the beautiful day.  Xena’s response to his nasty smile was to draw her sword naturally.  That was definitely a normal Xena response.  Then she asked him in that dark and serious tone what he wanted.  He was very calm and light as he explained that he and his pals were just trying to scrape by in this evil world and occasionally it required that they take things from fellow travelers.  Then he demanded Xena’s horse, any gold, and jewelry that we may have had.  He was also partial to Xena’s attractive sword.  Then he demanded that Xena surrender or suffer the consequences. 

      Here’s the part that she used rule number two because she accepted his conditions of surrender.  I was actually shocked for a moment that she was even thinking of surrendering to these obviously amateur warriors.  They weren’t at all like the Draco’s I’d seen or like Spherus.  These guys were about as unintelligent as you get when it comes to evil, and definitely the bottom of the barrel.  But here’s the part that shocked me even more.  Upon accepting to surrender she called out to me and asked me to go ahead and take their swords from them.  Now this I didn’t think I could do, but hey it was a rare event that Xena had asked me to do anything exciting.  Then the five barbaric creatures busted out in deep laughter.  They did not at all believe in my ability to take them out.  Of course they were right in thinking that because I knew that I couldn’t take five men on my own.  Maybe one, but definitely not five.  Now that was something that I had only seen Xena do single-handedly and plenty more than five.

     The light moment only lasted for about five seconds and then suddenly the ring leader shouted a command to attack us.  The warrior princess took the cue and went into action.  She slashed her sword through one man then two.  They both fell immediately to the ground.  Then she moved behind her back to fight off a third man.  The sounds of the battle were fierce as the warrior princess was in control like a dancer upon the theater.  At this point I was feeling like there was something I should be doing, but I didn’t know what it was.  I didn’t have a weapon and everyone else had swords.

     Xena gracefully removed a staff from one of her attackers, and then another removed her sword from her unsuspecting hand.  The heavy piece crashed to the ground before me and I realized that this was my chance to help Xena.  Yes it was five men and she could probably handle them, but I couldn’t resist.  I bent down to pick up Xena’s sword and I held it up ready for battle.  Letting out an attempt at Xena’s battle cry I entered myself into the fight.  Suddenly it was real and two of the five henchmen approached me with their weapons.  They were closing in fast and I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to use it, and I realized that battling a tree is a much simpler process.

     I could see it in their eyes that they were ready to strike and take the breath out of me.  I was gripped with fear because now I had to choose.  Do I let them kill me or do I draw blood?  Just before I had to make that fateful choice I heard Xena’s battle cry as she flipped backward with the staff she had acquired and put herself between me and the enemies.  Then she knocked the two men down with one push forward with the weapon and slid to the ground going for her concealed weapon.  Then I threw down Xena’s sword.  It happened very fast and then I saw Xena’s knife hurling through the air.  The knife’s path met the chest of the ring leader killing him instantly.  It could have been much more painful, but Xena hit him straight through the heart.

     That was the moment that ended the battle and all of the four remaining thieves followed rule number one as they ran leaving behind the dead.  My heart was pounding through my chest harder than it ever had before.  I had felt a strange rush like no other and I found myself not ever wanting to visit that place again.  Yet the excitement was hardly over for the day.  As Xena and I left the scene and headed into town she revealed to me that someone had been watching us from a distance.  She truly was amazing for how could she know something like that.  I had to find out.

     As we entered town not much else was said between us.  I could feel Xena’s disappointment in me and I didn’t like it.  The tension was so great that I had to break the silence.  I told Xena that I knew that she wanted to tell me that the choice I had made was wrong, but I couldn’t allow her to be right.  Yet she knew that eventually I would realize that she was always right.  I hated that about her, but what could I do.  Then I tried to explain to her why I had made that choice.  I expressed to her of how eager I was to help her and she responded by making it very clear that my help was never needed.  She was able to handle everything on her own.  Her independence from me was difficult to take sometimes.  But I couldn’t let this go so I had an idea.  I told Xena that I would return back at the tying post after I went to pick up some salt port.  She was off to buy a sharpening stone anyway so she’d be plenty busy while I went weapons shopping.

     I had a little difficulty finding the weapons shop, but as soon as I did I was in awe of all the beautiful swords.  There was this one in particular lying on the table near the door.  It looked as if it had been crafted and traveled many days to get to its final resting place.  I began to pick it up and get a feel for its texture and design, but was startled by the shop smith.  At first he thought that I was a thief, but then he realized that I was probably pretty harmless.  In fact, he asked me a very unusual question.  He was shocked to see me in town and implied that I should fear the god Morpheus.  It was as if I didn’t know who Morpheus was, but I displayed my fine knowledge of legends and myths by explaining that it was the god of dreams that we were discussing.

     The peculiar gentleman seemed very interested to know that I was experienced.  Experienced at what I didn’t really know, but I was guessing it was of the sort of experience one might have with one’s lover.  But then he said that I wouldn’t be in his shop if I wasn’t experienced which meant that he was talking of battle.  Of course I did have to play it up and let him know just how experienced I was.  Though he didn’t have to know that I knew nothing of sword play.  He was very pleased to see that a young thing like me was skilled and believe me I was impressed myself.

     He asked me if I had lost my weapon of choice in battle.  Naturally I had to say yes although I had never had a weapon other than words which was working pretty well at the moment.  First he showed me a beautiful Albanian piece which had a very wide blade.  It was much wider than the one Xena carried, but impressive.  I picked it up with excitement for I couldn’t wait to handle it, but as soon as the smith handed it over to me I almost fell to the ground with it.  I needed something a little more petite for someone with my frame.  It wasn’t me.

     So then he took me across the shop and pulled out the cutest little weapon.  It looked almost like a bird with a point at the bottom.  He told me that it was a breast dagger.  It must have been designed for death by being pierced in one’s breast, but the gentlemen corrected me and showed me its function.  He gently pulled down the top of my dress and slowly slid it into the breast area.  I could see now what he meant.  It was a dagger held by one’s breast.  This was definitely my weapon of choice.  I could carry it without anyone knowing and when the right moment came I could use it to help Xena the next time we encountered into a big battle.

     When I returned to meet Xena she was preparing to leave town.  And when I asked her if she had gotten everything she needed she replied flatly that she had not.  She seemed almost annoyed and it was obvious that she wanted to leave this particular village in a hurry.  Then she looked to me in all my pride for I could barely conceal it.  She asked me what was wrong and naturally I hid my little secret.  Then she persisted and asked me why I looked different.  She had been talking about my suddenly enlarged breasts of course.  I tried to play them down, but to no avail because my little secret poked me in the breast and fell out of my clothes. 

     It was obvious the game was over yet I still tried desperately to play it off.  I suggested that it was amazing how one could find hidden treasures in old clothes.  It was obvious the warrior princess was not buying that one.  She took the breast dagger and put it into her own breast-plate for safe keeping.  Then there was a sudden interruption in our little game of wits.  Several mysterious warriors swept through the village.  Xena commanded me to get up onto her horse as always, but as I went to follow through I was kidnapped and taken to a strange place. 

     Upon awakening I was greeted by the head mystic in the valley whose name was Manus.  He told of Morpheus and of how I had been selected to be Morpheus’s bride.  Suddenly, I found myself wondering how it was that I had gone from Xena’s horse to becoming someone’s wife.  I was quite confused and anxious to leave, but Manus explained that I would not be leaving until I had completed three challenges.  I tried desperately to talk my way out of these challenges, but to no avail.  Instead I was to discover that the three challenges required me to fight to the death.  When I heard that word death I realized that I was in serious trouble, but where was Xena?

     Xena immediately went into action once she had realized that her encounter with a blind man at the halter shop had been a mystic.  She had bought the poor old man a halter for his horse instead of a sharpening stone for her sword when he had been rejected by the shopkeeper.  Xena was angry for the shop keeper had not told all there was to tell about the missing young girls around summer solstice.  He had been particularly interested in my experience as was the keeper of the sword shop when Xena had first reported the dead highway man.

      After getting little more information from the shopkeeper she seeked out and found the old blind mystic whose name was Elkton.  Elkton spoke of how each young girl kidnapped had been taken by the mystic order to be sacrificed for Morpheus upon losing their blood innocence.  Xena demanded to know how to find the mountain where the mystic order resided, but Elkton was certain that it would take Xena days to fight through the heavy guard that protected it.  He made it clear to Xena that she did not have days to find me, but hours before I would be sacrificed upon losing my innocence.

     And then he spoke of a brave warrior with a dark past.  He said that this warrior had been shown to him within a vision.  This brave warrior with a dark past was the only one who would be able to stop Manus and defeat Morpheus.  Xena insisted that she was indeed the one for the job so Elkton quickly prepared to send Xena into the fire of her dreams and with the key to unlock the gate.  Her spirit would travel through a dreamscape and be reunited with her body once it reached the other side.  However, it was a dangerous mission for she only had a few hours in which to accomplish this task and Elkton spoke of how Morpheus would use Xena’s mind against her to keep her from succeeding.  There was only one special oil that would allow Xena more time to travel through her dreams.  Elkton then sprinkled the carmaoil upon her body and sent her on her way.

     Once inside the dreamscape Xena found herself immediately challenged by its mystery and its darkness.  She found herself confronted by the evils of her past, but was only slowed by their interruption.  Xena took control of her dreams and continued onto the next challenge within her dreamscape.  She found herself revisited by the first kill and the most recent.  They were meant to haunt her spirit, but again she did not allow Morpheus to win and continued on her journey.

      And while Xena met her three challenges within the world of dreams.  I was presented with my first.  Manus sent me into battle against two skilled warriors.  He had given me a sword in which to kill them so that I could survive.  The room was quiet and eerie as I walked slowly down the corridor.  And then I heard the sounds of boots from both sides.  There were shadows lurking beyond the thin curtains which were the only thing that shielded me from death and blood.  The first man caught me by surprise thrusting his sword narrowly missing my ear.  I ducked and was forced to clash swords with the second dark warrior.  Yet his sword was much more powerful than mine for he took the point right off.  I found myself left with only half of a sword and then Xena’s words ran through my mind again. 

     My only chance for survival would be to let them kill each other.  Now that I could do, and so I began my plan to set them up.  Quietly I walked between the two veils and watched as the shadows came closer and closer.  Then just as the two shadows met I let out a rather large sneeze and dropped to roll out-of-the-way of battle.  The two dark warriors clashed instantly thrusting their swords simultaneously within each other.  And then they were gone and my pounding heart-felt relief for a short moment.  Yet my challenge was still not over for Manus returned reminding me that Morpheus would soon demand me to meet his second challenge.  Manus was surprised that I had not chosen to kill my attackers, but I had no choice without a weapon of my own.

      I was then taken back to my bedchamber where I was allowed to rest for a short while.  Upon closing my eyes I began to have a very strange dream.  In my dream I was pulling the petals off of a daisy trying to determine when and if I would be sacrificed by my captures.  Suddenly, I was interrupted by the sound of a pleasant voice.  It was Xena and she was dressed in the most beautiful purple gown.  She then asked me if I was real and I explained to her that she was the one that had entered into my dream and that I was the only one who could be real.  Xena was still not certain that I was real so she then asked me a strange question.  She wanted me to tell her something about myself that no one else could know.  So I told her about how I had been born with six toes on my right foot.

       Peculiar as it seemed Xena was convinced that it was indeed me sitting upon the bed with the daisies.  She then came and sat down next to me telling me that I could not kill as I passed through each of my challenges for if I did I would most certainly be sacrificed.  Our dreams had strangely overlapped and it was a fortunate thing for I could ask Xena what my other choices were.  She then told me to use what I knew, but I wasn’t certain that I knew anything really.  And then my dream began to fade away and Xena’s comforting words with it.  I called out for Xena, but I could no longer see her.  Suddenly, I was awakened by someone I did not care to see.  It was Manus and he was preparing to take me to my next challenge.  Once again I tried desperately to talk my way out of the challenge, but Manus would not allow it.

      So once again I found myself being released into a mysterious place where skilled bloodthirsty warriors lurked within.  This time it was a cave and in the middle was a large pit of fire.  Again I was given a sword, but now that I knew what it was for I threw it into the fire pit for I would not take a life.  And then three dark warriors appeared ready to kill me.  One carried a net with a dagger, another a spear, and the third a sword.  The man with the spear made the first move almost hitting me with his weapon.  But fortunately I was able to dodge it.  I then picked up the weapon and dismantled the shaft turning it into a staff.  I wasn’t really certain what I would do with a staff, but it made me feel like I had a chance.

      I began to hear Xena’s words once again within my mind.  She had said to use what I knew.  At first I was uncertain of what that meant until finally I remembered that I knew how to talk so I began to talk.  I talked the three warriors into fighting one another by using their egos against them.  The first warrior to step forward was the one with the sword, but the warrior of the spear took him down instantly.  It was a surprise at first, but now I was down to two against one.  The man with the net and the warrior of the spear.  As the spear warrior began to thrust forward toward me the net warrior took his knife and slit the spear warrior’s throat.  Now it was just me and my lone enemy.  He threw his knife at me, but I ducked barely missing injury.  The net warrior lunged forward and grabbed me preparing to throw me into the depths of the fire.  I kicked and screamed desperately, but then an amazing thing happened.

      His knife had come to a rest within a hot spring which exploded releasing the weapon back through the air and into his spine.  The net warrior then fell into the fire himself dropping me safely upon the ground.  My chest rose and fell frantically and my heart was pounding wildly for I had almost lost my life during this challenge.  And then Manus returned irritated that I had discovered that I could not kill if I wanted to stay alive.  He declared that Morpheus demanded of me the final challenge and that it would not have any options.  I would have to kill my attacker if I wanted to save my own life.

     As he took me to the next chamber I began to hope that Xena would be arriving soon.  And indeed the warrior princess was on her way, but she was confronted by her own ultimate challenge within the dreamscape.  She found that though she had found the exit she had not obtained the key.  Yet the key was just around the corner lurking within the shadows.  The brave warrior princess was then confronted with the nightmare which haunted her more than all of her past deeds combined.  It was the nightmare of her dark side that approached her and taunted her spirit.  Yet Xena could not be defeated by her darkness for she was too strong to return to it.  And so Xena confronted her evil side with acceptance as she left it behind for a life of good deeds.

     Soon I found myself facing my own final challenge before the mystical tribunal.  They had set up a trap of spikes which forced me into the clutches of my dark enemy.  And as I was forced to face him there before me was my weapon against him.  I saw the sword lying upon the floor and it looked so inviting.  It was the only thing that stood between me and death.  I had to pick it up and as I did I inched closer and closer to making that choice to cross over into the way of the blood.  My heart did not want to kill the warrior standing before me on the other side, but my mind did not want to die.  And just before I reached his clutches Xena burst into the ceremony through the walls like an olympic god.  My attacker was distracted and I made my move knocking him out with the handle of my weapon.

     Xena then fought off all of the dark warriors within the tribunal and defied the wishes of Manus and his council.  I was so relieved that she had made it in time to save me from death, yet so angry that Manus had forced me to make a choice that I did not want to make.  I then unleashed my fury upon him delivering a punch squarely upon the nose.  Xena was surprised for a moment to see that her innocent friend had so much fury within her soul, but smiled to see that I could be tough.  And so all had been restored by our adventure together through the dreamscape.  Elkton had been placed once again as the head mystic of the order, and all of the young girls of the village at the bottom of the mountain could live without fear during the summer solstice.

     Xena found herself filled with joy for she had done another good deed to go against all that she had done in her past.  As we sat by the water and contemplated our adventure together I confessed to her that I had come close to chosing to kill someone.  It was a feeling that I did not like and I did not want to peak into that realm of blood ever again for I could see that I too was capable of taking a life despite what my heart guided me to believe.  Xena then took a stone and threw it into the calmness of the center of the lake.  She spoke of how it rippled because it had been changed, but I reminded her that eventually the ripples would disappear and the lake would become calm again.  Yet Xena reminded me that though the lake would look the same in the end it would be forever changed because now it had a new rock at the bottom.  And then I realized what she meant.  No matter how many times she had done wrong.  It would never be redeemed for those wrongs would be a part of her for the rest of her life.  Her heart was forever in debt to those she had wronged.

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll  # 2:  Chariots of War

 By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

August, 49 B.C.

     And so we were off on our first official journey together.  Xena the warrior princess and her trusty traveling companion Gabrielle Bard of Potedia.  It wasn’t long after leaving Xena’s home in the village of Amphipolis that we ran into a little bit of trouble.  But Xena was secretive as to how much trouble there actually was.  She was very quick to access the situation at hand.  Her mind had been made up that she would fight for the cause of good and that was satisfying for me.  It meant that I had won my own first battle, but for Xena the word battle meant something more than winning.  It was as if she were trained to be hungry for it.

     So after hearing word of trouble soon after the start of our friendship Xena was on the move.  She left me just outside the next town after leaving the local tavern.  Xena promised that she would be back for me.  It was only a small matter according to Xena that needed her attention.  Actually I was reluctant to wait behind because even with all of my persistence it was something we both had in common.  I was afraid that Xena was just being persistent in trying to dump me off someplace.  I stayed behind anyway and found myself in a strange village knowing nobody yet there was something really exciting about this situation.

     There were so many men of different backgrounds to observe and to write about.  I found myself returning to the shady tavern as I scoped out the place to see who looked the most interesting.  Who was most eligible to be my next victim?  As I searched the tavern there were many people of interest, but none of them seemed to have the same mystery as Xena.  I chatted with many and I spent an entire day at that tavern.  As the sun was going down over the valley I began to get a bit concerned.  Xena had said that she was only going to be gone for a short while, but night was falling upon us fast and there had been no sign.  There had been no word of the whereabouts or activities of my new friend the Warrior Princess.

     Something told me that she meant what she said when she had left.  She did say that she would be back for me.  So the thought that she had left me behind for good dissolved into more of a worry.  Was Xena alright?  Why did she go to fight a simple battle without me?  Or was there more to it than she was telling?  I had to find out.  But as I was about to go looking for my friend the bartender suggested that I stay in for the night. First he offered me a drink and I accepted it; however, when it came to asking for money I decided that water was just as good as any drink.  He assured me that my friend was okay, and I could sense his irritation with my worry.  He spoke in his raspy deep voice…”Stay here for the night.  You can go look for your friend in the morning when it is light out.  It’s not good to travel alone at night.  Especially for a young thing like you.”  So I stayed, but I didn’t sleep a wink.  I worried all night with my mind concocting all kinds of crazy wild scenarios.

      I recalled our final conversation just before she departed from me.  We had discussed finding our tree in the forest so to speak.  I had told Xena the story of how the god Zeus had found his own tree to intertwine with, but she did not seem all that interested at the time.  In fact, Xena’s heart was very much hardened by her life’s experiences, and she didn’t believe in letting anyone in.  I tried to convince her otherwise of course, but as always to no avail.  It had been about a month now since we had begun our travels together and I seemed to know less about her than I did when I met her back in Podedia.

     The next morning I returned to the bar for breakfast because I had made up my mind that I would just go ahead and try to find Xena on my own.  It had been an entire sun since I had seen her and I was very worried about her.  Yet as I was standing at the bar one of the rough crowd approached me.  He was a nasty critter with ugly hair, and he smelled like he hadn’t had a bath in over a week.  This pirate looking man had a patch over his eye and he was extremely drunk.  His breath told the entire story of his night of ale.  And of course it wouldn’t surprise anyone that he offered to buy me an ale as well.  Of course I declined his offer and tried to talk my way out of his advances by telling him that we were about to start the gossip pool of the village, but he didn’t much care about that consequence. 

     So then I threw out Xena’s name hoping that would discourage him, but it only made him more interested in my company.  I decided to tell this man who not only was I looking for my best friend Xena, but I was also looking for my tall, dark, rugged, tough, mean, nasty, boyfriend who owned a lethal sword collection.  Of course this thug did not believe a word that I said, but then I suddenly saw my way out of this situation.  Across the tavern sat a man of the very same description that I had given to my new-found pirate friend, He was alone and seemed to be in deep thought.  I didn’t care.  I just ran over to him, sat upon his lap and gave him a great big passionate kiss.  Surely this would discourage the pirate that wanted to add me to his collection of conquests. 

      The only problem was that he was a complete stranger and was very shocked at my sudden advances so I realized that I must explain myself.  I told him to play along and to pretend that he knew me.  He saw me looking over in the direction of the pirate and realized instantly what was going on so he jumped into character.  As soon as my bar friend gave up on his conquest of me the man asked me candidly about how long we had been going out.  I told him the story of our passionate love for one another.  Of course it was he who had fallen madly in love with me.  I then felt it appropriate to introduce myself to him.  He told me that his name was Sphirus. 

      This gentleman was rather charming though he looked a little too rugged for me.  What he was wearing certainly did not fit the personality, but who was I to judge.  We continued onto a wonderful conversation which lead us to his problem.  He mentioned to me that he worked for his father and that he felt a lot of pressure to do things that were out of character for him.  I sympathized with him expressing that I could understand parental pressures completely.  I gave the example of how my mother was a wonderful mother to me, but she had always dreamed that I would grow up to get married, and have lots of kids.  I told Sphirus that there had come a point in my life in which I had to make a choice.  The choice was either to go with tradition and what my parents wanted me to do or to go against all odds and seek the life that I had always dreamed of.  I chose the latter obviously and I had met a wonderful best friend whom I was having difficulty finding.  So then I asked Sphirus if he had ever met or seen my friend.  I described Xena as about six feet tall, dark, and lots of leather. 

     Sphirus looked at me and hesitated for a moment as if trying to recall if he had seen anyone fitting that description.  Then he said that he hadn’t and suddenly he had to leave.  It was a strange abrupt ending and I could only hope that I would run into him again someday.  He seemed like the kind of guy that I could really get to know.

     Not long after he left the tavern I decided to go back to my original plan and began searching for Xena.  I walked for almost three-quarters of a sun before I finally found her.  She rode over the valley upon her horse as if she had just left me moments earlier.  I was not happy about this.  I was angry that she didn’t even think to send me a message saying that she was okay or something.  When we finally met I didn’t let her get away without scolding her.  But as always she was in a hurry again.  In fact, Xena’s next instruction to me was to travel to the next village and find a nice family that would take care of me until I returned.  This of course was not what I was hoping to hear and I was not about to let her go on another mission without me.  I objected and was determined not to leave Xena’s side.  It was obvious that she didn’t have time to argue with me so she allowed me to come.

     This was the moment I had been waiting for.  After a month of traveling with Xena we were finally going to go on an adventure together.  As we walked through the open valley I began to tell Xena of my new-found tree in the forest.  I told her of Sphirus and how wonderful he was to me.  The only problem with this conversation was that it was completely one-sided.  As I was pouring out my heart of my new-found love Xena was paying no attention.  It was as if she were focused on something in another place and in another time.  It was like I wasn’t even there walking down the path with her and her white steed she called Argo. 

     This was unacceptable.  I was really beginning to get irritated and tired of being ignored constantly.  I may not have been a seasoned warrior like Xena, but I surely could learn if I were given a chance.  Just as I was about to argue with Xena she halted.  She told me to be quiet, but of course I didn’t want to be quiet.  I wanted to be heard.  Yet as I was challenging the warrior princess I too heard the sounds of hooves splashing through the water and toward our general direction.  I didn’t see anything at first and I was beginning to get excited for I realized that this was what Xena had been paying attention to all along.  She had known the enemy was coming and she was ready; however, I was not at all ready.

     Suddenly Xena told me to get onto the horse.  Just as I was about to feel the adrenaline rush of adventure boiling inside me she was going to push me aside again.  Naturally I couldn’t allow her to do that again so I told her that I refused to get up on the horse because I wanted to help.  Xena shoved me upon her trusty white steed and instructed me firmly that I could help by getting up on her horse.  The question was…what was I supposed to do next?  Xena barked out another command as if I were a soldier in some kind of army and told me to ride the horse in front of the approaching Chariots.  Just as I was about to ask which way Argo began to run at full gallop taking me out in front of all the action. 

     It was exciting yet frightening at the same time because I had no idea how to ride a horse.  I had ridden a few ponies back in Podedia as a child, but never a beautiful steed like Argo.  She was so swift upon her hooves as the wind rushed through my long strawberry blonde hair.  I held on tightly as if my life depended on it because I could barely stay upon the horse.  As she galloped I kept trying to see what was going on behind me.  I had no idea if the chariots that were chasing me were warlords or some other kind of nasty evil. 

     I shouted for Xena who was close behind me as she lept into one of the approaching chariots and took out the men who had once occupied it.  Now the real war was on.  I came to a fork in the stream and I didn’t know which way to turn.  I shouted back to the warrior princess for some further instruction, but Argo chose the direction sharply turning to the right.  Argo’s turn was a bit too sharp and unexpected for me and I almost fell off right then.  She was running hard and the water was splashing up off of the ground into my face and my boots were getting soaked.  I shouted out to Xena to hurry up because I was about to lose control of the horse.

     Xena shouted back for me to hold on longer which was easier said than done.  Behind me she approached on her chariot and cut off the head chariot carrying the enemy.  Then she pulled up next to me and shouted out to me to jump off of the horse into her chariot.  Her long black hair flew back with intensity and her blue eyes pierced through me boldly.  I couldn’t believe she was asking me to jump off of a horse at full gallop.  At first I refused, but she urged me to just do it.  My doubts about making the jump were suddenly dissolved because I could feel that Xena believed that I could make the jump no problem.  So I trusted in the warrior princess.  If nothing else she’d be able to catch me. 

     I eased my way off of the horse and into the chariot with the warrior princess although it was quite a sloppy leap.  The warrior princess scolded me for not being more graceful, but what did she expect from a village girl from Podedia?  The argument didn’t last long for the enemy came charging forward and locked wheels with us.  Xena reached for her mighty chakram, but realized that it wasn’t resting upon her right hip.  She had lost it and this was the worst time to find out about it.  Then I looked into the face of the enemy, yet it wasn’t an enemy at all.  The one who was in pursuit of us was none other than my tree in the forest Sphirus and his overbearing father.  I shouted out to Sphirus in shock and with great disappointment.  As soon as I commented he shot back at me telling me that I needed to get out of his way. 

     He looked enraged, but I didn’t understand it.  When he had said that he worked for his father back in the tavern I never dreamed that he was the son of a warlord.  As I was contemplating this surprise Xena was fighting Sphirus’s father.  They clashed swords, but the warlord was no match for the warrior princess.  She sliced off the top of his weapon and then she cut us loose from their chariot.  This sent them crashing into the side of the valley.  We were triumphant in defeating them, but our celebration was short-lived as the smile which spread across the warrior princess’s face was interrupted by a sudden crash of our own chariot. 

     We had hit a large rock and we had hit it very hard.  The collision sent us flying out of the chariot through the air violently.  It was the worst fall I’d ever experienced.  We rolled several times after landing roughly onto the ground before we stopped our motion.  As I was making my way back to my feet with a new-found head ache Xena scolded me for my taste in men.  Before I had a chance to defend myself there before us stood the enemy.  The father of my tree stood before Xena growling ready to take the life of the great warrior woman.  And Sphirus charged forward toward me as I tried to run out of sight.  I didn’t know how to fight.  I didn’t even have a weapon.  I did the only thing that I knew how to do.  I talked.

      Sphirus’s father wasn’t a great help.  He was shouting at Sphirus telling him to raise his weapon and to take my life.  I could see it in Sphirus’s eyes that he really wasn’t evil at heart, and it was then that I understood what he had meant back at the tavern when he said that his father made him do things that he regretted doing.  Though he was told by his father that Xena had been the one who had killed his brother Stentor I could see that Sphirus would not take revenge.  I then told Sphirus that it was his moment of truth.  This was his chance to take his life into his own hands.  His choices were simple.  He could listen to what evil was telling him to do or he could listen to his heart, and I had faith that he would choose his heart.

     Sphirus’s heart did win out.  He shot back at his father and told him that the killing would end here.  But his father would not allow it.  As Sphirus threw down his sword his father rose his own sword ready to kill his surviving son.  Just as father and son were about to battle it out a gallant farmer came riding over the valley with Xena’s lost chakram.  He quickly gave it to the warrior princess who used it to save the life of the innocent young warrior.  This only angered the evil warlord more for Xena had interfered with his act to kill his only son.

     She fought him passionately and as she fought him she told the truth of the story of Stentor.  Stentor had not been killed by Xena in a cowardly manner as had been told by Sphirus’s father.  Stentor had been trying to make peace with Xena and her army when his own army turned against him and slaughtered him in cold blood.  The evil warlord did not believe this story.  He was too tainted to see past his own evil heart and darkness.  He knocked Xena to the ground, but she recovered quickly as she flipped backward to regain position.  Sirus lunged forward for the warrior princess in rage, but she slashed him quickly through the stomach and pushed him to the ground.  He died at the end of her sword.  He died empty and alone. 

     After our great battle on the chariots we returned with the gallant peacemaker whom had brought Xena’s chackram to her.  He had been the one whom she had stayed with overnight I came to find out.  There was a great celebration in his village as Sphirus was now the leader of his father’s army and he declared there would be peace in the valley.  The bloodshed had ended for him and the people of this small unknown village.

     And I also found out that the reason Xena had not returned to me the night before.  The day before when she had left me at the tavern she was trying to find safe passage for us, and she had ridden in upon this small village to find that it was under attack.  She bravely fought the attackers of this small village only to be wounded by an arrow marked for death.  And this most gracious widowed farmer had been kind enough to take Xena into his home to care for her and to heal her wounds until she was strong enough to move on.

     This farmer had faced much adversity within his village for everyone knew of Xena and her dark deeds of the past.  When they had wanted her gone from their village this farmer stood by her and protected her from their suspicions and anger.  Although Xena tried to live peacefully through their village conflict she was unable to resist saving them from the wrath of Sphirus and his father Stentor.  And that was when I realized that I had been a small part of helping Xena save this small village for it was I who had talked Sphirus out of the darkness and into the light. 

      As Xena and I left our first adventure together behind she told me of how during her time on the farm she had contemplated going back to the life of a  simple villager.  She had said that she wanted to give up her warrior image, but realized that though there were many who were of evil nature there was only one that she knew who could fight on the side of good.  She told me that Hercules was very good at fighting against evil, but felt that one more fighting on the side of good couldn’t hurt.  And so I learned something very valuable from all of this.  Number one never date the tall, dark, and handsome, and number two never drive a chariot without a horse.

 

Gabrielle

                        The Bard of Potedia

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#4:  Cradle of Hope

September, 49 B.C.

      Do the things we encounter in life happen because of fate or is it simply by chance.  My adventure with Xena began one morning upon awakening over a large nasty rock.  It had been a rough night finding a good patch of soft ground to sleep upon, but I had been quite unsuccessful finding that I had a large knot in my back.  When Xena asked me how I had slept I was quite candid about my experience of the night before.  I was still getting used to this roughing it lifestyle, but I wasn’t really complaining.

     Suddenly there was this large cry which sounded like a cat or maybe it was the sound of a griffin.  I wasn’t certain, but Xena pulled out her sword ready to kill it.  Xena was much more experienced at this outdoor living than I so I suspected that it was a large cat that we were dealing with.  Xena slowly approached the brush near the river as she prepared to strike whatever it was.  She used her sword to pull back the cattails and view what was beyond them.  I followed closely behind yet not too closely for I didn’t know if this thing would jump out and attack.  Xena’s mood quickly lightened as she declared that it was not at all a cat or a griffin, but something else much less harmful. 

     My curiosity prevailed and I approached pulling back some of the cattails myself to investigate the mystery before us.  When I looked down I saw the cutest little thing.  Of course I wasn’t expecting to find a baby in a stream, but there it was.  It had been sent down the river in nothing, but cloth and a basket.  This was quite odd and I could not believe that a mother would be heartless enough to send her child out into the world alone.  However, Xena naturally defended the mother stating that maybe she had a good reason for releasing her child into the river alone.  Of course I couldn’t think of any  good reason to send my child in a basket down the river.  I picked up the child and held it in my arms for it seemed to me that I would feel lonely if I had been in a basket. 

     Xena suggested that we try to find who the mother was and that we return her child.  I wasn’t so certain that the mother would want her child back and I was happy to care for him myself.  I even thought of a little name for him.  I called him Gabriel although Xena objected to my name for the child.  But I didn’t care.  I still called him that.  The best thing about this was that for the first time Xena and I had a mission that didn’t seem so dangerous.  All we had to do was find a child’s mother and then our good deed would be done for the day.  There were no warlords, or dream gods, or armies to fight and that was a relief to me. 

     We knew we had to find a home for this innocent child, but returning the baby to its home wasn’t going to be that easy.  As I was riding upon Xena’s horse with the baby in my arms I had spoken too soon for we encountered a cowardly mob on our way to the village at the top of the river.  There was this large group of what looked like peasant villagers gathered around a woman hanging from a tree.  As we approached the leader of the group proclaimed that they would send the poor soul to Hades.  Then he had released the rope and tried to kill her, but Xena intervened quickly whipping out her mighty chakram charging through the rope.  After Xena had freed  the victim from her certain death Xena took her whip and lashed it out capturing a new victim.  It was the leader of the mob and she strung him up to the tree to punish him for his crimes against the innocent.  Then the peasant group immediately dispersed in fear of the dark woman dressed in leather.  Xena delivered a threat of death to her new captive and then with mercy set him free.  He followed the rest of his clan running from the warrior princess in terror.

       When Xena and I approached the woman I asked her if she was okay.  The woman replied that she was fine though she was still coughing struggling to breath.  I couldn’t believe how calm she had been through her ordeal, but she assured me that everything was fine except for the fact that she was being condemned for being born into the wrong family.  I thought to myself what an awful fate to have been born condemned.  Then I noticed that she was searching for something frantically.  Relief spread across her face for she found it lying next to her on the ground.  What it was I did not know, but I was going to find out.  I offered to help her with her large brown leather bag, but she was quite uncomfortable with my handling it.   

      Then there was a crash of thunder signaling a storm in the near future.  Xena took us to shelter in a nearby cave.  Inside the cave the woman explained to us who she was and why she had been condemned.  Her name was Pandora and she was the keeper of the box.  For a moment I was fearful for I had heard of the stories of the box and how its power was destructive.  Pandora assured me that the only time the box had any power was when it was opened.  She also explained that she was not the original Pandora who had opened the box.  It had been her grandmother whose name was also Pandora.  Pandora’s grandmother had mistakenly opened the powerful box allowing all of humanities desires to escape from it except for one.  The one desire of mankind that was still safely kept within the box was hope.

     Then I tried to set down the bag which contained the heavy box, but accidentally it dropped out.  Pandora lunged for it obviously very upset at my mishandling of this most mysterious object.  I found myself intensely curious about the box and its legend.  There were so many more questions that I had to ask of Pandora like what were the other desires that had escaped the box.  Yet Xena was not at all fascinated by this story.  Instead she asked me to hand over the baby to Pandora.  Pandora was nervous to be asked to handle a newborn child for it was the box that she had cared about most.  It had been more important to her than anything else in life.  Yet Xena had other plans for Pandora.  I could see the plan formulating within the depths of her blue eyes which were just as fascinating as the box itself. 

      After handing over my newfound pride and joy Xena asked me to go and get her saddlebag.  I found myself slightly annoyed that there was not some other job for me to do with a little more excitement and importance.  It was still quite obvious that the warrior princess had little faith in my abilities to be useful to her.  I yearned to do so much more than fetching saddlebags.  Then I thought of opening the box myself for I could not resist my curiosity, but Xena caught me before I could even put my hand upon its lid.  It was like she had eyes in the back of her head.

     When the storm was over we continued on our journey back toward the village.  Once we arrived we entered a tavern to fetch some salt port and milk for the baby.  I couldn’t help, but dote over Gabriel for he was so cute and his nose looked just like mine.  Even Pandora was beginning to find herself taken by his natural charm for she had almost forgotten about her box for a few moments.  Upon entering the tavern the tavern keeper asked Xena to check her weapons at the door.  It was obvious that the warrior princess was not comfortable and probably felt naked without them.  Yet the tavern keeper was firm as he refused service if she did not leave her weapons at the door.  Xena had no other choice and so she hung her sword and chakram along the wall while Pandora and I found a table. 

     As we sat down she asked me to hold the child so that she could reset the box.  Then Xena joined us with the milk for the baby so that Gabriel could finally rest easy with a full stomach.  Pandora had done a wonderful job of getting him to settle down and forget about the pain of his hunger.  Suddenly, the guards of the kingdom came busting through the doors.  They were headed by King Gregor’s adviser Nemos who placed the child under arrest.  This was outrageous for what crime could a newborn child have committed?  Xena rose from the her seat calmly to face Nemos.  Then she looked to Pandora and asked her to do as Nemos had asked.  Xena was calm as she took a drink from her goblet on the table and reached out to take the child.  But instead of taking the child she took the burning torch which hung from the wall and swung around to face Nemos and his guard. 

     She then shot out an explosive flame setting the front of the squadron on fire.  Men screamed as Xena then jumped upon the table and kicked another guard.  She flipped backward off of the table and then swung from the beams of the tavern ceiling toward her weapons.  Xena landed and then grabbed her weapons to fight.  She took out her sword and went into combat against Nemos.  Nemos robbed the warrior princess of her weapon, but she still did not give up.  Instead Xena quickly grabbed a burning candle stick blocking his advances.  Then she delivered a furious punch and the battle was over.  Nemos and his men went running out of the tavern unsuccessfully.  Then Xena approached the tavern keeper.  She was obviously angry.  The warrior princess grabbed him by the collar and slammed him down onto the bar.  Then she told him that she had noticed that he had sent a boy after the guard to deliver news of the baby’s arrival.  Xena then took her two fingers and jabbed them into the tavern keeper’s neck.  She declared that he only had 30 seconds to live for his blood was thinning in his brain.  Xena wanted information.  She wanted to know who was after this child.  And then suddenly there was yet another twist to this journey.  Pandora’s box had been stolen by the guard.

      As the tavern keeper began to struggle to speak Xena let off the pressure.  He told of a prophecy given to King Gregor by an oracle who said that this child would be the one who would succeed his throne.  There had also been a ransom for this baby to anyone who could locate him and deliver him to the king.  Xena was still not satisfied, but it was obvious what had to be done.  So she and Pandora went into hiding with the baby while Xena sent me with an important message to be delivered to the king.  I was so excited for this was my first important job.  Yet I was curious about the letter so I read it.  The letter had requested that King Gregor meet with Xena regarding the baby and Pandora’s box.  How exciting this mission was turning out to be.  As I snuck into the castle I met this servant named Ophelia.  She knew everything about King Gregor’s castle and about the baby.

     Ophelia spoke of how she had heard the oracle’s reading to the King and his adviser Nemos.  Apparently, the king had lost his wife in the birth of his son.  Sadly his baby boy had also died at birth leaving the king distraught and deeply wounded.  When the oracle had spoken of a child that had been born on the equinox King Gregor had thought that she was reading his past, but indeed it was the present that she had seen.  She spoke of how this child’s mother had also died in child-birth and that he would one day sit on Gregor’s throne.  When Nemos heard of this he convinced Gregor that the baby was a threat to him and wanted to cause great pain to his kingdom.  But that was not true and so the servants had to send the baby down the river in order save him from being killed by Nemos.

     After receiving Xena’s letter Nemos convinced him that Xena was intending to take his kingdom by force for she had once carried Pandora’s box.  He boasted to Gregor of how he had barely escaped Xena’s wrath back at the tavern and warned the king of her many powerful conquests against kingdoms using lesser weapons that the box.  The king agreed with Nemos that Xena was indeed powerful.  Nemos suggested that they exchange the box for the child so that the child could be prevented from his destiny told by the oracle.  The king agreed to that, but then Nemos suggested that once they had the child they would have to kill him.  Gregor was not certain that the child should be killed until he actually became a threat to the kingdom.  Nemos backed down, but his plans were becoming clear.  He wanted the kingdom for himself and was very threatened by a possible successor to Gregor.

     Upon my return to the hideout I gave Xena news of a reward of 1000 dinars for our capture.  It was definitely tempting, but temptation wasn’t everything.  I also told Xena of how I was able to get into the castle walls with the help of my new friend Ophelia.  Xena was impressed for a moment, and then I reminded her that though she had the gift of the warrior, I had the gift of words.  Then I noticed that Pandora seemed very upset and  had barely spoken a word to anyone yet she still held the child tightly within her arms.  Xena spoke of how Pandora had been upset since we had left the tavern.  And then Pandora spoke.  She said that if she was not able to reset the box by midnight then all of the world’s hope would be lost.  Xena realized that she had to act quickly and so she prepared to meet with the king and his adviser.  I wanted to go with her, but Xena refused me.  There was little to argue about for someone had to stay with Pandora.  Yet I was still proud knowing that I had impressed Xena with my accomplishments.

     When Xena returned from her meeting she delivered news that the king himself was not an evil man, but his adviser Nemos was the one to watch.  She said that it was obvious that the king’s heart went out to his people and that he would die for them no matter the stakes.  Xena knew that if she was going to save the child and Gregor’s kingdom from Nemos she would have to get to his cunning adviser.  Ophelia had joined us just before Xena had returned with news of where to find Pandora’s box.  She said that it was kept near Nemos at all times.  Xena then asked if Ophelia could take her to the box, but Ophelia refused for she had to be at the half-moon festival later that evening. 

      Knowing that time was running out for Pandora and her box Xena took Ophelia’s place at the festival as one of the dancers performing at the feast.  She disguised herself well behind a thin veil and turned on all of her seductive charm.  Nemos found himself enticed by the dark dancer and soon forgot about the box he had left in the open.  Yet King Gregor entered into the hall showing doubt in his adviser’s true intentions.  Gregor seized the box and took it back with him to his own chambers for safe keeping.  This made it easier for the warrior princess for she had seduced Nemos into a passionate night back at his chambers; however, the passion only lasted long enough for Xena to find out where the king slept and to deliver pain in return to the unsuspecting Nemos.

     Xena wasted no time sneaking into the king’s chambers where she saw him grieving for his lost wife and child.  It was at that moment that Xena realized what the true prophecy held for the child and King Gregor.  All she had to do was defeat the common enemy.  Yet she was caught by Nemos with the box in hand as she stole away into the night through the king’s window.  Then Xena ran through the kingdom searching for Pandora and I for we  had been hiding nearby with the child waiting for the box.  As we waited I too saw the prophecy and how it was to be full filled as I watched Pandora sing lovingly to the fussing child.  Soon Gabriel quieted his cries and was comforted by his new mother who was to replace the mother he had tragically lost upon his entrance into the world.

     And then I heard Xena calling out for me.  I called out to her grabbing  her attention as she ran toward Pandora with the box about to open as the golden hand on its lid began to turn.  Pandora met Xena reaching her hand out to the lock and securing it safely where hope could be kept for all to experience.  Then Xena shared with me her end of the prophecy and how she discovered that it was Gregor who should raise the child.  It all began to come together.  Each of the pieces of the oracle’s prophecy had been revealed and early the next morning Xena took the child and placed him into Gregor’s care.  Gregor found himself awakening to the sounds of a child crying.  He was confused for he then saw the dark warrior princess standing before him in his bedchambers. 

     At first he suspected her to be a threat, but then she assured him that her reason for being there was not to take his kingdom, but to fill the prophecy that he had been given.  She revealed to the king that it was indeed to be for he was a father who needed a child to love and this child had needed a loving father in return.  The king soon realized with his wise heart that the warrior princess had been right, and he was grateful for what she had done.  Yet the battle was still not over for Nemos burst into the chambers with those loyal to him proclaiming that only he could know what the true prophecy of the kingdom should be. 

     Suddenly, Xena took the child and drew Nemos into battle out in the courtyard.  She started a brawl between peasants and guards and then threw the child for me to catch.  It was a sudden decision and I was shocked when I had caught him safely in my arms.  Despite all of this the child was quite courageous in the face of danger.  But soon the guards noticed that I held the child and they came running toward me with their swords ready to take his innocent life.  I shouted to Xena and then I threw him back into the heat of the battle.  Xena was barely able to catch him as she fought off her attackers.  Her battle was now without weapons as she double kicked two approaching guards and then threw the baby high up into the air once again. 

      The baby floated above the action as if the gods were cradling him in their arms protecting him from the hands of death.  And then as Xena had finally knocked out every guard the baby came crashing down toward the ground safely into the warrior princess’s arms.  Then Nemos approached Xena from behind and she threw him back to me.  The warrior drew her sword and began to fight another master swordsman.  He was strong and powerful, but unable to take down the brilliant warrior as she robbed him of his sword.  Nemos retaliated by kicking her sword to the ground, but Xena then delivered a powerful punch and took his life with his own sword as he drew a knife to kill.  For a moment the warrior princess seemed dazed at her own action, but then she threw down the bloody sword and returned  to the child with a smile of satisfaction upon her face.  In the end goodness did indeed prevail and the child landed in safe hands.

      Xena had been able to full fill a beautiful prophecy and find loving parents for a child who needed great love.  As Xena and I prepared to leave the kingdom Gregor and Pandora thanked her for her bravery and courage.  Gregor wanted to pay Xena for her good deed, but she would not take a dinar for it was not riches that she had fought for, but the will and the hopes of the innocent.  That was reward enough, but then as she left she asked the king if he would name the child Gabriel for it was also for the hard work of a bard that made this union possible, and the  power of hope within us all.

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#5:  The Path Not Taken

October, 49 B.C.

 

     There was once this feud between two families that had gone on for many centuries.  The families had been at war with one another for so long that one day they finally decided to stop fighting because no one really knew what it was that they had been fighting for.  And then one day there was this young handsome prince whose name was Agranon.  He was walking through the field toward the lake when he saw something so beautiful and vibrant that he found himself falling madly in love.  It was the reflection of the lovely princess Jana that he had seen.  She was just upon the other side of the lake and she looked up to see the most wonderful young man.  He had been the man that she had dreamed of since her childhood, but there was just one sadness within this story.

      Agranon was from her rival house the family of Colonous while the princess was from the family if Biochia.  The two could see how senseless it really was to be at odds despite the fact that both families had stopped the fighting so many years before yet to unite was still greatly forbidden.  Despite the ancient feud between to two families Agranon and Jana decided that they would be the first to prove that indeed the two families could once again become friends and to unite in the blessing of love.  As Agranon sat beneath the tree by the lake where the two had first met he declared that he and Jana would indeed have a wonderful story to share with their future grandchildren.  Jana spoke of how they could tell their grandchildren of how peace had finally been created under their special tree by the lake.  Agranon then continued by expressing that they could also tell the grandchildren of how one of their parents had been made in the very same place.

     Despite the joy shared between two lovers there was still darkness and war lurking around the corner.  If not by the two families themselves by a well-known arms dealer named Mezentious.  Mezentious had sent his men out to kidnap the princess of the family of Biochia for he knew that if he could restart the family feud there was certain to be a war.  And if there was to be a war then Mezentious would be back in business selling his arms at whatever price he chose to make money off of the hatred between two rival families.  Agranon was devastated by the loss of his beloved Jana and so he decided to seek out help in his quest to find his Jana. 

     After the success of saving a baby’s life and helping to restore  the kingdom of Gregor Xena and I found ourselves needing a bit of rest and relaxation.  We entered into a very dangerous city which Xena had said was the city of Trachis.  It had been well-known for the many inhabiting warlords and mercenaries there.  As we walked through the streets to find a good tavern to dine in men were fighting amongst themselves.  There was definitely not a sense of peace within the city walls.  It was like no other city I’d ever visited before.  There was evil and darkness lurking around every corner, but I still felt safe for I was alongside the warrior princess, and there was not one thug in Trachis that could take her down.

     When we entered the tavern there was an atmosphere like no other.  The food smelled great, but there were so many filthy old men.  Mostly they were drunk and many of them had been beaten up pretty badly.  It was probably because of their lifestyle, but it was their choice alone to walk the paths in which they had chosen in life.  I was just glad that Xena had finally chosen to walk the path of the innocent rather than to stay on the path of the evil.  Upon finding the only seats left in the tavern Xena and I were suddenly confronted by a young man with a large bag of gold.  He threw it down onto the table trying to make himself larger than he actually was.  I could tell that Xena was slightly amused by his greeting, but was not at all impressed.

     This young man with the bag of gold said his name was Agranon.  He spoke of how there was a war about to begin between the houses of Colonous, and Biochia.  Agranon wanted to pay Xena to help him obtain the ultimate prize within this war.  Of course Xena made it clear that she was not interested.  She told this young man how obvious and unseasoned he was at portraying the lifestyle of a mercenary.  Xena also told him that he was most likely in for a short life with a messy death.  Agranon did not care for his real reason for coming to Xena was that he needed someone to help him find and rescue his beloved Jana.

     Now Xena’s attention was held for this was not an army that she would be working for, but for the restoration of peace.  Xena had spent so many days in the past fighting for armies and creating armies that she wanted to fight for peace now.  This was a worthy cause that deserved her utmost attention.  However, Xena would not accept the bag of 500 gold dinars that Agranon had dropped down onto the table before us.  Instead she told him to give all of the gold to the many poor around the tavern and within the city.  For Xena that was payment enough.  She did not need money to prove her concern.  All she needed was a good reason.

     As Agranon went to complete his instruction by Xena she spoke to me and told me that I must stay within the tavern and wait for her to return.  She asked me to keep Agranon company which I could do quiet easily.  There were so many stories that I could tell him, and so much he could share with me about he and his love Jana.  Yet I was reluctant to let Xena go alone for she was going to have to pretend to be bad again.  I wasn’t so certain that she would be able to pull off this mission, but Xena assured me that many of the local mercenaries of Greece still knew her well.  They also still remembered how much of a tyrant she had once been and she would use that to her advantage.

     So Xena was off on her journey without me as I tried to stay patient and wait for her to return, but after many hours of entertaining the handsome prince I found myself feeling like I had to get involved.  There had to be some way that I could help Xena win this fight and to save the princess.  Then it occurred to me that Agranon and I could surrender ourselves to Jana’s father the King of Biochia.  If we surrendered ourselves willingly and without a fight then just maybe we could convince him of the truth of the entire situation and of Agranon’s undying love for his daughter. 

      It was very simple and easy to get captured by the Biochian guard, but once we got into the castle we were instructed that we would be meeting the executioner upon the sunrise the next day.  Now that was definitely not how I had envisioned my plan, but despite the failure of my plan Xena’s plan worked like a well-oiled wagon wheel.

     Upon arriving at the fortress of Mezentious she sent her trusty steed Argo off to wait for her beyond the walls of the fortress walls.  Upon entering Mezentious’s city she entered the nearest tavern certain to find the old crowd there.  As soon as she entered she found herself greeted with challengers who either hated her, loved her, or wanted to learn from her genius mind.  A small brawl ensued, but was quickly broken up by the warrior princess with many skills.  Once she had won back the trust of the crowd by telling them of her true intentions back in Lerna she was welcomed back into the loop with open arms.  As she told of how she ransomed the baby back to King Gregor a dark shadow from her past entered the tavern interrupting the show.

      This man was the warrior known as Marcus.  He had traveled with Xena in her early warrior days before she had been betrayed.  They had once had a strong passionate love affair, but it had been many years since their last encounter.  The last time Xena had seen him must have been at least 10 winters maybe more.  Marcus burst into the room with distrust of the warrior princess’s motive, but soon he was eased for the warrior princess charmed him into believing in her darkness.  The two sat down to a few drinks together and reminisced of old times.  Yet their joyful reunion was cut short for the great arms dealer Mezentious entered the tavern in a terrible mood.  Some of his men he had discovered were stealing weapons from him.  Mezentious was relentless in his pursuit of the traitors for he knew that there were two of them.  The first traitor was revealed and punished publicly in front of all of the men.  Mezentious then heeded a warning to the remaining traitor. 

     Once Mezentious left the tavern began to return to its normal activity as Xena and Marcus began to discuss profit.  Xena suspected that it had been Mezentious who had kidnapped the missing princess in order to start the war for his own profit gains.  Marcus at first tried to cover up for his boss, but he realized that Xena was just too good to leave in the dark.  He could see the potential of having Xena as an ally with Mezentious so he decided to introduce the two.

      Mezentious of course was quite uninterested in Xena’s presence at first.  In fact, he had been on his way to take the innocence of the young princess before  being interrupted by Marcus’s introduction of Xena.  Mezentious found himself irritated and gave the command to his surrounding guard to prepare to kill this most uninvited guest.  He did not want the competition to take away from his war.  But then Xena spoke up and told Mezentious that she was here for a profit, and that she could make sure that his profits alongside her were at least doubled.  Mezentious stopped and was interested for a short moment listening to the warrior princess.

     Xena continued on by telling Mezentious that the princess would be worth even less if she were damaged upon her return.  Mezentious laughed and then explained that he was just going to kill her anyway.  Xena then asked Mezentious to wait and to not let his passions get the best of him.  Mezentious agreed that it was good advice as Marcus explained that he felt that Xena’s words were worth every dinar.  His boss was confused for a moment, but realized that Marcus’s own judgement was clouded by his passion for Xena.  Yet Mezentious agreed to a meeting with Xena before going on with any more of his current plans to see if indeed the warrior princess was as great as Marcus had said.

      Marcus then took his old flame to the hot spring within the fortress walls.  He had taken her there in the hopes of reminding Xena of the passion they once had together.  It was obvious to Xena that Marcus had not gotten over her yet and never forgotten Xena.  She too still had a special place within her heart for this man though he was still on the wrong path.  For a moment she almost found herself lost in the memory of their passion as she was caught between the past and the present.  But then Xena’s senses were awakened once again by the screams of the girl.

     Next came the great meeting between Xena and Mezentious in which Xena would prove to him how valuable she could be.  She told Mezentious her reasons for keeping the girl alive.  Xena explained that by keeping the girl alive Xena herself could keep the war going on indefinitely meaning the profits would be much higher.  She explained that the Biochian army would hammer the army of Colonus within less than a month, but if her army fought for one side and then the other she could keep the war going making the stakes higher.

       Both Mezentious and Marcus were greatly impressed with this cool calculated idea,  Xena demanded in return for the efforts of her army half of the profits and weapons for the war effort.  Mezentious was intrigued for this well-known warrior woman was only asking for half of the profits.  His sources had always spoken of her as a greedy adversary.  This made Mezentious question her true intentions yet again.  Xena then called his suspicion with her own bluff by telling him that she would ask for more if he felt that she should be asking for more.  Then Mezentious dropped the subject for he felt that it was he who was getting the better end of this bargain.  But if that were the case then it was her loss and all the more for him to gain.

     Upon returning to the courtyard Jana was about to slit her own throat and jump off of the ledge of her cell up above.  She was quite passionate and fiery going against everything that Mezentious wanted from her.  Mezentious found himself becoming frustrated and impatient with this young girl.  He decided that he was going to handle this situation with a cross-bow, but before he could pull the trigger Xena reminded him of her worth alive.  She volunteered to handle this most annoying situation.  Mezentious again was intrigued yet thought this warrior woman’s actions to be a bit strange and unusual.  He then warned Marcus that he would kill the warrior princess if he had to, but only if she got in the way of his war.

     Soon Xena had reached the distraught princess.  Jana threatened to jump again, but Xena knew that this young girl did not really intend to kill herself.  The princess had made her first mistake by being overly dramatic with a knife and the threat of jumping combined.  Jana was disappointed that Xena nor anyone below had taken her seriously, but Xena calmed her by telling her that she had been sent by Agranon.  The young girl did not believe Xena and threatened to jump yet again until Xena pulled out the necklace that she had taken from Agranon back at the tavern before she had left.  Upon seeing the relic of her betrothed Jana’s trust had been obtained and Xena then instructed Jana to meet her in the hot springs when the moon was in the western sky.

     Later that night Xena broke into the weapons storage to look for a way to smuggle Jana out of the fortress.  She found a large wooden crate that would be the perfect size to carry the body of a beautiful princess.  The box was filled with arrows and as Xena began to remove them she was surprised by Marcus who had been watching her.  He was angry at first for she was betraying him by stealing weapons without his consent.  Xena’s only response was that she was checking the inventory to see what her army would be up against.  As Marcus was about to respond the nearby guards came busting in with Mezentious.  He had finally caught Marcus in the act and warned him one last time of where his loyalties lied.  Marcus’s excuse was to show Xena the inventory that her army would face, but Mezentious said that it was no concern to him.  Xena then spoke up reminding him that her only true concern was that she receive equal pay though her investment was not equal for it would be her men that would die.

     As Mezentious left Xena realized that it had been Marcus who had been stealing the weapons.  She then asked him to show her how he was able to get them out of the city.  Marcus took her to a deep well within the middle of the city’s fortress.  He then dropped a rock down into it proving that it was more than just a well, but a door to the outside world.  Xena was impressed with Marcus and he was delighted to show her his secret for he trusted Xena like he trusted no one else.  He began to share with her a beautiful story of how he had once tried to leave the darkness.  Marcus told of how he had always admired Xena for never killing the innocent women and children despite all of her other deeds.  Then he spoke of how after she had gone away from him that he saw another warlord kill a crippled child upon the request by the child’s grandfather to spare him.

      It was that experience that had gotten Marcus to think of the path not taken.  For a short time Marcus had tried to follow that path, but found himself unable to stay onto it.  This deep personal confession made Xena’s heart reach out to Marcus and love him even more for she understood his pain and uncertainty.  He then sat down beside her and told her that there was indeed something different about her for the old Xena would have killed him for sharing a story like that.  Marcus couldn’t figure out what it was that had made Xena seem as though she were so very different from before.

      A large part of the warrior princess wanted to share the truth with Marcus, but she was uncertain of his reaction.  She did not trust that he would understand and she did not feel that she could turn him back toward the path of the light.  He fell asleep leaning against her shoulder upon the well and he seemed so peaceful to her.  Xena realized that the time was getting late so she went to the hot spring to meet with Jana in order to rescue the princess and to walk down the path of the righteous.  When she arrived at the hot spring Jana was there waiting, but suddenly there was a vicious knock on the door outside.  It was the rascious voice of an angry Mezentious wanting to know who was inside.

      Xena acted quickly hiding Jana under the spring and dressing herself with a robe to cover her leather uniform.  When she opened the door Mezentious was caught off guard for a moment for her beauty was difficult to ignore.  She then told him that it had been Marcus who had invited her to the spring.  Mezentious complained that the timing had been inconvenient, but then realized that maybe his own timing had been better.  He decided that he was going to have the warrior princess, but Xena would not submit easily.  Mezentious encouraged Xena to continue on with her bath as he would watch with pleasure, but Xena made him feel pain for he could not have what his passionate desires demanded of him most.  She explained to him that the last time she had allowed herself to be caught up before in passion before a great battle it had almost cost her an entire war.  These words were powerful enough for Mezentious and he left the warrior princess to her bath alone.

       It had seemed unfortunate to run into Mezentious yet before leaving he had spoken of news about Agranon and his traveling companion.   Xena was told of how the war between the two families was about to start sooner than anticipated for Agranon was to be executed by the Biochian king by morning.  Of course, it was no secret who Agranon’s companion had been so Xena had to act quickly.  She took the princess to the wooden cart which had once held a cargo to kill.  Xena placed the squeamish princess into the empty cart to send her off with news to stop the war.  

     Yet as Xena prepared to send the princess off she was again caught by Marcus unsuspectingly.  This time he had realized what it was that Xena had been doing.  She had been lying to him for she had indeed turned to the opposite path.  When Xena tried to convince Marcus of how much she truly loved him and how sorry she was for not believing in him he threatened to shoot an arrow through the wooden cart.  Xena tried desperately to open his heart to doing just one good thing that would allow him to free himself from the darkness, but Marcus could no longer hear.  Xena could not allow him to kill the princess so she kicked Marcus to the ground taking the princess to the weapons stock room to hide.  There she prepared for battle as Mezentious’s men broke the doors down to battle the traitor.

     As Xena fought against them Marcus entered with his bow prepared to kill the young girl, but then Xena reminded him that Jana was no different from that little crippled boy whose death had once touched his heart.  And then Marcus realized what Xena had been saying and what she had been doing.  He approached the young girl and just as he reached her Mezentious entered into the battle shooting an arrow to ensure that his war would go on.  But Marcus acted with bravery and courage for he  jumped in front of the princess without a second thought.  Xena’s brave love took the arrow to the chest and fell down to the floor.  This broke the heart of the warrior princess and she angrily drew her chackram striking Mezentious in the throat killing him instantly.

     And so it had ended and the enemy had been killed, but something was still not right for why did  a good man have to die?  Xena ran to her lover’s side hoping to comfort him and share one last moment together.  She took his hand as he struggled to hold onto life.  He then asked her if that was the one action that she had been talking about which would send him down the path that he had always wanted to travel.  One of Xena’s oldest friends and the last of their kind was about to die in her arms.  It had taken him his entire life to be opened up to the light, but now the world was at a loss for he would never do all of the good that he had the potential to do.  Xena assured her old friend that indeed he had made the right choice though she could have saved the princess without his sacrifice.  Marcus didn’t care to lose his life for he was satisfied in knowing that he would leave this world doing good rather than doing the deeds of the darkness.  And then he died right there with a gentle soft smile across his face.  He was finally at peace and Xena longed to be there with him in the peace that death seemed to always bring.

      On the next evening at twilight the two kingdom’s of Biochia and Collonus mourned Xena’s loss and gave proper service to the brave soul that had saved their families from a needless war.  Xena was still stunned by her loss for it was the first time in a long time that she had felt her heart tremble with pain.  I was sorry that I had not met Marcus for he sounded like a noble man.  Life is an adventure meant to be lived for what other point is there?

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll  # 6:  The Reckoning

October, 49 B.C.

      Life is like a stream for the water it carries is the like the blood that runs through our veins.  Only the water is the earth’s blood which supports all life.  And a stream is full of peace and tranquility like life itself.  As I thought of these things I was enjoying a bath when my own peace and tranquility was interrupted by the sound of Argo’s hooves pounding upon the hillside.  And then I heard Xena calling out frantically for me.  I couldn’t imagine what all of the rush was about so I invited her to join me in my serenity, but there was seemingly no time for enjoyment.  Xena quickly grabbed my arm as I rose from the stream with only my undergarments and a handful of rags.  She threw me up onto her horse and then we rode through the canyon and to the top of the mountain like a bolt of Zeus’s anger.

     When we finally reached the top of the mountain and slowed down I was immediately intrigued by the warrior princess’s haste.  What could have upset her so much that we had to ride away from it so fast?  She spoke of a battle which had ensued between herself and a dark hooded man.  Immediately my curiosity was raised for this sounded like a most exciting adventure.  Xena continued by explaining that after I had separated from her an hour earlier she had heard the sounds of suffering coming from just over the hill.  When Xena went to investigate she found four innocent farmer’s being slaughtered by this hooded man.  Not only had he murdered them in cold blood, but he was also robbing them of their money.  When Xena finally arrived at the scene she confronted the hooded man hoping that she could save the last man who was clinging to life.

     The dark shadow snickered at her arrival and seemed delighted at her challenge.  And so the battle began as Xena flipped into action, but so did her rival.  He was seemingly just as quick if not quicker than she had been for with every move she made he had the counter that could beat it.  Their swords clashed like the powers upon Olympus as Xena struggled to defeat this most terrible murderer.  He seemingly mocked her as she began to lose her breath, but she was determined not to lose against him.  The hooded man swung his sword showing off his skills as the warrior princess grinned back laughing inside for she had a secret for she knew who he actually was.  As the hooded man sensed that she had discovered his identity he charged forward toward the warrior princess as she charged toward him.  And then suddenly he flipped over her and vanished into thin air.

     After the enemy had disappeared Xena immediately tended to the wounded man still living.  She took the string off of his money pouch and tied it around his thigh hoping to stop the loss of blood from his gaping leg wound.  Next she tended to his shoulder and neck wound by using her sword and his weak hand to apply pressure.  As she was going over the rest of the scene to see if there were any more possible survivors the people of their nearby village came dashing over the hill to aid their loved ones.  When Xena began to explain to them what had happened the townspeople accused her of being the villain for she had been the one they had spotted at the scene and she had blood all over her hands and sword. 

     Quickly Xena realized that she looked very guilty although she had not been the one at fault.  Understanding the mentality of simple villagers Xena quickly fled the scene upon her horse Argo and escaped to the top of the mountain to plan our escape.  When I asked her who she thought the hooded man was she just described him as one who could match her own skill which seemingly intrigued her yet it was obvious to me that she had only an idea, but was not certain of his identity. 

     Later that evening as the sun began to go down Xena, Argo, and I began descending down the mountain to avoid capture.  Unfortunately there was only one way back out of the pass and that was Xena’s worst fear.  She hoped that the village people would not be bold enough to try to capture her in the cover of darkness, but suddenly Argo became very upset throwing me from her back onto the ground.  There were traps set everywhere waiting for us.  Suddenly, Xena and I found ourselves surrounded by a mob of angry villagers.  They picked me up and held me captive as Xena flipped from her horse and faced them drawing her sword for her back.  She swung it around her head in a threatening motion demanding that these people let me go for she was the one that they truly had been after.

      The leader of the village people then stepped forward and commanded his people to do what the warrior princess had asked.  I was certain that she would spring into action, but instead she did something unexpected.  She dropped her sword surrendering to the people without a single defense.  Then one of the farmers from behind her knocked her unconscious with his pitchfork.  My eyes could not believe what they were seeing.  For the first time the warrior princess had given up without a fight.  The worst part of it all was that she was not guilty yet the villagers placed her into their jail for she was to go to trial for her wrongs.

      On the next morning I decided to go and visit her.  When I went inside I saw the mighty warrior princess with her arms tied uncomfortably above her head.  She looked like she was in pain yet Xena did not complain.  Instead she was more concerned for my safety scolding me for not running away and getting out of here.  I was slightly offended that the warrior princess had little faith in my ability to help her the way that she had helped me out of my execution by the Biochian king.  As a friend I could understand that we all make mistakes and that just happened to be my mistake.  Now Xena’s mistake had put her in a tight spot and as her friend I wanted to help.  I promised her that I would find a way to get her out of this horrible prison and then I set out to find the leader of the villagers.

     My first stop was to see the judge and to plead Xena’s case with him.  He told me that Xena was indeed entitled to a defender, but that defender would be an appointed one.  Now this did not seem fair to me since the defender would indeed be swayed by local opinion.  I pleaded with the judge to allow me to be her defender for I believed in her and could most certainly prove her innocence.  After many long moments of haggling I finally got my way.  The judge appointed me as Xena’s defender.  Okay so now that I could use my words to help a friend I had to find more than words.  I had to find hard evidence to prove Xena’s innocence. 

      I set off toward the murder scene for I would most certainly find evidence there.  As I walked about and studied it carefully I discovered something most interesting.  I leaned down to the ground for a closer look and better observation.  Then I put my elbow into the muddy foot print which had been left behind by the true murderer.  Suddenly, I was full of excitement and I had to share it with the judge for if this did not prove Xena to be innocent then nothing else could.  I dashed back to the village as fast as I could and finally caught up to the judge out of breath.  Then I asked the judge to come back to the murder scene with me so that I could show him my discovery.  On the way there I explained to him that I had found two sets of foot prints which had been toe to toe.  One of them was a larger print than the other, but both sets of foot prints had indeed been made by warrior boots.  It was very unlikely that any of the victims would wear warrior boots.

      The judge’s interest was piqued and as we entered the murder scene I ran directly to the place in which I had found the foot prints.  Yet when I went back to the spot on the hill there was nothing.  Not a trace of a print was left and to me it was quite mysterious for I knew what I had seen.  The judge was irritated for I had seemingly wasted his time, but I had indeed made a discovery that someone didn’t want me to make.  Of course this made my job a little more difficult since the evidence had suddenly been tampered with.

     Upon my return to the village the angry lynch mob had taken control while the judge had been with me studying the murder scene.  They had brought Xena out into the streets of the village and prepared to drag her through the village tied to a cart pulled by a horse.  It was a most awful scene to see for these were just simple peaceful villagers and somehow overnight they had turned into bloodthirsty animals.  I could not understand this and I was angered inside that they did not want to hear what the truth really was.  I approached my friend and took hold of the rope tying it around my neck.  I declared to the farmer whom had hit my friend the night before that if he and his bloodthirsty friends were going to murder one of us why not murder two of us. 

     He did not understand my point for he was certain that I was not guilty and there was no reason to take my life.  And then the judge intervened stating to his people that there indeed would be a fair trial for the warrior princess.  There would be no sentences carried out until a true verdict was reached.  Justice had to be carried out before another murder would be allowed.  Then the judge unwrapped my ropes and stood his ground standing before his people.  He told them that if they were so impatient then they would have to kill his guards, and him before they could kill another.

      Then Xena was taken back to the prison.  I went in again to visit her and to give her moral support.  I was determined to allow justice to prevail for I was certain of its power.  Xena however, was not for she insisted that I go without her.  But I could not do that because friends do not leave friends behind, and although I was no warrior I could still win this battle yet.  Xena had little faith in her friend, but we were going to win this one together. 

       Early the next morning the trial began.  It was a long trial that last almost an entire day.  There was testimony after testimony of villagers who had claimed that they had witnessed my friend as being the murderer.  When I questioned the wife of one of the victims she insisted despite hearing swords clashing that there had not been another warrior who could have been the killer.  Then the farmer who had led the powerful mob came to the stand.  He insisted that the blood everywhere and upon the hands of the warrior princess proved her guilt.  When I asked him if he had ever helped anyone injured on his farm he answered that he had.  And then I asked him if he had ever gotten their blood onto his hands he said that indeed he had.  This clever mob leader could see where I was taking him, and immediately tried to dissolved my defense.  His excuse was that he had been helping those people as was Xena.  She had been using her fine medical knowledge to assist the injured men.

      And then another farmer was called to the stand.  He had been a friend of one of the victims.  As I questioned him he would not budge.  He tried to turn things around by asking me where Xena had put the money that had been taken from the victims.  For that I did not have an answer because Xena had not committed robbery and murder.  Suddenly, I found myself in despair.  I was so frustrated for no one seemed to care to hear or to see the truth.  All they seemed to care about was making an example of someone.  I could see that I was losing fast until  the star witness was released into the court.  Pericles had been the man who Xena had saved.  He was still quite weak and barely able to speak.  The judge questioned him as he told his story to the court. 

      Pericles’s story was weak.  He only stated that he had heard swords clashing above him and that he had remembered being struck down.  And then he said that the last thing he remembered before falling out was Xena standing over him covered in his own blood.  He said it with such defiance as if he had been prepared before entering the court.  It was all a lie, and I had to prove to the jury that he had been lying to them.  As I began to question him on Xena’s behalf the judge declared that the hearing was over.  How that could have been I’ll never understand for the defense never had the opportunity to question the star witness and to truly present its case.

     After the trial had ended and deliberations among the jury began I knew that Xena would be convicted no matter the truth.  I was saddened that I had failed my friend unable to save her from a death sentence.  There was only one thing left to do.  I decided to go down to visit her in the dungeon once more.  As I walked down the stairs with sadness and defeat I approached Xena.  She had escaped from her cell and was beating the guards in rage.  It was a side of Xena that I had never seen before.  It was like she had become a monster and an animal.  Then when I finally reached my friend she unleashed her anger upon me knocking me across my face violently to the ground.  I had never before felt so much power and hatred through a simple slap across the face, but it hurt terribly.  It hurt inside and out.  Immediately I rushed to my feet and walked away back up the stairs as Xena’s rage suddenly halted.  She looked to me with regretful eyes, and then turned away to help those that she had unleashed her rage upon. 

     Xena apologized to these men and then I began to understand why she had surrendered herself in the beginning.  It was because of all of the guilt that she was feeling inside for all of the wrongs that she had already committed within her past.

Xena would have allowed them to kill her despite her innocence within their own tragedy.  And then the judge broke the news that she could not be sentenced for her crimes against the men who were murdered, but she would be sentenced for her crimes against the prison guards.

     Later that night I decided to return after realizing what Xena had been trying to do.  I had a plan to help her escape for I did not want Xena to die when she could redeem her past sins by just doing the will of the innocent.  To me that was payment enough.  And so I took Argo to the window of the jail.  I was in disguise in the darkness as I tied the rope to the bars and then to Argo.  We were going to pull the bars out so that Xena could climb out. 

     At first Xena had felt shame for what she had done to the people in her past and to me, but I would not let her punish herself.  I also confessed to her that she had been right about justice not being what it was meant to be for people would always be its flaw.  And then Xena asked me to leave her alone again.  She said that she had another plan of escape.  I did not understand and was disappointed that she would not allow me to be the one who would save her.  Yet I had to understand my friend and let her choose what she must do in order to be okay with her own past.  As I left the prison Xena thanked me for coming back and for being there for her.  And then Argo and I left as we waited for the next morning to arrive.

      When the sun rose the village people began gathering in the square ready to watch the execution of the warrior princess.   I knew in my heart that Xena was going to escape it somehow, but I was unaware of the calculated plan that she had developed.  The guards brought her out before the crowd chained at the wrists and at the ankles.  She limped with sadness still feeling in her heart that she deserved her execution, yet she had so much responsibility for she had the power, and the courage to stop the pain.  Then the judge passed down the sentence to Xena.  As they prepared to tie her to the wagon the hooded man stepped forth.  Xena declared that he bring back the three good villagers who  had been killed.  Suddenly the crowd looked up and saw the three good men of their village alive and well.  Everyone was joyful for no one had died.  Then I asked the judge what the verdict was and he stated that Xena indeed was not guilty. 

      On our way down the path out of the village I asked Xena how she had been able to bring those men back to life.  She explained to me that it had been the power of the hooded man.  The hooded man’s true identity had been Ares the god of war.  Xena explained that Ares had come to her while she was in prison.  He had set framed her for the murders of those innocent farmers knowing that she would be convicted without question.  Ares had wanted to restore Xena to her darkness for he dreamed that she would command his army and take the world.  There were only two things that had prevented him from accomplishing that goal.  One had been the deal that he had offered Xena.  He had offered her any of the warriors of history to be a part of her army living or dead.  So that was how she brought the villagers back to life, but the other thing that he had not expected was the persistence of a loyal friend.

The Xena Scrolls

Scroll # 7: The Titans

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

November, 49 BC

I sing of a day when giants were freed and a friend was to prove herself to the one she looked to most. It all began when the sun was at its highest point while Xena and I were hiding in the brush. We were awaiting a gang of henchmen that Xena had been following for sometime. These murderous thieves were on the list of those Xena vowed to bring to justice upon he r turning from evil to good. She was quiet like a griffin about to capture its prey. Just before she was about to pounce she instructed me to take Argo and get her ready. And then suddenly she rose from the brush and flipped out with her signature battle cry.

She had startled her enemies who were not about to fight an armed warrior princess. Everyone around the countryside knew of her many talents and skills. The funny thing was that she wasn’t even prepared to battle with her weapons as she held them alongside chackram, sword, whip, and all. The lead henchman was not amused, but Xena had told him that he was special to her for she would not give up on attempting to capture him. With that comment and shrewd smile spreading across her face she instantly dropped her weapons. This lead her into battle with eight armed thugs. Though the odds looked bad for Xena being without arms she handled the situation like a champ flipping into the air kicking the first attacker in the face as she flew upon the tree branches above.

And as I watched this heroic battle I suddenly lost track of what it was that I was supposed to be doing. Argo began to walk away. I struggled to bring her back to the scene knowing that Xena would surely need her trusty steed in the heat of battle for these henchmen were scared witless. I heard Xena’s furious kicks as she must have taken them all on by storm. Eight bodies dropped to the ground and sixteen pairs of feet hustled to scurry away in defeat. Then I heard Xena whistle for Argo, but Argo was nowhere to be found. I searched frantically for that horse for she couldn’t be far. Suddenly I had caught sight of Argo again only to hear Xena whistle once more for her steed. I rushed over to Argo grabbing her by the reigns as we went to meet up with Xena once again.

Xena appeared a little bit disgusted. She couldn’t believe that her horse had not been there when she needed her most. The thugs were getting away and Xena made it known to me that I had failed in my job of taking care of Argo. As she scolded me for being slow she jumped upon her horse and told me that I had done what I was told, but that I needed improvement. And then Xena rode off on her trusty steed leaving me to think about what had just happened. I wondered what it was that I could do to make Xena pleased with me. What could I do to make Xena realize that I could help her and do some of the things that she did. I mean wouldn’t fighting the bad guys with two instead of one make life a little easier for the warrior princess?

And as I began to tread off of the path in thought I heard something very unusual. It sounded like a chant of some kind although I couldn’t regonize it at first. I followed the sounds of this chant into a large cave just off of the road a bit. As I entered the cave I saw many young priests and virgins gathered around a virgin reading from a scroll. As I listened to her read the chant I began to realize that it was supposed to be an ionic chant although she was not reading it with the correct rhythm. For some reason she was using Dorian rhythms. Once she had finished reading from the scroll everyone from the entire group seemed disappointed. It was as if they had expected something to come of reading the chant. So they began to discuss the problem. One handsome young boy from the group whose name was Philius stepped forward with the hope that this chant would work if only the virgin girl could read it a little faster.

But that wasn’t going to make the chant sound any better and so I thought it my duty as an educated bard and poet to come forward and share my knowledge of ionic rhythms. Of course I apologized for my intrusion as I explained to this group that it was all in how they read the scroll and not the speed of the read.  I asked if I could give it a try, and the handsome young boy allowed me to do so.  He handed me the scroll and I began to read. “Herrah Tah, Herrah Tah, Yassu Herrah Tah.” Once I had finished the reading of this ionic chant I explained to the group that it was all in where you stressed the syllables.  In this case the first syllable was the one that needed to be stressed when read.

Everyone seemed quite impressed with my read, but the fun was yet to begin. Suddenly, the entire cave shook as if there were an earthquake, and then the stones before us began to crack apart revealing three mighty giants. These mighty giants were not your ordinary run of the mill giants. These were titans. The legendary titans that had been captured and defeated by the gods of Mount Olympus. They appeared to be very unfriendly until one of them spoke to us. He inquired of which virgin goddess had set them free. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do next for I had a strange feeling that these nasty giants wanted to eat me for lunch. For a moment I froze for I could say nothing that would keep me from being the next meal for these creatures. And then the young handsome Philious stepped forward bravely to introduce me.

Now I was dead for sure.  Just when I was about to try to talk my way out of being lunch, the older titan, who called himself Crious, asked of my name for he felt that it was sacred.  Now the tides were seemingly turning. Maybe these titans weren’t as bad as their stories had told them to be. I introduced myself. And then the one calling himself Crious bowed along with his comrades the young woman Thea and the young man Hyperion. Cruious said that they were to serve me. Now this was really becoming strange and unexpected for they treated me as if I were a goddess of some sort. Naturally I had to take advantage of this newly developed situation for this could be the answer or the solution to all of Xena’s problems. Now I would be able to help Xena for I now had real power. The power of the titans was in the rhythm of my scroll.

As soon as I realized my power the young handsome Philious stated that they had been trying to free the titans so that they could help them clean up their village and solve its difficult problems. Well now this was something that I could do. I could ask these titans to help us out. And so I led my new friends to the village with the young boy and his friends. As we reached the village we came upon the henchmen that Xena had been chasing. They had gone inside the village tavern. I knew that Xena must have been in there involved in some minor battle within the tavern. With these five new henchmen the odds would not be in Xena’s favor so naturally I had to interject.

I walked in through the tavern doors noticing that Xena had already captured the Hesiot whom she had been chasing previously, but now she had five new enemies. They were descending upon her fast. Naturally I interrupted the battle making my presence known to them. And of course they laughed it off not believing that I could help the warrior princess in her hour of darkness. Suddenly, the roof of the tavern was cracking and then lifted off by one of the mighty titans. The henchmen ran out of the tavern as soon as they caught sight of my friend Crius. His strength was even greater than that of Hercules himself. But now they were getting away and so I ran outside after them and instructed my new titan friends to disperse these nasty creatures. The young titan Hyeperian swatted at them all knocking them to the ground effortlessly. He was obviously showing off his super titan strength. The five nasty thugs scrambled to their feet and ran for their lives out of the village never to be seen there again.

I was proud of my titan friends for their wonderful heroic deed and I was proud to be able to help Xena dispose of these evil thugs. Xena walked out of the tavern with her captive Hesiot inquiring me about this new development. She didn’t exactly appear to be pleased, but she wasn’t really displeased either. Naturally I introduced my best friend to the titans who blessed her as well since she was a friend of their holy goddess Gabrielle. I was really getting kind of embarrassed by the fact that they kept calling me the holy virgin so I asked them to go ahead and call me by my name even though it was sacred to them. They had my permission in other words.

But now came the difficult part. What should they do? Then the boy from the cave suggested that they clean up the road and fix the dam. And of course there were a few other minor tasks that needed completion. This was no problem. I instructed my titan friends of what their chores were and they agreed to go off and complete them. Although Hyperion seemed a little less excited than his counter parts.  As the three titans stomped off Hesiot almost revealed to these titans that I was not really a goddess.  But they didn’t have to know that.   As long as they were helping humanity for the cause of good what harm could there be?

While the titans were gone I enjoyed my welcome and thanks from the villagers for helping them with their problems. We ate and drank together joyfully as I spoke of all of the good that I was going to do with my new friends. I was going to take the titans on a run for world peace. It was my dream and how could I go wrong with the titans? But of course there was one evil little man who had to steal my thunder by reminding me that the titans were only serving me because they were certain of my godly powers for being able to release them from their binds. As usual Xena took command of the situation reminding him of what could happen to him for going against the grain.

And suddenly the earth beneath us began to shake as the titans had soon arrived back from their chores. I rushed outside to greet them for we had a lot of good to do and much to accomplish. The older titan gleefully reported that they had finished their chores, but they were a little tired. Naturally I instructed my mighty friends to rest. But the young woman Thea said that they were hungry. It was a small detail I had forgotten. How was I going to feed these giants? Who knew how much one titan could eat. I suggested that they could share the food with the villagers since they did help them out. And of course that plan would have worked out great since the villagers didn’t seem to object, but the young titan Hyperion was not satisfied with this. In his arrogance he refused to share food with these tiny villagers for he was the titan of the sun. Instead Hyperion suggested that I use my godlike powers to create a feast for them.

Now this posed a bit of a problem since I didn’t possess any powers of the kind. I then explained that I didn’t like to use my powers in that way for it was like showing them off. Modesty for me was the only way out of this mess. And of course Crious and Thea understood, but Hyperion was not convinced in the least. I threatened to use my powers on him counting on my bluff to scare him out of his fury. But then as I warned him that he would pay the price for defying the holy goddess Gabrielle he took in a deep breath and blew me down. I toppled over backwards landing on my back instantly. It was like the wind from a huge storm blowing me over and it certainly didn’t leave me feeling too strong afterwards.

Now my game was over and my identity had been realized by the titans. Hyperion declared that I was to come with he and his comrades. But Xena stepped in proclaiming to be my protector. Hyperion was not amused by Xena and proceeded to squash her like a bug beneath his sandle.   As he rose for the kill Xena drew her sword stabbing the great titan in the foot. Now this really made the already mad Hyperion extremely irate. As Xena and I ran away with the rest of the villagers Hyperion was in a rage. The earth shook beneath us as we could barely escape his fury. He knocked down houses, and barns, smashing every fence within his path. And just when we thought that we had found safe refuge he kicked in the stone walls with his humongous foot.

We kept running, but the giant titan had much longer legs though he was a little slow for his size. Then Philious had an idea wonderful idea. He led us to the temple of Cronus father of the titans. He told us that the temple of Cronus would be safe because it was holy for the titans as well. And so we ran for our lives toward Cronus’s temple as Hyperion was not far behind. He had the look of fury within his titan eyes ready to strike as soon as he was within distance. Yet as we neared the temple he slowed down and came to a stop. The earth was then silent as Hyperion decided to give up his pursuit.

Once inside the temple Xena immediately began tending to the wounded villagers who had been caught up with in the wrath of these giant destructive monsters. Many of the village people were very upset with me and with Xena for just when we thought it was safe the titan from beyond made an offer. He declared to any man who dared to capture the warrior princess the promise of power. Hesiot immediately saw the profit in that and suggested to Xena that she switch sides with him and take up with the titans. But of course Xena would not turn down that path again. She warned Hesiot of the consequences of going against her promising to show him more of the old Xena than he could ever have imagined.

Suddenly, women within the temple began to cry frantically for there had been a group of children that had been taken out for a day of learning within the forest. The mothers and the fathers of these children were sick with grief for their children were out there with the titans. Xena quickly went into action and left the temple to seek out and find the innocent children. While Xena had been gone Hesiot had talked some of the villagers into siding with him and so Philious and I found ourselves the victims of their outrage and frustration. But I knew that I was at fault for getting involved in reading Philious’s chant. And I could have prevented the titans from becoming angry if only I had been true to them from the beginning. But I had been overzealous in my plans for wanting to save the world as Philious had been in wanting to solve the problems of his own village.

Upon Xena’s return she had brought the children back to the temple safely and unharmed although it had not been without a fight between the titans themselves. It seemed that there had been some conflict and a little jealousy between the sun titan and Crius. Xena had used that moment to her advantage and whisked the children out of the titan’s cave while Hyperion had murdered Crius leaving Thea’s heart broken. And though Thea’s heart had been broken the parents of the children whose lives had been in danger hearts breathed a sigh of relief as they hugged their children tightly upon their safe return.

Yet they seemed unappreciative to the one whom had saved their children for Xena found herself captured within a net. The mob who fought to capture the warrior princess had been led by Hesiot and he was quite satisfied with being in control. Hesiot was going to take Xena to Hyperion and give the titan what he had asked for in return he would receive his own kingdom. As Hesiot scoffed at those who had gone against him he was satisfied that he had been able to captured the mighty warrior princess. Yet Xena still struggled within the tangled net, but Hesiot then took his sword and knocked her out. He then chose one of the other villagers to go with him to take her body to the titans as payment.

Though it appeared as if the warrior princess had been defeated it was not to be for she soon returned to the temple in one piece without her captures. They had made the mistake of being greedy and thinking that they could work with the titans. Instead the titans had sentenced the two defiant souls to their own deaths. Of course that did solve the problem of what to do with Hesiot, but there was still the problem of defeating the titans themselves. Upon Xena’s return she explained that the titans had plans of awakening thousands more of their kind. With this news it was time to call the villagers to action. Those who had once opposed Xena were now willing to go out into the world where the titans walked to gather supplies to help Xena build a trap for them.

Yet there would never be enough wood to build a trap for a titan. Xena had to have more to this plan. Then Philious and I had come up with our own plan for he had said that there was indeed another scroll. It was a scroll that could turn the titans back into stone if read by the one who released them. This was my chance to make my own mistake right, but Xena would not hear of it. She insisted that it would be too risky to send me into the cave with the titans. Yet I didn’t care for I had been the one who released them. I was willing to risk my life to save the people of the village and the people of the world.

Xena did not allow the argument to last long for she quickly resumed instructing the village people upon building their traps. Philious and I were confused that Xena would not listen to our plan. I was more upset and offended. I felt that Xena did not respect me or feel that I could be up to a challenge like the titans. That night Philious and I shared much, but despite all that Xena had forbidden we realized that we could not allow our own passions for one another stand between us and victory over the titans.

When Xena returned to us she looked disappointed and upset with me for she had thought that I had acted without thinking once again. She couldn’t have been more wrong and it only angered me more that she didn’t believe in me. I expressed my anger in her treating me and thinking of me as a child. She then retaliated by telling me that she didn’t have time to convince me of it. And in that moment I realized that I was going to have to prove to Xena that I could do this. That I could go to face the mighty titans and to put them back where I had found them. So I snuck out of the temple into the darkness running quickly to the cave where the titans slept.

Once inside I tip toed quietly trying desperately not to awaken the beautiful tender-hearted Thea. Hyperion was nowhere to be seen and so I thought that this was a lucky chance that I had caught him while he was away. I quietly approached the altar where Philious had said that I would find the chant that would imprison the titans once again. There were six scrolls and I fumbled through them nervously hoping that I would find the right one and not the scroll that would awaken thousands. And then there it was on the bottom of the altar. It was the scroll that was going to save the world. Quietly I walked back toward the entrance of the cave feeling that if I was going to read the scroll it would be much safer closer to the entrance just in case it was the wrong one. I had to be ready to escape.

And then I untied the ribbon which revealed the power of the scroll. As I began to read it within my mind I found myself captured by the mighty Hyperion. He laughed gleefully for he had wanted me to come. Thea was now awakened and she too was delighted that I had joined them. The two titans were determined to free the rest of their kind. Then Hyperion and Thea took me back to the altar.  Hyperion searched through the remaining scrolls and then handed me the scroll that would end the world as we know it. Yet I knew that I could not read it so I had to come up with something that would give Xena time to figure out that I was gone. I knew that she would come looking for me and that she would know exactly where to find her friend.

Thea assured me that they were not going to hurt me though Hyperion had convinced me otherwise. Suddenly, I came up with an idea. I would tell them the story of their time upon the earth and how they had once ruled supreme. I knew that it would take me several hours to tell the story to them entirely and I could take advantage of Hyperion’s ego.   As I spoke I had them going for they truly were impressed at how well I could tell a good story. For a while I had forgotten that I was telling stories to giants who wanted to kill me. Yet only halfway through their titan legend Hyperian began to become impatient for he had caught onto my plan. Thea was still enjoying my eloquent stories, but it was obvious who the leader was. So now that time was running out I was forced to read their scroll.

I took a deep breath and read it with a Dorian rhythm knowing that it would not release their friends. Hyperion was angered for he knew that I wasn’t reading it right. He asked me to read it again. I read it again, but faster this time hoping that he would not hear where the syllable was.  This only enraged the titan more and I was preparing myself for death as I knew that he would squash me soon. Thea soon calmed his anger and then he asked me once again to read it, but to stress the first syllable.   Again I took a deep breath and read it as I was asked, but this time I read it correctly.   All correctly except for the last syllable of the last word. Then the titans were confused for it should have released their friends.  Hyperion was certain that I had been the virgin who had released him, and then I saw my way out of this mess. I told him that I was no longer a virgin.

That set him off into rage as he prepared to kill me with his fist, but I was soon saved by the arrival of the warrior princess. She called out to the titan and then smiled and laughed. Xena was enjoying the challenge of going up against him. She then lured him into a trap and captured his arm within the walls of the cave. Then she appeared once again and prepared to kill the titan, but Thea intervened pleading with the warrior princess not to take another life. She had lost one friend and she could not bear to lose another. Xena took pity upon Thea and then Thea handed over the scroll that would turn she and Hyperion back to stone.

Hyperion was not yet ready to surrender to the human race. He struggled violently shaking the entire cave trying to break free for he would not be defeated by mere mortals. Xena began to read from the scroll so that I could translate it into the proper rhythms. Yet the trap that was built to hold a titan was no match for his strength as he broke free and began to come after me again. He picked up a large rock and prepared to hurl it into my direction. I was terrified as my heart stopped. His determination to survive against the human race was fierce and he would stop at nothing to have his way. Then Xena used her whip and swung down knocking Hyperion to the ground from behind. The force of his fall was so great that I too fell to the ground almost being smashed beneath his massive body.

Then Xena ran to retrieve the missing piece of the scroll so that I could put the titans back where they belonged. She joined me and handed me the key to victory as I read the last part of the chant. As I finished we heard the sounds of Hyperion who raised his mighty arm with the rock ready to crush us, but it was too late for him. His arms quickly began turning to stone. Thea prepared for her eternal prison with regret, but went back quietly and without a fight. And then it was over. The titans had been restored to their stone prisons as Xena and I prepared to destroy the scrolls that released them.

As Xena and I prepared to leave I had to say good-bye to one who had captured my heart. We had almost given to one another the most sacred gift that a human being can give to another. But we had made the right choice for it was not yet time for me or for Philious to become one with another. We both still had much learning to do and much more growing up. I realized that now though I was still disappointed that Xena could not see how much I could truly do. Xena then apologized to me for not giving me enough trust and enough credit to make the right choice. She said that true friends did not stay mad at each other just because they had made a mistake for everyone makes mistakes in life. And then I reminded her of all of my recent mistakes like the time I got captured hoping to stop a war, and of how I had tangled up the reigns of her horse, and finally of how it had been my overzealous intentions that had allowed the titans to run free.

Xena then reminded me that despite all of those mistakes she knew that every choice I had ever made had been for the right reason. Every choice I had ever made came from the heart and with the best intentions. Yet even choices made with all of the right intentions can sometimes lead to the wrong outcome. And that was what she had meant when she had told me that I must always think things through before making a choice. As we left and continued onto our next journey Xena then lightened the mood by reminding me that I was never to touch her horse again, and that was okay with me for I couldn’t handle Argo anyway.

The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll#8: Prometheous

November, 49 B.C.

Once a long, long time ago all people had four legs and two heads. And then the gods threw down thunderbolts and split everyone into two. Each had then two legs and one head, but the separation left both sides with a desperate yearning to be reunited. Because they each shared the same soul. And ever since then all people spend their whole lives searching for the other half of their soul.
I told this story to a very special and very brave man, but before I met Iolas I had been awakened by Xena shouting at me to awaken from my late morning slumber. It seemed a regular occurence that at least twice maybe even three times a week now we were victims of an unexpected ambush by bounty hunters seeking the head of Xena. Obviously word had spread very quickly of her choice to switch sides between good and evil. Many of the local warlords and thugs were not satisfied with this for now Xena was threatening to shut down their entire business and way of life.
I looked about to notice that there had been a short battle between Xena and the now three unconscious men lying around me. One of them was badly injured and bleeding from a terrible neck wound obtained by a knife flying through the air. It appeared to me that one of his own had thrown the knife intending to hit Xena, but she was much too good to be taken down by that simple move. As I tried to assess the situation and come into the world from a wonderful dream I realized that Xena was trying to save the man who was on the verge of death. This act of goodness amazed me for it made me realize just how wonderful of a person Xena truly was though she never believed in herself. The darkness of her past constantly haunted her and it made me sad to know that she could not see within herself all of the wonderful things I could see.
I quickly responded to her demand for her knife and some old rags for she was going to cut him a new hole to breathe through since his windpipe had been severed. Xena took great care in nursing his wound and making sure that he did not have to suffer more pain than necessary. She was so much more compassionate than people had heard. But I knew the truth about the warrior princess. People would one day know of her greatness. I would make certain of it for it was my own inspiration in life. There was nothing else in the world more valuable to me than Xena.
And then after Xena had nursed his wound one of the other bounty hunters had awakened and attacked once more, but Xena quickly thrust her kick behind and defeated him easily. After that the attempt on Xena’s life was contained, and Xena and I took the wounded killer to the nearest inn. We stayed there with him all day and into the night. Xena seemed upset at having almost killed another man despite his dark intentions against her. What was even more amazing was that he seemed to have learned something very valuable from Xena.
To ease her guilt Xena then began to tend to others whom were sick or injured staying at the inn. The inn keeper himself was quite confused and impressed by her compassion without judgement. Yet as the sun set something very strange occurred. The man who was breathing through a new windpipe made for him by Xena he began to choke and struggle to breathe once more. Xena rushed to his aid, but was unable to save him. He died right there in the inn. She was heartbroken for it was the first time that her technique for a neck wound did not save a life. Yet there was little time to feel guilt for another sick man began to cough and hack as if he too were on the brink of death. And then suddenly he fell over into silence.
This was rather strange that two men had died right there in the inn and the inn keeper himself was quite disturbed by the omen. When I asked Xena what was going on she could only say that the second man had also died. And then there was an unusual howl of wind in the night that came through the open window. It was almost like the wind too was crying and suffering just like those men who had died. And then Xena stood up and walked closer to the window. She then proclaimed that it was not the sound of wind that we had heard, but the sounds of Prometheus.
It was a serious situation for Xena then stated that Prometheus had been captured by the Olympic gods most likely Hera. Hera had many adversities against man kind and it was obvious that she was punishing mortals for her husband’s many known infidelities with them. Legends told that if Prometheus were ever captured that man kind would lose all of the gifts which he had bestowed upon us. And so that meant that we had lost the power to heal from our mortal wounds and we would lose the gift of fire as well. Xena became cryptic and suggested that we leave immediately to go visit an oracle.
We traveled through the night and I wondered why we had not stopped back at the first or the second oracle temple that we had seen. Xena then told me as the morning sun rose that there was only one special oracle that she could see who would know how she could find and free Prometheus. I found myself dumbstruck for how could Xena know of this seemingly sacred information? When I asked her who had told her she said that it had been a friend. I was instantly intrigued for I had to know what friend of Xena’s would know this valuable information about a mysterious oracle. But Xena would not reveal her secret friend and so I could only imagine who he might be. It sounded to me like maybe a passionate lover from the past perhaps.
Soon we had reached the temple of that special oracle with all of the answers. Xena handed over Argo’s reigns to me and then said that if she did not return to me by sunset that I was to leave the area without her. Those were serious instructions and I realized that Xena was doing something so dangerous that she did not want me to get involved. Although most things Xena did I would classify as dangerous. I often knew the warrior princess to over exaggerate a situation hoping to deter me from trying to intervene. And so I watched the tall dark warrior in leather walk into the temple disappearing behind the doors.
Once she had gone inside she had met with the oracle who had presented her with a strange challenge. The challenge required that Xena prove her willingness to free Prometheus. Of course Xena had not found it amusing that she was asked to try to obtain a scroll that had no value, but she had indeed passed the test of the oracle. Xena had been willing to lose her hand to obtain the key that would free the great titan Prometheus. Once she had passed the test the oracle then revealed to Xena what she must do to find and free Prometheus. Xena was told that she must go to the cave of Hephaestus and find his sword for it was the only weapon that could free the giant. Yet the oracle warned of the warriors who would be loyal to Hera that would try to stop her. Once Xena had obtained the sword then she was to go to Vulcan mountain where she would find Prometheus bound in chains upon its peak.
Naturally Xena accepted the challenge bravely and was willing to give her life in order to restore Prometheus’s freedom and his gifts to mankind. As we journeyed onto the first destination Xena asked me a very strange yet eerie question. She wanted to know what I would do if she ever did not come through and make it back to me. I laughed at her for I could not believe she was even asking me that question. I had seen the power and the great skill of the warrior princess. Most of all I had seen her determination to succeed no matter the costs. There was no doubt in my mind that Xena would always return to me. Yet Xena would not let it go for she wanted to know what I would do if she ever did leave me unexpectedly. I then told of how I would most likely become a traveling bard for I had always thought of doing that. Xena then asked me if I should get some schooling for that. I told her that it was probably wise, and that I would if the day ever came that she did not return to me.
Then we stopped at a peddler’s tent. He was very intent on making a sale for he presented us with many wonderful offers. Of course everything he showed us from Vulcan mountain to a forged map to the cave of Hephaestus had all been fake. Xena quickly became irritated with the salesman though I found him to be quite entertaining. She demanded that he tell her where the cave was for she was obviously certain that he knew where to find it. The salesman warned of the danger there, but Xena was always willing to face danger without a second thought. Some days I often wondered if maybe she had a death wish.
Once Xena got the information that she seeked she instructed me to stay there and wait. As I waited for her to return the salesman showed me some more of his wonderful inventory including a piece of the shell that he claimed the goddess Aphrodite had arrived upon. Then we were interrupted by the entrance of a brave young man. His name was Iolas and he was looking to find Hercules. Now this was a peculiar development for I had never known anyone who knew someone famous. I was suddenly intrigued and I asked this man how he knew Hercules. He said that he was Hercules’s best friend.
How wonderful it was that I had run into this Iolas for he was someone I could relate to. I had a burning question to ask of him for it was something that had been on my own mind recently. The salesman tried to sell some more products to the newcomer, but Iolas was not interested. Then I asked Iolas what how he felt about traveling with Hercules and standing to the side while Hercules performed all of his heroic deeds. Iolas chuckled for a moment and responded by telling me that he never just stood by and watched. He had always been involved and fought right alongside Hercules. Iolas seemed proud of his place and of his purpose in life. It made me think that maybe it was time that I myself became a little more proactive. I realized Xena did not want me to do that, but only I was stopping myself.
Then Xena returned as I told Iolas about my friend who was like his. When Iolas asked me who my friend was I pointed to the warrior princess who stood behind him. Then I asked Xena if she knew who Iolas was good friends with. She wasted no time in answering my question for she was quite familiar with Hercules and Iolas’s relationship. I was stunned yet again for she seemed to have all of the right answers no matter what the scenario. Then I noticed the tension between the two as if they exchanged surprised glances. Suddenly, Xena drew her sword and asked me to come with her. I found myself confused because Hercules was on our side. Yet Xena was very certain that she did not want Iolas to follow us and tell Hercules of our whereabouts.
Xena and I escaped from Iolas into an old abandoned barn. Yet we were not only running from Iolas, but we had also been running from Hera’s warriors. They had chased Xena out of the labyrinth in Hephestas’s cave that had once held the special sword. Xena now held it and there were many others who wanted to take it from her. There were so many questions I wanted to ask Xena about her mysterious past with Iolas and Hercules. It seemed as if there was romance involved, but Xena wasn’t much for girl talk. Instead we were suddenly interrupted by an attack of Hera’s warriors that had caught up with us. Xena drew the mighty sword of Hephaestus and began to fight them, but she was careful not to draw any blood for it meant certain death with even the smallest wound.
Naturally she ordered me to get out-of-the-way and I did, but I felt like I could do more. I searched the barn for something that could be a weapon and picked up an old wooden rake. Of course, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it once I picked it up, but it made me at least feel like I was working toward becoming involved. Just when it seemed that Xena was outnumbered a pair of old friends showed up just in time to assist Xena when I could not. Hercules and Iolas had also caught up to Xena and jumped into the battle against Hera’s warriors. I watched the two men fight alongside one another. They were a unified force and surprisingly they fought without weapons. It was impressive to watch Hercules in action for his godlike strength was so great that not even Xena could seemingly match it though she was very skilled in her own right.
As the battle came to an end Hercules smiled and was seemingly glad to have reunited with his old friend. But just when everyone thought the battle was over one of Hera’s warriors rose from the rubble and grabbed Hephestus’s sword from the ground preparing to strike Hercules. The legendary hero reacted quickly thrusting his broad arm into the air blocking the attack with his gauntlet. Now I had heard of the power of the gauntlet, but to see it actually used was amazing. As the sword struck the gauntlet there was a surge of blinding energy and then the warrior was suddenly turned to a pile of ashes and a sword. It was a shocking outcome, but then Iolas spoke. He told Hercules that he now understood why Hercules did not want to allow Xena to strike the blow upon Prometheus’s chains. Suddenly, I too realized what Iolas was trying to say. Xena and Hercules were fighting to complete a suicide mission. Hephaestus had made the sword, he had made the gauntlet, and he had also made the chains which bound Prometheous.
Of course there was little for me to worry about because Hercules had retrieved the sword before Xena could get back to it. He was half god and probably had a much better chance at surviving that did Xena. Then I couldn’t resist the instant attraction I felt to Hercules’s powerful charisma. I had so much I wanted to ask him about his adventures and deeds. Of course he was as modest as Xena and suggested that I talk to Iolas about that subject for he knew all that I wanted to find out. Then he walked on ahead with Xena. I could see the chemistry they had with one another and I knew what I would ask of Iolas.
Yet as Iolas and I went to catch up he told me to go on ahead and that he would catch up to me later.
There was something strange with that Iolas, but I didn’t bother him with anymore questions for a while. He didn’t appear to be feeling too well. Eventually he did catch up to me and he began to tell me all about how he and Hercules had first met Xena. He told me the beautiful story of how Xena had been bad when she came to them, but Hercules had shown her the light of goodness. So it had been the great Hercules that had saved my friend from her darkness. It was him that had turned her onto the right path which led her to me. I was grateful for that meeting between Hercules and Xena.
As we walked on I could see the love that the two heroes had for one another yet they were modest. I could see how Hercules had helped a confused warrior princess turn her turbulent life around. Their love and respect for one another was so great that they were both determined not to allow the other to complete this most dangerous mission.
Soon we reached Vulcan mountain and went inside through the dark caverns beneath. Hercules said that it was these caverns and their passage ways that would lead us to Prometheus at the top. Now I was certain that it was Hercules who had told Xena of the oracle. And as we walked through the darkness I noticed that Iolas seemed to be in great pain. I stopped and asked him if he was going to be okay. Iolas shrugged off my question and insisted that he was indeed fine despite his heavy breathing. I had only met him that day, but I knew that he was as stubborn as I was for he traveled with Hercules. Then I pulled back his brown leather vest and saw a flesh wound on his chest. It was bleeding quite badly for his body could not heal. I was concerned for his well-being and I wanted to tell Xena and Hercules about his misfortune in the barn. But Iolas insisted that I promise not to tell. He wanted to be a part of this mission just as I did and so I couldn’t go against his wishes.
We continued on catching up to Xena and Hercules, but suddenly there was a huge rock slide within the cavern. Dirt and stone fell all around us as we tried to escape injury. Then Hercules used his mighty strength to stop a large boulder from blocking the path to Prometheus. He held it up with his muscular back allowing us all to pass through to the other side. Just as we had escaped one catastrophe I accidentally ran into Iolas crushing him up against the rocks. He screamed in pain and it was then that I realized that I could no longer keep his secret. I confessed to Xena and Hercules the truth of the matter, and then Hercules told Iolas that he must stay behind.
Iolas was still stubborn and tried to convince everyone that he was just find and could continue on, but we could all see that he had little time left. Xena then suggested that he stay behind and rest for if he was going to survive it would be because he had rested. Hercules agreed with Xena, and that was when I decided that I too would stay behind with him so that he would not be lonely. I knew that there was nothing more I could do to help Xena and Hercules for they had to work together to succeed in freeing Prometheus. Then everyone said their good-byes as if it would be the last time that they would see each other. I had faith that Xena would return for she always returned to me. Xena told me to be brave when I asked her not to strike the blow. I had to believe in her.
Iolas said his final good-bye to Hercules who would not accept it for he too had faith that his friend would pull through. And then the two brave heroes left their best friends behind to save the world. As Iolas and I sat there he told me to make sure that I let Xena know that he had forgiven her for all that had gone on between them in the past. I promised Iolas that I would let her know as my heart began to break for this brave man dying upon my lap. Then I asked him what Xena saw within me for I could not understand why she was so determined to protect me from everything. Then Iolas said that it was because Xena had seen in me a pure heart. He told me that he too could see that within me. And then the light went out. Our torch had been robbed of its flame leaving nothing, but darkness. It was clear to me that Iolas was about to let go, but I could not let him leave Hercules behind. I could feel the bond that they had for it was like the one I felt with Xena. No pair of people could be without their other half. And so I began to tell Iolas a story hoping that I could keep his attention.
His body shook within my arms and I could feel that it was starting to cool. His forehead was full of sweat from his struggle to stay alive. His loving eyes looked up into mine as I continued my story. I heard him let out a weak laugh and so I knew he was still with me. Tears began to well up within my eyes for his chest was barely moving, and his eyes began to close softly. That peace that falls over a person at the time they leave was beginning to set in his face. As I spoke the last words of my story I called his name in desperation. And then the flame came to life once again. Xena and Hercules had been triumphant in freeing Prometheus. Iolas’s eyes began to open once again and a smile spread across his face.
The best part of it all was that no one had to die to save Prometheus.   Xena and Hercules had found a way to free him without having to sacrifice their own lives. As they had arrived at their destination Xena tried to leave Hercules behind. She knocked him out, but he awakened from the blow just in time to arrive and help Xena escape death. Hera’s warriors had been at the top of the mountain waiting for the mortals to come to save Prometheus. She had also sent a large bird that had captured the warrior princess forcing Xena to throw the sword back down to earth. Hercules had then picked up a large rock letting the sword bounce off of it and thrust through the chains freeing Prometheus and the world.
What an adventure this had been. And I had learned so much more about my friend that helped me understand her more. Of course there was still a lot of mystery surrounding the warrior princess and her past, but I knew that she was of goodness and of compassion. Hercules had known that too. He had saved her soul, and now he had saved her life. As the two shared in their good-byes I too said good-bye to my new friend Iolas. He thanked me with a soft kiss for being there for him in his darkest hour. When I asked him if he had remembered the story I told him he said that he did not. And so I wondered if indeed it was true that all of us have a missing piece of our soul or is it only a beautiful story.

The Xena Scrolls


By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia


Scroll#9: Hooves and Harlots

December, 49 BC

I sing of a warrior princess and an amazon princess who brought peace to a land in great turmoil. Their story begins upon walking through amazon territory while discovering the many uses of the walking stick. I of course thought of using it to crush bugs, but Xena had shown me that it could be used as a weapon against the enemy. Of course Xena always seemed to be able to find that any object could be used as a weapon of battle in some way. Upon ending the demonstration we continued on our journey. Xena explained that we were now deep within amazon territory. I was intrigued for I wondered if we would see an amazon along the way. And then suddenly arrows started flying through the air landing all around our feet.  Xena instructed me to use the amazon symbol for peace placing her hands joined together above her head. And so I quickly followed.
Then a group of amazons floated down from the trees and surrounded us. These amazon women wore bird masks and beautiful flowing headdress. When they had reached the ground they removed their masks as their group leader spoke with Xena. She was impressed that Xena had known the amazon ways yet she was not an amazon. And then the group leader looked to me and realized that I was most likely not an amazon either. She was amused as I tried to defend myself from being judged, but the leader was not at all displeased. The leader introduced herself as Terreis an amazon princess. I was fascinated for she was standing before me. It was just as exciting as meeting Hercules.
Then another amazon from the group whose name was Ephiny reminded the soft-hearted Terreis that Xena and I had trespassed and must be taken to the Queen of the amazons who would decide if we would receive safe passage through their lands. I again was excited for this was more than I could have imagined. As we walked back toward the amazon camp with Terreis I spoke with the princess certain that there was much I could learn from her. Terreis seemed wise, and skilled. She wasn’t like the other amazons that I had seen so far. I spoke of how as a girl I wasn’t allowed to learn of science, history, or philosophy because I had been born a girl and not a boy. Terreis laughed and spoke of how all amazon children were taught these wonderful things as their first lessons in life as an amazon.
I found myself intrigued and wishing that I had been born an amazon. But then Terreis said something very truthful about the ways of the world. She said that it was a man’s world indeed, but it wasn’t because it truly belonged to them. It was because women allowed men to take the world that made things the way they were. What she had said to me was quite profound and wise. Yet as we walked on Xena wasn’t getting along as well as I. She was with Ephiny who obviously did not trust the warrior princess. Xena threatened Ephiny for it was obvious that the warrior princess was feeling quite uncomfortable. Our journey to the amazon camp was very enlightening for me until something very tragic happened.
Suddenly more arrows came at us flying through the air. The amazons took their command from Terreis as they fled back up into the trees. It was an amazing sight how they had all floated into the air in unison. Xena quickly grabbed her sword and began to block the approaching arrows. It seemed to me that the amazons had a better cover than we did until one of them came crashing back down to the ground. It was Terreis and she had been struck down by the wrath of arrows. No one was safe. I ran quickly to her aid and shielded her with my body for I couldn’t allow this beautiful and wise amazon princess to die. My words were in an attempt to comfort her for I could feel her chest rising and falling violently beneath me.
Then the attack suddenly ceased. Xena assured me that she would make sure that the attack was truly over. Before leaving she told me not to move the injured amazon as I held Terreis in my arms. Terreis looked up to me and took my hand. Then she squeezed it tightly and was impressed by my heroic deed. She said that only an amazon sister would try to save another amazon. For that Terreis said that she wanted to give me her right of caste. I was not certain what that was and as I asked her what she meant as she began to struggle for her breaths. Her body felt the way Iolas had felt upon his close brush with death. The other amazons quickly came down from their shelter in the trees joining me by Terreis’s side. I suddenly told Terreis that I would take her right of caste if she would just stay with me. She then looked to me one last time and smiled softly. And then there was peace within her emerald-green eyes. She had gone. It was the first time that someone had actually died in my arms. I found myself in shock for I didn’t know what more I could have done to save her.
We were not far from the amazon camp and we rejoined Xena up ahead who continued to scout for enemies. When we reached the amazon camp it was quite an impressive sight. It was just the way I had heard it described by other traveling bards. The camp was inhabited only by women. Fierce warrior women who were just as powerful and skilled as the warrior princess. Yet I was still confident that Xena could probably win in a duel with one of them. Even the queen didn’t look like she could win against Xena although she proved within a practice duel that she was indeed skilled. She would have definitely kicked my butt.
As we stood waiting to meet with the queen the amazons took Terreis’s body to be prepared for amazon ceremonies in honor of the fallen princess. The queen honored her fallen sister breaking an arrow symbolically over the body of the victim. Then she placed the arrow upon the body as other amazons carried it into the queen’s hut. There was ceremonial music and drums. These instruments played in mourning of the beautiful Terreis. And then the queen greeted Xena and I. She introduced herself as Queen Melosa, and had granted us safe passage through her lands. Her mood was somber as she warned us that we should move through quickly for she was certain that the amazon nation would be at war soon.
Xena was now intrigued with this amazon nation for she was uncertain of why the amazons would be at war. I was just as curious and so I asked Melosa who she was going to go to war with. She flatly stated that it was a war that would take place against the Centaurs. As the queen spoke of her rival a live centaur was brought into camp. He was a beautiful creature with long flowing blond hair. His legs were strong, and he stood tall despite being brought into camp as a captive. This centaur had been discovered near the amazon territory and the amazons were certain that it was this centaur who had committed the murder against Terreis.
As Melosa began to describe her distaste for the centaurs Xena agreed that she too had not been close with the centaur nation. Yet Xena was uncertain as to why centaurs would want to start a war over land with the amazons for she remembered centaurs as a more peaceful group. The centaur who had been accused of the crime was known as Phantes. He was the son of Tyldus a great centaur leader. Xena had gone up against Tyldus in battle once, but she did not defeat him. Instead the battle between Xena’s army and the centaur army had ended at a stalemate. It appeared as if Xena had a great respect for Tyldus. She knew him well though they were still at odds. Xena decided against leaving the amazons and the centaurs to their war. Instead she chose to investigate the situation further. Xena then left me at the amazon camp certain that they would protect me in her absence.
Just after Xena left queen Melosa and Ephiny approached me. Melosa explained that Ephiny had told her about what had happened upon Terreis’s death. Ephiny had told Melosa that I had been given Terreis’s right of caste. I had almost forgotten about it until this moment. Then I was curious for I needed to know what it was that I had accepted. Melosa explained that it was something that royal amazons pass on from one generation to the next. She said that Terreis was her sister who was next in the royal line to become queen if Melosa were to pass on. Since Terreis was the first to pass on she had to pass on her royal amazon rights to another. She had chosen me and I had accepted. This was really starting to sound exciting. And then Melosa explained that since she was queen it made me an amazon princess not by blood, but by Terreis’s right of caste. I was now an amazon. As I began to contemplate this exciting event Melosa left Ephiny with me to train me to become an amazon.
First we went into the hut of the deceased amazon princess where all of her worldly possessions were kept. Her clothes, her weapons, and anything that had ever belonged to Terreis were within this hut. It was a beautiful place and there was so much to look at. There weren’t really riches of wealth, but riches of wisdom and lifelong accomplishment. I was finding myself overwhelmed yet flattered that Terreis would have chosen me rather than her good friend Ephiny to take her birth right. Ephiny had brought two other amazons along as they prepared me for my new role. First I was dressed in the princess’s royal clothing which was for ceremonial occasions. Terreis had the most wonderful jewelry. There was this particular necklace that was blue and with layers of intricate beads woven together. Her clothes included all of the protective warrior armor like Xena had worn, and even a brown leather suit.
As I was dressed upon a pedestal I basked in all of my glory running my hands over every piece that was covering my body. I wanted to feel the entire feeling of what a warrior and true amazon felt as she prepared for battle. As I was finally dressed Ephiny then instructed me that I must choose a weapon. Now this was something I had not been prepared for. Xena had never invited me to choose a weapon and I had handled her sword once before, but this was different. As I looked over the rack of many weapons and of many choices I found myself nervous. I thought that maybe these women expected me to know how to use a real weapon and I knew that I could barely hold a sword let alone use it. Yet there were other weapons besides the sword. There were bows and arrows, sais, and knives. But none of these weapons really interested me. All of them were meant to kill. I had learned early on in my travels with the warrior princess that killing was not something I was prepared to do in battle.
Then I came across the perfect weapon for a bard like myself. It was a wooden stick with intricate decoration. As I chose my weapon Ephiny took it from me and explained that it was a staff. She then gave the weapon to Eponin and its uses were demonstrated. It kind of reminded me of what Xena had done with the walking stick before, but this weapon was much more intriguing. Upon chosing the weapon it was time for me to learn how to use it so Ephiny took me out into the camp and we practiced the art of using the staff. It was a long grueling process. Something that had looked so easy to use required a lot of concentration and coordination. I could feel that Ephiny was becoming frustrated with me for every so often I would crack myself over the knee and occasionally over the head. But for the most part I was learning the process.
As we practiced on Queen Melosa came by to check on my progress. Ephiny was truthful yet positive. I explained that I felt it was going pretty well and that I was rather enjoying my lesson. Then Ephiny demonstrated a harsh reality to me. She took the staff and went over to a horse. She showed me how a staff could be used in battle and how it could kill a centaur. First she cracked the knee at the joint which was meant to stop the centaurs at full gallop. Then she showed how to dislocate the legs so that the centaurs could not rise back up. Finally she turned to the feast behind her and smashed a melon with the head of the staff demonstrating how to kill the centaur quickly. The goal and the hope was to give one’s enemy a quick and painless death. At that moment I realized just how serious it was to be an amazon.
Later that night I had been taken to participate within the ceremonial dance that takes place on the night before the right of caste is finally passed on. At first I was a little nervous, but was welcomed by my fellow amazon sisters to join in the great festivities. Soon after the queen entered the camp. Suddenly all who danced around the fire bowed down to her honoring their brave queen. I was a little slow in realizing what was going on, but I bowed with all who surrounded me. Then Melosa took me from the ground and up to the pedestal where royalty stood over her subjects. She declared that it was now the last phase of the mourning period. Then she handed over the sword of the fallen amazon princess declaring that the one who was given her right of caste was also required to avenge her death with the sword.
For a moment I took the sword and looked it over fascinated by how petite it was, but when I heard the responsibility which came with this mighty sword I knew I was in trouble. There was no way that I was going to take someone’s life. Upon my open objection queen Melosa explained that if I did not it would be treason according to amazon law which was punishable by my own death. The death sentence upon the centaur Phantes was to be carried out upon the high sun the next day. Suddenly, I found myself within a deep responsibility that I really was unprepared for. I soon wondered where Xena had gone for I needed her now more than ever before. She would know what to do.
Xena had been gone the entire day and she did not return to me through the night for she had been investigating. Her investigation had led her to discover many details about this impending war. Xena’s first visit had been to see Tyldus. She had met up with him and his small group of elite warriors while studying the murder scene looking for clues. While there she had saved the life of one of his men as they tried to do battle before a truce was reached between Xena and Tyldus despite their jaded past. Xena had killed over half of Tyldus’s army and Tyldus was still angered over it. Upon convincing Tyldus of peace and of holding off his attack on the amazon nation Xena discovered that a man had been traveling with the group who was not a centaur. She found this quite strange, but only took a mental note of it. The man had also been carrying a very nice dagger which had a red stone within it.
Xena suspected that there was a third-party involved in the situation and she had to figure out who it was. The warrior princess was certain that the third-party had wanted to ensure war between the centaurs and amazons for personal gain. When she left Tyldus’s camp she found herself following the man whom had been carrying the impressive knife. He led her into another camp. It was the camp of the warlord known as Krykus. Things were beginning to come together for the warrior princess for now she had a third-party. Krykus had everything to gain by allowing the amazons and the centaurs to fight. Xena followed Krykus back to the amazon camp and overheard his meeting with queen Melosa. He was candid with the queen in mourning for he wanted to make certain that she would go to war with Tyldus. Melosa was indeed ready for war no matter the cost for she was certain that Phantes was the murderer. With the war certain to happen all Krykus had to do was sit back and wait.
It was then that Xena realized that she needed to find proof that the warlord was responsible for the death of Terreis. She went back to the murder scene to discover that there were a few substantial clues, but not enough to convince a queen in mourning of her sister. While studying the scene Xena was attacked in the darkness by an amazon. It was Ephiny who had suspected that maybe the warrior princess had something to do with Terreis’s murder. Ephiny fought against Xena though Xena had warned against it. Of course Xena defeated the amazon only to find that a centaur was about to strike.
As the helpless defeated Ephiny laid upon the ground a centaur rose his sword above her preparing to strike. Xena jumped down out of the trees to save Ephiny from the centaur, but Ephiny then took her bow from the ground and tried to shoot the centaur through the chest. Xena caught the arrow with her bare hand and saved him too. Quickly she and Ephiny escaped back into the trees as Xena explained the Ephiny the truth of Terreis’s murder. She also showed the evidence, but wanted to find more. Ephiny and Xena then traveled to Krykus’s camp together. It was certain that as long as no centaur or amazon had killed another that the war could be prevented with the right information. Xena sent Ephiny to look for weapons while Xena dropped in to visit the warlord. She wanted him to know that she was onto him and hoped that there was something there that would allow her to prove his guilt.
He was confident at first certain that the warrior princess couldn’t stop his war, but then she took notice of his maps. They had shown him as the ruler of the land. The amazons and centaurs were not shown upon his map. And as Krykus tried to argue his way out of that Xena noticed that his knife looked just like the one that the man had earlier. Krykus was not the killer, but he had the motive. And so Xena and Ephiny traveled back toward the amazon camp hoping to reach it before noon when Tyldus would start the war to save his son’s life.
Noon came quickly as I stood upon the podium holding the sword of the deceased amazon princess. The powerful amazon queen was standing next to me pressing for me to take the life of this honorable centaur. Something in my heart spoke strongly against this act. When Phantes was asked to give his last words he declined at first until he looked into my eyes. He could see that I knew in my heart that he couldn’t possibly be a killer. And so he professed his sorrow for Melosa and the amazon nation for their loss. It was clear that Phantes was sincere. Melosa was beyond sincere for she wanted her vengeance. It was just like the villagers who had sentenced Xena despite her innocence. It seemed that people were unable to think clearly when their loved ones had been taken from them. No matter how wise or how tender-hearted a person was vengeance would always win over truth.
I prepared to kill this beautiful centaur for if I did not it would be my own death. My hands shook with nervous tension as I pressed the sharp blade to his chest. Several moments passed by, but I could not bring myself to push it through his heart as he looked at me. There was so much regret within his eyes. It was unbearable. Yet I couldn’t face death for myself so I had to choose. And just as I was about to make that horrible choice Xena and Ephiny returned to camp. They proclaimed that they indeed have evidence which would exonerate the accused. I was so relieved that I thanked the gods for intervening. Xena handed over a leather pouch to me. I opened it and investigated its soft moist contents. The warrior princess explained that hoof prints were found which showed that the killer had ridden in on horseback and not been a centaur. Also Xena explained that centaurs did not eat hay like the horse that had left behind the contents within the pouch.
Melosa’s vengeance still won out as she took the sword herself and prepared to have Eponin execute the innocent centaur. Just before the execution was to take place Xena suddenly demanded a royal challenge against Queen Melosa.  Melosa confronted the warrior princess for her challenge against her. Amazon law stated that only an amazon of royal blood could demand this royal challenge. Then Xena looked to me. For a moment I wasn’t certain of what I should do and then I realized that I could demand the royal challenge for I was now of royal amazon blood. Queen Melosa turned to face me and smirked. She was amused that I had demanded this of her. Melosa then explained that demanding a royal challenge meant a fight to the death. It meant that I would have to fight Queen Melosa to the death which was something that I didn’t actually want to do. Then Ephiny spoke up stating that I had to go through with the challenge since I had demanded it. Ephiny told me that I must choose my weapon or choose my champion.
This did not make sense to me. I knew that I didn’t want to choose a weapon, but what did she mean by champion. I looked to her for answers, but she did not speak another word. Instead Ephiny’s eyes moved toward the warrior princess who waited patiently for me to choose my champion. Suddenly, I realized what it all had meant. With relief I chose Xena to be my champion for I knew that she would indeed defeat the Queen. Queen Melosa found herself deeply wounded that one of her own would go against her. Melosa stated that if she were to win the challenge that not only would Xena die, but so would Ephiny and I. This indeed sounded quite serious.
So Xena was asked to choose the weapon for the battle. Xena pulled out her sword and chackram and looked them over carefully. She was seemingly dissatisfied, but then her face lit up. The warrior princess chose choeboes. Choeboes were a pair of small thin wooden sticks. It was a weapon that would be difficult to kill with, but not impossible if one were skilled. Queen Melosa’s face showed a look of surprise yet interest at the warrior prinecess’s choice. As the two women prepared for their deul Ephiny instructed Xena on how to fight against Melosa. She warned that Melosa was indeed quick, but that she had a blind spot on her right side. Xena took the information and prepared to defeat Melosa.
The battle started quickly and the sticks clashed together making the most interesting sounds like the beat of the amazon drums. Queen Melosa was confident that she would defeat this warrior princess who had been an intruder upon her lands. She had brought with her someone who was not prepared to accept responsibility. As I watched the two warriors battle and flip around one another I realized that I was truly not an amazon of responsibility. I wondered if I would ever understand that responsibility. Melosa was quite determined to uphold Amazon law and to prove her Queen hood. But Xena was just as determined to prevent two nations from going into an unnecessary war. Fortunately, Xena won the battle and took mercy upon the Queen for she did not really want to take Melosa’s life. She told Melosa that she needed her to help in defeating the warlord Krykus.
Then Xena rose and helped the Queen to her feat. Melosa was defeated and in shame that she had not been able to prove her skill as Queen. Yet there was little time to mope for the centaur army appeared within the amazon camp with Tyldus at the head. They were with weapons drawn ready to go to war against the amazon nation. Tyldus demanded to see the leader of the amazon nation and then Xena moved to the head of the amazons. He was not surprised that she had come to command the amazons, but Xena declared that the war was over. She declared that Tyldus had already won by showing her what choosing one’s battles wisely meant. The warrior princess and her amazons had chosen not to fight this battle on this days. She declared that the centaurs had indeed won. And then she threw down her sword. The amazon sisters followed their new queen and threw down their weapons as well. Finally Melosa the true queen followed reluctantly for she was still not certain that Krykus was responsible.
Then Xena explained to all who were witness that the true enemy was Krykus the warlord for though he did not actually kill Terreis he had everything to win. When Melosa questioned this Xena then revealed who the true murderer was. She pulled out the large dagger with the red-eye. The lone man alongside the centaur army reached for his belt revealing himself to all. Xena had succeeded in getting her confession when she declared that she had stolen her dagger from Krykus. The warlord had given these daggers as gifts and so all had been solved. The cowardly murderer ran as Tyldus was prepared to capture him. But Xena advised against it. Instead she suggested that the centaur nation and amazon nation unite as one to go up against Krykus.
And so the two nations were new allies as the amazons rode into Krykus’s camp upon chariots pulled by the centaurs. This was my first battle and so my heart was racing with excitement. I hoped that my training had been enough to get me through. The sound of a battle is a strange one. It’s like a roar of chaos. The chaos of voices and weapons clashing and men screaming to their deaths. It’s a rush like no other, but there is a great comerodery there between soldiers. This feeling for me could be described as the new sisterhood and brotherhood that had united as one.
Upon reaching the enemy camp they charged forward toward us. We charged ahead into their camp. Krykus’s army was not extremely large. It was maybe an army of 75 men at best. I had heard of armies of a much greater size from other bards. There was a sense of victory in the air and it made sense now why Krykus had attempted to turn the amazons against the centaurs for he could not have won a battle against one nation or the other one on one.
Though the strategy of the warlord had been a good one the warrior princess’s interference saved two great nations from total destruction. As I fought men face to face it was like no other experience I’d had before. They had swords and I only had a staff, but indeed Ephiny had prepared me to fight like a true amazon princess. I blocked their thrusting swords from in front of me and then behind. I used my own weapon to knock them over their heads or across the chest. At first my confidence had been uncertain, but I was finding that I was a much better fighter than I had anticipated I could be. After defeating a few scum I turned around to see that Ephiny was in trouble. I ran behind her attacker and knocked him down to rescue my amazon friend.
Queen Melosa had her own battle to fight. She immediately seeked out Krykus and fought him in a hand to hand combat with the choeboes. It was obvious that Melosa was much more skilled that the warlord. Krykus laughed with contempt as he swung his weapon confident that he would defeat the Amazon Queen. He had forgotten that Melosa was driven by her vengeance for the justice she seeked in the name of her sister. And so Melosa gracefully took down the warlord with her choeboes ready to kill. Then Xena stepped in to remind Melosa that he must be taken for trial before he could be sentenced by amazon law. And though Xena prevented Melosa from having vengeance Xena found herself seeking the true murderer.
The coward had fled the battle and the camp thinking that he would escape the wrath of the warrior princess for he had seen her in action. She followed him into the woods and through the valley. Then the warrior princess climbed into the trees above to head off the enemy. There she waited for him to come by as she stood next to a tree up ahead of him. When he approached he had not expected to see her before him. His eyes were fearful as he shook in his boots. The warrior princess smiled before she took out her whip. Then the enemy tried to escape as the warrior princess used her whip and swung back up into the trees to kick him to the ground. He fell and as he got up he knew that he had to fight her. There was no other choice. And so as the warrior princess wrapped up her whip to return it to her nitch he drew his red-eyed dagger preparing to strike her from behind.
Indeed this man had been a coward for he would not fight a warrior princess hand to hand, but he would stab her in the back. That was the flaw in Krykus’s plan. He had chosen a coward to do a coward’s bidding. And so Xena then drew her sword from behind as she felt the enemy approaching and thrust it vengefully into his stomach. There the coward fell and took his last breath for the warrior princess had sentenced him to death.
Upon ending the battle the centaurs and the amazons rejoined back at the amazon camp. They began discussing peace and of how to reach common views that could be accepted by both nations. Ephiny’s friend Terreis had once said that centaurs were noble and honorable creatures. Phantees had proven to Ephiny and all other Amazons that Terreis had been right. Terreis would have made a wonderful Amazon Queen. If Xena had not come and she had not been killed Terreis most certainly would have united the two nations without the threat of war.
And so I realized after all of this a few things about myself. I realized that being a warrior and an amazon was not an easy role. That war was not as great as bards had told it to be and that I too had a place. My place was alongside Xena and to help her fight against the darkness. Yet I had to do more than that. I had to be sure that all knew of our wonderful adventures and journeys.  And so it all began with a warrior princess and an amazon princess.  Fighting alongside one another for the goodwill of all humanity.

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll#10:  Death In Chains

December, 49 B.C.

Most people think of death as the end.  When in fact death can be the beginning of a wonderful tale.  So I sing the tale of love and of death for there was once a young man named Lepethus.  He was from the city of Carthage where he met the beautiful Eyo and the two fell madly in love.  But then the gods grew jealous of their great love and condemned them to separate destinies.  Lepethus could only live in the summer and Eyo only in the winter.  Luckily Aphrodite took pity on the lovers and thought of a way to reunite them.  That is how we were given the seasons of rain and of snow for Lepethus is the snow blanketing his love for Eyo.  And Eyo is the gentle spring rain caressing Lepethus.
My own tale begins with my own thoughts of what was truly missing from my own life.  After meeting Hercules and sharing a tender kiss with his best friend Iolas I wondered if maybe it was time that I find my own Lepethus in life.  Of course I truly loved traveling with Xena and all of the wonderful adventures that we shared together, but there seemed to be more death than love.  I thought of all this while walking through a beautiful orchard with Xena and noticing two lovers sharing within their own passions.  Yet I was not complaining for what followed love?  Marriage and a family of course, and that was why I had left behind my betrothed Perdicas.  I suddenly realized that I had traded love for adventures.  And then as I was working through my envy I decided that I was quite capable of picking my own apples from the orchard without the help of a handsome young fellow.
As I reached for the most passionate red apple from the orchard an arrow suddenly sliced right through it robbing me of my choice.  It was another crazy ego driven warlord who introduced himself as Toxious.  He was quite interested in teaming up with the warrior princess in conquest as he had seen and been impressed with her during a battle that she had fought in Nespar.  Xena was obviously uninterested in his offer for it was not her current path to gather riches, but to gather redemption for her past sins.  Most recently she had been willing to die for the will of mortals to free Prometheus, but it was obvious that Toxious was unaware of that legend to be told.  He had called her legendary, but she was legendary for her wrongs and not for her rights.
As Xena turned to walk away rejecting Toxious’s offer he declared that there was only one way he recruited people.  They must choose to live and fight with him or to die.  There was no walking away.  Xena met his challenge with her defense for she was not going to choose to fight with him or to die.  She created her own destiny and strongly believed in this.  The fight was not much of a challenge for Xena as she immediately moved with her sword blocking his thrusts which nearly missed me.  The swords were so close that they clashed just inches above my head.  The sounds were like chimes ringing, but Xena’s chimes were much more powerful than those of Toxius.  She quickly defeated him first by disarming him and then taking his feet from beneath him.
Once again Xena turned away from him and began to walk on for it was obvious that she did not want to fight.  Usually Xena savored the opportunity to feed her inner rage, but this time it was different.  This time Xena had decided that she was not going to end this battle in death, but in peace by her own choice.  Yet Toxious had other ideas.  He was intent on becoming the victor and bringing death upon the legendary warrior princess.  Suddenly, Xena whipped back around to face him blocking his thrust and then thrusting her own sword deep into his stomach.  Toxious then had that look that all men get when they’ve finally met death.  It’s as if in a moment of surprise as their eyes open wide and their breath is robbed from them.  And then Toxious fell to the ground into silence.
He had that look that all who have been taken by death in the end.  Despite if a person was of good nature or of evil intent they all still have a look of  eternal restful peace in the end.  Then Xena muttered under her breath her frustration of having to kill yet another.  I myself could not understand why a man like Toxious would want to voluntarily meet his own demise.  It seemed quite obvious to me who would win a battle to the death when it came to fighting against Xena.  And so as Xena and I continued on down the path I asked her why he would want to do this.  He had wasted so much for so little.  Xena reminded me of his ego and of how all men like Toxious were out to capture the prize and claim victory.  The big prize was in demonstrating their power for if they could kill the warrior princess then they too would be feared as she was feared.
I knew in my heart that Xena was not someone to be feared.  She was a beautiful vibrant spirit with lots of love and compassion, yet she was very troubled within.  She had been confused early in her life which had driven her to mistakes that she was not proud of.  Yet that is what I love about Xena.
And then suddenly Argo began to stir as the earth began to move beneath us.  The ground shook like an earthquake as the wind swirled the dirt around like a twister.  I was afraid for a moment for I did not know what was happening.  As Xena tried to calm her horse. she shouted for me to run and take cover in hiding.  I hid just below in the valley from the path where I then saw a dark force riding from within the dust bowl.  He was tall, and dark, and powerful.  This dark warrior came in upon a chariot with horses.  I heard their hooves pounding upon the ground as I watched the figure approach the warrior princess.  Xena was ready to do battle with her sword drawn as the man then slowed to a stop.  All was quiet as he stepped down valiantly from his chariot and told Xena that she had nothing to fear.  He showed admiration for the warrior princess as if he had known everything about her.  Removing his helmet he introduced himself as Hades the god of the underworld.  Xena stood down from her battle position for it wasn’t everyday that one is visited by a god.  Of course there was that one time that Ares had visited Xena exclusively, but he had not shown himself to me or anyone else.  This indeed was an experience for it was the first time that I had ever seen a real true olympic god.  I was greatly intrigued.
As Hades approached Xena he told her his reason for a personal visit.  He mentioned that there was this king whose name was Sisyphus.  This king was also a talented scourcerer.  Sisyphus had invited his sister Celesta to his castle.  Celesta accepted his invitation thinking that he was ready to make his journey back home, but it was only a trick for Sisyphus had captured her within his trick instead.  Hades said that time was of great importance.  He needed Xena’s help in order to free Celesta from the chains which bound her within Sisyphus’s castle.  For if her flame was to burn out then mankind would be sentenced to eternal life and no hope of peace for those who suffered.  Hades then told Xena that there were only hours left before this terrible fate were to come to pass upon mankind.
Xena agreed to help Hades in freeing Celesta and so we quickly began to travel toward Corinth where Sisyphus’s castle was.  On our way to the castle I began to think of love again realizing that not only would people suffer, but that if they professed to love someone that it would be for an eternity.  It was quite an infinite thought and almost too powerful to contemplate.  And then as I was talking to Xena she suddenly rode off ahead as if something had grabbed her attention.  I ran to catch up to her only to find something very unsettling up ahead.
It was a sea of people who were suffering great pain.  They had all been caught within a terrible accident.  It had been a rock slide.  One of the more fortunate explained that they had all been on their way to the hospital in Corinth when the rock slide occurred.  Most of those who had been caught were on the verge of death for their injuries were so great.  Yet for them death would never come.  One could hear the screams of great suffering and pain.  As for those who were unharmed there was nothing that could be done to help them.  It was then that Xena realized just how important it was for her to succeed in her mission.  Xena suddenly handed me a rag and asked me to help tend to the wounded.  The man that she was helping had more than a broken leg as did many of the people I encountered.
It was difficult to care for those that were meant to be taken by death.  I tried to comfort their pain as best I could, but soon realized that there was nothing that I could do to take away their pain.  This broke my heart as I tried to stop the bleeding of another man in pain.  And then as he yelled at me to stop a young boy came along and showed me something special.  First he wiped the blood off of the man’s face and then he began to tell the most beautiful love story I had ever heard.  It all started with a simple question to the patient.  The young man had asked him where he was from and then suddenly Carthage turned into the most wonderful story.  I was in awe of this handsome young boy.  He had light brown hair with a slight curl.  His eyes glowed with passion as I watched him comfort the injured man and make him forget about his pain.  It was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen.
After the story had ended I asked this young man where he had learned such a wonderful skill.  Naturally he had thought I was speaking of his medical skills, but I had been speaking of his healing power.  The young man introduced himself as Tallus, and I found myself in awe of his aura.  He told me that he had been on his way to Corinth where he was from when he had run into these suffering people.  He too felt their pain and could barely keep his own heart from breaking amidst the suffering.  And though suffering had brought us together my heart-felt joy within his presence and there was so much that we seemed to have in common.  His love for stories seemed as great as my own.
Then Xena called out to us asking for some more water for the wounded.  Tallus was familiar with the area so he showed me to the pond.  On our way there I had to share a story of my own.  As Tallus and I walked down to the pond to fetch some water for the sick and injured I told him the story of Celesta and of how no one could die until Xena and I could free her.
When we reached the pond Tallus commented on how he had never seen so much suffering before.  I agreed with him for I had never known how important death was until this day when the people of the earth were without Celesta.  I spoke of how I had always thought it was something to be feared until this day.  Tallus then said that there had once been a day that he too would have been overjoyed to have the ability to live eternally, but that he no longer feared it.  It was as if he would welcome death into his arms without fear if he had to.  And then he  sat down next to me and complemented me on my courage, but he had yet to meet the warrior princess whose courage was much greater than my own.  There was so much I still had to learn from her.  Then as I was embarrassed by his complements of me he put my feelings to rest picking from the bank of the pond a most beautiful flower.  It was a jasmine blossom.
I could feel his warmth and sensitivity through his pale blue eyes.  Those eyes were so comforting and I could feel love.  The moment was beautiful, and then he said that his mother used to work for king Sisyphus in the castle when he was a boy.  This was indeed wonderful news for maybe Tallus could help Xena and I get into the castle to see Sisyphus.  Suddenly, Tallus was grabbed by the resurrected warlord Toxious.  I jumped up to help grabbing Toxious’s arm hoping to free my new-found love from certain suffering.  Yet I was no match for the warlord Toxious for he then grabbed me and held a knife to my throat ready to deliver pain and suffering for he could not kill me.
As always Xena appeared to step in and rescue me from evil preparing to do battle with a man she could not kill.  Toxious was quite defiant and certain of himself this time for he had discovered a secret and that was that he could not die.  As the two battled he moved a little slower for he was injured with a gaping hole in his side from their previous battle.  Though it did not seem to phase him as if he had grown comfortable with the pain of his wound.  Toxious laughed as he proclaimed that he and Xena could battle on for an eternity, but Xena assured him that she was going to make sure that death would take him soon.  Then the warrior princess suddenly flipped over him yelling out her signature battle cry and then waiting as he charged toward her turned back.  He was going to wound her, but she flipped her sword and then thrust it into his stomach again behind her.
Toxius then fell to the ground only to rise up again and defy Xena.  He made certain that he would be sure to stop Xena in her plan to rescue death.  But Xena pulled out her chackram and threw it into the tree limb above the unsuspecting warlord.  Amazingly the chackram was so sharp that it was able to slice right through the thick branch sending it crashing down upon Toxious.  He was now trapped unable to free himself.  It was then that Xena had finally decided for certain that she would do the bidding of Hades.  For a warrior princess it would be exhausting to have to fight off the many who wanted a piece of the action.
As the three of us walked on down the path toward Sisyphus’s castle I was in awe of my new-found love.  Of course I was hoping to get the approval from Xena that he was the right choice for me considering some of the other men that I had thought were my tree in the Forrest like the warlord that wooed me on our first adventure together.  As I went on and on about Tallus and how wonderful he was Xena finally did agree that he was a good man for me.  Then she told me that she was happy that I had finally found some good company.  At first I was confused for I thought that Xena was going to leave me behind.  I didn’t want her to go on without me for she was my best friend.  Then Xena assured me that she was only going to see Sisyphus alone.  I still wanted to go with her, but she assured me that Tallus and I should continue on to Corinth where the hospital was.  We could do a lot of good and help a lot of people there.  I couldn’t argue with that, but I was still concerned for Xena.  She was about to come face to face with death herself.  Xena’s courage seemed endless.  And then I watched the dark warrior princess ride away on another journey of self-sacrifice.
Tallus and I did continue onto Corinth as I recited Sophecles to him and he recited back.  We had so much fun together, but our joy was soon dampened by the suffering at the hospital in Corinth.  It was time to work again as we heard the desperate pleas of an old woman who needed water.  Tallus volunteered to fetch the water as I sat beside the old woman’s bed to comfort her.  Yet she had a story for me instead.  She struggled to speak, but she asked me not to be afraid.  Then she told of how earlier that morning she had died and gone to the Elysian fields.  Yet just before she was about to cross over to eternal peace she found herself back upon the earth on the brink of death and suffering.  There was fear within her heart for she was confused.  She did not understand what had happened to the wonderful gift of death.  I then told her of king Sisyphus and his capture of death.  I assured the poor old woman that Xena could handle the king and rescue death for she was quite able to take care of herself.
Then the old woman asked me if Xena was a god.  I could understand her concern for my friend, but I was confident that Xena was up for the task.  Yet the old woman was seemingly not convinced.  She asked me to lean in closer.  As I leaned into hear her speak she told of something far worse than I could have imagined.  She spoke of how no mortal could touch death for if they did they too would be taken with her.  My heart stopped for a moment as I thought of Xena’s life.  I couldn’t allow her to die when I could have lost her to Prometheus’s chains.  Tallus soon arrived back and I demanded that he take me to the castle for Xena was truly in danger.  Tallus was concerned about the castle guards, but I convinced him to take me there.  I assured him that he did not have to go for we might come into contact with death herself, but Tallus was brave and unafraid of meeting her.
So we went back toward where victims of the rock slide lied suffering in pain.  For them it all started in the king’s castle.  Death mighty as she was had been captured by Sisyphus.  It was up to Xena and I to rescue them from their pain.  Fortunately we had Tallus to help us.  When Tallus and I had finally arrived at the castle he spoke of how he knew of several secret escape passages and tunnels beneath.  As a child he had played within these passages when his mother had worked for the king.  When we went inside I asked him not to come with me again for he did not have to risk his life when it was my friend that we were helping.  Yet again Tallus refused to leave me telling me that he would be there to protect me from harm.  Though I did not want him to be in danger I was glad that he wanted to be there by my side and so we began to travel through the dark dirty passages.  The tunnels were quite scary and full of rodents and bugs.  They were musty and smelly with strange sounds that made one cringe within.
As if it wasn’t scary enough we suddenly found ourselves face to face with two of the walking dead.  They looked awful, but they were ready to strike us down with their weapons.  We quickly turned and ran as Tallus guided me to a stairway.  As I reached the top of the stairs Tallus was suddenly taken from me by one of Sisyphus’s traps.  The stairway collapsed beneath his feet and turned into a slide leading to a trap door.  Tallus disappeared through the trap and then the stairs reappeared.  I called out to him, but realized that I was now alone for the two walking dead men were hot on my trail.  There was nothing left to do, but run.
Fortunately Tallus had been reunited with Xena after being whisped away from me.  He found her within another of Sisyphus’s traps that Xena had fallen into upon arriving face to face with the tricky sorcerer.  Because he had been unsuccessful at convincing the warrior princess to allow death’s flame to burn out he had released her within a deep dark trap.  There were skeletons of the less fortunate everywhere as she fell into the depths of the secret passages.  Once there she had heard the strange sound of someone screaming.  It had been Tallus and when the two were reunited they had been surprised to see one another.  When Xena asked Tallus why he had come he explained that Gabrielle had wanted to warn Xena not to touch death.  Xena expressed that she had known that already, and then Tallus began to blame himself for allowing Gabrielle to come into danger.
Xena continued to focus for they had to find a way out of the trap.  She heard the sounds of water which led them to an old drainage system beneath the castle.  It too was infested with many disease infesting creatures, but it was the only way out of the labyrinth of Sisyphus’s castle.  Once the two reached the main floor a tragic secret regretfully revealed itself to the warrior princess.  Upon climbing out of the drain Tallus found himself within great pain and suffering.  He grabbed his chest in anguish as Xena watched him suffer.  When the pain had finally passed Xena asked him why he had been on his way to Corinth.  He told her with great sadness that he was dying.  And then Xena knew why Corinth had been so important to Tallus for it was there that he had grown up.  Tallus had wanted to see it once last time before he was to go with death.
Then Xena asked Tallus if Gabrielle was aware of his illness.  He regretfully reported that he had not yet told the unsuspecting bard.  Xena then thought that maybe it wasn’t too late if his illness had not matured.  She asked him how long he had known about it.  Tallus told her that he had been getting pains in his chest for the past year now and that they had begun to grow progressively worse as time went on.  It was then that Xena realized that there was nothing she could do for him.  And so she was brought to a choice.  She had to choose to save death and the world from suffering or to choose life for all so that Gabrielle could have Tallus in her life forever.  As she thought of this Tallus insisted that Xena was doing the right thing by freeing Celesta for there truly was no other right choice.  Tallus had decided that he was now ready to leave the earth for the suffering within had grown so great.
Then they were interrupted yet fortunate to find another soul who wanted to help in freeing death.  It was Caris the wife of king Sisyphus.  She too realized the importance of death.  She wanted to make sure that Xena and Tallus reached death before she was to disappear for eternity.  Only Caris could help them wade through all of the traps within the castle to make it to Celesta in time.  Her plan was a simple one.  She took Xena and Tallus near where Celesta was being held.  And then she summoned for Sisyphus tricking him into thinking that he had trapped Xena.  It was Caris that he had trapped with Tallus and the warrior princess armed with weapons and  words ready to convince the king of his mistake.
At first he was defiant suggesting that because he was not yet suffering he would  be a fool to allow death to escape.  He was certain that Xena wanted to fight him, but Xena insisted that this battle be won without weapons.  And so it was Tallus who explained to the king of his illness.  He begged the king one last favor for he needed death’s help now more than ever.  Sisyphus was still not convinced of death’s importance until Tallus reminded him that though his people may seem happy they would soon realize that one day they would all need death’s peace.  That would make Sisyphus die inside for he would realize that it was he who had caused his people unnecessary pain and suffering.  Sisyphus then saw what everyone else had been trying to convince him of.  And so he led Xena and Tallus to death.
I was not far behind them for I had been running throughout the castle trying to escape Toxious and his men.  Quickly I hid behind an old tapestry hoping to lose them.  For a moment the men stopped confused for they had indeed lost me.  They stopped right in front of the tapestry that I hid behind and discussed how they were going to find me again.  Then I heard a strange sound.  It was the sound of a small rat approaching on a shelf above my head.  The rat stopped next to my head and began to sniff into my ears.  I let out a small sound hoping to get him to leave for he was about to give me away.  And then he jumped down and ran out of hiding.  Toxious was still there and he would have found me had it not been for my unfortunate acquaintance.  The rat found himself at the mercy of Toxious’s massive boots.
Then Toxious laughed and walked on.  As I emerged from hiding I saw the poor little defenseless rodent lying flattened upon the floor.  He screamed within pain although I can’t say that I regret that he gave his health and life for mine.  Just a few moments later I found myself again being chased down by Toxious and his men.  We ran throughout the entire castle until finally I saw Xena.  I called out to her as she and Sisyphus were unlocking the chains binding death.  Then Toxious grabbed me again putting a knife to my throat.  His grasp was much harder than the last time we had met.  The metal was pressing down hard against my neck and I was certain to be taken.  Yet I knew it would be okay for Xena still had Tallus.
Then Xena called out to Toxious and offered him her life in exchange for mine.  She had suddenly decided to give Toxious what he had asked for before she had killed him the first time.  I couldn’t let Xena turn to save my life.  As I shouted to Xena not to give her compassion for my life Toxious threw me to the ground.  Just as he was about the thrust his sword into her stomach Sisyphus used his powerful magic and made a large blinding flame which knocked down Toxious and his men.  Then Xena flipped into the middle of all the action to fight off those who wanted death to cease.  She thrust her sword into them many times though each time they would return to their feet as if nothing had happen.  They all began to bleed even more with each blow, but they still rose ready to take the warrior princess.  Eventually she gave up trying to use weapons for it was futile to try killing them.
And then while Xena was busy fighting the others Toxious rose to take Tallus, but I would not let him.  Again I stepped in to protect him from harm.  Toxious was so strong and he was prepared again to take my life, but Xena heard my screams and responded by drawing her chackram and throwing it to disarm Toxious just as he was about to thrust his knife into my chest.  But the chackram did not stop there.  Amazingly it went right through death’s chains and freed her for all to embrace.  At that moment Toxious’s grasp over me ceased as he grabbed his many wounds and felt the suffering once more.  Celesta rose from her chair and then took her candle back.  She floated by each and every dying warlord touching him along the way.  And though they didn’t deserve death for their deeds death was not judgmental.  It was clear that her purpose was to give all men peace in the end.
After she touched the last dying man she paused as if there was someone she had forgotten.  She turned to take the one that needed her most as Sisyphus stepped forward.  Yet it wasn’t Sisyphus that she needed to take.  It was Tallus.  He stepped forward bravely facing her.  I was shocked for I had not known that Tallus was sick.  Xena tried to comfort me, but I refused to accept this for we had risked our own lives and suffering to free Celesta.  I begged her not to take him from me, but Tallus insisted that he must go.  He was genuinely sorry that he had not told me, but he had wanted to leave the world with the memory of his love.  Then I saw that there was nothing I could do.  He had to go with her for he would still be suffering though he was with me.  I couldn’t let my love suffer eternally for me.  And so we said good-bye as I hugged him.  My tears fell upon his soft shoulder as I held him in my arms for the last time.  I asked him not to forget me and he promised that he wouldn’t for he assured me that someday we would meet again on the other side.
Then I watched him walk away joining Celesta.  She was fair-skinned and wore a beautiful white dress.  Her hair was long and infinite as she touched his shoulder and escorted him through the most amazing white doors.  The gates of the other side opened and a pure white light illuminated into my heart as Tallus and Celesta disappeared within it forever.  I cried upon Xena’s shoulder for I knew that I would miss him dearly.  Xena comforted me knowing of how much my soul suffered.
And so I sing the tale of love and of death.  Of Tallus the gentle warm young man who was from Corinth where he met a young compassionate bard.  They shared in the suffering of others and in the joy of life together.  Yet their story ended tragically when Tallus had to leave Gabrielle behind so that death could be free for all.  And so that one day we could all be reunited in peace with those we loved so dearly.

The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#11:  The Black Wolf

January, 48 B.C.

There was once this rebel group in a small village between Amphipolis and Corinth.  They challenged their leader Zercies for he taxed them into poverty.  Most in this small village did not have the courage to stand up and fight for what they knew was just and right.  Yet this rebel group had a leader who believed that if they all banded together against the wrath of Zercies they would be able to once again live their lives in peace rather than in suffering.  Of course Zercies was against his rival whose leader was known only as the Black Wolf.  The Black Wolf’’s identity was known only to those loyal to the rebel group which made it nearly impossible for Zercies to face his worst enemy directly.  He did not know who to punish for the rise against his laws.
After many months of rebellion against Zercies the village leader could see that he was losing his battle against this Black Wolf.  So Zercies decided that there would be only one way to defeat his enemy.  He decided that he would arrest all who were involved within the rebel group led by the Black Wolf and throw them into his infamous dungeon.  It was said that if one ever reached Zercies dungeon that they would never return.  Despite this Zercies promised to all who were taken to his dungeon that he would free those who turned against their fearless leader.  As all of the black wolves stood before Zercies not one stepped forward to reveal their leader.  Instead they stepped forward one by one declaring themselves to be the one and only Black Wolf.  Zercies was not amused by this and so all of the black wolves were sentenced to prison with seven days to decide if they wanted to live or if they wanted to die for the Black Wolf.
Fortunately for these courageous rebels a great heroine had recently traveled into town in need of new shoes for her horse.  When Xena arrived she ran into an old friend from her home in Amphipolis.  It was Hermia the mother of her childhood friend Flora.  Hermia was distraught for her daughter had been one of the ones captured by Zercies and taken to his dreadful dungeon.  As Hermia told Xena of the horrors brought upon them by Zercies she explained that no one was known to escape his prison except for through the grave.  Hermia was desperate to have Flora home safe for her daughter was all that was left of her family.  Xena tried to calm Hermia, but Hermia was upset.  Hermia continued her story with regret for allowing her daughter Flora to see the man she felt was responsible for her daughter’s rebellious ways.  Diamedes was also a known member of the black wolf rebels.  Hermia blamed Diamedes for convincing Flora that they could rise up and fight against Zercies in a cause to save the welfare of their village.
Xena was not so certain that her childhood friend had made the wrong choice for the warrior princess would gladly have made the same choice had she been in Flora’s place.  Yet Xena knew that she could rescue Flora from Zercies dungeon and promised Hermia that she would bring Flora home to her.
And so the mighty warrior princess went into action.  She stole her way into Zercies castle defeating his guards in an instant for their skills were not near those of Xena.  The warrior princess walked into Zercies chambers taking he and his magistrate Lord Coolose by surprise.  As Coolose called for the guards Xena explained that they had already met her and been charmed.  Then she was direct with Zercies as she made him an offer.  He wanted the Black Wolf by the end of seven days so that an example could be made of this Wolf at the feast of Zeus.  The warrior princess was very bold as she offered Zercies the identity of the Black Wolf in exchange for 10,000 dinars and a new pair of boots.  Zercies found himself amused at this offer and had decided since Lord Coolose had been unsuccessful in bringing the Black Wolf to him that he would indeed give this bold harlot a chance.
Xena was thrown into the dungeon with the wolf pack to complete her mission despite Lord Coolose’s suspicions of her loyalty to Zercies.  Coolose decided that he would keep a close eye on this warrior woman for if she did succeed his job would be at stake.  Yet Xena was clearly not interested in taking the job of a magistrate.  Once inside the dungeon she searched for her old friend and found her amongst the rest of the wolf pack.  Flora was surprised yet happy to see her old friend.  She declared that Xena had grown legendary in the ten years since she had left Amphipolis behind, but Xena assured Flora that she had changed and begun to create a new legend for herself.  Flora clearly had faith in her friend’s words for she did not fear Xena’s presence.  Instead they reminisced together of their days as children.  And Flora told of Zercies wrath against her village.
Xena explained her reasons for joining Flora inside Zercies dungeon as she prepared to escape with her friend.  This mission seemed so simple yet when Flora refused to jump upon Xena’s back to escape through the air shaft above Xena realized that it would take much more than a simple escape to rescue Flora.  Xena would have to rescue Flora and the rest of the wolf pack in order to succeed this time.  And though it sounded so easy to do it was not for the wolf pack did not have faith in Xena.  They had heard of her terrible reputation like many others across the land and at Daimedes request refused to join Xena.  The warrior princess had to earn their trust and it would not be easy.
It seemed that this small village needed more than a warrior princess to intervene within their affairs against Zercies.  Again they were fortunate for Xena’s loyal friend had returned from her own personal journey to join her best friend the warrior princess.  Upon Gabrielle’s arrival into the village she recognized that familiar white steed Argo.  It was then that she knew that Xena would be nearby.  And then she found herself suddenly confronted by the smith with a bill for food and horseshoes.  After Gabrielle paid 15 dinars for feed and shoes she asked of the smith where Xena was.  It was as if Xena had known already that Gabrielle would soon catch up to her.  And so the smith said only that he would reveal Xena’s whereabouts for an additional five dinars.  Clearly this smith drove a hard bargain, but no information regarding Xena could be taken lightly.
Upon paying the five dinars the smith spoke of how Xena had been taken to Zercies dungeon.  Immediately Gabrielle asked how one could visit a friend there, but was told that it was impossible.  No prisoner of Zercies was allowed a visitor.  And so Gabrielle realized that she had to find a way to get herself thrown into prison despite its reputation of escape being only in death.  The bard soon realized that Xena did not have her whip or her chackram with her and she would indeed need those.  So Gabrielle went into action with a plan of her own on how to enter the dungeon to join the warrior princess.
Her first idea was a simple one.  Gabrielle realized as she walked through the village market that she could deface the authorities in order to gain punishment.  So the bard purchased two tomatoes and set out to find the perfect target and opportunity to deface the law.  It did not take long to find a few of Zercies men lounging in the market and as the bard prepared to take aim at her victims she was suddenly interrupted by a most annoying salesman.  He introduced himself vibrantly as Salmoneous.  He tried to sell her many riches including a leather bag with the sign of the Black Wolf.  Yet Gabrielle was not interested in purchasing a leather bag or any other item for her only goal was to buy a one way passage into Zercies dungeon.
After fighting off the annoying loud salesman Gabrielle took aim and fired two tomatoes into the direction of Zercies guards.  Successfully she had hit them leaving the guards angered and enraged.  Gabrielle was certain to be punished for her crimes against them.  Yet the end result was not what she had planned it to be.  Her innocence was protected by the presence of the naughty salesman for Zercies men were certain that it was he who had snickered at them and thrown the tomatoes.  But it was not and though Salmonoeous tried to argue his innocence there was no justice.  Instead Gabrielle was left to wonder what her next move would be.
Of course Xena had already come up with a plan of escape for herself and the wolf pack.  As Gabrielle fought to get in they were fighting to get out.  Xena had quickly caught sight of the wolf pack’s plan of escape.  They had been digging a tunnel, but it would never work for the guards would most certainly discover it in time.  Xena’ s own discovery of the tunnel left the wolf pack no choice, but to follow the warrior princess.  But there was something more sinister going on inside of the dungeon that had at first gone undetected by the sharp mind of the warrior princess.  Just as she was planning to unite the wolf pack behind her in an escape the warrior princess was taken by Lord Coolose and the guards.  Coolose had planned on making Xena an example for the wolf pack.
He thrust the warrior princess into his death trap before all of the prisoners.  She was thrown into the pit of death where she would be drowned.  Yet Coolose was unaware of the super strength of the warrior princess.  As the water fell upon her and buried her beneath she prepared to escape death.  Coolose’s men tried desperately to keep the warrior princess down into the flooding pit of water, but their mistake was in interfering.  Xena took the end of one of their swords and bashed the guards with it.  Then she took the sword down into the pit and cut herself free from the hands of death.  She was triumphant as she flipped out giving her signature battle cry.  Though she was wet and chilled she had survived and proven that she was worthy of the trust of the wolf pack for her defiance against Zercies and Coolose.
Of course help was on the way for the warrior princess as her old friend Salmoneous had entered into the dungeon.  Xena knew that with his help they could get all of the supplies they needed to arrange an escape against Coolose and his men.  And so the hunt was on for belts.  Any man with a belt was seeked out by the sly salesman Salmoneous whose arguments were impossible to go against.  He searched every dark corner despite his cowardly demeanor while Xena prepared the wolf pack for their plan of escape.  With the help of Salmoneous the escape went off quite successfully.  As the wolf pack hid above the guards came to inspect and found nothing.  Not one soul was present in the dungeon.  In their confusion Xena and the wolf pack charged down onto the guards and defeated them to escape into the night.
And just as they reached freedom outside the castle they found themselves betrayed for Coolose and his men were waiting.  The wolf pack was quickly rounded up and returned to their captivity while Coolose basked in his glory before Zercies for foiling Xena’s plan.  He had seemingly exposed this fraud against Zercies, but upon finishing his statements Xena admitted that all he had said had been true.  She had made friends with the wolf pack and gained their trust.  And of course she had led them in an escape.  For what way would have been better to expose the Black Wolf upon being the trusted leader of an escape plan.  Zercies could see Xena’s argument and was slightly impressed.  He also found himself disappointed for Xena’s plan had failed because of Coolose’s suspicions against her.  Zercies then sent Xena back down into the dungeon with the wolf pack expecting results soon.
Of course the wolf pack was now distrusting of Xena for her escape had led them right back into the hands of their enemy.  Diamedes found himself enraged and prepared to take down this new enemy.  He did not trust the warrior princess before, and his faith was stolen by the failed escape.  Diamedes was so passionate about protecting the Black Wolf that he challenged Xena to a battle.  Though the warrior princess warned against challenging her skills Diamedes pressed on.  He bravely took on the woman he thought had come to destroy the Black Wolf.  Their battle did not last long for a few warrior moves against the advances of a village rebel were all that were needed to prove a point.  Xena ended the battle in a position to kill Diamedes with a large rock, but chose not to take a life.  She wanted to be sure that the Black Wolf had faith though the wolf’s protector did not.
Another day had passed and Gabrielle was still trying to determine her plan of entrance into the dungeon.  As she found herself eating a bowl of stew she realized that her answer was in the palm of her hand.  If it wasn’t a tomato it would be stew.  Stew was the key to entering prison.  After scouting out the front doors of Zercies castle for two days Gabrielle boldly approached the guards and smashed them directly in the face with a bowl of scalding hot stew.  Of course the taste was just right and so was the act of defiance for finally Gabrielle found herself being personally escorted into Zercies dungeon.
Once inside she immediately looked to find Xena.  There were many who had apparently been in the dungeon for years.  Some had been in so long that their best friends were the rocks among them.  It was a sad situation as Gabrielle scoured the dungeon for Xena.  She described to all the dark woman in leather, a gold breast plate, and boots.  The dark tall woman with the piercing blues eyes had obviously been there for there were a few with the marks of her wrath.  Hot on the trail of the warrior princess Gabrielle finally ran into her friend with Salmoneous the salesman who had foiled her original plan.  As Salmoneous argued with Gabrielle about getting him thrown into the dungeon all she could do was remind him of his interference with her tomatoes.  It was a long story that Xena decided wasn’t important to hear.  Instead she was intrigued to see the bard having gone out of her way to enter into the depths of the damp darkness.
Though the warrior princess always insisted that Gabrielle’s help was never needed the bard knew otherwise.  She introduced to Xena her stylish whip doubling as an elegant belt, and her innocent hat concealing a deadly chackram.  Xena was seemingly impressed with Gabrielle’s ingenuity deciding against a scolding lesson.  Instead she decided to use her help to join Salmoneous in finding as many shirts as possible.  Her next plan of escape was to use the shirts as floating devices and escape through the underground waterway beneath the dungeon.
For three more days Gabrielle and Salmoneous scoured the dungeon looking for shirts and argued amongst each other for both were smooth talkers.  They spent most of their time challenging one another to a competition of wits yet in between Salmoneous told of how Xena had come to be in the dungeon and of how he had known the warrior princess before.  He had many intriguing stories yet after three days Gabrielle was truly satisfied to be leaving his presence behind.  And so just as they prepared to escape the sinister traitor was identified.  Xena had discovered that there was someone on the inside working for Coolose.  That man had posed as a prisoner and delivered the message of the first escape plan.  That was how Coolose had stopped them before.  Xena would not allow that to happen again.
Though it seemed that escape would not be possible Xena had a much larger more complex plan to carry out.  When the guards came back after being discovered Coolose demanded to see the Black Wolf or all would perish.  His guards placed a golden staff below the air shaft where the light of day shone through.  It was declared that by the time the sun hit the head of the golden staff it would be time for all to face their deaths.  Yet this threat invited no one to step forward so Coloose had another threat.  He decided that he would sacrifice one who did not belong to the wolf pack hoping to flush out the vigilante.  Coolose’s guard then took Salmoneous to be delivered to the pit of death.  Salmoneous tried desperately to declare that he was the Black Wolf.  But his howls were not heard and barely convincing.  As the guard prepared to take his life Xena quietly urged the true leader of the wolf pack to step up for she had known who it was.  She asked the Black Wolf to have faith and so Flora stepped forward identifying herself.  Yet Diamedes too stepped forward declaring himself to be the Black Wolf for he loved Flora dearly, but the Black Wolf demonstrated her power.  She demanded that her faithful followers stop in their madness and allow the guards to take her.
And so in the next day upon the feast of Zeus the execution of the Black Wolf was to take place.  Xena was offered by Zercies a chance to take Coolose’s position as magistrate and given her money, and boots.  Zercies asked her to join him before the crowd as the execution took place.  Xena took his invitation with delight though she and the bard were about to join forces in carrying out the final plan of escape.  As the executioner brought out the wolf pack to witness the death of their leader and of their hopes he prepared the condemned for her fate.  The Black Wolf was placed upon the wood block restrained from escape by her chains.  All was silent as he lifted his ax above his head.  Slowly he prepared to strike, but just as the ax went down Gabrielle removed her hat and threw it across the square to the warrior princess.
Xena caught her chackram and then thrust it in the direction of death.  It took off the head of the ax instead of the head of the Black Wolf.  And then Gabrielle and the wolf pack lifted their own chains and waited to be freed by the chackram.  It cut through the binds of the law and freed the pack to fight another day against the wrath of Zercies.  Zercies found himself upset with Xena’s betrayal and promised to redeem Coolose, but that moment would never come to pass.  Xena drew her sword to free the Black Wolf from her chains upon the block and passed on the sword to fight against corrupt law.
And so it was faith that had won the battle this time.  It was the faith the wolf pack had for its leader the Black Wolf, and it was the faith that an old friend had for a warrior princess that saved the lives of many.  For all had faith in a cause of goodness battling against the corruption of evil.

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll # 12:  The Warrior Princess

January, 48 B.C.

 

     I sing of a friendship that was tested.  A friendship that was threatened by the desires of an evil warrior.  Two vibrant brave heroes who were seemingly inseparable found themselves separated by blood and violence.  Their plight began in peace as they prepared a new dagger.  This dagger which they constructed symbolized the strength of their undying friendship for one another.  Yet they had made only one and so Hercules decided that his best friend Iolas should carry it.  Iolas refused the gesture at first feeling that since both had worked so hard that they should share in their accomplishment.  But Hercules insisted that Iolas take the dagger for there would be another day and a new dagger could be made by the two friends again.

     Iolas finally accepted the gesture of his friend and soon he was out practicing with his new weapon.  Upon testing his skill with the dagger he and Hercules found themselves crossing paths with someone from Iolas’s past.  It was the young and beautiful Serrina whom had once been Iolas’s love.  She seemed happy and content with her life for she had moved on and found a new love for her life.  Serrina shared in her joy with the two friends despite Iolas’s disappointment that  he would not have a second chance to mend the past with her.  As Serrina said goodbye to Iolas yet again Iolas found himself feeling a bit lonely inside.  His heart yearned for the love of a special lady to fill it with joy.  Yet Iolas did not realize that there was someone who stood right beside him everyday.  And although Hercules was only Iolas’s best friend his love for Iolas was loyal and true.

     The two heroes had been fighting together for the good of mortals and were finding themselves weary of their travels.  Hercules decided that the best place for them to go and rest would be at his mother’s home.  When they arrived Hercules could not rest despite his intentions for he felt guilt for not being there for his mother more often.  He decided that he would make up for his absence by constructing a mighty wall of boulders that would protect his mother from all of the world’s evils when he could not be there to protect her himself.  Of course Iolas had promised that he too would help in building this wall, but shortly after arriving Iolas wandered off into his own world of thought.

     He was still bothered by the pangs of emptiness that he felt within his courageous heart.  His depression was so great that he found himself walking down a dark path into the woods.  On the other side of the path at the end he found what he had desired to find.  There standing before him nursing her injured horse was a beautiful woman.  She had piercing blue eyes and dark flowing hair.  He introduced himself and offered his help to the woman.  Yet she was not trusting of the man who had come along to assist her.  She pulled out a large dagger and threatened to use it against Iolas for fear of his intentions.

     Iolas found himself amused by her actions and yet insulted.  He asked her if he looked dangerous, but she was still unwilling to put down her weapon.  Iolas realized that it was not going to be easy for him to gain the trust of this seemingly lost woman, but he tried once more.  His eyes could not resist and his heart was genuine.  Iolas then warned this fearful woman that he would not be the last person to come along the path.  For he could not promise that the next person would be as willing to help her to the nearest village.  With that he delivered a friendly smile to back up his statement and won the trust of this stunning woman.

     They traveled together back to the village near where Hercules’ mother lived.  There the two shared in each other’s company as Iolas’s heart came alive once again.  Then Hercules arrived at the village tavern where the two new acquaintances had chatted for hours.  Iolas had lost track of the day and Hercules reminded him that he had promised to help in building the wall.  Iolas apologized to his friend although he did not regret forgetting for he had made a much more pleasant discovery.  He was delighted to introduce his new-found lady friend to Hercules.  Hercules found himself intrigued at the woman who would so suddenly steal his friend’s heart.  This woman’s name was Xena.  She was seemingly shy, but with a sense of humor.  Xena inquired if all of Iolas’s friends were as famous as Hercules.  Hercules was modest as always, but excited to see his friend’s spirits were up.  It was a woman who Iolas had truly needed.  In celebration of this joy Hercules offered to buy dinner for the three at the tavern.  Iolas accepted the invitation, but Xena had  plans of her own.

     She declared that she was exhausted and planned on finding a bed.  As she rose from the table she made her own invitation.  She asked if Iolas would do her just one more favor and help her to find that bed she seeked.  It was a shrewd and seductive invitation, and Hercules realized that he could not compete with the affections of a lady.  So Iolas went away with his new love and was not seen again by his friend for another week.  Despite the chance for rest and relaxation at his mother’s Hercules was finding himself missing his best friend.  He was disappointed that their journey to find solace together had ended up being a lone journey.  Hercules longed to find the day that he and his friend could be enjoying fishing or hunting together instead of fighting against darkness.  His mother tried to comfort her son explaining that it was the woman that would tame Iolas’s restless heart.  Hercules could not argue with that cure so he found himself accepting that Iolas was fine without him.

     Just when Hercules was about to accept his loss Iolas came riding over the valley alongside his new lady friend.  He was bright and confident ready to do battle once again.  Upon their arrival Iolas and Xena explained that they were about to go up against the warlord Petrachious.  Xena was a warrior woman who had bravely decided to build an army to go up against Petrachious.  Her intentions were to protect her people from his invasion of the Arcadian Highlands.  Yet she needed help and had enlisted Iolas in her seemingly selfless battle.  Hercules was delighted that Iolas was happy and wished only the best for his friend.   He also complemented the warrior woman on her choice in Iolas for Hercules was certain that Iolas was capable of fighting alongside Xena.  Hercules regretfully wished his friend goodbye reminding Iolas that if he ever needed his old friend that Hercules would be there.  Iolas bade his friend farewell and rode off into the valley alongside the warrior woman.

     Not long after leaving Hercules Xena and Iolas rode down the road running into some warriors whom she claimed to be from Petrachious’s army.  It was obvious that she was a fearless warrior and wasted little time in deciding to battle against these men.  She charged into battle like a crazed animal as Iolas watched.  He was taken by surprise by her zest and bravery.  Xena seemingly did not fear death and so he quickly found himself following her into this fierce battle.  Iolas fought with compassion and humanity while Xena fought with passion and vengeance.  She seemed to be driven by an inner anger that Iolas did not understand.  Though confused  by her actions he found himself impressed by her skill and fearless bravery.  Iolas had only seen one other person fight with skill equal to that of Xena and that was Hercules. 

     As the battle came to an end all, but one of the seven men had met their deaths at the end of Xena’s sword.  Iolas had allowed the seventh man mercy for he could clearly see that the battle was over.  He did not see the need to take the man’s life.  But Xena was seemingly disappointed in Iolas’s choice for she had wanted to chase him down into death as well.  Iolas could sense that her passions were difficult for her to control yet he was able to calm her into mercy.  Xena was praised by her new companion for her great bravery and skill.  She took advantage of this praise and asked that she be free to burn the wagon left behind.  Iolas did not argue with the warrior princess’s desires, but he found himself still confused by her need for destruction. 

     The two then continued down the path toward where Xena’s army was camped out ready to do battle against their enemy.  Along the way Iolas still found himself thinking of Hercules despite being with the beautiful warrior princess.  He was finding himself comparing the two for Hercules would not have chosen to destroy the wagon.  Hercules would have had mercy upon the enemy despite what crimes had been committed.  Yet Xena was not at all compassionate.  She seemingly seeked to destroy her enemy before her enemy could desolate her.  Iolas expressed his continuing admiration for his best friend in the presence of the warrior princess.  Of course Xena was not at all impressed by Hercules.  She spoke of Hercules as being selfish rather than selfless.

     When Iolas questioned this view of his best friend Xena explained herself clearly.  She said that Hercules did all of his heroic deeds in order to gain vengeance upon his step mother Hera for her anger at his father Zeus.  Xena had said that Hercules was only out for himself despite what everyone else believed.  Again Iolas found himself confused not realizing that there could be more to Hercules than he had previously thought.  And just when Xena realized that she has sparked some interest in her view she pressed it expressing to Iolas how much she felt that he was a much better man than Hercules could ever be.

     The warrior princess was playing with the ego of a man and the heart of a man in love.  Iolas’s love for the warrior princess was blinding.  It clouded his senses and damaged his sensibilities.  Truth was now becoming something of a challenge for Iolas as he found himself falling deeper and deeper into the trap of this black widow.  Soon the two arrived at Xena’s camp which Iolas found to be quite impressive.  There were at least seventy-five men preparing themselves diligently for battle.  All of these men seemed to be loyal to their warrior leader despite her being a woman.  It was unusual for women to lead such armies, but it made Xena more attractive to her new lover.

     After greeting her army Xena continued her game and played more deeply into Iolas’s emotions.  She was certain that his heart was in the palm of her hand as she continued her seductive rampage.  After basking Iolas in the pleasures of love she left him alone unaware of her true intentions within their relationship.  In the beginning she had pretended to be a helpless lost woman who needed the help of a strong and brave man.  She had refused his help at first playing as if she cared for him.  Xena had told Iolas that she would not allow him to fall in love with her, but it had been too late for that.  Yet the warrior princess knew in the beginning exactly what she was doing.  There was no real love in her heart for the compassionate Iolas.  Instead she had plans larger than those of love.

     Xena wanted Hercules instead of Iolas, but not to love.  She wanted Hercules for her true intentions were of a bloody violent nature.  The warrior princess had been known for years across the lands as one who intended to conquer the world.  Yet with Hercules as a champion to those of innocence she knew that she would never reach her ultimate power.  With Hercules being the only one standing in the way of evil the solution for Xena was simple.  She must take the life of Hercules so that she could move forward with her own selfish destiny.  Xena wanted to rule the world and there was nothing in the world to stop her beyond Hercules.

     And so as the unsuspecting Iolas slept peacefully in her bedchambers Xena summoned another of her warriors.  She chose the young Theodoras to send on a mission.  It was a suicide mission though Theodoras was blinded by his own love for the charming black widow.  Xena sent Theodoras to kill Hercules knowing that he would not succeed.  As she sent her warrior to his death she left him with a keepsake and a message for Hercules.  Xena gave him her emblem necklace to wear as a tiding of protection though she knew it would not defeat Hercules.  And so Theodoras went off to complete his mission with his passionate misguided heart. 

     Upon arriving at the home of Hercules and his mother Theodoras followed the great hero into the barn.  Theodoras hidden from view prepared his dagger for the kill.  The unsuspecting hero entered into the barn preparing to put away his tools.  Hercules was weary from a long day of work and dropped his tools upon the ground.  It was in that fortunate moment that Theodoras had decided to make his move upon the legendary hero.  He threw his knife intending to strike Hercules, but instead missed.  The violent knife plunged into the wooden column above alarming Hercules to the danger that lurked within. 

     Hercules rose from his tools carefully as he summoned his enemy to show himself.  Theodoras realized that his moment of advantage had passed and revealed himself bravely.  He drew his weapon and prepared to do battle against Hercules.  Hercules chose not to fight with a weapon of offense.  Instead he chose a large stick to defend himself rather than to kill.  Theodoras charged forward with passion against Hercules.  Their battle scaled upon the steps into the loft.  Yet it was there that it abruptly ended for the railing had given way throwing Theodoras to his death below.  Theodoras had fallen upon a rake that Hercules had dropped moments before their duel.  The rake had thrust itself through Theodoras’s back into his chest. 

     Hercules was regretful that this enemy had to die such a horrible death.  When he came down from the loft he asked Theodoras why he had engaged in a battle against him.  Theodoras replied that it was out of love that he had come for Hercules.  And when Hercules asked who Xena’s name purged itself through his lips within Theodoras’s last breath.  Hercules found himself confused and then worried as he noticed the necklace that Theodoras wore.  He then took the necklace from the fallen warrior and went to his mother to sort out the mystery surrounding Xena the warrior princess. 

     At first Hercules’s mother did not believe that Iolas’s Xena could be the same Xena that had sent Theodoras to kill her son.  Yet Hercules had the evidence of a message that was meant to reach him indefinitely.  Hercules’ mother was fearful that her son was falling into a trap.  Yet the hero was brave despite having to risk his own life to save his friend.  Hercules’ mind was made up that he would seek out Iolas and return him home safely despite the risk.

      It did not take long for Hercules to follow the trail that Xena had left for him to find her.  He came across the old burned wagon and there he found his friendship was truly threatened.  Iolas had left behind his dagger that the two had constructed together.  Hercules picked it up with concern realizing how serious the trouble really was.  He continued on finding Xena’s army and entering expecting to find his friend.  Upon his arrival Xena was again pleasuring Iolas’s desires and playing with his unsuspecting heart.  When the news that Hercules had arrived came through to the two lovers Xena contended that Hercules had come to steal Iolas’s glory.  Iolas’s pride was bruised and he found himself angry that his best friend would think of him in that way.

     Iolas charged out into the square where he expressed to Hercules how angry he was for his interference.  Hercules ignored his friend’s blind anger suggesting that it was not Iolas that he had come to fight.  It was obvious that Xena was succeeding in driving a wedge between two friends who had once seemed inseparable.  The warrior princess was delighted at her master plan for it was certain to result in the death of a hero.  She stood by impressed that Iolas would defend her character so passionately.  His anger toward Hercules and passion for Xena were so great that he struck Hercules in the face.  It was in that moment that the great Hercules found himself struck down with pain.  It wasn’t the physical pain of Iolas’s punch, but the pain of knowing that Iolas did not believe in his loyalty to his friend.  Hercules threw down his gift of friendship returning their dagger to Iolas.  Then he left Iolas behind with his new love Xena for it was obvious that Iolas had already made his choice.  He had chosen blind love over truth and friendship. 

     Hercules found himself back at the village tavern alone later that night.  He was depressed by his loss as he ate his dinner.  As he sat within his own depression an old man came along and asked him if he had rid them of her.  Hercules found himself confused for a moment for he did not know what this old man had been talking about.  Then the old man asked if Hercules had rid them of Xena.  Hercules had responded that he did not care one way or the other about the destiny of Xena.  The old man was shocked and upset that the great hero would refuse this task.  Hercules had never been known to walk away from impending darkness.  He had always faced it courageously, but now he had walked away.  The old man introduced himself as Petrachious.  Hercules was shocked for a moment for that was the warlord who Xena had been fighting against.

     The old man then asked Hercules to take another look for he was not Petrachious the warlord, but Petrachious the simple old farmer.  Petrachious was concerned for the well-being of the people of his village and for all who resided within Arcadia.  He then told of Xena’s plans of conquering the world through blood, violence, and fear.  Petrachious pleaded with Hercules to stand up to Xena for he was the only one who could stop her murderous rampage upon the land.  Hercules listened to his story, but was not certain that it was the best choice for him to continue to interfere within the love that his friend had found in Xena.  Though Hercules knew that Xena’s love was not real, and that Iolas was a grown man Petrahcious argued that Hercules was still responsible for his friend.  Petrachious took Hercules to the grave of his fallen young son who had been barely twenty when Xena’s army had taken his life.

     Petrachious was regretful, but determined that justice against the warrior princess be done for many more would die within her rage.  Hercules found himself making the tough decision to return to Xena’s camp.  He would return to defeat Xena despite Iolas’s blind love for the warrior princess.  Hercules knew going into this mission that he may lose his friend forever, but it was a price worth paying to save the lives of many.  And so as Hercules journeyed back toward Xena’s camp he found himself under attack again.  This time it was by the warrior known as Estragon.  He was another from Xena’s army who had found himself blinded by the warrior princess’s charm.  Estragon fought Hercules with his weapon of death, but Hercules was able to defeat him with only a large tree limb.  Estragon had been knocked to the ground by a fierce block delivered by Hercules.  There Estragon lie begging for his life.  Hercules took pity on the warrior and threw down his weapon helping Estragon to his feet.

     Just as Estragon stood again Xena appeared from behind another boulder.  She shouted out to Estragon with anger and disappointment as she pulled out a dangerous weapon.  It was round and silver with gold plates decorating the outside.  This round sharp blade was known as the chackram.  A weapon that could rip through even the thickest branches in the forest.  Xena jumped up and threw the chackram toward her victim.  It nearly missed Hercules, but struck her loyal warrior Estragon in the throat killing him instantly.  Amazingly this round weapon returned to its origin where Xena caught it and laughed.  She then jumped upon her horse and rode off waiting for Hercules to follow her back to camp.  There her trap was set and ready for him to fall.

     When she returned Iolas had been worried for she had left him without telling him that she was going.  He wanted desperately to be by her side and was disappointed when he found out that she had gone with another warrior.  Iolas scolded Xena for taking Estragon for he was killed.  The brave passionate heart of Iolas was certain that he could have defeated Hercules in battle.  No one knew Hercules the way that Iolas did.  Iolas found himself enraged when he discovered that Hercules had been the one who had killed Estragon.  He was prepared to kill his friend to protect his warrior princess.

      When Hercules arrived he was prepared to take on the warrior princess.  Yet Iolas would not be ignored this time.  He  quickly confronted Hercules and demanded that Hercules choose a weapon.  Hercules did not want to fight his friend and did not choose a weapon.  He tried desperately to reach his friend’s heart, but was unsuccessful.  Iolas then threw a weapon to Hercules and prepared to do battle against the one who had been his friend.  The first strike of the sword came from Iolas’s passion for Xena.  His senses were dull and his moves were sloppy.  Hercules chose not to take advantage of his friend for he could not kill Iolas.  Xena’s men interrupted the fair fight involving themselves in assisting Iolas’s vengeance against Hercules.  Hercules became frustrated with this game that the warrior princess played with his friend’s heart. 

     He decided to end this fight quickly as he took Iolas down and held the blade to his throat.  Iolas moved to strike below as he pulled their dagger of friendship on his friend.  It was then that Iolas realized that he was not going to win this duel against Hercules.  Iolas asked that Hercules send him to his death, but Hercules refused.  He dropped his weapon and helped Iolas to his feet.  It was in that moment that Iolas realized the truth about Xena and about Hercules.  If Hercules had been all of the things that Xena had proclaimed him to be he would have taken Iolas’s life without question.  Instead he had forgiven his friend and chosen to fight alongside Iolas once again. 

     The two then battled it out against Xena and her army.  They fought with compassion.  The heroes did not fight with weapons, but with their powerful tough brawn.  Xena’s army did not match the skill of Hercules, and the compassion of Iolas.  Hercules found himself nearly facing the wrath of the warrior princess until Iolas found himself in trouble.  Iolas had been slashed by a weapon across the chest and was being beaten by some of Xena’s men.  Hercules made another choice.  He chose to fight against Xena another day and to save his friend from defeat.  Hercules understood the importance of having his friend alongside him in battle.  He knew that he would need Iolas to be there for him when he went up against Xena the next time.  And so Iolas learned a difficult lesson about truth and about love.  He realized that sometimes love is right there beside you.  Do not look too hard for you might just find the black widow.

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#13:  The Gauntlet

January, 48 B.C.

 

     Inside all of us there is a yearning to do good and  to be good.  And its the same with the warrior princess.  Her transformation from the ways of darkness into the goodness of the light began with the friendship of Hercules and Iolas.  After being defeated by their love of each other Xena the warrior princess found herself confused.  She could not fight against that kind of power.  Xena had taken armies up against many more than two and wiped out her enemy completely.  Yet this time it only took two men to defeat her plans for conquering the world.  This power was greater than any power she had ever known. 

     The warrior princess continued on fighting with her army and destroying the lives of many.  She was still seeking the conquer all of Greece.  Xena’s army was very successful in the Parthenon province as it conquered one city after another.  One day Xena found herself in the heat of battle being challenged by one of her men.  He tested her to see just how far he could take her code.  Xena’s code was that no women or children were to be killed in battle.  Darphus was determined to break the code and deface the honor of his commander.  He killed an innocent woman with spite making sure that Xena could see what crime he had committed.  The warrior princess was angry at his defiance, but could do nothing as she took her own blade to the throat of an innocent man.

     She used her dangerous round weapon in this battle as the power of her army took down yet another village.  As women and children fled and other survivors followed the burning village sent out a warning to those which surrounded it of the approaching wrath of a warrior princess.  With the battle ending Xena approached Darphus to remind him of her code.  True warriors did not kill the weak.  While the two argued Xena found herself presented with a cowardly woman.  Yet there was something very strange about this cowardly woman.  When she was brought forth to the warrior princess Xena revealed this woman’s true identity.  A cowardly woman turned out to be a cowardly man who had been hiding from Xena’s army during the battle.  Xena’s men prepared to take his life, but Xena stopped them with a simple command.  Then the warrior princess asked him why she should spare his life.  The cowardly salesman Salmoneous tried nervously and desperately to explain.  He tried every excuse he could think of, but it was when he spoke of his mother’s sadness that caught the warrior princess’s attention.

     Somehow the simple reminder of a mother’s loss was all that it took to touch Xena’s cold heart.  Yet she could not allow her men to know that there was still warmth inside of her heart.  She told Salmoneous that he was amusing and that was why he would be allowed to live.  He would travel with her and her army amusing her when she needed amusement.  Salmoneous was relieved that his life had been spared and found himself liking the warrior princess despite her darkness.  And so he traveled with Xena’s army toward the village of Parthis where they were planning to strike next.  Late in the night Xena had decided that they would set up camp.  She sent one of her scouts out ahead of her as she took a few of her men north to lay out her plan of attack.

      After only traveling with Xena’s army for half a day Salmoneous could see that there was conflict within.  He could see that Darphus was a force to be reckoned with despite Xena’s charisma and power.  Salmoneous began to find himself recalling his experience earlier in the day when Xena and her army had first stopped to have their meal.  It was obvious that they were quite rich for they had plenty of plump fresh chickens to feed at least ten armies.  Salmoneous was certain that he would have a feast himself until Darphus reminded him that he could kill him in an instant.  Salmoneous went to the only one that he could see any warmth within.  He went to Xena and began to entertain her once more.  He tried complementing her looks at first.  Indeed the warrior princess was beautiful.  Then Salmoneous began to sing to the warrior princess insisting that she needed someone to promote her image.  Of course her image had already been promoted.  Xena knew this, but realized that her subject was begging.  She gave him the rest of her chicken, but told him to continue his entertainment.

      In that moment it had been obvious to Salmoneous that Xena was truly growing weary of this dark lifestyle she had been living.  She was quite good at it, but Salmoneous knew that there was indeed more than just to swords, and the armor.  Upon finishing his bowl of stew after thinking of his earlier encounter with Xena he found that Darphus had his own plans.  The two had been arguing all day long over whether or not they should hit the western coast before going onto Parthis.  Darphus wanted to take that village because it was an easy target, but Xena objected.  It seemed that her lust for riches and power were not as great as they had been told to be.  Only Darphus seemed out of control. 

      And he was for after Xena had left toward Parthis Darphus took the rest of Xena’s army toward the west coast.  Salmoneous reminded him of Xena’s wishes just before Darphus left, but backed down upon being threatened again.  It was truly amazing that Salmoneous had not been killed by the wrath of Darphus.  Yet those on the coast were not as fortunate on that night.  They truly experienced tragedy greater than can be imagined.  Darphus took Xena’s men instructing them to kill every last man, woman, and child before leaving to return to camp.  With Darphus in command in Xena’s abscence he instructed the army to burn the entire village and take any riches that they desired.  Darphus was clearly greedy and heartless.  If Xena’s heart were cold then Darphus’s was frozen.

     Xena returned back to her camp alone to find Salmoneous and no other soul.  Salmoneous explained what Darphus had done and Xena immediately rode to take command once again.  Yet it was too late for the coast when she arrived for the entire village had been charred to nothing.  She sadly investigated the ruins and saw that everyone had been killed.  Her warriors had done all of this destruction and she was responsible for the deaths of women and children.  The warrior princess was angry at Darphus for his defiance, but there was nothing that she could do.  It was clear to her that she was beginning to lose control of her army to the tyrant.  Yet then something amazing happened within Xena’s  moment of darkness.  The cries of a child were heard coming from the depths of the destruction.  Xena followed the cries and there beneath a white blanket was a baby.  The child should have meant nothing, but it was the beginning for Xena.  For when Darphus commanded that the baby be killed Xena would not allow it.  She protected the child from harm and then left with Salmoneous to find a safe place for him.

     Salmoneous could feel Xena’s uncertainty for the choice that she had made.  It seemed unlikely that a hungry warrior princess would put her honor on the line to protect a child.  The two had found a shepherdess who could take care of the baby hidden in a cave under the valley.  Xena did not seem to know what to do or where to go next.  Then she handed the baby to the shepherdess who was glad to care for the orphaned child.  After taking care of the child Xena took Salmoneous and they returned to camp with the rest of Xena’s army.  Yet when they arrived Xena was not welcomed as she had expected to be.  Instead she was greeted by Darphus requesting that she leave the army the only way that an honorable warrior could leave.  It was clear that her past was a harsh and unwilling resistant to change for she had been changing the way her army conducted itself.  Darphus and others were not in agreement with Xena’s new codes and so her own men put her through a Gauntlet of faith. 

     Xena still had faith that her men were loyal to her.  She prepared to go through the gauntlet without being touched by a single man.  Then Darphus commanded that her armor be removed.  The men removed the armor and Xena prepared to walk the gauntlet.  Salmoneous was told that no one had ever survived the gauntlet.  He watched as the warrior princess took the first steps across the line in the sand.  After three steps nothing happened, but then the first blow came.  That was followed by another and another.  Xena’s own army was beating their fearless commander as she walked through their wrath.  Her faith in her men was torn for they had chosen Darphus’s code over her own.  Now the gauntlet had gone beyond faith.  It was now a test of survival for the warrior princess.  She fought through the violent blows and took every abuse delivered to her body.  Xena was fearless as she challenged her men to take her life continuing onto the other side.  She had started out on the dark side, but was determined to reach the light. 

     The warrior princess fell to the ground badly beaten and bruised.  She was close to the second line in the sand struggling to cross it alive.  Slowly she crawled toward the light through all that plagued her.  And then as she crossed the line.  Her proud warrior head fell and she was motionless.  Salmoneous was certain that it was over for Xena as he she a tear for her.  He was the only man who had compassion for Xena.  Salmoneous had been the only one loyal.  But just when everyone began to walk away and leave Xena behind she rose from the darkness and faced her demons.  Darphus was shocked that she had lived through the gauntlet for no one ever had.  He commanded the men to finish her off, but not one would cross that line.  Xena had played by the rules of the gauntlet and made it through alive.  She had survived and with that gained the respect of Darphus’s men.  Darphus laughed in her face proclaiming that he would eventually finish her off.  As she prepared to leave for exile Xena spit in the face of her new found enemy. 

      The next morning Salmoneous was released from an army once commanded by the warrior princess.  He was fully suited with armor and ran swiftly from the wrath of Darphus.  Yet he did not make it far down the road before landing within a trap which took him upside down from a tree.  Salmoneous hung there for several moments until help arrived.  It was Hercules, his cousin, and a local who had been from the west coast.  He had lost everyone he had ever known and ever loved to the wrath of Darphus’s fury.  The young scout had first run into Hercules and his cousin while the two had buried the dead.  Mistakenly the scout had thought that it was Hercules who had caused the destruction.  He had tried to battle against Hercules to get his revenge, but was defeated by the legendary hero.  Yet not before he had sent an arrow through the chest of Hercules’s young cousin.  It was the cousin whom had alerted Hercules to the death and the destruction spreading through Parthenon.  And the enemy that they seeked to find was the warrior princess.

       Yet upon running into the helpless Salmoneous they freed him from his binds.  When Salmoneous was alerted to the danger that Xena brought he defended the warrior princess.  Salmoneous revealed what he had seen within the dark woman and what he had seen could be repaired.  The salesman declared that it was Darphus that they truly seeked to find.  It was Darphus that needed to be stopped and taken by the light.  The three heroes did not believe Salmoneous for they had not yet seen the truth of the warrior princess.  As for Hercules he could only recall the Xena he had met the last time they had crossed paths.  The Xena Hercules remembered wanted to kill him and tried to steal the friendship he valued most. 

     The legendary hero continued on with his comrades angry at all that he had seen.  He was passionate in stopping the dark force behind all of the madness.  They headed on toward Parthis hoping to make it there before Xena’s army.  Not far from Parthis they ran into the dark woman warrior.  It was as if she had awaited their arrival and knew that Hercules was coming.  She challenged the legendary hero enticing him into a battle against her.  Hercules refused at first.  Xena then pulled out her chackram and beckoned Hercules once more.  Salmoneous tried to plead with Xena knowing that she was confused.  But again he backed down for his cowardly heart could not stand alone.  Hercules then charged forward to defend his comrades from Xena.  The skilled warrior princess flipped into action drawing her sword to do battle.

     Hercules did not use a weapon at first for he did not believe in the death of his enemy.  The skill of the warrior princess became to great for Hercules to fight this battle without the sword so he took refuge.  Now it was  a battle to the death between two great warriors.  One was of the darkness and the other of the light.  Their swords clashed violently like the sounds of Zeus, but in the end the light won out holding his blade to Xena’s neck.  She was helpless upon the ground and badly defeated.  Her warrior pride was more defeated than it had ever been.  Xena had always won against her enemies, but this time it was different.  She had come to defeat Hercules and take his head back to her army.  Xena was certain to regain their respect upon defeating such a worthy opponent.  But her plans had been defeated once again by a worthy foe.

     Xena then gave up for she wanted her life taken.  If she could not defeat Hercules then she did not want to live.  She begged Hercules to take her life, but he refused.  Hercules could see in that moment what Salmoneous had seen all along.  The legendary hero took pity on a confused warrior.  He could see her potential and he could see within her a struggle between two poles.  Hercules released his grip upon her life and let her go.  She fled the scene more confused and in shame of her defeat.  Though the scout wanted to take his vengeance upon Xena for what her army had done to his family and friends Hercules advised against going after one so confused.  Hercules knew deep down that one day Xena would make the right choice.

      And so the four comrades continued on.  They prepared to take Parthis from the marauders whom had stolen so much.  First they arrived ahead of the army following the short cut known by the scout.  Then they safely escorted the people of Parthis to safety as they prepared to do battle.  Darkness soon fell and Darphus rode into the village with the army.  They fought seventy-five men to four.  And amazingly they were even.  But the battle became weary for Hercules and his comrades until someone had decided to join them.  It was Xena the warrior princess who had returned.  She did not return on the side of the darkness, but to fight against it.  Xena battled alongside Hercules against an army that had once been hers.  She had indeed made her choice and it was the next step toward her journey into the light.

     Xena was an experienced warrior and knew that in order to win this battle she must destroy the leader.  She went for Darphus and dueled against him.  His greed driven style did not stand the test for Xena’s passion was more fierce.  She quickly ended their duel to the death thrusting her sword through the chest of her rival.  Upon his death the rest of Darphus’s men fled.  They could not stand alone without their dark leader.  Hercules and Salmoneous found themselves surprised yet satisfied for Xena was on her way to redemption though she did not know it.  As Xena washed the blood from many battles from her hands she was confronted by Hercules.  He was curious to know what had swayed her.  She spoke of how her army had not been true warriors.  Xena’s code demanded that she stop their darkness before it grew beyond control. 

    But her choice had not impressed the scout who was still angry at her for his loss.  He spoke of how his wife and baby could not be saved by her one good deed.  Hercules tried to calm his rage, but Salmoneous reminded all that Xena had saved at least one child from harm.  This restored the hopes of the scout.  He asked Xena if the child had a birth mark on its left leg.  Xena confirmed that indeed it had.  This positively identified the scout’s good fortune.  Despite the loss of his wife his child still lived.  It was because of Xena’ s first choice to do good.  Yet Xena was not willing to give the child to his father without an argument.  It was this child that she had believed to cause her to lose her army.  The father of the child prepared to challenge her no matter the cost.  He would have gladly given his life to have his child safely within his arms. 

       Hercules stepped in to resolve this conflict, but Xena had made another choice.  She resolved it by commending the father on his bravery for his son.  Xena had wanted to be certain that the child she had given so much for would grow up to be a brave man like his father.  And with that she had decided that she wanted to travel alongside Hercules for a while.  Hercules accepted her company and was delighted at her choice.  Xena knew that she could learn much from the legendary hero and with that Xena has turned good.  For her destiny now is to fight for the innocent and that is what she has done.        

The Xena Scrolls

By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

Scroll#14: Unchained Heart

January, 48 B.C.

     I sing of the darkness which has bound the heart of the warrior princess.  It was seemingly impossible to escape the chains which had bound it for so many long years, but there was one man who found himself showing her the way. 

      The warlord Darphus had been slain through the chest at the end of the sword of Xena the warrior princess.  He had seemingly been defeated.  Despite all of efforts of Hercules, and Xena to win over the darkness it still beckoned Xena.  This darkness was led by the god of war himself.  Ares found himself disgruntled at his loss of the warrior princess to the fight for good.  He had a plan that would most certainly bring down upon the earth the greatest darkness ever known as he rose from the dead the warlord Darphus.  Darphus was promised sanctuary and power by Ares if he were to carry out his plans upon the earth.  Ares also left with Darphus a gift of unknown strength and horror.

      For many weeks Xena had traveled with Hercules and Salmoneous enjoying these moments of life without darkness.  The warrior princess found herself quite intrigued by Hercules and his inner desire to do good instead of evil.  One day as she and her two new friends sat down to lunch they found themselves interrupted by an urgent message.  The message had been sent from a warlord through a villager.  His village had been viciously attacked and many had lost their lives.  This lone villager had been the only one spared for he was told to find Hercules to tell of his encounter with the warlord known as Darphus. 

     Hercules and Xena found themselves confused for Xena had been the one who had thrust her sword into his chest delivering Darphus into death’s hands.  The villager then confirmed that Darphus had indeed had that same gaping hole that Xena spoke of.  Xena found herself confused for it was seemingly impossible for a mortal to have survived that injury.  Yet Hercules explained that Darphus had not survived.  Instead he had been saved by his brother Ares for only gods had the power to restore life to mortals.  Hercules soon realized that Ares had elected Darphus to do his bidding.  Xena quickly rose from the table ready to seek out and destroy the evil that was Darphus, but Hercules warned that they must fight this fight together.  The villager then said that Darphus had headed to Allisia where he and his army were camped.  Hercules, Xena, and Salmoneous prepared once again to fight for another day as they began traveling toward evil. 

      Upon stopping to camp later in the evening Salmoneous began to set the mood for two great warriors.  He prepared a blanket and began setting up his silver plates, and goblets.  Salmoneous had plans to turn these two warriors into more than just friends.  As he continued his ritual Hercules interrupted realizing where Salmoneous had intended to take he and the warrior princess.  Hercules did not particularly agree with being matched with the warrior princess despite his underlying attraction to her.  Her charms were powerful, but Hercules had a friend to consider for he had not forgotten the relationship that Xena had once had with Iolas. 

       Hercules suggested that Salmoneous hunt for his own dinner.  The legendary hero underestimated the determination of the salesman.  Salmoneous accepted a challenge to hunt for quail as long as someone else did the cooking.  Xena was not much for cooking and so she quickly passed on the responsibility to the legendary hero who seemed very dissatisfied with his sudden election to the task.  The warrior princess had decided that she would be the one who would do the scouting while Salmoneous and Hercules prepared for dinner.  Then she left the two to do their chores and Salmoneous proclaimed that he had the skills to hunt for quayle.  While on his hunt for quail Salmoneous ran into an old friend to Hercules, but was unaware of Iolas’s relationship with the hero.  Salmoneous was irritated that Iolas did not believe that he was a good friend to Hercules.  Iolas laughed when Salmoneous suggested that he was writing the legends that made Hercules famous. 

      To prove his words to Iolas he took him directly to Hercules who sat alongside the lake peacefully.  Salmoneous warned his new acquaintance that he should not approach Hercules in awe for Hercules preferred to be treated as if he were an ordinary man.  Indeed the hero was modest, but despite the warnings Iolas greeted him with excitement pretending that he did not know the hero.  Salmoneous scolded him for not taking heed to his words, but Iolas and Hercules continued to play the game.  Hercules rose from the water and confirmed that he was indeed Hercules.   He then asked of who this new acquaintance was.  Iolas played coy as he replied his name in return.  And then suddenly the two broke off into hysterical laughter and joy for they had not seen each other in months.  The two best friends had missed one another and it was clear to Salmoneous that he was no longer at the top of Hercules’s list.  He followed behind Iolas, and the warrior princess.  Then Iolas revealed to Hercules that he had heard of the warrior princess’s return.  Hercules’s friend was certain that they must once again go up against the woman who had separated their friendship.  Then Salmoneous found himself feeling that he was no longer a part of this potentially volatile conversation.  Despite that he went back to the hunt and successfully caught dinner for four.

     As two old friends reunited with joy Xena found herself confronted again with the darkness.  There before her she caught sight of a small group of Darphus’s warriors raiding a tiny village.  She charged into battle instinctively for she intended to defeat them all.  The warrior princess had committed so many wrongs in her life and with each battle against darkness she found herself coming back toward the light.  Though her road was certain to be a long one the warrior princess was determined to face the journey with courage and honor.  Xena flipped into action drawing her sword and taking down all, but one of the evil warriors.  Realizing that he would deliver news of their arrival to Darphus she quickly rushed back toward camp to report to Hercules.

      As she arrived by nightfall she heard a familiar voice.  It was the voice of the man whose heart she had once betrayed.  Xena felt sadness and guilt within her own heart for what she had done to Iolas.  There was a bit of shame and lots of regret for she did not know if he would ever forgive her for her misdeeds.  It was obvious that he had not yet been told of her new alliance with Hercules.  Hercules had been afraid to tell Iolas for he knew that Iolas would be upset.  Then as Hercules prepared to tell the story with Salmoneous’s encouragement Xena interrupted revealing herself to face Iolas.  Iolas jumped up from his place on the log by the fire.  His rage toward the warrior princess was clear and Hercules tried to settled his friend’s anger with words of encouragement.  He told Iolas that Xena was no longer their enemy and she was fighting with them against the wrath of Darphus.  Iolas was unforgiving and unwilling to believe in Xena’s words. 

     He left camp angerily as Hercules followed hoping to regain his friend’s trust despite all that had gone on between Xena and Iolas before.  Iolas scolded his friend for believing in the persuasive warrior princess.  He went as far as to accuse him of having a passionate affair.  Yet Hercules had not become involved with Xena beyond the agreement of comradery.  He then told Iolas of how Xena had saved the life of an infant and lost her army to Darphus because of it.  This was his reason for believing in the warrior princess.  Iolas was still not convinced of the innocence of the warrior princess, but Hercules did convince Iolas that he needed his help to defeat Darphus.  Iolas could not back down from helping his friend.  His loyalty was great enough that he overlooked his anger toward the warrior princess though he did not forgive her.

       Early the next morning the four set out toward Allisia to defeat the evil that was Darphus.  As they traveled they had heard word of Darphus’s plans.  He was going to take his army to an old mine and capture the diamond miners there.  Hercules was not certain why Darphus would want to attack the miners, but he wasted no time in trying to stop his plans.  As the four detoured toward the diamond mines it was clear that Darphus was ready for them.  Hercules was aware of this and when they approached  a small passageway through the canyon he instructed everyone to stay together tightly and keep silence about them.  Of course this was difficult for Salmoneous who enjoyed conversation and for Iolas it was difficult to find himself having to work near the warrior princess.

      Hercules tried to assure Xena that Iolas would soon tire of his silly anger, but Xena was not so certain.  She longed for the forgiveness of Hercules’s best friend as they traveled on.  And just as Hercules had expected an ambush had been delivered down upon the four heroes.  Darphus and his men awaited their arrival and then threw down a large avalanche of rocks and stones.  When the warlord was certain that he had succeeded in trapping the victims he took his men on toward the mines to ambush the unsuspecting miners.

      And though it seemed that the four heroes would have met certain death a ray of hope shun out from beneath the depths of the thick pile of rock.  Hercules had caught the largest of the boulders that fell with his strong back as he held it in place supporting the rest of the rocks.  Xena and Iolas then quickly cleared through the rubble toward an escape from their deaths.  As they made their way to the light at the end of the tunnel they called out to Salmoneous who was frozen with fear.  He had never been this close to death before.  Salmoneous refused to move as Hercules tried desperately to urge him to go.  Yet the fearful salesman would not move from his place beneath the debris.  And so Hercules asked that Xena and Iolas go onto safety leaving him behind.  The two did as they had been commanded and exited safely through to the light.  Iolas had sustained an injury to his forehead, and despite Xena’s concern he ignored it with disgust.

     Then as the rocks were about to give way Hercules found a large tree branch on the ground and used it to hold up the boulder so that he could rescue Salmoneous and take them to safety.  Just as they were about to exit the rocks and the boulders gave way and piled down violently into the depths of the canyon.  But Hercules and Salmoneous were triumphant as they escaped through the dust to reunite with Iolas and Xena.  Xena found herself in awe of the bravery and courage of Hercules.  He had been willing to give his own life to save that of his friends.  Hercules then reminded Xena that they had all played their role in saving each other.  Yet their triumphant joy ended when Salmoneous felt as if he had hindered the mission with his cowardice.  When Hercules tried to comfort his heavy burden within Salmoneous refused his pity.  Instead he walked on ahead hanging his head in shame.  Xena’s heart wanted to reach out to that of Salmoneous, but Hercules suggested that he work through his issues alone.  It was just the way Hercules had treated Xena after their one on one combat just after she had saved the infant child.  Xena then tried once more to offer her regret to Iolas hoping that he would allow her to dress his wound, but Iolas flatly refused.  It was clear to Hercules that the warrior princess wanted desperately to release her heart from the chains that bound it, but he knew that only Iolas could help her by being the first of many to offer his forgiveness. 

     Soon the four had reached the mining village where they had found that Darphus had not yet been there.  Hercules tried desperately to convince the head miner that he and his men needed to flee for their lives, but the old miner would not leave.  He didn’t believe that there would be a war to fight for he and his comrades did not fear the name Darphus.  Iolas found himself frustrated as well and hoped that Hercules would allow him to use force to convince the old miner, but Hercules tried another approach.  He hoped that these men would fear the name of his rival brother Ares, but even that did not draw fear.  Instead the old minor proclaimed that he and every other man about him had all showed their loyalty to the god of war by fighting in a war along the path in their lives.

     Suddenly an arrow shot out of the woods as Hercules caught it with only his hand just before it took the life of the old miner.  This was the act that would convince the minors to flee.  And as they gathered up their jewels they took off hoping to avoid their capture by Darphus’s army.  The army attacked swiftly as they rained down into the mining camp.  Hercules, Iolas, and Xena all went into action battle with their own styles of fighting.  Xena fought by the sword which she would have gladly died by.  It was her code.  She still had a passion for blood though she sought the blood of darkness rather than the blood of the innocent.  Iolas fought much like Hercules for neither liked using weapons.  They preferred simple brawn for it could not kill in the ruthless way that a sword could.  Hercules of course believed in second chances whereas Iolas was not as easily convinced.  But suddenly Iolas found himself trapped between to of Darphus’s warriors.  They held him as a third prepared to kill him with a dagger, but Xena came to his aid.  The warrior princess took out her whip and robbed the enemy of the weapon that would kill her new comrade. 

     Iolas was shocked when he found that it was not Hercules, but the warrior princess that had saved his life.  There were so many men to fight that Hercules had found himself on the opposite side of the battle far from Iolas’s aid.  Yet the hero had trusted in the warrior princess and his trust had been placed correctly.  Xena had saved Iolas for her strict warrior code dictated her actions.  Quickly Xena moved onto her next victim and struck him down with a vengeance against the darkness.  Then she caught sight of Darphus as he began to retreat with his men following closely behind.  As the last man she had taken fell she reached for his sword and threw it into the chest of her enemy.  Darphus did not fall or even sense the pain of the strike.  Instead he removed the weapon from his chest and laughed for Xena could not kill the one loyal to Ares.  Then he rode off into the woods.

      Once the battle had ended Iolas had discovered that Salmoneous was now missing.  Hercules was certain that he had been taken by one of Darphus’s men.  He went off into the woods hoping to find Salmoneous leaving Xena and Iolas alone to reconcile.  Xena was still longing for his forgiveness.  She delivered words of regret and sorrow to her old flame, but he would not take them.  Instead he said that he was thankful that she had saved him, and that he no longer held ill will toward her.  And that was when it happened for Xena.  When her heart for the first time felt a release from the evil that held it.  Forgiveness had come from the first of many.  Upon Hercules return he was glad to see that his friends were reconciling despite his failure in finding Salmoneous.  So the three heroes remaining  set off in search of Allisia where Darphus and his men were waiting. 

     Of course both Xena and Iolas were fighting for the praises of their mentor now that Iolas had discovered the lesson that Hercules had wanted him to learn.  Hercules found it amusing yet he would not allow either of them to put him on their pedestals.  The legendary hero was not one to shout out success from the mountain tops.  And so Hercules suggested that someone go on and scout ahead to see what awaited them at Darphus’s camp.  Both volunteered eagerly, but then Iolas outwitted the warrior princess.  He told the two to set up a camp and start a fire.  Iolas was gone before Xena could argue.  Hercules took the opportunity to continue his lesson to Xena as she declared that she would start the fire, but she would not cook.  The hero found himself enjoying her spunky playful attitude.  He liked it much better than the attitude of the first warrior princess he had met.

     As the evening wore on Xena sat by the fire alongside Hercules and asked him if he thought that she was capable of staying on the right path.  Hercules said that he had every certainty that she would.  Xena had not yet believed in herself for she thanked him for his help in putting her onto that path.  Of course he said that she had made the choice.  No one else had made it for her.  His encouragement of her strength led her to ask him how she would be able to sustain her path of light.  She was not certain that she had what it took within to drive her in that direction.  Hercules had been led onto his heroic life when his step mother Hera had killed his wife and children.  Yet Xena could not find that same kind of passionate love within her own heart.  Hercules was certain that she would if she had not already found it.  It would require Xena to search within. 

     With the hope in her heart restored she had decided that she would tell the legendary hero of her true feelings that went beyond friendship.  She had found herself falling in love with Hercules and she chose to express these deep sensations within her heart reaching over to kiss him.  Her kiss was strong and compassionate and Hercules responded to it.  The two had finally been given the opportunity to fill their desires for one another with Iolas’s blessing.  Iolas had known what would happen between them when he left them alone.  Upon his return as night fell he found the two basking in their passions together.  They were looking at each other with eyes of intrigue and of love.  Then Iolas interrupted them declaring that he had found some desperate situations at Darphus’s camp. 

     Iolas had found Salmoneous there enjoying a feast alongside Darphus.  Iolas was certain that Salmoneous was a traitor.  But Hercules knew that there had to be another reason for Salmoneous being in Darphus’s camp.  Then Iolas mentioned that he saw Gregis there.  Xena inquired of who Gregis was only to discover what Gregis was.  Hercules answered her question by explaining that Gregis was the nasty pet that belonged to Ares.  If Gregis was not stopped then Ares would indeed have his way and become the ultimate ruler of the world.  Salmoneous had been feasting alongside Darphus because Darphus had planned to feed the salesman to the beast.  With each victim consumed by the monster it became more powerful and more difficult to defeat.  Xena quickly rose ready to do battle.  She would give her life for the world in order to save it from this beast.

     On the next day the three heroes arrived back at Darphus’s camp.  They began formulating their plan of attack when they were interrupted by one of Darphus’s guard as he approached from behind the warrior princess.  Iolas quickly responded pulling out his dagger and throwing it across into the chest of the approaching enemy.  Now that the two were even Xena once again found herself feeling inferior to Iolas.  The two were still competing for Hercules’s affections.  But then Hercules and Xena prepared to sneak into the camp as Iolas tried desperately to start-up a burning wagon.  Each of the three had his job to do and each had an important role to play.  Iolas was to provide the distraction and the illusion that there was an army coming into attack them.  Hercules was to seek out and find Gregis while Xena’s job was to take on Darphus. 

      Hercules was determined that in order to defeat evil that would not die one had to fight it with evil itself.  As the two heroes entered into the camp they shared a kiss and a good luck wish before they were to begin the battle.  However, the battle did not begin as planned for Iolas was unable to start a burning wagon.  Instead he came charging in on a wagon that did not burn and burst into action.  Darphus’s army began to attack the wagon from all sides as Iolas popped out with his weapons.  Xena fought alongside Iolas until she caught sight of Darphus.  The warrior princess was determined to finish this battle that they had started together. 

     Hercules quickly found where Gregis had been hidden.  And Salmoneous was there chained to the floor awaiting his death in fear.  Gregis was quite large and five times the size of Hercules.  He was vicious as a rabid dog drooling for his next meal.  His eyes were red like rubies full of the fires of evil.  Hercules quickly reached for a spear on the floor and tried desperately to fight off the hungry beast.  Yet the beast was too large to be fought with a spear.  Gregis snapped it in half with his sharp teeth and then howled impatiently.  Hercules decided that he would have to try something else.  The hero rolled beneath the huge legs of the beast and grabbed a bronze shield which hung on the other side.  He used the shield to fight off the powerful beast hoping to keep Gregis busy until Xena arrived with Darphus.

     The struggles were intense between Xena and Darphus and Hercules and Gregis.  But just when Salmoneous had thought that it was all over Xena appeared raising her sword toward his leg.  Salmoneous was certain that she had turned to the darkness once again until Xena’s sword ripped through the chains that bound his ankles.  Hercules then instructed Salmoneous to leave and to help Iolas in the field.  The salesman fled with uncertainty, but realized his duty.  He then faced his enemy and his cowardice as he charged into battle using only a pan.  As he fought alongside Iolas Salmoneous’s confidence soared for he found that he was a warrior after all.  His skills were not those of Hercules and Xena, but his heart was just as courageous and determined.

     The battle between Xena and Darphus had gone from outside to Gregis’s dungeon where Hercules awaited with exhaustion.  He called out to Xena to thrust evil into the mouth of evil and then Xena delivered Darphus into the mouth of the beast kicking him over the back of the legendary hero.  The battle outside had ended just as Darphus entered into the darkness of the mouth of Gregis.  Salmoneous and Iolas returned to join their friends as they all watched the beast explode into intense flames.  It was a strange ending to a vicious battle, but evil had been defeated by itself as Hercules had said that it would be.

      And so their journey together had ended.  Iolas had learned to forgive.  Salmoneous had found his courage and his writings of Hercules the legendary hero.  Salmoneous was excited that Hercules had found his notes and declared that he would take his writings to Athens.  Once a salesman always a salesman Salmoneous left his friends for fame and fortune.  But Xena was leaving for a different reason.  The warrior princess was still confused for she had not understood all that Hercules had told her.  She realized that she would have to find the answers on her own and so she prepared her horse to go.  Hercules was seemingly disappointed that she was chosing to leave.  Just when he thought he’d found love again love was leaving his life. 

      As Hercules pleaded with her to continue on with he and Iolas Xena refused his offer.  Her heart ached for his though it knew of another journey beyond.  Xena asked him to let her go for she would weep for his pain if he did not.  Hercules understood that burden and let her go for he had done all he was meant to do for the warrior princess. He had unchained her heart from its evil and that was all that a warrior princess needed to become a champion for all that is good.

The Xena Scrolls
Scroll#15:  Athens City Academy
of the Performing Bards
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia

February, 48 B.C.

There were once two orphans who spent their days together searching the world for their true families.  They searched for a lifetime together feeling unsuccessful for it seemed that they would never find the people they had seeked.  Until one day the first man had finally reached the end of his journey.  Yet though he was at the end of his journey he found himself at the beginning.  The family he had sought for all of those years had actually traveled the world with him.  For the only family he had ever known or ever needed was standing right beside him all the while.
One day I found myself in a village tavern telling a tale of Xena the mighty warrior princess.  Rudely I was interrupted by an old peasant man who felt the need to correct me in my tale.  Catering to his needs I told the story of The Reckoning when Xena had battled a fierce hooded warrior.  My story felt alive as I told it to my audience.  Yet telling the story for me was like no other experience in life.  Telling the story was a journey in itself despite the experience which had inspired it.  Upon ending the story I received loud applause and many complements for all had been delightfully entertained.  Some of those seated in the tavern even left me a few dinars for my passionate performance.  It seemed to me that I was truly getting a feel for my craft.
Then something very exciting happened.  A young bard approached me and complemented my story.  He told me that I was really good and asked if I were on my way to the competition.  I had not been aware of a competition, but if I had been know that I would have been the first bard there.  The young man told me more about this competition that was to take place at the Athens City Academy for Performing Bards.  I was excited to be invited by a fellow bard and had decided that maybe I would take him up on his offer.  But I had not decided for certain until his father stepped into our conversation.  He seemed uncomfortable that I was talking to his son.  This father appeared secretive and was certain that the life of a bard was unsuitable for a young lady.  He even went as far as to insult me by saying that my story may have been cute at best.  Finally I was completely shot down when my fellow bard’s father proclaimed that the only stories that I could tell were those of the common housewife.  He finished his statement by saying that those kinds of stories were just not popular for entertainment.
And with that he and my new friend had left me in thought.  I had to take in all that had been said and all that I had just experienced.  The more I thought about it all the more I wanted to go.  I realized that in order to be taken seriously by anyone I needed real training.  And so I had decided that going to Athens was my next journey.  Of course Xena had entered the tavern with great excitement for she had heard of a great new adventure for us.  She said that she had just talked to someone who had said that there was a mad Cyclops on the loose steeling farm animals from the people of Caris.  Xena was pumped and clearly ready for action as she was certain that I too would jump at this new opportunity.  Yet I had already determined where my next adventure would be.  I interrupted Xena still thinking of that man who had insulted me as I asked her how far it was to Athens.  My friend seemed a bit shocked that I did not respond with the same enthusiasm for this mission she had seeked out for us.
So we sat down to a meal and I explained to her why I felt that I needed to go to Athens.  It had always been my dream to go there and study the art of the bard at the academy and to compete.  Xena was happy to see that I was going to follow my dream yet she was seemingly disappointed for it would require me to be away for at least four years.  I tried to comfort her by explaining that she would hardly notice that we would be separated.  But Xena insisted that even if she were surrounded by an army she would still notice my absence from her life.  And then the warrior princess asked if she could at least travel the distance to Athens with me.  I had decided that this journey was one that I would take without her.  She understood and told me that I had a good chance of winning for she said that I did tell great stories.  It was nice to hear that from my best friend.  Yet she let me know that despite my leaving she would miss the friend who was like a sister.  This touched my heart to know that Xena truly did have compassion for me despite all of the times that she had tried to leave me behind, and despite all of my flaws and mistakes.  Then just when I was feeling closer to the warrior princess she left the tavern to defeat the Cyclops of Caris.
So I made my own journey without the warrior princess.  When I arrived in Athens at the academy I felt great excitement as I was welcomed by bards from across the lands.  There were so many good story tellers there.  Some were better, and some needed a little help, but we all had something in common.  Our passion and our dreams of being one of the top four bards to be chosen.  Soon after my arrival I again ran into my friend from the tavern.  He introduced me to some of the other bards.  There was Twichinum the shy bard, Euripides the bard of tangled words, Stolanis the olympic bard, and my friend.  He had not yet told me his name and when I asked what it was he seemed uncomfortable.  My friend told me that he didn’t really like his true name and that he was going to change it.
First he thought of the name Draco for it sounded heroic to him.  But I knew of Draco and the last time I had met him he was not doing anything heroic.  And so I told to my new friend and many others the story of how Draco had come into my life and brought me together with my best friend who chose to turn away from the darkness.  I spoke of how Xena had defeated Draco in a battle upon a scaffold sending him away never to return to Amphipolis again.
As my story ended a thunderous applause snapped me back into the present startling me for a moment.  I was pleased that so many were interested in my stories and accepted their complements graciously.  Then I went back to the problem of finding a heroic name to call my new friend.  I suggested to him that maybe the name Orion would better suit him for Orion was known as a true heroic warrior.  And so my friend called himself Orion.  And though Orion’s problem was solved I still had yet to figure out a way to get myself into the competition.  Of course my new friends were so impressed with my stories that they were happy to help me create the official papers needed to register.
And so we all waited in the long line together sharing the many muses of the bards.  Yet there was still one problem.  My papers were not able to be found by the woman checking all of the bards in.  She was quite rude about being unable to find my paperwork, but I solved that problem.  There was just a bit of a spill as a mysterious force whisked the papers onto the ground.  That was my chance to slip in my registration to be found by the woman in charge.  Of course she did find my papers in the end though she was indeed suspicious after discovering that they had forgotten to list my room and board.  I was then sent to reside in the servant’s quarters in the hall of Zeus.
Once I was in there were many wonderful workshops to explore.  I joined Orion to attend the first of several.  When we entered I found myself feeling strange.  It was as if Xena were with me suspecting the worst.  There was that feeling of anticipation, but then my mind was interrupted when Orion asked me what worried me.  I realized that he was right for what evil could be lurking within a place sacred for the arts.  And so the workshop began as the instructor explained the goal of the bard.  He said it was in creating and event, but as he spoke something quite unexpected occurred.  The suspicious man who had bumped me upon entering jumped up from his place in the back of the auditorium and sprung forward.  He dashed toward the unsuspecting instructor and pulled out a dagger.  Then he thrust it into the chest of the instructor escaping through the window never to be seen again.
Orion and I rushed to aid the victim as did many of the other bards in the crowd.  But the excitement soon ended when the instructor rose from the floor unharmed.  It had all been staged.  The event of terror had not been real.  It was almost an injustice and so as he went onto explain his theory of the goal of a bard I interrupted.  I could not resist arguing that faking death was not a story, but that the event of  death itself held much more promise.  And so I sung the story of Sisyphus and of how he had captured Celesta.  Captivating my audience I ended my story with a moral for death should not be feared yet accepted.  My fellow bards seemed pleased at my lesson and my moral as they congratulated me with more admiration and applause.  This truly was an experience like no other.
My fellow bards joined me in the servants quarters every night to listen to my stories though they had all been registered in room 12.  On this night Xena’s darkness was told by all who had heard.  First Euripides spoke of how he had heard of the seduction that Xena used to manipulate the unsuspecting hearts of innocent warriors.  And then he continued on by reminding all who listened that Xena had been responsible for breaking up a wonderful friendship of Hercules and Iolas.  Then he finished and Stolanous stepped up to tell his story of Xena.  Of course he was completely into action though all that he had told of Xena’s slashing, clashing, and thrusting was indeed true for I had seen it all myself.
Euripides seemed interested in the truths of a story yet he was unaware of all that was true of the warrior princess.  And so despite her dark past that all had heard of few knew of the glimmer of light that had changed her.  They didn’t know about the baby that she had saved from being slaughtered by her army.  The common bard didn’t know of how Xena’s own army of men put her through a gauntlet of pain for sparing the life of an innocent child.  Only someone who knew her personally could know of the truth about Xena.  And so I ended my own story of truth with a nice ending.  As all of my stories are told I prefer to wrap them up nicely to put all who listen at ease in the end.
Of course my story had attracted even more of an audience as I had told it for I was passionate about my friend.  My love for Xena was strong and it bled through into my story.  Many of my fellow bards wanted to hear more about the beautiful warrior princess and of my story of truth, but I was starting to find that I missed my friend dearly.  It had been days since I had last seen her and I worried.  I worried if she was still doing good despite my absence for she had said that she would notice I was gone.  And despite her always telling me that she didn’t need my help I always knew that she did.  We had lived many adventures together and I always had my small role in helping no matter how insignificant it seemed.  Mainly it was Xena’s ailing heart that needed me and my own heart was beginning to feel its own pang of separation.
Upon awakening the next morning I was excited for it was almost time for the first competition to take place.  I decided to practice with Orion before having to do my performance.  He was delighted to be my partner and so he began his story first.  As I tried to feel it and to see it I could not although I knew he was trying very hard.  When Orion ended I tried to help him with his block for I could feel that he was much better.  He was frustrated to know that his story was not successful.  When I asked him why he watched me so closely as he told his story he said that it was his way of judging my reaction.  He wanted to be able to adjust and change the story in order to please his audience.  His father had taught him to tell stories that way.  Orion could not understand why it was so difficult for him to express his passions despite his lifetime of storytelling from the age of five.
It was clear to me that he had forgotten how to tell stories because he was concentrating too much on winning and pleasing his father.  Of course with a father like Philoneous I could understand the pressure Orion was under.  The poor bard was torn between his passion and need to tell a real story, and the hope of pleasing his father with success.  Though Orion had his problems so too did I for my fraud had finally been discovered by those who ran the competition.  I was brought into the council and told that there were no records of my registration.  And then Philoneous appeared telling of how it was Orion who had told me of the competition.  He was threatened by my talent and did not want me to win over his son.  Of course for me winning was not the object.  For me it was the chance to tell my stories before my peers that drove me.  I was crushed of course for I was immediately kicked out of the competition and forbidden to compete for a chance at my education, but I could not argue.  The evidence of my fraud was stacked against me.  I was asked to leave and so I went back to my room in the servants quarters to pack and return to my friend.
News of my expulsion traveled quickly for my fellow bard friends came to my aid.  They were disappointed that I was leaving.  I tried to comfort them for it wasn’t like I didn’t have a place to go for Xena needed me.  But they would not accept my good-bye though I tried to comfort them with my story of Iolas.  It was amazing how often I seemed to say good-bye, but Trichinum and the others asked me to stay through the competition before my departure.  It felt good to have friends who cared and admired me.  So I decided to accept their invitation to stay.
The next day I entered into the hall where all were to perform.  The bard Guestacious was the guest of honor and a judge residing over the competition.  He looked mighty in his robes as he sat awaiting the young talent to perform.  The first to be called up was Twichanum.  As he approached all was silent and then he flatly refused to perform.  At first I was astonished for her was indeed a very talented bard, but then the plot was revealed.  When it was announced that his refusal to perform would warrant his disqualification the rest of the bards in the audience stood declaring their displeasure with my dismissal from the competition.  As the panel argued that I had entered into the competition illegally I tried to save my friends from making a mistake.  They were sacrificing their own dreams on my behalf and I could not allow them to do that.
But then the one who twisted his words so beautifully spoke with eloquence when he declared that no bard would perform against his belief in the freedom of art itself.  Guestacious decided that he would allow me to perform since all of the young talent had insisted upon it.  He wanted to see what all of my peers were sacrificing themselves for.  The head of the competition invited me to perform though he was disgusted that I was even being allowed to do so.  I was not prepared to perform, but it was in this situation that I told my best stories.  The story of baby Gabriel came to mind and of how Xena and I had found him a home and two wonderful parents.  When I finished Guestacious stood before the panel outraged that they were going to allow rules and regulations to take precedence over art itself.  He was displeased and so with that my dream was restored once again.
And so the other bards performed as well and all of them performed beautifully.  Even Orion had done better than he had on the day before.  He had taken some advice and decided to try telling his story the old way rather than the way his father had taught.  When he came down behind the curtain we all congratulated him with support and with love.  But his father was waiting displeased with Orion’s defiance of his wishes.  Philoneous declared that Orion’s performance had been terrible and demanded that he tell his story again.  As Orion began to try once again to please his father it was clear that he had been embarrassed.  His embarrassment made it difficult for him to tell the story and his father scolded him harshly for his mistakes.
It was terrible to watch Orion’s spirit suffer its persecution and the pressure became so great that his father drove Orion away.  I was angry at Philoneous for not seeing the truth of his son’s wonderful gift .  I felt responsible for Orion and so I stood up to his father and expressed my anger at accusing me to be the reason that Orion was failing.  I could not see failure, but I could see suffering.  And later that day as I sat with my peers awaiting Orion’s return the news was delivered.  Orion had finally reached his breaking point.  Philoneous’s words hit me like a slap across the face.  He blamed me for Orion’s decision to quit the competition.  Orion had left for home and given up his passion.  Again I felt responsible.  I could not allow such a talented bard walk away from his dream and so I left Athens to seek him before he made his mistake.
It wasn’t too far outside the city that I found Orion.  He was storming up the path angry at all that had transpired between he and his father.  When I called out to him he did not look back.  Finally I ran to catch up to him and explain why he had to continue on.  He told me that he had taken my advice already.  I had told Orion that if it wasn’t fun to tell the story then it should not be told at all.  Orion said that he no longer felt the joy of the bard and that was what had brought him to his decision to give it all up.  I knew deep down that Orion really did not want to give up his passion, but he was indeed frustrated.  My words of advice continued upon those already said.  I told him that despite his joy being lost it was up to the bard himself to recreate that joy once more.  He had the power to do it if only he could believe.  I told him that there are always challenges in life to be met.  Just as in story telling the challenge and the joy is in the journey of the story itself and not the destination.  Orion’s need to succeed and reach his destination of success was the root of his loss of joy in being the articulate bard.  As I put a comforting hand upon his shoulder his eyes gave a look of understanding and a smile spread across his face once again.  A new torch had been lit within his mind and I could see that he was indeed ready to return.
And so on the last day of the competition me and my fellow bard friends competed against one another.  Yet our competition was about our love for the journey of our stories and about sharing in them with one another.  I myself had come to seek out my own dreams in the beginning, but realized that within my journey to reach for my dream that it had been acceptance that I looked for.  At the academy I had been revered by my peers as a great story-teller.  Their acceptance had given me the courage to realize what wonderful experiences I already had with Xena.  It was my real life experiences and adventures with my best friend that truly inspired me.  In the end Orion, Euripides, and Trichinum had all succeeded in reaching their dreams.  They were three of the four elite selected to study at the academy.  Orion expressed is disappointment that I had not made it in with my peers, but it did not matter to me.  After being away from my best friend for so long I had found myself missing our great adventures together.  My dreams of being a traveling bard were not realized at the academy for it was not meant to be.
Despite my failure I realized that I hadn’t really failed at all for this had just been another great adventure.  I had helped a fellow bard realize his own dream, and helped him repair his relationship with his father.  As I prepared to travel on down the road to seek out Xena once again I asked Orion what his real name was.  He said that the academy had wanted to call him the blind bard because he told his stories with his eyes closed.  Yet his true name was Homer.  I told him that I would need to know it so that when he became well-known I could remember him and his work.  If I ever read his stories I could see him telling them even if he weren’t there in person.  With that I said good-bye yet again.  I left father and son together sharing in their joy and in their success together.
Everyday is a new adventure and a new challenge.  We must all look forward to the journey and pay less attention to the destination for it is within the journey that we learn.  In reaching the destination it only means that our lesson is over and it is time to move forward.  And so my journey with Xena shall continue on.  There are so many adventures to be shared and so many to be told.  My passion will truly be realized despite what the judges say.

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#16:  Fistful of Dinars

March, 48 B.C.

I sing of a virtue worth more than the largest treasure upon the earth.  It is the virtue of trust and of a journey begun by four divided in half.  This tale began with a man whose name was Likous.  He held an important clue which lead to the lost treasure of the Sumerians.  Likous had spent three years seeking out his old friend Xena.  They had once been friends in a battle of long ago.  At the end of Likous’s journey he did find Xena, but not before being sought out by Klonyx.  Klonyx was a drunken murrauder who had heard of the Sumarian treasure.  He had heard that Likous had the clue that would lead the way.  Many had heard of Likous and of his valuable clue and the poor traveler was weary for he had endured attacks by many.
It was now the end of the road for Likous and he faced death by the sword of Klonyx, but just as Klonyx struck Likous down Xena the warrior princess appeared.  She recognized her old friend and came to his aid.  Despite her arrival it had been too late for Klonyx had gotten what it was that he had come to obtain.  He took from Likous his pouch that had been so carefully guarded for three long years.  As Xena and Gabrielle knelt down to aid Likous the dying man-made one last request of his friend.  He struggled to tell her that she must recover his pouch that had been stolen.  So as Likous prepared to embrace death Xena instructed Gabrielle to stay with him while she went after Klonyx.  Gabrielle took the hand of the dying man knowing only that she could comfort his spirit for there was nothing more that would save him.
Xena quickly ran catching distance upon Klonyx who had been certain that he would escape her wrath.  But just before he disappeared into the thick of the woods Xena the warrior princess flipped into action and stopped him from advancing.  The warrior princess then delivered a furious punch into the face of the enemy.  She had not intended to kill him only to find out his reasons for following Likous, and taking his pouch.  But unfortunately for Klonyx there had been another whom had been following closely behind.  It was the murdering assassin Thersites who appeared from beyond the brush.  He had thrust his knife into the back of the unsuspecting Klonyx.  Klonyx fell to his brutal death by assassination and then dropped the valuable clue to the ground.  Xena quickly swiped the pouch before Thersites could rip his knife out of his latest victim.
Then she looked inside of the pouch to find a Sumerian dinar and a tiny piece of parchment.  She quickly read and digested the parchment before Thersites could get a look.  The warrior princess chewed up the parchment and swallowed it basking in her victory over the assassin.  If the assassin wanted to find the Sumerian treasure then he would not be able to kill the warrior princess for she was now the only living person who knew the path to riches.  Xena knew upon meeting with Likous why it was so important for her to seek out the Sumerian treasure for it held more than treasure, but only she and Likous had known.  She had also known that there were four clues to obtain before being able to cash in on the riches.  Xena now had Likous’s clue, and Thersites had two more.  There was just one more clue and then the journey toward the treasure could begin.  Thersites mentioned that the final clue was held by the warlord Petracles.  Xena then instructed Thersites that she would seek out Petracles’s clue and meet Thersites with his clues by the traveler’s road by the next sun.
After Thersites had gone Xena returned to Gabrielle and to Likous who had already passed.  Gabrielle sadly reported the loss as Xena spoke well of her old friend.  Then he was given honor as Xena and Gabrielle bade him farewell.  Xena then asked Gabrielle what she knew about the legend of the lost treasure of Sumeria.  The young bard’s eyes lit up with excitement for all that she had heard about this treasure.  It was known by bards as the largest treasure in the world hidden away somewhere beyond the ruins of old Sumeria.  This treasure was said to have held wealth beyond mortal imagination.  That of course was all that had been told to the bard of the secrets of the lost treasure.  It insured that Xena and the deceased Likous remained the only two who held the entire truth of Sumeria.
Xena then asked Gabrielle if she had heard of the titan’s key.  Gabrielle had indeed heard of the titan’s key never knowing of its connection to the lost treasure.  As she boasted of her knowledge of the titan’s key she spoke of how it had been meant to unlock the halls which held ambrosia the food of the gods.  Yet as she spoke and began to put together the pieces Gabrielle realized that they were clues within themselves.  Xena confirmed that Gabrielle’s mind had been right in where it had gone.  For the titan’s key was located within the lost treasure of Sumeria.  This meant that their journey was not to hunt for riches, but to capture the ambrosia before Thersites or any other darkness could.  The power of immortality was not something that could be taken lightly or given to one of assassination.
Gabrielle quickly rounded up Argo preparing to travel to the camp of Petracles.  As the two friends traveled Xena warned Gabrielle of the dangerous man that they were about to encounter.  Thersites had been dangerous enough, but Xena warned that Petracles was a charmer.  Petracles was capable of lying, of murdering, and of many other devious ways.  Xena was firm in letting her young friend know that trust was not something to take lightly when Petracles was involved.  Because of the warrior princess’s certain description of this warlord it was obvious to the bard that the two had some kind of a history.  Yet Xena was not yet ready to share it with her friend.
Soon they arrived at the camp of Petracles who had just defeated another helpless flock of villagers.  He was meeting with the village magistrate who desperately tried to cut a deal in exchange for her life.  Being the typical warlord Petracles explained that he could not leave without taking lives, livestock, and supplies for he would lose the respect of his army if he were to show any softness.  It was in that moment that Xena and Gabrielle entered into his tent as he argued with the latest victim.  Petracles seemed a bit shocked and caught off guard that the warrior princess would show up at his door.  He had indeed never forgotten her as looked into her eyes with inquiry.  Gabrielle found herself in awe of this man who seemed less than horrific.  Petracles was dark, handsome, and cute.  He had bulging warrior muscles and deep blue eyes.  Gabrielle looked into those eyes not feeling threatened yet Xena had specifically said that they were not to be trusted.
Then Xena asked Gabrielle to show Petracles the one piece of Sumarian treasure held by Likous’s pouch.  Gabrielle took it from the pouch and handed the large round gold piece to Petracles.  He looked it over shocked, yet suddenly realizing why Xena had come.  It was his dream to find the treasure and Xena’s clue was the key.  Of course the warrior princess took this opportunity to help those who needed it.  Petracles was about to become the richest warlord on the face of the earth so giving a few cattle, and horses back to the villagers would not cost as much as it had just moments before.  Petracles quickly forgot about the riches he had taken from the village for the lost treasure held much more value to him.  The villagers left quickly fleeing with their lives and their livestock.
Soon it was only Petracles, Xena, and Gabrielle traveling through the woods toward the main road where Thersites awaited them.  Xena walked ahead as Gabrielle found herself still fascinated by the handsome cunning warlord.  He had long brown locks and his complexion was olive in color.  Gabrielle for the second time was finding herself attracted to another bad boy.  Her first attraction had been Sphirus, but this bad boy was different.  He definitely had that warlord spirit, but there was something missing from the darkness.
As they walked and chatted Petracles began to try his hand at testing the bard’s resolve of his charms.  He used Gabrielle’s intrigue and interest in Xena’s history as his way to get through.  When Gabrielle asked him of why Xena had thought so cautiously of him he replied that indeed he was all of the nasty things that had been said of him.  Petracles told Gabrielle that Xena had been correct in advising her that she should watch out for a man like himself.  The warlord said it with great pride and confidence.  This intrigued the bard more for she could not understand why someone would like to be hated so much by another.  Then he took the moment and shot out his question.  He asked the bard why Xena was in search of the treasure.
Gabrielle realized what his game was and delivered her answer, but it was not embedded with any information.  She playfully scolded him for trying to pull one over the queen of talking.  Gabrielle knew that she had always been a great talker and was certain that her wit was a match to that of Petracles.  It was his wit that attracted her to him and he quickly began to play upon that.  Petracles said that he could match her wit any day.  Gabrielle then competed explaining that she had talked her parents into buying her a horse at the tender age of five.  Of course Petracles had talked a warlord out of his army at only fifteen.  The bard was not willing to give into this battle of wits so easily.  She then brought up her encounter with a Cyclops and of how she had talked him out of having her for dinner.  Petracles then came back with the ultimate challenge.  He had once talked Xena into marrying him.
Gabrielle found herself satisfied with the defeat of witty stories, but she had not lost the game for she had finally found the information which she had seeked.  It was the answer to the question of what history these two warriors had with one another.  Things were clear to the bard now and suddenly Xena called out to her friend to join her steps ahead.  As Gabrielle surrendered to Petracles he was aware that he had given the bard the game, but it would be to his advantage in the end.  When Gabrielle reached Xena, Xena scolded her for talking to Petracles.  Gabrielle reminded her friend that she was quite capable of handling these adult situations.  Gabrielle found herself insulted that the warrior princess had forgotten that yet again.
By the next sun the three had reached the main road where Thersites awaited their arrival.  If the assassin could have killed them all and run with the clues it was obvious that he would have.  Xena had been sly when she had decided to digest the map.  It insured life for all who traveled with the murderer.  Thersites had hoped that the warrior princess would have killed Petracles for his clue leaving two instead of three, but he was more irritated to discover the bard who traveled with Xena for she had no clues.  The greedy assassin expressed his disappointment of having to divide the riches among four, but Xena quickly reminded him of who was in charge grabbing him by the short hairs upon his chin.
Once Thersites realized his mistake he backed down from his challenge against the warrior princess’s decision to travel with a warrior.  Thersites had hoped to get a larger share of the treasure since it was he who had two clues.  Petracles of course was not in agreement to this for he felt that a warrior was much more valuable to this mission than an assassin.  As the two continued to argue some angry travelers approached from the road.  The head of the group was an old white-haired aristocrat whose name was Marleous.  Marleous had come for Thersites for he had paid five-thousand dinars to receive the head of Cavotas.  He had hired Thersites the assassin to do the job, but Thersites had been sidetracked by the treasure hunt for days.  The angry Marleous threatened Thersites when his requests were ignored by the assassin.  To Marelous it was important that the job of the assassin be completed on this sun, but for Thersites the head of Cavotas was just another job.
Then Marleous declared that if he could not have the head that he had paid for then he would take the heads of four that he did not.  Marleous’s four men then drew their weapons and prepared to do battle against the four treasure hunters.  Yet Marleous’s challenge was nothing for Thersites then made good on his promise for bringing a head to Marleous.  Only the life which was taken was that of Marleous by the swift activation of a hidden wrist knife.  Thersites was definitely a professional at killing his victims which made him that much more dangerous and volatile.  Upon killing Marleous the men who had drawn their weapons quickly retreated back to the main road in fear of their lives.  Then the assassin took five-thousand more dinars from his latest victim for a job completed.
Gabrielle was beginning to find distaste for this assassin.  Though she had been gravely warned of the wrath of Petracles she did not feel that it was Petracles that she should fear.  Petracles then took this opportunity to remind Xena and the others that he would not be treated with disrespect despite his being an assassin.  To most he was a murderer, but he corrected all who doubted the difference between a murderer and an assassin.  Assassins worked for money while murderers did their killing for pleasure.  It seemed to the bard that maybe Thersites was both.
Soon the four found themselves traveling deep into Payason territory.  The Payasons were known to be a dangerous tribe of men who killed any man who set foot upon their lands.  It was obvious to the bard as they continued on that the ways of the Payasons were not to be taken lightly.  There were the stripped corpses of many who had fallen victim to their wrath littering the lands upon spinning wheels of death.  Everyone in the group of four was gripped with fear including the warrior princess.  Yet it was important that the treasure be found for it held power too great for humanity to embrace alone.
There were the sounds of the tribal drums as they began to beat faster and faster.  The drums pounded to intimidate the intruding party as it approached an old rickety bridge.  Just before reaching that bridge the Payasons rained arrows down upon the four travelers.  There were so many arrows flying that one could barely see through the mass of dangerous weapons.  Despite the danger and the close brush with death the warrior princess led her comrades to the bridge that was shown on the map.  Xena then sent Petracles to the other side to check for a path out of the territory.  Petracles went bravely as he stepped cautiously across the bridge.  Halfway across one of the old boards gave way busting as Petracles’s leg fell through.  Yet his strength caught him from the impending fall and he recovered with skill.  Petracles then finished the journey across the old bridge and drew his sword preparing to face the enemy upon the other side.  The vicious arrows followed him, but there were no Payasons awaiting them on the other side.  He then gave the call for clear and Xena began to send Gabrielle across the bridge.
The bard stepped gingerly upon the wobbling mass of wooden planks, and worn ropes.  She had difficulty keeping her balance as she was nervous from what she had seen of Petracles’s journey.  After only five steps Gabrielle suddenly felt the bridge erupt into a violent shake as the assassin jumped upon the weakening bridge.  It could not hold two people for it barely held Petracles alone.  Xena shouted at the defiant assassin who ignored her pleas.  Gabrielle tried desperately to regain her footing and her balance above the running water below.  Down was a long distance and one could barely see the water at the bottom of the steep canyon.  Gabrielle’s heart raced with fear as she could feel the assassin approaching with his massive weight giving weakness to the bridge.
Gabrielle carefully stepped over the center point where Petracles had almost fallen through.  Now she was nearing the other side as she struggled to keep her balance.  Yet Thersites had little patience and no conscience.  He tried to push the bard forward only to cause the worn ropes to tear down the support that held the bridge together.  The bridge tumbled down toward the water at the bottom of the canyon as Gabrielle held tightly to the planks.  It slammed into the side of the canyon and then Thersites began to climb over the bard to reach the top.  There was no consideration for Gabrielle as he reached the top almost knocking the bard to her death.  Gabrielle called out for Xena desperately for she could barely hold on.
As soon as Thersites reached the top of the canyon Xena flipped across and grabbed onto the planks.  She grabbed onto her helpless friend who struggled to hold on.  Xena then helped push Gabrielle to the top as the bard pulled herself up.  Upon reaching the safety of the other side Gabrielle was helped up by Petracles.  His face seemed satisfied that all had ended well.  After she had reached her feet once again Gabrielle boiled over with anger.  She began to charge forward hitting the ungrateful assassin and scolding him for his actions.  Xena and Petracles had to pull the bard from her rage though she was lucky to have been spared by the assassin.
Later that night as they entered into more quiet territory Xena had decided that the four should set up camp.  It was an uncomfortable night for all because few trusted those they traveled with.  The assassin was driven by greed, the warrior princess driven by duty, the bard by adventure, and Petracles by passion.  Gabrielle was nervous to be sleeping alongside an assassin and she expressed her dislike for him to the warrior princess.  Xena agreed that Thersites was a threat, but she was still certain that Petracles held more of a threat for he wasn’t as obvious as was Thersites.  She had said that there was nothing hidden about Thersites yet Petracles had an unknown side.  That was what Xena distrusted most about Petracles.  It was what she did not know of him.
Then Xena left the bard sitting by the fire contemplating her fears of the assassin.  Xena felt that maybe it had been Thersites action on the bridge that had swayed Gabrielle’s opinion of him so she seeked to resolve the bard’s fears.  The warrior princess approached Thersites with a threat.  She reminded him again that if something bad happened to Gabrielle that she would be sure that his life would cease by her hand.  Xena was quite serious about this for she was certain to let the greedy assassin know that she could do without riches.  Yet she could not do without her best friend.  Thersites called the warrior princess on this realizing that there must be something more to this journey if the warrior princess had not been involved for the riches it held.  Xena then left him to ponder that knowing that he could not be allowed to find out the true nature of her intentions.  Yet when she turned to find Gabrielle, Gabrielle had disappeared.
The bard had gone to seek out Petracles for she wanted to find what it was that Xena did not trust about this man.  Gabrielle was still intrigued and as she rounded the corner of the trees beyond there stood Petracles.  He heard Gabrielle approaching and swung around with his sword drawn ready for battle just the way Xena would.  Gabrielle surrendered immediately for her only weapon against the wrath of this handsome warlord was her arm load of sticks for the fire.  When Petracles had inquired of her intentions for seeking him out she only said that she had brought some fire wood.  Petracles seemed confused for the fire was back at the camp and not deep within the forest.  Gabrielle was nervous for an answer and realized how funny she looked.  She looked quite guilty of a crush.  Petracles seemed flattered yet he still warned her of his ways.
Gabrielle put down her sticks and then asked him more about his relationship with Xena.  He told her that the two had been very young when they had married.  And that they had married for the wrong reasons.  In the early days both had been driven by a passion for greed not realizing that loving things would not fill their hearts.  Gabrielle had not completely believed Petracles when he had said that he had talked Xena into marrying him until he again stated that he had tried to talk Xena into being his wife.  Gabrielle was certain that Xena had not accepted, but Petracles said that she had.  He said that when he had finally won over the heart of the warrior princess that he had decided that he no longer wanted it.  Gabrielle was disappointed for the first time after meeting Petracles for she could not imagine what it must have been like for Xena to be rejected by one she loved.  The bard knew how much Xena’s heart could give and understood why Xena was so protective of it now.  Then Petracles continued the story stating that despite winning Xena’s heart for the riches that she had obtained he still felt empty inside.  He felt empty because he had thrown away the real riches.  The riches of the loving heart that the warrior princess possessed.
Petracles finished his story as Gabrielle’s thoughts spoke themselves aloud.  She was unaware that Petracles’s charm was working its way into her own heart.  Petracles then complemented her on her insight and intelligence.  It was then that the bards lips met those of the warlord Petracles.  The passion was immense and the fire burned intense.  Suddenly the bard realized that she had fallen for the one she had been warned against.  Gabrielle could not betray her friend’s trust in that way.  She could not allow her passions to get the best of her.  Gabrielle suddenly found herself running from the danger that lurked within.
Upon arriving back into came she quickly sat down by the fire.  She tried desperately to hide what had transpired only moments before.  The bard was certain that the warrior princess would be disappointed and disappointment was something Gabrielle could not bear to face.  Yet just as Xena was about to inquire of the bard’s strange behavior Petracles returned to camp and quietly settled down the sticks left behind.  The bard realized that she could not hide her feelings from the warrior princess and Xena left Gabrielle only with her thoughts and with echoing words of the warrior princess.
Just before awakening Xena found herself challenging Petracles.  She threatened him much the same way that she had threatened the assassin.  Xena warned Petracles that she had seen what had been going on between he and Gabrielle.  The warrior princess wanted to make certain that Gabrielle’s heart would not be stolen and abused in the way that he had abused and stolen her own heart.  Xena threatened to take his life with her famous pinch, but then Petracles asked of her what had become of her wedding bracelet.  She spoke with disgust at his question replying that she had thrown it away like worthless garbage.  Petracles seemed angry and almost hurt that the warrior princess thought so little of their past together.  He then replied that though Xena had thrown his heart away he had sold her heart to another profiting from an arms dealer.
The lovers quarrel had awakened camp.  Soon all had packed up and prepared for the final leg of the journey.  The four had to reach the temple of Demeter where they would find the jewel of the goddess.  Xena’s plan was simple.  She and Petracles would prepare to throw the spears while Thersites would go with Gabrielle to enter into the temple and retrieve the jewel.  Gabrielle was excited that she would be performing an important task within this mission.  Yet Petracles seemed displeased with Xena’s choice in leaving Gabrielle to work so closely with the assassin.
Once everyone had arrived at their positions Gabrielle and Thersites disguised themselves as worshipers to the goddess Demeter.  Gabrielle spoke of how they had traveled a great distance to come to Demeter’s temple.  The head priest was uncertain of these strange visitors.  He did not trust that they were true to Demeter.  Gabrielle spoke of the land of Nonamia from which they had come.  She said that it was there that the sister temple of Demeter stood. When the priest could not recall the location of the land of Nonamia Gabrielle insisted that it was across many large oceans.  Then she pulled out the last hope of passage into the temple.  It was the Sumerian dinar that paid their way into the temple of Demeter.  After bribing the priest the two were allowed to worship.  Privately they knelt before the statue of Demeter and chanted awaiting the impending spear attack.
Thersides was impatient as always and threatened to start a murdering fest if the two warriors did not attack soon.  Gabrielle desperately tried to hold off his bloody desires  knowing that those desires might jeopardize the mission.  Then she saw just the thing that would occupy his impatience.  Gabrielle caught sight of Demeter’s jewel on top of her crown.  Though the statue of Demeter was made of nothing more than cheap materials from the common farm her crown held the red ruby.  Gabrielle pointed out her discovery to Thersites who then rose from his knelt spot before Demeter and climbed upon the table.  The table held many white candles, luscious fruits, and many other offerings.  He then reached up for the red stone and suddenly lost his balance.  The assassin fell clumsily to the floor as the altar of Demeter collapsed robbing her of her head.
The two warriors then began their attack upon the temple of Demeter thrusting spears toward the guards.  Yet Thersites’s blunder had revealed the two distant travelers as the blasphemous intruders that they were.  The head priest entered into the destroyed temple hall and held Gabrielle and Thersites for their crimes against Demeter.  At the point of spears they were told that soon their limbs and eyes would be torn from their bodies without mercy.  This fate seemed  harsh, but as their sentence was delivered Xena and Petracles stormed the mini temple and  rescued their comrades from punishment.  Quickly the four dashed out of the temple with Demeter’s jewel and their lives as they ran forward toward the foot of Mount Pulus.  It was there that they would find the Sumerian treasures, but the danger was just beginning for Mount Pulus was an active volcano ready to spew fury at any moment.  The rumbling giant spoke loudly to the four approaching travelers reminding them of her fury.
By nightfall they had reached the location of the treasure as revealed by the map.  Xena’s clue was now full filled, and so was one of Thersites clues, but there were still two yet to reveal.  Thersites still held one of them and Petracles the other.  Xena demanded that the two men share their clues with the other, but neither wanted to reveal his secrets.  Thersites had intended to kill everyone after receiving the final clue, but Petracles knew that he could not allow that by revealing his clue first.  Then Xena again asked Thersites to reveal his clue knowing that Petracles was right in being cautious of Thersites certain actions.  Finally Thersites gave up knowing that Xena was not going to ask for Petracles clue until his had been surrendered.  And so the first clue was the teacher’s student.  It did not make sense for the hunters of treasure stood before three large icons.  None of these stone icons represented an institution of learning.  And then Xena asked the second clue knowing that if Thersites had not yet figured out his own clue that both clues held one answer.
Petracles then revealed his clue.  Is not incorrect were the only words that had been upon his parchment.  And so Xena and Gabrielle began to think of the riddle of this double negative.  Gabrielle soon figured out that the first clue was pupil and then Xena knew that the answer to the riddle was the right pupil.  Yet there were three stone icon faces that all had right pupils.  It would take more to know which pupil was correct.  Xena then spoke of the final clue.  It was her clue.  Neither east nor west so the answer to the question was the middle icon.  The right pupil of the middle icon was where the red ruby was to be placed.  Xena then took the ruby from her keeping and placed it into the right pupil of the center icon.  Nothing happened and Thersites’s impatience lead him to complain again.  Gabrielle was finding herself very weary of the antics of the assassin.  But then Xena revealed that they must wait another night for the sun to rise again.  For it was the sun rays that were the final key to revealing the true entrance to the lost treasure of the Sumerians.
After a long night of waiting the four awoke to the rising sun filled with excitement for the riches they would  find.  As the sun rose over the distant mountains and shun over them.  A single ray of light bled across to the right pupil of the center icon where the ruby awaited.  The ray of light then reflected from the ruby over a blocked passageway of rock.  It left a single dot of light above and nothing more was revealed.  Again Thersites whined and complained for the treasure seemed nothing more than a rock.  But Xena insisted that there was more beyond the rock once it was removed.  And so the four treasure seekers then removed the large boulders despite the lax efforts of the lazy assassin.  Xena and Gabrielle then entered into the cave while the warlord and the assassin argued as to who would lead the other.  Neither trusted the other for the clues had all been revealed.
Once inside there was nothing, but darkness.  Again Thersites was full of disappointment and complaint, but Gabrielle thought that there might be something missing.  Maybe there was just one more clue that had yet be to revealed.  Thersites argued with the bard just as irritated with her as she had become with him.  As he continued to complain the bard began to charge for him once again with the same passionate anger she had felt two days before upon the bridge.  Just as she began to attack him with her rage the volcano shook violently.  All were knocked to the ground by the force as dirt and rock fell all around them.  And then a golden door was revealed.  The four hunters quickly ran to investigate as they opened it.  On the other side there was not a treasure, but more questions.  It was certain that riches would be found if one was patient unlike the assassin and the warlord.
Xena instructed everyone not to touch anything.  She then saw Petracles about to pull the ring upon another stone icon across the room.  He had not heard her command as she repeated only half of her statement.  His misinterpretation of her command turned to disaster as he pulled the ring and the floor beneath disappeared into darkness.  The four treasure seekers found themselves thrust down into the darkness below unaware of what they would find.  Then Gabrielle grabbed two stones from the ground rubbing them together to light a torch.  After two attempts she was finally able to reveal to all who had seeked the greatest treasure ever known to the world.  The lost treasure of the Sumerians had indeed been found.  And it was just as it had been described by all bards.  It had been more treasure than could have ever been imagined.
There were golden coins stacked higher than the tallest temple in Athens.  These piles of riches were mountainous.  Gold, coins, jewels, and  more surrounded the four treasures seekers.  The treasure seemed endless and the task of finding one key seemed nearly impossible.  As Petracles and Thersites began to collect their riches Xena and Gabrielle began to search for the titan’s key.  It was difficult not to become distracted by the riches, but after many moments of searching Thersites found himself stopping to read an inscription upon a large golden key.  All inscriptions upon the treasures had been written in Sumerian which was Thersites’s homeland.  He was a Sumerian and as he read aloud the inscription he revealed the titan’s key.  Gabrielle heard the words from his lips and quickly ran to steal away the key from the assassin.  She grabbed the key from around his neck as he suddenly realized the power that he held.
Suddenly the room went dark again as Thersites smothered the torch.  He then took the bard and disappeared.  He was on his way to becoming a god for he had heard of what the titan’s key could give mortals.  Thersites had heard the legends of ambrosia and how it could turn any mortal to consumed it into a god.  This power was worth more to an assassin than any treasure as he took Gabrielle down the path toward the hall of ambrosia.  Gabrielle was certain that death was upon her as he held her arm tightly and threatened her with his dagger.  He held it close to her neck as he laughed all the way down the path.  Thersites was drunk with power as he thought of all of the things he would do as a god.  Gabrielle tried desperately to talk her way out of this situation hoping that the assassin would release her within his euphoric state of mind.
She pleaded with him promising him her riches from the treasure to build his first temple.  Thersites laughed knowing that he could just take her life and her riches.  He did not need the bard to build his temple when he could build it himself.  And then she asked him what he might do once he received his god-hood trying to keep him in good humor.  She suggested that maybe he should be the first god to accomplish peace for all of the world.  The bard even suggested that he feed the poor with his newfound riches and power.  Yet the assassin laughed hysterically for that was not what he had planned for the world.  His power would be more destructive than that of the god of war Ares.
As Thersites and Gabrielle were on their way to the hall of ambrosia Xena and Petracles found themselves within another argument.  Petracles now realized what Xena’s true intentions for seeking the treasure had been.  She had come to destroy the ambrosia, and Petracles found himself disappointed that Xena had not trusted him with that information.  Xena reminded him that she knew him well and that she had trusted that he would have wanted the ambrosia for himself.  Petracles scoffed at the idea proclaiming that he had never wanted to become a god.  Xena did not believe him as he continued on by expressing his concern for Gabrielle’s safety.  She did not believe that he truly cared for Gabrielle the way that she did.  Xena did not trust in the bond that her friend had made with Petracles.
Soon Xena revealed that the quickest way to the hall of ambrosia was through the back door.  Petracles asked why they didn’t just use the back door instead of trying to find the key to the front door.  Xena explained that through the back door they would be led into the hall of silence.  The hall of silence was a death trap for any who made noise while traveling through it.  As Petrecles and Xena traveled cautiously through the hall of silence they found the remains of many who had made the journey before them.  All had failed in their attempt to gain access to the food for the gods.  That was why the Sumerian treasure had stayed lost for so long.  The men who had come to seek it seeked the titan’s key.  The treasure was so immense that finding the key was nearly impossible.  Unfortunately the fates had the last laugh for it was the assassin who now held the power and the life of the bard.
Despite being careful and cautious Petracles stumbled over one of the dead.  His warrior boots crushed the skull of a victim causing havoc to rise within the silence.  Xena and Petracles then ran for their lives narrowly escaping to the other side of the silence.  They were the first known mortals to survive the wrath of silence.  Upon their arrival through the doors to the hall of ambrosia they found Thersites.  He stood before the steaming alter containing the ambrosia.  It was pink and like a jellyfish.  It boiled beneath the heat of the active volcano.  Thersites was drunk with power as he held Gabrielle at the point of death.
He then barked out a command and threatened to take another life if Xena and Petracles did not move away from the ambrosia.  The assassin had figured out Xena’s intentions as well.  He could not allow the warrior princess to destroy his power.  The warrior princess and Petracles then slowly moved away.  One east the other west of the ambrosia.  They crept slowly around the altar and then before the assassin.  Both knew that Thersites was going to kill Gabrielle despite their move.  He was a murdering assassin with no conscience.  The life of the bard was just another number.  This murder would be worth more than any other he had ever committed.  Then Xena asked Petracles who he was really with.  She needed to know if he was going to help to save her friend or go against them.
Petracles then revealed that he too wanted to become a god.  He began to move toward Thersites, but just as he approached the warlord switched sides.  Petracles grabbed the assassin so that Xena could free the bard.  Thersites quickly thrust his dagger into the brave warlord as Xena took Gabrielle into safety.  After the first thrust of the dagger came a second which paralyzed the warlord from action.  Petracles fell to the ground suffering great pain and agony.  Blood spilled from his body as Gabrielle ran to his side hoping to save him from death.  The assassin then went after the warrior princess as they battled with swords.  Xena’s clashes overpowered Thersites as he tried desperately to escape from her through a deadened door.
He then came out of his corner and prepared to kill the warrior princess.  The assassin drew a second sword and fought two swords to one.  Xena found herself dodging his calls for her death jumping upon the altar and then flipping back across her enemy.  She gave out her battle cry as she blocked his advances, but he soon took her feet and she fell upon the altar.  The assassin then went in for the kill wedging the head of the warrior princess between his two blades.  Their struggle was powerful for their passions were clashing.  The passion of the greedy assassin to the passion of a friend’s love for another.  Just when Thersites was certain to bring death upon the warrior princess she reached for his wrist activating the gadget that had taken the life of the angry white-haired traveler.  The dagger went into his chest knocking him to the ground instantly.
Ironically the assassin’s own weapon had been his demise and as he lied on the ground about to greet his death Xena ran to the aid of Petracles.  He was still clinging to life though Gabrielle knew that his injury was too great.  Petracles’s heart bled, but it bled of love for the warrior princess.  He had always regretted what he had done to Xena’s heart before.  Petracles wanted the warrior princess to know that he really did love her and that she had meant more than their riches ever did.  His love had been worth even more than the lost Sumerian treasure as he reached into his chest pulling out a small leather pouch.  He struggled to give it to the warrior princess as he took his final breath and perished.
Xena and Gabrielle both felt sadness for their loss.  Petracles had been a good man and a good friend.  And when Xena opened the small leather pouch she found within it the symbol  of their love.  It was the wedding bracelet she had given him.  He had not sold it to an arms dealer as he had stated before.  Petracles had held onto the bracelet hoping to one day reconcile with the woman he lost.  Then the warrior princess sadly spoke to him regretting that she had not trusted him.  And so Gabrielle and Xena then went to the great lava pit formed by the eruption of Mount Pulus where Xena destroyed the ambrosia.  She said that it could never completely be destroyed only returned to the gods who would know where to place it.  And so the two friends learned about the lesson of trust.  They learned that to trust and to believe in someone is worth more than any virtue and any treasure within the world could ever be.

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#17:  Royal Couple of Thieves

April, 48 B.C.

Finding truth in others can be a difficult task, but finding truth in oneself can be an even greater journey.  Xena and Gabrielle had been called upon by some old friends of Xena’s.  They were a group of humble people who lived by their own codes and truths.  One of their most sacred possessions had been stolen by a warlord whose name was Malthus.  This sacred possession was a beautiful golden chest decorated with elaborate jewels.  Yet it wasn’t the lavish gold or valuable jewels that held the most value with this chest.  It was what was inside that Xena’s friends valued most.
The chest had been stolen for its known power for it had killed those who had fear within.  Most did not understand its power and were unprepared to handle it.  Yet Malthus had stolen the chest to gain access to its power in the hopes of using it against his enemies.  Despite his efforts to obtain this magnificent weapon he had in the end decided that he wanted to sell it for a profit.  He had discovered its secrets and was going to cash in on them.  The price for a chest as magnificent as the sacred chest was much more than could be afforded by even the most wealthy of warlords.  Only a chosen few were invited to come and witness the power of the chest and to bid upon it for their own keeping.
Xena and Gabrielle of course did not have that kind of wealth and neither had been invited to such an extravagant affair though in another time Xena would have been the first to bid.  This time Lena needed some help from a very unlikely source.  She and Gabrielle had heard from Hercules that there was a man named Autolycus who was known as the best of the best when it came to the craft of thievery.  Xena could not go against all of the most powerful warlords alone and expect to defeat them and obtain the chest.  She needed to steal the chest with a skilled thief and Autolycus was the man who could do it.  The only problem was that neither had ever met and Autolycus was a difficult man to catch.  Yet Xena had a plan that was certain to capture his attention.
It all began with her friends as they delivered word across the land that there was a valuable stone that would be displayed at a sacred ceremony within a secluded village in the valley.  Xena, Gabrielle, and all of their friends dressed for the special occasion and awaited the arrival of their special guest of honor.  As they marched through the village square with the priceless stone displayed high in the sky the king of thieves made his dramatic entrance.  He was concealed in a black robe to make certain that his identity would go unknown.  The sly thief swooped down upon his target and stealthfully stole the precious stone from its place upon the top of the ceremonial staff.  He then swooped out of sight and disappeared into the daylight.
Yet just when Autolycus thought that he had successfully completed another heist he found himself confronted by the warrior princess.  His ego was priceless as he admired his reflection in a barrel of water.  The joy of the heist was short-lived for Xena suddenly dipped his head into the water to grab his attention.  She did it for her own amusement and to his great surprise.  He instantly recognized her as being the warrior princess and declared that it would not be an easy task for her to capture the king of thieves.  The thief then dashed in the opposite direction of his pursuit confident that he would get away.  Though he may have been the king of theft he was certainly no match for the skill of the warrior princess.  As he ran up some stairs expecting to disappear into a building Xena ripped the carpet right out from under him.  He fell to the bottom where his new friends awaited his arrival.
Autolycus was certain that they had come to take his stone from him that he had rightfully stolen.  Gabrielle then told of the truth of the stone and how it was no more valuable than a lump of sugar.  The king of thieves had been caught within his own game for they came to steal his services and not his stones.  Autolycus was suddenly interested for he had never been asked to join as a partner in heist.  Xena and Gabrielle then took him to the nearby tavern to discuss the terms of conditions of what they were looking for.  Gabrielle watched her friend attentively as Xena interviewed their prospective thief.  He was interested in the deal until it was revealed that he would be stealing from Malthus.  Suddenly all bets were off and Autolycus refused to be a part of this challenge.
Xena and Gabrielle found themselves confused as Autolycus requested from the warrior princess a drink for his thirst.  When Xena turned away to pour the goblet of water Autolycus took his bound hands from underneath the cloth which covered them.  Though his hands had been tied together and bound by a knife through the table he still managed to grab another goblet of water and drink from it before the warrior princess had finished pouring a second.  Gabrielle found herself intrigued by his talent and skill, but thought better of asking how he had done it.  Instead she allowed Xena to continue with the interview as Autolycus explained his reasons for choosing not to steal from Malthus.  He had stolen from the warlord before and had nearly paid with his life.  Fortunately the two had come to an agreement in which Autolycus vowed never to steal from Malthus again.
Then with pride and a spiteful comment Autolycus rose from his binds.  He showed the warrior princess his great skill in escaping and then bade her farewell.  Autolycus turned to leave Xena behind, but instead found himself outdone yet again when he fell onto the floor ankles still bound.  He was nothing more than a show off, but it was kind of cute.  Then Gabrielle and Xena knew just how to play his game.  His ego was his weakness and his certainty of being the best of the best.  The two friends discussed other options of thieves who might be better suited for a heist such as this.  Autolycus then rose from his embarrassing demise and agreed to the deal as long as payment was involved.
And so the three met with Xena’s old friends and discussed payment.  Autolycus was still not completely certain that he wanted to be a part of this dangerous challenge.  When he asked of the terms of payment he was told that he would receive two thousand dinars to start and another two thousand dinars when his job was finished.  It was clear that he was disappointed for most of the money would have to be spent in dressing for the part of the wealthy warlord Centaries.  After receiving the first half of payment Xena, Gabrielle, and Autolycus went to the market auction to shop for the proper attire for a royal couple of thieves.  Xena explained the details to Autolycus of his mission and of who Centaries actually was.  Gabrielle had heard many stories about Lord Centaries.  They were quite unpleasant for Centaries was known to have killed men with weapons as meager as a simple toothpick.  Centaries was also known to be a great philosopher which was something that Autolycus would have to stretch for.
It was clear that Autolycus was beginning to play the part of the rich Lord Centaries as he had decided that Xena too needed a costume to wear.  He chose something a bit seductive and definitely not within Xena’s taste or humor.  Gabrielle found this thief interesting for his heart seemed warm and personality sparkling yet he wore rings he had stolen from royal queens.  What a strange man he was with a most interesting and secretive history only known to the few who knew him best.
Soon Xena and Autolycus were off to steal back the sacred chest.  They arrived upon Malthus’s ship as night fell and Autolycus began to play the part.  Xena made certain that everyone on the ship was aware that they were in the presence of Lord Centaries.  Word spread quickly of his identity and many of the men upon the ship shook with fear hoping not to anger or cross paths with this dangerous known killer.  Xena was in control for only a short time before Lord Centaries had decided that she would play the part of his faithful concubine.  The warrior princess was not pleased with this change in role, but she had no choice for Lord Centaries made certain that all aboard the ship knew of his lovely Cherish.  And of course he sent her below decks to change into something that was more suitable for her to wear.
Though Lord Centaries was proud and mighty his ego was more trouble that it was worth for him.  As he bragged of his great skill in killing men with apricots, muffins, buttons, and toothpicks he found himself confronted with the brother of Neolose.  Paryis inquired the Lord of the method used to kill Neolose.  Lord Centaries bragged unaware of what he was saying.  He told of how he could not remember killing Neolose for he had killed so many, but he was certain that Neolose had died a long and painful death.  Enraged Paryis threatened Centaries informing him of his linage to Neolose.  Centaries then found his way out of that challenge by referring to a second Neolose of no relation.
Soon the lovely Cherish returned to her master lord, but their reunion was short for Paryis had plans of his own.  He had decided that he would be the one to challenge the one who claimed to be Centaries.  Lord Centaries and Cherish were thrown overboard unexpectedly, but Cherish saved them from certain death by capturing the side of the boat with her hidden weapons.  Upon his return to the deck of the ship Centaries expressed his displeasure with the inconvenience bestowed upon him.  He prepared to prove that indeed he was the killer Lord Centaries.  Centaries pulled out his most infamous weapon.  He played the game pretending to walk away without harming his new rival.  Yet violence was present aboard the ship that night for Paryis drew his dagger and prepared to stab Lord Centaries from behind.  Centaries and Cherish masters of their trade orchestrated a most amazing effect.  Cherish had attached her weapon upon the belt of their enemy and prepared for Lord Centaries to do the rest.
He turned swiftly to face his foe and delivered the wrath of the toothpick which struck down his enemy instantly.  For Paryis luck had been friendly for Centaries had only knocked him unconscious rather than deliver a fatal strike.  Then Lord Centaries led the crowd of guests which he had so masterfully been entertaining and suggested that all go down below and enjoy a feast to satisfy their hunger.  Despite his forgetting about Cherish she soon reminded him of her presence upon entering dinner still drenched from her fall into the sea.  It was obvious to Centaries that he had made a grave mistake which could have easily resulted in his death.
Of course Centaries tried to make up for his mistake and to save his face in front of all of his admirers.  Cherish was full of fire and of passion and she made it known that Centaries was the lord, but she was in control.  The struggle for respect and admiration continued between the two through dinner as Cherish made sure that Centaries choked on a few grapes and entertained the rest of the crowd with kindness.  After dinner the guests were  shown to their quarters.  Then they were to wait until Malthus had come for them for the first presentation of his magnificent weapon.  With one bed and two royal guests Centaries was certain that he and Cherish would share, but Cherish was not at all interested in his advances.  She was there strictly for business reasons and to help friends dear to her.
Soon it was time to be shown where the chest was hidden.  Malthus was confident as he presented it to his audience.  He warned that there was no possible way to steel the chest for it was guarded by the most sophisticated security system known to man.  There were invisible threads made of human hair and spider silk, and a counter balance.  If either of the systems were set off four large bells would sound and alert a theft in progress.  Malthus explained that the reason he was selling the chest was because he had discovered its secrets and had no need to fear it any longer.  He was secure in knowing that no one would be able to steel his treasure for he was the only man holding the key to the doors to the chambers that it was kept in.  Then Malthus welcomed everyone and offered his complements of food, drink, and luxuries.
It was now time for Lord Centaries to do his work.  He went into action suggesting a gift to Malthus of the dance of the three veils.  There was a complication for Cherish only had two veils yet she performed despite the pressure.  Her dance was seductive and enticing to all who witnessed it.  Malthus found himself enthralled and impressed by her mystic aura.  Cherish even made her feminine power known by using her famous pinch move to tame one of the wild beasts to his most pleasurable death.  And while Cherish entertained Lord Centaries investigated the elaborate system which protected the chest he was planning to steal.  He then made his way across to where Malthus stood entranced by Cherish’s dance.  Lord Centaries was sly as he took the burned wax from a candle and used it to capture one of the keys from Malthus’s belt.  Malthus never suspected this move as Centaries offered Cherish as part of his bid on the chest.  Malthus was impressed and thought very seriously of this offer as the dance of the three veils came to a close.  Centaries demanded more from his loyal concubine, but she was not in the mood.  She flatly refused his command smashing a piece of pie into his face and smearing it for good measure.  Then Cherish was dismissed from her Lord’s command as she turned away and exited with disgust at Lord Centaries’s abuse.
Later that night as all of the ship guests slept Lord Centaries and Cherish entered into the room which held the chest.  They were prepared to carry out their plans and escape without a sound with the treasure.  But when they arrived into the room they witnessed a terrible tragedy.  There lying where the chest had once been was the body of its owner Malthus.  Someone had murdered him in cold blood using what appeared to be nothing more than a toothpick.  When Cherish examined the body more closely it was obvious that Malthus had been stabbed to death.  The toothpick was a set up for Lord Centaries.  It was unclear as to who would have the motive for most who were guests upon the ship had reason to want to get rid of Lord Centaries.
Despite what had been told to Centaries at dinner he did not heed the warning of invisible threads.  He did not believe that there could be such a man-made device.  His miscalculation of Malthus’s truthful words lead to another of his mistakes.  First he had made the mistake of being too large and noticeable amongst his peers, and second he carelessly put his hand through the invisible threads which set off the four bells above.  Cherish and Centaries then dashed out of the room and down the hall into their bed chambers hoping to escape accusation for they had not yet committed their heist.  Upon entering into their bed chambers they discovered inside upon their bed the missing chest.  Xena investigated the chest and read the words inscribed upon the lid.  They read.  Face the truth do not fear it for fearing it will result in your own death.  It was a set up and though it seemed a blessing there was a sudden knock at the door.  Quickly they hid the chest beneath their bodies playing the part of a passionate love affair as the guard entered into their chambers.
Cherish warned the guard of his interruption for Centaries was not known to appreciate unexpected intrusions.  Lord Centaries jumped up from the bed and threatened the guard commanding Cherish to find him some toothpicks.  The guard then fled for fear of his life and went on to the next unsuspecting guest.  Once things had calmed down and the guard had left Lord Centaries and Cherish returned to the scene of the crime to return the chest to its proper place.  The task would be difficult for they had to be able to accomplish it without disturbing the alarms.  As they prepared the chest to be lowered into place Lord Centaries the king of thieves asked Cherish the warrior princess how she had heard of him and his work.  She spoke of Hercules and how he had said that indeed Autolycus was the best.  Autolycus was flattered by this and expressed how much admiration he had for Hercules despite being at odds when it came to business.  Xena agreed that she too thought very much of the legendary hero.  And then Autolycus asked a personal question.  He wanted to know if Xena had ever been romantically involved with the legendary hero.  She was embarrassed that he would ask her such a personal question.  Xena avoided the answer when she suggested that they press forward with their work.
Then Cherish flipped upon the balcony above where the chest was to be placed.  She wrapped the rope through the rafters and lowered it back down to Autolycus who began to pull the chest up from the ground and to place it back into its shelf.  Halfway through the task there was the sound of voices coming down the hallway.  Cherish quickly flipped into action leaving Lord Centaries to finish the job while she took care of those who were about to enter the room.  It was Arquette that she ran into.  He was Malthus’s first in command.  Arquette was highly suspicious of her presence in the room until Cherish explained how enthralled she was by the thought of a bloody murder scene.  She seduced him with her beauty as they shared in a passionate kiss.  As Lord Centaries hung from just one leg upside down Cherish freed him with her chackram.  Centaries quickly rushed to his feet as Cherish occupied Arquette’s attention allowing him time to escape detection.
Arquette suddenly expressed his concern for having taken the chastity of one who belonged to Centaries.  Cherish assured him that her lord was sleeping soundly and would never know of their encounter.  Arquette then continued to pursue the beautiful Cherish, but just when things began to get too hot Lord Centaries suddenly found himself intervening.  He demanded to know what was going on between Cherish and Arquette.  Cherish played the part of the innocent stating that the two had been merely talking and nothing more.  Lord Centaries continued on with the jealous master and stole back his prize from Malthus’s officer.
In the early morning hours all of the guests were called down for an emergency meeting regarding the chest.  It had been called by Malthus’s officer Arquette who was seeking to find the murderer and the chest.  Upon entering into the meeting it was obvious that all who were there suspected Lord Centaries as the murderer.  Lord Centaries played himself lower key as Cherish played the horrified lady.  Arquette declared that the demonstration of the weapon would still commence in the morning at sunrise, but not before the murderer was caught and confessed.  It was obvious of what the punishment would be.
Upon returning to their bed chambers Autolycus declared that this game of wits was over for him.  He refused to put his life in further risk knowing the consequences and the stakes.  Xena found herself disappointed that he would leave after all that they had accomplished as a team.  She explained that she could not leave when her friends were depending on her success in the return of their chest.  Autolycus was not phased and was still packing for his swift exit.  He advised Xena to find less demanding friends, but then she told a story which touched his heart.  She told of how these friends had once found her wounded and treated her without a second thought or without question.  Xena felt she owed them a favor for their kindness and love.  It was her last chance to reach his heart and she had succeeded for he expressed his own story of sadness and appreciation.
Of course it began with an insult of his father whom Xena had assumed taught him the ways of the thief.  But that was not the true story of the king of thieves.  His story had begun with the loss of his mother at birth and the loss of his father at only the age of eight.  He was left only with his older brother and the two had to survive any way that they could.  His brother had taken care of him and watched over him in their parents absence.  This was how Autolycus could relate to Xena’s story of her friends.  And so he had decided to stay despite the risk and the danger.  The next morning as they awoke the two prepared to play their roles as Lord Centaries, and Cherish just one last time.  As they dressed for the presentation Autolycus expressed his disappointment in Hercules for not stealing Xena’s heart when he had the chance.  The king of thieves expressed how he could only dream of having a woman like Xena in his life.  Xena accepted the complement though Autolycus would never know the real story that transpired between herself and the legendary hero.  It was more than he needed to know.
Upon their arrival at the presentation all were present as Arquette prepared to present the weapon.  He expressed that there would be a demonstration upon the innocent fisherman nearby to show the power of the chest.  Yet he said that there would be another presentation prior for there had been an unfortunate young lady that had crossed paths with the one known as the real Lord Centaries.  Suddenly a helpless Gabrielle was revealed from beneath the blanket which had concealed her identity.  Xena suddenly left her character and became the warrior princess once again.  Autolycus was proven to be a fraud and suddenly realized his grave situation.  As Xena lunged forward to rescue her friend the real Lord Centaries threatened to take the life of Gabrielle.
First he put his two fingers at her temples and delivered the most agonizing pain.  Gabrielle’s head pounded from ear to ear like the feeling of centaur hooves pounding from within.  It was almost unbearable as her fear rose within.  Arquette demanded that the frauds be used as examples at the demonstration of his weapon.  And though all of the attention and accusations were flying toward the king of thieves and the warrior princess Xena revealed that it was someone else who had actually killed Malthus and stolen the chest.  The killer had been Paryus.  He had wanted revenge on Lord Centaries for killing his brother Neolose.  And now that he had been exposed by the warrior princess Lord Centaries approached his new enemy.
Paryus was filled with fear and with rage for he had now seen the power of Lord Centaries demonstrated upon Gabrielle.  Paryus raised his weapon and cried out in vengeance as Lord Centaries paralyzed Paryus’s arm.  Paryus felt the immense unbearable pain as his arm throbbed, and then Lord Centaries went for the knees.  Centaries laughed for his victim would certainly meet his death as Centaries put the final blow through the eyes of his helpless victim.  Paryus was destroyed and death had taken him painfully.  Pleased with his work Lord Centaries then gave the command for Gabrielle to be killed by a dagger.  ‘
Gabrielle prepared for her death as she was picked up off of the ground still suffering the pain within her brain.  And then Xena pulled out her mighty chackram and sent it to rescue her friend from death once again.  The chackram stole the dagger from the enemy swiftly as it returned to Xena’s hand with obedience.  Then Xena fought off some of Arquette’s men as Autolycus prepared the three for escape.  He quickly came to rescue Gabrielle and picked her up off of the ground.  The three ran for their lives off into the woods narrowly escaping their demise.
When they finally stopped Xena released her friend from Centaries wrath taking her pressure to the back of the neck.  Gabrielle was still in terrible pain and agony as her headache did not cease.  Xena spoke of how lucky her friend had been that Centaries had not taken her life sooner.  Gabrielle apologized for putting herself in danger again, but explained that she had heard of Centaries return.  The bard had tried to save Xena’s plan and Xena’s life knowing that Centaries would return before their mission was complete.  Xena did not scold her friend this time for her mistake.  She only told her to be more careful and instructed Gabrielle to follow the enemy and mark a path in the direction that they went for Xena to follow later.
Gabrielle was delighted to be asked to help Xena and she was certain not to fail her this time.  As she left the royal couple alone together again Autolycus could hardly believe that the warrior princess could live in danger everyday of her life.  Xena confirmed that indeed it was the life of the warrior.  Autolycus found himself satisfied with his own career choice.  Yet he was in too deep to quit at this point in the game.  He returned to the dock with Xena to defeat the guards left behind by Centaries, and Arquette.  The two battled against them and Autolycus had decided that he would take them on alone for Xena was losing time in reaching the chest.  Xena had faith that Autolycus could fight with the skill and bravery of a true warrior despite being a thief.  He had shown her the truth within his heart and that was all that she needed to know.
As Gabrielle followed the group toward a cave deep in the woods she found herself facing the wrath of Centaries yet again.  He had discovered that she had been following them and evil smile spread across his face.  Gabrielle once again faced certain death once in the hands of the killer Centaries.  Upon arriving within the cave there were several innocent that had been unfortunate to cross paths with Lord Centaries and Arquette.  The two prepared the chest for its demonstration as Xena the warrior princess caught up to their wrath.  Lord Centaries was seemingly pleased that she had joined them for the two had some unfinished business.
They prepared to duel without weapons.  Their battle was with only pressure points, but just as dangerous as a sword.  Xena smiled as she made the first move upon the cunning Lord Centaries.  She hit him in the shoulder as his face reflected his suffering.  Yet he was able to release himself from the pain as he reentered the duel with confidence.  It was Centaries who got the next shot in reflecting Xena’s own move.  Xena released herself from the grasp of the master himself.  Then Xena went for his neck as Lord Centaries felt the blow.  He struggled to twist his neck back into comfort, but succeeded to strike the next blow.
As Lord Centaries prepared his attack he straightened his hat with pride and then struck the warrior princess in the leg sending her helplessly to the ground.  It was the same move that he had used upon Pyrus that had led to a horrific death.  but it would not be Centaries who would get the last word.  This time it was the warrior princess who made her move upon Lord Centaries as he lunged forward to deliver her to the hands of death.  Xena took Lord Centaries down with just one strike to his chest which stopped the heart of evil in an instant.  Yet the battle was not over for Arquette then commanded his warriors to attack.  Just as Xena was about to do battle alone her partner in crime returned to help her take down the enemy.
Even the bard found herself taking part in this battle for she had been the victim too many times before.  This time she would be part of the solution and not the problem.  Xena fought without weapons delivering powerful punches and thunderous kicks to those who dared to defy her.  Autolycus followed with impressive skills of his own as Gabrielle fought using the only weapon she had learned.  She fought with the wrath of the staff.  The three defeated Arquette’s men and all of the other warlords who had come for the power of the chest.  Yet Arquette had decided that he would use the power of the chest to defeat his rivals.  Xena warned him of opening the chest, but Arquette did not heed her warning.  He slowly opened the wrath of what had been awaiting us all inside.
A bright ball of light emerged from within and floated in mystery as power built within it.  It threatened all who witnessed it and Xena could sense that her friends were gripped with the fear of uncertainty.  She calmly gave the instructions that the chest had given upon the lid telling them not to fear the truth, but to face it.  She told them not to run, but Arquette could not face his own truth.  His fears overtook him for its power was so great.  He tried desperately to run from the ball of light before him.  It was his mortal mistake for the ball of light suddenly turned into a weapon of destruction.  And then Arquette was no more than a memory as smoke rose from the place in which he had once stood fearful.
And so the battle was over as the three friends retrieved the chest yet they were curious as to what was inside.  They wanted to know what had been so valuable to Xena’s friends that had sent them on this dangerous journey.  And inside they found a tablet with ten commandments inscribed.  The second one read that thou shalt not steal.  Autolycus then laughed disappointed that there was not more to see.  But though this tablet had little value to those who had retrieved it the owners were grateful for the sacrifices made for its return.  They paid the king of thieves the two thousand dinars agreed upon and then left with gratitude and a simple thank you.
The king of thieves then expressed once again his appreciation for being a part of a duo with Xena.  He had enjoyed being one of the royal couple of thieves.  Now it was time to go their separate ways once more although Autolycus awaited his payment of a tender kiss from the warrior princess.  Xena did not oblige, but instead gave a simple handshake.  Autolycus them took her hand and gently placed his lips upon it.  Then the king of thieves turned and went on his way.  As Gabrielle watched him travel down the road she spoke of how she had liked him despite his flaw of thievery, but Xena then showed her the truth of their new friend.  Gabrielle gazed beyond his path and saw what Xena had seen all along.  The bard saw the two thousand dinars had been returned to those whom had asked a favor of the king of thieves.
Gabrielle found herself feeling a bit guilty for judging him in that way.  Not only that she had stolen one of the rings that he had taken from a princess.  Xena scolded her friend for what the tablet had said about stealing.  Gabrielle then promised that she would return the ring when she found the its true owner.  And so we must never fear the truth, but face it with courage.

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#18:  Warrior, Princess

April, 48 B.C.

In the kingdom near Liberia there once lived a young princess who looked very much like a warrior.  Though her manners were that of royalty.  King Lius was her father and he had sent for the warrior princess after hearing of their resemblance from his cousin King Sisyphus.  When the warrior princess arrived at the castle gates she found herself stunned at her reception for the guards bowed down to her.  She had not expected royal treatment.  Then she entered into the halls of the kingdom where she met with more guards.  They too bowed down to her as if nervous of her presence.  It was unlike her usual experience of having to fight her way through men.  Her entrance into the castle was so easy that she was told to go right into the bedchambers of the king to visit.
The warrior princess did not agree that a visit to the king’s bedroom would be appropriate, but soon she found the king.  He arrived to meet her in the halls as she found herself unwelcome by a strange intruder.  The intruder came up behind her though the warrior princess had known he was there.  She quickly spun around to do battle sending a flames through the air.  The assassin was soon defeated for the torch was more than he could bear.  He ran from the castle guard who were in pursuit of their latest intruder.  Then the king suddenly smiled welcoming the warrior princess.  He was impressed not by her combat skills, but by her piercing blue eyes and dark hair.  Xena was the exact image of his daughter the princess Diana.  The king was pleased by this for it meant that he had finally found the warrior who could do battle with his daughter’s attackers.
When Xena inquired of why she was attacked the king reported that his daughter was to wed into the kingdom of Liberia at the end of two days.  He had been looking for someone who could pose as his daughter and protect her through until she wed.  Xena was very uninterested in taking this job for she only worked for those who were less fortunate than the royals.  In fact she was insulted that this king thought that he could bribe her with his royal riches.  As the warrior princess had decided that she would not trade for the princess king Lius was filled with disappointment.  He tried desperately to find a way to convince Xena that this job was for more than just a royal princess.  King Lius argued that if she did not live to marry Prince Minious of Liberia then many slaves would not be freed for Liberian law forbade it.  But if Liberia were to marry into his kingdom then the laws would be void for in his kingdom slavery was not allowed.
Xena contemplated this for a moment and then decided that she could take the job.  The warrior princess could bring freedom and new life to so many by switching places with the princess.  And so King Lius decided to take the warrior princess to her test.  He wanted to see if she could pass as Diana amongst his castle subjects.  And so the first test was with the lovely Tynia who was Diana’s caregiver.  Tynia was responsible for entertaining the princess and befriending her.  King Lius was certain that if Xena could fool Tynia then his plan to protect Diana would succeed.  When the two met for the first time Tynia asked if the princess was ready for dinner for they were having a few of her favorite delicacies.  Xena played the part well and very convincingly as she agreed that she was indeed feeling hunger.  Then Xena made her first mistake, but covered for it well.  She had stated that she would love to fill her stomach with many bites of Kishka.  Kishka of course was princess Diana’s black terrier not suitable for dinner.  Tynia was confused for just a moment, but then Xena declared that she had only been joking.  Just as she had joked with Tynia when she had inquired of her costume.  Xena said that her costume was for a ball that would be taking place just after the wedding.  Tynia agreed that the warrior costume was suitable for the beautiful princess.
King Lius was pleased to know that Xena would pass as Diana despite her rough warrior manners.  Yet Xena warned that in order for his plan to work he must send Diana outside the castle walls where the assassins would not be looking for her.  The king was completely against for he had not allowed his daughter outside the castle since her mother’s death when she was a child.  Then the Xena convinced him that she would be safe in hiding alongside her friend Gabrielle for no one would even recognize her on the outside.  And so the next part of the plan was put into motion as Xena met with Diana again who had been intrigued by how much Xena looked like her.  She too had noticed the rough manners of the warrior princess as did her father before.  Diana and Xena switched costumes as they spoke of Diana’s wedding day to come.  Xena asked if she loved Minius, but Diana had never even met him.  The only thing she knew of Minius was of his brother Philemon.  Philemon had been the one who had been courting Diana for his brother, but by the way that Diana had described Philemon to her Xena realized that she had fallen in love.  Arranged marriages were seemingly wrong, but they were the way of the royals.  Xena felt pity for the lovely Diana knowing that the fawn haired sky blue-eyed Philemon had a heart already waiting for him.
When Diana emerged from her changing Xena immediately noticed the red bows that she had incorporated into the leather straps.  Xena quickly removed them to Diana’s dislike, but Xena reminded her that she had to look dark if she wanted to truly mirror the warrior princess.  Diana was expressing her excitement of getting venture outside the castle walls for the first time in years.  She yearned to know more about the little people who were her subjects in the kingdom.  Xena could see that Diana was right for the young princess had much to learn of those who resided within her kingdom.  She had been sheltered from the harsh realities that existed within her life without ever knowing about them.  And as she prepared to leave she helped the warrior princess into her costume making sure that she looked as well-mannered as a warrior princess could manage.
Not long after Diana left the castle walls upon Argo Xena found herself confronted by yet another intruder.  He entered into Diana’s bedchambers with a bouquet of red roses.  Xena beat him into unconsciousness ripping the roses apart looking for danger.  Yet there was not danger just a symbol of love.  The roses had been the kind gesture of a young man matching Diana’s description of the courageous, and brave Philemon.  Xena awoke him from his slumber with a glass of water.  Philemon rose from the floor still feeling that there was danger lurking.  He had come to take the princess on her daily walk into the courtyard, but suggested that they not go since there had been another recent attempt on her life.  But the warrior princess did not fear danger.  She had come to seek it out.  Xena also regretfully thanked the handsome Philemon for his lovely gesture of roses.  Then she asked him if he could take her on a tour of the entire castle.  Philemon was delighted and was certain that he could protect the safety of the beautiful princess.
The tour of the castle was lovely for Philemon filled it with his admiration of the princess, but as they walked the princess seemed more interested in knowing more of his brother Minius.  And so Philemon answered her questions about Minious.  He told her that Minious was a good man, but that he was a scholar while Philemon was only a diplomat.  Philemon seemed disappointed that he could not impress the princess not knowing he who he was trying to impress.  Then he continued to answer the princess’s questions about the Liberian slave laws and about the slave traders who were against the union of their kingdoms.  She expressed her fears that there were people within Liberia who were against freedom for slaves and that was who was trying to take her life.  But Philemon assured her that the kingdom of Liberia wanted freedom for its slaves indefinitely despite its archaic laws.
Suddenly, seven masked assassins arrived into the courtyard interrupting their castle walk.  They were sent to kill Diana, but Philemon stood bravely by her.  He drew his sword and like a gentleman instructed the princess to move away to safety.  Xena could see that he was brave, but knew that he could not take on seven men alone.  She prepared to do battle though Philemon would not know of her involvement.  He charged forward to ward off the killers.  Philemon handled the first three valiantly and with impressive skill, but as the fourth and fifth man charged for him he became overwhelmed.  That was when the warrior princess stepped cautiously into the battle.  From behind the brave Philemon she sent the killers into pain they would never forget.  She fought without her weapons and her power was too much for the enemy.  Her kicks were like the thrust of an assasin’s knife as her punches sent them into the fountain.
Soon the battle had ended as the cowardly assassins retreated realizing that they could get close enough to the warrior princess to take her life.  Philemon rose from defeat with a bloody nose, but certain that he had successfully protected the lovely princess.  Yet the warrior princess was not finished for there was so much she needed to know as she chased the retreating assassins.  Philemon stopped her reminding her that a princess does not fight.  Xena then noticed his injury and tended to the bloody nose.  Philemon found himself shocked at the princess’s reaction to his blood for she usually fainted at the sight of one drop.
While the warrior princess battle the evils that lurked within the castle the bard worked on her scrolls.  Yet her writings were coming with some difficulty.  The bard found herself interrupted by an old man who planned to kidnap her for a profit.  Gabrielle did not fear him for she had just caught sight of Xena’s arrival.  She warned the man of his impending defeat for he would not enjoy the wrath of the warrior princess.  The old man laughed at the bard’s threat certain that she was bluffing.  Yet the bard was certain of Xena’s fury for she had seen it many times before.  Suddenly the man grabbed the bard as he tried to choke her.  Gabrielle called out desperately to Xena who seemingly did not want to get involved.  After many moments of desperate struggle Xena the princess ran into battle.  She delivered a weak punch that couldn’t possibly scare a child.  The old man turned away from his victim to see what the disturbance was only to find a princess playing the part of a powerful warrior.  She did not look powerful in her stance as if uncertain of what to do next.  Trying to look as mean as possible the princess failed to look larger than her foe.  Suddenly she turned away in fear as she ran down the path toward Argo.  Gabrielle then realized that she could handle this one man on her own.  The bard picked up her staff from the ground and delivered the enemy to the ground.  She took his feet with one move and then cracked him twice with the staff.
That was all it took to defeat him.  He was a simple inexperienced foe who prayed only on the weak unaware of the power of the battling bard.  Gabrielle was pleased of her defeat and realized that the warrior princess had been testing her.  When she finally caught up to the princess she found herself curious of the details at the castle.  Then the princess took a note from her breastplate and handed it to the bard.  Gabrielle was curious about the castle, but more curious about Xena’s strange behavior.  After reading the note she began to laugh for she thought that this was just another test of her warrior skills.  But the princess insisted that she indeed was princess Diana.  Gabrielle could not believe it and she continued to argue with the princess about being tested, but then the princess fell apart.  She became hysterical showing her fears.  The princess described a day of getting lost at least three times, and of missing her father after being away from him for only hours.
It was the fear and hysteria that alerted the bard to the true identity of the one who stood before her.  Yet it was amazing for Diana had the same piercing blue eyes and long dark locks of the warrior princess.  Finding herself in awe Gabrielle bowed down to the princess expressing her excitement in meeting the princess.  Then Diana warned Gabrielle of her own behavior for no one was to know Diana’s true identity.  The princess was correct and Gabrielle realized that she had her work cut out for her.  Not only did she have to look after the princess, but she had to teach her the life of the warrior princess so that she could behave more like a warrior.  And it wasn’t an easy task.  As the day wore on Gabrielle realized just how little Diana knew about the world outside the castle walls.  She was more nieve than the bard as she expressed her continuing excitement in meeting the ordinary people of her kingdom.  Diana told of all of the wonderful things that she would do once she was Queen of the land.  Gabrielle did admire her for her desire to relate with her people, but it would be many years before the young princess would truly understand what relating to them meant.
Back at the castle the warrior princess was learning about life as a royal princess receiving all of the treatment and the pampering.  It was more than she could take as Tynia brushed her hair for one thousand long strokes.  Tynia was preparing the princess for her first meeting with Minious at a special banquet held for the two engaged.  The warrior princess only made it to about eight hundred or so strokes before she could take no more.  She stopped the brushing session immediately for she was more than ready to attend the banquet.  King Lius arrived to escort her to dinner concerned that she would not be able to fool those who had known Diana since childhood.  But Xena was certain that she would be able to convince them.  She was also certain that she should attend so that she could find out who was working against Lius and his daughter.
As the beautiful princess was escorted to the dinner she walked alongside King Lius and Philemon.  Philemon spoke with excitement for he could no wait to hear the princess play her enthralling melodies upon the harp.  While the many royal guests gathered for this most special occasion the warrior princess asked the king to inform her on some of those who were in attendance.  One man she caught sight of across the room had been talking to Minius the one who was to wed her.  He had a look she knew all too well and so she asked of his business with Liberia and Minius.  Xena was told by the king that he was Romeous.  A simple and loyal business man who was quite prominent and well-liked.  Lius did not expect that Romeous would be involved with such a dastardly plot against his daughter.
Finally all sat down to dinner and went on with the first toast of the evening.  The princess was given the honor by her father and she used this opportunity to inspect the reaction of the guests.  First she toasted to her husband to be and their marriage to be.  Then she stood again and toasted to the end of slavery.  Most about the table had agreed with great excitement that slavery would soon be a thing of the past in Liberia.  As the princess sat down she rose once more and declared death to the traitors of the land.  She was firm and over dramatic as she delivered her last toast.  Her words rose some eye brows and great suspicion from those in attendance.  Yet the words themselves did not encourage those against her to strike her down.  Instead the King apologized for the words that his lovely Diana had been coached by her father to say.  When Diana seeked her approval from him to cover from her drama of the latter he took light of the matter and brought laughter to all who dined.
As dinner came to a close Philemon suggested that she play them a tune for he was not certain that this was his Diana.  There was something clearly different about her attitude and her personality of which he could not understand.  Many of the other guests agreed that she should indeed play for them.  Including the good man Romeous who seemed irritated at this charade.  When King Lius tried to cover up Xena’s diguise he suggested that his daughter had been tired.  He even went as far as to say that she could not play that way.  But instead Xena chose to meet the challenge and rose from the table to play the harp.  Of course her manners had demonstrated that there was something not quite right with the usually lovely princess.  Yet Xena sat down upon the chair to prepare a tune for all.  Placing her fingers softly upon the strings she closed her eyes.  Then she felt the music which lie within her mind.  The tune she played was of destruction for every last string had been broken.  It was clear to all who were against her that she knew who they were.  There was no more hiding behind false images, yet it would take more to convince Lius of that.  Smiling quaintly the princess apologized as if confused by the broken strings, but King Lius suggested that just maybe they had been strung a bit tightly.
While Xena the warrior princess dined with royals princess Diana dined with the bard.  Gabrielle prepared for nightfall placing bed rolls upon the ground.  It was the life of the warrior princess, yet Diana did not understand.  She could not believe that anyone in her kingdom ever slept upon the ground.  And then Gabrielle decided that maybe a bit of bread and cheese would ease her displacement.  But when the princess tried it she most certainly did not like it.  The princess spate the stale bread upon the ground trying not to allow the bard to catch sight of it.  Then the princess suggested that they go down to the local tavern.  She had riches to spend and plenty of money.  Diana was certain they could feast and dine well.  Gabrielle refused the idea for she realized that there was a lesson for the princess to learn.  If she was going to get to know the lives of those ordinary people she so admired then she was going to have to learn how they lived.
As the two sat down to bed near a temple to Aphrodite Gabrielle and Diana were becoming comfortable with their unlikely situation.  Until an old beggar approached and stood over the princess startling her with freight.  She jumped up and hid behind the bard as if expecting Gabrielle to protect her.  It was strange for the bard to find herself standing in front of a warrior princess rather than behind.  The old beggar was not a threat.  He had only come to ask for a spare crumb.  Diana seemed offended when his actions implied starvation.  She was certain that no man, woman, or child was starving within her kingdom.  Suddenly the princess caught herself and became the warrior princess once again.  Though Diana did not believe the truth Gabrielle had known it well.  She reached for their last lump of cheese and graciously gave it to the man.
His eyes glowed with appreciation for the compassion of the giving bard and then he called out to his family beyond the brush.  A wife and three young children came from hiding to rejoice and give thanks.  The sight of a little blue-eyed innocent girl brought sorrow to the heart of the princess.  She realized now what she had never known.  That there was indeed corruption still existing within her castle walls.  But after this humbling experience she had decided that she would change things for the better of all.  Her first good tiding for the poor was to offer a feast to this family.  She dashed off to the local tavern and brought back more food than these poor could ever have imagined.  It satisfied her heart to know that she could offer them comfort and all sat down together and enjoyed a banquet of their own.
Late into the night a gruesome discovery was made back at the castle.  Romeous reported to Philemon that a high-ranking general within the castle had hanged himself to avoid the shame of his betrayal.  Once Lius and Xena were told Lius was certain that the danger was over.  He instructed that the princess be brought back home to be wed upon the next day.  With satisfaction and relief King Lius slept well for the first time in weeks.  Yet Xena was not convinced that the general had been the real traitor.  Her suspicions were confirmed later that night after Philemon had spoken with Minious about his feelings toward Diana.  As Philemon left his brother disappointed to find his lack of interest in his wife to be he ran across the castle guard carrying a chair to cut down the hanged.  When Philemon realized that there had been no chair in the room where the hanged had been found he was certain of what Xena had already suspected.
Unfortunately Lius’s guard had already gone to bring back the princess before the news had reached him.  He found Diana with her people telling the story of how she had killed Cyclops instead of Centaurs with her round killing weapon.  The little girl was memorized by the beautiful princess with piercing blue eyes and then asked her to demonstrate the mighty power of her shiny round weapon.  Without a thought Diana released its wrath though Gabrielle tried desperately to stop her.  The bard had seen the power of the chackram and had known that only one woman could tame its wildness.  It flew about out of control narrowly missing the bard and those near her.  The chackram had bounced off a keg of water and then finally come to rest after robbing the king of his crown into a nearby tree.
Diana was pleased to see that her father had returned for her and prepared to return to the castle for her wedding.
Early on the morning of the wedding Gabrielle arrived at the castle with Diana, Lius, and their guard.  Upon entering through the gates into the courtyard there stood the once leather clad warrior princess.  She was sporting more of a fluttering pink gown which was very out of her style.  It was obvious that she had tired of the charade despite all  of the wonderful experiences that it offered.  Gabrielle was delighted to be reunited with her friend.  Diana appeared just as satisfied that the danger was seemingly over.  Then Xena declared that she was quite tired of being a princess and could not wait to restore her dark beauty.  Gabrielle waited as Xena and Diana disappeared to switch roles into their proper place.  And then Xena returned ready to ride out into danger again unlike her counter part Diana had been.  Gabrielle then left with Xena and argue traveling on down the road seemingly finished with a job well performed.
Yet this tale is not over for there were more surprises in store.  As Diana prepared to dress into her wedding gown Philemon found himself charging into her bed chambers to warn her of the danger that still existed with in the castle walls.  He told Diana what he had discovered about the truth of the general’s suicide.  For it had not been a suicide at all.  When Diana heard the news she instructed Philemon to go out and get Xena to come back so that she could stand in at the wedding.  Philemon dashed off quickly in hopes that he could reach Xena in time.  Fortunately he had caught up to Xena and Gabrielle entering into a nearby village.  Philemon summoned Xena making her aware of the danger that still lurked.  Xena quickly reacted charging upon Argo on down the road leaving Gabrielle behind.
Soon Xena arrived at the castle just in time for the wedding.  But what she witnessed was so intense that no one ever suspected.  As Diana walked down the aisle preparing to wed Minius.  He stood waiting for her below a danger that awaited.  Just before Diana reached the altar in her beautiful white dress she suddenly turned violent breaking into a warrior spirit.  For it was not Diana at all.  It had been Xena.  Xena had fooled everyone knowing that the real traitor was still about.  She let out a valiant battle cry as she ran up the wall flipping into action.  Xena kicked and punched like thunder crashing down every enemy about her.  Then she did something even more strange.  She reached for five loose arrows upon the ground.  Then she smiled with a crazy grin and dashed up to where the harp stood.  Xena was creative as she found the harp to be more useful as a weapon rather than an instrument.  She took the five arrows and shot them across the banquet hall toward the truest criminal of all.
The arrows flew flawlessly toward their target.  They were certain to hit their mark.  As they had come to rest.  There plastered to the wall was the loyal businessman Romeous for Xena had known his kind all the while.  She had known it was him on their first meeting in the banquet hall the night before at dinner.  He had acted in the manner that all criminals do for he had been too confident in his success.  Of course Minious had not yet realized that it was the warrior princess whom he had almost wed.  And he declared with great disgust that he would not marry such a mannerless woman.  Yet Xena had known what she was doing for she had planned it all along.  She saved a life and freedom, but she had also saved true love.  For on their way back to the castle a leather clad Diana had stopped the path.  She had pretended to be Xena only to discover the true feelings of her betrothed.  Philemon declared without awareness of how much he loved Diana, but he had been afraid to tell.  He had been afraid that Diana loved only Minious.  Then Diana revealed herself.
It had been Philemon who had shared with Xena his knowledge of her charade.  He had told her he had known she wasn’t Diana before the second switch was made.  For Diana did not catch and she did not like blood.  So Xena did all of the work for she caught true love bringing it together, and prevented blood by storming the castle wedding.  As Xena and Gabrielle finally found themselves leaving the castle Gabrielle asked her what it had been like.  Gabrielle wanted to know if Xena had truly enjoyed being a princess or if it was just an overrated job.  Xena had said she would never want to be a princess who ruled within the castle walls.  It was too much work and not enough fun for a warrior princess to stand.  For a royal princess was not allowed to play with a sword and a warrior princess lived by one.  Then a servant walked by and she took two ouerderves.  Handing one to Gabrielle Xena consumed the other declaring despite it all there had been perks.  And so all ended in triumph.  Social injustice would one day end and love would be how it began.

The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Podedia
Scroll #19: Altered States

May, 48 B.C.

There was once a young boy whose name was Icus. He was in grave danger for the almighty laid claim to his life. Icus’s father was Ateous a faithful follower to the almighty. And though Ateous loved Icus more than anything in the world his faith in the almighty was so strong that he prepared to give his beloved son. When the day finally came for Ateous to sacrifice his son Icus Icus’s mother had decided to place her own faith against the almighty. She chose to abandon the almighty against her husband’s wishes and packed her son a bag sending him away. Icus’s mother clung to the desperate hope that her son would be spared and that he would be able to escape the unkind wrath of the almighty.
Yet not long after Icus began his journey to escape his certain destiny he was seen by his older brother Mael. Mael was the leader of the zealot group which followed the almighty and he was determined to make sure that his father’s faith did not come without a price. Although Icus’s destiny seemed grim he was fortunate for the almighty had a plan of his own. As Icus fled to escape capture by Mael and the zealot group he found himself meeting up with two strangers that could help him.
Xena and Gabrielle were enjoying a morning bath within a nearby spring. The two friends were cleansing themselves as they prepared for their next surprise. Gabrielle had been begging Xena for many weeks to teach her how to fish. But it wasn’t until this morning that Xena agreed to give the lesson which the bard had long craved. Xena prepared to bard with encouraging words giving her the confidence to capture the prey. The warrior princess instructed the bard to reach beneath the rocks in the riverbed below. As Gabrielle prepared to make her move she took a deep breath. And then the bard plunged beneath the surface as the warrior princess was certain that the bard would succeed. Xena had been correct in her vision of a newfound success. Gabrielle returned to the surface elated for she had captured her very first victim with nothing more than her bare hands.
Yet the celebration was soon interrupted by the sounds of men shouting from beyond the trees. The warrior and the bard glanced out to see a young boy emerging from the trees. He appeared to be running for his life with great fear within his eyes. The young boy thought quickly as he jumped into the spring to safety. Xena and Gabrielle wasted little time going into action for they knew what their next mission was to be. As the two friends prepared to do battle against those who seeked out the boy the enemy emerged from the woods. The men who followed Mael quickly scoured the area in search of their victim and soon the boy Icus was found for he had left behind his bag upon the riverbank.
Yet just as Icus was captured from beneath his hiding place under the spring waters Xena the warrior princess emerged from beneath the water. She rose from within as if she were a goddess being born. Those who witnessed the nude goddess were taken aback as they did not know who or what she was. Xena then gave a little hiss as if she were about to breathe fire from within, but instead she slowly came upon the bank of the river facing her enemy without fear and without cover. She advanced forth finding herself face to face with the man who held the young boy captive. And then she spoke slyly commenting on how impolite the man was for picking on the youngster. Suddenly the warrior princess unleashed her fury as she delivered a blow straight into the face of the enemy. The young boy was freed from the grasp of the enemy as he fled back toward the water where Gabrielle waited. She then escorted the young boy to a safe hiding place beyond the brush as she finished dressing herself to enter into battle.
The warrior princess had quickly retrieved her own cover as she picked up the rack of fish that she had caught moments before. She waived the fish around in the air preparing to use them as her weapon against the advancing zealots. Xena was creative for she made arms out of nothing, but the fish swinging them about slapping each challenger in the face. Her moves were harsh blows to the approaching enemies as she made her famous battle cry. The sound of her battle cry was ay-yi-yi-ya! She kept calling it out upon each one on one victory of the advancing enemies. Soon the bard found herself ready for action as she took up arms with her staff and joined the warrior princess. She delivered powerful force of her own as she battled against the zealots alongside the fish fighting warrior.
As the battling bard entered into the fight the zealots began to flee into the woods from which they had come. They could not bear the wrath of the fish and the staff. Soon the young boy joined the two friends as his older brother Mael the leader of the zealots emerged before them. Mael was angry that the warrior princess had interfered. As he declared his anger and his desire to recapture the boy Xena the warrior princess insisted that the boy would stay with her. When Mael insisted that the matter did not concern her she replied that any youngster being chased by a band of zealots was a matter which involved her. Then she replied that it was her maternal instinct which had led her into this battle against the ragging forces. The fearful young Icus begged and pleaded with the warrior princess not to allow anyone to take him away to be killed. Xena assured the young boy as he clung to her side that he would not be going anywhere. Mael realized that he had lost this battle, but assured the warrior princess that he would be back for it was not over. And with that Mael disappeared with the zealots into the woods.
This new mission left the warrior princess and the bard very confused for they could not understand why anyone would want to kill a young innocent boy. In fact, his own brother seemed passionate about his young brother reaching a destiny of certain death. The young Icus explained that it was the will of his father to sacrifice him to the almighty. Gabrielle found herself confused for a moment as she thought of what the sacrifice meant. She realized that Icus was destined for a violent death by dagger at the hand of his father. Gabrielle was shocked as was Xena for they could not understand why a father would want to sacrifice his son so willingly. Even Icus was confused for he told the two friends that his father was truly a loving man. Icus spoke of how his father had stayed by his bedside in his times of great illness. As the three walked on accompanied by Xena’s horse Argo Gabrielle tried desperately to comfort the young boy amidst his confusion and his fears.
Suddenly from beyond the hill above Gabrielle heard Xena shout out to her. Gabrielle hadn’t even noticed that the warrior princess had left her side. She was shocked for a moment until the warrior princess appeared in view again upon the hill beneath the trees above. Xena had shouted out that she had found a secure hiding place for Icus and Gabrielle to take up camp. It was a cave which she had used when she had brought her army through the valley a few years before. Xena insisted that she would go and seek out Icus’s father hoping to find out why a loving man would want to sacrifice a son that he seemed to love so dearly.
And so the warrior princess left the bard alone with Icus. Gabrielle found herself desperately wanting to comfort his pain. She tried many things. The bard even told the story of her adventures in Troy alongside the warrior princess hoping that the excitement of the Trojan horse would get his mind off of his grief. Unfortunately the young Icus seemed quite uninterested although the bard even altered the truth hoping to capture his attention. She was certain that fire-breathing Trojans, and a massive Greek army would be just what a young boy’s imagination would be hungry for, but none of that seemed to matter to Icus. Suddenly Gabrielle found herself wondering if maybe her story just wasn’t very good, but Icus assured the bard that it wasn’t her story that was wrong. He complemented her on her story, but he reminded her that his pain and confusion was what kept him from paying attention.
Again Gabrielle tried to reassure the young Icus that Xena would be certain to make right what was wrong with his father. Of course all of the difficult work in consoling the fearfully confused began to take its toll on the deprived stomach of the bard. She hoped that Xena would also be bringing good food with good tidings. Yet that was just the thing that put Icus at ease for he found himself delighted that he had something he could share with the bard. Within his brown bag he carried apples, and bread. As he emptied the contents he handed Gabrielle the bread which was carefully wrapped. The bard unraveled it quickly finding that it smelled sweet. She recognized this sweet sensation for it was her favorite kind of bread. The bard rejoiced for she had not had a single bit of nut bread since she had been back in Podedia. There was plenty to eat as she began to delve into the soft fluffy loaf.
As Gabrielle ate the nut bread she asked if Icus would like some, but Icus insisted that he was not hungry. So the bard found herself within the Elysian Fields as she ate every last crumb of the loaf of nut bread from Icus’s bag.
As Gabrielle and Icus camped within the hidden cave Xena and Argo headed toward the home of Ateous Icus’s father. Upon Xena’s arrival she caught a critical conversation between Ateous and Mael. The warrior princess listened through the open doorway hoping to determine the truth of the matter. She heard Mael insist that Ateous continue to pursue the faith that he had for the almighty. Mael regretted with vengeance that he had lost Icus to the barbarian woman. He vowed to the concerned Ateous that he would get Icus back from the warrior princess even if it meant resorting to violence.
Yet Ateous was upset by this suggestion. He declared that there would be no violence necessary in this new conflict. Mael disagreed with his father declaring that desperate times called for desperate measures. He seemed driven by vengeance and that was very clear to the warrior princess. There was more to the story than the uncertain words of the almighty. The warrior princess could hear the sadness and the desperation within Ateous and she suddenly entered through the doorway interrupting the conversation. She felt that she could get through to Ateous for she sensed his confusion that the almighty would ask these terrible things of him. Xena questioned Ateous demanding to know which god had declared Ateous to sacrifice his beloved son. As she had entered Mael pulled his weapon, but Ateous instructed to his son that no more violence would be necessary. Xena was certain that only Ares or Zeus would declare such a sacrifice, but Ateous answered that there was only one almighty god. There was only one god worthy of followers and of worship. It was this god that had demanded of him his young son. And although Ateous was pained deeply knowing that it was the only way to prove to the almighty his undying faith he was certain to follow through despite it all.
It was in that moment that Xena realized that there had to be another way to win against this faith in one god. The warrior princess was spiteful of what the gods of the world often asked of their people. She was against this call to sacrifice no matter which god it was that had asked of it. The warrior princess was certain that no god worth following would demand such a test of faith. And so the warrior princess seeked out the only ally within Icus’s family that felt the same way. Xena rode with Argo onto the nearest temple to the goddess Hestia. Hestia was known as the goddess of family and Xena soon found there before the ruined old temple a grieving desperate mother.
Xena approached Icus’s mother with relief for she was certain to win in a battle against the almighty with the help of a mother’s love. When Xena approached the young mother the woman was startled at first. She had not expected another woman tall, dark, and in leather to interrupt. Yet it was obvious that Hestia had heeded the prayers of the desperate mother for Xena had been sent as her sign. The warrior princess assured the young mother that she had come to help mend the family back together and to prevent the sacrifice of her son Icus. Icus’s mother was relieved that Xena had come. She was glad that her faith in the old gods of her own belief were still there for her despite the faith of her husband in the almighty. Icus’s mother told Xena how she could not understand this almighty god that would want the life of her son. She went onto express her confusion as to why her husband was acting so strangely and why he would no longer confide in her. Icus’s mother was not so trusting of the almighty for it seemed he was ripping her family apart. Not only that, but the almighty had declared to Ateous that Mael was not to be his next heir and leader, but for Icus to be prepared and honored.
None of this made sense to the warrior princess. For a moment she had thought that maybe Mael had been behind all of the confusion, but with this new revelation the warrior princess was still lost within the confusion of Icus’s family. Of course Icus’s mother was confused that the warrior princess had found her, but Xena reminded her of the power of the goddess Hestia and her undying service to the families of the world. Icus’s mother said that she had come to offer some food to Hestia hoping that her offerings would bring her family back together again. The young mother began to describe some of the things that she had brought as gifts and spoke of the nut bread that had been specially made by Mael. She told Xena that she had sent some of it with Icus feeling that Hestia wouldn’t mind sharing some of the food being offered. Suddenly the warrior princess became alarmed for she took the nut bread and began to examine it. Then she smelled it with suspicion. The warrior princess then discovered that within the nut bread was the answer to the mystery. It had been laced with henbane.
Soon the warrior princess found herself returning to the cave hoping that it had not been too late. She wanted to prevent Icus from consuming the bread. But when the warrior princess returned she found only the bard within the cave lying on the floor unconscious. Xena quickly went to the aid of her friend hoping that she was still alive. The warrior princess called Gabrielle’s name and tried to awaken her friend from the grasp of the henbane. Slowly as the warrior princess held the bard in her arms one eye began to open. Xena noticed that the bard was very limp and barely able to control her muscles. The bard declared with alarm that she could not see the warrior princess. Then Xena asked that she open both eyes. Gabrielle heard the instructions despite her difficulty in understanding the warrior princess.
When she opened both eyes she could only make out the fuzzy face of her friend although as the bard began to struggle to focus she saw something extraordinary. She could not believe how beautiful the warrior princess was standing there before her. The bard leaned back hoping to get a better look at the tall dark warrior woman dressed in the most shiny leather, and golden breast-plate. Her shoulders were massive and strong with gold pads and a set of blue eyes that could pierce the strongest heart. The bard was in awe of this warrior woman as Xena tried to help her friend to her feet. Gabrielle could not feel her body as her head felt like it was floating in the air detached. Xena asked the bard to stand up, but Gabrielle was certain that she already was standing. Then Xena pulled the bard to her feet as she swayed with instability.
The warrior princess then asked the bard if she could walk. Gabrielle found this question to be a strange one for she had been walking since she was two years old. The bard began to prove to the warrior princess that walking was easier than standing as she wobbled to balance herself with each triumphant step. Xena then interrupted Gabrielle asking her where Icus was. Gabrielle had completely forgotten about the young boy, but was certain that he was about the cave someplace. The bard began to call out for Icus and whistle for him. She looked beyond the rocks and the boulders, but soon realized that Icus was nowhere to be found. Suddenly the sense of duty returned to the confusion within her mind. A sense of deep emotion and loss crept up within as the bard burst into tears of disappointment. She had failed for she had lost Icus. The warrior princess then returned to the bard’s side to console her intoxicated friend. But Gabrielle was clearly hysterical now.
Xena then asked Gabrielle if Icus had eaten any of the nut bread. Gabrielle’s mind tried desperately to focus on the task at hand, but the thought of the nut bread took her back to paradise. She could still taste the richly sweet soft loaf as it had melted upon her taste buds. The bard smiled for a moment describing her bliss and of how she had tried to share, but the urging of the bread was too much for her to rage against for she had eaten the entire loaf. Xena realized that it would be a while before a loaf of nut bread laced with henbane could wear off. Then the bard was suddenly reminded once again of her failure as she continued to sob uncontrollably.
Xena consoled her friend and then told the bard that it was important that she stay in the cave until she could return. Gabrielle stood from her spot as her focus was shifting into the urge to command the army of musicians which had appeared before her. She began to direct them out toward the exit of the cave as if she were commanding an army. Xena then called out to Gabrielle and the bard commanded her musical troops to halt in their exiting the cave. The warrior princess then tried once more to get through to her helplessly drunken friend. She commanded Gabrielle to stand guard within the cave alongside the others. The warrior princess struggled to make certain that Gabrielle could understand her command. Gabrielle tried once more to focus on her commander, but was still uncertain of what Xena had wanted her to do.
Instead Gabrielle told Xena that it was imperative that she stay behind with the others so that they could all work on their song together. It was then that Xena realized that she could not get through the effects of the henbane which had taken the normally sharp mind of the bard captive. Xena then agreed with Gabrielle that they needed to stay behind and work together. Suddenly Gabrielle went forth to command her musicians. She was angered at their unruly way for they did not seem to listen to her commands. They were all in the wrong places and they kept trying to test her resolve. But Gabrielle would not be defeated by her troops. And so Xena left the bard to deal with the grueling task at hand within the cave.
Xena and Argo soon returned to the village where Icus’s family resided. Upon arriving she found that Mael was commanding his zealot followers. He declared that the warrior princess needed to be found and taken down. Mael was ready to kill the warrior princess and her friend for their interference with the almighty’s plan. It was obvious to the warrior princess that Mael was responsible for all that had been happening. It was clear that he was jealous of his young brother and that was why Ateous was being asked to kill his young son. Mael was drugging his father, and attempting to drug his young brother and his mother as well. The influence of the henbane was what had allowed Mael to drive his father to believe the voices which did not exist. Yet it was clear to the warrior princess that not only did the henbane allow Mael to control the destiny of his young brother Icus, but his cunning charisma allowed him to control the zealots which believed in the same almighty as did Ateous.
Xena followed the group to the home of Icus where they captured Icus in the garden just outside the back door. Soon Icus’s mother came running out of their home to aid her son as she tried to rescue him from the zealots. Mael was nowhere to be found. Xena then waited until the zealots escaped with Icus for she would catch up to them later. Yet one of them stayed behind to be sure that Icus’s mother would not follow them. Xena rose from her hiding place behind the well and took the zealot down from behind. He never knew what had taken him and then Xena assisted the young mother promising her that she would rescue Icus once more. Before Xena left Icus’s mother had explained that Icus had returned home risking his safety because he had been concerned for Gabrielle upon ingesting the henbane.
Xena realized that she had to hurry if she was going to succeed at saving the life of a boy who did not deserve to die. The boy had been brave for risking his own life to help Gabrielle. Xena quickly found herself being discovered by another group of the zealots. This group was led by Mael as they chased her hoping to hunt her down and take her life. Mael was certain of the threat that Xena posed to him as they led the warrior princess into a trap. Xena rode upon Argo seeing the sharp wooden gate which stood between her and escape. The warrior princess was determined as Argo pressed forward at full gallop toward the gated trap. Just as Argo approached the gate Xena commanded her horse to halt her gallop. Argo stopped suddenly before the gate as the warrior princess flipped over it to safety continuing on her journey to save Icus.
Soon after her escape from the first group of zealots Xena caught up to the second group which held Icus in captivity. They were preparing to take him to the altar where his father Ateous awaited his arrival. Xena looked over the valley to see the old man knelt before the stone altar. He appeared desperate to plead with the almighty for another way to his faith, but the sound of crashing thunder on a clear day was his answer. Then the warrior princess looked below deciding that she must take action. She grabbed a few stones throwing them up ahead of the zealots to distract their attention. The zealots responded as they sent two scouts to check out the path ahead.
Then Xena took her whip and used it to swipe Icus from their grasp without their noticing his disappearance. The warrior princess instructed the young boy to keep calm and quiet as the zealots soon discovered their loss. They continued on and Xena then took Icus to his father at the altar. The warrior princess could sense the great emotional tension within Ateous’s spirit and within his mind. She then took the pain from his mind away for she could see that the henbane that he had been given was beginning to wear off. As the three of them journeyed to return to their home Xena was still unable to convince Ateous of the plot against Icus by Mael.
Ateous argued with Xena that despite the horror of having to sacrifice his son it had to be done. For if Ateous did not carry out what was asked of him by the almighty then his faith would be lost. Ateous was determined to overcome his pain for what was his faith worth if he were to only follow it when times were easy. In this moment of his faith it was difficult. He told the warrior princess that saving his son’s life only to teach him faith in times of triumph instead of hardship. Ateous was firm in his position. Yet the warrior princess would not give up in this battle of faith against Ateous’s almighty. She then took them back to Icus’s mother who was glad to see that her son was okay. As Xena began to try to explain to Ateous, Icus, and his mother what she had discovered there was a mysterious knock at the door. Xena urged Icus’s mother to answer it as she prepared to do battle with the enemy. But instead there was the voice of Gabrielle demanding to find the woman known as Xena warrior princess. The warrior princess then went to the door and quickly took her intoxicated friend inside. Xena was frustrated with the bard for she had not stayed within the cave as she had been instructed to. Yet Gabrielle insisted that the rocks within the cave had instructed her to seek out and find Xena. Gabrielle was still not well as she roamed about the home. The bard’s unusual behavior was proof that Mael was behind poisoning his own father. Gabrielle continued to stare at Icus and then fight a battle with her staff against the ragging pillows upon the furniture.
Suddenly Icus ran out the back door as Xena quickly pursued him. She was uncertain of his action for he seemingly wanted to be captured. As Xena tried to understand what was going on within his mind she realized that he too had been altered. Icus began to speak as if he truly believed that his father had been right. It was his duty to the almighty to be sacrificed. Then Xena realized what was happening. She returned inside the house to find that Mael and the zealots had captured Icus’s family and Gabrielle. He insisted that he would kill Gabrielle if Xena did not return Icus to him. Gabrielle was not alarmed by the dagger at her throat. Instead she told Xena that she had known about the presence of the enemy, but for some reason she had failed to remind Xena. The altered state of the bard’s mind had cost them Icus for the young boy returned. He did not want to see his new friends harmed for his well-being.
Mael promised Icus that he would not hurt his friends if they did what he had asked of them. Icus agreed to go with them, but Xena knew that Mael had other plans despite the deal that Icus had agreed to. Then Gabrielle complained for she wanted to be taken with Xena no matter where that destination was to be. The altered bard was not afraid in the face of danger for it did not exist in the paradise which she had been experiencing. Yet the paradise of a single loaf of nut bread landed Gabrielle alongside Xena hanging onto a thin rope within the depths of a dark bottomless well. Mael had thrown the two friends into the well certain of their demise. Yet he underestimated the strength of the warrior princess. Xena held tightly onto the rope and caught Gabrielle by the arm on her way down.
Suddenly the bard became very aware of her surroundings. Things were becoming much more clear to her and danger was real for the first time in several hours. The glorious troop of musicians had ceased to exist as the darkness of the well surrounded the bard and the warrior princess. Gabrielle’s head began to feel as if it had been kicked by the hooves of a mighty centaur. The warrior princess found herself glad that the henbane was finally wearing off of her sidekick for she needed Gabrielle’s help now more than ever. Yet the journey toward the top of the well was a difficult one as Xena climbed with the weight of two. Slowly she moved toward the top as the bard clung to her side. Then the rope weakened as the wooden support above began to give way. The two friends had only made it half way to the top of the well. It was beginning to look grim for them as they desperately tried to reach the top. Carefully the warrior princess continued on as the rope jerked again and the warrior princess knocked the bard in the face with her elbow.
Again the warrior princess began to rise toward the top as she instructed the bard to tie the second rope to her waist. Then there was the horrid sound of the wooden beam snapping apart sending the two friends down again, but the warrior princess caught the side of the well. She carefully scaled the loose stones as the bard began to climb up to the shoulders. Then the hands of the warrior princess emerged from inside the well to the top. The bard climbed out over the warrior princess still unable to control her balance completely as she crashed to the ground below. Xena then lifted herself from the well and joined the bard in safety. Yet there was little time to stand around as the two quickly rushed toward where the altar of sacrifice was.
Icus went with his father willingly knowing in his heart that Ateous truly loved him. He also realized that his father loved the almighty god. Icus knew that his father’s lesson of faith was important and that if it meant that he must die for the almighty then his own faith would have to be strong for his father. Yet Ateous was still questioning his god. The journey toward the altar led Ateous to decide that he was just not strong enough despite his young son’s bravery. But then there was another violent crash of thunder upon the clear day. It struck fear within the heart of the old man who decided that he must obey his god. And so he and Icus prepared for their test of faith. Icus prepared the dagger as Ateous prayed to his god hoping that he could spare his son’s life despite his doubts of sacrificing Icus.
For Xena and Gabrielle only an old rope bridge stood between them and saving Icus. As they approached they caught sight of Mael on the other side giving out command using a yelling device to sound like an almighty voice. Xena suddenly realized where the voices had truly come from and she declared that Mael command his father to stop the sacrifice. But Mael would not. He turned away and shouted for the kill. Then he disposed of the yelling device into the trees above. Xena commanded Gabrielle to retrieve the device while she crossed the bridge to deal with the enemy.
Mael laughed for he was certain that he had won this battle of faith. He cut one of the three ropes to the bridge hoping to throw Xena off. But the warrior princess was determined to reach the other side. She kept moving forward on the two remaining ropes. Mael then cut a second rope as the warrior princess reached the halfway point. He was impressed at the warrior princess’s great skill and sharp mind for discovering his plot. Although Mael was certain that the warrior princess was too late and that he had won. Then as she reached near to the other side of the bridge Mael raised his sword ready to cut the remaining rope. As he prepared to send the warrior princess to her death below in the deep canyon she twisted the rope with her feet flipping to safety upon the other side. Mael lost his own footing and fell only to catch himself with the ropes which hung from the posts upon the edge.
The warrior princess then reached out to her enemy asking that she take his hand, but he refused. Instead he declared that if his father’s faith was to be tested then it should be god’s will. And so Mael released his grasp of the rope and fell to his death at the bottom of the valley laughing all the way. Quickly the warrior princess ran into action across the long green valley toward the altar hoping to reach it before Ateous sacrificed his only surviving son. Gabrielle desperately climbed the high limbs of the tree where the yelling device rested. Her balance was still not at its best as she stumbled to the top of the tree. She leaned out over the canyon and reached for the device. Xena realized that she would not make it to the altar in time despite her great speed. The warrior princess reached for her chackram and threw it across the remaining distance of the valley hoping to disarm Ateous.
Just as Ateous was about to thrust down upon his son the dagger marked with death the sound of the almighty voice echoed through the valley. The voice was deep as it declared that Ateous had proven his faith. He had proven that his love for the almighty was so strong that he would even take the life of the son he loved more than anything in the world. Fortunately the almighty had spoken when he did for Xena’s chackram had mysteriously missed its mark. For the first time in a day Xena found herself relieved that she had the help of her mind altered sidekick.
And so faith had been tested and it had been won. Ateous’s faith in his god had proven that he truly was a worthy follower to his god. Icus’s faith in his father’s love had been restored, and Xena’s faith in the ability of her sidekick despite the influence of henbane. As Xena shouted out a good-bye to Icus and his family Gabrielle’s head began to throb even more for she could barely stand the side effects of the nut bread. As the two friends continued on down the path in search of their next journey they discussed the idea of there being only one true god. Soon they brushed it off as just another strange belief. Then Xena complemented Gabrielle for her excellent impersonation of the almighty god. Suddenly the bard found herself astonished for she was certain that it had been the henbane talking when she had heard those deep words of the almighty. Xena was confused for a moment for she was certain that it had been Gabrielle that had spoken those words through the yelling device. Yet Gabrielle confessed that she had never reached the device. She had tried desperately to succeed, but had failed. And so the mystery was revealed. Yet who the almighty was remained just as mysterious.

The Xena Scrolls
By:  Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#20:  Mortal Beloved

May, 48 B.C.

There was once a young girl who wandered through the woods late at night.  She was carrying a basket full of flowers for a special occasion that was to take place in the village of Pylos in just three days.  As she walked down the dark wooded path through the night she found herself hearing low whispering voices.  They sounded soft and soothing.  The girl followed them into the moonlight only to discover something she feared.  There appearing before her was a dark figure.  It was a man whose face was not recognizable.  Suddenly he disappeared as the girl screamed in terror.  When she turned around to flee there he was standing before her once again.  He had a message, but the girl did not stay to listen.  Her fear of this mysterious ghost led her scrambling to the nearest tavern.
There at the tavern was someone who could help.  The warrior princess sat to a late dinner with her loyal friend the bard of Podedia.  As the girl ran into the tavern she was out of breath.  Her face was white like sheets and she told of the ghost she had seen in the woods just beyond the village.  Xena immediately decided to investigate.  She left the young terrified girl with her friend Gabrielle to watch over the frightened.  Quickly Xena ran out into the darkness of the woods where all was silent, but the sounds of the night.  She walked slowly to listen more carefully hoping to hear the voices described to her by the young girl.  Soon there was a whisper which called her name.  It called for Xena with the same soothing harmless tone it had given to the girl it had frightened.
Xena turned quickly toward the voice to discover a strange glow.  The glow came from within a mysterious white mist that formed slowly into a dark figure.  Xena could see that it was indeed a man.  It was more than a man.  It was a ghost standing before her.  And just as she looked into the mist further she could see the face of someone she recognized.  It was the ghost of her beloved Marcus.  He smiled with joy to see her as his eyes gleamed with excitement.  The warrior princess found herself in disbelief for she had not expected to see him again.  She walked closer to his presence hoping to feel his embrace once again as she told him how much she had missed him.  He responded to her with the same appreciation yet he had not come to only visit his beloved.
Marcus had come to seek out her help.  Just as he was about to explain himself to the warrior princess two more figures materialized into the mist grabbing Marcus.  Marcus cried out for Xena’s  help in a desperate struggle against the other entities.  Xena instinctively drew her sword preparing to do battle against them to save her beloved Marcus.  But there was nothing she could do for him because he was in another realm.  She could only watch as he struggled to tell her what he had come for.  Marcus’s instructions were to go to lake Geniya and swim to the bottom so that she could enter into the underworld.  But before Marcus could finish his story the two entities that had come for him whisked him away into the darkness and his presence was no more.
Early the next morning Xena walked down to lake Geniya with Gabrielle to seek out Marcus.  She wanted to know why he had invited her to come to the underworld.  The warrior princess knew in her heart that whatever it was that it must be serious for Marcus had come for her in desperation.  His trust of her was apparent for if he had not trusted her he would not have come for her.  As Xena prepared to seek out the door to the underworld Gabrielle pleaded with her friend to stay.  The bard was not so certain that it was a good idea for the warrior princess to swim to the bottom of the middle of lake Geniya when it was uncertain that she would even make it.  Not only that, but the bard did not trust in the words of a ghost.  Yet Xena refused to listen to the bard’s reason.  Instead the warrior princess decided that she was going to follow her heart no matter the consequences.
Gabrielle was still unhappy with Xena’s decision as Xena tried to lighten the moment by telling the bard that she would make it to the other side one way or another.  Somehow Gabrielle did not find herself comforted by this, but then Xena spoke to the bard’s pure heart.  She told her that this was something that she must do for her own heart no matter the consequences.  Marus needed her help and she would not ignore his pleas.  Gabrielle suddenly realized that there was nothing that she could say that would persuade the warrior princess to stay behind.  The bard took Xena’s armor as the warrior princess prepared for her dangerous journey.  All that Xena took was her sword and her chackram that the bard had been holding hoping that the warrior princess would not go.  But Xena’s mind was made up as she asked for her weapons.  Gabrielle handed them over reluctantly, but promised the warrior princess that she would be there by the lake’s edge awaiting Xena’s return.
Xena smiled knowing that Gabrielle would wait for a lifetime if she had to for the warrior princess to return.  Xena was confident in her heart that she would return.  And so Xena left the bard behind and traveled to the hilltop above the lake as she prepared to dive into the unknown.  Gabrielle watched her friend hoping that she would return from her heart’s journey soon.
Diving into the lake Xena swam to the underworld because her love Marcus called for her.  Evil had taken control and innocent souls were suffering, but Xena fought for good.  When she arrived at the door to the underworld she found herself meeting the well-known keeper of the gate.  Charon did not greet the warrior princess with a warm welcome.  He was rather nasty and quite ugly with his rotted teeth and blackened eyes.  Charon wore tattered clothing as he pulled up on his boat which led across from the mortal realm to the realm of the dead.
Xena found the gatekeeper to be quite argumentative at first upon her request to be taken across to meet with Hades the god of the underworld.  Charon refused to take another of the dead across without his payment of two gold coins.  Xena then gave the ancient gatekeeper an awkward glance and replied that she was not one of the dead, but very much alive and mortal.  Charon looked at the warrior princess and wondered with amazement for he had never known a mortal to enter into the underworld voluntarily.  This led Charon into his sermon of how things had changed so much in the underworld.  He declared that the helmet of invisibility had been stolen from Hades which made the god of the underworld powerless in keeping the order down below.
This was important information for the warrior princess as she was trying to piece together the situation that Marcus had called upon her help for.  Xena then pleaded with Charon declaring that she had come to help Hades find his helmet and to restore the underworld to proper order.  Charon laughed delightfully at the warrior princess’s promise, but decided that any mortal coming to sacrifice themselves in the name of Hades and the underworld deserved at least one complementary ride across the fiery lava rivers beneath.  So Charon asked Xena to climb aboard his old rickety wooden boat as he began to take her on the journey toward Hades’s.  Yet Charon did not promise a ride to return Xena to the gate back to the mortal world.
Once Charon had taken Xena to the other side of the underworld he dropped her off in the worst place known to mortals, and the dead.  Xena stepped off of Charon’s boat onto the shores of Tartarus.  There she found herself witnessing the greatest suffering ever to be known.  People were sick with deadly diseases for eternity.  Some suffered gaping wounds that would never heal, and others suffered in their emotional turmoil.  Yet there was something strange about all of the suffering that Xena witnessed.  The warrior princess soon noticed as she walked through those in Tartarus that none of them were evil souls.  They were all good souls and Xena realized that they weren’t meant to suffer within these horrible eternities.
Her heart broke as she walked among them until she found herself running into someone whom she knew quite well.  It was Marcus and he had a smile brighter than life itself spreading across his handsome face.  Xena was relieved that she had finally found him as they embraced for the first time since his death.  The two exchanged grateful happiness within the depths of the Tartarus which surrounded them.  Yet Xena did not forget why she had come.  She had come to help and it seemed obvious to the warrior princess what it was that she had been asked to restore.  When she asked Marcus why all of these wonderful souls were wandering through Tartarus he explained that a terrible evil had taken over.
When Xena asked him who had stolen Hades’s helmet of invisibility Marcus asked her if she had heard of the one they called Atyminious.
Xena shrugged for a moment with a passing giggle within for that name took her back to her childhood.  She told Marcus of the legend of Atyminious a man who was said to have a fancy for young girls and young brides.  He liked to kill them just before they were to wed and enjoy their life of love.  Xena laughed for a moment when she recalled how she and her girl friends were threatened by their fathers.  Their fathers would tell them that if the girls didn’t behave themselves that they would find Atyminious and be sure that they were punished for their disobedience.  As Xena began to think about what had been said and what she had remembered she realized that the deeds of Atyminious had been real and not just a myth.
Marcus then explained that it had been Atyminious whom had stolen Hades helmet and it was Atyminious who reigned in Tartarus now.  Xena was told that the good had been exiled to Tartarus while the evil souls were allowed to run about in the Elysian Fields forever.  The warrior princess then asked Marcus to take her to the Elysian Fields.  He quickly led her into the white veil of mist which separated the good from the evil.  As they walked through it Xena described it as breathtakingly beautiful.  There were great waterfalls of endless power, perfect fluffy white clouds in a clear blue sky, and yellow poppies that lit up the brilliantly green fields.  As they walked through the veil into the Elysian Fields chaos was revealed.  The deception was beautiful yet the evil which reigned was awful.  As Marcus took Xena through the destruction and the ruin of a once renowned paradise she realized that despite evil being freed into bliss it would never be happy.
She watched as souls fought each other as if there wasn’t enough food, enough water, enough glory, and enough bliss to go around.  Xena realized that evil would never be worthy of residing in pure bliss for it did not appreciate what was truly beautiful.  She realized that what made the Elysian Fields a paradise was the love of the good souls that had once resided within it.  It was the love that resided within goodness that made Xena realized and understand why she had to help Marcus to restore all of the underworld to Hades.  Only Hades was wise enough to be the judge of who was a good soul and who was an evil soul.
As she thought of all of these things she then asked Marcus one question.  It came out of a deep concern which had gripped her soul.  Marcus had told her before they had entered into the Elysian Fields that only evil souls were allowed safe passage into the Elysian Fields.  She realized that if that were the truth then Marcus had been judged with the evil for he could not have been able to enter into the Elysian Fields any other way.  When she brought this to his attention Marcus tried to deny that truth.  He tried to explain it away by telling Xena that everything was in chaos and that there was indeed no order despite what he had said before.  But Xena knew Marcus well.  She knew that he was only trying to put her heart at ease.
Suddenly the warrior princess found herself within her own blame.  If only she had tried harder in convincing him to do the right thing before it had been too late.  His one good deed of self-sacrifice at the end of a live of evil deeds had not been enough to release him from Hades’s judgement of the damned.  Marcus could feel the warrior princess’s guilt and he could feel her heart breaking for him.  He tried to comfort her, but explaining to her that despite his judgement he had learned from Xena the value of doing good.  He knew it was right to go against all of the thugs that were laying ruin to paradise.  When Xena asked him why he was willing to betray those whom he’d be sharing eternity with in Tartarus Marcus explained further.  He explained that he was willing to sacrifice an eternity of suffering by the hands of those evil souls he was about to betray to hold onto the love that his heart possessed inside at the goodness that the warrior princess had shown and taught him.  Marcus explained that it was more important for him to know that he was doing the right thing despite the eternal consequences.  He explained to the warrior princess that her words had saved his heart from turning into darkness for eternity.
Suddenly there was an interruption.  Xena found herself being approached by someone who she knew well, but this was not a friend.  It was the familiar voice of the warlord Toxious whom she had killed to restore Celesta to her flame.  He laughed in the face of his enemy as he was certain that she had been judged into the ranks of evil.  Toxious was amused with revenge for despite all of the good deeds that Xena had done at the end of her own life she had seemingly been cast into eternal evil.  Marcus was shocked to see the gaping wound that Xena had given Toxious.  It only confirmed that he was making the right choice to fight against Atyminious in restoring the underworld.
Toxious then asked Xena who had stolen her life and claimed it as prize.  Xena smirked at the unsuspecting Toxious and replied that no one had been given the satisfaction of killing her.  Instead she had been thrown from her horse and been taken by nothing more than a broken neck.  For a moment the evil Toxious was disappointed, but then realized that he still held victory for this champion of good had not died committing a heroic act.  Just as Toxious was contemplating a battle with his thugs against the warrior princess and her beloved there was a disturbance within paradise.  Suddenly men were being beaten by a mysterious invisible force.  It plunged through the souls of the evil and then there was the echoing laughter of evil joy.
Then he appeared before his disloyal subjects.  It was the infamous Atyminious who stood before Toxios, Marcus, and Xena the warrior princess.  He smiled with a nasty glare.  His face was as white as death itself and his eyes looked as dark as those of Charon.  Then his nostrils flared as he looked about paradise.  He angrily declared that there was a mortal among the dead.  Atyminious knew immediately who the intruder was and he took no time in exposing that Xena was the mortal enemy before them.  Yet the warrior princess was prepared to take the accusation and turn it into an advantage.  She declared to all of the evil souls that served beneath Atyminious that he could not be trusted.  Xena reminded them that Atyminious was just as evil as they themselves, and then she demanded to know why he deserved the power of Hades.  The warrior princess had known that Toxious and the others would see things through their evil eyes.  She knew that they would realize that Atyminious was only playing them for fools.
It did not take an eternity for evil to rise up against its leader.  In fact, evil was quick to note that each and every one of its souls wanted what Atyminious had.  Atyminious tried to defend his accusation knowing that it was indeed the truth, but evil never lives or dies by truth.  Quickly Toxious took the lead and drew his weapon preparing to battle Atyminious for the helmet of invisibility.  If evil wanted real power it would need the helmet to rule over life and death.  Xena and Marcus found themselves joining the battle only to cover up the truth within their hearts.  Xena had hoped that Toxious would at least be able to rob Atyminious of the helmet so that she could retrieve it from him for she was certain that he could be defeated easily.  But Atyminious was just as dangerous as the legends and myths had told him to be.  Not only did he like to kill brides and young girls, but he liked to disembody them for his evil pleasure.  He was also very intelligent and realized quickly what Xena was trying to do so he put the helmet back over his head and disappeared from paradise.
As a reminder of his work he fought Toxious invisible and took his head with one thrust of his blade.  In one moment Toxious had his head and in the next moment the rascious laughter of Atyminious could be heard asking Toxious how he would like to spend eternity without his head.  Then all was quiet and the battle suddenly ceased for evil now feared itself seeing the damage it could deliver even in paradise.  Xena and Marcus realized that time was short and that they must find Hades in the underworld before it was too late for the mortal world.
Gabrielle still waited by the lakeside for her friend to return to her.  Over half of the day had passed and no sign of the warrior princess.  The bard found herself beginning to worry about her friend, but as she milled her staff around within the lake she heard the sounds of voices coming out of the woods.  When she turned to see who was approaching she found that there were three young fisherman.  They saw her sitting on the lake shore and asked her if she was going to the festival in Pylos.  Gabrielle replied with disappointment and a tinge of worry that she was not going.  Then the men asked her why she sat by the lake alone.  She spoke of the friend that she waited for.  The men inquired if her friend had been coming from the other side of the lake.  In a sense Xena was coming back from the other side, but not the other side that the fisherman had thought of.  And then the three were on their way leaving Gabrielle alone once again.
Several more moments passed and then Gabrielle found herself pacing the lake shore awaiting for Xena’s return.  As she paced she suddenly heard a bubbling sound coming from the lake.  Her heart lept with hope that it would be Xena returning to her alive.  But instead there was no one there.  Gabrielle’s heart sank at the thought of it being only a fish, but then there was a voice.  It began as a whisper, but then it became rascious.  This voice was that of a man who Gabrielle did not see.  She could not see a man anywhere as she picked up her staff.  Fear gripped her from within for there was an enemy which she could not see anywhere.  Then there were footsteps forming mysteriously within the sand all around the bard.  They came closer and there was laughter.  Suddenly there before the bard as she turned around appeared a man of darkness and evil.  He was ugly and scary.
It was Atyminious though the bard did not know this evil man.  She was taken by complete surprise.  Her fear became enchantment for what she had just witnessed.  The bard was frozen and entranced as Atyminious’s smile spoke of his delight in finding his first victim.  He could not wait to take a life.  Atyminious basked in the power of fear and surprise.  He proclaimed that he had only appeared before his victim because of the anticipation that death was upon them.  Atyminious quite enjoyed watching each and every victim go through the emotions of the moments before their violent deaths.  Then he paused for a moment and asked Gabrielle if she were about to be married.  Gabrielle was frozen and could not answer, but then Atyminious realized that this truly was not a bride to be before him.
Suddenly Gabrielle found herself snapping out of her reaction to this evil presence as she braced herself for a battle.  She raised her staff for a fight to survive for there was no other choice.  Atyminious found himself amused yet challenged that this young victim was going to put up a fight.  He was certain that she would still an easy victim.  Atyminious quickly rose his dagger above his head to go in for the kill, but Gabrielle instinctively blocked the advances of her enemy.  She disarmed him for a moment and began to beat him with her staff.  The bard put all of the strength she could muster into her battle as she popped her enemy in his nose drawing blood.  This caught Atyminious by surprise as he hunched over for a moment in pain.  He had almost forgotten of the pain that mortality could bring to him.  Gabrielle realized her chance for escape as she ran for her life toward the cover of the trees.
And as the battle had begun between the mortals and the dead so too did the battle for a visit to Hades.  Marcus had shown Xena to Hades’s castle in the underworld.  It was surrounded by lava pits, and fire springs.  Not only that, but there were also harpies which guarded its gates.  Harpies were known to be vicious human like animals.  They were birds with the tales of dragons and the agile wings of a bird.  Harpes had sharp teeth with breath like that of fire.  Xena was certain that they could defeat the harpies despite Marcus’s warning of their power and of their strength.  As the two crossed the stone passage toward the dark castle they were quickly attacked by the vicious beasts.  The screams of the harpies were deafening like those of the nasty crows.  Two of the massive beasts appeared to do battle with the intruders.  Xena fought with her sword as Marcus tried to keep up, but was quickly taken by his enemy.
Xena heard Marcus’s screams of terror as she turned to watch the harpies kidnap him into the air with its tale.  She saw that he had been grabbed up by his sleeveless vest.  Xena quickly acted as she grabbed the alcohol she had taken from the Elysian fields and took a drink from the flask.  Suddenly she grabbed a torch from the walls of the castle gate and spit fire at the enemy.  Marcus was dropped by the harpies  as Xena fought off the second attacker.  Yet he was not out of danger for he found himself clinging to the edge of the castle bridge unable to climb out of danger.  Xena turned to see that he was about to fall and flipped into action to save him.  She reached out to take his hand, but was knocked off-balance by the remaining harpies.  Marcus fell even further with the sudden jolt clinging to the wall with only his fingers.
Xena continued to kick and fight against the raging harpies until she decided to end the senseless battle.  Once again she reached down for her flask of alcohol and this time threw it onto her enemy directly.  Then she grabbed another torch and lit her enemy with the flames as the harpies went crashing down into the lava pits below.  Just as Marcus was about to fall below Xena’s hand rescued him before he could be taken away from her.  Now that all was quiet again and the danger had passed the two found themselves admiring each other’s beauty as if nothing else in the world existed.  But their moment of bliss soon ended as they were reminded of their duty to the underworld.
Once inside of Hades’s castle the god of the underworld found himself surprised that anyone had been able to get by the harpies that guarded his domain.  He was within a terrible depression realizing that the entire underworld was in turmoil.  Hades felt powerless and Xena explained to him that she and Marcus had discovered who was to blame.  Hades was interested in listening, but he wasn’t completely convinced that Xena could do the job despite her having saved the life of his sister Celesta.  Xena convinced Hades that if he would just send Marcus to the world of the living with her that they could defeat Atyminious and retrieve the helmet of invisibility.  Hades refused, but Xena reminded him that he was a god and if anyone had the power to give Marcus life it would be Hades.  Suddenly Hades realized that Atyminious had made a mistake.  His mistake had been that he had gone into the mortal realm with the helmet which meant that he would be mortal again whenever he wore the helmet.
Hades was reluctantly convinced by the warrior princess to give Marcus mortality once again, but he only agreed to giving him two days to live.  The god of the underworld proclaimed that it was all that he could offer to the warrior princess.  And so Xena and Marcus took Hades’s offer and Hades quickly sent them back through the river of Charon and through the gate into mortality.
As Xena and Marcus were about to return to Gabrielle at the lake shore Gabrielle was running from her enemy.  Just before Gabrielle could reach the woods Atyminious regained his composure and ran after his victim.  He kicked Gabrielle in the back of the head knocking the bard out cold.  Then he returned to the lakeshore to retrieve the knife she had taken from him during their battle.  As he returned to her side to finish her off Xena and Marcus approached seeing the murder about to take place.
Quickly Xena and Marcus drew their swords and ran to do battle against Atyminious who had blood on his face.  Xena realized that it was not the blood of the bard, but his own blood.  Just as she was about to thrust her sword into the murdering enemy he put on the helmet and disappeared.  He fought against her beating her and laughing for she could not see him.  The warrior princess soon realized that she would have to fight him with her other warrior senses.  First she listened hearing the footsteps of the enemy.  And then she instructed Marcus as they could see the footprints forming all around them.  The two took their swords together and clashed into their invisible enemy sending Atyminious fleeing into the woods.  Xena quickly ran to the aid of her friend hoping that she had been able to defend herself against Atyminious.  Indeed she had for Gabrielle awakened to see the one person she had waited all day to see.
Gabrielle was relieved to see Xena alive again and relieved that Atyminious was gone.  The bard was proud of herself for having given him a bloody nose despite his power against her.  Xena found herself relieved that the bard had survived becoming his first victim.  Yet Gabrielle had been attacked and Xena knew that he would soon be finding a new victim.  Marcus noticed that he and Xena had injured Atyminious for there was a trail of blood left behind by the enemy.  The three followed it into the woods until it led up into the trees.  Realizing that Atyminious had outsmarted them with a new way of concealing himself Xena decided that they would set up camp for the night.  Gabrielle was not so certain that setting up camp was a good idea after the near death experience against Atyminious earlier.  But Xena was certain that he would not attack them in the night for he would not be able to see them.  That would make their battle equal.  Atyminious enjoyed his advantage of invisibility in the daylight to give it up that hastily.
And so that night as Gabrielle tried to sleep beyond her own fears of Atyminious’s return Xena and Marcus enjoyed their time together.  Marcus reminded Xena of all of the things that mortals take for granted when they are living.  He spoke of the crisp night air and of the sounds of the night.  Then Marcus spoke of how he had missed Xena’s touch and her caress most of all.  Xena was flattered by his complements, but then he became serious.  He spoke of how he had been able to hear her loving thoughts of him when he had been dead.  Xena was surprised yet comforted that Marcus had heard how much she thought of him and of how much she truly loved him.  Though Xena was still feeling the pain of not being able to save him from death and of not being able to save him from an eternity in Tartarus.  He knew how guilty that she felt, but urged her against her guilt.  He reminded her that he had never thought it possible to do a good deed until she had shown him the way.
Marcus also spoke of how he had heard Xena’s thoughts of giving up on love.  He told her that she should never give up on love despite his death.  He explained to her that it was his love for her that had kept him sane and able to bear the despair of eternal life in Tartarus.  Marcus had said that the love in his heart made him feel warm and happy inside.  He said that it was the most powerful force of all and that it should never be taken for granted or thrown away.  Marcus told Xena that love was stronger than anything else in the world.  The value of love for Marcus was worth even more than his life as a mortal.
And so the next morning Xena, Gabrielle, and Marcus followed the trail through the trees.  Soon they found themselves running into the three farmers that Gabrielle had seen the day before.  They had been beaten and when Xena asked them what had happened they seemed disoriented and confused.  It was obvious that Atyminious had struck them without being seen.  Xena then asked where the farmers had been heading.  They replied that they had been traveling toward Pylos for the festival.  Xena then asked what kind of festival they had been traveling to.  The farmers said that it was a wedding festival.   And then Xena was certain that they would find Atyminious in Pylos.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Marcus had traveled quickly hoping to catch Atyminious before he could destroy more lives.  When they reached Pylos they saw that Atyminious was indeed present for all of the villagers that appeared disoriented or filled with fear of the sight of a ghost.  Xena asked where the bride’s father could be found and was directed by one of the disgusted peddlers to his home across the way.  The three friends went inside and spoke with the bride’s father informing him of the danger that his daughter was about to face.  Xena had a plan to stop Atyminious.  She spoke aloud to the bride’s father with all present including Atyminious though he could not be seen.  Xena instructed the father to allow her to go to the bride’s purifying bath to take her place.  The warrior princess was certain that Atyminious would strike there and she would be waiting for him.  He would never know it was Xena in the bath until it would be too late for him to react.
When the father asked of his beloved daughter’s safety during this time Xena instructed him to keep her locked away in her bedchambers until the danger was over.  Everyone was seemingly ready to do their part and to stop Atyminious before he could harm another innocent victim.  And later that night Marcus went with the bride to the bathing pools where he awaited the arrival of Atyminious.  As he prepared to take the life of the invisible man Gabrielle tucked in the young bride still anticipating the wrath of Atyminious.  Suddenly Atyminious entered into the bride’s bedchambers appearing before her just after Gabrielle had left the room.  He lifted his knife above his head preparing to thrust it into his victim.  Then he gently pulled back the sheets to reveal her innocent face only to find that it was Xena the warrior princess.
Xena jumped out of bed preparing to kill the enemy, but he disappeared before she could get a move in.  Then she rolled out of bed to the opposite side as she took the bed sheets with her.  Atyminious’s laughed roared for he was full of evil excitement.  He then prepared to take Xena’s life invisible, but Xena listened for his footsteps dashing forward against the wooden planks in the hollow floor.  Suddenly she threw the sheets upon her enemy revealing his presence.  He struggled for he could see nothing blinded by the sheets over his head.  Xena then drew her sword and thrust it into the chest of the enemy as he was revealed by his mortality.  Evil struggled to take its last breath and then it was delivered into the hands of death.  Xena then instructed Gabrielle to stay with the body of the evil Atyminious so that she could inform all that he had been eliminated.  As Xena left she took the helmet of invisibility to seek out Marcus and finish their business with Hades.  Gabrielle could not stand the sight of the face of evil any longer.  She realized he looked better when she couldn’t see him at all and pulled the sheet back over his face.
As Xena and Marcus traveled back toward the lake where they would find the door to the underworld they tried to enjoy their last moments together.  The day went quickly and as the second day of Marcus’s borrowed life neared its end Marcus realized that he had a choice.  He had the power to give himself permanent mortality with the helmet for if he were to put it on before his death he would be mortal living out the rest of his life with Xena.  Xena heard Marcus’s words and she too wished for that and as she asked Marcus if that was what he wanted he realized that real love wasn’t about what he wanted.  It was about making the right choice even if it meant his life would end and he would be condemned to a life in Tartarus.  Xena’s heart was saddened yet she was glad that he had made the right choice knowing her heart would have gone along with what his wanted.  Her heart had wanted that too.  As they held immortality in their hands, but Xena didn’t give into temptation even though it meant saying good-bye to a man she loved.
And so Xena and Marcus returned to Hades by the rivers of Charon, but Xena wanted to be sure that Marcus would be given a new judgement for she could not allow him to spend eternity in Tartarus with those evil souls he had betrayed.  Xena entered into Hades’s chambers alone demanding that he give Marcus another judgement.  Hades refused her reminding her that all people only get one judgement when they died.  It was something that he could not change.  But then Xena reminded him that Marcus had not yet died.  Hades again argued that he had already had his one judgement.  Xena realized that she had only one last chance to save Marcus from eternal suffering.  She asked Hades if he would just listen to her heart and judge Marcus one more time for not only his past deeds in life before, but in what her heart knew to be true of him.  Hades agreed, but then asked for his helmet before he would listen.
Xena then asked for Marcus to appear.  He took off the helmet of invisibility and appeared before his judge.  Xena handed the helmet over to Hades and then suddenly she pulled out a dagger.  The warrior princess thrust it through the heart of her beloved ending his two days of mortality given by Hades.  As Marcus bled into death a second time Xena told Hades of how Marcus had held his love inside him.  He had held a love so great for the warrior princess that it enabled him to survive the evil which had surrounded him in Tartarus.  It had been this pure love that had allowed Marcus to make the right choice and to bring back the helmet to Hades.  Marcus’s love had saved the underworld and the lives of many innocent in the mortal world.
And so Hades granted Marcus passage into the Elysian Fields with his second judgement realizing what Marcus had sacrificed.  He realized that Marcus’s loving soul would be tortured unjustly if he were to be judged to return to the evil souls in Tartarus.  Hades allowed Xena and Marcus one last stroll together into the peaceful paradise of the Elysian Fields.  When that time had ended he finally told Xena that it was time for her to say good-bye to the man she loved.  Hades then took Xena back to the door into the moral world.  When Xena returned to Gabrielle the sun was behind the horizon.  Night was about to grasp them as the warrior princess sat on the lake shore mourning her loss with the bard alongside her.  As she let out her tears the bard tried to console her friend, but Xena found comfort within her heart for it was within her heart that her mortal beloved would always be.

The Xena Scrolls
By: Gabrielle Bard of Potedia
Scroll#21: Beware of Greeks Baring Gifts

June, 48 B.C.

There once was a face that was so beautiful that it launched a fleet of one thousand ships. The face was that of the beautiful Helen from the Trojan city of Troy. She was so stunning that every man who ever set eyes upon her wanted her for his own. And that is why a fleet of ships had been launched for it was the fleet belonging to King Mentalaeous of Greece that seeked her beauty. His heart reached out to her so deeply that it began a war between the Greeks and the city of Troy which lasted for ten years. The battle had been a bloody one for King Mentalaeous wanted to steal Helen from the one whom had already stolen her heart. Paris the king of Troy held Helen’s heart within his and built a fortress so strong and so tall that not even the most powerful army could bring down its walls.
This story had been told by the bard Gabrielle many times to her family and friend back in Podedia before she had begun her adventurous travels alongside the warrior princess. Gabrielle found herself once again reminded of this story as she and Xena came down from Mount Poolus and found themselves running low on food and supplies. The bard regretted that she had not decided that they should stop in the last town before leaving the mountain for now she was desperately hungry. Xena and Gabrielle had only a mere half of an apple to tide them over until they could get to the next town. Yet Gabrielle thought of maybe stopping in Troy since they were so close by. She was certain that they would have food and supplies there. But Xena refused to allow that for she knew very well how true the story of the ten-year war really was. The warrior princess felt that it was much too dangerous for her to take the bard into a city of bloody war. Gabrielle didn’t argue for too long, but assured Xena that if she could go without out food then the bard could too. Yet the statement was somehow not so convincing for Gabrielle’s stomach rumbled in disagreement persuading the bard to continue to persuade the warrior princess.
As the two continued on down the path the serenity of the quiet forest was broken by the distant sounds of a battle. Just up ahead about a half a mile Xena and Gabrielle witnessed an attack upon a lone soldier. They heard the lone soldier cry out for a peaceful passing, but instead he received an attack. There was a duel of four against one which seemed quite uneven. Xena quickly decided to ride into battle asking that Gabrielle stay behind for her own safety. The warrior princess leaped into action upon Argo and rode swiftly toward the action of the battle. As Argo took her into the heat of the action Xena flipped from her horse double kicking two of the four dressed in Greek uniform. Xena was fierce as she fought against the four. She drew her sword as it clashed with those of the enemy. The warrior princess quickly resorted to using brut strength and force as she kicked her way through the lines and punched faces like the claps of Zeus’s thunder.
Suddenly the warrior princess ran up the side of a tree and flipped down from a branch onto the enemy down below. Just as the warrior princess was landing upon the shoulders of her victim the battling bard arrived to assist her friend in any way that she could. The bard pulled out her staff and attacked the enemy swiftly as the warrior princess jumped from his shoulders. Gabrielle knocked the enemy to the ground with two quick thrusts of the staff. Yet the two brave women had been too late in being able to save the lone soldier. Just as Xena again pulled out her weapon she delivered a mark to the face of one of the enemies. It was the first blood that had been drawn by the warrior princess though her enemies had thrust their own swords into the stomach of the lone soldier.
Soon after Xena’s mark of warning to those who dared to tempt her wrath the four of them fled for their lives. They were cowardly as they retreated from their own battle. Xena quickly ran to the aid of the victim whose stomach was bleeding with its open wound. The brave soldier struggle to hold onto life as he awaited the warrior princess. He had a message for her sent directly from Helen of Troy. The message directed that the warrior princess go to Troy for the lives of thousands of men depended upon it. Xena was disappointed that she had been too late to help the lone soldier in saving his life. His name was Mityobous. As Xena held his hand within her own he faded from life into the hands of death. Gabrielle watched as his soul left and entered into the freedom of the Elysian Fields. When the bard asked if what she had just witnessed had been his end the warrior princess confirmed it. Yet the bard quickly inquired of the warrior princess about Helen of Troy. She could not believe that Xena would keep such a secret from her. It was the secret of knowing Helen. The bard realized that she could have used that information to her advantage in persuading the warrior princess that they should indeed go to Troy. Yet the warrior princess had already decided. She would take Gabrielle and they would go to Troy to join her friend Helen and to help save the lives of thousands of men.
The journey toward Troy was short for the closer that Xena and Gabrielle were to the legendary city the more blood they saw. Xena took Gabrielle away from the front lines of the Greek army knowing that there would be little chance for survival. The bard could see as they passed the corpses of men who had been taken by the wrath of blood that their deaths had been displayed for years by the Greek army for all to see. It was the testament of Mentalaous that he and his army would one day storm the mighty gates of Troy and steel Helen from their grasp. After a day of grueling travel and difficulty in alluding the Greek army Xena and Gabrielle had arrived at the outskirts of the great city of Troy. As Gabrielle looked upon the fortress she found herself in awe for its walls were much taller and stronger than she could ever have imagined.
The bard looked upon Troy in disbelief for not only did they have to make it to the walls they would have to climb them. And getting to the walls of Troy would be short of a miracle for there was the entire Greek army to reckon with. Xena and Gabrielle would have to fight through those dark forces of the battle. The bard was uncertain that she would be able to fight with the strength and stealth of the warrior princess. Yet Xena was seemingly satisfied that they would make it to the fortress walls with little more than a warrior sweat. As Gabrielle asked Xena if she had a plan of action Xena’s response was candid. She only asked the bard if her boots were laced and as Gabrielle looked down the warrior princess grabbed her arm and whisked her away into the fierce battle toward the walls of Troy.
Troy stood upon a hill and as Xena and Gabrielle fought through the lines they had to struggle up the treacherous hill through the dead of years passed. The smell was unpleasant for Gabrielle had not smelled war in this way before. This was the closest she had ever been to a battle of epic legend. Though she had fought alongside the amazons against Krichous the warlord it was nothing compared to the death and the destruction of a war which had lasted for ten years. Gabrielle gave out a weak battle cry though it was more out of fear and uncertainty rather than the confidence of the warrior princess. Yet there was a comforting feeling fighting alongside the warrior princess. Xena charged ahead as Gabrielle struggled to stay close as instructed. The warrior princess slashed through the men that approached as Gabrielle tried to keep them at bay. It was in this moment that the bard found herself realizing that she needed more training.
As Xena and Gabrielle neared the mighty gates of Troy the Trojan command began to shout out for the opening of the gates. Xena had not expected that it would be so easy, but there was little time to question this. She instructed Gabrielle to go ahead of her into the safety of the walls of Troy as one of the commanders emerged to help Xena fight against the enemy. He was a very heroic soldier. As the Greek army advanced hoping to take advantage of the open gates the soldier instructed that Xena go to safety first, but the warrior princess would not allow that. Soon the Greek archers began to prepare launching their cross-bows. The brave Trojan commander quickly retreated into the gates of Troy warning of the advance as Xena followed quickly. Just as he ordered that the gates be shut the Greek archers released their arrows of fire into the mighty gates as they closed.
Gabrielle found herself awestruck by the feeling of a real battle and by the efforts of the brave commander that had opened the gates for she and the warrior princess. The bard felt compelled to introduce herself, but before she could speak her name the brave commanding soldier turned to her and revealed himself. Gabrielle was shocked for the face that she saw before her was the face of her betrothed. It was Perdicous the man she was to marry before she had decided to leave Podedia for a life alongside the warrior princess. The moment was an awkward one for Perdicous was the last man Gabrielle had expected to see in the city of Troy. Yet Perdicous himself seemed just as surprised. The warrior princess sensed the tension between the two who had once been on the threshold of marriage. Yet she was relieved that Perdicous had been in Troy for it had made her entrance much easier than she had expected.
After Gabrielle had explained to the warrior princess her past relationship with Perdicous Xena was already back to the business at hand. She asked of Perdicous where she could find King Paris and Helen of Troy. Perdicous explained that it was against their regulations that anyone was allowed to see Paris or Helen without the consent of Deifabous. Deifabous was the brother of Paris who was second in command next to Paris. Xena tried to explain that she had been to Troy to see Helen before and it had never been a problem, but Perdicous was firm in his duty. Of course the warrior princess would not take no for an answer. She told Perdicous that she would cover for him if he were questioned by his superiors. Then suddenly the warrior princess was off to find her old friend Helen. This left Perdicous and Gabrielle within a strange situation. The two were uncomfortable at best as they struggled together to find the words to express their feelings.
Perdicous finally broke the uncomforable silence with a direct reminder of Gabrielle’s selfish desires. He reminded her that the last time that he had seen her she had been dashing out-of-town in search of a warrior princess she barely knew. Gabrielle could feel the pain of a man who had loved her deeply. There was a guilt that rose within her which she had not yet confronted. It pained her to feel that her choice to leave her mediocre life in Podedia had broken the heart of her betrothed. Yet just when Gabrielle was about to make recognition of her mistake Perdicous would not allow it. Instead he stood firm and spoke of how his place now was in the city of Troy. It was a place he had come in search of the love he had himself been robbed of. Perdicous had looked to Gabrielle’s great stories of Troy to find the love that he desperately needed to fight for. It was in this moment that Gabrielle realized that Perdicous was still the helpless romantic that she had always remembered him to be.
Then she reminded him of the reasons that he was not a true soldier. She reminded him of the time that he had almost drowned in the river to save the hat she had once lost. Gabrielle reminded him of the time that he had almost gotten himself run over by a carriage when he had tried to impress her in another one of his desperate attempts to show his love. Perdicous would not listen to Gabrielle. It was clear that his pain was still very real over her rejecting the idea of marrying him. He wanted her to suffer and he wanted her to be responsible for his life changing decision to leave the peace in Podedia for the war of Troy. And when Gabrielle tried to remind Perdicous of what he was missing back home he continued to ignore her.
The bard knew Perdicous well. They had shared so much together as children and as young people in love. Yet Perdicous continued to work diligently within his duties. Gabrielle tried desperately to persuade him otherwise, but instead he just continued to ignore her as the call to duty took him back to the walls of the fortress. There he quickly picked up a cross-bow for one of the men of the Trojan army had been shot by the Greek archers. An arrow had struck the young soldier through the chest. Perdicous ran over to the fallen soldier and ripped the burning arrow from his chest. He then ran to the top of the fortress and loaded the bloody arrow upon his own cross-bow. Gabrielle watched as Perdicous then took aim upon the Greek archer and shot him through his own chest. Suddenly the men upon the walls of Troy began to shout and cheer. They were congratulating and honoring Perdicious who had received vengeance for the death of a fellow soldier.
The act seemed remorseless to Gabrielle and she began to fear that her choice to leave him behind in Podedia had been the wrong one. Gabrielle felt extremely responsible for this knowing that it wasn’t the pain of his lost friend that he fought for. It was the pain of his lost love that drove him to take lives. Gabrielle did not like what she saw. it was horrifying to know that the hopeless romantic she had always known could be more than just a simple farmer. It was difficult for the bard to understand how a simple farm boy could become a vicious killer.
As Gabrielle wrestled with the demons of her own misplaced choices and of those of Perdicous Xena found her way to Helen. When she arrived Helen was relieved that Xena had received her message. Helen explained that she had had a terrible vision which had led her to send Mityobous. When Helen asked where Mityobous was Xena regretfully explained that he had died delivering Helen’s message. Yet the warrior princess explained that only a brave loyal soldier could have carried Helen’s urgent message. Helen the discussed with Xena what her intentions were. She explained to Xena that she wanted to leave Troy and to be taken to Mentalaous in the hopes that it would appease the Greek king and stop the long bloody war. Helen was certain that if she were to leave Troy and surrender herself to Mentalaous that the lives of many Trojan soldiers would be saved. It was obvious to Xena that Helen had been carrying a great weight upon her shoulders. Helen blamed herself and her happiness for the loss of so many lives. It was a burden that Helen could no longer bear. She was willing to sacrifice her own well-being in exchange for the lives of many brave soldiers.
However, Xena was not convinced that Helen’s plan was the answer. The warrior princess was certain that the war was no longer about Helen’s happiness. She was certain that it was about emerging into victory. Xena reminded Helen that Paris and the Trojans would seek out Mentalaous and the Greeks if she were to go with them. The trail of blood would follow the face of Helen wherever it went. Xena then told Helen that there had to be another solution to this war. She reminded Helen that Paris loved her and that it would be a mistake to throw away that love in the blind hope that lives would be saved. Helen had only met Mentalous once and she did not know him. Xena was certain that Helen should stay in Troy.
Soon Xena found herself face to face with Deifabous. He had charged into Helen’s bedchambers with his armed guard. They denounced Xena’s presence and he declared before Paris that Xena be taken prisoner. Helen pleaded with Deifabous that Xena be treated as her guest, but it was clear that Deifabous did not trust in Xena for she was a Greek warrior. It was clear that she was the enemy. Just as Paris was about to make his decision Xena noticed that one of Deifabous’s guard had a fresh wound upon his face. She realized that he was one of the men that she had fought outside of Troy as she had tried to save the loyal Trojan Mitybous. Quickly Xena drew her sword and attacked the enemy revealing him to all. As she fought against him she exposed him as a traitor. Yet before the traitor could be asked of his actions he was immediately killed by the sword of Deifabous.
The battle in the bed chambers of Helen was quick. Xena found herself frustrated that the traitor had been killed yet she found herself suspicious of Deifabous as a result of his actions. She remembered that Perdicous had told her that Deifabous was an excellent soldier. If Perdicious’s word had been true then Xena realized that Deifabous would not have killed the traitor. He would have wanted the same information that she seeked. Only another traitor would take the life of his own men to contain his secret. That was the moment in which Xena realized the truth of Deifabous yet she was uncertain of his motives. Deifabous realized that Xena was aware of his actions. He tried desperately to defend himself and his actions to his brother Paris. Paris’s trust in his brother blinded him to the act as he overlooked Deifabous’s tragic mistake. Neither Xena nor Deifabous had won the battle in Helen’s bed chambers. Instead it had created a new internal war within Troy. Deifabous declared to his brother that he would have all of his men throughly investigated in order to find the traitor amongst them though his words were worth less than a sold handshake.
Soon Xena returned to Gabrielle hoping that the two betrothed had worked out their differences. Xena could see that they had not for Gabrielle appeared saddened. Yet Xena was almost certain that the two would work things out. Xena told Gabrielle that she should stay with Perdicous for she had something that she had to do. Gabrielle wanted to join Xena, but was aware of the danger surrounding Troy. The young bard realized that there was less danger in a tangled web of emotion than there was outside the walls of Troy. And so Xena left her once again with the nagging of her past demons. Her mistake to leave Podedia without saying good-bye to Perdicous had caused his life to be a tragic one. Gabrielle thought of the moment in which he had killed that Greek archer and she saw that despite his celebration he was empty inside. Perdicous’s victory in the kill was not a victory at all. It was the unresolved issue of his feelings for Gabrielle that haunted him. The bard had to figure out how to resolve these feelings for she herself felt the flames of passion rising from within.
As Xena continued on in investigating Deifabous and his motives she discovered that Helen was about to try sneaking out into the danger of the bloody war. It was obvious that Helen was not convinced of Xena’s words. Helen was still certain the her leaving Troy was going to save lives. Xena quickly caught up to Helen as she was about to make her mistake. Once again she tried to reassure Helen, but as the two conversed they caught sight of Deifabous. Paris’s brother was sneaking out of the secret walls of Troy into the battle field. Xena instructed Helen to await her return as she followed Deifabous to investigate. What Xena found was Deifabous making a deal with Mentalaous. He was promising to surrender Troy and Helen to Mentalous, but Xena still did not know why. The warrior princess could not understand the gain in selling out Troy to the Greeks.
Quickly Xena returned inside the walls of Troy to warn Helen and Paris of what she had witnessed. She revealed to Paris the betrayal of his brother Deifabous. But just as she was about to convince Paris of the betrayal Deifabous stormed through the doors of the royal bed chambers. He insisted that his meeting the Mentalaous had entailed an agreement of peace for the Greeks had surrendered to Troy. Not only that, but the Greeks had offered the Trojans a gift of peace just outside the walls. Paris found himself overwhelmed with joy for this meant that he had won the long bloody war. Xena soon realized how quickly she was losing this battle within the walls of Troy. Helen was convinced yet Paris was not. Paris was blind to the truth that Helen’s visions had shown her. Deifabous took advantage of this situation and reminded Paris that Xena was a Greek warrior and most certainly the enemy attempting to break down the ranks of the Trojans. Paris quickly ordered that Xena be taken to the dungeons below with the other prisoners. Helen desperately pleaded with Paris, but Paris did not hear her. He ignored Helen’s better judgement to her dismay. Xena herself tried one last attempt to warn of greeks baring gifts.
As the Trojan guard surrounded Xena she prepared to escape yet as she prepared to battle her way through the guard she caught sight of Deifabous. He was about to pull his dagger upon the innocent Helen. Xena could see that he would take her life and the life of his brother if he had to in order to protect his interests. The warrior princess stood down and allowed herself to be taken into custody. As she was taken Deifabous and Paris rejoiced and declared that there would be a festival and a celebration of their victory on that night. Every Trojan soldier attended the celebration and enjoyed food, drink, and many other luxuries. It was a party like no other with riches beyond that of any other city Gabrielle had seen. Athens was the only city that compared to the riches held by the city of Troy.
On the next morning Gabrielle found herself still sorting through her feelings with Perdicous. Perdicous then brought to mind another story of their history. He reminded her of the time that the two of them had stolen corn from the farm of one of their neighbors. Gabrielle thought of this and laughed and then remembered that it had been Perdicous who had taken the blame in order to protect Gabrielle from certain punishment. In that moment Gabrielle realized why Perdicous was fighting in this bloody war. She realized that his love for her was so great that he would do anything for her. He became a soldier hoping to impress her just as he had tried to impress her hundreds of times before. When Gabrielle spoke of her concern for Xena Perdicous reminded Gabrielle that Xena was capable of taking care of herself. It was his tone that spoke to the bard. He was jealous of the warrior princess for taking his love from him. Her warrior way had appealed to the bard. Perdicous seeked to appeal to Gabrielle in the same way. It was in this moment that Gabrielle knew what she had to do to repair Perdicous’s broken heart.
Yet as they walked toward the palace of Helen and Paris to seek out Xena the gates of Troy were opened. The gift of the Greeks was being pulled into Troy. A gift of a Trojan horse made of wood symbolized a certain victory over the Greeks. The horse stood almost as tall as the gates which had protected Troy from demise. And though the horse had stood quiet all through the night early the next day there was a sudden burst from within. Betrayal came from within the symbol of victory and peace as the Greek army began to battle against the helpless Trojans within. Most of the Trojan army was drunk from the festival and unable to battle against the stealth of the Greek army.
While the war had come within the walls of Troy Xena found herself still trying to figure out the motives of Deifabous. Upon his entry he gloated in his victory over the warrior princess and promised her to those Greeks whom he declared that she had betrayed. Deifabous turned the other Greek prisoners loose and allowed them to battle against the warrior princess certain their rage would defeat her. Yet the warrior princess used her prison bench as a weapon and then as an escape tool. She constructed a lever out of three enemies and a bench using the first two attackers as the foundation, and the third as her thrust to escape. As she flew up through the shaft into freedom she saw that the war had spread within. Quickly Xena seeked to find the bard and when she did she instructed Gabrielle and Perdicous to take everyone to the temple of Aphrodite. As Gabrielle and Perdicous fought Gabrielle found that her staff was no prepared for the wrath of the anger sword.
Bravely Perdicous fought through the Greek lines into the temple as Gabrielle led the innocent to refuge. Yet somehow all ended up within the temple of Ares out of the confusion of the Greek raid. Thousands of Trojans fled as Gabrielle and Perdicous escorted them into the safety of the temple. Soon Xena joined them as then tried desperately to seal off the doors from the enemy advance. Helen joined the group with Xena as they seeked out a secret storage supply. Helen never thought that they would ever use this supply, but the violence and blood had finally run her into the corner. Xena quickly accessed the situation and had a plan for escape. She gathered the necessary supplies for a smoke screen would be their only chance to escape.
Gabrielle and Perdicous tried desperately to hold onto hope. Though Perdicous reminded Gabrielle that the entire Greek army was just outside those doors waiting to take them all. Their presence was obvious by the sounds of the thunderous banging against the doors. Gabrielle could see them buckling and knew that it was the last chance for her to mend her mistakes with Perdicous. She took his face into her hands and looked into his eyes. He tried to apologize for his own mistakes, but Gabrielle would not allow it. She knew it had been her own mistake of not saying good-bye that had led Perdicous to this inevitable death in Troy. It was for nothing, but a broken heart. Gabrielle then expressed not with words, but with a passionate kiss her honesty and her feelings for her betrothed.
Just as the doors were about to come crashing apart Xena had arrived with the smoke screen. The warrior princess prepared the escape while leaving Paris with Helen to mend his own mistakes. He had not trusted in Helen’s judgement and he had insulted Xena. Paris was full of regrets for his blind ego had led to the demise of his city and of his people. But mostly his love for Helen had been destroyed. As the two began to mend their wounds they were suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Deifabous. He had come through a secret door and quickly he disappeared with Helen of Troy. Gabrielle had arrived just moments later upon Xena’s request to retrieve Helen and Paris for their escape. When Gabrielle arrived she found Helen missing and Paris lying in death’s arms.
Quickly Gabrielle called out to Xena as Xena lit the smoke screens. She spoke of the tragedy in the supply room. Yet through this tragedy there was hope for now all of Troy could escape through Deifabous’s secret door. They would not have to fight through the smoke screen and the Greek army to freedom. Instead all were led by Xena out through the back of the temple and into a regrouping position. All Trojans were led into the massive wooden horse which stood proudly and tall in the wake of the burning city. They awaited the Greeks return upon discovering that they had all escaped the temple of Ares. Soon all could hear the angry cries of Mentalaous ordering his men to remove the gift. Mentalaous himself had been betrayed for he had been promised Helen yet instead he had been given more rage. His rage was in not receiving Helen the one he had fought ten years to capture.
As the horse was pulled to the outside of the ruined city Xena and the Trojan army exploded from within. Gabrielle and Perdicous fought alongside Xena and the Trojans hoping to drive them into a retreat. Quickly the surprise attack was followed by the surrender of the Greek army for there was no prize to be won. The prize had been stolen as Paris lie dead and Deifabous had taken all. Xena quickly left the battle and trusted Perdicious and Gabrielle to continue on as she rushed to recover her friend from the true enemy. Just outside the walls of Troy Xena awaited Deifabous who was surprised to find her waiting for him. He quickly took weapon forth and fought against the warrior princess. Though Deifabous was a skilled soldier able to rob the warrior princess of her own sword she quickly retaliated kicking his sword to the ground.
The odds were evened into a hand to hand combat yet Deifabous would not fight hand to hand with the warrior princess. Instead he picked up a broken staff out of the rubble and began to attack the warrior princess. He struck her three times before she was able to get into position, but soon she was in control once again. Xena took a grip upon his weapon stopping his advance. Suddenly she ran upon the side of the mighty walls of Troy and flipped kicking her enemy to the ground. Deifabous had been knocked unconscious and been defeated. Helen was relieved to be saved by the warrior princess. Xena left Deifabous with a prize. It was the crown of Helen upon his head for the warrior princess wanted Mentalaous to be greeted by the true enemy.
Xena had foiled the plot of Deifabous and freed Helen of Troy. She had also saved many lives, and allowed Gabrielle to mend her relationship with Perdicous. As the battle in the field ended Gabrielle hoped desparately that Perdicous would join her and Xena. Perdicous was not certain of Gabrielle’s true feelings certain that her passionate kiss had only been out of desparation in a dire situation. He proclaimed that she did not owe him anything and that he would be just fine without her. Perdicous would go on living, but he had finally been able to forgive her for leaving him behind. As Gabrielle watched Perdicous walk away she was full of sadness. Of all that travels that she and Xena had this was the most painful. It reminded Gabrielle of what had been missing and of what she had been seeking. She wanted her love, but realized that she had missed it.
Perdicous himself had decided that he would go onto the next city to find a new conquest to fight for. He needed a new cause for the cause of love had been won. For him he had won against his anger toward his loss, but there was still a lot of uncertainty within him. He decided to travel with Helen for she too seeked a new conquest in life. Hers was freedom for the first time. Helen was finally free of the burden of death that had imprisoned her for ten years. And as Xena returned to the bard on the deserted field of battle she wondered why Perdicous had decided not to join them. Xena had been just as certain as Gabrielle had that he would have joined them in the end, but unfortunately the two friends learned at Troy that some battles no matter how hard they are fought can not be won by the heart alone.

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3 thoughts on “Xena Scrolls Volume #1

  1. Colin Habel says:

    I simply want to mention I am just all new to blogging and site-building and absolutely enjoyed you’re website. Most likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You surely have excellent well written articles. Kudos for sharing with us your website page.

    • Thank you Colin for the complements. I am glad that you enjoy the site. I enjoy putting out the articles and the interpretations of Gabrielle here. Please share with others you may know who might enjoy the material as well.

      -Brandy 🙂

  2. Petrini says:

    Thanks in support of sharing such a nice thought, article is pleasant, thats why i have read it completely

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