DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, and some others are here for the Harvest Festivities from MCA/Universal/Renaissance. Hope they like the potatoes. Btw...yes I know that turkey's are a New World bird. It's my story and I'll pluck em if I wanna..pluck em if I wanna..hehe. Enjoy. PS-I also know this came out two days after Thanksgiving..I apologize for that, but I didn't even write it until Turkey Night itself..hehe.
The Great Turkey Mystery
T.L.F. (Turkey Liberation Front)
The racket seemed loud to the conspirators. A quick hand grasped the offending beak and the group stilled listening to see if they had been discovered. After a few tense moments the leader whispered.
"OK. Let's go. Remember...keep quiet."
Through the village the troop crept. Twice more they had to stop in the shadows of a building to hide from a passerby, their hearts thundering so loud in their chest that each thought it would be heard.
Finally they reaching their destination, the leader quickly looked inside. Seeing no one, a quickly pull opened the door further and a silent signal hurried the others inside.
"I hope they don't find out," whispered a small voice.
"Don't worry. By the time they find them, the feast will be over and they won't have a reason to kill them," reasoned the leader. "It's up to each of us to convince them too...OK?"
"Are you sure? I couldn't stand them killing Speckles," asked another.
"We could release them in the woods, but we can't risk them following us back. Don't worry this is a good place to hide," the leader smiled reassuringly. Setting down a sack and opening up the end the dark figure gave the bag a quick shake and with a flurry of feathers the family turkey shot out.
"Come on," the leader whispered. "Let yours go, they'll be safe here. Trust me."
Moments later the door opened again and the conspirators crept out.
"Remember not to tell anyone," the leader reminded them. As the group nodded, a bright smile could be seen in the darkness from the leaders face. "Good. See you all tomorrow."
Quietly they split up, each going to their houses to await the next day's feast anxiously.
* * * * *
Gabrielle peeled another onion and started dicing it into fine cubes. Wiping her eyes on her clothed shoulder, she looked up and grinned sheepishly at Cyrene.
The day was early still, a bright clear crisp day. A fine day for a Harvest Festival if I do say so myself, the bard thought to herself silently. I hope Xena comes back from doing her sword drills soon, I'd like her to spend some more time with her family, she needs it.
"Strong onions this year," Cyrene observed, her eyes twinkling merrily as she looked at her daughter's companion.
Gabrielle chuckled. "I'd better hurry with these onions, or by the time I'm done I'm going to look so horrible that Xena will give me one look and be ready to go on the warpath, thinking I've been crying about something again."
"Yes. She is rather...protective, isn't she," the innkeeper commented. It was nice to have her daughter and her bard friend here for a few days, just in time for the Harvest Festival. Maybe I could talk them into coming by for Solstice too. It's been so many years since I've had my daughter here for the winter holiday...let alone any holiday.
Gabrielle quickly finished chopping up the vegetables that Cyrene would use for the stuffing. "Anything else need doing?"
Cyrene shook her head. "Just need to shuffle dishes back and forth into the ovens, and I can do that. Toris is out butchering the turkey now, and I usually handle all the preparation on the bird myself."
The younger woman's stomach rumbled hungrily at the thought. Blushing she patted her stomach reassuringly. Stop that! Just think of the feast later, ok?
Cyrene heard the loud rumble and passed a fruit filled tart to the blond. "Eat that. I'm sure it won't spoil your appetite later." She winked.
Gabrielle grinned sheepishly. "I doubt it will either...MMmmMMmm..good," she mumbled through a tasty bite. "Well the children are waiting for me probably, I told them I'd spend some time with them in the square today telling stories." She stuffed the last morsel into her mouth and licked her fingers happily. By the gods! If I lived here for any amount of time I'd be the size of Argo for sure.
The innkeeper mixed the last of the ingredients for the stuffing as she smiled to her helper. "That's fine dear, don't worry about me. Go and entertain the children."
"Thank you." Peeking Cyrene quickly on the cheek, Gabrielle walked out of the inn and made her way to the village square.
Rounding a last corner she paused as she saw, not the crowd of children that had promised to meet her, but a group of angry citizens.
"Don't tell me I'm blind! I tell you I looked everywhere." Said one man, almost shouting to the local constable.
"Yeah! And mines gone too!" cried another.
"Chicken theft is bad enough, but to steal someone's Harvest turkey? That's..that's..."
"My wife's furious! I don't dare go home without our bird. And my was tied up!"
"So was mine!"
The small crowd surrounding the beleaguered constable surged forward, their complaints rising in intensity and volume.
Gabrielle raise her eyebrows in puzzlement. Everyone's turkey is gone? How odd...oh no, I'd better go check and see if Toris has Cyrene's.
Quickly the bard returned to the inn, but instead of heading inside, she went around to the back enclosure. Seeing Toris in the midst of the yard, she called out.
The tall dark man smiled as he turned and saw the small woman. Even his smile was a mirror of his younger sister Xena's. "All done helping mother?"
"Yes. In fact that's why I'm looking for you. Is the turkey ready?" she asked hesitantly.
Toris frowned and shrugged. "I can't find the blasted thing. It was back here with the chickens in the coop last night, but it's missing now."
Gabrielle gasped. "Others are missing too. I just came back from the village square, a lot of the village men are there right now."
Toris scowled, his blue eyes flashing. "Damn. Ok...I'd better go. Tell mother for me?"
The bard nodded and headed towards the kitchen door. Now who would steel turkeys from the village but not any other livestock? she pondered.
Cyrene was surprised to see Gabrielle back so soon from the storytelling. She was about to ask her what had brought her back, when she saw the perplexed look on the younger woman's face. Wiping her hands on her apron she raised an eyebrow as Gabrielle came and stood beside her. "What's going on? Didn't the children want to hear stories today?"
"The children weren't there. Toris sent me to you...umm...he told me to tell you the turkey is missing." She hurried on as Cyrene's eyebrows rose even higher. "Others are missing all over the village. He's gone to the village square where some of the men are right now talking to the constable."
"Just the turkeys?" The innkeeper asked.
"How odd." The older woman said, a strange gleam in her eye.
* * * * *
Xena whistled happily as she walked back from the glade where she used to practice sword drills with Lyceus when they were young. It had been a long time since she had visited the place and thought that it would be painful. Surprisingly instead the workout in the quiet serene place had invigorated her, bringing only pleasant memories for once.
Snatching out a quick hand she plucked a falling leaf out of the air and gazed at it absently, her thoughts on her family and friends. Then, nearing the backend of the village and the inn, she paused as she sensed another person nearby coming towards her.
Slow she waited, her eyes searching the woods. Then a flash caught her eyes, and she relaxed. Smiling she intercepted her mother.
"Mother? What brings you out here?" Xena dropped the leaf and looked at Cyrene in concern.
Cyrene cocked an eyebrow and gazed at her daughter in silence for a moment.
"Mother?" Xena repeated, reaching out a hesitant hand.
Cyrene sighed and rolled her eyes. "What did you do with them?"
"Do with what?" the warrior asked.
"Xenaaa. Don't pull that with me, I know you took them. Or do I have to remind you of when you were a child and you and your younger brother stole every turkey in the village in order to 'save' them?"
Xena's cheeks slowly turned red with embarrassment. "You remembered that?"
"I'm a mother. Of course I do." Cyrene put her hands on her hips and glanced up at her daughter.
"Ummm...." Xena searched for an explanation.
Cyrene wasn't in the mood for being patient. "I'm surprised at you. Stealing turkey's for no reason."
"And here I'd thought you were a grown woman."
"Depriving the villagers..Again...of their Harvest turkeys."
"Mother stop! Let me explain. Please." Xena begged.
Cyrene stood there, silently waiting.
Xena let out a deep breath. "Yesterday, I was listening to Gabrielle tell some of the children stories. I didn't let them know I was there listening...you know people here, especially the children, are still scared of me after all this time." Seeing no reaction from her mother, the warrior continued. "Well after Gabrielle left, the children stayed and talked amongst themselves. Mother...they were so sad that the turkeys were going to be killed."
"You know how it is. Everyone buys a young gobbler and it lives with the family for months. It's usually the children's responsibility to care and feed them..and well..the kids get attached to them. Just like Lyceus and I did with...Wobble."
Cyrene's lip twitched a little but she kept her face still. "And the children were upset at having their pet...turkeys killed today?"
Xena nodded. "I had to do something, so I came out of the shadows and talked to them."
"You mean to tell me some of the children helped you with this escapade?" Cyrene asked in disbelief. She knew the children were still scared of her daughter, but she couldn't quite believe some of them would be in league with her.
Xena shrugged and blushed harder. "Well, actually...all of the children in the village helped. We hid all the turkeys and I'm not going to tell you where they are," she said fiercely.
Cyrene was quiet for a long time considering her daughter and the situation.
Under the scrutiny of those blue eyes, that she had inherited herself, Xena stood up straight, refusing to give in.
Finally, Cyrene grinned wryly and threw up her hands in defeat. "I guess we can have chicken or a nice roast for today. But Xena...you do plan on returning them don't you?"
Smiling broadly Xena settled her arm along her mother's shoulders and walked her the short distance back to the inn.
"Don't worry, in a couple of days turkeys will start appearing in people's pens. By that time the children should convince their parents that they are devastated by their pets loss." Xena chuckled along with her mother.
Walking through the back gate, Cyrene's head swerved toward a conspicuous sound coming from their old unused stable. Turning her gaze back to her daughter, who was pointedly ignoring the building, she leaned into her tall offspring's side and nudged her in the ribs.
"My daughter. Xena: The Great Turkey Liberator." The two walked into the kitchen laughing easily with each other for the first time in years
The Bard's Corner