Disclaimer: This story uses characters from the television show Xena: Warrior Princess. There is no copyright infringement implied. Many, many bards aided me in this story, others I just ripped off. This should not imply support for this ‘work’. Though I do thank Lawlsfan, Blindzon Elyzon, Claire Withercross, Katrinna Pint, my best friend Lariel, and the over 100 readers who wrote to encourage me to finish this. Feed the bards, people, it really makes a difference.

Spoilers: This occurs part way through season five and refers to incidents from several episodes

Danger! Warning!: Two women in Love! With each other! Horrors! PG 13

Warning: Joxer bashing. I’ve just read three stories where he and Gabrielle are a couple and in reaction to that he will die at the end of this one. Painfully. (Sorry Scribe)Should I also mention I saw Married with Fishsticks and Forget Me Not before writing this?

Never Paint a Moustache On A Warrior Princess

A story of impractical jokes; an apology to a certain Webmistress

by Kamouraskan

Part One http://www.btinternet.com/~a.e.c/must1.htm

Part Two http://www.btinternet.com/~a.e.c/must2.htm

Part Three

Wow. A lot of things have happened since I was last telling this story < Back then, we called turkeys, walking birds...and Thanksgiving was called Walking Bird Day...and we all wore onions on our belts, because that was the style of the time....>

Give me a second to check my notes, otherwise I might have to do something insane like actually read the story over from the beginning.

Okay... let’s see. Gabrielle was suspended in a tree because somebody named Drock thought she was a sorceress, he got bopped out of the story, yadda yadda, thwock of skulls crashing, Joxer got slapped around a bit,( now it’s picking up speed.)..okay...getting there... Gabrielle was looking for her inner child, and as a prank drew a mustache on Xena... so they were pissed off at each other... Here we are!

Aphrodite decided to fulfill our heroes’ wish that they "know what it’s like to be each other," so she swapped their minds and bodies, left their inimitable emotions and abilities (and the moustache) in place, but without the restraints to control them that they had built up over the years. So basically you have Gabrielle in Xena’s body and feeling Xena’s first season emotions, and vice versa.

Is that what this is about? Okay. I think I can finish this.

So, when we last looked in, Xena had been grabbed by Herodotus who thinks he has his daughter, and he has taken her ‘home’ to Potadaia for some spiritual cleansing...

Popcorn anybody?

It was still a nice day. Outside a certain storage cellar, all of nature was content. But in Mudville, mighty Xena was tied up.

Blonde, green eyed Xena was still strapped to the cot, rocking back and forth. She was in deep meditation, fighting these unpleasant warm and alien feelings that were flooding her psyche, with a mantra aimed at Gabrielle’s father that had little to do with any jewels in the lotus. It sort of went "OhIwannapoundum, Oh I wannapoundum" .

Since this is pretty static for an opening scene, the door to the root cellar opened, and Gabrielle’s sister, Lila slipped cautiously in. Xena’s borrowed heart characteristically warmed, and she almost cringed at the blush of contentedness she felt upon seeing her partner’s sister.

"Lila!" she sang out good-naturedly, inwardly snarling at another unfamiliar sentiment.

Lila shushed her and furtively looked to the closed door. She crouched beside the strapped warrior and whispered "Gabrielle. I’m so sorry. Are you all right?"

Xena strained at her bonds, but smiled happily. "Now that you’re here, I’m fine. But could you get me out of this?"

Lila looked deep into her sister’s face and was relieved to see that genuine sweetness she’d feared she would never again see in her sister’s eyes. But still cautious, she only said "I brought you some food."

"Food!" Xena’s now green optic receivers (Bards! Why overuse orbs, pools, etc. when you have an MS Word thesaurus!) glowed with expectation, but they fell when Lila moved to feed her like a trussed up squirrel. ( Lila was probably practicing. I think feeding trussed up squirrels is a traditional Potadaian festival activity.)

"Lila? Why can’t you untie me? They can’t expect me to stay like this forever,"

"That’s what Mother said to Father." Lila whispered.

"Good. Sensible woman." Rejoiced the tethered woman.

"She looked at the new muscles and sent him out to get leg irons and chains. Big ones."

"Oh.."

Lila pulled back a little and mumbled. "They do say you have to be loose for the lessons...."

The verdant organs of sight narrowed. "Tell me about these lessons."

Lila’s instruments of vision darted about and she dropped to her knees to whisper. "It’s horrible. Seraphin is working with this strange man. He locked some of the girls in a room for days, and while they were there, he stopped them from...you know..."

The warrior was puzzled. "No. What?"

Lila looked both ways before whispering. "Peeing."

Xena struggled to rise from the cot. "By the God’s, what does he do to them? Magic? Surgery?"

Lila tried to hold down the agitated woman. "No. No, I told you. She doesn’t allow them to leave the room to go. For DAYS!"

Xena sank back and relaxed. "Uh, Lila? You know... I’ve been a prisoner in a whole bunch of dungeons. Usually strapped to the wall? They don’t let you down every couple of hours to visit the little girl’s room between the whippings. You just..."

Lila blanched.

Xena looked at her curiously. "Why do you think dungeons smell so bad?"

Lila began shaking her head "I haven’t ever...I never ...

Xena shrugged it off. "Anyway, can you untie me?"

Now you see, the problem for Lila was that she had been shocked by reading Gabrielle’s recent letters home. They’d told of how her once pacifist sister had killed over and over again. That Xena, Xena! mellowed since the baby, had even told Gabrielle that the former bard was becoming too violent.

Too violent for Xena.

To Lila’s mind, this was as if Bachus had advised someone that maybe they might have a little drinking problem.

Tentatively, she tried to broach the subject. "Gabrielle, I’ve heard such stories, Father says he found you passed out in a bar! I’ve been so worried about some of the things that you wrote..." But she reached for the knots anyway.

Ah, alas and alack, Xena, filled with unfamiliar feelings of love and a need to match Lila’s honesty, opened her big mouth. Nice mouth though it is.

"I didn’t write any of those things, Lila. You see, " she gave a rueful chuckle. "I’m not Gabrielle. I’m really Xena."

Strangely enough, this didn’t go over well. Lila stopped the untying. "What?" she choked out.

"I’m Xena, in Gabrielle’s body."

"Xena?"

"Uh huh."

"And the REAL Gabrielle..."

"Is in my body."

There was a noise then. A rustling, sort of exiting type noise.

"Lila?" There was no answer. Probably because there was no one else in the room anymore.

"LILA?" Somewhere, even in ancient Greece, I think a coyote was howling. Tumbleweeds may have been blowing by.

"Lila, could you at least come back and give me a hug?"

After this embarrassingly pathetic sniveling, Xena was relieved to hear a sound of some sort of cart approaching. Finally the door opened again and she sank back with foreboding as she recognized Gabrielle’s childhood friend and as last seen, Kamikaze nutcase, the compulsive suicidal sacrifice, Seraphin. Her blonde hair was still short, but almost bleached, and she was wearing a long, white skirt that covered her body from her neck to her ankles, and it was only when she smiled to speak that Xena again saw the glint of madness she remembered in that temple to Dahok.

"Gabrielle, this is the first day of your new domestic tranquillity! And this..." she rolled the chair forward, its seated figure shrouded in black. "...is your new teacher."

This triumphant pronouncement was ruined by a look of bewilderment that passed over the baby face. Seraphin stopped and pointed an accusing finger at the prisoner.

"Xena? Does Gabrielle know you’ve got her body?"

*****

Gabrielle? If you remember she had been staying at a certain inn.

The Bringer of the Twilight of the Gods was over her teething problems for a bit, so Gabrielle and Eve had slept well through most of the night,

Not so, the nice folks downstairs, who hadn’t appreciated it at all when the splashing contents of the three candlemark long bath (you remember, with the body length mirror?) had leaked and spilled through their ceiling, all the while accompanied by top of the scale grunts, moans and an incessant recitation of the entire Pantheon of Greek Gods including the Pleide that everybody but Gabrielle forgets.

Their complaints to the Warrior whipped landlord had gone for naught, but they had quieted down nicely as a consequence of Arachnia breaking into their room and summarily hog-tying and gagging them. (They would complain. But the landlord explained it as a visit by someone from the idiot village over the hill exhibiting another long standing Potadaian Festival tradition.)

Arachnia’s attempt to surreptitiously saw through the ceiling was foiled, not as some would expect, by Gabrielle allowing a circular portion of the floor to be lowered with a burning fuse attached to a bag of black powder with the word ‘BOMB’ written on it. (Sorry. Claire Withercross also supplied me a really funny scene with Arachnia crouched behind a rock waiting for Gabrielle after opening the Acme Warrior Trap 2,000. "Two thousand," muttered Arachnia. "Sounds old.") But I decided to be more realistic.

Nope. Gabrielle just went downstairs and pounded the crap out of the wannabe for nearly waking up Eve.

Any other message Gabrielle had attempted to convey to the Athena’s Chosen-hopeful was clearly not understood, because as the dappled rays from Apollo first entered the window in the morning, so did an arrow attached to a rope. Gabrielle only sighed, and grabbed her flint. Noting when the weight was stretching the line to the max, she set fire to it, and closed the window. Not even waiting for the thud. Still being Gabrielle where it counted, she rolled over and slept for another hour.

It was only after she had nursed Eve, done the burp dance, and was about to change nappies that the knock came.

"Yes?" she called out.

There was a pause. "Telegram?"

"Push it under the door."

(I think we can all hear the brain gears grinding in the hallway.) "Ummm... CandyGram?"

There was a small bit of bustling about inside, and then Arachnia heard a voice say sweetly: "Come iiiinnnn!"

Fiendishly avoiding the use of the door, the avenger broke through the thin walls, only to find the room empty. She was about to proceed to check the closet when some sad little trace of good instinct made her look up, look waaaaay up... and Gabrielle dropped from the ceiling and did her Mr. Bear impression, squashing her flat.

Jumping up, with lightning fast movements (and the most subtle of sound effects) the temporarily dark warrior jabbed her fingers into several specific locations on the neck of the nearly flattened villain.

Immediately, Arachnia’s right leg began to vibrate in a rigid muscular fashion.

Undaunted, the agile fingers deftly jabbed again. This time the left arm began to shake spasmodically

"Damn it!" Gabrielle muttered, "I’ve seen this a hundred times! I know I can do this!" And she tried again.

There was a loud farting noise.

"More stuff about the body I didn’t need to know." she moaned. In desperation, she reached over and grabbed a handy soiled diaper and thrust it with a threatening motion towards the face of the suddenly terrified avenger, who instantly ceased her struggles. They remained like that for moment, and Gabrielle realized for first time that she was dealing with a fairly young and somewhat innocent looking girl. Her anger receded, but drawing her sword out first, she backed off. She sat down on the bed and pointed her weapon at the miscreant, and trying out her best hard stare said "Now look, you maniac. Can we just chat?"

Arachnia nodded.

"You’re trying to kill my kid because some God told you to, is that what this is about? "

Arachnia nodded again.

Gabrielle exploded in disbelief. "Why in Tartarus would anyone want to get in good with the Gods? It’s bad enough they generally screw around with everybody, haven’t you heard about what they do to the people they LIKE? And what’s with the Anvil of Athena stuff? Shouldn’t that be the HAMMER of Athena?"

"Because she, well, she doesn’t treat me very well." Arachnia admitted shamefacedly.

"As in...?" Gabrielle prompted.

"Well, I think I must have bugged her once, because she made it so that I have to be a virgin for eternity. Not that I mind, but I thought if I could become her new Chosen..."

"Virgin? This is Athena, right? This is Athena you’re trying to please?" Gabrielle began to laugh. "Um, Arachnia, I think you misread the application."

"There were applications?" The avenger looked stunned.

Gabrielle just sighed. She wondered why lately they never met any intelligent bad guys. Maybe they should do something about the pay scale.

"My priestess didn’t say there were applications." A grim look of discovery came over the young face. "I bet she was trying to get out of writing a letter of recommendation!"

Arachnia continued angrily. "Like, I only just heard that that the position of Chosen had opened up."

Gabrielle’s newfound bawdiness now bubbled up and out. "Position? I saw Athena’s last Chosen, and I can guess at some of the positions. And being a virgin wouldn’t have lasted past the first job interview."

Fortunately for the pacing of this story, Arachnia ignored the comment and continued doing more exposition. "It’s part of the curse she put on me! If I ever marry and attempt sex with my beloved, I’ll be changed into a horrible creature with eight legs!"

"What IS this thing Athena has about spiders?" Gabrielle mused to herself.

"And in this hideous form, I will be driven to devour my mate on our first attempt at intimacy!"

Gabrielle stared intently towards the floor or ceiling, something she and Xena do a lot in fanfic.

No one knows why.

"This spider you change into... it wouldn’t also implant eggs in a female, and then... afterwards... the eggs would hatch and the babies would devour her alive as well?"

Arachnia seemed to stop breathing. "Dear Hera, NO! What kind of sick and depraved mind would come up with something like that?"

Tall, dark and deadly Gabrielle growled.

Arachnia defiantly squared her shoulders. "Look. Just let me go strangle the baby, and you can get back..." she pointed a finger at the area under Gabrielle’s nose, "to shaving, maybe?"

Can I sum up the ensuing action by saying that at this point, Arachnia nearly joined Drock as another former major character in this story?

As it was, she’s definitely out for a chapter or two...

*******************

Meanwhile, Xena was still getting over the shock of being outed, as it were.

Seraphin began pacing angrily about the cot. "Oh, don’t try to fool me. You don’t get possessed by a soul eating, genocidal Demongod without picking up a few things. Now I asked you a question. What are you doing with Gabrielle’s body?"

Even for such an experienced body snatcher as Xena, this pointed query left her a little nonplused. Trying to indicate her tied up body to her jailer, she responded self righteously "What am *I* doing with Gabrielle’s body?"

Seraphin shrugged casually. "Sorry. It’s a con I’ve worked out with some of the kids here. My fiancÚ there (and she pointed to the still silent presence in the wheel chair) is supposed to have converted me into a goody goody, and some of the parents pay him to do the same for their daughters. I split the fee with the kids, and they do the dishes for a few days, smile a lot before taking off, and everyone’s happy. What’s wrong with that?" She finished belligerently.

Now I think Xena should have sympathized with the difficulties of being a single woman trying to find employment in Ancient Greece, but instead, (as usual), she went for her standard defense, a strong offense. Having immediately noticed a certain quality of restraint that seemed to, well, shroud Seraphin’s betrothed, she tried a question of her own.

"I like the wheeled chair, but isn’t the guy in it dead?"

"So?" Seraphin blustered in reply.

Xena figured that this point was worth emphasizing. "SO? He’s dead!"

Apparently, Seraphin had read Clauswitz as well, because she managed to volley back. "Xena of Amphipolis. You. Are the LAST person who should have a prejudice about the living impaired."

Shaking off this smoke screen, Xena got back to the point. "Seraphin? Why are you carting a dead man around in a chair?"

Forced to acknowledge a tactical retreat, Seraphin slumped down on the cot. "I needed someone to front for me." She looked to Xena with imploringly. "Did you think THIS village would let a woman run anything?"

Xena blinked. "They’d rather trust a dead man, than a live woman?"

"In a candle’s flicker." came Seraphin’s answer, straight back.

"Good old Potadaia. Everytime I wonder why Gabrielle left this place to follow a half crazed ex-warlord, all I have to do is visit." She glanced over at the seated gaunt figure. "But as men go, I suppose he does have certain advantages."

Seraphin looked over at her suspiciously. "You aren’t going to make any stiff jokes, are you?"

Xena denied this sincerely. "No, no. I’m impressed. You used a preservative, right? I did notice that he isn’t attracting flies or anything."

Mollified somewhat, Seraphin acknowledged the compliment with some pride. " Not everyone appreciates things like that. Thank you."

"So, where did you dig him up?"

"He was a former village elder. I figured he didn’t seem to be doing anything,.. It’s a new idea I have about wasting resources. I call it recycling."

"So, he’s not really dead...."

"No, he’s just recycled."

"This town...." The warrior muttered under her breath.

******

Meanwhile....finally on the road to Potadaia, Gabrielle was flying fairly high. Charging along on top of Argo, off to rescue Xena, she had decided that, what the hey? Maybe she could stand being six feet of deadly skilled warrior, with a killer vocal range for a while. So, generally things were going pretty good for her.

We can’t let that continue, can we?

******

Seraphin abruptly stood up at stared down at the prisoner. "Damn it, Xena. This is going to screw up the plan royally. Gabrielle might have cooperated, but you’re not exactly known for going along. We’ll have to tell your supposed Daddy." She stomped over to the door and bellowed, "Herodotus!"

There was some scuffling and shuffling and finally that worthy stuck his head in the door. Seraphin pointed at the bound woman. "This isn’t Gabrielle!" A quick glance confirmed for Herodotus, that as butch as she might look, it WAS his daughter.

"I know she’s changed...." he started.

Seraphin cut him off. "Look, I know it’s Gabrielle’s body, but Xena’s soul is inside it."

Now Herodotus didn’t accept this, of course. But if Xena was involved, he had to figure anything was possible.

Hoping to nudge the man in another direction, Xena smiled ingenuously and said sweetly "Father? I think that Seraphin has been having a few too many...adventures, if you know what I mean?"

Herodotus considered this slowly, then nodded towards the dead man in the wheelchair. "What does he say?"

Seraphin gave a muffled shriek of frustration, and threw her hands in the air.

Xena continued her innocent smiling. "Daddy? I think what is important right now, is that you untie me before Xena gets here. I’m guessing she’s on her way, and I have reason to believe she may already be just a little more than usually, ummm, manic?"

"We have a welcoming committee planned for that." Herodotus smirked. "You think that you’re so smart? Girl, your murdering warlord is going to be stopped cold. We have a new Potadaian Uniformed Militia!"

Xena choked out, "Potadaian Militia? Uniformed?"

Seraphin grimaced and explained. "You know the Chorus? He figured since they already had those chorale outfits..."

The strapped warrior stared at the man. "Let me understand this. You’ve set up the Potadaian Chorus to try and stop Xena in full battle mode?"

Herodotus was smug. "I’ve had time to plan, daughter. I have the one group of soldiers that Xena will never even attempt to defeat. These are all of your childhood friends and teachers! She won’t dare to hurt anyone who means anything to you. Will she?"

Would she? Xena’s apprehension grew. "Dad? You don’t want to put her to any tests... Xena isn’t really herself right now... and there are Gods involved. They always want to teach mortals lessons, and not everyone survives them. I’m safe enough here, but .... my partner is out there somewhere..."

Just in case this wasn’t enough foreshadowing, there was a strobing flash from the window, immediately followed by a deep rumble. Xena blanched. Seraphin leaned down to calm the warrior.

"That’s really neat! Gabrielle was always afraid of lightning, and her body must still react to it. Must feel weird, huh? I bet normally you get a rush from the electricity of a big storm."

Behind a wan grin, Xena was cringing. "I HATE lightning...but I got over that...once I had Gabrielle to tease...’

******

So, not too far away, Gabrielle was still blissfully riding along. Completely oblivious to the fact that her warrior princess senses were tingling furiously. Only very gradually becoming conscious that it had suddenly gotten very dark, and the humidity was about one hundred percent.

It wasn’t until a big fat raindrop hit her right on the nose that that she began to feel the chill. Then another struck (and that is the word) her collar bone. Then another, and another.

Heavy, chubby raindrops.

The wind began to rise. A quick succession of thoughts flashed through her mind. ‘Storm. Big. Damn! Eve! Potadaia. How far?

Okay.

‘What would Xena do? Gabrielle would dither about, weighing all the options and end up not making any decision. But Xena would think it through and decide. Bang. And stick to it.

Okay, I’m just on the outskirts of the grazing lands, I keep riding.’

So without dismounting, she swung Eve’s pack around front and pulled a tarp from the saddle bags and wrapped it around the child with care. Eve’s eyes stared out at the world in wonder and Gabrielle gave her a quick kiss before carefully covering her up.

Off on the horizon, a bolt of lightning connected with the ground and the sound rolled across the valley and struck her with surprising physical force. For a terrifying moment, she trembled in sympathy with the air around her. She leaned protectively over Eve, as the rain now began in earnest. Drenching sheets poured down, blinding her and Argo but she pressed on. The ground was a succession of brackish puddles that began to flow together. But still she pressed on. The downy hairs on her neck and arms stood up just before another blinding flash occurred, and the answering explosion of thunder caused her to almost jump out of her skin. She growled at the sky.

"DAMMIT Xena! You ARE afraid of Lightning storms, All this time....@#$%^% , and you, I could<something,something> KILL!."

Slightly comforted by the idea of beheading the one she loved above all, she concentrated on holding onto her nerve for the child’s sake.

The path was fast becoming a small stream swirling downhill, beginning to gouge out a gully as rains from the hills joined it. The air shattering slams of the thunder were now coming almost on top of the lightning strikes. There was no light provided by the black overcast sky between the blinding flashes, but even so, Gabrielle attempted to guide Argo along the edge of the road. The frantic energy of horse and rider was feeding both their panics, and unable to see through the rain that pelted her in buckets, she stood up in the stirrups. She was shielding her eyes, trying to find some kind of shelter, when one of Zeus’ bolts sheered a tree just to her left at the same moment as Argo’s right hoof encountered a pothole. Even a battle trained war-horse couldn’t maintain her rider under those conditions and Gabrielle was jerked sideways while still standing, one foot tearing from the stirrup. Even as she fell to the ground, she instinctively clutched protectively at the bundle strapped to her stomach, rather than the horse. But one foot did not release. Her head and shoulders were dragged through mud and rock for a distance before Argo finally calmed and came to a halt. Almost unconscious Gabrielle tore her foot free and collapsed on the spongy grass.

Groggily, and over the wailing of the storm, she heard the screams of her child, and concentrated on remaining conscious. Thanking the Fates, she was able to confirm that Eve was afraid, but not hurt. The storm continued to shriek about her, but the lightning illuminated the land, revealing an old temple. Blood was pouring from several small cuts on her forehead and shoulders, but the stinging pain and the fear for the safety of the child were the only things keeping her conscious. She half stumbled, half crawled towards the ruin, Eve’s crying tearing at her heart. Eventually collapsing under the remaining doorway, she felt as though failure had taken on a crushing physical weight. But unlike Eve, she refused to cry.

******

So what about Xena, while all this serious stuff was going on?

Warm, cozy, but still tied up, Xena’s strategy to talk her way out of her ropes was maintaining its position as Plan A, and she and Seraphin were bonding happily.

Munching on a cracker, Xena asked: "You know, ‘Daddy’s’ plan might have worked with me, but how do you think Gabrielle is likely to react?"

Seraphin chortled. "You mean when she meets all those good buddies from her childhood? All the kids and teachers that made traveling with you seem a good idea? This is assuming that she’s as aggressive in your body now, as you are mellowed out."

"Exactly."

"They’re goat food." she said with great satisfaction.

Xena chewed on that and the cookie for a time before speaking "Part of me is saying that this is a bad thing."

"Ignore it." advised Seraphin. "Hearing little voices is something I think this village does to women. I should know, trust me." She patted Xena on the shoulder familiarly. "Hey, you’re just visiting. Imagine being brought up here. I remember when Gabrielle made this push for sex education. After a big fight, they finally brought in a healer, who read us a pamphlet. I remember it started off "You may have noticed, between your legs...."

Mutual antipathy forgotten, Xena began to giggle. Seraphin slid down beside and continued, grinning. "It wasn’t any better for the guys, Perdicus told me the schoolmaster took all the boys aside, sat them down, and said solemnly. "If you touch It, It will fall off.’ Then they sent them all home figuring that would keep the little buggers in line for a while."

Xena cracked up. "No wonder Gabrielle was doing all that reading before we first..." she gasped out. Both young woman were roaring now, when Xena noticed that where Seraphin’s skirt rode up, there were a series of tattoos revealed. Mainly slogans like "Repossess Me" and Heavens’ Above, when Dahok’s Below"

"Sera? Are those tattoos real?" she inquired.

"What? Oh, God’s no. They’re just to convince the rubes how I’ve changed. They’re not really permanent. I did them myself and they come off in a month of so. Why?"

Xena smiled. "I was just wondering if you could do me a favour? Since this body isn’t going anywhere right now, I was thinking ... Do you know what ‘paybacks’ are?"

*******

Now if you were feeling that it was unfair that Xena having this lovely pajama party with her new pal, while Gabrielle was lying about, shattered by crushing regret, remorse and failure? Well, she’s fine now. And the rain had stopped.

I know you’d think that considering the way she was feeling earlier on, we might not be hearing much from the hometown girl for a while. But to do that you’d have to be completely clueless about the essential characters of our heroes. Sort of like the writers for most of the fourth and fifth season.

But you see, Xena’s body is fueled by crushing regret, remorse and failure.

So feeling remarkably recharged, with a new driving sense of purpose, Eve packed in back, Gabrielle had tied up Argo, and had begun her stealthy but single minded advance upon Potadaia on foot. Quickly becoming quite comfortable relying on the hunter’s body, she smelt the watch before they showed themselves. (Not a big trick.) First one, then two stood; the former declaring pompously:

"Xena of Amphipolis. I am Mendicas, a close childhood friend of Gabrielle, daughter of Herodutus. I cannot let you pass!"

This rehearsed speech was supposed to stop the evil warlord in her tracks, but instead, a strange fire seemed to glow in the pale blue eyes, and the response was not what they had expected.

The warrior continued to advance, softly musing: "Mendicas! My dear, dear old friend. What memories we share. I’d almost forgotten the ‘friendly’ way you held me under water in the quarry that one time. What was it you were trying to prove? Oh yes! If ‘short could float’." The slitted eyes drilled through him. "Such an inquiring little mind."

Now Mendicas made his second mistake, preserving Potadaia’s reputation as a storage area for idiots. He froze, completely hypnotized by the snake-like blue eyes, transfixed by her smile. She slithered right up, until she was towering above him, and hissing "Whadya think? Tall enough for you NOW?"

His second mistake was that when this emphasis broke him out of his paralysis, he drew his sword. He stared at it like it was an incorrectly delivered package for a moment, before tentatively raising it. The gleam of the warrior’s eyes and teeth only became brighter, and a pleased contralto said. "Oh, gooood."

Concluded in Part four soon.

Complain to Kamouraskan@yahoo.com


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