The next morning it was obvious to Xena that something was wrong with Gabrielle; she was too quiet. They had been at breakfast a good quarter candle mark and Gabrielle hadn’t said a word. This worried Xena. Gabrielle was always very chatty at breakfast. It was one of the reasons Xena always insisted that they eat alone in the morning; she liked to be the bard’s sole audience. Today, however, the woman was positively mute. Xena wondered what was wrong.
“Gabrielle, what’s bothering you? You haven’t said two words this morning. Aren’t you feeling well?” Xena asked with concern.
“Oh it’s nothing,” Gabrielle answered dismissively. Xena raised an eyebrow and gave her that look. “OK, well… I just had the strangest dream last night.”
“A nightmare?” This perplexed Xena. Usually she knew when Gabrielle was having nightmares and it bothered her that she hadn’t realized that Gabrielle was upset.
“No, not exactly, it was just disturbing.” Gabrielle sighed and then shrugged. “There were all these dancing penises in the courtyard. They were just hopping around and having a great time. Then suddenly the Amazons saw then and they went berserk and started chasing them with swords. And the penises panicked and started running and yelling for help and then this penis dressed in your leathers flipped in and started fighting the Amazons. It was just a really strange dream.” Gabrielle finished.
Xena simply stared at her friend. Yep that’s why she wanted to be alone with her bard. It was never dull when Gabby was around. “Oh well, uhm, that’s interesting. It must have been quite a sight.” Xena rubbed her ear and looked steadily down at her plate. It wouldn’t do to laugh right now.
“Yeah it was.” Gabrielle said seriously. “Those cute little guys were so happy and then they were in mortal danger. Thank god Herbert arrived to save them.” Gabrielle then frowned thoughtfully. “Gods, Xena, am I losing it? I now am dreaming about penises like they're people or at least little creatures with little personalities. This can’t be good,” Gabrielle said with concern.
“Gabrielle, this is an odd situation. And after last night it’s no wonder you
started dreaming about them. I just
think you’re worried that Herb will act up again. I have been thinking about this and I think I have a solution to
our problem.” Xena got up and went over
to the desk. “I know I can’t stop Herb
from dancing by my will alone. So, I’ll
just have to tie him down. I made this
while you were obviously dreaming about those fancy free fellows.” Xena smirked but then showed off her
creation. It was a pouch that was
attached to a waistband and had straps that you stepped into. It was apparent that Herb would be inside
the pouch. “You see once Herb is inside
he won’t be able to move around.”
Gabrielle came over and examined Xena’s creation. “Are you sure it will work? Will it be comfortable? I mean I don’t want 'Herb' acting up but I don’t want you to be in any kind of discomfort.”
“Oh I tried it on already. It’s actually very comfortable and I rather like the fact he isn’t just swinging around down there. You know it’s an odd sensation when you aren’t used to it.” Xena pondered this oddness for a moment before continuing. “As for working we’ll really find out today. It’s hand-to-hand combat day. The trainees will be wrestling around all day.”
This piece of news alarmed Gabrielle. “Xena is that wise? I mean if Herb gets excited at just watching women swing swords at one another just imagine what he’ll do when he … or you …see women rolling around on the ground together. I mean he won’t just dance he’ll spin out of control.”
Xena winced – that sounded painful - but she was sure her invention would work. “Well hopefully that won’t happen. Anyway I can’t change the schedule. The girls have to have this training – they’re going to have their first tests next week and they have to show that they’ve mastered hand-to-hand so we can concentrate on sword skills. So it’s either put Herb in his pouch or I spend the day with my hands covering my groin and that would be conspicuous.”
Gabrielle reluctantly nodded. There was nothing for it but to try this. Gabrielle counted quickly to herself. Tomorrow she should be able to take her purification bath and then she and Xena would get to making love. She was sure pregnancy would occur quickly – worry always was a great motivator wasn’t it? Gabrielle suddenly thought of something. “Xena what if you have to wrestle someone?”
“Gabrielle I told you I don’t find that arousing. He won’t dance – I’m sure.”
“No, no. I mean… what if some one tries to grab you there? You know that is a good offensive move.”
“Hmm, well I have an equally good counter-move,” Xena answered evilly.
Later that morning Mavis was discussing the plan she had developed with Celia. “Ok today is hand-to-hand. It’s going to be really intense – right? I mean with this practically being our final exam. So Xena will probably call for volunteers to fight her. She always does, right? So you’ll volunteer. When you do, you can grab her crotch and feel around for anything strange?” Mavis looked brightly at Celia hoping her friend would understand how brilliant her plan was.
Celia looked dubiously at her friend. “Why don’t you volunteer and grab her crotch?" Celia asked flatly.
“Because I already know something odd is going on. It’s you that needs convincing. Anyway Xena wouldn’t pick me to fight her. I’m not in her league. You’re a better fighter and she only picks the students whom she knows she won’t accidentally hurt.
Celia wasn’t going to be swayed by blatant flattery. There was flaw in this plan. She would be caught groping a dangerous woman who happened to be a queen’s consort. “This is probably treason so if Xena doesn’t knock me into next week, Gabrielle gets to behead me,” Celia thought glumly. “Mavis this isn’t a great idea. Maybe we should think of something else. After all there is no guarantee she’ll fight me anyway.”
Mavis was disappointed at the answer but she had a plan Beta. “Well I have another plan.” Mavis looked quickly around their hut just in case anyone was listening. “We will follow Xena around after class and when she goes off to the bushes we’ll follow her and catch her with her pants down. Or maybe tonight when everyone is in their cabins we can sneak over to Xena and Gabrielle’s hut and cut a small hole in their wall and hope to see Xena naked.” Mavis waited for Celia’s approval.
Celia was appalled. That’s right Mavis we’ll just become peeping Joxers. We'll get caught spying on the queen in her bedchambers and have our eyes poked out, and then we can wander the countryside begging for money and tell our sad story in taverns to the amusement of all. Celia did not say all this, she just stared morosely at her friend and said flatly, “I’ll volunteer to grope Xena.”
“Oh good. I have a lot to do today and I just didn’t want to waste a whole day waiting for Xena to relieve herself. Although I would have liked to see Xena naked – I never saw a man-woman before,” Mavis said with a strange glint in her eye.
At the training field Xena gave her final instruction for the hand-to-hand combat training. She wanted the students to go all out, but they had to show discipline and not hurt any one seriously. A few bloody noses were all right but no broken bones, she admonished. Then she ordered the students to pick partners and begin their drills.
Xena, breaking with tradition, did not volunteer to partner up herself. Mavis suddenly saw her brilliant plan turning to dust before her eyes. Celia on the other hand suddenly had visions of her and Mavis drilling holes in the queen’s cabin that night. In unison both leapt to their feet and yelled, “Wait! Aren’t you going to fight too?” Both women looked startled at their mutual outburst.
Xena too looked startled. She had planned on foregoing this little ritual. Although she told Gabrielle the truth about not being aroused by these young women, she didn’t want to put Herb to the test. It was best to leave sleeping dogs lie so to speak. Xena cleared her throat, “Oh I thought you guys could give yourself a pretty good work out. You don’t need me to show you anything – you’ve learned it all so well.”
The students really loved to see Xena fight and soon they also were clamoring for their teacher to give them one more demonstration. Xena didn’t quite know what to make of this. She was flattered at her students’ adoration and she did love a good wrestling match. Anyway it would be a good test to see if Herb could control himself in dicey situations.
“OK, I’ll give you guys one more little demonstration. Who’ll volunteer?”
Celia and three other girls raised their hands. Xena looked them over. They were all excellent fighters so she decided on a quick competition. She drew a circle and had the four girls step into the circle. The last one remaining in the ring would fight Xena.
Celia looked at her competition. They were big strapping girls and it would be tough to toss them out of the ring on her best day. Then again she thought, “if I don’t win I’ll spend the next few days trying to catch Xena peeing.” With this motivation Celia fought like one possessed. She punched, gouged, and threw caution to the winds. When the dust cleared she was the last one in the ring although she was minus one tooth and had a large bite mark on her ankle.
Xena was impressed. She clapped Celia on the shoulder and declared her the winner. She told her to clean up and meet her in the ring. Celia and Mavis adjourned to the water basin.
“Celia, that was great. Now you know what you have to do. Knock Xena down and get between her legs and just grab on.”
Celia nodded grimly. Mavis had the knack of making the impossible seem easy. She had seen Xena fight and she knew she was no match for her. She just hoped Xena wouldn’t go full out, but just having beaten the three best fighters in the class, that would be a vain hope. Xena was going to kick her ass – she just knew it.
Celia went to the ring. Xena looked absolutely elated. She was bouncing on her toes. She just loved a good knock down drag out fight. Celia was a surprise to Xena – she never thought the girl had that kind of killer instincts. This was going to be fun. Xena however suddenly remembered that Herb liked fun too. She stopped for a moment to reflect on Herb. She could feel him twitching but the pouch had him contained. Good. Let the fight begin.
Xena and Celia stepped into the ring. The loser would be the first one to cross outside of the circle. They crouched and began to circle one and another. Xena made the first move and swept Celia’s legs out from under her and soon the two were grappling on the ground. Xena was doing her best to try to get a grip on Celia in order to toss her out of the ring but Celia had a very strange strategy. Instead of countering her moves or trying to get leverage on Xena, she was simply trying to scoot under the warrior. Xena couldn’t quite figure out what she was doing. It wasn’t giving Celia any kind of advantage but it was effectively preventing Xena from getting a good grip on her opponent.
Celia was at this point focused on her mission. Once she got her hand between Xena’s legs and felt for the appendage, she would be free to get herself tossed out of the ring. Then she could tell Mavis she was full of it and life could go on. This, however, was not an easy task. Xena was strong and agile and was able to avoid Celia’s wandering hand. Luckily Xena hadn’t noticed what Celia was up to yet.
Suddenly Xena tumbled to Celia strategy, or so she thought. She felt Celia’s hand start to move between her legs. “Why that little so and so, she’s going to try the short hair pull,” Xena thought in surprise. It was a good plan and she might have let her get away with it just to build the girl’s confidence but not with Herb around. So just as Celia was about to reach her objective Xena made a quick turning maneuver and executed her own short hair move. Her hand shot between Celia’s legs and she pulled with all her might. Celia screeched and fairly flew out of the circle. Xena won the match to the acclaim of her admiring students.
Xena went over to Celia. She hoped she hadn’t hurt the girl. “Celia that was a brilliant move on your part. You really had me going there. Of course you have to be careful when you are trying that move. The short hair pull is effective as you can attest to.” Tears were running down Celia’s checks. “But it leaves you vulnerable for a counter strike.” Xena now felt a bit guilty about the counter-strike and gave Celia a final bit of praise, “However you were brilliant in your fights today and so I am giving you the rest of the day off.”
Celia nodded and waived weekly to acknowledge Xena’s praise. As Xena walked away Mavis ran over to her friend and whispered excitedly, “So what did you learn?”
With tears still running down her checks Celia answered in a strained high-pitched voice, “Never listen to your friends.”
Later that day Xena met up with Gabrielle.
“So how did the Amazon training go today?” Gabrielle asked.
“Very well. The girls out did themselves. Celia even challenged me. She had to fight off the three best warriors to do it but she did it. Then she nearly fought me to a stand still. You know she had the gumption to even try the short hair pull.” Xena beamed with pride.
The short hair pull made Gabrielle stop in her tracks. “Oh no.” Gabrielle quickly looked around and whispered, “She didn’t encounter,” another quick look, “Herb?”
“I told you I had a counter-move.” Xena said smugly and then she added a bit more contritely, “It was a little too effective I’m afraid. I had to give her the day off. I may have over done it.” Xena said with a slight grimace.
“It’s all right. I’m sure she’s over it by now. How did - uhm – the garment work?”
“Oh another success. Herb tried but he couldn’t get much of a rhythm going. So I think I’ve solved that problem.” Xena then looked lecherously at Gabrielle, “How about your problem?”
Gabrielle gave a saucy little wink, “I’m ready to go whenever you are, Stud.”
“Hmm so tonight we’ll start. I can’t wait to try out old Herb.”
Gabrielle winched a bit. “I don’t know if naming it was such a good idea. I just am feeling odd having someone named Herb inside of me.”
“You’ve had someone named Xena inside of you and you never complained,” Xena whispered into Gabrielle’s ear.
Gabrielle blushed and looked around, “Yeah, well you’ve never tapped danced inside of me and Herb just might.”
“I’m sure he will, my love, because every time we make love I tap dance in my heart.” Xena frowned – did she just say that out loud. It sounded so stupid. Then Gabrielle suddenly kissed her.
“You’re so sweet.”
Perhaps it wasn’t stupid; maybe it was brilliant. “Perhaps we can go home and get a head start on tonight.”
“Yes but you need a bath and so do I. You’re a bit ripe after your work out. I’ll go to the bath house and you can take a shower.”
“Why don’t we both shower together, huh?” Xena asked seductively.
“I’d love to but there’s not enough water and it’s too small. Anyway I like baths better. Maybe I can shoo everyone out of the bathhouse – you know queenly privilege – and we can bath together.”
“I have a better idea. It’s going to be warm night. Why not get a picnic and go down to our private swimming hole? We’ll eat and swim and make love all night. Oh! I feel Herb getting all antsy at just the thought.”
Xena was being her most charming and Gabrielle was tempted – very tempted. She bit her lip and considered. “What if we are caught?”
“Sex is always more fun when there’s a touch of danger,” Xena said rakishly. “Let’s risk it. No one ever has stumbled upon us before and we’ve made love dozens of times there. It’ll be romantic. Aphrodite will be very pleased,” Xena added coyly.
Gabrielle loved when Xena got that devilish look in her eye and she was a goner’. “OK it’s a date. It’s getting late anyway. I’ll get the food. You get the blankets and we’ll meet back here.
Xena laughed and kissed Gabrielle soundly. She couldn’t wait to be with her wife. She was also sure Herb would be relieved - he seemed very over wrought right now.
“Celia, why are you walking so funny? Mavis asked with concern.
“Why do you think, idiot. The warrior princess nearly plucked me bald. And it hurts.”
“Still?” Mavis asked in all innocence.
“Yeah, still! Maybe that’s why we don’t practice that move very often. I always thought it was because of modesty. Obviously not. That really is painful. Gods! Imagine what Xena would have done to me if I had pulled the move off. She’d probably have torn me limb from limb. No wonder she was acting strange after being kicked.”
“It would have been different. You would have just pulled on her penis. I don’t know what that effect would have been.” Mavis said thoughtfully.
Celia looked at Mavis out of corner of her eye and said sarcastically, “Oh I’m sure that would have been much better. She probably would have only torn off one limb and then beat me to death with it.”
“Probably,” Mavis was no longer listening to her friend. She was now planning her next move. She was plotting where to find a drill so she and Celia could drill her peephole in order to spy on Xena in her cabin. She found out that there was small crawl space between the floor of the cabins and the ground. She figured she and Celia could squeeze in there. Drill a hole and spy on Xena. It would of course be a perfect vantage point to see Xena’s nether region.
“Do you think the carpenter would lend us one of her drills?” Mavis asked Celia.
“A drill? What for…. Oh no. Don’t even think it? We are not going to drill a hole in the queen’s wall.”
“Of course not, silly. We would be caught.” Celia’s relief was short lived. “No we are going to drill it in her floor. We will peer up at them. No one will see us and it will be the perfect vantage point.” Mavis now expected her well deserved praised. She was about to be disappointed.
“You can do whatever you please but count me out. I’ve lost a tooth, been beaten to a pulp and plucked like a chicken. I’ve had enough. I’m going down to the stream and soak my aching body.” With that Celia marched off towards the stream.
Xena and Gabrielle arrived at their private swimming hole. It was a secluded inlet in the stream that flowed past the Amazon village. It was one of their favorite trysting places and very private.
Gabrielle soon had the blankets arranged and the food set out. Xena tested the water and it was warm and inviting. She turned and looked at her lover and beckoned Gabrielle with a little wave of her hand. Gabrielle came to her and they kissed. Xena then stepped back and smiled. “Ready for a nice dip in the pool.” Gabrielle nodded and got undressed, as did Xena. As Xena turned to help Gabrielle into the water, Gabrielle took the opportunity to look Xena over.
“Xena, it’s still so strange to see you like that.”
“Does it bother you?” Xena asked with some concern. “I never really asked you about your relationship with men. I mean perhaps you don’t like being with men. I … uh… never liked to think about you and Perdicus.” Xena ended lamely. Gods this would be a hell of a time to discover she doesn’t find me attractive anymore.
Gabrielle looked pensively at Xena. “I only was with one man and that was only for one night. I can hardly judge whether I like being with men or not.” Then she gave Xena a sexy little smile. “I do know I love being with you and I think that won’t change just because your anatomy has changed.” Gabrielle came up to Xena and kissed her. “You taste the same.” She then nuzzled her neck. “You smell the same.” Then with a devilish glint she grabbed Xena’s new appendage and gave it a tiny yank. Xena squeaked in surprise. “You squeal the same, too.” With that Gabrielle hastily dove in the water.
“Hey you can’t milk that thing, you know,” Xena shouted in mock outrage. With that she took after Gabrielle. Soon the two women were cavorting in the water. The two women were like young lovers rediscovering each other’s bodies. Soon they were on dry land making love. For the first time Xena entered her lover as a man. Gabrielle welcomed her and the two were joined.
Gabrielle lay on Xena ‘s chest. “I have an answer for you now,” Gabrielle said leaning on her elbow so she could look into Xena’s eyes.
“What’s the question?” Xena asked a bit sleepily.
“It doesn’t bother me that you are different, physically. You make love the same way. With passion and gentleness. You’re the same person that I have always loved. I guess it doesn’t matter to me what we do together as long as we do it with love. What about you? Was is different for you?”
“Yeah a little. Physically it felt different, not better or worse just different. It appears that you excite me and please me however I love you.” Xena then went very serious. “There is one very profound change, however.”
Gabrielle looked apprehensively at her lover. “What is it?”
“Well apparently humping like a man makes me really hungry.” Xena said gravely. “Let’s eat!”
“Do you have to be so crude?” Gabrielle chided in a teasing tone.
“I’m a guy now.” Xena burped and held her finger out to Gabrielle, “Pull my finger – go ahead.”
Gabrielle swatted the offending digit away and got up to get the picnic basket. Xena now was sitting cross-legged on the blanket and eyed the basket with anticipation. “Xena, do you think we should get dressed before we eat?”
“Why? You’ll just get crumbs on your clothes – you know what a sloppy eater you are. So if we are naked it will make cleaning up so much easier.” Xena said all this while munching on a chicken leg.
“Oh how thoughtful of you. But you know you’re pretty messy yourself.” With that Gabrielle smeared a bit of cream from desert on Xena’s chest.
Xena looked down at herself but never stopped eating. “Humph, I guess as soon as I refuel here we’re going to get that spot cleaned up. Aren’t we? Gabrielle, oh look where you just dropped a raisin. I’ll have just take care of that in a minute.” Xena happily munched away. While Gabrielle began to make certain there was lot of cleaning to do that evening.
Celia relaxed in the stream. The water that was gently flowing around her was just the right temperature to sooth both her aching body and frayed temper. She had even managed to fall asleep for a candle mark or so. She was now in that pleasant twilight state between sleep and wakefulness when she heard stealthy footfalls. She opened one eye and saw Mavis and Hortense standing before her. Celia was not pleased. Oh she was happy enough to see Mavis; she wanted to make up with her anyway but Hortense was another matter entirely. The girl was one of Varia’s little sycophants and she was a notorious gossip. She was also Mavis’s blood cousin and often tagged along after her. Mavis usually managed to avoid her but obviously not today.
“Feeling better?” Mavis asked shyly.
“Was,” Celia answered shortly, eyeing Hortense.
Hortense smiled just a bit too sweetly. She knew how Celia felt about her and she felt the same way about Celia. She however had spent the afternoon with Mavis and from what Mavis was saying, or more precisely what she wasn’t saying, she knew something was up with the two friends. Her natural curiosity was aroused and she attached herself to Mavis like a leach in order to find out what was up with the two friends.
“Oh,” Mavis was glum. She loved Celia like a sister and wanted to make up with her. “I brought you some supper. It’s a pudding with cream and red berries. It’s nice and soft. I know your jaw hurts.”
Mavis looked so woebegone that Celia had to forgive her. “Thanks. I’m really hungry. I’m sure the pudding will hit the spot.” Celia got out of the stream and walked over to where she had some linen to dry herself. She noticed that Hortense was eyeing her speculatively.
“You have something to say,” Celia asked Hortense sharply.
“You’re not bald down there. I heard the Warrior Princess plucked you like a chicken. I guess its just more hype about the famous Xena.” Hortense said obnoxiously.
Celia just rolled her eyes and dressed quickly. She took the covered bowl from Mavis and settled herself down on the ground to eat her dinner. Mavis and Hortense sat down in front of her and took out some snacks and joined her in her meal.
“So what was it like fighting the great warrior princess,” Hortense asked. “I mean everyone says she is so great. I think it’s just a lot of big talk.”
Celia shrugged. “Why ask me? Ask Varia; she’s your buddy. Everyone knows Xena kicked her ass. She knows better than me what it's like to get beat by Xena. Xena pulled her punches with me and still whupped me pretty good.”
Hortense frowned. Varia was her idol. “You can’t talk about Varia like that. She’d still be queen if Xena hadn’t had her little lap dog depose her.”
“Hortense have you been in the henbane again.” Celia sniffed. “Everyone knows that Varia tried to kill Gabrielle right in the middle of a war. She betrayed the sisterhood and got off light. If Gabrielle hadn’t forgiven Varia, she would have been exiled. Varia owes her position on the council to Gabrielle. So what’s your problem?”
“Xena isn’t an Amazon, that’s the problem. And Gabrielle is just a wannabe Amazon. They act like they belong and they don’t. We don’t need them around. Anyway they’re weird – one moment they’re dead then they’re alive – it’s spooky. They just aren’t normal.”
With those words Mavis quickly looked at her friend. Celia gave her friend a warning glance. Now wasn’t the time for Mavis to start spouting off her kooky theories, especially not in front of her cousin.
“Xena and Gabrielle have done a lot for the tribe and haven’t asked anything in return, except to be left alone.” Although Celia’s remarks seemed to be directed at Hortense she made sure Mavis knew they were directed at her. “Nobody in our tribe is normal anyway. I like them – Xena is a tough teacher but she’s fair and Gabrielle treats everyone like they are the most important person in the tribe.”
Celia finished eating and was ready to get back to the village. She quickly got dressed as the other two girls cleaned up the area. Celia started on her way to the village when Mavis called to her to stop.
“I thought while we were out here we could get some berries
to take back to our cabin.” Mavis said
plaintively. She knew Celia was still
angry with her and she was desperate to make things right. She knew her friend had a sweet tooth.
Celia wasn’t in the mood to spend more time with Hortense but she knew her friend felt badly about her being hurt and having to put up with Hortense was small price to pay to make her friend feel better. “OK, lead on to the berries.” Celia said with sigh and a smile.
The three girls now traveled a bit farther down stream when they suddenly heard some odd noises. They stood stock still for a moment. Suddenly the girls realized they were about to interrupt somebody’s romantic interlude. Celia and Mavis were embarrassed and were ready to make a hasty retreat when Hortense got a malicious look in her eye and darted forward. The two friends were torn but curiosity got the better of them and they followed their companion.
They crept quietly towards the sounds. They finally reached their quarry and peered over a convenient bush and were surprised to see Xena and Gabrielle naked and making love. The three girls were momentarily spellbound but Celia recovered first and grabbed Mavis and quickly turned away from the couple. She was mortified when she realized Hortense was still watching and she yanked her down by her hair quickly covering her mouth so she couldn’t yell.
Celia motioned for them to leave – fast. Hortense was torn but she couldn’t wait to get back to camp and tell everyone what she saw. Mavis however refused to leave. She sidled up to Celia and whispered, “Now’s our chance. If we just stay longer we’ll see Xena naked.”
“We’ve seen her naked and Gabrielle naked and we’ve seen enough.” Celia whispered back frantically.
“No we only got a glimpse. We didn’t really see much, if we wait we can see it all.” Mavis whispered back stubbornly.
“We aren’t…” Celia started to say when suddenly a very naked and irate Xena appeared before the crouching girls providing the proof that Mavis was wanting for. Unfortunately for them Xena also had very large sword in her hand and it looked like she was about to use it.
The girls stared at Xena and her appendage. Celia and Mavis were frozen but not Hortense, who took off like a jackrabbit on speed.
“Ares Balls!” Xena cursed and then grabbed her two captives by their hair and dragged them into the picnic area.
Gabrielle was now hastily putting down her sais and was dressing quickly. When she saw Xena’s captives she had the impulse to laugh. The girls were comically terrorized and they couldn’t take their eyes off Herb.
“You are a hermadite,” Mavis declared triumphantly.
“Hermaphrodite,” Celia corrected automatically.
“Am not,” Xena declared indignantly. “I’m enchanted.” She added with a sniff.
Gabrielle handed Xena her little pouch and Xena put Herb away and quickly dressed. Then the two women turned their attention to their captives.
“Why were you two watching us?” Gabrielle asked quietly.
“Three were watching us. One got away. If I had had my chakram there would now only be two who saw us.” Xena added less gently.
Gabrielle gave Xena a warning glance. “Be nice. You’re scaring them.”
“Good. Little busy bodies should be scared. Don’t you know enough to mind your own business and not be snooping around in bushes? You’re lucky I’ve mellowed or you both would be headless now.” Xena was not happy, Herb was not happy, and she was determined that these two would be even more unhappy than her or Herb.
“We didn’t mean to snoop. We just heard noises and looked. That’s all.” Celia explained quickly.
Unfortunately Mavis was the soul of honesty. “Well I meant to look.” Everyone turned and looked at her. “I knew you were different and you
are. You see Celia; I was right. Xena is a man-woman.” She then looked expectantly at Xena. “Did you really get yourself pregnant with
Eve?” Mavis was really curious about
”What? No! That’s ridiculous. An angel knocked me up. That’s a whole ‘nother story.” Xena said dismissively.
“Mavis, are you saying that you suspected something was different about Xena? That’s why you were spying on us?” Gabrielle was back handling the interrogation.
“Yeah I sort of accidentally bumped into Xena the other day and felt something funny. I told Celia we should investigate. Honestly she didn’t want to but I made her help me.” Mavis was now spilling the beans. Celia groaned.
“So the short hair pull was a plot.” Xena glared at Celia. “Kid you’re lucky I didn’t know or I would have pulled your innards out instead of your hair.” Xena growled.
Gabrielle sighed. As Autolycus would have said, the jig was up. Herb was out of the bag. “OK, you guys now know the truth. Xena is different. Does that make any difference now that you know?”
Celia thought for a moment. It didn’t make any difference to her. She didn’t care. It was just a surprise and she was curious about how they kept it a secret for so long.
Mavis however did care. Xena was different and she wasn’t sure she liked that. After all she was an Amazon and she strove to be like all other Amazons. She wasn’t sure that you could be an Amazon and be different. All Amazons were alike weren’t they? Mavis stared at Xena and said defiantly “Amazons don’t have penises.”
“You’re right, kid, but I ain’t an Amazon, remember. So as a non-Amazon I can have any damn thing I want.” Xena answered with equal defiance.
Gabrielle looked at her mate with exasperation. This wasn’t going well. Xena was getting more annoyed by the moment and Mavis was getting more petulant. Things were getting out of hand.
Suddenly Celia spoke up. “What did Xena mean when she said she was enchanted?”
Gabrielle looked at Xena. Xena shrugged. “Tell her. Everyone’s going to know any way soon enough. I recognized Hortense running away. Everyone in the village will know by the time we get back anyway.”
“On the night of my birthday I was visited by Aphrodite. I made a wish that I wanted a baby and so Aphrodite changed Xena so that could happen. Once I’m pregnant Xena goes back to normal. It’s that simple.” It was far from simple but it was the truth, Gabrielle thought.
“She still has the penis.” Mavis pointed out. “Why isn’t it gone?”
“Because I’m not pregnant yet,” Gabrielle explained patiently.
“You were making love when we saw you. So you should be pregnant. Didn’t Xena do it right?” Mavis asked suspiciously.
Xena snarled. “I was doing it right until I was interrupted by three peeping Joxers.”
“Xena!” Gabrielle warned again. “It’s not that easy. It takes time.”
Celia was by now beyond uncomfortable and embarrassed. Why hadn’t she told Mavis she was being silly when she thought up her stupid plan? She now fervently wished Mavis would just shut up. They had interfered enough and she was feeling a little sick at her part in the whole affair. “Look we honestly didn’t come looking for you. We were just looking for some berries and we stumbled upon you two. We shouldn’t have spied on you. We’ll just act like nothing happened. OK?”
Gabrielle looked at Xena. Xena just shook her head. “Too late for that. Hortense saw everything and will no doubt tell Varia. She’ll probably go straight to the council. Even if Varia doesn’t believe her, it will be enough to embarrass us. We’ll be called in front of the council to answer questions, whatever happens.”
Celia now looked at her elders. “No one will believe Hortense if I say she’s nuts and making stuff up. Mavis will back me up, won’t you?” Mavis thought for a moment. She didn’t know what to do but she didn’t want to go against her friend. She finally just nodded her head.
Gabrielle smiled. “No, you won’t lie for us. If you are asked, you’ll tell the truth. It won’t come to that though. If we are called forward we’ll just tell them about Aphrodite’s gift. Nothing bad will happen. Xena and I will just have to leave the village for a while. Don’t worry about it.”
“Why didn’t you just tell the council about Aphrodite’s gift in the first place? Mavis asked Gabrielle.
Xena answered. “Because it wasn’t their business. Everyone has the right to privacy. What happened was beyond our control and we would have dealt with it in our own way. There was no reason for Gabrielle to lose her home over this.” Xena added sharply.
Gabrielle went over to Xena and placed her hand on her arm and whispered just to her, “You are my home, never forget that.”
Xena nodded at this and smiled. She then motioned for the girls to clear up the camp and they started back to the village.
Back at the village Hortense, as predicted, made straight for Varia’s cabin. She told the former queen what she saw. Varia didn’t know what to make of this. She knew perfectly well that Xena was a woman; she once exchanged clothes with her and saw proof of Xena’s womanhood. Yet Hortense was so positive.
“Maybe what you saw wasn’t a real penis. It might have been that present you gave Gabrielle at her birthday.” Varia said to the excited young woman.
“No! I know what I saw. It was flesh and blood and it looked angry. ”
Varia raised her eyebrow at this observation. “You mean Xena looked angry?”
“No, she looked furious, the penis looked angry. I don’t know how I know that, but it just did.”
Varia didn’t quite know what to make of this. Yet where Xena and Gabrielle were concerned anything was possible. After all, this time last year Xena was just a pile of ashes in a pot. If a woman could grow a penis then she would bet Xena could.
Varia considered her possibilities. What to do now? The presence of a man masquerading as a woman in the Amazon camp would be a great scandal. And if a queen were involved then it would be a crime. If she proved Gabrielle had knowingly conspired to keep a man in the village then she would be disgraced. Her prior actions would be suspect and perhaps Varia could once again become a queen. She would call the council together at once and demand an inquiry. If it turned out this tale was untrue she could blame Hortense and still have the satisfaction of embarrassing Gabrielle.
Xena, Gabrielle and the girls arrived back at camp. They sent the girls home and made their way back to their own cabin. Gabrielle looked around their home. She had grown found of the stability it represented but she knew her real home was with Xena. If they had to leave for a while so be it. Her main concern was Xena’s desk; she wanted that safe.
“Xena what should we do about the desk?”
Xena looked at her wife and gave a small chuckle. “We are about to be called before the council to explain how I got a penis. And you’re worried about that desk. I don’t know. I can remove the legs and pack it on a horse and take it with us.”
“Take it with us?” Gabrielle asked in surprise. “You know we are going?”
“Yeah, I thought we'd go to my grandparents’ farm. It’s private, it has a bedroom with a nice sturdy roof, and plenty of chickens – they may be wild by now – but they still lay eggs and can be boiled for soup.” Xena seemed very unconcerned about the council’s imminent summons.
“You’ve been thinking about this, haven’t you?” Gabrielle observed. “Why didn’t you mention this plan before?” It was obvious that Xena had contemplated leaving the village just as she had.
“Because I didn’t think we would need it. Gabrielle, I didn’t want to take you away from our first real home. You love the Amazons. I like it here too. I figured we would get through this just fine but it’s always good to have a back up plan just in case – well – just in case what happened, happened.” Xena said with a shrug.
Gabrielle thought about this. “I think that your idea is a good one. I was afraid that you would want to wander around instead of
heading somewhere safe and I want you safe.
I’m glad you thought of going to the farm.” Gabrielle suddenly started to tear up.
Xena went over and put her arms around her. “I promise you I will keep both of us safe. There will be no more wandering around looking for trouble.” She then held Gabrielle at arms length and looked seriously at her. “But for the life of me I don’t know why you thought living with Amazons was safe. Every time we meet up with them there’s some kind of mortal danger involved. Now my poor Herb is in trouble.” Xena pouted comically.
Gabrielle laughed despite herself. “Oh poor little Herb.” She then patted Herb on his head.
Xena looked askance. “Hey don’t wake him up. And by the way, Missy, he is a fine specimen. I never was quite the tart everyone said I was, but I have seen a few specimens in my time. Remember, I was with Iolaus.”
Gabrielle suddenly looked interested. “Not Hercules?”
Xena raised an eyebrow and shook her head. “Nope. Didn’t you ever notice how big Iolaus’s feet are.”
Gabrielle looked at Xena with a thoughtful look. Now that was something to think about.
Just then there was a knock at the door. Xena answered it. Before her stood two council guards, who announced they were ordered to the council chambers at once.
Gabrielle looked at Xena and with a sigh and said, “Well I guess its show time.”
Xena frowned, “Well I certainly hope not.”
Gabrielle gave Xena a startled look as she followed her out the door.
In the council room Cyane, Varia, and the elders were gathered along with an excited Hortense and her two miserable companions. Xena and Gabrielle entered and looked at the assembly. They took their stand before the seated council.
Cyane cleared her throat. “Queen Gabrielle there has been a fantastic charge made tonight. Varia charges that you have knowingly harbored a man in our midst and that man is known as Xena, Warrior Princess. We can hardly give credence to this allegation but there is an eyewitness who has sworn it to be true and has stated that she has corroboration. How do you answer this charge?”
Gabrielle bit her lip. Actually she didn’t quite know what to plead. To her Xena was still a woman and not a man at all. But as Xena said the penis pretty much defined manhood. “Guilty.” Gabrielle proclaimed.
Xena looked startled, she expected Gabrielle to give an explanation. Her bard hardly ever stopped at one word. She waited for Gabrielle to continue but she was silent.
Ife the healer, suddenly spoke up. “This is absurd. Just last month Xena received a cut to her groin area and I sutured it. She was a woman then. People just don’t suddenly grow penises.”
Gabrielle turned to Ife, “I beg to differ with you. Sometimes they do. Especially when the goddess Aphrodite enchants them. When a divinity decides to bestow a divine gift on someone, anything is possible. Aphrodite, in her godly wisdom, has decided that Xena and I should have a child, together.
Xena was impressed. Gabrielle was both haughty and regal. There, let the council chew on that awhile. How do you punish people who are favorites of the gods?
Varia suddenly interrupted. “Are you saying you’re playing hide the cock on orders from Aphrodite?”
Xena bristled. “Well it's better than hide the arrow in the Queen’s back.”
Varia made a menacing step towards Xena. Xena gave her a feral smile. “Come on, Varia. It is time for me to knock some humility back into you,” Xena thought.
Gabrielle held up her hand. She was taking charge. “Enough. What I am saying is that Aphrodite wanted Xena and I to have a child together, as a gift to me on my birthday. Xena’s condition is temporary. Once I am pregnant Xena will go back to the way she was. The only thing that has changed is one part of her anatomy – that’s all. We don’t consider Xena a man… just a different type of woman.”
Cyane frowned. “Gabrielle, there is only one type of woman and it doesn’t have a penis. Xena has a penis and she is therefore a man and must be banished at once.”
“Very well, we will leave, and once the situation is corrected, we will return.” Gabrielle acquiesced. “Oh this was going well” Gabrielle thought. “Banishment for a fortnight or so isn’t bad.”
“Gabrielle you don’t understand. Once Xena is banished she can’t come back and if you follow her you will have to abdicate the throne and also be banished from the nation. Furthermore your name will be stricken from the queen’s roll. Your acts and accomplishments will be expunged from the records. You and any mention of you will disappear from Amazon history. No one will even dare speak your name.” Cyane said all this with authority but with much sadness.
Gabrielle stepped back as if she had been slapped. The Amazons meant so much to her. She didn’t mind not being queen – it never meant that much to her – but to have the Amazons deny her existence was beyond comprehension.
Xena was now furious.
“Just a minute. Gabrielle has
been a queen for more years than most of you have been alive. She fought beside you and led you into
battle. She has written your history
for all to read. You ungrateful bunch
of bitches. Without her there wouldn’t
be an Amazon nation. Pompey would have
sold you off for slaves years ago. Now
you want to wipe her from your history.
Without her there would be no history.”
Xena glared at the council. She looked each woman in the eye. Gabrielle had nursed them when they were sick, comforted them in grief, and celebrated with them in their joys, and now they would turn their backs on her. They were lucky that she was reformed because she was contemplating a slaughter that would have made the old Xena proud.
“This is not right. What has happened to us was not of our choosing. We are not sorry it happened. We want our child. And we will have it. It would be nice if the Amazons could appreciate the miracle that this child will be but if you are so closed minded then perhaps it is best that we leave. You know I don’t think you deserve to have Gabrielle as an Amazon.”
Xena took Gabrielle by the hand and was about to lead her off when Gabrielle turned back to the council. “What about Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
Cyane was puzzled. “She is to be banished. You know that.”
“No, what I mean is, is she to be wiped from Amazon history too? The woman who stopped the war with the centaurs, and defeated Valesca, Pompey, Belleraphon? Is she just going to disappear from your history like she never existed because of a change in her appearance that you don’t like?” Gabrielle charged furiously.
Cyane shook her head sadly. “It’s the law, Gabrielle. She’s a man and his deeds like yours will be forgotten."
Suddenly Mavis spoke up. “She isn’t a man.”
Everyone turned and looked at the girl. Mavis swallowed and continued. “Well, she’s part man but not all man. Part of her is a woman too. I saw her naked and I know what I’m talking about. She can’t be completely banished since she is part woman.”
“What do you expect us to do? Banish just part of her. That’s ridiculous.” Varia sneered.
“Just a minute.” From the back row of the council stood Kaytal, one of the most senior members of the council. Although never a warrior, she was a leading philosopher and had the most knowledge of Amazon customs and laws. “The girl has brought up an interesting point. If Xena is both man and woman, the female side can’t be banished from the tribe without just cause. We must be sure we are doing the wise thing. As Gabrielle has pointed out, Xena has been a great asset to the nation. Gabrielle, as a queen, has also served us well and true. Also is it is very unwise to spurn a gift from a goddess."
“DAMN STRAIGHT!” Suddenly before the council stood Aphrodite dressed in a shocking pink shorts and halter. It was obviously Aphrodite’s attempt at fitting in. “I gave my pals a nifty gift and you want to punish them for it. Well all I have to say is Amazonia is going to be a love free zone for a very long time.” The goddess then turned to a very startled Xena and Gabrielle. “Come on Sweet pea and Studly I’ll zap you anywhere you want to be, along with any furniture or smelly horses you care to bring along.”
Xena seized the moment. “Excellent, Aphrodite. You can just take me and Sweetpea out of here and leave the Amazons to be very lonely for the next decade or two. If the Amazons can’t be fair why should we be fair? Do your worst, Dite. Nuter’em – oh all except Celia and Mavis, they’re good kids.” Xena then turned her back and smirked down at Gabrielle and poked her in the ribs. Suddenly Gabrielle was galvanized into action.
“No Xena we can’t let that happen. Everyone has the right to love and be loved, even if we are banished and forgotten. I will ask that the Amazons be spared or at least be given the chance to repent of their - BLASPHAMEY.” Gabrielle finished with a flourish. She then turned to Xena, quirked an eyebrow and gave a little shrug.
The council was in an uproar. There weren’t many gods left and it seemed like a really bad idea to insult the one everyone really liked – especially the Amazons. Yes they were fierce warriors but they also were passionate lovers and no one wanted to lose that aspect of their culture any time soon. A compromise was needed and quick.
Matilda now stood up. She liked both Xena and Gabrielle and she liked sex. The prospect of loosing her friends was sad but loosing sex was a disaster – it was time to take charge. “Gabrielle is right. We are committing blasphemy if we throw Aphrodite’s gift out. After all, what do we have to fear from one penis more or less? Hell I’ve seen plenty in my time – I got seven daughters – and they ain’t nothin’ to get so riled up about. We can live with a temporary one …as long as it is temporary. It is temporary, right?” Matilda directed at Aphrodite.
“Yep, as soon it does its job - phtttt – it’s gone.” Aphrodite assured the council.
“OK, we let it do its job. Once Gabrielle’s with child, Xena will be back to normal and we’ll make sure of that with a proper medical exam,” Matilda looked at Ife who nodded and then at Xena who looked unhappy but nodded too, “We’ll consider this matter closed. There won’t be any banishment.”
Varia, seeing her chances slipping away, now made her objections. “How do we know Gabrielle will get pregnant? This could go one indefinitely. If we are going to allow Xena and Gabrielle to stay there has to be some kind of time limit. Gabrielle must be given a deadline.”
“Yes there must be a schedule,” Kaytal agreed. “We must know that they are working diligently at their appointed task. They can’t just take their time at this. After all they have had at least two weeks to work on it so far and they have nothing to show for it.” Kaytal looked at the pair with a hint of disapproval.
Matilda joined Kaytal in voicing her reservations about Xena and Gabrielle’s copulating skills. “I had seven men and seven nights and I had seven daughters. I don’t see what’s taking you two so long. Get a move on for Aphrodite’s sake. If you two hadn’t been lollygagging around you wouldn’t be in this mess.” Matilda said in a huff.
Xena had enough. Everyone seemed to be questioning one of her many skills and although a very new skill, she was sure she was doing everything right. Hell she hardly even had a chance to practice this skill. What with being kicked, Gabrielle being out of season, and voyeurs popping up in the midst of lovemaking, someone ought to cut her some slack. Xena was about to explode when Gabrielle gentled her.
“Xena, be good. I think they just want to help. Let them have their moment so they can say they were tough on us.” Gabrielle whispered gently to her partner. She then cleared her voice. It was time for tact and diplomacy. “Matilda and Kaytal you are both wise elders of the tribe, what counsel do you offer Cyane? Xena and I will accept your wisdom.”
Cyane, who now was relived that she didn’t have to banish her two friends, was actually enjoying the show Gabrielle was orchestrating. She also now addressed the two elders, “What do you suggest, ladies?”
Kaytal and Matilda exchanged glances. They were elders and respected but it had been some time since their advice was sought in so public a manner. Matilda now deferred to Kaytal. Kaytal spoke with an authority the shy woman seldom had a chance to exhibit. “When an Amazon goes courting the male she is given eight weeks to accomplish her task. As I understand it, Xena has been in possession of ...uh…her gift for two weeks. So I think the couple should be given six more weeks to rectify the situation. If in that time Xena is still …uh…encumbered by her enchantment, she should be banished. Gabrielle will then choose whether to follow her or not. If Gabrielle chooses to follow Xena, her and Xena’s names will not be stricken from Amazon history. They are too important a part of our people to be wiped from our history – to lose them is to lose a part of ourselves.”
Matilda now chimed in, “We also have to make sure these two get at it. So they need a schedule. Havin’ babies, missies, is no walk in the park. Hell you know how many guys I had to club on the head before I found seven who could get it up for me. It was hard work let me tell you. Now you two have an advantage. Gabrielle you don’t need to club Xena, do you?” Matilda asked. Gabrielle vigorously shook her head. “Now Xena you like sex, don’t you? And that gadget works well doesn’t it?”
Xena by this time was staring at Matilda in open mouth wonder and managed to give a weak nod but she recovered and added with an enthusiasm, “I love sex and Herbert works great.”
The name Herbert startled the assembled council. Someone shouted, “By the gods, they got another one hidden around here!”
Matilda held up her hand to quiet everyone. “It’s all right. Xena just probably named that penis. It’s not uncommon, for some reason. Now Xena did you name your little guy?” Matilda asked in a disconcertingly motherly fashion.
”Yes, ma'am.” Xena answered contritely. She would spend many years living down that slip of the tongue.
“OK, here’s my schedule. Anything worth doing requires hard work and dedication. Having babies is no exception. I would say three times a day should get Gabrielle pregnant in no time at all, if you two work at it. Now not that I don’t trust you but frankly the younger generation has a tendency to slack off, so every time you two have sex I suggest you ring a bell which will be installed on your front porch. Now that will prove that you are diligently performing your duties.” With that Matilda abruptly sat down.
The council chamber was deathly quiet. Xena and Gabrielle were standing in shocked silence. They were prepared to do their duty and were, in fact, looking forward to it and although three times a day was a trifle daunting, it was doable. The bell ringing was not doable and never would be doable. The Amazon’s pried into their business enough and they weren’t going to announce their most intimate moments to the whole village.
“No bell.” Xena announced. “We’ll do it three times a day but no ringing the bell. When we do it will be our own business and no one else’s.”
Matilda now rose again. “Xena we have to make sure you are performing. You haven’t been living up to our expectations.”
Xena was now angry, “I am living up to Gabrielle’s expectations and she’s the one who counts.”
“The tribe has expectations too and don’t forget the nation has a stake in this. If you two are going to breed, get to it. After all it will be a great honor to have Aphrodite’s gift in the tribe.”
Now Gabrielle was incensed. “Breed! We aren’t prize livestock. We want a child because we love each other. Not just to make little Amazons to populate the tribe. We are willing to compromise, but our love lives and any child that is born of that love isn’t the property of the Amazons. We will stick to the schedule but no bells.”
Ife now rose. It was time for a sensible suggestion. “Perhaps the bell is a bit much, Matilda. How about if you or Xena discreetly report to me that you have fulfilled your obligations. I’ll make a note of it in my healer’s journal. If there are any questions I will be able to confirm that you two have been … dutiful.”
Gabrielle bit her lip and looked at Xena. Xena mulled this over. “OK, but it better not become common gossip.”
Cyane now rose and held up her hand. “I believe we are now in agreement. Xena and Gabrielle will be given a six-week reprieve. During that time they will make every effort to rectify the unusual position they have found themselves in. Is this agreeable to the council?” The council said aye except for Varia but she was out voted. “Xena and Gabrielle do you agree to the schedule and the reporting requirements?” Gabrielle assented. Xena seemed to hesitate but Gabrielle poked her hard and Xena nodded. “Does this satisfy the Goddess of Love?” Cyane now asked Aphrodite.
“Honey, sex with either Xena or Gabrielle three times a day would satisfy anyone.” With that Aphrodite gave Xena a saucy wink and disappeared in a shower of rose pedals.
It was Cyane’s turn to blush but quickly regained her dignity. “Very well this council is adjourned.” She then turned to Xena and Gabrielle, “Ladies… or whatever Xena is, you have work to do, better get at it.”
With those words the council members made an indecently
hasty retreat leaving Xena and Gabrielle alone in the council hall. Gabrielle stuck her tongue in her cheek and
looked at the empty hall. “I think they
thought we were going to do it right here.”
”Nope, if they thought that they would have stuck around and watched.” Xena said sardonically. “But you know this palace is kind of spooky when it’s empty. Spooky is good for sex.” Xena waggled her eyebrows at Gabrielle.
“No. No danger, no spooky. We go home, to our bed, where we won’t be interrupted or spied on.” Gabrielle said firmly.
“Dreamer,” Xena answered phlegmatically.
So the warrior and bard went home and that night they made love. In the morning they made love. At noon they made love and that night they made love. And so it went for a week. They worked, ate, and made love. They dutifully reported on their conjugal efforts. At first the constant lovemaking was exciting but after the second week there came a subtle shift; sex became just another thing to accomplish during the day. Train the troops, attend council meeting, get naked, have sex, sharpen a sword, write a scroll. And so it went. Sex was becoming boring but more than that it was soon becoming fraught with anxiety because Gabrielle was not pregnant
The two women were dutiful but nothing was happening. Herb was ever ready to carry out his part but by the end of three weeks even he was beginning to look a bit frayed around the edges. Xena being a zealous person tried harder and frankly her lovemaking was becoming predictable. Since sex now had a purpose she was loath to do anything that wasn’t going to accomplish that purpose. Xena kept her head down and plowed on with abandon. Unfortunately sex soon became merely a means to a goal. Xena the passionate and considerate lover was no more; in her place was just a stud doing its job.
Gabrielle now was becoming concerned that she would not be able to conceive. This would have been a terrible disappointment under any circumstances, but with the stakes so high, Gabrielle was racked with worry. If she could not conceive, Herb would be with them forever and though she had grown fond of Herb, she wanted Xena back to normal. Not just because Xena should be a woman, but also heterosexual sex was becoming just plain boring. Gabrielle also was concerned about the banishment – she didn’t want Xena back on the road again. She had convinced herself that Xena’s very safety was some how connected with life in the Amazon village. As Gabrielle became more agitated, the relationship between the two women began to fray around the edges. Oh they were not about to break up but they did snipe at one another more as sex became more of a chore than an expression of love.
In the village the two women’s plight became a source of common gossip. At first there was some titillation at their predicament but as the days wore on many became worried about their friends. It was obvious something was wrong. Xena was more irritable than usual. Her frustration was making her troops a nervous wreck; she worked herself and them harder every day and no one knew what new torture awaited them. It was always worse after lunch; Xena would go to Gabrielle and come back even more charged up. It was then that she would spar with the cadets until she had vented every frustration she had. The young women would then limp home too weary to even pursue their own romantic interests. Gabrielle, on the other hand, became more pensive and quiet. The woman who always could be counted on to tell a story or share gossip now was quiet and withdrawn. Something had to be done. Scrolls were consulted and potions brewed. Now was the time for a couple of brave souls to offer up unwanted advice.
Xena had just dismissed the cadets for the day when Matilda approached her. “Xena can I have a word with you?”
“No,” Xena answered. She didn’t want any words with any one much less the woman who thought up her “schedule”.
“I just want to talk to you for a moment.”
Xena glared at the older woman but relented. “What is it? I have to get home - I have a job to do.” She added sarcastically.
“Uh, how is the job going?” Matilda ventured.
Xena glared at the older woman and said nothing. She hated the fact that everyone in this village seemed to think they could ask the most personal of questions.
“I wasn’t just being nosey.” Matilda assured Xena.
“Yeah, right.” Xena was unconvinced.
“Listen as you know I have seven daughters. Now I know a thing or two about how to get some one pregnant.” Matilda drew Xena aside with these words.
Xena shook off Matilda’s hand. “No, you know how to get pregnant. You don’t know nothin’ about how to get some one pregnant.” Xena said acerbically.
“Xena, look at me. I’m no great beauty and let’s face it I had to do some mighty hard work to get seven guys to make me pregnant. I only had one shot at it every time. So I had a little help in that department.” With that Matilda reached into her pouch and brought out a little jar and pressed it into Xena’s hand.
Xena had to admit Matilda had a point – the woman was down right ugly yet her seven daughters were some of the most beautiful women she ever saw. She often wondered what magic Matilda possessed that enticed seven obviously handsome men to her bed. Perhaps she held the secret in her hand. Xena cautiously removed the jar’s cap. Inside was a cream. It had no odor but when Xena tool a bit on her fingers if made her skin fairly tingle and warmth spread up her arm. “What is that stuff?”
“I don’t know. I got it many years ago when I first was trying to breed. It wasn’t easy to get guys to - ahhh – want to mate with me – you know even a knife at their throats didn’t work.” Xena raised an eyebrow at this confession. Matilda continued. “So I was really depressed when I met this old gypsy woman. She saw I was troubled and I told her my problems. She then offered me this cream. A guy rubs this cream on his penis and bang he is up and at ’em in a second.”
Xena thrust the jar back at Matilda. “I have no trouble in that department.” Xena was offended everyone seemed to question Herb’s abilities and it was pissing her off.
“No, Xena, that’s just part of the magic. The cream also increases the man’s fertility. A little dab on the balls and bang you can make babies every time. That is if your partner is fertile.” Matilda eyed Xena speculatively.
Xena was once again peeved. If people weren’t casting aspersions on Herb, they were picking on Gabrielle. “Gabrielle is fine. We are just having a few problems, that’s all.” Xena thought for a moment. “Matilda, I can understand the part where the guy would have an erection and be fertile but why did that make them want to be with you – no offense but does this stuff affect the eyes?”
Matilda gave a raucous laugh. “No offense. Well you do have to be careful. Once you put the cream on you have the overwhelming urge to have sex and you’ll do anyone in sight. So make sure only Gabrielle is around when you use it. The effect doesn’t last long and once you complete the act the cream stops working.”
Xena looked startled at this and quickly wiped her fingers off. She then carefully put the lid back on the jar. She wasn’t sure she wanted to use the stuff. There was after all just a touch too much magic in her life as it was, but if this could help them to conceive she would try it. She wanted this whole mess over as soon as possible so she and Gabrielle could relax again.
“I’ll try this stuff but let’s keep this between ourselves. There are too many people now who know our personal business.” Xena warned the older woman.
“Of course. You know, I like you two and I want you to stay here and raise a family. We need more outside blood and you guys are about as outside the box as it gets.” Matilda then slapped Xena on the back and strode away.
Gabrielle too was about to get some advice from an elder. Gabrielle was sitting quietly by the stream that ran past the village. She was brooding once again about her inability to conceive and the fact that she was becoming more and more irritable. She was running over the scene she had with Xena just this afternoon after they had their usual midday sex break.
“Where are you going?” Gabrielle snapped at Xena as she was dressing.
“Where do you think? I have cadets to train. I have to get back to the training grounds before I’m late.” Xena answered in a rush.
“Can’t you just spend a moment here with me? You know you always seem to be in a rush.” Gabrielle groused.
“Gabrielle, you know as well as I do, it doesn’t matter how much time I spend afterwards nothing really changes.” Xena said with finality.
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean the only thing that matters right now is the act. All the cuddling and mushy stuff isn’t going to accomplish our goal here. We did our part for now. Let’s now get on with our lives. Hell, it isn’t like we aren’t going to be here again in about six hours. We can cuddle tonight, all right. I’ve got work to do now and so do you. Don’t you have to be at a council meeting?” Xena was by now exasperated. Once again she had failed and she didn’t want to linger at the site of her failure.
“You use to like to be mushy,” Gabrielle said sadly.
“We just don’t have time for mushy right now. We’ve got to stick to the plan and get the job done. I’m doing what I can, I’m sorry it’s not enough,” Xena said with a touch of anger. With those words she slammed out of the house.
Gabrielle sighed. She knew Xena was frustrated and angry at the fact that she was failing Gabrielle. Gabrielle however was also frustrated because she felt the problem was with her and not Xena. She had a secret fear that having Hope damaged her in some way. She just didn’t know how she was going to tell Xena that their cause was hopeless and it was her fault.
As Gabrielle stared moodily into the water, she never heard Kaytal approach her from behind. When a hand suddenly gently touched her shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her skin. “I’m sorry, Gabrielle. I just wanted to talk to you for a moment and share some research I’ve been doing.”
Gabrielle wasn’t in the mood for conversation but she never could be rude to an elder. She smiled slightly and motioned for the woman to sit beside her. “What have you been researching?”
“Fertility rituals.” Kaytal answered with enthusiasm.
Gabrielle stiffened. Did everyone in the village take an interest in her business? Gabrielle was about to tell Kaytal that she had no interest in her research when she suddenly changed her mind. Nothing she and Xena had been doing was working, might as well listen to what Kaytal had to say. “What about them?” Gabrielle asked cautiously.
“Well you know they are very interesting. I know you and Xena have been diligent in you endeavors. Now don’t worry. Ife hasn’t violated your trust but I know that you two are the kind of people who take your duties seriously.” Kaytal awkwardly patted Gabrielle shoulder. Kaytal was not known as a touchy feely type of person, she was after all a scholar and a rather solitary person, but she was compassionate. She also had great sympathy for the young bard. In her younger days she very much wanted to have a child but was just too shy to go mating. She contented herself with teaching but she always regretted that she was childless. She wanted Gabrielle to have an experience she never had the courage to have.
“Yes we have been very diligent, “ Gabrielle said with a sad smile. “But it’s been no use. I can’t…” Gabrielle sniffled quietly.
“Well I have been looking up some incantations and rituals and maybe I have something that can help.” Kaytal added briskly. She then unrolled a number of scrolls. Gabrielle just couldn’t help herself when she saw the scrolls and was instantly fascinated by them.
Kaytal picked up the first one. “Now have you and Xena offered up prayers to Bacchus, the god of fertility?” Kaytal asked hopefully.
Gabrielle quirked an eyebrow at her friend, “Can’t. We killed him. Sorry.”
Kaytal was stunned. “I knew you killed Athena, Hephaestus, Artemis, Discord, Poseidon but I didn’t know you fought Bacchus too.”
“Well it was a long time ago before we ... uhm… killed the others.”
Kaytal looked a bit askance at this news. It was a shock to learn that her friends had been in the habit of killing gods. “Oh I see. So prayers to Bacchus won’t help.”
“Nope,” Gabrielle woefully shook her head.
“Kill any Egyptian gods?” Kaytal asked with some trepidation.
“Well just one but he was a bad god and the other gods were really happy. That’s how Xena came back to life. So we’re in good with Egyptian gods.” Gabrielle happily informed Kaytal.
“Well that’s very good. Now I asked Ife about Egyptian fertility customs.”
“I thought you didn’t talk to Ife about us.” Gabrielle was now truly annoyed. She had just returned from having a thorough examination by the healer to make sure there was nothing wrong with her. The dusky woman had assured her that she was the picture of health. She trusted the healer to keep her visit private but she seemed to have violated that trust.
“No I didn’t talk to her about you. I just said I was researching a scroll on fertility customs,” Kaytal explained quickly.
Gabrielle gave her a stern look. “She believed that?”
“Well probably not. She made a point of saying such practices are unscientific and unreliable. But Gabrielle I have been studying magic for many years and there is much in this world that is unknown and mysterious. Anything I suggest won’t hurt you and may help. I offer this advice to you out of friendship,” Kaytal said with embarrassed sincerity.
Gabrielle was touched by her friend's words. “I believe you.” Gabrielle now was ready to give the scholar her undivided attention. “So what do I have to do to appease the Egyptian fertility gods?”
“Now, do you have a cat? Bast, the cat goddess (Kaytal showed Gabrielle a picture from her scroll) is the goddess of fertility and fire protection – uhm interesting combination but then again Athena was the goddess of war, wisdom and weaving. I wonder how these things are decided. Just think how unrelated…”
Gabrielle cleared her throat. Kaytal had a tendency to stray from the topic at hand when her scholarly interests were aroused. “About Bast. I have met her you know. Very nice god as gods go and if I remember correctly she was about to have a litter of kittens when we left Egypt, but we don’t have a cat, Kaytal. I’d like to have one but we never settled down long enough to have a pet, except for Argo of course.” Gabrielle also had a tendency to stray form the topic at hand.
“Yes pets do take up a lot of your time buts cats are easy to take care of and you know if they are good fire protection perhaps every home should have one. I think I’ll make a point of suggesting that at the next council meeting.” Kaytal made a note in a small tablet she carried.
There was a moment of silence then Gabrielle asked, “Any other ideas? ”
“Oh my yes. You don’t need a cat. You can substitute a frog.” Kaytal answered after consulting her notes.
“What exactly do I do with the frog? You know once in Gaul we ate frog legs. They didn’t agree with Xena at all. You know she has a very sensitive digestive system; she was up all night with gas. It was terrible.” Gabrielle confided to Kaytal.
“Uhm yes it’s best not to eat foreign foods. Well you’re not going to eat the frog. You will catch it and place it under your bed in a whicker basket and if it croaks at climax - you're pregnant.”
Gabrielle thought about it. She had a basket and she was sitting next to a stream so a frog was no problem. Making it croak at climax seemed problematic to her. “What else do you have?” Gabrielle asked with interest.
“Hmm, didn’t like the frog?” Kaytal asked with a hint of disappointment.
“No, no, I’ll do the frog but I’d like another option to go along with the frog.” Gabrielle assured her.
“Oh well there’s the dance.” Kaytal opened another scroll. “But to be frank you have to be very limber to do it. You have to swivel your hips in a seductive manner and at some point bend all the way over, backwards. I don’t think…” Kaytal was interrupted by an enthusiastic Gabrielle who grabbed the scroll.
“I can do this? Heck, I’ve done this.” Gabrielle pointed excitedly at the illustrations. “I’ve done this dance before. I was trying to kill someone at the time but I can adapt and use it to get pregnant. You know I still have my outfit. Xena loved that on me. She has one too – do you think she should dance too?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t say anything about the man dancing. But all that bending backwards might not be good for the… appendage. Puts a lot of strain on it and all.” Kaytal said seriously.
Gabrielle nodded gravely. “Right. I should dance and Xena should watch. She likes to watch.” Gabrielle said with an impish grin.
“Ok we better find that frog. Does it say what sex the frog should be?” Gabrielle asked with a frown.
“Err, no” Kaytal answered after consulting the scroll.
Gabrielle nodded. “Good. I don’t know how to sex a frog anyway.” With that Gabrielle waded into the stream and in a matter of minutes she had captured a large slimy bullfrog, who was indignantly croaking his protest. “Good,” thought Gabrielle, “the more he croaks the more likely he’ll croak at the right moment.” Gabrielle was pleased with herself. As a rule she never was one for superstitions or odd rituals but she was desperate. At least catching frogs and planning her fertility dance gave her something to do besides worry.
That evening Xena and Gabrielle were excited. They both had plans that they hoped would end with Gabrielle becoming pregnant. Xena had her little jar ready for use. She was just about to ask Gabrielle if she was ready for bed when her wife suddenly asked Xena to wait for a moment. Gabrielle then disappeared into the bedroom.
In the bedroom Gabrielle retrieved a small basket from a shelf. She then removed the frog from the box she had him in. She made sure it was comfortable and well fed. Unfortunately the frog supped too well and was very sleepy. She was concerned that it was napping too soundly and would not be awake at the proper moment. She gave it a vigorous shake and the frog’s eye immediately popped open, and then in a fit of pique, spit in Gabrielle’s eye. Gabrielle yelped.
“Is everything all right in there?” Xena asked from the other side of the door.
“Yes, yes I’m fine. I just …err…bumped myself. I’ll be out in a minute. I have a surprise for you.” Gabrielle thought for a moment and then shrugged. She grabbed Xena’s blue robe and tossed it out to her. “Why don’t you get undressed while you wait?” Gabrielle peered at Xena through the crack in the door. She gave Xena what appeared to be a saucy wink but was actually the frog venom tearing her eye.
Xena, however, saw the wink and thought Gabrielle was flirting. She was excited - it had been a while since she and Gabrielle made love. Oh they had sex three times every furking day for three weeks but there wasn’t anything erotic about it. Xena now had hopes things were about to change. She quickly got undressed and put on the robe. She then perched seductively on the couch and awaited Gabrielle. She was not disappointed when Gabrielle emerged from the bedroom dressed in her belly dancer’s costume. Xena was thrilled beyond words. “Oh man now with this cream and Gabrielle about to strut her stuff, I might get to use that book I bought in India,” Xena thought with gleeful lust.
Gabrielle was about to dance when it struck her that she had no music. For a moment a brief flash of panic crossed her face. Xena, however, began to sing a seductive melody. Gabrielle smiled a relieved and sexy smile at her lover who simply nodded back at her.
Gabrielle began to dance to the melody. She seductively swayed her hips and danced in slow erotic movements. Xena sang on and picked up the tempo. Gabrielle knelt before Xena and bowed low to her exposing her cleavage to the entranced warrior. Gabrielle then rose and turned away from Xena, letting her have a good long look at her undulating backside. Xena took that moment to quickly dab the cream on Herb. Things were reaching a fevered pitch. Gabrielle now prepared for the dance’s climax and she bent backwards. Suddenly Gabrielle screamed. She was seized with a terrific cramp. She was frozen.
Xena leaped from the couch and caught Gabrielle before she could tumble backwards. “Gabrielle what is it?” she cried in near panic.
“I can’t move. My god this hurts.” Gabrielle said in anguish.
Xena lifted her up and although she was terribly concerned about Gabrielle’s plight she also mortified to discover she was highly aroused. The damn cream had kicked in. Herb was not only at attention he was straining at the reins. Xena was now also in agony.
Xena however steeled herself and carried Gabrielle into their bedroom. She was about the lay the bard down their bed when an enraged bullfrog guarding the bard’s pillow confronted her. Xena, now juggling the bard in one arm, tried to throw the frog from the bed but it kept jumping away from her grasp.
“Xena, just put me on the bed and chase the frog later,” Gabrielle gasped.
“I don’t want that frog near you Gabrielle. They spit and their venom is toxic.” Xena explained as she was now trying to find a weapon in order to skewer the frog.
“What do you mean toxic?” Gabrielle asked in alarm.
Xena hoisted Gabrielle a little higher in her arms. “Toxic. It can paralyze a person.”
“The frog spit in my eye tonight,” Gabrielle said in a frightened voice.
Xena stood stock still for a moment and stared at Gabrielle. “How in the world did that happen?”
“I was shaking it.” Gabrielle explained, trying for all the world to make it sound like an everyday occurrence.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Xena said matter-of- factly.
“Xena I’m paralyzed. Don’t be so calm!”
“It’ll wear off soon enough, don’t worry.” Xena said distractedly. She saw the frog now settle down at the foot of the bed and she seized it and flung it out the window. Xena then laid Gabrielle down on the bed. Laying on her side the bard was just about eye level with Xena’s crotch. She yelped, again.
“Xena, by the gods, you’re swollen. The frog must have gotten you too. It’s enormous.” Gabrielle said in wide-eyed astonishment.
Xena stepped back and took a look at herself. She was enormous and it hurt. This was not what she expected at all. She wouldn’t use that thing on Gabrielle - not if it guaranteed triplets. Xena blushed. “Matilda gave me a special cream.” Xena said simply.
Gabrielle's eyes grew even wider. “Xena I don’t think I could….” Gabrielle said with a touch of fear.
“No, no… I didn’t realize it would …do this, honest. I just thought it would make me more potent. I didn’t think it would make me gigantic.” Xena then grimaced in pain.
“Are you all right,” Gabrielle asked in concern.
“Gabrielle will you be all right for a moment,” Xena asked hurriedly.
“Yeah the spasm has passed. I can relax now. What’s wrong?”
Xena just nodded and quickly stepped into the bathing
room. After a few minuets a loud groan
was heard and the sound of water splashing.
Xena emerged white-faced with her robe open. Herb was hanging limply.
Xena limped over to the bed and lay down beside Gabrielle. “How are you feeling?”
“Sore and stupid. The frog and the dance were fertility stuff.” Gabrielle shrugged.
“Oh. The dance was good. Could have lost the frog.” Xena sighed.
“Next time, no frogs.” Gabrielle giggled. “How about you?”
“I’m OK. Herb is a bit drained,” Xena added with a smirk.
Gabrielle and Xena were now facing each other on the bed. “Do you think that we can just forget about sex tonight, Xena? I’m really tired.”
“I couldn’t if I wanted to,” Xena assured Gabrielle. “You know Matilda must be what they meant when they invented the term ball buster,” Xena said sleepily and with that the two women touched foreheads and fell asleep.
Continued - Part 3
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