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Who’s Ghurkan?

A Djwp Spoiler

The peaceful village of Potatado … pootatooie … I mean, Poteidaia -- looking like it faired the weathering of 25 years a dead-Hades of a lot better than Amphipolis did. The village is still thriving and colorful, just like in ‘A Family Affair’, minus a few pinwheels and man-eating monsters.

Gabrielle and Xena arrive in the village, with Eve and Virgil in toe. Gabrielle is overjoyed to find her home still standing and un-haunted, at least as far as she can tell so far. She rushes off to check on the old homestead, anxious to see if it, too, is still standing.

Well, Herodotus’s farm is still there, but it didn’t fair as well as the rest of the town. The house is run down and looking like it could use some helpful hints from Marta Stewardius.

Gabrielle hesitantly approaches, almost afraid at what she may find. A few encouraging words from Xena, Virgil and Eve, and Gabrielle opens the gate to walk up to the door. Taking a peek through a crack, she’s just about to knock when the door swings open.

It's Lila - and she's alive. Not a monster nor a ghost nor, thankfully, a god. And Lila didn’t fair too badly herself. In fact, she aged a heck of a lot better than poor Meg.

They embrace happily, two sisters even father apart now in age than they where before.

The day passes to night and a storm is moving in. Inside the broken down house of Herodotus, Xena stokes the fire, keeping it bright and warm while Lila and Gabrielle sit, catching up on what has happened since Gabrielle was on ice.

Gabrielle just finishes explaining to Lila how Xena and she had slept for 25 years. Lila sighs deeply and says aloud that she wishes Sarah was here to meet Gabrielle.

“Who’s Sarah?” Gabrielle asks.

Just what we were wondering. Yet another character that we are just finding out about?

Lila tells Gabrielle that Sarah is her daughter. Even Xena seems surprised, as Gabrielle happily announces to her partner that she has a niece.

But where is she?

And, by the way, now that she mentioned it, where is Gabrielle’s mother and father? (We know something must be wrong, because if Herodotus was around, he would never have let Xena in the house.)

Lila goes on to explain that Sarah had been captured by the raider, Ghurkan and taken to Murgador. Eve doesn't seem too happy about the location and tells them all that Murgador is in North Africa.

Eight years ago, Lila continues, her father, mother, and husband Lector left to get Sarah back. They were not successful in their mission. In fact, Ghurkan beheaded all three of them, and kept Sarah for himself.

Outside, the storm grows and Gabrielle’s anger rises. A streak of lightning flashes and she dashes out of the house, with Xena hot on her heels.

Xena follows Gabrielle outside, heedless of the encroaching storm.

Gabrielle is furious. Her niece must still be in that Harem after all these years. Trying to calm her down, Xena agrees and tries to comfort Gabrielle by telling her that they will go after her niece first thing in the morning.

But that’s not enough. Gabrielle doesn’t only want to rescue her niece.

Gabrielle wants VENGEANCE!

Lightening flashes, thunder roars and the rain pours down on them both, soaking them to the skin.

Blood will have blood, Xena warns.

And that’s just want Gabrielle wants.

So, they take the first boat out of Potaideia for North African – destination Murgador. On board, Gabrielle practices with her sais to get ready for the big moment when she can slit Ghurkan’s throat. Xena is a bit perturb; she doesn’t like seeing her warrior/bard in such a turmoil. And neither do we.

Eve approaches the moody Gabrielle and asks what her plan is going to be. Gabrielle tells her that they are going to Murgador, she is going to find Ghurkan, then kill him and free Sarah. Simple as that.

Eve wisely tells her that this is the goal, but what is the plan?

Gabrielle hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Eve tells her that she has been to Murgador before but she has never seen Ghurkan because he keeps his identity a secret. The mysterious raider and slaver, Ghurkan, is going to be a tough man to find, let alone kill.

Gabrielle presses Eve for why she was in Murgador. So, Eve calmly tells her that she was there to sell slave girls, and walks away.

Xena approaches, and Gabrielle comments at how calm Eve talks about her dark past.

“That’s because she knows what I know,” Xena answers, “there is nothing she can do about her past. That’s why she's so worried about what you might do once you’re inside Murgador. Gabrielle, you’re not an assassin.”

“You’re right, Xena,” Gabrielle admits. “Today, I’m not an assassin. But, tomorrow…”

Gabrielle stomps off, and Xena is left thinking that this … is gonna be a toughie.

The warrior watches thoughtfully as Gabrielle throws up over the side of the ship … seasick or sick at the thought of what will come?

Eve and Xena contemplate the situation. What might have posed an interesting challenge for either of them once upon a time, now is nothing less than a suicide mission for Gabrielle. Eve comments that Gabrielle doesn’t have what it takes to kill in cold blood. She asks if she inherited that talent from Mom.

Obviously, she doesn’t know who her father is.

Eve asks Mom what’s she’s going to do, and Mom answers in typical cryptic-Xena fashion, that she’s going to cure Gabrielle’s seasickness.

The ship approaches the port of Murgador and Gabrielle is out cold. Xena has cured her seasickness all right. She gave her a dose of something that knocked her out long enough for Xena and Virgil to sneak off the ship and take care of the matter themselves.

Virgil doesn’t like the plan. He refuses to go with Xena saying it would be a direct betrayal of Gabrielle’s trust. Xena shuts his mouth for him by pinching his lips together and shooting him one of those cold, warrior princess looks that changes his mind pretty quick.

Now in the slave market of Murgador, the plan is for Virgil to sell Xena as a slave. They approach the slave auctioneer and Virgil uses his skill as a bard to play the part of Superilious, the pirate, and he plays it to the hilt. Pushing ‘the goods’ forward, he removes her veil, revealing the beautiful wench he wishes to sell - Xena.

Virgil gets a bit of his own vengeance by squeezing Xena’s lips to demonstrate their appeal, earning him a bit of a warrior growl. Wonder if Xena ever growls like that for Gabrielle?

The auctioneer rises to examine the goods and promptly removes Xena’s clothes – every last stitch. Virgil's eyes nearly pop out of his head, agog. Guess he just found out the real value of what he was selling.

So, now that they have successfully sold Xena to the auction block, the next part of the plan is to find out just who Ghurkan is. They need to make sure that Xena gets sold to the right bidder and not to some camel herder.

One look at Xena, and the rest of the girls up for sale know they are about to be sold as leftovers.

As the slaves await for the auction to begin, Xena listens as the girls have a discussion about the pros and cons of being sold into slavery. It seems as though being a slave is better than a life in the local village, and being bought by the great Ghurkan is the best life of all.

Now, the problem is, just who is Ghurkan?

Virgil calls for his girl; it’s time for Xena to be sold. As Xena walks onto the auction block, she quickly instructs Virgil to stand behind the man who may be Ghurkan once the bidding begins and listen closely for anything that might be helpful.

Dressed in veils, the warrior princess walks onto the stage and the drooling begins.

Problem is, everyone is drooling and bidding with every dinar in their pocket. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the auctioneer is calling just about everybody who’s bidding by the name of Ghurkan. Virgil flounders around standing behind every man that the auctioneer points, as the price for the warrior princess goes higher than Xena’s sword at the Pasadena con.

Finally, the auction is over and Xena is sold to the highest bidder.

But is it Ghurkan?

Back on the boat, Gabrielle wakes up from her catnap to find that they are anchored in port and Xena is gone.

Virgil returns, quite full of himself for having performed so well. He walks onto the ship, singing his own praise at the top of his lungs (and filling more of his father’s shoes every minute). Did he forget Gabrielle was napping and wasn’t aware of the new plan?

Gabrielle, however, is up and the nap has made her cranky.

Virgil fumbles around making excuses at how Xena threatened him and yadda, yadda, yadda.

But Gabrielle knows Xena all too well and heads off with a plan of her own.

In Ghurkan’s harem, one of the newly acquired slaves is getting a rubdown with some hot oil (and we get a great shot along a pair of long legs and over a few hills and valleys – gotta love those gratuitous shots) - unfortunately, it's not Xena.

The girls were right; not a bad life for a slave. Seems like they spend all day sitting around, taking baths and gossiping. So, Xena tries her hand at, not rubbing on oil but, chatting with the girls in the bath. She nonchalantly digs for info about Gabrielle’s niece by floating up to a co-worker and asking point-blank if she knows a slave by the name of Sarah.

Though, she makes lots of nice new friends, even a woman from a land far beyond Chin, she gets no info about Gbrielle's niece. It appears that to talk about the other slaves is against the rules. And if you break the rules in the House of Ghurkan, you’re gonna get something broken of your own.

In walks a blond-haired beauty. Announcing that she is Wife Number One, she quickly puts Xena in her place. She’s top bitch around the doghouse and wants it known that she will be the one to carry Ghurkan’s puppy and woe to the woman who comes between her and her man.

The question we’re still asking is just which man is Ghurkan? Could it be that dark man peeking in behind the curtain at the slaves? We shall see.

Later, during dinner, the slaves are brought out to sit before a roomful of sheiks. Xena is just making herself comfortable and discreetly checking out all the possible-Ghurkans when in walks Virgil with a heavily veiled woman. (Two guesses who that is.)

Suprilious the Pirate has arrived to offer Ghurkan a little gift -- an Amazon warrior from Greece – independent, savage and … untouched by the hands of men.

Virgil’s gonna have a lot of ‘splaining to do to Xena when they get out of that place.

Ignoring the icy glares being thrown his way by Xena, Virgil unveils his prize.

Lord have mercy – wonder if Gabrielle ever dresses like that for Xena?

The warrior-bard is beautiful, wrapped in silken veils with her hair braided back. She dances for the pleasure of the sheiks, as Xena watches helpless to intervene.

Virgil is gonna have more than a lot of ‘splaining to do when they get out of there.

Gabrielle proceeds to show Xena that she can do more than twist around a couple of sais, and I gotta say, she is … lookin’ good.

In fact, she’s looking so good that Xena can’t believe her eyes.

As Gabrielle moves in ways that Xena has never seen before, the warrior notices that Gabrielle has discreetly tucked a dagger away amongst the veils on her back.

Before Gabrielle can draw the blade to seal her fate, and Ghurkan’s (whoever he is), Xena throws herself on her partner, knocking them both to the floor.

Xena removes the well hidden knife and holds it in her own hand, whispering urgently for Gabrielle to trust her. She quickly knocks her out with a quick blow to the base of the skull before she can protest. Xena covers for her actions to the stunned audience by proclaiming her desire for Ghurkan. Then the guards are upon them and they knock Xena out cold.

Xena is taken away as Gabrielle lays unconscious on the banquet room floor.

Though Gabrielle tried, she was unable to find Xena. We find her waiting in the Harem, safe, while Xena takes the worse beating of her life.

Xena is tortured and beaten in the dungeons of Ghurkan. Battered to within an inch of her life, she finds the strength to endure the nightmare in visions of Gabrielle.

As she hangs by her feet in the torture chamber, blood dripping from a badly wounded eye, a dark figure approaches. He questions why she had a knife. Xena insists that her reason for carrying a dagger was not to kill the slaver, but to ensure her own safety amongst slaves.

When he presses her further for her true motives, her beautiful partner appears to her again, dancing for her, reminding Xena of the reason for her pain, the reason why she is here. Xena finds the strength not to reveal her true intentions to the man who may be Ghurkan, giving instead a convincing performance that her real reason for being there was to become the Number One Wife.

The vision of Gabrielle nods her approval as she disappears.

The man who might be Ghurkan chuckles his approval and renames the slave Xena, Fatima.

Back in the slave quarters, Gabrielle sits dejectedly pondering the fate of her partner and perhaps questioning her own motives as to why they had come to this place, at the risk of Xena's life.

Xena returns barely able to walk and she staggers in, falling to a bed of cushions. Gabrielle rushes over, and as she embraces her a slave asks how she is. Xena cheekily replies, "Peachy" - now that she's safe in Gabrielle's arms.

Gabrielle hugs her partner in relief. Though she may be a bit battered and bruised, she’s alive and kicking.

As another night descends upon Murgador and the castle of Ghurkan, the slaves prepare for yet another banquet. (Same old torture, every day … every day.)

Xena and Gabrielle sit by the bath as a hand-maiden tends to Xena’s wounds. They talk of Sarah. Not only have they not yet discovered the true identity of Ghurkan, they also have yet to find Gabrielle’s niece, Sarah.

Gabrielle bemoans the fact that she never got the chance to say good-bye to her parents. She worries that Sarah is not even in the castle and they have gone through all this for nothing. But Xena is certain that Gabrielle’s niece is here, somewhere -- they just have to flush her out.

Xena tells Gabrielle that she has decided she's gonna let Gabrielle kill Ghurkan after all. Gabrielle thanks her, but Xena tells Gabrielle not to thank her. She warns her, "Just be ready."

Wife Number One arrives and tells the slaves to bow to the ground. She warns them not to look up. A man who may be Ghurkan comes in to choose the main course for the night, and he chooses … Xena.

Gabrielle prepares Xena by painting over the wounds around Xena’s eyes, and Xena is looking pretty good, despite the beating.

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Once more in the banquet hall, now its time for Xena to dance. Dressed in veils of black (what else?), Xena shows Gabrielle that she isn’t the only one who can shake her booty.

She dances, lavishing her attentions on the only man in the room – the man who may be Ghurkan. Xena dances the dance of the one black veil and humps, grins, and winds her way to seducing her target into forgetting all about the current Wife Number One and choosing her for his bedtime snack instead.

And she’ll go, too – on one condition -- Xena demands the head of the one called ‘Sarah’ on a silver platter.

The man who may be Ghurkan smiles and agrees.

Wife Number One is duly outraged, and she is taken away.

Finally in the bedroom of the man who may be Ghurkan, Xena dispenses with the veil and whispers another desire into a willing ear.

Not a moment later, Gabrielle has been summoned and she enters the room to find Xena straddling the slaver.

“Join us, little one,” Ghurkan requests, obviously pleased with Xena’s suggestion. Xena seems a little pleased herself.

The moment is at hand. Xena prepares the trap and as Ghurkan leans back upon the pillows, expecting the ride of his life, Xena puts the pinch on him, rendering him helpless. She climbs off and gives Gabrielle a knife, then tells her that he’s all her’s.

Gabrielle takes the knife and takes Xena’s place on top of Ghurkan.

She takes her sweet time to crawl up his body and straddle the helpless man, relishing the moment. She puts the knife to Ghurkan’s throat and asks him if he his afraid.

Paralyzed by Xena’s pinch, the slaver can’t answer, but despite the fact that a gorgeous, half-naked blond beauty has just crawled up his body, he doesn’t look very happy.

But Gabrielle hasn’t traveled through all the years with Xena and not learned something. She knows that if she kills Ghurkan, Ghurkan wins -- she will have become just like him. Though she would like nothing better than to slit his throat, she withdraws. The cycle of violence and hate truly does stop with Gabrielle.

Well, the cycle back-pedals, just a little bit. Gabrielle is not about to leave without getting her just deserts. She takes out her frustration, just enough to let Ghurkan know that he hasn’t gotten away with murder.

Gabrielle enters the dungeon to find Wife Number One, Sarah, sitting dejectedly in the dark. Sarah believes that Ghurkan has given 'Fatima' the honor of killing her, and she has come to do the job.

Gabrielle introduces herself and Xena, but Sarah doesn’t believe it’s possible that it's them. Gabrielle tells Sarah that they have come to take her home. Sarah breaks down, refusing to believe that her mother, Lila, could ever forgive her for the horrible things she has done. Sarah explains that she believed the only way to survive was to become more ruthless than her competition.

She’s so ashamed. She blames herself for the death of her father and grandmother and grandfather.

Gabrielle comforts her niece, insisting that what happened was not her fault. She urges Sarah that they must get out while they have the chance.

Sarah doesn’t think they can get out of the castle because there are so many guards. But guess what? There’s a loop hole in the system. Xena has the key to their way out in a strong headlock right at this very moment, and with Ghurkan's head tucked neatly in the crook of her arm, they go to the slave quarters to free the rest of the slaves.

The guards find a man who helped all of the slaves escape, and they quickly behead him. In the darkness, the sword slices and a head rolls to the floor. One look at the bloody noggin on the ground sends the terrified guards running for their lives.

Guess it was Ghurkan after all.

I think.

With the sun overhead and a breeze at their backs, the ship heads for home.

Gabrielle tells Sarah that her mother, Lila, is going to be so happy to see her. Sarah, however, is doubtful. How can her mother ever forgive after what she’s become?

Eve tells Sarah that she must not know mothers very well.

But Sarah is insistent. She’s done terrible things, how can she ever be forgiven?

“Boy, are you ever in the right company,” states Gabrielle and turns to receive a beaming smile from her partner, lover, girlfriend, best friend, soul mate … Xena.

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