DISCLAIMER 1: The character of Zilandra is the property of Heartstarter. The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Hercules and Iolaus remain the property of MCA/Renaissance Pictures and Studios USA. No copyright infringement is intended and this is a non-profit story.
DISCLAIMER 2: This story is based on one of the 12 Labours that Hercules had to do. Although, the circumstances are different to that of mythology (eg; Xena wasnt with Hercules). What Hercules and Xena do here is pretty much what happened. And the Amazon Village mentioned here at Tomis I think is actually the modern day equivalent of Constanta, east of Bucharest on the Black Sea. The village of Kremus is just somewhere I made up back in the first story - Hard To Say Goodbye.
PLEASE NOTE: This story is the 3rd in a series of 5 the stories before are called Hard To Say Goodbye and The Weekend Visitor and the stories which follow are: Wasted Moments and The Fallout.
WARNING: This story does depict friendship on two levels - that of actual friends and that of two women who are in love. If you dont want to read about this sort of relationship, or for some silly reason its illegal where you live, then you should boycott this story. For everyone else: enjoy! All comments and suggestions are welcome and I promise Ill write back! Write to Heartstarter at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I change into my pajamas and slide into bed. What a great weekend... and lucky for Xena she showed up or Id... Id... well I dont know what I wouldve done, but she wouldve wished shed been here! Now where did I put... ah! There it is. I pick up the mysterious scroll Xena gave me from the bedside table and unroll it. There is a small piece of parchment wrapped inside the scroll, which looks like a note of some sort. I look down at the neat handwriting of my lover and begin to read...
Im so sorry you didnt get the messenger boy I sent, I dont know what happened to him. I hope you will forgive me! I am truly sorry and I hope I have made up for it this weekend! Its the early hours of Sunday morning and you are asleep beside me. A sight I have missed very much these past two weeks. Oh well, I know youll be dying to find out what kept me away from you and when I left I found that I got lonely, so a way to feel close to you was to keep this scroll... and so you know what I did. I promise to be back in only one week this time, no matter what! Hope you enjoy it! See you soon,
Well, this is the end of the second day since I left you in Athens, and I miss you like crazy! Its lonely without you. I caught up with Hercules, Iolaus and Zilandra - shes the girl Hercules wanted me to help out - early this morning and we continued on through Thebes until we got to Kremus, which is where I was originally going to meet them. Nothing much happened on the way (well we didnt have to fight any warlords anyway), but Zilandra kept asking me questions about the adventures wed had and how wonderful it must be to just wander around the countryside helping people much like someone else I know then she started asking me some really personal questions - about us and about my family and what was it like growing up with two brothers and I dont know what happened, but I just lost it. I told her how it was crap when I was younger because Lyceus had died and then I told her about all the bad stuff I did after that. Hercules apparently hadnt told her about that and she got really upset and yelled at Hercules that he was leaving her with a barbarian! I tried to settle her down, but it only made it worse. Iolaus came to the rescue and took her to walk with him. I apologised to Hercules, who said it didnt matter, but wanted to know what we were going to do about her. I wasnt sure, but I knew that she couldnt stay with me and she probably wouldnt want to either. So we journeyed on in silence, finally coming to Kremus - which is where we are now.
We tried to get accommodation first, but everywhere was full - they were having some festival or something. So we decided to look for somewhere close by to camp out. Zilandra was kind of speaking to me by then, Iolaus must have said something to her - which I am very grateful for. Anyway, she told me that shed never slept outside under the stars before. Apparently since shes been with Hercules, which has only been a week, he has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they stay in a tavern or at someones house. I decided to see if she would talk to me again, this time asking her questions about her family and finding out how she came to be with Hercules. At first she didnt tell me much, although she did say that her parents were killed by the warlord Cortese - the same guy who attacked Amphipolis. So I tried to get her talking by telling her about Lyceus and what happened with Cortese and she said I was heroic! Which I scoffed at, but she insisted that I was. Then I skipped over what I did when I was killing everyone and told her about when I met Hercules. I also told her about some of our adventures. She said she wants to meet you - especially when I mentioned that you are an Amazon Princess! Then she started to open up to me and tell me about her family. She was only young when they were killed and since then shes been living with her elderly aunt and uncle. But a couple of weeks ago they both died after a long battle with some kind of fever or something.
So we found a small clearing and sat around for a while just chatting and I told her about you and some other adventures weve had and she said that shes quite self sufficient, she can cook and sew and all the usually things like that, but she doesnt want to be a housewife. I asked her if she knew how to hunt or fight. She said no. And suddenly I had a brainwave which Ill get to in a minute! It was starting to get dark so I sent Zilandra off with Iolaus to hunt for some food - she was so excited about that - while Hercules and I set up the beds and the fire. I said to Hercules (this is where my brainwave came in!) that I thought Zilandra was a good kid and she needed some sort of stable home life or she wont survive. So I suggested that we go to the Amazon village and talk to Ephiny - you know, see if she has any room. I thought that because Zilandra is still fairly young, that Ephiny could teach her the ways of an Amazon. Hercules agreed that it was a good idea so when Iolaus and Zilandra came back I asked her if shed be interested in going to live with them. Well! Her eyes nearly sprang out of her head she was so excited. She said shed love to, although she would be sad that she couldnt stay with me. I told her that it would be just as exciting there and she would be taught the ways of an Amazon. So, that was settled, we had some food, and now everyone else is asleep, while I sit here and write this by the light of the fire. I miss you, Ill write again soon.
Well here I am again dearest, its been a long day today, so this will be short. We travelled from Kremus through Leuctra, Delphi, Anthela and Larissa and now weve stopped here in Thessaly, were staying at an inn. Hercules and Iolaus are in the room next door to Zilandra and I. She is already asleep, she spent almost the whole afternoon riding Argo because her feet were so sore. Poor kid. We made good time today and if we keep going at the same pace we should be to Ephiny in about 3 days. Well, thats all Ive got to say, nothing of interest happened today, it was just a boring walk through some uninteresting countryside. Ill write again tomorrow. I love you.
Today Hercules and I had to break some skulls - Zilandras words, not mine! We came across some highway thugs who thought Zilandra would fetch a nice price for some slavers. But Hercules and I (of course) had other ideas. It was 6 against 2, but we got rid of them easily oh wait I know youll want something a little more poetic than that so um they were no match for us and we sent them on their way with sore heads and bruised prides! Zilandra was quite excited about it and nearly got herself captured a couple of times - she wouldnt stay out of sight with Iolaus like we wanted her to, but I guess it gave us something to talk about the rest of the way... and talk about it she did... just like you would have!
Now, these are the places we travelled through and the rivers we crossed today, see if you can find them on your maps: Pharsalus was the first place we went through. Theres not much there only a store and a few houses. Then we crossed over the river Peneus (And yes, you do pronounce it just like a certain part of the male anatomy! It was hard to keep a straight face when Zilandra asked me what the name of it was!). Then we went through Pythion - a large town with quite a few stalls and markets - I imagine it wouldve been hard to tear you away from the place had you been with us. Mount Olympus (not hard to find, although a bit of a trek around it!). Pella - a farming village, lots of farmers out in their fields, not much else though. The River Strymon - we are camping on its banks tonight. I hope its not too much further to Tomis, I miss you and Im afraid I wont get back by the weekend. But, if Im going to be a day late, Ill send word. Promise. Well I suppose Id better get some sleep - I dont want to be the one dragging behind tomorrow! Oh yeah, Iolaus says hi and hopes youre working hard! Miss you. Love you.
Well, last night I think I slept on a rock! I am so glad that tonight I can sleep in a bed... my bed no less! We have stopped in Amphipolis and each have our own rooms, which is nice because I dont have to worry about being quiet or how late I leave the candle burning. We were hoping to get further today, but our progress was slowed down because Zilandra twisted her ankle, not badly, but enough that we couldnt go all that far. She was being stubborn and wouldnt ride Argo, so we decided to stop here with Mother. Its great seeing her again, and the home cooked meal is nice too! She sends her love, and hopes she sees you soon, as I do!
Today we crossed the river Strymon, where we stayed last night, this is where Zilandra twisted her ankle - we had to cross on the horses because the water was quite deep, but she was determined to wade across and bathe at the same time. This embarrassed Iolaus no end! I dont think Ive ever seen him blush quite that shade of red before! Anyway, I agreed to let her wade across and followed closely behind on Argo. I turned around to talk to Hercules and the next thing I know, Zilandra is being pulled downstream in the current. I was about to do a flip from Argo and swing from the tree vines (okay, well not really, but I know thats what you wanted to hear!) when Iolaus jumped from the back of Hercules horse and swam off after her. Zilandra tried to stop herself from falling down the waterfall by entwining her foot in a tree root, she was starting to slip (and twisted her ankle at this point) when Iolaus reached her and pulled her back from the edge. They got to the safety of a rock near the bank and when Hercules and I got the horses across we went and rescued them. It was actually quite funny! Iolaus didnt know where to look - or put his hands when he got to Zilandra and she played it for everything it was worth! The rest of the trip was uneventful and when we got to Philippi we picked up some food supplies and a bandage for Zilandras foot.
Anyway, my darling I guess Id better go, we want to travel all the way to the Amazon Village in Tomis tomorrow, which is a huge way, I think well all be riding to make it faster, and no matter how much Zilandra protests, thats where shell be travelling - even if I have to tie her to Argo myself! Write again tomorrow,
Well, how things change in the course of 1 day! We left at first light this morning and were making good time when we passed through Neapolis. Its a really pretty place with a large town square where they have plays and poetry readings and all sorts of things... maybe well be able to come back one day and you can tell some of your stories. It would be nice. We then travelled until we got to the river Hebrus and thankfully Zilandra decided she would stay aboard Argo for the trip! We were about to cross when a young messenger boy stopped us - well stopped Hercules is more to the point. He had a message from King Augeas of Elis (which is on the far west side of the country almost to the Ionian Sea), asking Hercules to come and help him clean out his stables. Now I dont know why he cant get all his servants to do that, but anyway, Hercules said he would go, apparently he has known King Augeas for ages.
So, we had to decide what to do because the King is having a huge banquet on the 15th and wants it done by then . I told Hercules Id go with him, itll get done faster if we both go and he agreed. Its going to take us about 5 or 6 days to get there by ourselves, with Zilandra and Iolaus it would take even longer. So I sent the messenger to you, telling you when Id be there - the thought "Shes going to kill me" sprang to mind when I thought about you, but at least I sent word! And we sent Iolaus and Zilandra onto the Amazon Village. I sent a scroll with them explaining who they were to Ephiny and that I wanted Ephiny to take Zilandra in as one of her own and teach her the Amazon ways. I hope they get there alright.
So, Hercules and I turned back and we travelled back through Amphipolis (not stopping this time) and were staying in Philippi tonight. I will write again tomorrow, although I dont know how much Ill be able to write, weve got a long way to go, if we even stop at all, but I promise Ill write at least a little something.
Well hi there my darling, we have covered a lot of ground today and my butt is so sore from being in the saddle. Poor Argo is stuffed as well, and not very happy with me, although I keep telling her that she should be glad shes not carrying two passengers! Although, she doesnt see the upside of that! Anyway, today we crossed back over the River Strymon, went through Pella, around Mount Olympus, through Pythion, over the river Peneus, through Pharsalus and Thessaly and were staying in Larissa. Im supposed to be going to sleep straight away tonight because Hercules wants to leave as soon as he wakes up, which means before sunrise, but I wanted to tell you some things first. I know you love to learn about places and things, so I quizzed Hercules on King Augeas and his stables and stuff, so here goes:
King Augeas owns heaps of cattle - more than 3,000 oxen. Which is more than anyone in Greece. Some say hes a son of one of the great gods, and others that he is a son of a mortal. Whichever he is, he is very rich and has many herds of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses. His stables are in really bad condition, but I didnt know this until I had this conversation with Hercules:
I said: "Well, cleaning out the stables shouldnt take long - only half a day, right?"
"Ah... not exactly." He replied
"You mean to tell me that youve never heard of the Augean Stables?!" Hercules asked, surprised
"No. Should I have?"
"I guess not, but I thought it was common knowledge," I just shrugged as he continued
"The stables havent been cleaned for 30 years." He said
"Thirty years!? Gods, they must be disgusting!"
"Tell me about it."
"Well at least well have a few days to clean them out before his party."
"Yeah, lucky. Apparently because of the amount of manure, a thick aroma hangs over the entire Peloponnesus region!" (Which is home to: Elis, Olympia, Pylos and places like that)
"Thats gross, are we going to be able to breath?"
"Oh yeah, once youve been there a few hours you dont notice it any more."
"Great... But what about when we leave? Will we stink of manure?"
"Um... yeah. Well have to bath for a while to fully rid ourselves of it."
"How long is a while?" I ask
"About half a day!" Hercules replied
I dont think I have anything else to say, my arm is starting to cramp up and my eyes are slowly closing. Ill write tomorrow.
Hey lover, well today was pretty uneventful, just lots of riding, fields, a little conversation - nothing interesting trust me - I didnt know Hercules could be such a boring companion on a journey! Id travel with you any day but then again thats a given! We travelled through Anthela, Delphi and Leuctra and were staying at Plataea tonight. I think Im just going to turn in sorry this isnt a very interesting entry, but nothing has happened so until tomorrow when I hope to all the Gods who might listen that something interesting happens! Bye. I love you.
I swear Im gonna kill Hercules he is sooooo boring!!!! I cant believe Ive still got at least a day or two to travel with him he wont even play the Who Am I? game with me. You would, even when youre angry at me you still cant resist a game of who am I? A little geography for you now: we went through Megara today and lots of fields and were staying at Corinth... Corinth is where I fought the Centaurs as you know, unfortunately (and its not often I say this) we didnt run into anyone not one person it was almost as though everyone was purposely avoiding us which is so frustrating, I think I might even have struck up a conversation with a highway thug who was trying to kill us I was that bored! Anyway, Im going to bed now, weve got a long way to go tomorrow. I hope you got my message. I miss you.
Well today was just as exciting as yesterday and the day before I think Im going to kill him . no really I think I am you know for the strongest guy in the world who has travelled to more places than even I have he sure doesnt have many stories maybe his best friend is the one who tells all the stories, just like mine does. I miss you so much sweetie oh man, I just wrote sweetie tell anyone and youll be sorry! I think its because I havent been able to have a real conversation with big words and meaningful feelings expressed in about oh eleven days. This is so boring and the fact that Hercules told me today that hes never been further than Corinth - as I havent - doesnt really fill me with hope because I think were going the wrong way, but Hercules insists that hes been given exact instructions oh well I guess Ill just have to trust him. Okay, the geography for today then Im out of here, love you.
Geography: Nemea, Mycenae, across the river Inachus, through Argos and to Sparta - where were staying.
Now this is me going to dream about you! Bye.
I cannot believe this day! Remember yesterday when I said that I thought we were going the wrong way - well it turns out that I was right! Sparta is at the bottom of the Peloponnesus ruling and Elis is at the top! So we had to travel even further than we originally thought! I tell you, when I leave Hercules I dont think Ill go travelling with him again for a very long time! Anyway, we made it here to Elis just before dinner and I was so hungry - luckily King Augeas was so glad we had arrived that he had a huge spread ready for us! Tomorrow night is the party and I cant see how were going to get the stables clean, they are disgusting! I guess now that were finally here we can at least try our best and clean some of them. We got a tour of the stables - not sure if I was glad Id already eaten or not. Apparently King Augeas has asked everyone to clean out his stables, but no-one will go near them now I know why! And the smell man I hope Im clean before I see you again or you may not want to kiss me and that would be a very big shame!
Anyway, when we arrived there was a messenger from Ephiny saying that Iolaus and Zilandra arrived safely, she said shes happy to have an extra pair of hands. She also says she owes me, I decided to call in the favour and I dont mind telling you what Im going to do because by the time you read this Ill already have done it! I sent the messenger back and asked Ephiny to have an Amazon hut set up in the forest for us - complete with a name plaque and I told her I wanted it there by the weekend. Well see how she goes!
Oh yeah, I forgot to say every time the King sees either Hercules or me he keeps saying how grateful he is and how he has total faith in us being able to complete the task by tomorrow night he says it as if weve forgotten that weve only got until tomorrow night to do it too! Glad Im already in bed and I wont see him again until late tomorrow! Well I guess Id better go, I have to meet Hercules at first light - as always and well decide how were gonna do this stable thing. Okay, Ill be seeing you in a couple of days, I cant wait.
Geography lesson for today: we went through Mantinea, followed the river Alpheus and went through Olympia.
Well what a day! We managed to do it! I dont know how exactly, but we did. And, even better than that I didnt get covered in manure! A big plus I can tell you! So, this is what happened:
We were up before first light and sometime during the night Hercules had this brainwave about two rivers someone told him about that he thought were near here. I had no idea what he was talking about, but he said we didnt have time for explanations and that I should just do what he says. I said okay and we got to work.
Instead of using a shovel and a basket like I thought wed have to, Hercules and I made a hole in the wall of the cattle-yard where the stables are with some axes. Then we made another opening in the wall on the opposite side of the yard. Next, we dug two wide trenches to the two rivers which flow nearby. Then, Im not exactly sure what happened, but Hercules told me to stay near the stables and made sure it all worked - he changed the course of the rivers into the trenches in the yard. He wouldnt tell me what he did, but Im sure it was a god-thing! So, the water rushed from the rivers through the trenches and flushed out the stables, sending the manure through the hole in the wall and out the other side of the yard.
So, thats how it all happened and I am pleased to report that I can leave this stinky place tomorrow morning, have a long bathe and then hopefully see you the next day, ready for our weekend rendezvous! YAY! I cant wait. Ill speak to you very, very soon. I love you.
Days 13 and 14
Okay, well Im about to come in and pick you up, but I thought I should just finish this off and tell you what Ive done the last two days lets see, well I left King Augeas palace early and spent the morning soaking in the River Alpheus to get the smell off myself. I hope its all gone! Then I rode non-stop for the next day and a half back to you. I know, I know, I should have stopped, but I thought that if I didnt get back to you very soon Id go crazy! I rode through Nemea, Corinth, Megara, Eleusis and finally got to Athens. I rode past the hut and it looks great, Ill have to thank Ephiny in a big way! Okay, well Ill see you very soon. I love you.
"Oh Xena you have the best adventures! And I missed you too.. I cant believe you wrote this whole scroll for me you surprise me!" I fold the scroll up and put it into the drawer beside my bed.
"Ill find a messenger tomorrow to bring her back here straight away. I know just what Ill do to say thank-you! "
Please stay tuned for the next exciting instalment in this Xena and Gabrielle series called Wasted Moments Proudly brought to you by Heartstarter and Ripley. Enjoy!
Return to The Bard's Corner