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by Virgo

It was almost time for the sun to set and the air was beginning to chill. Xena and Gabrielle were growing tired from a long day of walking. It had been three days since they had encountered an 'incident' and for Xena, that was a long time. Xena and Gabrielle were nearing the city of Caynoria. Gabrielle hoped that Xena will decide to spend the night there. She collected some Dinars the last time she was in Athens, the Athenians really like her stories, so Gabrielle thought she could pay for an Inn and some food. She has heard of the Caynorians excellent food, and their even better drinks.

Gabrielle figured that the only way she could know if they were going to stop in Caynoria or not was to ask. Xena was not in a particularlly bad mood, just disappointed in the past three, slow days. However, both Xena and Argo were tired.

"Hey Xena?" asked Gabrielle


"Do you think we can stop in Caynoria? I still have some Dinars so we can get some food and stay at an Inn."

Xena stopped walking and looked at Gabrielle half confused. "Why do you want to go there? Don't you like sleeping on the ground?" she replied sarcastically.

"Come on Xena, even your back has to be sore. Besides, we've been walking for three days without a decent meal, a decent bed, and without having seen anybody. It'd be a nice change of pace to return to civilization."

Xena continued to stare at Gabrielle and she raised an eyebrow at her.

"What?" asked Gabrielle

"You're not telling me everything. Why do you want to go to Caynoria?" asked Xena most seriously.

"For food. It is a necessity you know. Do you have something against it? Did you... hurt the people?

Xena finally unfixed her glare from Gabrielle and onto the ground as they continued walking.

"No. I just have a bad feeling about it, that's all. But I suppose we can take care of ourselves. Besides, I have an old friend there. We'll stop in Caynoria, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle smiled, a little prematurely for Xena continued, "As long as you pay."

Xena and Gabrielle walked into the city of Caynoria late that night. They walked into a well-accessorized tavern. The barkeep was a well-dressed man of about thirty years, however, he looked sinister and intimidating, even more so than Xena upon first glance. Surprisingly, he was quite polite.

"May I help you ladies?"

"I'll have one of your famed Belch Grape Juices please," answered Gabrielle.

"And you miss?"

Xena was to occupied staring again at Gabrielle.

"What now?" asked Gabrielle.

"You wanted to come here for some grape juice?"

"Yeah, It's like wine that won't make you crazy. You want to try some?"

"So that will be two Belches?" asked the barkeep.

"No thanks," said Xena, "I'll just have water."

The tavern was full of Caynorians endulging merrily into their drinks. Some of the citizens had four to five mugs in front of them and were undoubtedly drunk. From across the room Gabrielle noticed a familiar face which produced a familiar sound.

"Xena!" "Salmoneus," said Xena before turning around from the bar to greet the traveling friend. She continued, "What brings you to Caynoria?"

"Namely that."

He pointed to Gabrielle's drink and explained himself, "You see people drink these Belches like they were Nectar, especially the Caynorians. Even people who travel here come back for more. It's a business deal out for grabs and I've got it!"

"Don't get in too far over your head, Salmoneus. I'm going to see if I can't find my friend, coming Gabrielle?"

"Yeah, just let me finish my drink."

Both Xena and Gabrielle took the last sips of their drinks and headed out the door. It wasn't long before they found Xena's friend. She greeted him kindly, "Hello Uridion, it's been too long."

"Is that you Xena? It has been a long time. Last I heard your voice was in Amphipolis. I've heard you've changed much since then."

"We both have," replied Xena.

Uridion is an old blind man that lived alone. He wore rags over his head to cover his eyes and kept a daggar in his belt.

"This is my friend, Gabrille."

"Hello," said Gabrielle.

"Well, it's been a long time since I heard a voice as pretty as that, miss Gabrielle," said Uridion as he gently kissed her hand.

"Ooh, thank you. I can tell you two have a lot to catch up on so I'll head back to the tavern to talk to Salmoneus and get another Belch Grape Juice. I'll meet you at the Inn."

"It's a deal, Gabrielle," said Xena before Gabrielle walked out the door.

"You're friend had better be careful Xena."

"What do you mean?"

"Those drinks have caused people to act irrational, they are not themslves."

"She'll be fine. Besides, it's not wine. I'll see you tomorrow morning, Gabrielle and I have been on the road and we are tired."

"Xena, don't let her have too many drinks."

"Uridion, you're a wise man and I've always respected you for that but a few drinks of juice never brought anyone harm."

Xena then abruptly left leaving Uridion once again alone. He said aloud to himself, "I see, said the blindman."

Xena reached the Inn only to find that Gabrielle was not there. Xena reserved two beds and headed back to the tavern but Gabrielle was not there either. She headed towards Salmoneus and asked him, "Where's Gabrielle?"

"I thought she left with you."

"She did, but she came back for another drink."

"I didn't see her but I was busy ironing out my deal wih Castilles here."

"Thanks," replied Xena. She then motioned towards the barkeep and inquired about Gabrielle.

"Did you see my friend come back for another drink?"


"Well, where is she?"

"Not here."

Xena was growing tired of the barkeeps attitude so she picked him up by his collar and thrust him against the wall.

"I'm not going to ask you again," she said threatfully.

"She left."

"Where is she now?"

"You can probably find her with Tendicides. Serphus will take you to her."

Xena then put the barkeep down and sarcastically said, "Thanks for your help. Serphus, let's go."

Serphus stood up and Xena followed behind him as he walked out the tavern door. Salmoneus and the other Caynorians had already left, leaving Castilles, the barkeep, and a few of Castilles' men alone in the tavern. Castilles helped the barkeep up and said, "That woman is going to be a problem." The barkeep replied, "I agree. She won't drink a Belch, so how are we going to handle her?"

"Her weakness is the girl. She's already hooked on the Swallow. We'll give her a few more drinks and they'll have to stay long enough for us to get rid of the Warrior Princess."

"She's the Warrior Princess Xena?"

"Yes, that fool Salmoneus told me about her. Hear that men? Tomorrow morning, make sure the girl comes here and we'll give her a few complimentery beverages."

The men laughed and celebrated their good fortune well into the night.

Serphus and Xena went to the shanty home of Tendicides where they heard much laughter from outside.

"This is the place," said Serphus, "your friend is inside."

"I appreciate your help."

Serphus left and Xena looked at the house. She listened to Gabrielle and Tendicides before entering. Xena stepped over the threshold and into the house to find Gabriellein bed with Tendicides. Xena, with a horror-stricken look on her face, stood in the doorway staring at her friend and the man.

"Oh, hi Xena. Want to join us?" said Gabrielle.

"No thanks, I thought we were going to meet at the Inn," said Xena holding the same look of terror upon her face. Gabrielle thought lo and hard before answering, "Oh yeah, heh, I must have forgotten. I'll see you later... What's your name?

Tendicides looked confused and answered unsurely, "Tendycideus, I think." The shocked Xena and Poteidaian Gabrielle left Tendicides' home and went to their beds at the Inn. Gabrielle immeadiately fell asleep but Xena remained awake in deep thought about Gabrielle's actions. She was sure that Gabrielle did not drink any wine, she wouldn't do that, but yet Gabrielle was undoubtedly drunk. Xena concluded that Uridion was right, the Belches were drugged.

Morning came to quickly for Gabrielle who was reluctant to get ip. Xena had been up for a while to tend to Argo teathered outside. She came back to wake Gabrielle and she immediately put her hand to her head upon waking up.

"You feeling okay?"

"No, I don't"

"I've decided to stay a little longer, I have something I've got to do."

"What's that?"

"Something is not kosher in Jerusalem. I am going to find out what's going on here."

"Okay, I'm going back to the tavern for some breakfast."

Xena looked immeadiately upon her friend in pain and said, "Don't buy anymore drinks, okay?"

"But they are so good."

"Just do me a favor Gabrielle, and don't buy anymore Belches."

Gabrielle disappointedly replied, "Alright, I won't buy anymore Belches."

Both Xena and Gabrielle left the Inn and headed for the tavern. Xena went to the back room to wait for Castilles but Gabrielle sat dwon at a table and ordered two quail eggs with nutbread.

"Anything to drink?" asked the waitress.

"Just water, thank you."

"Make that a Belch, on me," said one of Castilles' men.

"Thanks for you're kindness, but I promised my friend I wouldn't buy anymore Belches," replied Gabrielle.

The man quickly retorted, "But you're not buying it, I am."

"Hey, you're right. I'll have that Belch afterall waitress, thank you."

The barkeep had overheard the conversation and smiled a devilish grin as he prepared Gabrielle's breakfast.

In Castilles' office, Xena sat and waited for him to show. He did.

"Well Xena, you requested this meeting. How may I help you?"

"What's in your drinks?"

"Don't answer a question with a question Xena, I asked first," said Castilles without a single sign of fear.

"That is what's on my mind. This is the last time I'm going to ask you, what's in your drinks?"

"Grape juice."

Xena was becoming angry with Castilles' identical attitude to that of the barkeeps'. She asked, "What else?" with anger.

"What do you mean?" replied the evil man still without the slightest hint of worry.

"Now you're answering a question with a question. My friend had a few of your Belches and she was more drunk than Dionysus himself. You put alcohol in your drinks didn't you?" said Xena in a low but forceful voice.

Castilles wiped his short, white beard with his fingertips before easily answering, "No."

"I don't believe you."

"Well then, you'll have to chack it out for yourself. Salmoneus can take you to my factory."

Xena sneered at the slightly happy man as she got up to find Salmoneus. Castilles remained with a small smirk on his face. One of his henchmen emerged from the shadows of his silk curtains. "While she's in the factory, I want you and the rest of my men to attack. Xena will be alone with the excaption of Salmoneus. You have nothing to fear from him," orderd Castilles.

"Got it, boss," said the henchman as he left out the back door to carryout his instructions.

As Xena passed Gabrielle in the tavern, she noticed the mug by her plate. She commented, "What's that?"

"A Belch."

"You told me you wouldn't drink anymore of those."

"I said I wouldn't buy anymore Belches. He paid for them."

"You can't drink anymore of them Gabrielle, I won't let you!"

"Lighten up, I feel a lot better now than I did this morning."

Xena blew her top. She lifted Gabrielle over her shoulder and took her back to Uridion's house. Gabrielle did not take this lightly. She fought with all of her strength but was no match for the determined Warrior Princess.

"Uridion, you were right about those drinks."

"I tried to warn you, friend."

"I need you to watch Gabrielle while I take care of this."

"No problem, I grow tired of all these libertines polluting Caynoria."

"Thank you, friend."

Xena dropped Gabrielle next to Uridion's chair and left without dely. Gabrielle wickedly looked after her friend and started to get up but Uridion forced her down with a single hand.

"Where do you think you're going?" said Uridion calmly just before Gabrielle let out a muffled yell.

Xena set out in search of Salmoneus and found him trying to sell a toga to a woman. He was painstakingly unsuccessful.

"Salmoneus, come here."

"What's up? Do you like that? What's up I mean, a lot of the kids are saying it now."

"Nevermind that, I need you to take me to Castilles' factory. He already knows about it."

"Well, okay. What for?"

"Castilles is putting something in his drinks that are making people drunk. He wouldn't tell me what it is so I have to find out."

"You mean Castilles is 'spiking the punch' so the people will buy more?"

"I think so," said Xena.

"Heh, heh. Bummer, I'm screwed."

"Come on Salmoneus."

Xena mounted Argo and followed Salmoneus on the journey to the factory outside the city of Caynoria. They reached the warehouse just before noon.

"Are you sure you're not doing anything too rash here?" asked Salmoneus. Xena answered with alifted eyebrow.

"Guess not."

"You can stay here if you want. I'm going to take a look inside."

Xena went inside the factory and immeadiately knew something was wrong. No one was working and a hushed silence filled the building. Xena knew deep down in the bottom of her soul that she was being watched. Nothing was happeneing as of yet so Xena decided to look around. She looked for bottles of alcohol or wine but she didn't see any. She first thought that maybe Castilles was right, maybe he didn't 'spike the punch.'

Xena did notice hundreds of boxes with white powder inside and took a look at what was in them. She put a pinch of the powder between her fingers and tasted it. She was immeadiately overwhelmed with disgust at the sour taste of the powder and wasted no time in spitting it out. She took a handful of the powder and placed it in a pouch for further analyzation. As soon as she turned around, a henchman charged her. Xena was knocked down but she cleverly used he force of her falling to throw the man across te room with her leg. The rest of Castilles' men came out of hiding and the battle was on.

Xena drew her sword and fought off the first line of attackers one by one. She used her chakram to bounce off of inanimate abjects and knock unconcious the rest of her attackers. After defeating all of the henchmen, Castilles made his appearance. Breathing heavily Xena asked, "What's this powder Castilles?"

"It's called Swallow, it is a drug from Liberia."

"What's it do?"

"It's like alcohol, people become addicted to it and come back for more. When they do the Dinars roll in."

Xena put her sword back into it's sack but held onte her chakram and said, "So ou make a lot of money by hurting innocent people who don't know any better?"

"Yes. It's brilliant, don't you think?" said Castilles as he raised a crossbow to Xena.

"I've seen better," said Xena immeadiately followed by her flashing chakram that landed in his chest. She continued, "I've done better."

Xena wasted no time in collecting her chakram. She dragged the unconcious men outside the factory. She went back in, left her pouch, and set the factory on fire to destoy all of the Swallow. When she left the factoy for good, she found a curious Salmoneus interrogating her.

"What happened?"

"I stopped Castilles, Salmoneus, thanks for your help but I've go to get back to Gabrielle, she might be in trouble."

Xena mounted Argo and swiftly rode back to Uridion's shack. Gabrielle was laying on the ground in tremendous pain.

"Uridion, is she alright?"

"She'll be fine as long as she never has another Belch, and as soon as the pain passes."

"Well, she won't drink anymore Belches, no one will."

Xena crouched over Gabrielle and used her pressure point touch to help ease the pain. Gabrielle commented, "Xena, you're back. What happened?"

"It's a long story."

Gabrielle sat up and continued, "Well, tell it to me while this headache goes away."

Xena and Gabrielle stayed one more night at the Inn and prepared to leave the next morning.

"Dear Uridion, thanks for your hospitality," said Xena.

"Thanks for your company. I hope to hear from you soon."

"Take care of yourself," said Xena before she turned to Salmoneus. She continued, "So where are you headed now?"

"Oh I don't know. But I did hear about this new cheese made by a man named Parmeseus, I think I'll see what Dinars lie there."

Xena smiled and said, "I wish you luck."

She had finished saying her goodbye and turned to see Gabrielle waiting by Argo. She headed towards her traveling partners and they left the city of Caynoria that morning.



"I'm sorry for... you know... the way I acted."

"It's alright, it wasn't your fault. Let me ask you something. Do you remember everything that happened?"

"Yeah, why?"

"You didn't do anything you regret did you?"

"If you're talking about that night with Tendycideus, no I didn't."

"His name is Tendicides."

"Oh, well, tell me about what you did in the factory again."

"Why do you want to hear about that again, Gabrielle?"

"Somebody has to write it down."


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