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(Version 1.OH: OH better hide this one from the priests)

by Lizzy/Tendre


Um, yeah...the proceeding story concept is MINE MINE MINE but all characters of "Xena: Warrior Princess" are owned by the people who bring us "Jurassic Park: The Ride" and "Seagram's 7" - The character of "Xena" is the creation of some guy named John Schulian and Rob "Hey, look who's sleeping in my bed" Tapert. (I thank them both dearly for their cerebra) This story was completed on 1/5/97.

Version 1.FF ("Friends Forever") is the safe story for those of you who see Xena and Gabrielle as strictly platonic

Version 1.OH ("OH, better hide this one from the priests") is the erotic story for those of you who see Xena and Gabrielle...otherwise

I think y'all are "big boys n' girls" who can make up your own mind - ENJOY;-)

"Asunder" - Prologue/Teaser (Version 1.OH)

As twilight begins to fall on the Boeotian Valley, two young women are leading a horse through the woods
Yet again, the warrior princess Xena is a reluctant captive to the tales of her friend Gabrielle

G: ...a low roar could be heard echoing through the canyon...

X: (To herself) Maybe it was snoring

G: (Animated) ...and then THE HYDRA JUMPED OUT OF THE CAVE...

The bard notices the eyes of her traveling companion roll

G: ...and it had really stupid-looking hair...Xena, are you bored?

X: Gabrielle, you know how much stories

G: That's obvious

X: (Smirking) Hey, I'll hunt for dinner, you go make camp in that clearing over there

G: Would it kill you to say "please?"

X: (Mocking) Please...go make camp in that clearing over there...Honey

Both start at the last word and then laugh it off
Gabrielle stops her friend with a slight tap on the shoulder

G: I have a better idea...why don't I get our dinner and you tell a story?

X: (Trying not to chuckle) Is that a challenge, Gabrielle?

G: Maybe

X: Alright, but I want rabbit for dinner

G: Oh no, I can't kill those cute little a child, I used to dream about dancing with them in a meadow

X: Did you dream about dancing with their burnt flesh in your mouth around a campfire?

G: Must you always be so blunt Xena?

X: OK OK, no rabbit for dinner...nuts and berries...yum

G: There's nothing wrong with nuts and berries, in fact, if you ate more nuts and berries, you might be a little less...well...actually, all the nuts and berries in the world couldn't help you

X: I'm ignoring that

G: What a tell me a story before I go gathering

X: (Searching) Well, there was this guy...

G: What kind of guy?

X: You know, just a guy...

G: Was he young? Old? Did he have fawn-colored hair?


G: OK...

X: Anyway, there was this guy and he was really really bad...

G: Why was he bad?


G: OK, there was this story and IT was really really bad...

The two stifle grins at each other

G: Go get some rabbits for dinner, I'll make camp

X: Wait...who won?

G: Who won what?

X: You're the one who issued the challenge

G: It wasn't a challenge, Xena

X: Uh-huh, whatever IT was, there was no winner, so now we have to compete in something else...and THIS time, I choose!

G: Oh please, not another chackrum throwing contest, I almost lost a finger the last time

X: And you made sure I noticed which won it was

G: I was only gesturing that you're number one

X: If you say so

G: I know, we could play a game of darts...minus the poison tip, of course

X: Nope, I have a better idea...pinky wrestling!

G: Excuse me?

X: Look, it's getting dark and I'm hungry

G: Oh, I think you can get a quick victory that way?

X: (Pausing for a second) Yes

G: (Going after Xena) We'll see about that!

The pinky wrestling grows two into a surprisingly strong tussle
Both fall to the ground

X: (Taken aback) Well, this is more than I thought

G: (Relaxing) Admit it, I'M more than you thought

Xena tries very hard to avoid eye contact

X: (Starting to rise) I'll be back with the rabbits

G: (Grabbing Xena's leg) think you won?

X: I know I did

Gabrielle quickly uses a foot technique she'd learned from the Amazons and Xena falls back on top of her

G: I don't think so...

A quick, full smile surfaces on the face of Xena

G: (Shocked) What was that?

X: (Looking around) What? WHAT?


X: You're imagining things Gabrielle


X: Did not!

G: Xena, I saw teeth...and they weren't bared in anger

X: So?

G: So, I wanna see it again!

X: No

G: (Starting to tickle Xena) C'mon

X: (Lightly giggling) Stop it, Gabrielle!

G: (Still tickling) Ooooh, look at the big, brave warrior princess! - I've put my touch on you...

X: (Now rolling over, delirious with laughter) I'm gonna get you for this!

G: Well, what's stopping you?

Xena does not answer, only stares at the strawberry-blonde now straddling her body

G: (Growing serious) When was the last time you laughed like that, Xena?

X: (Remaining still) I don't think I ever did

Gabrielle lightly touches Xena's face with her finger tips

G: Well, I'll make sure this happens more often

X: I'm sure you will

Gabrielle slowly lowers herself closer and looks directly into the Xena's rapidly melting ice-eyes

G: You know...

X: Hmm?

G: This...this is kinda nice

X: (Another full smile slowly grows) Yes it is

Gabrielle laughs, returns the smile and then whispers in Xena's ear

G: By the I the winner?

X: (Closing her eyes) No...I am

A rustling is heard in the bushes as two men in uniform - one burly and bronzed, the other slightly less muscular but with curly auburn hair - approach
Both warrior and bard jump up

J: I'm Commander Jovard and this is Klaesius, my first lieutenant - we represent...

X: (Interrupting) I know who you represent

G: Well I don't...Hi, I'm Gabrielle and this is...

J: (Cutting her off) Xena...yes we know, that's why were here

G: I'm so glad everyone knows who's who...except me!

X: These are soldiers from Philip's royal guard

G: Philip? mean THE Philip...King Philip of Macedon?

X: No, I mean Philip of "Gyros to Go"

G: (Grabbing her staff) Then they must be here to kill you!

X: Now why do you always think that? - Besides, if they wanted to kill me, they would've brought a dozen others

G: Only a dozen?

X: Philip's cheap

Xena saunters up to burly Jovard and looks him over

X: State your business

Jovard hands Xena an ornate scroll

J: His Highness requests your services, Xena

G: Look, she doesn't do that anymore

X: He means my warrior services, Gabrielle

G: Of course!

J: With the moonlight, we can leave for Athens right away - I'll have Klaesius escort your friend to the nearest village

X: Gabrielle comes with me or I don't come at all!

All four look at each other oddly

J: Whatever you wish, I was only thinking of her safety

G: (Walking up to Jovard) I can take care of myself, thank you!

Gabrielle walks back to Xena and stumbles over branch

X: Go ahead and mount up, we'll be right behind

The two soldiers leave for their horses
Xena climbs on Argo and pulls up Gabrielle in back of her

G: (In a low voice) How do we know these guys are for real?

X: There's a secret code on the scroll only known by a few

G: And how do you know it?

X: I have many...

Gabrielle blocks the last word out of Xena's mouth with her hand

G: I know, I know

Xena pushes Gabrielle's hand down

X: What I WAS going to say is that I have many friends


X: Don't sound so army fought along side Philip's men in the battle of Delphi

G: Delphi? - What was in it for you?

X: Recreation

G: Huh, I guess you've never played catch

X: Oh, I've played that...usually with my enemies' internal organs

G: (Retching) Thank the gods we missed dinner

X: (Reaching into a saddlebag) Here, have some

G: Great, stale bread and cheese, perfect for an upset stomach!

X: Gabrielle, why don't you try and get some sleep?

G: Here? On Argo? I might fall off

X: (Tightening her grip on Gabrielle's arm) Don't worry, I've got you

G: (Pondering for a second and then resting her head on Xena's shoulder) do

"Asunder" - Part I (Version 1.OH)

Dawn breaks on the outskirts of Athens
Jovard and Klaesius ride in front while Xena and a slumbering Gabrielle bring up the rear

X: Gabrielle...Gabrielle, wake up

G: (Yawning) Hmm?

X: We're nearing Athens

G: (Nestling her head on Xena's shoulder) But were not THERE, wake me when we're THERE

X:'re drooling on my arm

G: Heh...sorry

Jovard stops and turns to the others

J: Klaesius will stay with the two of you - I'm riding ahead to announce your arrival

X: I expect trumpets

Klaesius and Gabrielle laugh
Jovard doesn't

J: (Riding off) The King will want to meet with you after breakfast

X: I'll see him in a couple of hours then

G: Hours?

X: Philip's the all-you-can-eat type

G: Hey, food

X: I take it your stomach's better?

G: Better and empty

K: (Overhearing) Don't worry, once we reach the palace, there'll be a feast waiting for you in your quarters

G: Notice how he didn't say "lavish"

K: If anyone deserves a lavish feast, it's you two

Both women look at Klaesius suspiciously

K: (Smiling) I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude

X: For what?

K: You saved my grandparents' goat farm last season from a pack of marauders

G: Oh yeah..."The Feta Felony"...that was fun!

K: Anyway, I consider it an honor to ride by your side

G: Actually, you're more diagonal

X: I get the feeling your commander doesn't share the same opinion

K: Jovard your presence

G: Tell him to join the club

K: You must understand that Jovard worships the ground Philip spits on - He's been by his side for ages, never getting the respect he deserves

Gabrielle opens her mouth to say something
Xena pushes it closed

X: Go on

K: With The King asking you to partake in his next endeavor, the commander sees it as a slap in the face

X: And what exactly would this endeavor be?

K: His Highness should be the one to tell you

X: I'm guessing it's not just a day in Delphi

Klaesius says nothing
The three ride through the main streets of Athens to the royal palace

G: (Taking in the city sights) It's been so long since we've been in a metropolis

X: Not long enough for me

G: Do you think I'll have time to visit my friends at the Bard Academy?

X: (Noticing several platoons out of the corner of her eye) Most likely

K: (Dismounting) We're here

A group of servants take the horses

K: If you don't mind, Erdrigas will show you to your quarters, I'd like to spend some time with my wife before the afternoon drills

G: How sweet!

X: Yeah, whatever

Klaesius leaves
An old man with a tangled beard leads Xena and Gabrielle to the palace atrium and up an elaborate tile staircase

E: (Opening a huge inlaid oak door) Are these quarters to your liking, mistress?

Xena and Gabrielle go inside and gawk at the opulence

X: They'll do

Gabrielle runs into one of the chambers

G: I'm taking this room, it has a fluffy pink bed!

X: By all means

E: His Highness will summon you shortly...until then, please help yourself

Erdrigas points to a table filled with fine fruits and pastries

X: (Closing the door) Thank you

Xena grabs a peach, takes a bite and leans against the archway to Gabrielle's room

G: (Jumping on the bed) Do you believe this, Xena? - These pillows are satin...SATIN - I thought you said Philip was cheap?

X: (Swallowing) He was

G: (Frowning at a tapestry of dogs rolling dice) Well, it's good to see our tax dinars hard at work

Xena goes out on the flower-filled terrace, glances at the soldiers in the streets below and then gazes toward the sea

Gabrielle comes over and follows Xena's distant stare
The bard begins to lightly massage the shoulders of the warrior princess

G: I think you should get some rest, Xena - I'll wake you when Philip calls

X: (Reluctantly) Good idea

G: Are you sure you don't want the pink bed?

X: (Patting Gab's hand) I'm sure

Gabrielle nips at the peach as Xena turns to leave
Xena smirks, playfully holds it high in the air and retires to her chambers

G: Sweet dreams

Gabrielle returns to the terrace view and quietly sighs

G: Well...passably pleasant ones, at least

"Asunder" - Part II (Version 1.OH)

Sprawled on top of cobalt blue sheets and leopard skins, the warrior princess fidgets in her sleep
The bard enters the chamber archway and quitely approaches

G: (Lightly shaking Xena's foot) Xena...Xena

Xena grabs Gabrielle, throws her overhead and pins her down

X: (Realizing who it is) Sorry

G: There has GOT to be a better way for you to wake up

X: (Rising) Are you alright?

G: Heh, I'm used to it by now...Anyway, Jovard is outside - Philip is ready to meet with you

X: OK, let's go

G: (Sitting up) Uh, no...he made it very clear that only YOU were invited, besides, I think I'll go over to the academy and say "hi"

X: (Starting to leave) Fine, we'll meet for dinner then

G: (Jumping up) WAIT...let me see your face!

X: Huh?

Gabrielle wipes some sleep out of Xena's eyes, checks her nose and teeth

X: (Pushing her aside) OH FOR ZEUS' SAKE, GABRIELLE

G: Excuse're going to see the King

X: So what? - I don't care if he's a GOD

G: You know, maybe that's why the gods are always after you, try brushing your hair a little more, clean your nails...

X: I'll see you later

Xena follows Jovard down a long colonnade into a royal conference room
Philip is standing over a map-covered mahogany table with a few advisors

J: Your Highness, I present to you...

P: (Looking up) So Xena, we finally meet! - I never did offer a proper thank you for Delphi

X: The armament you provided my forces was thanks enough

P: (To the others) Leave too, Jovard

Jovard shoots an evil glare from Philip to Xena and then departs with the others

P: (Musing) THAT was magnificent victory, wouldn't you agree?

X: It had it's moments

P: And the division of Spartan women in your army...they were...amazing!

X: (Annoyed) I don't think you brought me all the way here to reminisce...SIR

P: (Gesturing toward a seat at the table) Very true

Xena sits down and glances at the multiple maps

X: (With a mock smile) Conquering all of Greece isn't enough?

P: No Xena, not conquer...UNITE...I united all of Greece - and now I want to protect my empire

X: By attacking the Persians? - That makes...perfect sense

P: Give me a chance to explain, and I assure you, it will

X: And what exactly have they done to provoke His Majesty?

P: (Growing stern) Persia's very existence provokes me

X: Well, that's a valid reason

P: Put away the verbal sword and listen carefully - Now that Greece is united, it becomes a huge prize in the eyes of the Achaemenids - Artaxerxes must be stopped before he even starts!

X: And you have JUST the plan to stop him

P: (Staring at Xena) Yes...and you're part of it

X: What if I want no part of it?

P: Tell me, do you want to be a part of the Persian Empire?

X: I have no quarrel with them...once, a Persian livery took in my lame horse when I was dinarless

P: Individual Persians are well and fine, but as a collective, THEY MUST BE DESTROYED OR THEY WILL DESTROY US

X: (Standing and facing Philip) US...US? - Your empire, your army is made up of former enemies - Dorians fighting alongside Ionians, Aeolians with Macedonians - How do you expect to keep them from killing each other, let alone Artaxerxes' forces?

P: THAT'S were you come in!

X: Sorry?

P: You have combat experience among many different've earned their respect

X: And hatred

P: Those exploits may cause some to despise you but ALL know of the warrior princess from Amphipolis...your military leadership cannot be debated

X: Other parts of my life can be and are

P: (Throwing his hands up) Spare me the self-pity, BUT, if you really want to make up for your past, what better way than to help save Greece from Persian assimilation?

X: I'll make up for my past in my own way

P: OH PLEASE, defending a goat farm, rescuing some children now and then? - All of these LITTLE things will mean absolutely nothing WHEN the Persians seize control!

X: Your Highness, you're paranoid

P: (Speaking softly) And what about your young bard, Arielle is it?

X: (Eyes on fire) It's GABRIELLE, and what about her?

P: Jovard informed me of your deep...friendship...with the girl - How do you think she'll fair under Persian rule? How will her family fair? How will YOUR family fair? - You can't protect them ALL...or can

X: (Choking down the sudden confusion she feels) That was a pretty speech but I'm afraid I'll have to decline your offer

P: (Slamming his fist on the table) Don't be a fool, Xena - You know it's only a matter of time before the first step is taken - Either step WITH me or be stepped on by Artaxerxes, the choice is yours!

Xena does not look at Philip and heads for the door

P: Stay the night and at least THINK about what I've said...give me your final decision in the morning and I will abide by it

Her footsteps echo through the colonnade as Xena strides from the palace courtyard into the royal stables
Jovard and a few of his men are tending to their horses

J: (Watching Xena saddle up Argo) Leaving so soon, Xena?

The others laugh
Xena ignores the question and rides off

At the Royal Academy Of The Performing Bards, Gabrielle walks among the deserted classrooms

G: (Befuddled) Hello? Is anybody here? - Huh, I thought solstice break wasn't for another few weeks

From the shadows, a balding man with a vulpine face appears

G: (Holding up her staff) Who are you? Where is everyone?

I: (A small chuckle) One question at a time, my dear, - I am Isocrates, founder of this school, political advisor and first bard to King Philip

G: (Dropping her staff) The great Isocrates!

I: So it's been said

G: I know ALL of your orations, "The Panegyricus" is my favorite

I: I'm thrilled to hear that...miss...

G:, I' name is...Gabrielle

I: (Amused) Well well, GABRIELLE - For someone who has such a reputation with words, I'm a little disappointed

G: ME? A reputation...I mean, you've heard of ME?

I: You made quite an impression here before

G: (Blushing) Usually it's Xena who makes the impression

I: Ah, the warrior princess - I've become very familiar with the stories...YOUR stories

G: I'm, I'm flattered!

I: And you should be

Isocrates looks out a window

I: I take it your friend is meeting with His Majesty as we speak?

G: How did you know that? - Wait, you're the first bard, you WOULD know that

I: I know many things

Gabrielle lets out a small groan

I: I beg your pardon?

G: Oh nothing...nothing - Tell me, where are all the pupils and pedagogues?

Isocrates smiles and offers Gabrielle his arm

I: Xena will be preoccupied all afternoon - Please, won't you join me for a little tea and a little talk?

G: (Taking it) An offer I can never say "no" to!

"Asunder" - Part III (Version 1.OH)

As evening falls, Xena walks down a cobblestone street looking at the buildings
She enters Athens' finest restaurant, "Mi'nas"
The owner spots the warrior princess and escorts her past the regular diners into an exclusive banquet room

G: (Waving from a corner) Xena...over here!

Xena sits uncomfortably next to Gabrielle on a bunch of cushions while servants pour red and white wines into pewter goblets

X: Erdrigas told me to meet you here - Where DID you find this place, Gabrielle?

G: (Downing her antipasto) Isn't this wonderful? Isocrates recommended it AND it's his treat

X: Isocrates?

G: You know, the greatest orator in the land

X: (Picking at a roll) I thought that was your title?

G: Very funny

X: And where did you run across this "greatest orator in the land?" - I thought you were visiting your friends at the academy?

G: I was, that's where I met him - He thinks the great bard of the warrior princess...that would be ME...deserves a special dinner...with you, of course

X: Of course

G: (Wistful) He took me to his beautiful hillside villa, I hope to have one just like it someday

X: (Disturbed) He took you to his villa?

G: Relax, we spent all afternoon talking

X: With you, I believe it

A waiter comes over

W: Excuse me ladies, are you ready to choose an entree?

G: (Speaking for Xena) We'll have the honey almond pheasant

W: Excellent selection, Miss

G: Isocrates says it's to die for!

X: I can think of many things to die for...pheasant isn't one of them

G: (Angrily chomping on a carrot stick) Is it possible for you to lighten up for just ONE night in your life?

X: Sorry...pheasant sounds good

G: Be happy Xena, this is a time of celebration!

X: Celebration...of what?

G: Philip has united all of Greece

X: (Gulps some wine) "United" - There's that word again

G: What do you mean?

X: Nevermind

G: Isocrates KNEW this day would come...he foresaw it in his orations

X: And did he foresee anything else?

G: Like what?

X: I dunno...Persians maybe?

The waiter brings the pheasant
Gabrielle digs in

G: (After a few moments) Mmm, isn't this delicious?

X: To die for

G: (Growing serious) Xena, what did you mean about the Persians?

X: Tell me, did you ever get to see your friends?

G: Isocrates sent them all out on field study - They're stationed throughout the provinces disseminating Philip's code of laws and cultural philosophies

X: (Sucking on a drumstick) I see the propaganda is already in full force

G: Proper what?

X: Why did Isocrates stay behind?

G: (Reaching for Xena's hand) First, quit ducking around with me about the Persians

A bowl of custard is thrown in Xena's face from across the way

G: You can tell me later

An elderly couple stand before them
Xena wipes herself and slowly rises

C: (In unison) Murderer!

The owner and waiter grab the couple and push them away

X: C'mon Gabrielle, I'm in no mood for dessert

The bard and the warrior princess stroll silently through the city to the outskirts

G: (No longer able to hold her tongue) It's not the first time something like this has happened

X: And it won't be the last...unless

G: Unless?

Xena pauses with Gabrielle by an outcropping

X: Gabrielle...about the Persians

G: (Nervously) What about them, Xena?

X: Do you know the reason Philip invited us here?

G: I assume it's to help solidify the empire, put down little rebellions here and there

X: The empire is as "solid" as it's ever going to be...

G: But Isocrates said...

X: Isocrates only says what he wants you to hear

G: I don't understand

X: Gabrielle, Philip is planning an assault on Artaxerxes...and he wants me by his side

Gabrielle loses her balance momentarily
Xena holds her steady

G: But that's...that's crazy...what are the Persians doing to cause this?

X: Breathing

G: You aren't considering his offer are you...ARE YOU?

X: I dismissed it at first but then I took a long ride on Argo to clear my head...

G: And?

X: And I'm even more confused

G: Xena, there should be no confusion...come on, let's get Argo and leave...right now!

Xena halts Gabrielle with a tug at her finger tips

X: Philip gave me until the morning to make my decision...and that's when I'll make it!

Gabrielle starts to say something but decides against it
The two remain silent for a few minutes, lean up against a rock and look at the night sky
A icy wind from the East begins to blow
Xena notices Gabrielle tremble

X: (Wrapping her arms around the bard's) We should get back to the're cold

G: (Now leaning against Xena) I wish that's all it was

"Asunder" - Part IV (Version 1.OH)

The next morning, Gabrielle awakens
She discovers Xena missing from her chambers
Erdrigas raps at the door

G: (Groggy) Yes...enter

E: Are you ready for breakfast, young miss?

G: No thanks, I'm not that hungry...Erdrigas, do you know where Xena is?

E: The mistress left at dawn - she said she'd find you later

G: (Sighing) Why am I not surprised

E: Will you be needing anything else?

G: That'll be all, thank you

Erdrigas leaves Gabrielle to get cleaned up and dressed
The bard then ventures outside to the palace gardens, picking a crocus bloom along the way

G: (To herself) What is this buzzing sound? All the confusing thoughts, swirling in my head?

A bee flies off the flower in her hand

G: (To the bee) Oh...sorry about that

I: I'm sure he didn't mind

Gabrielle turns around to find Isocrates sitting by a fountain

G: (Going over to him) You know, I'm really mad at you for lying to me

I: Lie to you? - My dear, what about?

G: About the didn't tell me

I: Maybe I forgot to disclose that fact but you cannot consider it a lie

G: And what exactly do you consider the truth, Isocrates?

I: Everything I told you yesterday is the truth, everything you read in my orations is the truth

G: The truth as you see it

I: (Chuckling) True enough! - Tell me, Gabrielle, what happened last night to cause you such incertitude?

G: Xena told me about going after Artaxerxes

I: Ah, yes...Xena - Alright, for a moment, let's not put her in the equation

G: Hey, no math!

I: Listen to me, child - First, do you believe that Philip uniting all of Greece is wrong?

G: (Reluctantly) No

I: Follow up your answer, give it support

G: No, I don't think it's wrong because a country under the leadership of a strong and benevolent ruler can prosper - no more territorial battles, a common goal to aspire to - I understand it works for the Egyptians

I: And the Persians

Gabrielle does not respond

I: The Dolopians may squabble with the Achains about how to worship the gods BUT they both believe in the SAME gods, OUR gods - You see, we all share the same language, exchange the same dinars, celebrate the same harvest festivals...unification only reinforces what already exists

G: But with unity, you can also lose your distinctiveness

I: A good king knows how to keep that distinctiveness and turn it into an advantage for everyone

G: Or queen!

I: Whatever

G: Do you think Philip is capable of this?

I: I have no doubt!

G: (Looks at the flower in her hand) Well, I'm glad you don't

I: If Philip does NOT fulfill his destiny, the destiny of this empire, are you ready to surrender all to outsiders? Your alphabet? Your temples? Your way of life?

G: But what makes the Persians such a threat? - They have done nothing!

I: Yet

Gabrielle turns her back to Isocrates

I: Dear girl, anything of great mass needs more...MORE...not just to survive but to THRIVE

G: It can also collapse under it's own weight

I: Not if it knows how to carry it properly

G: (Facing him) Which empire are we talking about again?

I: (Smiling) I want you to think of Artaxerxes as a cobra and Philip as a plump, tasty mongoose...

G: I think that was on the menu last night

I: The cobra may be curled up...unthreatening...BUT, with one swift move, the mongoose is dead...

G: I usually like animal stories...I'm not liking this one

I: HOWEVER...the mongoose KNOWS the cobra, KNOWS when to make the first move and it's the serpent who winds up in the belly!

G: Well, so much for lunch - I'm sorry, Isocrates, it's just that I...I don't think...

I: Sweet Gabrielle, you are an intelligent young woman...but I believe your emotions are clouding your fear the loss of Xena, the loss of your love!

G: (A small gasp) Xena...Xena is my best friend

I: Of course she is

G: (Unconvincingly) It's not just Xena, I don't want anyone to get hurt

I: I'm sure you don't BUT many people WILL if Philip does not succeed...for this...THIS is much bigger than him, bigger than Xena, bigger than you and me...

G: (Somewhat sarcastic) But together, as one, we can defeat the Persians?

I: Exactly! - Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting with His Highness - Good day, my dear

Isocrates leaves
Gabrielle continues her walk through the gardens and comes across a small grotto dedicated to Athena

G: (Kneeling down) Oh Athena, great goddess of truth and wisdom, please accept this small but beautiful token as I beseech your guidance in a most trying matter...

Gabrielle lays the flower at the base of the statue

G: In this city, the city of your patronage, I have heard the words of a great scholar and they make sense...YET...when I listen to them through my heart, they become dark and twisted...I'm afraid that my heart may be biased for fear of losing precious...

Gabrielle's voice begins to crack

G: I've learned the lesson of "the greater good" before, I do not need to be tested again - My selfish desires may seem like a feeble excuse to you but please understand that they are a legitimate reason to I ask you...beg you...for the courage needed, if Xena is to be your servant

Gabrielle brings her hands to her face and slowly begins to weep
She senses someone kneel next to her and looks into familiar radiant blue eyes piercing through the dark slit of a helmet

G: Xena

The warrior princess is dressed in the royal uniform of a magenta tunic and cloak
Philip's crest is emblazoned on elaborate silver armor

G: (Turning away) I see you've made your decision

The warrior princess, now Philip's head general, removes the helmet from her head and guides the bard's face back to meet hers

X: I've been searching for you...

G: Have you?

X: Yes

G: Well, you've found me

X: (Pulling back) I've come to explain my decision

G: Why? - This was your choice to make and you've made it...what I think shouldn't matter to you

X: (Grabbing Gab's shoulder) But it does to me

G: (Not responding to Xena's touch) Really

X: Gabrielle, you influence every decision I make anymore...

G: Then...please tell did I influence you into suicide?

X: (Sarcastic) Thanks for your support

G: I'm sorry Xena, but I can't support losing you

X: (Rising) You won't be losing me...I'm not going

G: (Stunned) What? - I don't understand?

A trio of elderly women come to pray at the grotto

X: (Holding her hand out to Gabrielle) C'mon, let's go for a ride

"Asunder" - Part V (Version 1.OH)

As they make their way to the royal stables, Xena decides it is best for Gabrielle to sit in the saddle first
She knows the ostrich plumes adorning the back of her helmet would cause the bard to sneeze
The warrior princess' gauntlet eases its way around Gabrielle's waist and holds firm as they silently ride Argo along the the 5 mile road to the seaside village of Piraeus

X: (Dismounts and holds open her arms) Here

G: (Hesitates for a moment and falls into them) Thanks

X: Have you eaten anything today?

G: No...I'm not really hungry

X: Gabrielle, I could feel your stomach churning the entire ride down

Xena strides ahead to a stand on the pier and brings back some crabcakes
The two eat them on a bench overlooking the ocean

X: That was odd

G: (Chewing) What was?

X: I offered the vendor dinars but he insisted on giving me lunch for free

G: Heh, if I saw you coming at me in that uniform, I'd give it to you too

X: I thought that at first but then he smiled, shook my hand and said "thank you"

Xena picks at her last crabcake

X: (Catching Gabrielle staring at her) What? - Do you want something to drink? - I doubt he'll be as generous with the ale

G: (Tracing the curves of Xena's armor with her fingertips) Maybe later...

X: I know, I know, I've seen better uniforms on Centaurs

G: Actually, I think it's very striking...

Both try not to blush

G: But

X: But?

G: I hardly recognize you

X: I suppose it will take some getting used to

G: I suppose

X: (A little laugh) It's all very ironic

G: What is?

X: Did I ever tell you about Dartanius?

G: (Thinking) Dartanius...wasn't he the baron of your village?

X: Yep, when I was a child, he ruled over Amphipolis and a few other towns

G: And he was good, right?

X: The most magnanimous man in the land

G: Try saying THAT 10 times in a row...sorry...go on

X: Lycius and I used to watch him at the marketplace...he'd always be buying food for the poor and joking with the villagers like any ordinary man...

G: Did he joke with you as well? - Wait, I forgot, you don't care for jokes

X: (Smirking) I care about you, don't I?

G: Ha Ha Ha

X: One day, Lycius and I were playing in the baron's woods - we passed him on a hunt and worried about being yelled at for trespassing...instead he invited us along

G: That was nice of him

X: Yes, it was...

G: Then what happened?

X: Well, we were closing in on a large buck when I spotted a viper near Dartanius - I yelled at him to keep still - Lycius grabbed a rock and smashed it before it could strike

G: (Under her breath) I've heard enough about dead snakes for one day

X: Did you say something?

G: No, for once, you're doing all the talking

Xena raises an eyebrow

G: And I LIKE it, please continue

X: Anyway, Dartanius was so impressed, he gave us both an arrow to bring back to him when we were of age - we would become members of his royal guard

G: A wise man

X: Lycius and I used to dream about it everyday until Cortese came along and slaughtered him...them...

G: (Reaches for Xena) I'm sorry

Xena gets up and starts to stroll along the sand
Gabrielle follows

G: Xena, I'm pleased you shared that story with me but...but you still haven't told me about the thing with Philip

X: (Throwing an arm around Gabrielle) You know, your patience is a gift...too bad you couldn't bottle it

G: I'm sure Salmoneus could find a way

Both grin at the thought as foam-edged waves creep near their feet

X: I told Philip that I would help train the troops, plan strategy, whatever was necessary to strengthen his forces...however...the commitment ends there - my days of war are over

G: (Suppressing her relief) But, I thought he wanted you by his side?

X: And I will be until it's time - besides, he has many capable commanders who can follow through

G: Still...I'm sure he wasn't too thrilled with your offer

X: But it was the only offer I was making - and speaking of offers...

Xena pulls out a large velvet pouch and gives it to Gabrielle

G: (Pouring out the contents in her hand) OH - I have never seen so many dinars in my life!

X: Not only am I Philip's general for the time being BUT he wants me to stay on as a permanent military advisor once he returns

G: IF he returns

X: more glum thoughts! - Just think about it, you can finally go to the Bard Academy and maybe get a hillside villa bigger than Isocrates'

G: (Ponders for a minute) Xena, when Philip first proposed this idea to you, your gut reaction was to leave...

X: Yeah, but I've had time to think

G: With your head or your heart?

X: (Perturbed) I don't understand, Gabrielle - Even your "greatest orator" buddy is right on this account...the clash between Philip and Artaxerxes is inevitable, if our side shows the slightest bit of dissension, we're all history!

G: So, you're doing this to keep together an empire held by the thinnest of spider webs, to honor a dead brother, to buy me a villa in the hills, and to avoid custard being thrown in your that it?

X: (Bristling) NO...that is NOT it

G: I'm sorry but I need reasons, not excuses - I need to know that you are doing this for YOU because YOU think it's the right thing to do...

Xena stands rigid and says nothing
Gabrielle curls a lock of Xena's raven hair around her finger

G: And if you can do this for me, I will back you...100% of the way!

Xena strangles the impulse to sweep the bard up in her arms

G: (Trying to lighten the mood) HOWEVER...since you are my best friend and I lo...CARE about you, I will spot you 50%

X: Only 50?

G: Well, maybe 75

X: 76

G: 75 and a half!

X: Deal!

Both smile at each other

X: We should get going, I need to be in Marathon tomorrow for a weapons for you...

G: (Standing at attention) Yes, oh great general to his highness, King Philip, ruler of all the land and sea you can see...

X: Knock it off! - I need you to stick close to Isocrates...he has Philip's ear

G: (Snatching at Xena's face) He my have Philip's ear, BUT I'VE GOT YOUR NOSE

Xena turns away and swallows her laughter

X: Keep it up, little bard, and I'll have to discipline you

G: By your command

A whistle for Argo fills the air

G: Hold on a minute!

Gabrielle spots something in a pile of kelp
She reaches inside and pulls out an abalone shell

G:'s amazing how something so beautiful could be hidden under all this mess

X: (To herself) You have a real talent for finding it

G: (Heading towards Argo) Hey Xena, can I wear the helmet?

X: No

G: Aw, c'mon!

X: No

G: Please?

X: No

G: Pretty please, with ambrosia on top?

X: Maybe

"Asunder" - Part VI (Version 1.OH)

Over the next few weeks, Xena spends most of her time with the troops while Gabrielle accompanies the First Bard to his public speeches
In the town square of Megara, Isocrates prepares to deliver the usual political oration
He notices a distracted Gabrielle looking off into the hills

I: (Going over to her) I know you've heard it all before but at least TRY and look awake

G: I'm sorry, Isocrates, my mind was wandering...

I: Let me Chalcis...don't worry, once Xena settles the dispute with the Euboeans, she'll return to Athens

G: (Defensive) I wasn't thinking about Xena

I: Of course you weren't

G: (Unfolding a scroll) I was...trying to figure out a way to clarify the diction in Essay #6

I: (Taking the scroll and rolling it back up) Forget about Essay #6...YOU'RE giving today's speech!


I: (Grinning) A wonderful storyteller like you, Gabrielle, should use your talent...and give me a rest

G: (Turning away from Isocrates) I said I'd assist with writing your speeches, I didn't say I'd deliver them

I: HOW DARE YOU? - This SHOULD be viewed with joy! - Every bard DREAMS of having an audience this size

G: To tell stories to, not lies

I: We do NOT tell lies, child, only SELECTED truth - Can it possibly be that you are STILL unsure of our purpose?

G: YOUR purpose

I: Oh no...NO, sweet Gabrielle, it is OUR purpose - a purpose you take part in everyday - just because you create the words instead of speaking them doesn't make you any more innocent or any less guilty

G: (Angrily) I'm only doing this for...

I: For what? - To study in the presence of the great Isocrates, to help the empire of King Philip...or to keep Xena safe?

G: (Facing him) Safe...from what?

I: (Placing his hand on her shoulder) Come now, it is time for you to be honest with yourself, Gabrielle, even if Xena cannot

G: (Understanding fully what he meant) What are you trying to say?

I: You and I both know that she will be accompanying Philip to the battleground

G: NO SHE WON'T...she said those days were over

I: Maybe in her mind they were...but in her heart...

G: I don't believe you

I: Do you really expect the royal head general to just walk away from the troops she helped train, the plans she helped formulate, the empire that now honors her?

Gabrielle grabs her arms and holds herself steady

G: But she still hasn't given me a reason...a REAL reason as to why she's doing this in the first place...the money...the glory...the free just isn't enough...

I: (Puzzled) Crabcakes?

G: Nevermind

I: It could very well be that Xena cannot give you a real reason because she does not have one herself, afterall, she has many conflicting ideals to ponder

G: She shouldn't have to ponder

I: My dear, nothing in life is black and white...except for some hideous marble squares in the palace dance not go looking for a logical answer where no logic exists

G: I'm starting to get a headache

I: Would you like some water?

G: No thanks

I: Would you like some wine?

G: Yes thanks

Isocrates calls on a troupe of jesters to keep the crowd entertained while he takes Gabrielle into a tavern

I: (Emptying his glass) Feeling better?

G: (Refilling hers) No, but the headache's gone

I: Would you like to hear my opinion as to why Xena is doing this?

G: Not really, but since you've paid for the drinks...

I: (Chuckling) Ah, reason number one is quite evident for you are indeed a treasure!

G: Me?

I: Don't sound so surprised

G: No, she's doing this for...for her brother, her redemption, her...

I: Love?

G: Why do you keep saying that? - Her wanting me to go to the Academy and live in a nice villa, those are just small excuses she needs to validate her decision...not love

I: And why did she make that decision?

G: I DON'T know

I: Maybe all of those "small excuses" seem like ordinary stones BUT if you stack them on top of each other they become a wall...

G: It depends on how you stack them, they could be just a pile of rocks

I: But who's doing the stacking?

G: (Swallows the last of her wine) I'm tired, Isocrates, no more

I: But you didn't let me ARE correct in that Xena is using the "stones" as an excuse...her real reasons are YOU and HER

Gabrielle is too mentally exhausted to answer but listens intently

I: She is protecting you...plain and simple...Philip WILL go to war with Artaxerxes, if he loses, so do you, so does all of Greece...Xena knows this and figures it's best for EVERYONE to help where she can...AND SHE CAN

G: (Softly) Xena can't always protect me...

I: True, but as long as she draws breath, she will try

G: When is she going to let me grow up? - I've been married for Demeter's sake!

I: Gabrielle, it doesn't matter how mature you are, Xena will ALWAYS feel the need to protect you - the only stable element in her world of chaos

G: (More to herself than Isocrates) Huh, it was that world I was attracted to in the first place, she rescued me from an ordinary life...not to mention a few hundred bad guys

I: And now she's trying to rescue you again, this time from the Persians

G: (Looking around) Funny, I don't see a scimitar at my throat

I: Don't be sardonic, it's not a pretty look on you

G: What did you mean by "HER" as the other reason?

I: Xena is doing this as much for herself...her TRUE for you - as far as she's concerned, her reality only consists of you and her - I've already explained your part...

Isocrates stays silent for a moment, staring intently at Gabrielle

G: (Growing frustrated) What...WHAT?

I: You KNOW what I am about to say for having seen it for yourself

G: (Hesitant) I don't know what you're talking about...

I: The extra training sessions with the forces, going over all the plans two...three hundred times, personally inspecting every shipment of weapons - His Majesty is quite astonished at how quickly she has bonded with the troops

G: (Glancing down) That's the warrior princess

I: is

Gabrielle meets his eyes again

I: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you didn't know Xena...before...did you?


I: But I'm about to tell you something you already suspect...war to Xena is like writing to us, we couldn't live without it

G: I'm not so sure about that...

I: Oh, we would subsist...but would we really LIVE?

The crowd outside is growing restless with the jesters

I: (Getting up) Come along, it's time for the oration

Isocrates heads for the podium with Gabrielle following
The young bard pauses for a moment then stops the master before he begins

G: Isocrates, if you don't mind, I'd like to give that speech

"Asunder" - Part VII (Version 1.OH)

The next day, Gabrielle and Isocrates travel back to Athens on foot
A darkening sky looms in the distance

G: (Looking up) We better pick up the pace, that storm will be here soon

I: My Dear, what's a little water?

G: Water I don't mind, it's the cold and lightning I have a problem with

I: Shall I take this to mean you're speaking with me again? You haven't uttered a single word since we left Megara

G: I think I said more than enough with my speech

I: (Pleased) Indeed you did! - With wonderful body language, I might add

G: Hey

I: I was refering to your facial expressions and hand gestures, of course

G: Of course

I: However...

G: However?

I: Now comes the BEST part of a bard's life...the critique!

G: Can I stop you from giving it?

I: Are you prepared to use your staff on a defenseless old man?

G: (Thinking for a second) Nah

I: Alright then...first, your tales of the mighty warrior princess can be told by no other with the passion you possess...

G: (Smirking) However...

I: HOWEVER - You must learn to target your audience

G: I'm telling stories, not throwing spears

I: Yes, you ARE throwing spears...VERBAL ones...

G: But I don't WANT to use my stories as weapons

I: Gabrielle, this is NOT about entertaining some roadside innkeeper or a few orphan children...your stories now serve a greater purpose!

G: (Rolling her eyes) Here we go again!

I: I know better than to resume that endless argument with you but I will finish my critique

G: (Grumbling) And Xena complains about me being long-winded

I: Amazing how your focus always falls back to her...

G: She IS my...

I: Best friend, of course she is...

G: Are you going to finish or am I going to walk ahead?

I: Where is your patience, child?

G: In a bottle with Salmoneus

Isocrates looks at her puzzled

G: Nevermind

I: What I meant before about targeting your audience...did you notice the people who listened to your speech?

G: that I think about it, there were a lot of women

I: What KIND of women?

G: (Confused) Kind?

I: Yes, KIND, what were their characteristics?

G: (Searching) Um...well...they seemed...nice? - Oooh, and this one lady had the most beautiful macrame purse!

I: (Laughing) OH, if I were only 40 years younger and you had chest hair!


I: Nevermind - Gabrielle, those women were portly, middle-aged mothers - and what story did you use first in your speech?

G: (Suddenly realizing something) Xena giving up Solan to the Centaurs...

I: I'm afraid your friend didn't win too many laurel wreaths with that, no matter how noble her intentions were fortunate enough to follow it with the King Gregor tale

G: Fortunate, how?

I: Portly, middle-aged mothers are ALWAYS easy prey for a baby story with a happy ending

G: That's so stereotypical!

I: Maybe, but how does a stereotype come about in the first place? - Sure, there are exceptions, but it's always best to start out with what your audience knows...gain their favor...THEN go for the exotic!

G: But as a child, I was most enraptured by stories of the exotic, not of farm life...

I: (Pausing for a moment) And what about your friends and family, did they appreciate the exotic tales as well?

G: (Sighing) No

I: (Authoritative) From now on, when you deliver a speech...

G: MORE SPEECHES? - Can't I just continue as your assistant?

I: Do you want the empire to see it's head general as a sinner or a savior? - I can tell your stories but they'd sound better coming from you, someone who can emphasize the GOOD in Xena!

G: (Relenting) I suppose

I: Now, WHEN you deliver a speech, I want you to study your audience first, THEN choose a story that best represents it...tales of Princess Diana for the nobility, tales of Ares and Callisto for the young men, tales of...

G: I get the message

I: And so will they

Thunder begins as the sky turns the shade of grey just before black
A familiar cry is heard along with the galloping of a horse

G: (Turning around) XENA

The warrior princess does not stop
She grabs the bard on the full run and deftly settles her in back of the saddle
They leave Isocrates in the dust

X: (Teasing) Miss me?

G: (Somewhat stunned) You weren't expected back from Chalcis so soon!

X: Tell me, Gabrielle, do I EVER do anything that's expected?

G: I should know better by now, huh?

X: Yep

G: And I shouldn't bother asking how you knew where to find me...

X: Don't I always find you?

G: Yep

The skies threatens to explode at any moment
Xena brings Argo to a stop, removes her cloak and wraps it around the bard

G: (Sneezing) Xena, I'm fine

X: Why did you sneeze?

G: It was your helmet feathers...

X: Sorry

G: What about Isocrates?

X: I'm afraid there's only room for you on Argo...

G: (Smug) What a shame

X: Don't worry, Eleusis is right over that hill, he can seek shelter there

G: Is that where we're going?

X: (Gripping Argo's reins) No, I have business to take care of at the palace...are you ready to race a storm, Gabrielle?

G: (Trying to stifle her nervousness) Hey, what's a little water?


Torrential rain begins to drench the women and horse as lightning snaps a nearby tree
Riding at a pace Gabrielle never experienced before, Xena zig-zags Argo around the countryside
A new level of ferocity emerges from the warrior princess

X: (Laughing wildly) Don't try to catch me, Zeus, I'm NOT in the mood!

Another bolt cracks above their heads


G: (Shouting through clinched teeth) Xena, I DON'T think that's a good idea...

X: (Hearing Gabrielle perfectly well) Sorry, I can't hear you!

Xena lets loose with her infamous battle cry
Their tumultuous ride to Athens continues
Gabrielle holds onto Xena as tight as she possibly can

X: (Noticing) Enjoying the ride, Gabrielle?

G: (Teeth chattering) N...n...not really

X: (Exuberant) Admit it...this is great!


X: (Driving Argo even harder) Don't worry, we're almost there...and it would be nice if I could breathe

G: (Not loosening her grip) S...s...sorry, I can't hear you!

X: (To herself) I've got you, Gabrielle, I won't let you fall

G: (To herself) I can't let go of you, Xena, you'll fall for sure

"Asunder" - Part VIII (Version 1.OH)

Arriving on the outskirts of Athens, Xena and Gabrielle stop at a small farm to board Argo

G: (Clutching the cloak and shivering) I don't understand this, I thought you had to be back at the palace?

X: (Paying the farmer) I do

F: General, do you wish for me to send word of your return?

X: (Flipping him another dinar) Yeah, in a few hours

F: As you wish

G: A few hours? - Xena?

Xena grabs the cloak and covers herself, then she grabs Gabrielle and covers her as well

X: (Starting to run) Let's go...

They take a convoluted path to the palace without being noticed
Xena "takes care of" a lone sentry and spots the terrace to their rooms

X: Here we are...

G: WAIT A MINUTE - Now, I haven't bothered you as to WHY we can't use the front door...BUT...if YOU think I'm going to scale a wall to get into MY room in the middle of a cyclone, YOU'RE...

X: (Blocking the last word with her hand) Don't keep you're mouth open TOO long, Gabrielle, I wouldn't want you to drown

G: (Pushing the hand away) Funny

X: (Turning her back to the bard) HOP ON

G: Not funny


Too tired and too wet to argue, Gabrielle jumps up on it and grabs hold of Xena's neck
With the agility of a cat and the speed of a spider, the warrior princess reaches the terrace in seconds

X: (Walking into the main chamber) Um, Gabrielle?

G: Hmm?

X: You can get off now

G: So soon? - I was just starting to enjoy myself

X: (Bucking her off into a chair) Another time

G: (Taking an apple from a bowl) Here you go, horsie!

X: (Starting a fire in the hearth) go change before you catch cold

G: I am WAY beyond cold at this point but that's a good idea

Gabrielle goes to her room and slips into a plush beige robe
She returns to find Xena stripping off her armor and talking to Erdrigas
The servant nods and leaves

G: Xena, I thought you didn't want anyone to know we're here?

X: He came to clean the rooms, I knocked him out, I woke him up, he answered a few questions, swore to keep quite and is now fetching us some hot buttered rum

G: (Shaking her head) Amazing

X: Which part?

Erdrigas returns with the rum, a small jar and then departs
Xena brings the tray over to Gabrielle who is now stretched out on pillows and a rug near the fireplace

G: (Taking her rum) What's in the jar?

X: (Reclining next to her) The tongue of a curious bard

G: No, really...what's in the jar?

X: (Sipping her rum) Jasmine oil

G: Jasmine oil? - I don't think that goes too well with rum

X: It's not for drinking...

G: Then what's it for?

Just as Gabrielle utters the last word, Xena gently rolls her over on her stomach and loosens the robe around her shoulders

G: (Barely able to whisper) Wh...what are you doing?

Xena responds by gently messaging the oil into Gabrielle's temples, around her neck and down her back

G: Oh, great gods of Olympus

X: (Continuing to rub) Gabrielle, you're strung like a lyre, Joxer could play a concerto on you

G: (Tensing up again) Joxer...that just ruined the mood!

X: (Rubbing harder) Sorry

G: Too bad he was killed by that snail

X: I know...

The warrior princess now trails down Gabrielle's outstretched arms and meets her hands with her own
The bard senses Xena's body completely covering her

X: Can you tell me what's troubling you?

G: (Eyes closed) Nothing...anymore

X: (Sighs) Gabrielle, if something's wrong, please tell me, I can feel it...

Gabrielle rolls over to face Xena, her robe falling open

G: Isocrates...

X: (Turning red in the face) WHAT DID HE DO TO YOU?

G: (Brushing Xena's cheek) RELAX, relax...he didn't DO anything to me...kinda


G: It's just that...

X: What?

G: It's just that...


G: I gave my first royal oration in the Megara town square...

X: (Softening) Oh Gabrielle...Gabrielle, I'm so proud of you! - I wish I was there to hear it

G: I'm glad you weren't

A look of shock and hurt runs across the face of the warrior princess

G: NO...I didn't mean that the way it sounded...I wish you WERE there but not to hear my speech

X: I don't understand

G: Xena...I told some stories about you...

X: And this is bad...because?

G: I used them in a way they should NEVER be used...Isocrates wants me to manipulate my audience with them...

X: All stories manipulate and evoke emotions

G: Yes, but it should be up to the individual to decide what truth those emotions evoke...not the storyteller

X: I'm not clear on Isocrates' part in this

G: (Voice cracking) He wants me to make fat mothers cry!

X: Huh?

G: I'm to target my stories to specific audiences in order to get more of a response...a response favorable to His Highness' ambitions

X: Hey don't have to do ANYTHING you don't wanna do...I'll tell Isocrates tomorrow...

G: (Clutching Xena's hand) NO...I want to do this Xena, I want to do this for...I NEED to do this

X: Why?

G: You savored that ride through the storm today, didn't you?

X: (Completely bewildered) WHAT?


X: (Exasperated) I...I guess?

G: Yes or no

X: You're not making much sense...

G: Please

X: (Pauses for a moment) Yes

Tears begin to run down Gabrielle's face as she turns away from Xena

X: (Pulling Gabrielle back to her) Gabrielle...

G: Xena, I'm scared

X: (Kissing away each drop) Don't be...I'm right here...I'm not going anywhere

G: (Returning a kiss to Xena's chin) Are you sure?

Xena fully embraces the bard for a few moments and then pulls back to gaze into her glistening eyes
She finally breaks the stare by looking down and noticing Gabrielle's open robe for the first time

X: (Pulling it closed) I don't want you getting cold

G: (Tracing Xena's eyebrows with her finger) I'm not cold

X: (Smirking) Could've fooled me

G: (Tugging at Xena's tunic) When are you going to get out of this wet thing?

X: (Letting Gabrielle undo the ties) Don't you like it?

G: (Removing it completely) Now I do...

They both laugh for a minute and then turn serious

G: Do you think you could hold me for a minute?

X: I think I could do that

The two embrace again as an irregular knock is heard at the door

X: (Jumping up and throwing her tunic back on) It's time

Before Gabrielle can react, Xena is almost out the door

G: Wait...where are you going?

X: (Closing the door behind her) I won't be gone long

G: (Turning toward the fire) We'll see

"Asunder" - Part IX (Version 1.OH)

In a pool at the royal bath house, Philip is discussing strategy with Jovard, Klaesius and a few other top advisors

P: And what about the possibility of an extreme southern route?

J: (Washing Philip's back) It would be best to go through the Sporades and land at Priene, then we could advance northward along the coast

P: Any other suggestions?

The warrior princess walks in

X: (Taking off her tunic) Yeah, I have one...find another route!

Xena dives in and swims over to the dumbstruck men

X: Hello, boys...what's the matter, never seen a naked woman before?

P: (Smiling) None of whom possess your beauty, Xena

Klaesius and the others laugh nervously


X: Now is that any way to address your head general?

K: (Stepping in) You weren't expected back from Chalcis so...

X: Soon? - So I've heard...

K: How did your meeting go with the Euboeans?

P: (Wading towards Xena) First, I want to know what you meant about "find another route?"

X: First, I want to know why you're discussing military policy here instead of the conference room and out of my presence?

P: Please, Xena, don't be offended...we were just having a casual conversation

X: I guess I have a different definition of the word "casual"

P: Surely you don't expect us to talk about how to embroider a tablecloth?

X: I don't care WHAT you talk about as long as you keep the business discussions where they belong...

J: (Apoplectic) Your Highness, she has NO right to speak to you that way!

X: (Starting to swim away) Actually, I don't have to speak at all...

P: WAIT...Xena, from now on, our discussions will be carried out in the conference room, in your presence of have my word

Xena studies Philip for a moment, glances at a scowling Jovard and then swims back over

X: Priene is a major stop on the frankincense trade route...if we land there, word will get back to Artaxerxes quicker than you can say "how much for the myrrh?"

K: I thought it went through Miletus?

X: It did until last winter

All the advisors look at each other and then to Philip

J: How can we trust what she says?

X: (Smirking) Maybe you can't...but, I suggest you speak with any spice trader in the agora and see what they have to say

A royal guard comes running into the room

RG: Your Majesty, we've just received word that the warrior princess is...

X: (Smiling at the guard) Hi

RG: Uh...

P: Dismissed!

RG: Yessir!

X: (Waving to the guard) Bye

P: Now, about the Euboeans...

X: The Euboeans were most agreeable...

P: What were their conditions?

X: (Getting out of the pool) We'll discuss their conditions tomorrow in the conference room at dawn...until then, gentlemen

Xena grabs her tunic and heads for the door
Suddenly, she turns around

X: use a double stitch pattern for tablecloths so it's more durable...

She leaves
Philip laughs and claps his hands

A few moments later, Xena is strutting down the colonnade
She runs into Erdrigas lighting some lamps

E: (Noticing Xena's wet hair) Was your bath most pleasant, mistress?

X: "Pleasant" isn't the word I'd use but it served it's purpose...thank you for "suggesting" it, Erdrigas

E: (Rubbing his neck) My...pleasure

X: Be sure to serve breakfast in the conference room tomorrow at dawn

E: Of course, will there be anything else?

X: I need to pick a bouquet of crocus blooms from the garden

E: I just brought some in before the yourself...they're in a vase near the atrium stairs

X: (Taking off) Thanks

After a few moments Xena finds the flowers, gathers some up and takes a whiff
The next thing she feels is a fist splitting her lip

X: (Looking up to see Jovard) What? - Don't you like flowers, commander?

With the bouquet in her fist, she slams it into his stomach

X: For you!

Jovard goes flying across the atrium floor into a wall
Xena saunters over and pulls him up to face her

X: Is there a problem you'd like to discuss?

Jovard tries to catch his breath but can't

X: Hmm...let me're - what did Klaesius say? - "challenged" by my presence?

J: (Wheezing)

X: (Pulling him closer) Let's make some things perfectly clear...first, I'm here to HELP you and your king, if you don't want my help, fine...I walk...and so will the treaty with the Euboeans...

Jovard struggles in vain

X: Second...I returned early because I suspected things were being discussed behind my back, if I catch this happening again...I run...and so will the forces the minute they face Artaxerxes...

Jovard looks at her silently

X: Finally, I'm not a threat to you and Philip, his...scepter...doesn't interest me...

She releases him and picks up the flowers

X: (Sniffing them again) So, where do we stand, Jovard? - United or asunder?

Jovard turns his back on her and starts walking away

J: I'll see you in the morning

Xena gives a half smile and heads up the stairs to her quarters
Inside, she finds Gabrielle fast asleep by the fire
The warrior princess gently picks up the bard and carries her to the fluffy pink bed, covering her up with a white angora blanket
Gabrielle does not wake as Xena places the crocus bouquet by her pillow and takes a seat in a nearby chair

X: (To herself) sneeze at my feathers but not at the flowers or blanket...I can never figure you out, Gabrielle

Gabrielle stirs slightly
Xena watches the young woman and finds comfort in matching her breathing rhythm with hers
As Xena begins to doze, she notices the bard beginning to toss about

X: (Under her breath) Hey, I'm the one with the nightmares...remember?

Gabrielle thrashes lightly and lets out a low moan
Xena goes over to rescue her friend from whatever Chimaera was chasing her
Upon climbing into the bed and seeing the smile on Gabrielle's still sleeping face, Xena realizes the true nature of the bard's nocturnal adventure

X: (Under her breath) Well, she's certainly not dreaming about bunnies in a least I HOPE she's not dreaming about bunnies in a meadow...ECH

Xena continues to watch Gabrielle's restlessness with equal parts guilt and intrigue
A pang of jealousy hits the warrior princess harder than Jovard

X: (To herself) I wonder who it is...Perdicus?...Iolaus?...JOXER?

The last thought causes Xena to burst out laughing
Gabrielle wakes up in a start

G: (Panicky) XENA?

X: (Clutching Gabrielle's shoulder) Shh, it's alright, I'm sorry I woke you...

G: (Looking around) did I get in here?

X: (Stroking Gabrielle's head) Try and go back to sleep

G: (Noticing Xena's split lip) Xena, you're bleeding!

X: I'm fine, don't worry about me

G: I ALWAYS worry about you

Gabrielle softly touches Xena's mouth with her finger tip

G: Does it need to be stitched?

X:, it will be OK

G: (Giving Xena a solitary kiss on the wound) OK

X: (Getting up from the bed) I have an early meeting tomorrow, so I'll leave you to your...dreams

Gabrielle turns over and brings the crocus blooms to her face

G: Not're there as well

Xena freezes in her tracks

X: What?

G: I was dreaming about you before I woke up...

Gabrielle turns to see an expression of 10,000 lightning bolts simultaneously striking Xena in the eyes

G: (Comprehending the full impact of her last statement on the warrior princess) I dreamt about you...uh...I mean...I dreamt that you hydra...WITH REALLY STUPID-LOOKING HAIR...Oh Xena, it was horrible!

X: (Barely able to talk) Goodnight, Gabrielle

Xena quickly leaves

G: (Reclining back) It was...

"Asunder" - Part X (Version 1.OH)

A week later, Gabrielle is having lunch in Mi'nas with Isocrates, Philip's wife Olympias and their young son Alexander

G: (Animated) ...and then THE HYDRA JUMPED OUT OF THE CAVE...

A: Ooh, more Gabby, MORE

O: (Placing her napkin on the table) I'm afraid Gabrielle will have to finish the rest of her story later...we need to get back to the palace, son

A: Aw c'mon Mom, just a few more minutes?

O: Now Alex, you know how pouty your father gets when we're late!

G: (Quitely to Isocrates) Pouty?

I: (Quietly back) And when they don't show up at all, he becomes downright sulky

O: If Gabrielle wouldn't mind, maybe she could come by tonight and finish the rest before bed...

A: (Hugging Gabrielle) COULD YOU? GABBY, PLEASE?

G: (Hugging the boy back) For the great Alexander, anything!


O: (Getting up) Thank you, Gabrielle, we'll see you tonight

G: Of course, your highness O: (Taking her son's hand) And me Olympias

The mother and son leave as Gabrielle waves goodbye
Isocrates beckons to the waiter

I: Would you like some dessert?

G: No thanks

I: Are you sure? - The custard here is exceptional

G: I know

Isocrates gives his order to the waiter and then sits back with his tea

I: (Studying Gabrielle) They're quite taken with you...

G: Who?

I: Don't be coy

G: (Indifferent) Olympias and Alexander?

I: NOT...a bad audience to have!

G: I suppose

I: Play it right and you could end up as governess to the next King of Greece

G: HA, the NEXT king...what about the current king?

The waiter brings Isocrates a bowl of custard

I: (Taking a bite) I will NOT have this delicious dessert marred by your temperament - Now, tell me what's it that special time of the moon cycle again?

G: (Snarling) GODS, Isocrates, I can't STAND your preconceived notions!

I: I'll take that as a "yes"

G: Change the subject

I: Alright...Xena

G: (Crossing her arms) Find another

I: OH - Well...I think I stick with this one for awhile

G: Talk to yourself then...

I: What's the matter, Gabrielle, did you and Xena have words?

G: (Scoffing) WORDS? - I'd settle for a grunt at this point!

I: (Playfully) the wicked warrior princess not paying enough attention to her beautiful baby bard?

G: It's just's just that Xena's been so distant lately

I: When ISN'T she distant, my dear?

G: Not with least not until last week

I: And what happened last week?

Gabrielle silently recalls the night of her dream and the expression on Xena's face

G: Nothing

I: It had to be SOMETHING

G: Isocrates, PLEASE

I: You ARE aware that the time for battle draws closer...that COULD be why she's pulling away from you

G: (Peeling off pieces of wax from the table candle) Whatever

I: With Hercules and his friend captured by Hera, Xena is our strongest leader, the fate of the empire rests with her and Philip

G: (Defensive) First, Xena could do it with or without Hercules, Philip or anyone else for that matter...

I: Think so?


Isocrates flashes an evil grin

G: (Not noticing) Second, the "friend" has a's Iolaus...we play a BIG part in helping out friends

I: Of course you do

G: (Settling down) By the way, do you know exactly how Hera captured Hercules and Iolaus?

I: Not really, except that she shaved their heads and made them powerless...

G: Not to mention unattractive

I: Maybe Xena should keep an eye on her gorgeous mane

G: (Looking off in the distance) Xena could be turned into a two-headed Gorgon and STILL be beautiful

I: How adorable!

Gabrielle rolls her eyes at Isocrates and returns to her far away gaze
The first bard finishes his dessert

I: I'm going to meet with his majesty at the encampment's headquarters, would you like to accompany me?

G: Another time, maybe

I: Xena will be there, she's training with the army from Soklos today

G: (A faint smile) Soklos...yet, so far

I: (Getting ready to leave) Don't worry, my sweet, I'm sure your warrior princess' disposition will improve greatly during next week's Royal Athena Nike Dance

G: (Chuckling) Uh...I don't think so...Xena doesn't care much for dances

I: (Into Gabrielle's ear) I HIGHLY suggest she "care" for this one - not only is it a regal honor, the empire's morale depends upon it - Good day, Gabrielle!

Isocrates exits with Gabrielle looking at his empty bowl of custard
Later that night, after she visits with Olympias and Alexander, the bard enters the royal stables
She finds the warrior princess making shoes for Argo

G: (After observing Xena for a few minutes) You know...they have about 20 blacksmiths here

X: (Not looking up) If you want something done right, do it yourself

G: Right

X: (Cool) Did you want to see me for a reason?

G: What makes you think I came to see you?

Xena stops and gives Gabrielle an arrogant stare

G: I came here to see...Argo

X: Argo

G: (Going over to the horse) Uh-huh - Hey girl, I missed you

Xena watches the bard nuzzle with the horse and then resumes her hammering

X: Don't give her any treats, she didn't eat her oats

G: I didn't bring any treats

X: Hmm...I thought you came to see her

G: (Kissing Argo on the nose) I did and I did

Gabrielle slowly starts to leave

G: (Barely audible) No difference

X: Excuse me?

G: (Facing Xena) What you're's no different than what the regular blacksmiths do

X: (Hammering harder) You don't know what you're talking about

G: (Turns to leave) Maybe...but I still don't see any difference


Gabrielle pauses and smiles to herself

X: Come here!

G: Actually, it's "Would you please come over here to me, Gabrielle?"

Xena says nothing and glares

G: (Walking over) OK

The warrior princess positions herself in back of the bard and gives her the tools

X: (Holding the hammer in Gabrielle's hand) Now, I want you to grip this by placing your fingers here...

G: Got it

X: The next thing is to...

Xena's nose is buried in the nape of Gabrielle's neck

X: What is...that scent?

G: Queen Olympias gave me some lavender you like it?

X: (Pausing) It's...not bad

A bead of sooty sweat falls from Xena's forehead onto the bard's bosom

X: Sorry

G: (Not wiping it) It's fine

X: (Regaining her composure) Now, I want you to hold the shoe at this slight angle

G: You know, this is the first time we've talked all week?

X: I've been distracted

G: So I've noticed

X: Do you want to learn this or not?

They resume their positions

X: When you hit with the hammer, focus the force in one area...

Gabrielle hits down and the shoe goes flying

G: Heh...I MEANT to do that!

X: (Fetching the shoe) You did

G: Yep, I wanted to make you laugh

X: I'm not laughing

G: I see that...I guess I'll have to try another tactic

Gabrielle starts to tickle the warrior princess

G: Remember? - I said I'd do this more often

X: (Firmly grabbing Gabrielle by the wrists) NO

Gabrielle pulls away and stares at Xena

X: (Resuming her hammering) I have work to do

G: whatever you have to do!

Gabrielle runs out of the stables

X: (Sighing) Gabrielle...I'm sorry

"Asunder" - Part XI (Version 1.OH)

A few days later, Xena is leading a battalion of Arcadians in an afternoon war chant on the training grounds

X: (Singing) ZO'I {Life}

B: (Unison) ZO'I


B: (Unison) PO'LEMOS

X: (Shaking her fist at the Eastern horizon) THA'NATOS {Death}

The troops break into thunderous cheering


Xena storms through the crowd and heads for the royal tent headquarters
Once inside, she meets up with Philip, Jovard and Klaesius

P: (Observing the cheering forces) Very nice, general!

X: Thanks

P: (Smirking) And your voice is pretty good, too

X: (Ignoring the last comment) I'd like to go over attack formation "Sigma9" once again

J: (Harsh) Right now, we have a greater concern...

K: The Laconians are bickering with the Phoci again

X: AGAIN? - I just had it out with them the other day!

J: Why should they respect your orders...GENERAL...when you're just going to leave them?

K: I think what the commander is TRYING to say is that the soldiers would feel more secure with you leading the charge

J: The commander isn't TRYING to say anything...the fact is...Xena is going to "lead" herself in the opposite direction when we finally go against the Persians

P: Enough, Jovard

Xena remains silent

P: I shall go and have a talk with troops myself

J: Sir, the time for talk is running out...

P: (Getting up to leave) I'm well aware of the time, commander

X: (Joining Philip) I'm coming with you...

All three men look at Xena

X: talk to the Laconians and Phoci - I can be VERY persuasive when I need to be

P: Very well then, let's go

After several hours of talk and a few clashed swords, Xena and Philip quell the Laconians and Phoci
Philip invites the two leaders to dine at his table next week at the Royal Athena Nike Dance
Exhausted, the warrior princess departs and watches the twilight around the encampment
Klaesius quickly comes over to her

K: General, there is someone wishing to see you back at headquarters!

X: (Sighing) Can't Jovard take care of it?

K:, I don't think so

Xena reluctantly returns to the royal tent

X: (Entering) Queen Melosa!

The leader of the Amazons embraces the warrior princess

M: It is good to see you again, Xena

X: And to what do I owe the honor of your visit?

M: I arrived early for the Royal Athena Nike Dance

X: (Mumbling) Of course

M: And I wanted to check up on my unit, after all, I sent you my very best!

X: Indeed!

M: (Starting to pace) It's quite the menagerie you have out there - Any problems?

X: None that I can't handle

M: That's good to hear...

X: Would you like to go over a few drills? - We have some time before total darkness

M: Maybe in the morning - I am curious, Xena...

X: About?

M: Why you became Philip's general

X: I have my reasons

M: I'm sure you to explain any?

X: Not really

M: You know MY reason for helping out is an equal voice on the royal council - Somehow, I just don't see politics as your motivation

X: Look, it's only a matter of time before Artaxerxes...

M: (Interrupting) Yes, yes...I know ALL about Artaxerxes - I still don't know about you

X: I'm sure Gabrielle can give you a few scrolls

M: And where is the Amazon Princess?

X: (Biting her lip) Back at the palace, I think...

M: Really? I thought she would be at your side?

X: Is there anything else, Melosa? - I need to get going

M: I'll see you in the morning then

X: (Rushing off) Good night!

Xena charges into her quarters to find Gabrielle and another woman trying on some togas

G: Xena, this is Klaesius' wife, Tyreen...

T: It's a pleasure to finally meet you, general, Klaesius speaks very highly of...


G: (Outraged) XENA

X: (Holding the door open) Lieutenant Klaesius is my best archer and a good man...NOW LEAVE

T: Of course

G: Tyreen, I'm so sorry...

T: (Almost out the door) It's alright, Gabrielle, let me know which toga you decide on for the dance

Xena slams it shut and throws herself into a pile of cushions by the fire

G: (Trying to calm herself) I...I...JUST CAN'T FIND THE WORDS

X: Will wonders ever cease?

G: can be an uncouth, obnoxious PIG in front of me - I'm used to it - BUT there was NO EXCUSE for this rude behavior to Tyreen!

X: LOOK, I've had a hard day, I'm tired, it feels like a hundred minotaurs are stampeding in my peace and quite TOO much to ask for?

G: Fine

Gabrielle goes back to her room and changes
She comes out again and carefully places three togas on the table
The warrior princess silently watches

G: (Noticing) Is it alright to ask your opinion?

X: Are you talking to me?

G: No...I'm talking to the barn owl that's perched on the terrace

X: I don't care...wear whatever you want...ANYTHING is better than what you have on now

G: (Stunned) You don't like this outfit?

X: It looks like something Argo regurgitated


X: Because I'm your friend - I didn't want to hurt your feelings...

G: And you're not hurting them now? - Friendship means honesty, Xena!


Xena grabs Gabrielle with one arm and rips off her clothes with the other

X: (Tossing the green shreads into the fire) Those rags weren't worthy to touch your skin - Is that honest enough for you?

G: (Standing there naked) Brutally

Xena stares at the nude bard before her and realizes what she's done
The warrior princess quietly goes over to Gabrielle and covers her with her cloak

X: Gabrielle...I'm sorry

G: (Throwing off the cloak and covering herself with a blanket) If you do that to me again, Xena, I WILL hurt you...

X: I know...

Xena stands in front of a full-lenght mirror and looks at herself

X: I...I don't know what's happening to me...

G: I think you do...we both do

X: What are you talking about?

G: (Standing in back of Xena and looking in the mirror at her) Your dark side is surfacing again...

X: (Nervous) No...that's not happening...

G: is - it's part of you

Xena looks down
Gabrielle wraps her arms around the warrior princess

G: It's a part of you I accept - as long as you control it and it doesn't control you...

X: (Turns to face her friend) It's this uniform, it's Philip, it's this whole mess!

G: (Taking a seat by the fire) Did I ever tell you about my childhood best friend, Coselia?

X: I think that's one story you've never mentioned

G: Well, she was very shy and nobody wanted to play with her...

X: (Joining Gabrielle by the fire) Except you...

G: My mother MADE me play with her because her family farmed the best cabbage...I HATE cabbage

X: I'll make a note of that...

G: Anyway, she turned out to be fascinating and I loved to play with her, eventually, so did everyone else...

X: A nice, happy ending...

G: That's NOT the end

X: Why am I not surprised?

G: Then came the Autumnal Equinox Festival - Coselia was chosen "Leaf Queen" out of all of us, she got to wear the ceremonial crown and presided over the bonfire

X: (Patting Gabrielle's back) Well, they made a mistake in not picking you

G: It's alright, I was part of her "Gourd Court"


G: Afterwards, she gave everyone this MAJOR attitude..."Hey, I'm the Leaf Queen, do as I say!" - No one could stand Coselia so we all stopped playing with her

X: I bet you were the first one who tried to talk some sense into her

G: I was the first one to egg her house!

Xena raises her eyebrow then gets up and returns with some eggs from the dinner table

X: (Giving them to Gabrielle) Here, they're hard boiled but feel free to throw them at me anyway

G: (Taking the eggs) I think I've seen enough food thrown at you...come here!

X: (Reclining next to the bard) Actually, it's "Would you please come over here to me, Xena?"

Both laugh as Gabrielle cradles the head of the warrior princess in her arms

G: (Peeling an egg and popping it in Xena's mouth) The point of my story is that a person can't be "changed" by a uniform or a crown of foliage unless THEY allow themselves to be changed...

X: I may be an uncouth, obnoxious, pig...BUT...I did get the drift of your story, Gabrielle - Please extend my apologies to Tyreen when you see her again

G: You can apologize to her yourself at the Royal Athena Nike Dance

Xena buries her face in Gabrielle's lap and groans

G: C'mon, Xena, it'll be fun

X: Don't wanna!

G: Just do it - For me...

X: Alright, alright

The bard strokes Xena's head until she falls asleep

G: (To herself) I'm glad I left out the part about Coselia going mad and throwing herself in front of the family cabbage wagon!



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