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I wanna tell you about when the Warrior Princess came to our town. Mama said not to talk to no one about it, so I'm being secrety and writing it down (it ain't talking, it's writing!). Old One-Eye learned me how to write and I'm pretty good at it now, so here I goes.
So there was this Meany Guy who came to town and he started being nasty and no one could say his name out loud or he'd kill them and it looked like we was all gonna be dead or worse anyway! (Mama wouldn't even tell me what the 'worse' part might be, but I'm thinking wow, that must be pretty bad, doncha think?) Anyway, we were hiding behind the old sawmill, down by the crick and in the sandstone caves. Had half the village set up there and it was terrible crowded and stinky as all get out. When I told Mama how stinky all the grown-ups were she knocked me on my head and told me to go play.
Well, there ain't lotsa places to play in the sandstone caves, specially all crowded like that. So my best friend, Digger, and I, we sorta snuck out and decided to scout. Digger knows all the good places for hiding since he is always getting hit for not being good and the best part is that he does whatever I tell him. I got dark hair and bangs and blue eyes so he thinks I look just like the Warrior Princess and so I told him I was her little girl left behind during a raid and he believed me! Anyways, we went crawling around looking for a good hiding place to watch for the Meany Guy.
Thing is, he was scary big and he rode right past our hiding place and I got all trembly in my belly. But I couldn't let Digger know cuz then he'd jump up and protect me or something stupid like that (he's a boy) and I didn't want him hurt. He was my only army.
So we held our breaths and stayed real still and I made my eyes all squinty cuz then I looked even more like the Warrior Princess (I saw a drawing of her once and she was doing that) so he paid close attention to my hand signals. Digger and me, we got our own language cuz he don't hear at all. He don't talk, neither, but he's my best friend in the whole wide world and I think he's even more special cuz of all that. It makes him seem like the gods chose him or something. Least, that's my theory.
Well, Meany Guy and his soldiers rode past us and the horses were all snorting and it was really scary and all, but we were doing okay until one of the horses stopped and decided to drop a load right there next to our bush. Digger has this thing about bad smells. He throws up. Well he started turning all green and I was wondering what in Hades (oops, sorry) they was feeding their horses and he was looking like he was gonna hurl any second and then we'd be so dead. When suddenly I heard this sound. Digger didn't, of course, but his eyes are about the sharpest in the village and he just snapped his head to looking and so I did too.
The sound I'd heard was almost like singing sorta, only really high and then *bam*! Outta the trees flew this woman who was all dark and leather and she was smiling with these bright white teeth. Yup, you guessed it right off. The very actual Warrior Princess herself. Only her eyes weren't squinty this time, they was big and round and really blue (just like mine! Maybe she is my real mama!) and she had her sword on her back. So she jumped on the guy whose horse was dropping the load and the guy fell and the horse reared and she said "hyah!" and the horse sorta leapt and bam! She flew off the horse and onto the next guy.
Man, you shoulda seen it! Men were flying around and cursing and all confused and there was the Warrior Princess, slashing with her sword and being so scary. But not scary scary, more like, hey, she's gonna save us all scary!
Digger, he tapped my shoulder and I looked around and there was this smaller woman with kinda reddy-blonde hair and she had this big stick and she was hitting everybody with it. I was so totally amazed! I didn't know you could do cool stuff with just a stick! I've been practicing ever since, trying to learn myself how to do that stuff and Digger, he's been helping me. He's smart, and remembered lotsa the stuff she did with it.
Bam! The Warrior Princess spun around and landed on her feet face to face with Meany Guy!
"Talmadeus," she said and I grabbed Digger cuz she said his name and not no one was supposed to say his name (thank the gods Digger don't talk cuz knowing him, he'da said it a gazillion times just cuz he's not sposed to -- and then he woulda got himself dead. Or worse!).
"Xena. I might have known you'd come here," he said back with his voice all sneery and stuff. He tried to look all fierce, but it was weird. It was almost like he was scared of her. I didn't think nothing could get to him, but man, I don't blame him. The Warrior Princess, she is like a god almost. Digger once drawed a picture of her afterwards and he put all sorts of crackly lines around her, like she had lightning coming offa her. That's sorta how it was. You could feel it. And Digger, well, maybe he even seen it cuz of his good eyes.
Well, the rest of the men they was either on the ground or running and the stick lady was standing with her back to the Warrior Princess and holding her stick and looking really concentrated. She must've been Xena's army, I guess. I looked at Digger and did something really crazy. I kissed him on his cheek cuz all of a sudden I could see him doing that. Just protecting me if I ever got in trouble. He's that kind of army. Digger just frowned and wiped his cheek (toldja, he's a boy) but he didn't get mad or nothing. I woulda been able to tell. He told me with his hands to keep watching. So of course I was gonna do that anyway, so I did. (Besides, I was telling him with my own hands what they was saying and he didn't wanna miss nothing.)
"There are a lot of rumors about you, Xena," said Meany Guy and he was smiling, but it was a not nice smile.
"Oh? You gonna tell me or should I guess?" she said back and she laughed this evil laugh and I thought, man, she is just the coolest! She really is, y'know. She just has this thing about her which makes you want to be her. That's what I was thinking as I was sitting there hiding. That it ain't enough to have bangs and blue eyes like her, I wanted to *be* her. When I grow up, I want to be able to laugh at the Meany Guys in the world and protect people like my village and be the one who saves people. And Digger, well, he was thinking the same thing. Cuz he was talking away with his hands, telling me we should both grow up to be Xena. I told him he was a boy and couldn't be Xena but he told me anyone can be Xena if their soul is strong and their heart is on the side of good. Told you. Digger is smart. When he's right, he's right.
"I've wanted my blade to taste your blood for years, Xena," said Meany Guy.
Ewwww! He was talking about eating her blood! That was just pure grossness! And boy oh boy, did that get me mad. How could anyone want to kill the Warrior Princess? Couldn't he see that she was more than a person, she was like a living bard's tale? She was like the stories we learned in school -- full of adventure and lessons and mistakes but more of a hero because of it. Who'd want to kill that?
So I guess the answer was him, cuz he started slashing with his sword and she was twirling hers and jumping outta the way and laughing and they clang clang clanged and spun and clanged and swiped and jumped and laughed and clang clanged -- like a dance or something. They were both all motion and sound and her eyes were like on fire.
Digger was breathing hard then, and I could tell he was really worried. Then I saw what he saw. Three of the army guys were getting up and the stick lady didn't see them cuz she was fighting another guy what got up. And then one of the three guys whacked her on the back of the head and the Warrior Princess didn't see it cuz Meany Guy had her clanging away with him and now the stick lady was in mondo trouble, lying on the ground.
Well, I was thinking that if she was like Digger, what would I do to help him if he got whacked? I was thinking real hard when I saw Digger gesture at the horse pile in front of us. And it grossed me out but I got his idea and so we both real quietlike wrapped leaves on our hands and picked up the horse apples and started flinging them at the army guys. So they started screaming like little kids, all grossed out and the Warrior Princess spotted the trouble.
She whapped Meany Guy good then spun through the air and bam bam bam knocked all the army guys out before they could touch the stick lady at all.
Then -- and this was so amazing -- the Warrior Princess herself looked right at the bush and I could tell she seen Digger and me. She didn't say nothing, but it's almost like she knew our language cuz her eyes kind of talked to us. She thanked us and told us to stay put. And it was all with her eyes! So amazing. Anyways, she turned back and Meany Guy was charging her. Well, I didn't see it but Digger had been sticking horse apples on the path and Meany Guy hit this big slick of 'em and his feet flew out from under him and splat! He was lying in them!
So I yelled at Digger with my fingers and he told me they was stinking up the place and he wanted them gone. But I knew he'd planned the splat. Well, the Warrior Princess, she was just laughing like crazy and Meany Guy was squishing around so she put her sword to his neck and said (and believe me, I'm just repeating here cuz I wouldn't say none of this, 'kay?) "You wanna die in horse sh** or live another day?" (I put them starry marks in place of the letters, but you can prolly guess what she really said.)
So he grumbled a lot and finally he told her he wanted to live and she told him to take his stinking army and never bother another village again and he agreed to it! And he looked all scared and stuff so I'm pretty sure he was gonna!
Army guys were waking up and she was slapping them with her sword, hurrying them along and the stick lady was up again and she was whacking behinds, too, and both of these ladies were looking mean and pleased with themselves and they'd *so* won! Amazing.
When all the army guys were gone and the path was clear, the Warrior Princess came over to us and Digger and I stood up. She looked at us with those eyes and I was wondering if we were in trouble for putting the apples on the path. Then she hunkered down and her face was even with mine and she put her hand on my cheek and she smiled real pretty (did I tell you how pretty she was? She's like goddess pretty) and she kissed me on my forehead (here's something you may not know -- she has really soft lips, even though she's a warrior and everything) and told me I was brave. (Wow, huh?!?!) Then she said I needed to be careful because it was important that I grow up, so I can fight when she can't no more.
She moved to Digger and looked at him real thoughtful. He was sort of hanging his head, cuz he hates the fact that he can't hear cuz some people can be mean about it. But she lifted his face to hers and smiled at him. She put her hand on her heart then pointed at him and he smiled back, understanding. Then she kissed his cheek and he got all red (and didn't wipe it off at all -- the rat! He always wipes off my kisses).
Then the stick lady came over and she had really kind eyes and she put her hand on Xena's shoulder and winked at us which made me giggle. The Warrior Princess stood up and put her arm around the stick lady's waist and asked her real concerned-like if she was okay which got a smile. She was. And they both looked so tender and everything and I was thinking this really is kinda like Digger and me. They must be best friends or married or something. Who knows? Anyway, they waved at us and said good-bye then headed to the cave to tell everyone else it was safe now.
(I found out later that the stick lady's name was Gabrielle and she's like a world famous bard and everything! I thought about saying her name when I wrote this down but at the time I didn't know it and I wanted it to sound all real, like you was watching with me, but it's too bad I didn't know then. I think the Warrior Princess would be happy if everyone knew her army's name was Gabrielle, cuz she sure liked her an awful lot.)
Anyways, Digger and I, we were kinda standing there and he was still all red and then he did the most amazing thing in the world. He told me that someday I'll really be Xena and that he'll always be by my side and then he kissed *me* on the cheek! He never done that before! But he was like all manly, cuz he got kissed by the Warrior Princess so I tickled him to make him feel like a boy again and he giggled and understood and held my hand as we walked back to the cave.
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