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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts a love between two adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it.
One never knows who lives in the woods. If you enjoy the story, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or I might retire and go back to painting butterfly's on the wing!
The Fairies of the Nestos River
This was an area of the woodland that he had never set foot upon before. The forest floor was moist, full of odd-looking mushrooms and there was an abundance of moss growing over everything. The trees were extremely old in this part of the woods and the thought of wizards and dragons moved through Joxer's mind. The word enchanted rolled off of Joxer's tongue as he looked around. He had a feeling that his were the first footprints ever made in this area of the forest. His eyes were wide as he stumbled through the babbling brook that he had just taken a drink from.
He thought, I hear it again. The tiny laughing. Little giggles. What the heck is going on?
"Who's out there?" The Mighty shouted. "I know there's something going on here." Joxer mumbled. "Xena? Is that you?"
No, Gabrielle and Xena wouldn't pull a prank like this on me; at least I don't think so! Maybe I should sing?
"I'm Joxer the mighty.....Feeling kind of flighty.....My head is feeling light.....er I'm Joxer?"
Joxer was becoming disoriented and confused as to where he had come from and where he was going. A bit of fear drove him on through the forest for many candlemarks. Finally feeling the beginnings of exhaustion setting in, he sat down on an old stump. Pulling his helmet off, Joxer wiped his brow and looked around. His eyes moved slowly to the left and then to the right. Finally raising an eyebrow, he tipped his head on an angle to hear better. He quickly turned around and then around again. Nothing!
"I know I'm not nuts! I hear you out there!"
At least I think it's out there and hopefully not in here, Joxer thought of his mind and that it could be playing tricks on him.
From the stump Joxer was sitting on, came two tiny fairies from a hole in its side. Several more poured out of the surrounding stumps, rabbit holes and from between the moss covered rocks. They were no bigger than a titmouse and they flew around with great ease. Many others were walking up to Joxer on the ground. Several of the fairies were hovering around his head. Taken momentarily by awe then fear, he thought he might be in some danger of being harmed so Joxer pulled his sword from its sheath. The fairies quickly disappeared when they saw the blade and retreated to their safe havens. Joxer looked around in total bewilderment trying to comprehend what he had just seen.
"Gee! I didn't think I ate any wild mushrooms. I must be hallucinating from bad water or yesterdays stew!" Joxer spoke to himself.
When the Mighty Joxer relaxed, settled down and put his sword away, they came out of hiding and began to move close to him. He smiled and said, "Hello!" And they returned to flying up close to his face. One in particular, that was dressed scantily in blue and purple lace, kept moving extremely close to Joxer's nose. She kept smiling and batting her eyes at him. Joxer acted somewhat embarrassed and finally pointed at himself, as if to ask, "are you winking at me?" Well, she nodded her head and smiled back at him, then flew along side of his face kissing him on the cheek.
"Oh! Stop that, please! It tickles!"
Soon there were no less than thirty fairies on the rocks, stumps and in the small saplings. After what appeared as the fairies getting organized, they sang a mysterious song that touched the Mighty Joxer. It was a tribute with a haunting melody that was sung for the memory of fairies gone. This was a very special sharing of a part of themselves, with the practicing warrior. Somehow, he knew and understood this.
Now, some fairies never really talk out loud but they do communicate by telepathy, others talk and sing just like people do. Joxer believed that he heard them both ways and the message that he heard was a sad one that moved him deeply.
After the rest of the fairies had finished the song, the kissing fairy smiled weakly again then she related the trouble at hand.
* We need your help, Joxer the Mighty. Our Queen has been abducted. An evil woman took her, along with two others who threatened to keep her in a cage and watch her die. She cannot live in captivity! We have no one to turn to, so we have humbly come to you. *
Joxer looked around then raised his eyebrows and asked, "What did this Warrior look like?"
* Her eyes were cold and dark. She seemed to need nothing from anyone. She had short black hair and a simple brown shirt and skirt with a sheepskin vest and boots. She was young, proud and did not appear to have been out in the world on her own for too long *
"I'm not sure who that could be." Joxer said with a touch of regret. "It sounds like some wild youth that is out of control."
* She was very bitter towards life. She acted as if she had been terribly wronged and never could forgive the world for what it did to her. She had two warriors that seemed to do her bidding. There was one female and one male that were her subordinates. They seemed to be weak-minded souls that were easily led astray. They also seemed to have less exposure to life than the one in charge. *
Joxer thought, I'm going to need my friends. I have to find Xena and Gabrielle. There's no way I can beat that many without their help young rebels or not.
Joxer explained to the fairies that he needed to go find his friends who were needed to get the Queen Fairy back. The fairy that kissed Joxer said she would accompany the Mighty on his journey. Her name was Indigo and she was a telepathic although she could talk if coaxed a bit. She was also very taken by Joxer and kept kissing him whenever she got a chance. He gathered his things, in preparation to hunt for Xena. Joxer headed east and Indigo flew along side of him at shoulder height.
He moved through the forest with the grace of a blind Cyclopes, running into tree branches and tripping over tree roots. Every time he hit the ground Indigo was there with a little smooch. The fairy was highly entertained by Joxer's antics, laughing and giggling whenever he landed. The Mighty was feeling rather bruised mentally and physically. He blamed his clumsiness on being distracted by the fairy. This, of course made her pout and in his guilt he would tell her it was nothing personal, just the newness of seeing a fairy when in fact, he knew it was his own big feet.
"Tell me Indigo, what do fairies do?" Joxer asked with great inquisitiveness.
* They like to kiss a lot and we've been known to give gold away. *
"Gold? Did you say, gold?" Joxer said with a wide grin. "I've always liked gold!"
* We know that about people. But gold is a distraction from the things that are important! *
"What's more important than gold?" Joxer questioned.
And Indigo flew close to his cheek and kissed him.
* THAT'S more important than gold. *
Of all the luck! I finally get someone who's interested in me and she's only as big as my hand!
* I heard that, Joxer! *
With plenty of direction from Indigo, Joxer made it out to the road and headed toward Amphipolis. He had hoped that Xena and Gabrielle might be somewhere in the area. Indigo sat on Joxer's shoulder as he walked up the road, singing his song.
"Keep a tight grip on that sack, you idiot! I don't want to lose her. There has got to be a lot of dinars to be had if we can find the right buyer." Altisias ranted. "This is all we've ever needed to get us ahead of the rest of the losers in the land. One big lucky break! We'll be on top and can get to one of the larger cities like Athens and be somebody."
They moved along the stream headed toward the place where it emptied into the river. Altisias had a weak plan in the back of her mind but she figured that it was better than no plan. Grum and Lysus followed along behind their leader with Lysus holding the sack and staring at it intently as they traveled.
"See you soon, Mom." Xena said, accompanied by a hug and a kiss.
"Please be careful!" Cyrene told her daughter.
Gabrielle moved into position next for good-byes and kisses.
"Keep her in control, child." Cyrene cautioned Gabrielle.
"Oh, Mom! I don't lose it as often as I used to! I'll be fine!" Xena assured her mother.
Argo received an apple from Cyrene and the two soulmates were on the road again. Ten days home in Amphipolis was relaxing. Great home cooked meals, a real bed, plenty of family and friends but little adventure for the two women. Unless you count Gabrielle slipping on a cowpie and then landing on top of it! That kept the comments and laughs coming in her direction for the rest of that afternoon.
Xena cracked a smile thinking about it as they moved out of town.
The remainder of the ten days they spent in Amphipolis was pretty dull by a warriors standard. Oh! It was great seeing Mom and Gabrielle didn't really care to go to Poteidaia so the two of them just kicked back and relaxed themselves into boredom.
"Well, what's on the agenda my Warrior?" The feisty blond asked.
"I really don't know Gabrielle but I do know that it was time to leave. I can't speak for you but I needed to get back out under the stars."
"Yea! Your right, Xena! There's nothing like being out doors with the one you love. Cuddling and snuggling to keep warm."
Xena rolled her eyes at the sky and headed down the road with the Bard walking along. Gabrielle worked her staff against an imaginary foe as she walked.
"Heah!" She shouted as she jabbed at the air. "Haaah!"
They headed along the coast in the direction of Kavala. There was no urgency to their travels and no particular place that they were heading. All that Xena knew was sooner or later; something would come their way that needed attending to.
After several candlemarks had passed by, Gabrielle started to whine.
"I'm getting hungry Xena!" The Bard hinted loudly. "Could go for some lamb stew! I kind of miss your mom's cooking."
"We just left there this morning! Are you touched?" Xena asked.
"I gotta get something to eat, Xena! I'm still growing!" The Bard fussed. "I've got hunger pains!"
"Oh Hades! Let's find a place and I'll scare up a couple of rabbits or something. You get a fire going and don't eat the firewood while you're waiting for me!" Xena said with just the right amount of sarcasm.
* Joxer! Don't you know any other songs? *
"Joxer the Mighty is the best song I know! Why, are you getting ....uh, tired of it?" Joxer asked.
* Just a little. Give it a rest for awhile, OK? *
"Sure! I'm sorry! Tell me about fairy life. What is it you fairies do all day?"
* Well, we do like to sleep something awful. Then we dance and sing for candlemarks on end. Then the Queen sends us out in hunting parties! *
"Hunting parties?" Joxer asked surprised.
* Yes! We hunt for people who are in need of a little magic in their lives. We like to help the old people. They're not as quick to catch us. Those that can't help themselves are good candidates also! *
"Oh! I get it! You hunt for those kind of people!"
Indigo, who had been riding on Joxer's shoulder, kissed him on the cheek then flew around and kissed the other side.
Joxer wiggled with chills and said, "Gee, Indigo! You're giving me Goosebumps."
* Didn't want you to be lopsided honey. *
* We helped an old woman with her chores last week. She washes clothes for many families and became very ill. She fell way behind in her orders, so we infiltrated her place late one night, sprinkled some magic dust on her so she would sleep and then we went to work. We got her all caught up. Our reward was her surprise and happiness when she awoke and found all her work was finished. *
Xena was back with two rabbits. It took her about a half of candlemark to clean them and ready them for the fire. Gabrielle had a good blaze going by then. There was water boiling for some herbal tea and Cyrene had given them some fresh baked bread from this morning.
The sky was partly cloudy but it was a beautiful day with a slight breeze.
"We need to pick up some cheese when we get to the next village Xena," Gabrielle shared. "Maybe some jerky and some fruit but not just A-P-P-L-E-S's! I need some other kind of fruit." As she looked at Argo to see if she could spell.
"At least Argo knows what she wants and it doesn't get complicated either!" Xena snapped.
"Complicated! Me! Complicated? My life was rather simple until I met you!" Gabrielle shot back.
"Yea, simple!" Xena echoed.
"Well, maybe simple wasn't exactly what I ..............Oh! Never mind, Xena!"
"Hey! Gabrielle, what's gotten into you? It's me! Xena!" The Warrior asked concerned.
"Oh, I just have bad cramps. By the gods, I hate this when it comes." The Bard moaned.
"Hey! I hate it too, you know! Good thing we're both close, huh?" Xena said with a little grin.
"Yea! I hear you; it just isn't at the top of my wish list right now. I wish this would go away." The Bard moaned and then continued saying, "I love you, Xena but I hurt. It'll pass it always does. Anyway, the rabbits really good!" As she chomped it down.
Two candlemarks later they were on the road again, heading in the direction of Kavala.
They made it to Kavala by midmorning the following day, after spending a night under the stars. As they hit the outskirts of town, Xena was still pondering Gabrielle's question from the night before. She asked Xena if fish looked up out of the water and could see the stars. At the time of the question, the Warrior thought, whom really cares but now it scratched at her curiosity. Their plans were to get a good meal and move on down the coast. This town was too close to home to stay put in. The two friends were still restless and needed to keep moving.
The trio continued through the forest with the intentions of staying out of contact with anyone. Altisias didn't want anybody knowing about the prize that she and her two chumps had been handed by fate. Actually, it all happened as a fluke. Grum and Lysus had been drinking heavily the night before and happened into the woods. They must have passed out after sitting down on a fallen tree and carrying on with each other. They were romantically attached at the hip. Surely after some deep conversation about who was the smartest and was directing this relationship had been completed, did they fade off into oblivion from the spirits that they had consumed.
Just before Altisias found them the next morning, Grum awoke to a strange sight. Hovering in front of her was beautiful fairy. Her reflexes overtook her and she grabbed the fairy right out of the air. The fairy begged to be set free and Grum was just about to do that, when Altisias showed up. She took the fairy from her, laughing about how they would have it made very soon. She went back to a small barn that they used for a meeting place and put it in a sack. They hung the sack on a hook while Altisias tried to think of a plan and what should be done next.
"Did this fairy promise you anything for setting her free?" Altisias asked Grum.
"Not a thing. You showed up right after she said she was a Queen." Grum replied.
"A Queen! We have the Queen Fairy and you didn't tell me? You're an idiot!" The leader screamed.
After some careful thinking, Altisias figured that they could get a whole bunch of dinars for such a prize. Much more than she figured to begin with. They just had to find the right buyer. So they took the sack with the Fairy Queen in it and headed through the forest to a scoundrel that they had dealt with before. His name was Odiosas and his place was near the bridge that crossed the Nestos River. He was quite the unscrupulous type and would know of a buyer or would give a lesser price to them for a bigger return later. He did have a partner that Altisias felt was dangerous and could not be trusted. She thought that he was a convicted murderer and the way he looked at her was unnerving. It was her hope that he would not be there.
Being that Grum wasn't the sharpest sword in the rack, Altisias had Lysus stay in the forest with the sack full of assumed prosperity. Lysus was a little more fearful of making a mistake and therefore would try harder not to let anything go wrong. The other two headed in the direction of Odiosas' shack to do some bargaining.
Queen Jalay knew that only one abductor was watching her so she did a little fairy trick and instead of the normal fragrant smell a fairy emits, she conjured up a pitiful stink of rotted frogs and cabbage. Lysus began to worry that the Queen Fairy had died, so he took a peek in the bag and she almost escaped. The attempt was close to being successful but he was half expecting something so he only opened the sack a little. That spoiled her escape but he lost his breakfast in the process of stopping her.
"Please let me go! I can make you a gift of gold! You would be doing a good thing and all the fairies in the forest will be thankful if you freed me. The fairies, in song will sing your name for all time. " Queen Jalay pleaded.
"Quiet! You'll get me in trouble if Altisias hears you." Lysus said in a whisper.
* I miss our Queen, Joxer. Without her we have no direction. We can't nominate another Queen nor would we want to unless the worse happens. *
"Huh?" Said Joxer with great depth.
* You know.... if she was sent to the next place. *
"Oh!" The Mighty replied.
As Joxer and the fairy came around a bend in the road they ran into a couple of familiar faces.
"Xena! Gabrielle! Am I glad to see you two!"
"Oh, joy.... Joxer! Us too." Xena said with minimal enthusiasm.
Why does he constantly show up when I'm not feeling good? Gabrielle thought.
It was three candlemarks since the Bard and Warrior had left the town of Kavala. Their light lunch of cheese and fruit was good but wore off from the distance that they had traveled.
"Have I got a story to tell you guys but first I want you to meet........." Joxer quickly scanned both shoulders but she was gone. "Where'd she go? She was right here!" Joxer exclaimed.
"Yea sure Joxer. Who was right here?" The Warrior shot back with sarcasm.
"Indigo, the fairy! That's who!"
Xena leaned into Joxer so she could get a whiff of his breath and see if he was drinking. Then the Warrior turned back towards Gabrielle and said, "He's sober."
What Joxer neglected to see when he approached Xena and the Bard was, Indigo doing a Xena type back flip off of his shoulder to the rear of him. Indigo flew into the bushes and hid under the ferns that were just off of the edge of the road. This gave her a great observation spot to see what would happen next. The little fairy was mildly frightened by the two women because no one else had ever laid eyes on her other than Joxer.
"Joxer! I'm not feeling very good so if you're pulling our leg about fairies, I would highly advise you to do other wise." Gabrielle said with gritted teeth.
Xena gave Gabrielle the back off sign and tried to make sense out of Joxer's carrying on.
"I'm telling you both that I had a fairy on my shoulder just a bit ago." He explained with wide eyes.
He told them the story as it happened and how he came to look for the two of them. Feeling that this was a job that he could use some additional support on, Joxer felt that it was only fitting to ask his friends before he went to Hercules and Iolaus.
"SAY WHAT?" Gabrielle shouted. "You don't need them to get involved. We're capable of handling this ourselves."
"You've got fairies in the treetop Joxer!" Xena added pointing at his head.
Indigo made her self-visible to the women by flying out from under the ferns and landing on Joxer's shoulder.
"See!" As the Mighty pointed excessively with his index finger at the little beauty on his shoulder. "And she's crazy about me!"
Whereas Indigo gave him a kiss on the cheek then turned to face the wide-open mouths that were in front of her. The fairy decided that it would be much easier to talk rather than use the telepathy with the three of them. She sized up the Warrior and the Bard, receiving very good feelings off of both of their auras. She could feel that they were not only good people but that they had a special connection with each other. They also emitted a fond place in their hearts for Joxer, even though they covered their tenderness for him with a veil of impatience and annoyance. They truly loved him, as did Indigo.
"My name is Indigo." She told the two listeners and continued with the rest of the story. She explained how the three thieves came to have possession of the Fairy Queen. Then she told how Joxer happened along through the forest, as if he were sent by the gods themselves to render things back to normal. The fairies felt he was their best chance to get the Queen back home. Joxer suggested finding his friends for he felt that they were experts in such matters and here is were the journey brought us.
"It's very nice to meet you both." The little fairy said with a curtsy and the flutter of wings.
"Joxer! A fairy! You weren't joking with us!" Gabrielle exclaimed with her first smile of the day.
"Or drinking!" Xena added.
Xena decided that they should set up camp, get some food in Joxer and themselves, then talk over a plan of action. Xena wasn't too sure if fairies ate but she knew the rest of them needed to. She tied Argo to some bushes just off of a clearing that they were going to set up camp in and relieved her of her saddle. Xena headed out of camp, telling Joxer to help Gabrielle and went to look for something for dinner.
Gabrielle was simply fascinated by the little fairy. She wanted to know everything there was to know about fairies but she needed to get a fire started first.
"Joxer! Go get some wood while us girls talk a bit." The Bard directed.
"But! I....." The Mighty stammered.
"Just do it. We'll be here when you get back." Gabrielle told him then she added, "Listen, I won't steal her. I'm spoken for, you know!"
Joxer smiled and went to accomplish his task.
Indigo and Gabrielle bonded quickly and shared their thoughts with each other. The fairy told the Bard of her romantic interest in Joxer and although Gabrielle could not picture it, she did understand how the heart worked. The fairy then shared her knowledge that she knew even before Gabrielle's comment to Joxer, that she and Xena were soulmates. Then Indigo told of the fairy life and how during the full moons they all danced and sung throughout the night. Theirs was a celebration of life! She told the Bard of the good things the fairies tried to accomplish and that they shied away from the evils of the world. The evils always wanted things and possessions. The fairies used such things as ploys to get them out of situations if and when they were ever captured. Her hope was that the Queen could free herself by such means.
Joxer stumbled back into camp with a load of wood. Following right behind him was Xena, shaking her head at his lack of coordination. She returned with four quail for dinner.
They knocked on the door and heard a chair slide back across the floor. "Yea? Who is it?" Odiosas questioned.
"It's me, Altisias. I think I might have something you could be interested in." The thief replied.
"OK, I'll be right there." He said with an attitude.
The door opened and he came out, looked around and signaled the two of them into the shack. He was a big man with hairy arms and long dirty brown hair and beard. He had a peasant's outfit on but wore a gold pendant and a large gold ring. He smelled of wine and needed a bath. He had a large knife strapped across his chest and a dagger in his hand. As Altisias looked beyond him and noticed that his partner Tresmo was not around, it gave her more confidence to keep her mask of deception on. Tresmo cared for no one or nothing and he made Altisias feel weak and vulnerable when he looked into her eyes. She was afraid of him.
"Well, what is it that you have bothered my sleep for?" Odiosas
"We have in our possession, a fairy." She said with pride.
"You woke me for a fairy?" The lowlife questioned.
"Not just a fairy but a Fairy Queen!" Altisias taunted back.
"Ah! A Fairy Queen! Now that makes it worth getting disturbed for! Where is this marvelous discovery? You don't have it with you?" As he grabbed Grum by the throat and began to choke her with one hand.
"Let her go and I'll tell you!" The thief shouted.
He released his grip and she began to explain how she fell into such a find. She went on to tell him what she wanted for such a great discovery and if he would agree, then she would go to the woods and collect his prize.
"Maybe I should kill your friend and beat you into telling me where the Fairy Queen is hidden." He said sarcastically. "Instead, this is what I'll do. I'll keep your friend here with me, as a good faith gesture by you. Then you get the Queen and bring her here. I'll give you one hundred dinars when I have her in my possession."
"But we want five hundred!" Altisias shouted.
"Careful you little witch or I'll cut your throat and this one too!" He said with a smile as he grabbed Grum's hair and pulled lightly. "You have my offer," he said, then he added, "don't be too long, for I might get bored and have to find something to do." And then he grabbed the woman named Grum and licked the side of her face.
Altisias looked at Grum and laughed. "I'll be back soon." She told her expendable partner. Then she turned and headed out of the shack, disappearing down the path. In the back of her mind she did fear for Grum but didn't want to show any sign of weakness in front of Odiosas.
Lysus kept the sack tied tight but listened intently to the Fairy Queen, as she described the riches that could come his way, should he help her to escape. He thought how nice it might be to have wealth. He was getting very close to the place where he would give in but he heard Altisias calling to him. She came walking down the path to where she had left him guarding the Queen Fairy.
"Hey! Are you sleeping or are you keeping an eye on our fortune Lysus? We need to get back to Odiosas shack or that girlfriend of yours is going to get killed and we are going to lose out on our one hundred dinars. Odiosas is holding Grum hostage until we deliver the Fairy Queen."
"Is Grum in real danger or is he just bluffing?" Lysus asked.
"Just grab the sack and let's get going!" Altisias ordered. "The bastard is probably just bluffing but let's not take any chances by taking our time. Anyway, Grum is no big loss."
Lysus thought, No big loss to you, cause you're a self-centered bitch.
"Nobody can cook quail over an open fire as good as Gabrielle." Joxer stated in his best attempt at sucking up.
"Thanks Joxer! You get to wash the pans." Gabrielle shot back.
"We need to get some sleep, if we're going to help Indigo tomorrow." Xena pointed out.
The food was consumed, the pans were washed and soon the Warrior, Gabrielle, Joxer and Indigo were setting up for night of decent rest.
Tomorrow will be a good day, Xena thought. We have an adventure to go on!
Tresmo was tall and thin with stringy hair. He was strong for his build but strictly a river rat and that was being complimentary. His boots were worn and muddy. His clothing was tired and dirty. To look at him, it was hard to believe he had a mother.
Tresmo was heading back to the shack with wine and the dinars he had won dishonestly in a card game. He was tired and feeling ugly inside from the aftermath of long afternoon of drinking. He had enough of listening to Odiosas' orders, of him being in charge and giving directions all the time. It had gotten the two of them nowhere and they were still broke. Tresmo felt it was time to move on, he just hadn't decided whether he would kill the bastard or not! When he opened the door of the shack and found Odiosas taking advantage of the dimwitted Grum, he said, "Hey you fat pig! Where did you get that little flower? Get off of her and talk to me."
Tresmo would have been the one to cut her throat first but right now he needed to know what was going on.
Grum ran to the corner of the shack when Odiosas released his grip on her and curled up in a ball. She tried to cover herself with what was left of her shredded clothing, keeping very quiet for fear of her life.
Odiosas grabbed his knife off of the bed because he was angry for the interruption and Tresmo countered by pulling his own blade. They both laughed at each other and sat down at the table, sticking their knives in the surface.
"So what's going on?" Tresmo asked impatiently. "Who is this sad piece of flesh in the corner?"
Odiosas brought him up to date and said that he was just waiting for the little bitch to return with the Fairy Queen, if she even had such a thing! " I have heard of these fairies but I have not personally seen one. But I better see one today or I'm gonna slice that piece of meat up in the corner over there." And he pointed at Grum.
"We could get a couple of thousand dinars for such a prize!" Tresmo dreamed aloud.
Xena opened her eyes and was looking right into the face of Indigo the fairy. Each of them shared a pleasant smile, then the fairy asked, "How did you sleep, Xena?"
"That's good! I hit you with some fairy dust last night, to help you. I have feeling that you will be needing that sleep." Indigo said with another smile.
"OK my friend but don't do that again. I will need my wits about me." Xena explained to the fairy.
Everyone got up, stretched, washed and Gabrielle worked up the fire. When it was rejuvenated, she put a pot of water on for tea. After the eye opener they packed up and headed down the road. Xena took Argo on ahead in order to check things out and any trace of the three young thieves. She was hoping to save everyone a lot of traveling through the forest. With any luck, she thought she could find where Queen Jalay might be hid.
Joxer, Gabrielle and Indigo continued down the road toward the Nestos River. Joxer and Indigo had moved through the village of Hrisoupoli on their way to Amphipolis. That was the closest village to where they had come out of the woods. Indigo felt that the thieves might still be around there.
When they reached Hrisoupoli, they entered into the forest. Indigo figured that it would take them a candlemark to get to where the Queen had been abducted. Gabrielle thought it might help to start at the place where it happened. Xena returned a short time later but she hadn't found any sign of foul play or any tracks either. She walked Argo with the others to give the horse a break. At one point Joxer decided to sing again but was shot down by all three listeners before he could muster any momentum.
Altisias and Lysus were approaching the shack and lightened their step. Walking into the clearing, Altisias shouted for Odiosas. The door swung open on the shack and he came out with a knife at Grum's throat.
"Bring the sack to me boy and I'll let this one go." The big man said.
Grum screamed, "It's a trap!" It was her last words as Odiosas slit her throat and she fell to the ground.
At exactly the same time, Tresmo, who was hiding in the woods, moved up behind Lysus and said, "Hold my knife!" As he stuck it in the young mans back. Altisias ran like a deer as Tresmo grabbed the sack with the Queen in it.
"Let her go! She won't be back and she won't say nothin' either. Bring that sack over here!" The murdering sloth shouted.
Gabrielle turned to Xena and said, "I think I hear water. We must be close to the Nestos River."
Xena gave the sign to hold up and everyone stopped in their tracks. She handed the reins to Gabrielle and whispered to the rest, "Wait here." The Warrior moved ahead through the underbrush and faded out of sight.
Joxer and the fairy looked in the direction that Xena had taken while the Bard kept Argo calm. Indigo flew vertically up and down next to Joxer to get a vantagepoint in order to see if Xena was coming back. A quarter of a candlemark passed and there was nothing.
Further ahead Xena moved along a stream that headed in the direction of the main river. She thought she heard movement and crouched down. A young dark-haired girl came running by, looking over her shoulder with wide eyes. Xena grabbed her and wrestled her down to the ground. She fought back but the Warriors grip was overpowering.
"Please don't kill me!" Altisias cried.
Xena covered her mouth in an effort to silence her. Then she gestured to the girl to keep quiet. Slowly, Xena released her hand from the young woman's mouth. The Warrior could see the fright in her eyes but it came from more than being simply surprised by Xena's presence.
The young woman finally got enough composure to speak. She started by saying, "They killed my friends! I thought they were bluffing, but they killed them dead!"
"Come with me." Xena directed and took the young woman by the wrist, leading her back to the rest of her friends. The Warrior came in behind everyone with her captive. Indigo disappeared into the foliage and watched from a safe distance.
Joxer asked, "Who's this?"
"OK! Tell me your story." Xena said while the others looked on with wonder.
"My name is Altisias. I had two friends that were killed about, I don't know, maybe two candlemarks ago." "Go on, I'm waiting to hear the rest." The Warrior prodded her.
"It started out as a fluke. The other night we were all drinking and my two friends Grum and Lysus went out to the woods for a little lovin. They were pretty drunk and passed out afterward. In the morning I came lookin for them. When I found them in the forest, Grum was holding a fairy in her hand. She just reached out and grabbed it and caught the fairy off guard."
Indigo flew from the bushes and hovered over Altisias. "You took my Queen! A curse on you!"
"I'm really sorry! Things got so out of hand! I thought I was so damn tough and now my friends are dead!" And she began to cry.
Indigo flew to Joxer's shoulder and sat down to hear the rest of what happened.
Xena told Altisias to continue.
"We took the fairy to a barn that we hung out at and put her in a sack. We tied it off and I went to see a lowlife called Odiosas to see if we could sell it to him and get a lot of dinars. Then we could have moved to Athens or one of the other large cities. I took Grum with me and Odiosas kept her as a hostage to make sure I would come back with the Fairy Queen. His partner came back while I was gone and they set a trap for Lysus and me. Grum shouted out to us that they were laying for us and Odiosas slit her throat. Tresmo stabbed Lysus in the back. He must have been waiting in the woods. I ran like the wind to get out of there and you found me then brought me here." She said and looked down at the ground.
"Where are these two murderers now?" Gabrielle asked.
"They might still be back at their shack with the Queen. I'm not really sure." The young woman replied. "It's where the stream meets the river. I'll show you, if you want me to."
Tresmo retrieved his knife and brought the sack inside the shack. They undid the cord around the end of the sack and opened it very slowly. Tresmo peered into the sack and exclaimed, "It's a rabbit!"
"No! Don't open it! It's a fairy trick, they can change shapes!" Odiosas warned his partner.
Queen Jalay finally cried out, "Please let me go! I have the power to give you more riches than you could ever get selling me! We fairies have access to great supplies of gold that we have mined out of the ground. Since we live under ground, we find much gold and we really have no use for it." The Queen in the sack said.
The two killers looked at each other in great surprise and both said at the same time, "The kids had the dinars all of the time and didn't know it. Ha! Ha! Ha! Hmm!"
Tresmo talked to the Queen in the sack, questioning, "How do we know you won't trick us and try to escape?"
"Fairies honor! You get the gold and I get my freedom!" The Queen in the sack said with glee!
Odiosas grumbled, "You better not try nothin or I'll crush you like an acorn."
The two killers grabbed the sack and left the bodies right where they dropped. They headed in the direction of the river and followed the bank to where the Fairy Queen guided them. A half of candlemark later they were told to turn away from the river and follow the moss covered stumps until Queen Jalay told them to stop.
"How do you know where we are at right now? You're stuck in this sack and cannot see." Odiosas wondered.
"We fairies have a terrific sense of smell. There's a gooseberry bush to the right and just ahead. Your partner is standing next to it." The Queen said with complete confidence.
Odiosas looked at Tresmo and next to him was indeed a gooseberry bush. The continued a little ways farther and then Queen Jalay said, "We're here!"
The pair looked around and saw nothing but forest, moss, stumps, ferns and rocks. "Over there, by that large tree. Move the two boulders and you will find an entrance to a cave that is at the base of the tree. Follow it down and within you will find the gold you seek." Jalay coaxed them.
Tresmo ran to the boulders and began to move one while Odiosas moved the other. They looked down and there was the hole, big enough for a man to fit through. They both pushed and shoved to get by each other but Tresmo made it first. He entered the tunnel and found a torch at the beginning, which he lit. All this time he never let go of the sack, for fear that he might lose his prize.
As the pair traveled down the tunnel, they saw nothing but dirt and roots from the trees above and then they turned a corner. It was dazzling, how the room glistened and shined as the light bounced off of the gold bars and sacks of gold coins.
"WOW! We're rich! We don't have to do anything any more!" Odiosas cheered. He turned toward his partner and Tresmo said, "Here! Hold this for me." Sinking his knife deep into the big mans gut.
"No o o! You bastard........" He crumbled to the floor.
Tresmo looked at the cave full of gold and said, "It's all mine now." Then he grabbed a sack and began to drag it out to the entrance. A hand grabbed onto his leg in a last effort to stop him but Odiosas gave up the ghost. He returned for yet another sack and another. Then he went back in and hauled ten gold bars outside. These he hid beneath some leaves. The sacks of gold were taken one at a time to the riverbank. When Tresmo did all this, he never let go of the sack with the Queen Fairy in it. He returned to the tree and replaced the boulders then headed back to the river.
When Tresmo returned to the river, he opened one money sack and found it contained nothing but stones. He opened the second sack and it was the same as the first. He stared at the third before he opened it and screamed at the top of his lungs, "No!" He shook the sack with the fairy in it and said, "I'm gonna kill you if the gold that I hid is gone." Tresmo ran back to the place where he buried the gold bars under the leaves. He dug frantically through the leaf piles and found only some short logs that were the same size as the gold bars.
Grabbing the sack, he swung it at the tree in an attempt to smash the Queen Fairy against it. The Warrior intervened just before contact, when the Chakram cut the end of the sack off below the rope and Jalay escaped.
Joxer cheered, "Way to go Xena!"
Tresmo ran to the river but Gabrielle took him out with her staff by knocking his feet out from under him. He made the mistake of pulling his knife. When he brought his arm back to throw it at Gabrielle, Xena finished him off with the Chakram to the chest. His blade fell straight to the ground.
"A violent ending to an age old problem; greed!" Gabrielle spoke with sadness.
Queen Jalay danced in the air in front of everyone and said, "I thank you, one and all, for rescuing me from the clutches of those evil ones." Then she was taken by surprise when she saw Altisias. She moved away, the length of horse and pointed saying, "She was the one who kidnapped me and started all of this!"
"I'm so sorry! I never meant for anyone to get hurt. I ended up losing two friends because of my actions. How am I going to live with that?" Altisias cried.
"You will learn to live with it and it will be there for the remainder of your days to remind you what road not to travel. What you did was wrong and what has happened cannot be changed but you can change, today." Xena told her. Nobody but her knew better of the truth in the words she had just shared with this young fool. Perhaps this would be enough to get her on the right path in life. Xena remembered when she had a choice to change with Lao Ma and she did not take it. Forever sorry she had been for that lost opportunity.
The young girl hung her head and cried. Indigo flew to her and kissed her on the cheek, telling her that it would be all right.
The Fairy Queen fluttered over to Joxer and landed on his shoulder. She said, "If it had not been for you, I would have been nothing but a memory. Thank you Joxer the Mighty!" And she kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you all! If you ever feel a slight breeze along side your ear and you're in the Nestos River valley, chances are it's one of us just saying hello."
Indigo flew back to Joxer and kissed him by the corner of his mouth. "I have to go now, Joxer. I will miss you very much. Come visit me sometime and I will ask the Queen if I may show myself. Take care my friend!"
The two fairies made a figure eight in the air and flew into oblivion.
"Well, there you have it!" Joxer said, as he began walking down the trail singing, "I'm Joxer the Mighty... Defender of the Fairies...Eat your heart out Ares......
"Dear gods! Let's go the other way, Xena!" Gabrielle said shaking her head. "I was just starting to feel better."
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