Deciphering The Scrolls

part 1

by Azurenon and Savanna Mac

Disclaimer:

Xena Warrior Princess and all the characters and pictures contained herein are the sole property of MCA/Universal Studios/Renaissance Pictures. No infringement upon these rites is intended. Weíve merely borrowed these characters, as well as, some scenes and lines, for the sole purpose of entertainment and storyline continuity.

Song titles and lyrics are used without permission of their owners, but no copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: This story contains mild violence. And the suggestion of change in an episode entitled "Chariots of War". This is not a major point in the story, however, merely a conversation between the two main characters over what was contained in the scrolls they found.

Sexual content:

This story contains rather graphic details of two consenting, adult females involved in sexually explicit situations with one another. If this is not something youíd like to read about, please do not read our story. Iím sure there are even better ones, more to your liking.

There are also some lines which may be viewed as racially or territorially derogatory, but no prejudice is intended, we assure you, these were only used in keeping with the language and views -however misguided- of the times.

Be it known, that this story is number 6 in a series we have written; a "between the eps (episodes)" if you will, which make reference to the aired episodes below. And, if you havenít read "Deam of Choice, Dream Warrior, Crazy With Desire, Shipmates, and Memories, Dreams and Schemes." by Azurenon and Savanna Mac, you may be a bit lost when reading this one.

This story takes place following our daring duo, Mel and Janiceís adventures in the MCA/Universal Studios/Renaissance Pictures copywritten material entitled: "The Xena Scrolls". If you haven't seen this episode, I would strongly suggest you do so before reading this.

Thanks go to all our friends! No need to mention each of you by name, you know who you are.

This is for all the subtextors out there. We hope we have spun an enjoyable tale.

If not, then please accept our humble apology.


Chapter 1

 

Janice Covingtonís one bedroom cottage - near a small village a days ride from Amphipolis, Greece : 1940

"Howís it coming with the scrolls, Mel?" Janice asked, as she fixed herself a stiff gin and tonic.

"Ve-ery slo-ow," Mel answered in her pronounced southern drawl. The tall brunette sat back in her chair in front of the desk and removed her eyeglasses, then rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Some of these are... well, letís just say theyíve definitely seen better days."

"Hmph," Janice grunted, walking over to her newly acquired friend. And unable to keep her eyes from straying to the long, shapely legs now sprawled out beside her fatherís old beat up, teacherís desk.

Dr. Janice Covington, daughter of the late Harry Covington, known to most as "The Grave Robber", had only known Melinda (Mel, for short) Pappas, daughter of the illustrious Nobel prize winner Professor Mel Pappas, (Dean of the University of South Carolina) for only two weeks. Yet, in that time, sheíd come to like the tall southerner quite a bit. She admired Melís tenacious spirit and inexoriable patience with the scrolls. For, Janice herself, could hardly sit still long enough to read through one story, much less a whole scroll. And surely not the twelve they now had in their possession.

The unearthing of these twelve scrolls had been Janiceís fatherís life long ambition. After his death, Janice had taken up his mantle. Where her father had failed, however, Janice had succeeded. With a little help from her new friend, Mel Pappas, of course. The latter of whom had shown up one day, out of the blue, at a dig site in Macedonia, seemingly fresh off the old plantation in South Carolina and anxious to fill her fatherís shoes, by deciphering some ancient manuscripts that Janice had written Melís father about, some years ago.

Little had Mel been aware of exactly what she was getting into by joining forces with the daughter of Harry Covington. Yet, Janice had to give the tall brunette her due; sheíd hung in their with her through it all. And of course, there was the fact that Mel was a relative of the Warrior Princess, Xena, herself. Janice envied Mel this distinction. But, then she was a relative of Gabrielle, the bard who had written the scrolls. The "irritating blonde", as Ares had called her, without whom, the scrolls would never have existed.

"Whaddaya mean by seen better days?" Janice asked, as she neared Mel, and the latter straightened up in her chair.

"Well... take this one here, for instance," Mel responded pointing to the scroll laid out in front of her. "Itís missing a whole section." She indicated the right side of the paper, where it was obvious someone had torn the ancient manuscript, leaving only a small portion on the left side intact. "And there are other places where the ink has run, like here... and the bardís writing isnít the best to begin with, so..."

"Hey," Janice cautioned, glancing from the manuscript to Mel, who was crossing her long legs, left over right, to get them out of the way. "Thatís my ancestor youíre talking about," she finished, her gaze following Melís movements.

Janiceís eyes took in the smooth, unadorned bronze skin of Melís long legs, which were another plus in Melís favor. At least they were in Janiceís book. For, the latter thought Mel was the most beautiful woman sheíd ever laid eyes on. Especially when she wasnít wearing those damn glasses that made her look like some kind of blue-eyed cat.

Mel cleared her throat, when Janiceís gaze wandered up her body to meet her own. "Sow-ry," she offered, putting the ear piece of her glasses up to her mouth, and coyishly turning her attention back to the manuscript.

I never met a woman like her before, Mel thought. Sometimes, like this... I even forget she is one. She acts so much like a man, she added, cutting her eyes over at the pair of tan menís slacks Janice was wearing. Always tan, Mel thought. Doesnít she own any other color? Oh well, at least theyíre clean, she added, remembering that it had taken several, not so subtle hints, to get Janice to take a shower before their evening meal.

"So... whatís this scroll about anyway?" Janice asked, returning her attention to the manuscript. "Think someone was trying to hide something?"

"Well, no. Doesnít seem like anything of... great importance is missing," Mel answered, replacing her glasses. "The part up here is about Joxer bringing Xena the head of Orpheus, the one with the lyre..."

"Whose songs are said to sooth the Bacchi," Janice added, having heard of Orpheus before.

"Yes, exactly. But, the lyre had been stolen from Orpheus by Bacchus. As... was the rest of his body." Mel glanced up at Janice, wondering if the latter found this part as unbelievable as she did.

Janice cocked one light brown eyebrow, as if asking a question of her own.

"I have a little trouble... believing some of this, doníchu?" Mel queried, looking over her glasses now.

Janice stared down into a pair of blue eyes, the likes of which sheíd seldom come across in her many travels. At least, not any she wanted to drown herself in, like these. She quickly cleared her throat, and turned back to the manuscript, breaking the spell. "Yeah, well... I wouldnít have believed what happened to us with Ares, either,... if I hadnít been there myself."

"Hmph," Mel grunted, her eyes traveling down Janiceís manly attrire, while the latter wasnít looking. "I donít remember... much about... Ares."

"Thatís because Xena took over your body," Janice reminded, her own mind handing her a mental picture of the warrior princess taking the pin out of Melís hair and shaking the long tresses loose, then tearing her skirt up both sides, revealing a pair of long, silky thighs. Both of these events had suggested to Janice that Mel was definitely hiding a good deal of her attributes beneath all those long skirts, dainty jackets and the pinned back hairdo she seemed to prefer.

"Yes, well... thatís hard to believe, too," Mel commented, pushing her glasses up on her nose, "But... Iíll take your word for it, Janice."

"Oh, believe me... it happened. Now, what do you think is missing here?" Janice asked, leaning further over the desk towards the manuscript, in the hopes of not making anymore direct eye contact with Mel, at the moment. For, the womanís beauty was... mesmerizing. Looking into those blue eyes made Janice feel light headed and out of control. And she didnít like feeling either of these things. Especially not around Mel.

"Well, right here... it talks about a festival of some sort. And it says that Gabrielle was... well... she was dancing with... two women, if you can believe that."

"Hmph," Janice grunted, leaning even closer to the manuscript to read the words herself, in case Mel had made a mistake.

"And then... the rest of this is... pretty much missing, except for these few words over here on the left and... the ink is so smeared that... I canít make out what it says, can you?" Mel asked, leaning over as well, her face drawing closer to Janiceís. The latter of whom, merely grunted in answer to Melís question.

"Then the story jumps to: the bacchi fell on their victim like a pack of hungry wolves." Mel continued, "I canít make this part out, either, but this line here is how Xena told Gabrielle to bite her, so that she would become a Bacchi. So I would assume Gabrielle had been turned into a Bacchi, wouldnít you?"

"Stands to reason," Janice agreed, trying to keep her eyes on the manuscript. "But, why did Xena want to become a Bacchi?"

"Oh, so she could kill Bacchus. After Xena was turned into a Bacchi, she and Gabrielle swooped down upon Bacchus and the beautiful warrior killed the Bacchi leader with the bone of a Dryiad. And so thanks to Xena, the Bacchi were turned back into the beautiful women they were before," Mel read aloud and then sighed.

"Whatís a Dryiad?" Janice queried.

"I donít know. But, I would assume itís probably in this part thatís missing," Mel answered. "And whatever it is, it can kill a Bacchi."

"Sorta like a stake through the heart for a vampire," Janice quipped.

"Or a silver bullet for a werewolf." Mel added.

"Kryptonite for Superman," Janice continued.

"I guess everyone has their... Achilles heel," Mel commented and giggled.

Janice merely smiled, avoiding eye contact. "I think youíre right, though," she admitted, glancing back at the manuscript one last time. "Doesnít sound important. I donít think weíll be running across any Bacchi. I wouldnít waste my time on it, if I were you. Iím sure thereís more important things in the others. Whatís this one about?" she asked, reaching for a scroll tied with a red ribbon.

"Hey!" Mel exclaimed, grabbing her arm. "You put me in charge of the scrolls, remember? Now donít come over here... pokiní around. Iíve got my own system of putting these in order and... itís hard enough to do, without interference from... out...siders," she finished, her voice fading, as she realized what sheíd said.

Janice glanced down at the hand on her arm. Her skin was tingling beneath Melís cool fingers. "O-O-kay," she said calmly, dragging out the word and not moving, in the hopes of prolonging the contact.

Melís gaze fell to her hand on Janiceís arm. She quickly released her grip and cleared her throat. "What I mean is... there arenít any dates on these, so... Iím trying to sort them by... adventure, I suppose you would say.... and thatís not easy. They had so many adventures," she added.

"Hmm. Wonder what it must have been like for them?" Janice mused, moving away from the desk now and taking a swig of her gin and tonic. She wasnít comfortable with what sheíd just felt and hoped to distance herself from these feelings, as well as from Mel, with other thoughts. "Traveliní around... no place to call home...," she continued, "...fighting warlords and gods..."

"Giants and... all those other... strange... creatures," Mel added; eyes peering over her glasses, following Janiceís progress across the room, to the latterís favorite overstuffed chair by the fireplace. She does fill out those baggy britches a lot better than any man, Mel caught herself thinking. Melinda Pappas, she quickly admonished herself, pushing her glasses up on her nose and turning away. Why in the world were you looking at that womanís...?

"Centaurs and... Amazons," Janice continued to muse, as she flopped down in the chair and put her feet up on the ottoman in front of the fire.

"Well, no... Xena didnít fight the Amazons now," Mel corrected.

"Why not? Was she an Amazon?" Janice questioned, quickly glancing around the chair at Mel, who was behind her now.

"Well no, but... Gabrielle was," Mel answered, carefully rolling up the scroll sheíd been working on.

"Gabrielle was an Amazon?" Janiced queried, coming up out of her chair again and advancing towards Mel.

"Thatís what it says in the scrolls. She was an Amazon Princess."

"I thought you read me something about her home town being some place called Poteidaia? There were Amazons there?"

"Well, no, but you see... Gabrielle was an Amazon Princess by right of caste," Mel explained, tying a purple ribbon around the scroll in her hand.

"Whatís a right of caste?" Janice queried, stopping in front of Mel and taking a swig of her gin and tonic.

"Itís... well... itís..." Mel paused. "Let me get that scroll and itíll explain everything better than I can. Now, which one was that in?" she mumbled to herself, turning back to the desk now.

"Is this story long?" Janice asked, watching Mel carefully place the scroll between two others on the desk.

"Donít worry, Iíll read it to you, if... youíll fix me one of those," Mel answered, glancing over at the drink in Janiceís hand.

"I thought you never touched hard liquor?" Janice retorted, repeating what Mel had said the first time sheíd offered her one.

"Yes, well... I think Iíll try one tonight, just..." Mel paused and looked up at Janice over her glasses. "...donít make it too strong, okay?"

Janice merely grunted and turned away from the blue eyes that were causing so much turmoil in her mind and body. "So what accounts for this change of heart?" she queried, making her way over to the small cabinet where she kept her stash of liquor.

"Oh... I donít know... maybe because... you seem to sleep so much better than I do," Mel answered, searching for the scroll with the green ribbon, which she thought contained the story she was looking for.

"Still having trouble sleeping, hmm?" Janice commented. "Well, Iíve told you time and again youíre welcome to share the bed with me, instead of sleeping on that small sofa."

"Oh, I donít think itís the sofa," Mel said, unrolling the scroll now.

"Yeah right. Like youíre not hanging half off of it every morning," Janice quipped. "That canít be comfortable."

"Oh, Iíve gotten used to it."

Janice shook her head and groaned, inadvertently adding a bit more gin than sheíd intended. She slowly recapped the bottle, debating as to whether to make Mel another one and keep this one for herself. Oh what the hell, she thought, Maybe sheíll sleep better... on that small sofa.

"Here it is," Mel announced.

"Well, bring it over here and sit down by the fire, so you wonít be afraid of spilling your drink on anything," Janice suggested, gesturing towards the chair adjacent to her own. "Iíll even share the ottoman with you," she added, though she immediately regretted suggesting this.

"Are you sure? I mean, I wouldnít wanna inconvenience you," Mel said, even though she was moving towards the chair all the same. "I know how hard you work at the dig site everyday and well..." She paused, gazing over her glasses at Janice, as the latter handed her the drink. "I believe Iíve... inconvenienced you enough, as it is."

"Inconvenienced me, hmph," Janice grunted. "I thought we agreed to be partners in this venture, didnít we? I mean, youíre putting up half the money on this dig."

"Yes, but... youíre doing all the work."

"Yeah, like this dig has produced results," Janice grumbled, proceeding towards her chair. "No, youíre doing your share and more deciphering those scrolls. This dig is merely a cover, remember, so that no one knows weíve actually found those already. ĎCourse I wish this dig would produce something," she mumbled.

"Jack knows about the scrolls," Mel added, as she sat down on the edge of the chair, her drink in one hand and the scroll in the other.

"Yeah, well... Jack better keep his mouth shut, if he knows whatís good for him."

Mel merely grunted.

"You kinda liked him, didnít you?" Janice queried, a sly grin on her face.

"Oh-h no-o... no-o," Mel drawled.

"Oh come now.... I saw the way you... nearly melted into his arms, when he was leaving," Janice observed, her grin fading into a frown.

"Oh-h tha-at... that was just... the way I was brought up. Southern women are taught to be... gra-acious. Especially to someone giving them compliments," Mel answered, turning slightly red with embarrassment.

Janice grunted.

"Oh, but thatís not to say that Yankee... I mean, northern women arenít... gracious," Mel added, turning an even darker shade of red now.

"Hmph. No need to apologize for me," Janice said, waving her hand, as if dismissing the thought. "I am who I am and I make no pretense about it."

"So Iíve noticed," Mel mumbled, watching Janice take a large swig of her drink.

"Now, back to the scrolls," Janice said, redirecting the conversation away from men, which was one of her least favorite subjects, since sheíd had nothing but bad experiences in that department.

"Umm, yes, well, Iíve been meaning to ask you something about that," Mel said, easing back in her chair now. "Now what is it exa-actly, that Iím looking for again?"

"Secrets to unlock the ancient mysteries," Janice said with a heavy sigh. "Weíve went over this before."

"Yes, well, I know that, but... what ki-ind of secrets? I mean... so far everything Iíve read is... well, just stories about Gabrielle and Xenaís adventures."

"Just keep looking," Janice responded. "Itís there. My father believed it and so do I."

"Yes well... is it possible that your daddy was..." Mel paused, before saying what had popped into her mind: off his rocker and instead said, "... a bit misguided, perhaps?"

"My father sacrificed everything in the search for these scrolls. Which, I might add, few people believed even existed," Janice countered. "And you see he was right. They did exist. And besides, you saw Smythe. He was willing to kill us all over them. So, there must be something there."

"We-ell," Mel drawled. "Is it possible that the ancient mystery was the tomb Xena locked Ares in? I mean, remember that writing on the wall. ĎAll yea who enter, beware the rock of the God of Warí? Could it be this was the power the scrolls were supposed to hold? Because, I sure havenít found anything that... even hints at any ancient secrets or mysteries. Matter of fact, thereís only been one reference to a treasure and..."

"Treasure? What treasure?" Janice asked, sitting up so quickly, Mel drew back.

"O-oh m-my... we-ll, it... it was... a Sumerian treasure," Mel stammered, drawing even further back in her chair.

"Where?" Janice inquired, leaning further out of her chair.

"Well, it... it didnít say whe-ere it was, it just..."

"What did they do with it?" Janice questioned, grabbing hold of the arm of Melís chair. "Bury it... what?"

"We-ell, no... they... they just left it."

"Left it? Now why would anyone leave a...? What, was it cursed by a God or something?" Janice further questioned.

"No, no, nothing like that. You see, the real prize was the Ambrosia."

"Ambrosia?" Janice asked, frowning now as she eased back and removed her hand from Melís chair. "Isnít that a dessert?"

"Not that ki-ind of Ambrosia," Mel drawled, in explanation. "This was the food of the gods."

Janice suddenly slapped the arm of Melís chair, making the latter jump and nearly spill her drink. "Thatís it!" Janice proclaimed, her green eyes wide and staring off into space now. "Thatís gotta be it," she reiterated in more of a whisper now. "Food of the Godís," she added, as if in awe. "Well, what did they do with it? Where did they hide it?" she asked, turning towards Mel again.

"The-ey tossed it... into a lava pit, so that... no one else would find it," Mel answered, knowing this was going to be disappointing to Janice.

"Hmph. Iím beginning to wonder about those two," Janice grumbled, glancing down at the scroll in Melís hand. "What about that treasure? Are there any clues in there as to where it might be... Owch!"

Mel had popped Janiceís hand, when she reached out and grabbed the end of the scroll. "Theyíre ve-ery del-licate," Mel cautioned, in a stern voice. "And besides... itís not even in this one anyway. But no, Gabrielle never mentioned where they found it. And maybe thatís because she didnít want anyone reading her scrolls and... finding it."

"Hmph," Janice grunted, sitting back and taking a swig of her drink. She felt like sheíd just been reprimanded by a school teacher. And this didnít go over too well, on top of the recent disappointment. "Youíre glad she didnít mention it, arenít you?" she accused. "Or... are you holding out on me?" She gazed over the rim of her glass at her friend.

"Why Janice Covington!" Mel gasped. "Iíll have you know I would never, ev-ver do such a low-down, dirty thing! What do you take me for, anyway?"

Janice merely shrugged and took another swig of her drink, as if it were far more interesting than Mel, at the moment.

"We-ell!" Mel said drawing the word out indignantly, as she placed her drink on the side table by her chair. "If you donít trust me anymore than that..." She paused, getting up from her chair now. "...then Iíll just pack my things and be..."

"Sit down!" Janice grumbled, throwing out her left arm between the two chairs, in order to stop Mel from walking off. "I... Iím sorry, okay," she mumbled.

Mel glanced down at the arm near her waist. Her eyes took in the callused hand to which it was attached, as well as, the rolled up shirt sleeve, revealing small, yet muscular arms. She shook her head, wondering why she found this interesting. "Pardon me," she said, removing her glasses. "But, I donít think I heard you clearly. What was that you just said?"

Janice glanced up at her friend, to find those mesmerizing blue eyes trained on her once again. She closed her own eyes and laid her head back against the chair. "I... Iím sorry," she said, in a clear, calm voice. "I... you... you donít know... you just couldnít understand..." she stammered, as she let her arm fall to the side of the chair, while she took a large swig of her drink.

"I canít know or understand what?" Mel prodded, her earpiece going to her mouth now, as she watched Janiceís facial features distort, as if her friend were struggling with some terrible demon inside of her.

Janice took another large swig, as if to fortify herself, before she said, "I... I didnít grow up like you, okay?" She opened her eyes and glanced up at Mel briefly, then lowered her gaze to the glass in her hand. "Trust just... it just doesnít come easily for me," she admitted, cupping the glass in both hands now.

Mel eased back down in the chair very quietly, so as not to break the mood. Janice was finally opening up to her and she wouldnít miss this for the world.

"I never... had any friends," Janice continued, "Well... not the usual kind. We moved around too much for making... lasting friendships."

"You had friends at school, didnícha?" Mel asked softly, thinking of her own childhood.

Janice gripped the glass in her hands. "Not many kids wanted to be friends with the daughter of... The Grave Robber," Janice admitted.

"Oh-h, I see-e," Mel drawled.

"Yeah, well, Iím not asking for sympathy," Janice grumbled, getting up from her chair and going over to the fireplace. She grabbed up a piece of wood and slowly set it on top of the others already burning. "Iíve made it just fine this far without... anyone," she continued, reaching for the poker now. "I can take care of myself."

"Well, yes... youíve proved that," Mel acknowledged, deciding that now seemed like the perfect time for that drink. She sat back and retrieved the drink from the table, replacing it with her glasses. "You sure took care of me," she added.

"Hmph," Janice grunted, poking at the logs. "You took care of yourself. Or should I say... Xena took care of us all."

"We-ell, excuse me, but... I donít remember Xena being the one who saved me from Smytheís men," Mel commented. "I do believe that was Janice Covington swinging from that whip and... slugging those goons. And as I recall it was also your hand around my arm, pulling me out of that tomb, before that door... or whatever you wanna call that heavy stone thing, closed on us."

"Yeah, well... neither of us wouldíve gotten outta there if not for you. I mean... Xena," Janice said, replacing the poker in its holder.

"Hmph," Mel grunted, taking another sip of her drink and crossing her legs. "Do ya think we... inherited any of their personality traits?" she mused.

Janice quickly turned towards her; her eyes taking in the swinging leg.

"I mean, they are our ancestors, right?"

Janice raised one light brown eyebrow. "So it would seem. Or at least... Iíd like to think so," she responded, toeing the loose cobblestone by the fireplace. "But... I donít think I inherited much of anything. Except... my fatherís knack for... grave robbing. And ... lost causes."

Mel cleared her throat, distinctly uneasy with Janiceís melancholy mood, which she, herself, felt a bit guilty for causing. "Hey, I was supposed to be reading you this story, wasnít I?" she said blithely, changing the subject.

"You donít have to do that," Janice offered. "Just leave it there. Iíll read it myself later."

"No, now-ow... a dealís, a deal," Mel retorted. "I said I would read to you, if you fixed me a drink so..." She paused, holding up the drink. "...come on back over here and sit down," she added, taking one more swig before setting the glass down on the side table. "I think youíll like this one, I did. Gabrielle was very brave, ya know."

"Oh really. Xena said something to that effect, but..." Janice paused, as she resumed her seat. "...I figured she was just trying to make me feel better about... being related to her."

"Oh no, she wa-as brave," Mel assured her, carefully unrolling the scroll. "Just like you," she added.

Janice glanced over at her friend and partner, wondering if Mel really felt this way. The latter was already engrossed in the scroll, however. Full red lips moved ever so slightly up and down, as blue eyes scanned the document from side to side, searching for the part their owner had designated.

Wonder whatís its like to be that beautiful? Janice thought. But does she really know sheís beautiful? Whatíd she say about Southern women being taught to be gracious? Was that all southern women or just Mel? she wondered. How come she hides all that beauty behind those awful glasses and those long skirts and stuff? Does Melinda Pappas have any idea what she looks like to the outside world? Thank the gods she has no idea what youíre thinking about her, she told herself. And why are you thinking like this, Janice? she asked herself, when you know better!

"Okay, here it is," Mel announced. "Oh-h... thank you," she said, as Janice moved the ottoman between them, so they could share it. "Letís see... they were walking through the woods when the bard noticed a strange object on a nearby tree. Gabrielle asked Xena what these were, to which the warrior replied, ĎNo trespassing signs. This is Amazon country.í"

Janice sat back, put her feet up and listened, as Melís southern drawl brought the ancient words to life. She found out that her ancestor had been quite brave. Or at least, according to her own account.

Janice tried to picture herself as Gabrielle, but... to no avail. Iím more like Xena, she thought, sensing more of a spiritual kinship with the tough warrior princess. Melís more like Gabrielle, she concluded, as she listened to the animation in her friendís voice. Hmph, Janice, the warrior princess and Mel, the bard and... sidekick. Janice liked this idea. And her mind ran with this thought, as the story of Gabrielle becoming an Amazon Princess, by right of caste, continued to unfold before her mindís eye, with Mel and herself in the leading roles of the daring duo.

Continue to Part 2

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