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The half candlemark show opens with the sound of labored but controlled, rhythmic breathing. His eyes open to see an inky darkness.
"Hmm " He languishes in the scent of delicate flowers as piece by piece glides over his face. Flashes of blue and indigo highlights flicker into view as candlelight dances over long, soft locks. Cascading hair flows over his fingers as she swings her head from side to side and he reaches into its satiny depths. A moment later he hears a contented moan as she thrusts back in sensuous delight.
He gazes at the pools of blue inviting him into her world. It is a place he has dreamed about for so long. A place that he knows he is meant to be. No one else can understand her like he can, after all, he was the God of War.
"We make such a lovely couple, Xena." Ares says, feeling slightly giddy at the thought. "Why did we spend all those years fighting one another when we could have been joining our forces together?"
"Fate," Xena says as she moves her hand to the shoulder strap of her leathers. "We were too busy fighting everyone else and each other to know what we were really meant to be doing." She releases the buckle and lets the leather armor slide down her shoulder, giving him a glimpse of a scar.
"I can see that," he comments as he runs his finger over the proof of her mortality. "Such a shame we couldnt have come to terms sooner and saved you "
"I wouldnt have been the person I am today if wed hadnt gone on our separate paths. I had things to learn, Ares, only I didnt know it until now." Xena takes in a deep breath, drawing his attention to her bosom. "You couldnt teach them to me. It had to be her."
Ares laughs in retrospect. "And I used to call her irritating. I guess I didnt know then that by you saving her, she would eventually save you for me." His eyes light up at the first hint of the sensuous swell that comes steadily into view, as rounded twin mounds are unveiled. His breathing ceases for a long moment as the leathers slip to her waist revealing darker toned patches of flesh. Ares marvels at her nipples, standing at attention like soldiers, begging to be caressed.
A few seconds later, his rhythmic breathing starts again as the valley between the mounds now beckon for more attention. Her long, fingers draw the fine leather tassel southward, its frayed end tracing a path to broad stretches of her taunt flesh. Gradually, Xenas midsection moves to the sway of her undulating hips.
Ares can see the power of the rippling muscles waiting to be set free in unbridled lust. What a paradox of delights: strong yet soft, delicate as a flower but able to kill with a lethalness of a battle-hardened warrior.
"Perhaps " Xena takes in a breath and lets it out slowly. She toys with his mind and body as she strips the leathers off, then straddles his hips.
The depths of her blue eyes splash across his horizon as he feels a tidal wave of emotions rush over him. Their skin to skin contact sends beads of perspiration fleeing from his body, leaving him wet and aching as her motion works to relieve his tension.
"Oh God!" The words come out amid a moment of utter rapture.
In the blink of an eye, it is gone. All feeling of warm flesh touching his is gone, and in its place, the chill of early morning wrapping around his hide. Loneliness touches him, bringing a shiver to his dew covered skin. Huddling tighter than before with his arms now wrapped around his own body instead of anothers, he savors the dream for a long moment.
"If this is what mortal dreams are made of, perhaps it wont be so bad after all." Ares thinks about that for a moment then smiles. "I wonder if thats what they call a wet dream?"
The rocky ledge of Mt. Olympus above him no longer holds his thoughts as Ares pulls on one glistening boot at time.
An XE-TV adaptation of
Lush greenery fills the horizon as two rather worn and tattered mens boots walk to the beat of a four/four time, to the sound of a half-mumbled melody over a well-beaten dirt path.
"Dah da dum, bada, bada dum. Dah dadum, bada, bada dum. Daaaah dabada. Daaaah bada badaba. Daaaah badabada ba dum."
The image of the well-worn boots changes to that of shiny leather but the cadence remains the same. One foot in front of the other strides down the incline of the rocky landscape. Every other step finds a wobbly ankle on the loose shards of granite. With each step that is taken, a little more of the boots are seen as they blend into pants of the same material, stretching over lean, muscular thighs, hugging at the hips. Taut muscles veiled in bronze-toned skin show out from under a studded, leather vest.
"Dah da dum, bada, bada dum. Dah dadum, bada, bada dum. Daaaah dabada. Daaaah bada badaba. Daaaah badabada ba dum."
The scene shifts back to the tattered boots as rough cloth pants come into view. Straps of leather are tethered together to form a minimal web of protection over the rough cloth covering thighs and lower torso as a short sword dangles precariously from the left side. The first dulled flash of the ever-present, almost round, make-shift armor catches the suns attention as he turns down a fork in the road bringing him closer to the village. With his left hand resting on the hilt of his sword to steady it, he moves forward toward the muffled cacophony of voices blended in mirth and song. The voice, stronger than before, mumbles out the syllables of nonsense.
"Dah da dum, bada, bada dum. Dah dadum, bada, bada dum. Daaaah dabada. Daaaah bada badaba. Daaaah badabada ba dum."
The shimmering haze of a scorched countryside gives way to a bead of sweat running freely down a muscular bicep until it disappears into the long leather wrist bracer that rise to mid forearm. The gentle rhythm of the arms mimic the opposite movement of the now dusty leather boots as one foot is steadily placed in front of the other in a driven march. The right hand slowly rises to wipe the perspiration from sideburns the color of night. Faint highlights of blue-black glisten under the searing sun in the short-cropped head of hair. The turn of the head gives way to strong features of god-like quality, yet brown eyes reveal the ache of mortal man.
"Daaaah dabada. Daaaah bada badaba "
The God of War
The scene quickly changes to a silhouetted figure standing in a doorway. Beams of light outline the telltale pointed hat with widening brim as the man surveys the room before entering it.
A second later the figure steps into the dim lighting of the pub. A silly grin comes to his face as a barmaid crosses his path, her voluptuous figure helping to keep her balance with a tray of drinks in one hand. "Oh, yeah!" The words roll out of his mouth as his eyes light up. "This is da place."
" Daaaah badabada ba dum."
Joxer takes his hat from his head in a single swooping move and holds it against his chest. "Marry me and Ill take you away from all this," he sweeps his other arm in reference to the noisy roomful of drunken men. "Ill take you to places youve never been before. Ill take you "
The slap sounds as the sting registers across the shocked mans face. "OW!" The word and the shocked look are out before he could stop them. "Oh " he chuckles nervously, then mumbles as he rubs his cheek, "You remember me." He gives the barmaid a shy smile as she walks away, then he looks over to the innkeeper and clears his throat. "Ill take " he watches another barmaid cross in front of him, sighing when he sees the glare coming from her eyes as well. "Ill take an ale instead." The simpleton warrior works his mouth, taking stock in his painful cheek. Pointing to an empty table, he holds up two fingers and wiggles them at the Innkeeper. "Better make that two " Joxer looks over to the glaring barmaid as she delivers her tray of drinks to a nearby table. "I think Ill probably need it." He clears his throat softly and mumbles, "Dont think Ill be getting anything from her tonight."
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Salmoneous walks over to another chariot and steps up into it. "Remember, my Tent Sale is only for this weekend so stop in and take a look around." He holds his hands up trying to showcase his merchandise. "I have all kinds of horsepowered chariots for you to choose from. Bring the family and test drive one today."
Artemis FYIs for the Amazon Nation
3. Thou shall remember to keep your headdress full of feathers and ready at all times.
And now, lets get back to the show
The rigors of inn life go on around Joxer as he savors the cup of refreshment that had been plucked down in front of him. He sneers back at the wench, mimicking her expression of disdain completely. Waiting until she turns away, Joxer studies the mug for a long second then leans forward to smell the delightful aroma. Satisfied that it is ale, he brings the mug to his lips and tastes it.
Tonights episode: The Girl of his Dreams
The wannabe warrior withdraws the cup from his mouth and licks his lips, making sure not to miss even the tiniest of drops. "I guess you dont know how good it is until you dont have it for a while." He eyes the second cupful waiting for him on the rough-hewn table and sighs. "I can see why Xena always travels with that skin of wine now." Joxer brings the cup back up to his lips and smirks, "Medicinal purposes my eye. Ill take ale over port any day."
With Special Guest Stars
After taking a hardy drink from his cup, Joxer brings it down onto the table with a thud. The remainder splashes around the half empty vessel, sending droplets out of its confine. The noise startles the half-dozing patron next to him and face to face they exchange their ceremonious burps in place of any intelligible greeting.
Seeing more than he wanted into the drunken mans mouth, Joxer winces in disgust and pulls back from the stench. "Hey buddy, you should see someone about those teeth. I could give you the name of a woman with a good right hook." He rubs his jaw. "Najar " any further words were swallowed by the thunderous sound of the inns heavy door being thrown open and slamming into the wall.
All attention is now riveted to the entranceway and the rays of light that can be seen around the figure that fills it. As if frozen in time, the revelry of the inn suspends and a surreal silence clings to the dreary room.
Xena, the Warrior Princess
Gabrielle, Bard of Potedia
A sour look comes to Ares face as he takes a sniff of the foul-smelling air. He squints to see through the dim lighting, noting the lackluster occupants of the room. "Good gods," he tries not to breathe in any more of the rankness than needed, holding his hand over his nose and mouth. "Dont you people ever clean yourselves?" In a moment of curiosity, Ares turns his head slightly and sniffs at his armpit. The expression on his face is one of disgust as he quickly closes his eyes to keep them from tearing. "It must come with the territory."
The God of Wars eyes open at the sound of an idiots laugh. Searching the room for its source, Ares begins to notice the sorry excuses of weapons and armor all battered and dirty adorning the patrons. Their carelessness in regards to the upkeep of their weapons touches off a deeply seated anger in the ex-God of War like nothing that hed ever encountered previously. He could feel a new emotion of his mortal body, rage. Acting without thinking, Ares cocks his right arm back in preparation to throw a thunderbolt across the room. The horror of his impending action multiplies in the faces of the men and women around him. He smiles, then whips his arm forward, releasing his fury on the inhabitants of the room. He braces himself, awaiting the customary thunderous noise and brilliant burst of light.
Nothing comes from his fingertips. There is no sound. No lightning bolt busting furniture apart and scorching the walls. But most of all, to his dismay, there is no scattering of mortals from his fury.
The questioning looks and soft-spoken whispers coming after his failure to reek havoc only irks him more. The determination in his face is overwhelming as Ares cocks back his other hand and replicates the motion, directing it at the center of the crowded room this time. The replication of his delivery is complete, right down to the startled look on the patrons faces, but again nothing happens.
Witnessing the impotency of his godship first hand, Ares snarls with discontent. "Why those..." he mutters under his breath as he surveys the crowd in its wake of growing bravado. Ares says no more, biting down on his lower lip. His gaze catches several of the drunken patrons as they begin to whisper from one to the other, no longer shivering with fear. The growing tide of the crowd sinks into him as he sees a couple of gruff-looking warriors slide their hands onto the hilts of their weapons.
The thought of fighting them in a one-on-one confrontation and on their terms roils in his gut. "What? You cant take a joke?" He barks out the questions in a half-laughing manner as he tries to make light of the situation.
The moment is strained at best, as Ares holds the room at bay with his glare alone. He wraps his right hand around the hilt of his sword, out of habit more than challenge.
"That was a good one." Joxer starts to laugh slapping his thigh in delight. "Did you get a load of their faces when " he mimics Ares action of throwing a fireball off his fingertips, "you did that." Joxer laughs again. "Boy, did you have them all fooled." He picks up his drink and uses it to point to the rest of the inns occupants. " I bet you got a million of them."
Ares brown-eyed gaze drifts over to the only one commenting in the room. The sternness of his face eases somewhat as the beginnings of a smile slowly come to his lips. "Yeah, I do," he smirks, sensing a placid way out of the standoff. "So, why arent you laughing?" He turns his head to survey the room. The sound of forced laughter slowly rises out of the corners and makes its way through the crowded room to where Ares stands. "Thats better," he comments, then slowly saunters over to where Joxer is seated. The occupants of the room resume their normal activity after their charade at forced laughter passes.
"Move over." Ares kicks at the bench and sighs as he allows the tiredness of his body to show with the slumping of his shoulders.
"Me?" Joxer sits up a little straighter. He shifts his body over a little on the bench with a silly grin on his face. "I like being seated at the table of the gods." The wannabe warrior adjusts his armor. "So what brings you here slumming with the losers?" Joxer holds up his hand to stave off the implication that he was a loser too. "Not that Im one of them. Im just here for a drink." He quickly grabs his cup and raises it to his mouth. "Hey, youre looking a little dry," he runs a discerning gaze over Ares dusty leather boots and perspiration stained garments. "Let me buy you one," he motions to the cup sitting on the table next to his.
Ares eyes the cup suspiciously.
"Come on, its not like I was planning on you stopping by and had it poisoned, ya know," Joxer balks. "I was going to drink it myself."
"Ive ah heard about your cooking." Ares rubs his chin. "You stopped a whole army of a hundred raiders from attacking a village that way."
The would-be warriors chest rose with pride for a few seconds before he shifts in his seat and glares over at Ares. "You heard that from Gabrielle, didnt you?" The God of Wars silence only baits Joxer more. "Man, why is it that when Xena does something in battle, her numbers go up and when I get to be the one to save the city " he draws in a breath and continues to whine, "the numbers "
"Shut up." Ares swings his leg over the bench in front of him and drops down into the seat. "Ill drink the ale already." He grabs the cup and hoists it to his face, hesitating for a second to give a sideward glance at Joxer before downing the entire contents of the cup. Coming up for air, Ares sets the cup on the table as an unexpected belch escapes his mouth. He snorts with laughter at his mortal experience. "So, thats what a belch feels like." He turns to the barmaid and holds his cup high in the air. "Another round for me and my friend."
The look on Joxers face is one of sheer delight as he eagerly holds his cup up, waving it at the barmaid. "See," he says in a smug voice as she nears the table, "Someone appreciates me being here." He jumps back as the pitcher is slammed down onto the table, the ale sloshes around, sending small sprays into the air. "Hey, you had your turn," Joxer shot back in her direction as she walks away from them.
The look Joxer receives as she glares back over her shoulder causes Ares to laugh. "Women who needs them?" The God of War looks longingly down into his empty cup and mumbles. "Its not like theyd give you the time of day, even when youre a God."
"You got that right," Joxer grabs the pitcher of ale and fills their cups. A puzzled look comes to his face as he sets the pitcher down. "Youre the God of War, I thought you could have any woman you wanted."
"Could. Should." Ares sighs. "Dont." He takes a sip from his cup then stares into it for a few seconds. "Probably never will now that Im mort " He stops abruptly, letting his eyes drift over to his tablemate to see if Joxer caught his slip.
"You have another tiff with Aphrodite?" The question comes out as nonchalantly as Joxer can muster.
"Nope, bigger." Ares lifts his cup to drink from it as he stares straight ahead.
Now, figuring out why the fireballs never happened, Joxer gets a smile on his face. "Oh, so they kicked you out of Mt. Olympus. What did you do, set her hair on fire and dull all of cupids arrows?" He smirks with delight as he imagines the scene. Slowly, Joxer looks over to Ares catching the wry smile on his face.
"Yeah, well who needs to be a god anyway." Ares takes a quick drink of his ale. "Its not like it got me the woman of my dreams now, did it?"
"Dont feel bad. Im only a man and I never got the girl of my dreams either." Joxers face quirks into a silly grin. "I guess I just dont ooze that fierce predator image like some people. Humph! Like thats all they care about."
Ares doesnt comment. He just keeps drinking his ale.
"Hmm " Joxer takes a long drink from his cup and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "So, whats your dream girl like? Mines blonde."
"Brunette." Ares says, then thinks for a moment. "Well actually, darker than that more like the dead of night."
"Hmm well thats appropriate for the God of War, I guess." Joxer sits quietly for a moment. "She into leather, too?"
"When she wears it." Ares mouth curls into a wishful smile. "And she can really use a whip to her advantage when shes got a mind to," he mumbles, as if reliving the whole experience over again.
"Got any scars?" Joxer asks inquisitively. Seeing the doubtful look on Ares face, he giggles. "Sorry, I forgot that gods dont have imperfections." He rolls his eyes and brings the cup to his mouth for a long drink. "Hey, but youre a mort "
"Shhh!" Ares snaps his finger to his mouth, his brown eyes roam over the patrons seated around them to see if anyone heard. "You dont have to blab that fact all over the place." He straightens up and dusts off his vest of leather. "Ill be a god again. Just wait and see. As soon as they need some little ruckus to become an all out war," he looks off into the distance and nods, "Ill be zapping those fireballs left and right again."
"Right " Joxer agrees with him. "Dont worry, ol buddy. Ill ixnay on the ortdalmay." He exaggerates his wink, then sips from his cup.
"Thanks," Ares grunts a reply while raising his cup to his lips.
"My girl well, dream girl " Joxer sighs. "Shes not the leather type at all. Shes " he gets a silly smile on his face, "in to skins. She may be small but she can hold her own stick and mine." A blush comes to the mans face.
"Uses both hands, huh?" Ares shifts in his seat. "Nothing wrong with that if it does the job."
"Hey! Watch it buddy." Joxer puffs out his chest in challenge. "Thats my dream girl youre talking about."
A bored look comes to Ares face. "If shes into predators like you think she is, youll never get her out on a date."
"I know," came Joxers dejected reply amid a sigh. A moment later his eyes light up and he snaps his fingers. "But you could."
Ares shrugs. "Sure, why not?"
"Look, Ares, you said it yourself. Your dream girl wont give you the time of day and neither will mine me I mean me mine." Joxers face turns thoughtful as he tries to figure out what he just said. Giving up, he continues, "So how about I ask your dream girl out and you ask mine?"
Laughter comes bubbling forth from Ares mouth. "And whats that going to do to help us? Well each be with the wrong woman."
"Not if we double date," Joxer says with a sly smile while he holds up two fingers on each of his hands and mingles them together. "What do you say?" Seeing Ares apprehension, he thinks for a moment then readily continues. "Id do it for you, pal." Joxer smiles when the mouthful of ale comes flying back into the cup Ares just drank from.
"Pal?" Ares turns a doubtful eye at Joxer. "One little drink and a shared bench and Im an old pal?"
"See, I knew that would get to you. It touched you right there in the old "
"Ill touch you there " Ares pulls back his hand and suddenly realizes he can no longer rely on his godly attributes. "Arrgh," he wrestles with a stifled scream and sneers at the man next to him.
"Id think twice about that if I were you, oh man of mortal " Joxer barely gets the word out of his mouth when a muscular hand clamps over his lips, preventing him from any further verbiage.
"Look, if I agree to do this " Ares snarls as he says the words, "double date, will you shut up and let me drink myself into oblivion in peace?" The angered ex-god waits for Joxers answer as he watches Joxer slowly turn blue in the face.
With his lungs nearly ready to burst, Joxer blinks a time or two as he tries to nod his head in the powerful embrace. The second that the grip loosens on his mouth, Joxer meekly squeaks out, "Y-y-yes." He sucks in a deep breath and rolls his eyes at the relief of being able to breathe again. Joxer continues to work his mouth and nose for a few minutes.
Ares turns in his chair and wraps his hands around the cup. "Okay," he says simply as he brings it to his lips. "Ill ask your dream girl out and well double date," he mumbles out the last words and takes a good-size mouthful of his ale.
"I dont know " Ares shrugs his shoulders and takes another drink of ale. "Soon."
"Huh? What do you mean, when?"
"When shall we dabble in doubles?" Joxer rubs his hands together and looks over to Ares for an answer, his face anxious as a child waiting for his birthday to come.
The ex-god wrinkles his brow and sends his gaze drifting over the crowded inn, trying to come up with something, anything, to put an end to the discussion. After eyeing the poster on the back of the door, Ares has his answer. "Tomorrow night. We can take them to dinner after the chariot races." He nods toward the poster and smiles.
Pleased at the prospect, Joxer raises his arm high into the air and snaps his fingers loudly. "Oh Innkeeper, Ill need another pitcher of ale for my friend." He contemplates the idea of a drunken god falling off the chair for all to see and quickly adds to his request. "And a room for the night."
The ex-gods eyes shift over to Joxer. "Feeling lucky are you? I just said that Id ask."
"Huh? Lucky ?" Joxer looks perplexed for a moment. "Oh, I get it. No the room is for us," he wiggles his finger between himself and Ares. "Me and you."
A dark eyebrow raises at the implication. "Im not that kind of friend."
Joxer lets out a laugh that could have rivaled a hyena. "No, silly, not like that " he leans over and whispers in Ares ear.
"Yeah, well just dont go getting any ideas," Ares grumbles as he rises from his chair and points a wavering finger in Joxers direction. "Ive been known to make men bigger than you squeal on the battlefield." A second later Ares is laughing as he reaches for his cup and downs the rest of his ale. "Come on, we better get out of here " he cant help but laugh again at the thought. "Me, the god of war, choosing you over my dream girl."
Indignant at the comment, Joxer puts his hand on the hilt of his sword. "Well, Im at least talking to you." He stares at Ares back as the ex-god heads for the upstairs chambers. "Damn, I wonder if he can hold his ale as good as he can hold a sword." Joxer shrugs and mumbles, "Thats what maids are for." He grabs his mug and starts to follow. "I hope he doesnt snore. Ive got to get my beauty rest."
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Cyrenes Tavern and Inn.
The simple wooden plaque for Cyrenes Tavern and Inn hangs outside on the building. We watch an array of people from simple farmers, to goat herders, to travelers and rough-looking wayfarers enter the establishment.
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The door quickly opens as Cyrene leads a rough-looking man out of the tavern by his ear.
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Cyrene takes a coin from his pocket and then gives him a boot in the pants as he heads down the road.
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Cyrene brings the coin up and gives it a bit of a bite. Satisfied that it is real, she winks. "See you all soon."
Artemis FYIs for the Amazon Nation
4. Thou shall honor thy mother and that means all of them.
5. Thou shall side with your clan, not a man.
6. Thou shall not covet thy neighbors bush, burning or otherwise.
7. Thou shall not lie unless with a very close friend.
And now, its back to the show
The loud sounds of out of synch snoring filters through the air in the tiny room. Two mugs lay discarded haphazardly on the rough-hewn table like some long ago play toys. An empty pitcher dangles precariously from Joxers fingertips off the side of the palate. The skimpy swirl of bedding is draped without rhyme or reason between one manly form and the other as they lay clinging to Morpheus realm. The burning taste of the brew no longer keeps Ares warm. He lay on his side with a tight fist clamping down his claim to the thinly veiled protection from the chill. The night has fled to reveal the light of a new day as it enters through the small window across the room, painting a strip of warmth over the sleeping bodies.
Bound to the earth now, Ares moves with Apollos warming rays. When he can follow them no more, a heavy lid slowly opens and a lazy eyeball surveys the scene. Puzzled by the unfamiliar setting, his brow furrows and the other eye fights to come to life. "Where in the "
Ares thoughts are side tracked by the extremely loud snore coming from the form next to him and he moves quickly to get up. A sudden mixture of nausea and headache crashes down on him like a wave against a jagged shoreline.
"Oh God " Ares winces as he grabs for his head. "Yeah, like theyre going to listen," the ex-god of war grimaces. He slowly sinks back down onto the palate to another round of snores buffeting out from under the swirled covers.
"ZZzzzZZzz," Joxer rolls his head to the side. "I just love your long blonde hair," he mumbles as he turns to face Ares, then giggles with delight.
Ares face takes on a skeptical look. He watches the slumbering man paw at the loose strings on the cover resting over his face.
"Now show me that two handed move again " Joxer trails off as his snores once again sound. "ZZZZzzzZZzzz."
"Im dying here and hes having fun with his dream girl," Ares snarls, annoyed by his own frailty and the increasing decibel level of the one man earthquake beside him. "Get up!" His voice thunders.
Startled, Joxer flings his arm sending the pitcher flying across the room and hitting the wall with a thud. "Huh?" He sits up on the palate, his face strained and dim-witted looking. "What?" With one eye half-opened, the wannabe warrior searches the room.
"Do you have to be so loud?" Ares groans at the sound of his own barked out question and immediately gives a cautioning glare to Joxer. He gives his temples a soothing rub as he brings his voice back down to a whisper. "Isnt there something you have to do today?"
"Do?" The word is high pitched and squeaky like a pre-pubescent boy.
"Shh!" The ex-god brings a finger to his lips. "Im right here. You dont have to yell."
"Oh " Joxer yawns and looks around the room. "Oh, right! I remember now." He throws off the cover and proceeds to prance around the room, twisting and turning different body parts to get the kinks worked out of them. "Were going to double date at the races," he says anxiously. "Speaking of which," he walks gingerly over toward the door, gathering up his assorted belongings along the way. "Ive got to go see a man about a horse."
Joxer opens the door and moves into the hallway. Turning, he juggles his belongings in his arms as he sticks his head back into the room. "Trojan, of course." He warbles out a giggle. "Ill see you at the races, buddy. And dont forget to bring my dream girl." He starts down the hall.
Ares sits on the edge of the palate and rests his head in his hands. "Dream girl," he mumbles. "Where in the name of Hades am I supposed to find that with a headache the size of Mt. Olympus?" He shivers slightly at the loss of his bedding as he starts to crawl off the pallet. "This being mortal " Ares starts to stand up, then stretches and stops short, rubbing his lower back, "is a real pain."
Scratching his head, Joxer stands outside of the inn, gathering his thoughts. "Hmm which way do I go to find Ares dream girl?" He looks to his left and sees the well-kept row of houses at the other end of the block. "He said that shes into leather, huh?" He immediately turns to his right and heads toward the other end of town. "Definitely a working class girl, otherwise shed be decked out in silks and fine linen."
Pleased with his deduction, Joxer ventures forth. Along the way, his gaze roams over everyone who passes, as well as the houses. Never knowing from where Ares dream girl would come. He was on a mission searching for the raven-haired woman with midnight highlights in her hair.
The brightness of the sun at its highest is the first thing to assault Ares as he steps out of the inns dark environment. The second is the heat of the day as it quickly warms his leathers. Seconds later, the annoying build-up of perspiration runs from his brow. He holds his hand up to shield his eyes and looks off into the direction of Mt. Olympus, longing for his home and his status of God of War once more.
So deep in his thoughts, Ares doesnt see the dark, leather clad woman stop in mid step, looking at him in surprise. After a few seconds, her demeanor changes and she silently weaves her way through the busy road until she is standing behind him. A smile comes to her face as she readies her verbal assault.
"Lose something, Ares?" She purrs out in a rich contralto tone, then exchanges her smile for a more formidable expression, complete with arched eyebrow. She tries hard to keep from laughing at the startled nature of her adversary but the slight upturn of her lip slips through.
"ME?" Ares clutches his right hand to his chest then swiftly regroups as he drops his hand to the hilt of his sword. "No, why would you think that?"
Xena tilts her head slightly and lets her eyebrow arch a little higher.
"Im Im just waiting to " Ares can feel his heart racing and the sweat starting to pour from his brow. He stalls for time by wiping the moisture from his face.
"To what, Ares? I know you, and you dont wait for anything." She crosses her arms over her breastplate. " Well, almost anything. You just create another war to get what you want."
"So you think you know me, huh?" He leans closer to her and speaks softly next to her ear. "Im a changed man, Xena. I feel " he hesitates only a second before choosing the right words to continue. "I feel for the people now. Ive stopped creating wars just for the fun of it." He leans back and stares her straight in the eye.
The stand-off lasts for a long moment as Xena contemplates his words. "Then why are you here?" A smile slowly graces her lips as she thinks about the concept. "And why didnt I feel your presence before I saw you?" She lowers her voice almost an octave, the timber showing the thoughtful nature of her words. "I always know when youre around before anyone can see you. Why not this time?"
Ares opens his mouth to speak, then stops and narrows his hazel eyes in her direction. "Its a new clandestine cover Im trying out for the rest of the gods." He holds her gaze for a long moment then offers nonchalantly, "Besides, Xena, Im over you. Ive turned my attention to someone else." He meets her mockingly hurt expression with one of skepticism.
"Yeah, right." Xena looks away briefly. "And Im not the destroyer of nations."
"You could have been once but youre not any more." His words are honest and spoken from his heart. "Ever since you met that irritating little blonde "
Xenas right hand settles on her chakrum. "Leave Gabrielle out of this, Ares." Her growl is evident to anyone within earshot.
"Dont worry, Xena. Youre a thing of the past. Ive set my sights on someone else. Someone that can " Ares quickly searches for the description of Joxers dream girl. He clears his throat and stands up straighter, squaring his shoulders as if in challenge. "Can use two hands with the best of them. Someone that can be comfortable in her skins as well as anywhere else."
Eyeing Ares suspiciously, Xena mulls over his words. "Then I wish you a lot of luck in finding her."
"And what makes you think that I havent already?"
"If you had, would you really be here talking to me?" The subtle smile on Xenas face says it all. She didnt believe him in the past and she wasnt about to now. "Ill be keeping my eye on you, Ares. Just remember that."
The ex-god watches in stunned silence as Xena turns and walks away. It takes him a few moments to formulate the words but eventually they come bubbling to the surface. "You wait, Xena. Ill show you." He raises his clenched fist and shakes it in her direction. "Ill show you theres more willing participants out there than you think." He lets his anger subside and quips in heartbroken irony as he remembers the description for Joxers dream girl. "And shes got to be blonde."
Staring up into the sky, Joxer can see the sun has crested it zenith and is beginning its journey toward dusk. He drops his hand down from shielding his eyes and sighs. "Its getting late and I still havent found Ares dream girl." He starts down the last pathway that he can find in the seamier side of town, hoping for the best. "Hes probably found my girl already," he sulks at the thought of coming up empty-handed. "Some buddy you are. Joxer the Mighty," he pouts at his own inadequacy, "cant even find a..."
Joxer turns his head at the sound penetrating the air. "What the " He walks in its direction and within seconds he hears it repeated again, only this time louder.
Something about the noise intrigues him. Slowly he makes his way through the gathered crowd until he is close enough to see the length of leather-bound rope slicing the air in two.
"CRACK!" The noise pierces the gasps of the crowd.
Raising on his tiptoes, Joxer watches the clay pot target dance wildly on the rope suspended from the tree. He follows the length of leather as it recoils back to its owners hand in rest. His eyes follow the blonde as she moves off to the side and another formidable woman takes her place.
The dark hair of the next contestant glistens in the sunlight as she brings her whip out for all to see. She releases it from the coil and, with a jerk of her hand, sends it flying through the air. The end snaps in recoil as it starts its way back around her body. With the skill of an expert, she makes it dance about her until she is ready to send it lashing out at the target. With her first strike, the leather slices through the rope allowing the clay pot to drop toward the ground. To the astonishment of all, the second strike comes only seconds later, wrapping the end of the whip around the neck of the pot and yanking it back from its evident destruction. The pot comes to rest in her hand a few seconds later. The crowd cheers as the obvious winner is now declared and the congratulatory crowd circle around her.
"Great," Joxer says under his breath. "Skill games before the chariot races and Im stuck looking for a raven-haired woman with leather that can really snap a whip." He sighs. "Now where am I supposed to find "
The sound brings a silly grin to the mans face and he begins to laugh. "Silly me." Joxer starts to walk over in the womans direction. "Ares, youre gonna love me for this one." He stands before the crowd and boldly decrees his title. "Make way for Joxer the Mighty."
No opening occurs. The crowd acts as if no one heard him.
Joxer clears his throat and tries again, only louder this time. "Make way for Joxer the oomph." He is swept forward with the running crowd that has swept him up into its midst, bringing him closer to his goal. "Hey, watch it you guys. Im a respected warrior, Ill have you know."
After a whirlwind of motion amidst the exuberant group, he pushes them away and dusts off his ragtag armor. Joxer stands for a moment trying to get his bearings and watches the milling crowd. Sensing no other way than to join the fray, he puts his hand on the hilt of his sword. "For you, old buddy," Joxer mumbles and charges in.
Ares stands watching the blonde from a distance before he approaches her. The fire in her eyes is evident, as is the self-assured posture of the woman clad in skins and weaponry.
"Youre always standing in her shadow, arent you?" Ares asks quietly.
The woman turns to face him. Her body appears strong, but not so much as to hide her womanly figure. It was there, just beneath the few skins that covered her somewhat precariously.
"How would you like to have something she could only hope for?" Ares smiles graciously as he holds out his hands in an offering of peace. "I can give you everything youre looking for and more." He smiles enticingly at her. "You wont ever have to be second best in my book." His smile grows with the inquisitive tilt of her head. "Why dont we take in a chariot race or two and discuss it over dinner." He chuckles at her speechlessness. "Ill even introduce you to a few acquaintances of mine sort of like a double date you might say." Ares eyes twinkle at the grace of his words. "Theres always safety in numbers," he cautions her. "Hows that for an invitation?"
The quirk of her lip is all he needs to know that she is game.
"Alright then, well meet you in the area of the finish line." Ares brings a finger to his lips in contemplation of the date to come. "Its so much nicer to know who the winners are than to waste time cheering for a loser." He looks off into the distance and reminisces for a brief moment. "Some never rise to their full potential." The ex-god stands proud and strong as he watches the woman turn and walk away. "Two can play it that way, Xena. Well see what you think of my choice now."
Dont go away. Well be right back after this Commercial break
Grecian Formula 44
Draco stands before a still pool of water, gazing at his reflection. First he looks at the left side of his head, then turns to take in the view of the right side. He touches his sideburns and casts an intent stare at the hair around his fingers.
A gray-haired man now enters the area and watches as Draco scrutinizes his looks. "Ah, youve still got it Draco. You look like youre a young warlord of twenty-five." He ventures closer. "Its hard to think that weve been raiding the plains of Greece for nearly two decades."
"Speak for yourself, you fool." Draco gives his image one last look, then turns to view his second in command. "I only started raiding a few weeks ago." He winks at the old looking man and smiles. "Its you that has been raiding for decades." He claps the man on the shoulder and laughs before walking away.
The second in command shoulders slump and he heaves a loud sigh of frustration. "How does he do it?" The man looks totally bewildered. "How does he stay so young looking?"
Draco looks out from behind a tree, a small flask in his hand. "Grecian Formula 44. It will keep the gray from telling your age." His warning stare was unwavering as he brought a finger to his lips. "Shh! Or Ill have to come and raid your village next."
Aphrodite's Love Potion Number 9
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The distinct sound of thunder rolls loudly in the background.
A contrite look comes to Aphrodites face. "Sorry, Zeus, I didnt mean you."
The thunder stops and the goddess smiles sweetly. "Okay, now where were we?" She puts her finger to her lips and taps on them a time or two. "Oh yeah, I remember." Aphrodite perks up and reaches for the small bottle sitting on the table next to her. "My own special love potion." She opens it and takes a whiff of the fragrance, letting a serene look come to her face. "Ive specially formulated this little baby all by myself. One drop of my potion will get you the lover of your dreams. No mortal man," the goddess chuckles, "or woman can resist this potion thats centuries ahead of its time." She holds up the bottle for all to see. "Love Potion Number Nine is formulated of only the most stimulating aphrodisiacs on the planet. Ive gone to great lengths to get you what you need. The rest is up to you."
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Artemis FYIs for the Amazon Nation
10. Thou shall not yank thy sisters bowstrings or any other string.
A close quartered battle rages all around as a big brute of a warrior in gleaming armor turns and starts speaking.
"Dont be " he sidesteps a sword thrust and returns a slash with his own sword at the dingy and dulled-armored warrior. He lands the blow and slices his opponent badly. He glares at those around him for a second or two until they move away.
Satisfied that he wont be interrupted again, he turns his attention back to what he was saying before. "Like I started to say before, dont be left out of the battle when things are getting good. Use Armor All to keep the shine on your armor long after the rest have bit the dust. I do."
He glances down at his impeccable armor and comes up with a feral smile. "Okay boys, get ready to meet your makers."
And now for the conclusion of tonights show
Ares stands looking as dapper as possible in the waning Grecian sunlight. From his vantagepoint on the steps of the Acropolis he scans the crowd as they start to congregate around the last half of the racecourse. The loftiness of his perch makes him feel at home, even if it wasnt on Mt. Olympus. After all, he could be proud of making it through his first day as a mortal and arranging a date for the evening. Now, if only he could find Joxer to see how he did. Given the nature of the man, Ares decides not to hold his breath. Instead, he turns into the gentle breeze and savors the time he has alone to think about things. Sooner or later, Joxer would show up and so would the girls. A smirk comes to Ares face. Well at least the girl that Ares invited would. He hoped.
"Hey, nice view. No wonder you gods like it on Mt. Olympus."
The voice startles Ares, his hand slipping quickly to the hilt of his sword. "Huh?" He turns to see the point of Joxers hat as it ascends the stairs toward him and relaxes. "Oh, its you," he says and looks back toward the crowd gathering at the finish line.
"Well, who else did you expect?" Joxer stands on the same step as Ares and turns to survey the crowd in silence. He thinks for a long moment before speaking again. "Im calling first dibs on the room."
"What?" Ares face shows his confusion at the statement.
"First dibs on the room," Joxer reiterates. "I mean I think its only right since I was the one to get it in the first place."
"Yeah, right. Whatever you say," Ares grumbles as if disturbed by the whole idea.
"Whoa!" Joxer holds up his hands. "That was way too easy a concession from the God of War." He turns a skeptical eye to the man standing next to him. "You did get a date for tonight, didnt you?"
Ares turns to look at the wannabe warrior. His head tips forward as his hazel eyes narrow. "Dare you question my ability?"
"No." Joxer lets his mouth turn up into a boyish smile. He meets Ares gaze and quickly looks away toward the finish line. "So you got me the blonde, eh?" A sly chuckle escapes Joxers lips.
"I got you the woman that you described to me." Ares snickers. "You know, for your dream girl, shes not too bad. I could even get to like her myself."
Joxer turns to look directly at the ex-god. "That was never part of the bargain, Ares and you know it."
"Youre right. I do remember the whole theory behind this double date idea of yours." He brings a hand to his bearded chin and scratches it. "So, tell me. Were you able to "
"Dont worry. Ive got your dream girl and shes ready to crack that whip as much as youd like her too." Joxer smiles, totally pleased with his ability to deliver. "I told her to meet me here for the races.
Somewhat surprised, Ares views Joxer in a new light. Thinking about it, a favorite battle tactic of his came to mind. Like a cloak of fog hiding an army on the move, perhaps that fool-like appearance is really just that his cover.
Anxious now, Ares turns his attention to the crowd. His gaze roams from one dark-haired creature to another until his dream woman comes into view. He follows her as she moves through the crowd. His eyes dazzle at the glints of bronze fire that her breastplate gives off in the rays of the dying sun. Together with her raven-colored hair, it made his knees weak and his throat parched. Suddenly, feeling mortal wasnt bad at all.
"You did it." The words fall from the ex-gods lips in total disbelief. "I cant believe you " he stops short when the woman looks up in their direction, then continues his thought. "You did it."
Joxer puffs up his chest. "Yeah, well, dont let it be said that I cant conquer like the rest of them." He holds his jaw out a little, then nods. "Anything for you ol buddy." Catching the motion out of the corner of his eye, Joxer turns and waves to the figure now ascending the steps toward them. "Hi, Xena. I see you came to watch the races, too. Isnt this a great view from up here?"
"Joxer " Xena says his name but her attention is on Ares. "I see youre slumming with the gods again." Her eyebrow rises in challenge.
"Yeah, thats me." Joxer laughs. "Just slumming with the ex- " His next word is obliterated by the loud cough that comes from Ares direction and he quickly corrects himself. " er...the gods again."
"Ares," Xena says the name with her usual hint of disdain.
"Xena." Ares reigns in the racing stallion controlling his heart. "So, wheres your little friend? Has she stood you up for another?"
Hearing the playfulness of Ares voice, Joxers anticipation grows. He studies the pair in earnest. The power exudes from them like a matched set of prized swords.
She hesitates before answering the question, allowing Ares to speculate. "Gabrielles around here somewhere." Xena turns to survey the crowd. "Im sure shell show up eventually." She turns to look over at Ares. "She did mention something about having to pick up an item for later tonight."
"Later tonight," Joxer mumbles absentmindedly. His gaze turns swiftly to Ares. The smugness of the ex-gods smile sends Joxers mind into overload. "Honey," he whispers under his breath. "By the gods, I hope its honey."
He returns from his daydream to see two dark-haired warriors with arched eyebrows looking directly at him. He gulps loudly. "One of the horses in the first race. Her name is Honey. I I have to remember to put a bet on him her I mean " Joxer turns to leave only to see a face with a golden glow coming towards him. "Oh my gods, its her here " he coughs out loud as he slaps his chest of makeshift armor with an open hand. "Oh! Hi, Gabby." The lovesick, puppy dog look comes to his face without him realizing it. "When did you get into town?"
Green eyes gaze at him with puzzlement then she glances from Xena to Ares. Her gaze finally settles on Joxer with a friendly warmth in her smile. "Joxer, hi. How are you?" Gabrielles gaze leaves him when he looks down to the ground and blushes. She locks a momentary glance with her dark-haired warrior. "We heard about the games while on the road and I talked Xena into stopping here for the night."
"How convenient," Ares regards Gabrielle with a nod of his head although his eyes stay fixed on Xena.
"Right," Joxer pipes up with a squeaky voice. "How conven " he clears his throat rather loudly, then starts over again in a more manly tone. "How convenient indeed." He stands up straighter, letting his hand rest on the hilt of his sword.
"So youre here on a date then?" Ares looks to Xena for an answer. He watches expectantly as she purses her lips.
"Yeah," Joxer looks to Gabrielle, "youre on a date too, right?"
"I " Gabrielle chooses her words wisely after looking over at Ares. "I guess you could say that were " green eyes shift to Xena, "sort of double dating. Wouldnt you call it that, Xena?"
"Sort of," Xena confirms it with a lopsided smile.
"Alright!" Joxers voice carries his enthusiasm as the race onlookers turn to see what is happening behind them.
"Joxer," Ares tone of voice is stern. "Youre embarrassing them."
"Oh, sorry." His goofy grin turns sober. He leans over to whisper into Gabrielles ear, "We are too, you know. Double dating that is." Joxer points to Ares, then to himself. "Dont you just love it when things work out for the best."
Surprise takes hold of Gabrielles face as she slowly turns to get both Joxer and Ares in her sight. "Really?" She asks with an inquiring tone. She watches as the smile on the man next to her mimics the pleased look on Ares face.
"We better leave in order to see the races. I think theyre about to start." Xena motions with her head toward the activity at the starting line. "Come on, my bard. If we hurry, Ill bet you can get a great story out of this one." The warrior princess looks over to Ares, nodding politely. "It was nice to see you," Xena says with sarcasm, "but I promised Gabrielle a special night, all her own."
"Youre coming back after you escort her to her date, right?" Ares asks quickly. "I could come along if youd like and save some time."
"Save some time?" The bard wrinkles up her nose in thought. "Why would you coming along with us and save her time?" She looks to Ares, impatiently waiting for an answer.
Joxer looks startled by the turn of events. His mouth gapes widely as he stares at the blonde. "But I you," he points to Xena. "Me he " His finger moves to point directly at Ares.
"What Joxer?" Xena rolls her eyes, annoyed at the mans inability to get his thoughts out. "I suppose that youd like to come along too?"
Gabrielle throws her hands up in the air. "What is it with me? Does everyone think that I need a chaperone? Im not a kid any more. It was bad enough when the Amazons put guards around my hut." She puts her hands on her hips and nails both Joxer and Ares with her gaze. "Im not some vestal virgin you know."
"Youre not?" Joxers eyes bug out in aghast. "I mean, I know that you were married but I thought you and Perdicus never " He looks her in the eye. "Oh, it was someone else," he says almost heartbroken.
Xena moves in to stand next to her bard with the steely gaze of the Amazon Queens Champion staring at him. "Care to make something of it?" The slight turn of the warriors lips could be easily mistaken for a snarl.
Gabrielle reaches over to lay her hand on the arm that Xena was moving back to grasp the chakrum with. "Xena, I dont think that will be necessary. Im sure that Joxer didnt know "
"Didnt know what?" Joxer looks up in surprise.
"Oh my gods!" Ares tips his head back and looks up to Mt. Olympus. "I should have known. Thats why you never took me up on my offers." The expression on his face changes dramatically. He points a stiff finger toward Xenas face. "Youre with her, arent you?"
Joxer laughs at Ares startled assumption. "Of course shes with her. They travel together. Theyve been traveling together for a while now. Heck, if I didnt know better, Id say that theyre together so much you could almost think that theyre mar " He stops abruptly and turns to look at the serious faces on the two women.
"This is absurd," Ares thunders. He studies Xena for a moment, then concentrates on the irritating blonde. After a few seconds, he starts to laugh self-consciously. "You two arent really " he wiggles two fingers in the air, waiting for them to piece together his thoughts.
"Married?" Xena purrs with a hint of a smile.
"Well," Gabrielle glances over her shoulder into blue eyes. "Not in the traditional sense of the word." A subtle smile comes to her lips, then slowly breaks into a full grin. "But its alright by me. I tend to think were closer being joined at the hip than married."
"You got a problem with that?" Xena pins Ares first with her glare, then goes to Joxer, showing more concern than anything. Her arm moves in the direction of the hilt of her sword, then changes and settles across Gabrielles shoulder. She moves a little closer to stand united with her bard. An arched eyebrow in the mens direction completes the challenge.
"But youre my date. I mean his date," Joxer whines, looking directly at Gabrielle.
"Joxer," she studies the man with compassion. "Im with Xena." The bard pauses for a moment to let it sink in, then makes an effort to help him through his befuddlement. "You know, like you and Ares are now."
"But were not together," Joxer states quite frankly with a little laughter mixed in with his words. "We only shared the room last night because it was cheaper that way." He leans in toward the women. "You know, Aresnay got no oneymay," he rubs his fingers together in an attempt to signify coinage, "since hes an ortalmay."
"Shut up!" Ares clamps a hand over Joxers mouth. He turns the wannabe warrior around and looks him straight in the eye. "You mean to tell me that you didnt ask Xena to be your date?
Joxer cant utter a word for the tight grip Ares has on his face. Instead, his eyes get bigger as a strangulated growl comes from his throat.
"Ares, stop it. Youre going to kill him like that," Gabrielle cautions. She looks to Xena for help.
Xena only needs to say his name and the God of War relaxes and loosens his grip. Beleaguered, the ex-god looks up to the heavens. "Why me? Why is it always me?" He takes in a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. "Joxer," he asks politely.
"Yeah?" Joxer says amidst a spurt of coughs.
"Please tell me that you asked my dream girl out on a date." The hopeful look in Ares eyes didnt go unseen.
"Well, sure I did." Joxer surveys the crowd. "Hey, look! Here she comes now." He points into the crowd.
A pair of restless hazel eyes searches the crowd. "How can my dream girl be out there when shes " Ares stops short. His eyes fill with terror as he watches the figure moving toward them. "How could you get me that," he points toward the dark-haired woman waving at them, "when I explicitly described her?" Ares gaze settles on Xena. "Theres no comparison."
"Hey, you said hair as dark as night with blue highlights. Shes into leather like you said and she even has her own whip." Joxer looks over at the approaching woman. "Hey, look. Theres a blonde walking this way right behind her. Wow! Look at those weapons." The wannabe warrior brings his finger to his lips in thought. "Say, isnt that "
"Callisto!" The name seethes from both Xena and Gabrielles mouths at the same time.
"Well, hey " Ares offers in rebuttal. "How was I supposed to know that the irritating blonde was his dream girl?"
"Aw come on now. Gabrielles nothing like Callisto. Why Callisto is shes " Joxer takes another look as the pair of women approach the bottom of the steps. He watches as the dark-haired woman shakes loose her whip and lets it fly with a loud crack as the other woman toys with her dagger. "Shes going to carve me up and fillet me. Thats what shes going to do." Terror hits Joxer in the heart. "Forget the dibs on the room, ol buddy. You can have it."
"Fillet you? Shes coming here expecting a date with me." Ares turns to look at Joxer.
"Well, boys " Xena chuckles. "It looks like someones double dating and its not just because Gabrielle and I both asked each other at the same time."
The blood drains from both their faces at Xenas words. Without a single word said between them, Joxer and Ares bolt in the same direction. Each one scrambling to get ahead of the other.
"Hi, Minya," Gabrielle gives the whip wielding woman a little wave. "Nice to see you again." The woman nods her hello as she cracks the whip in her hand. "Hey, congrats on winning that skill contest," Gabrielle called out to her as she kept on running past them. "I knew you would do well with that whip."
"My whip," Xena adds under her breath. "You still havent replaced that either."
"I can make up for it in other ways." Gabrielle smiles coyly. "What about my frying pan? You said youd replace that."
"I can make up for it in other ways, too." Xena grins. "I wonder if they will make it up to wrong dream girls." She motions with her head in the direction of the fleeing men.
In the distance a voice could be heard screaming in supplication. "Alright Ill stop running but youve got to promise to put that knife down. I scar easy now."
"Come on, my bard. I think the real races are going to start." Xena turns toward the starting line.
"Xena " Gabrielle says thoughtfully, "Would you mind if we stay at the inn on the outskirts of town?"
Gabrielle looks over her shoulder in the direction of the double daters. "Oh, no reason. I just figure it would be " her words are interrupted by a sharp, high-pitched scream.
"DAMN!" Joxer cries out. "Do you have to be so good with that whip?"
"Quieter?" Xena asks without batting an eye.
"Yeah quieter," Gabrielle agrees as she wraps an arm around her warriors waist to the sound of squawks and squeals fading in the background.
Many thanks for tonights Cameo Appearances
Disclaimer: No vestal virgins were used, abused, or misled in the making of this show.Return to the Academy
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