Sons of a Bacchae
Gabrielle came running into camp, breathless. She talked fast and was trying to tell Xena something about some women being kidnapped near the Bacchae woods.
"Calm yourself Gabrielle. Has this been recently?"
Gabrielle took several deep and calming breaths before answering Xena, "no no, it was several moons ago. I saw a woman walking and she ran. When I caught up to her and assured her I meant no harm, this is all she would say. She was very scared and mumbled something about them being too frightened to search the catacombs. She did say there has been no music in the forest for about the same time. Then she ran away again.
"That's it then!" Xena knew in her mind that she and Gabrielle would once again have to go in search of Orpheus. It was puzzling that the women were kidnapped since Xena had killed Bacchus and all his Bacchae followers . or so she thought.
Gabrielle seemed concerned and obviously didn't want to return to the forest. She remembered without Orpheus' playing his lyre, the woods are not safe. "Xena, we can't delay going back to Amphipolis. Eve has been with your mother for so long, we both miss her " Gabrielle finally told Xena.
"Gabrielle, " Xena responded, "Eve is fine. After the battles she and I had of her behavior as an adult, it isn't my company she needs. I have no doubt Mom will teach her things she won't even know she is learning. That is what she did me and exactly what I hope she does for Eve. You and I need to deal with Orpheus missing again. Without his music, there could be danger of she-demons or male Bacchae that I failed to kill. We have to make sure."
Gabrielle wanted to ask more probing questions because her memory was vague about the last time she and Xena were in these forest. As she and Xena moved along the river, Gabrielle tried to remember any other facts that would explain better what the woman had said. How could this be her mind questioned if Xena had killed Bacchus and all his followers. There was no reason for Orpheus to leave the forest after regaining his body and the lyre. Since Orpheus was a mortal musician, perhaps he had been killed or died somehow, Gabrielle thought.
Finally, she and Xena reached the village where Gabrielle had been near earlier and hopefully was the one that had been home of the missing women. The village felt strange and had an eerie sound of silence. As Xena and Gabrielle walked forward, they could feel peering eyes from the buildings surrounding them. Xena walked strongly and entered the largest building in the center of the town. There was no one in view and Gabrielle was startled when Xena reached quickly and grabbed a woman from behind the bar. Xena growled and and placed the small woman in a choke hold.
"Xena, by the gods! What are you doing?" Gabrielle raised a concerned eyebrow, obviously not prepared for Xena's quick action.
"Alright! What's going on here?" Xena asked in her monotone, demanding voice.
"Are you Xena?" The woman slowly gasped out the question and made no resistance to Xena who suddenly released her.
Gabrielle answered for Xena, "yes, she's Xena." The warrior princess stood to tower over the woman and she kept a close, watchful eye as Gabrielle continued to speak.
"Just tell her what is going on here. I've already told Xena about the women that have been captured and missing for several moons. We're here to help" Gabrielle told the woman who was the same one she had met running in the forest earlier that day.
Feeling more at ease from Gabrielle's kind expression as she had before and hearing soft words, the woman told a frightening tale of carnage. She explained that only a few Lebanese women were left alive. Apparently the son's of the Bacchae had survived Xena and Gabrielle's last visit. Now without female Bacchae, they had completed the seduction of all the innocent women of the village. After that, they took on the appearance of a pack of wolves and devoured all the men. The women formerly belonging to men were taken away but the son's of the Bacchae left the Lebanese women alone.
Xena was pacing as she carefully listened to the words of this woman. She knew it best to let Gabrielle continue to interrogate her. As she paced, she felt anger for Orpheus leaving the forest unprotected. If the son's of the Bacchae had taken only those women who chose to be with a man and had seduced them, the plan was to insure continued production of their own kind. Xena knew she couldn't let this happen.
"They're going to use them to breed," Xena told Gabrielle. "Ask your friend if she knows what happened to Orpheus."
Gabrielle lifted her muscular arm and rested it across the woman's shoulder to calm her. "We can help, " she told in her in a gentle, caring tone. "Do you know why Orpheus stopped playing music in the forest?"
The woman continued to glance toward Xena. It was apparent she wasn't sure why the tall dark warrior had been so quick to grab her. As Gabrielle calmed her fears she couldn't help but think how beautiful both the dark hair and blonde woman appeared. She and the few other women had traveled to settle in this area when the island of Lesbos became unsafe. It all seemed futile now since the wolves found them useless and could return to if only to drain their life blood.
"Do you know?" Gabrielle asked again after the period of silence by the woman seemed too long. "C'mon, you can trust Xena and I. We were here once long ago. It was Xena that killed Bacchus. She killed the Bacchae too and there were no son's of Bacchae to be seen back then. If you know where we can find Orpheus, we have a better chance in the cave pad to find the others.
After a final hesitation, the woman realized she had to share the information about Orpheus. She would have to trust Xena and Gabrielle since she and the other Lebanese women had no defense. They had all hidden and would not show themselves. It was up to her to tell what she knew.
"Well, one of the man-loving women met Orpheus a long time back. Nymph Pomona was quite taken with Orpheus and he with her. She told me once that his love was intoxicating. His music lured her to the forest but stories were told she would always return in the light of day. Another woman told the tale that on one evening walking through the forest, a viper stung Nymph Pomona and she died. When Orpheus came for her, he went mad hearing of her death. It was no surprise that he was softheaded about this woman. His loss drove him to drown himself in the river. It was not long after the music stopped, the other women were seduced and then the wolves attacked."
The woman paused only long enough to take notice of the dark blue eyes of Xena. She had calmed even more with the strong but gentle touch of Gabrielle. Taking a seat at the bar, she continued to speak. " Myself and my Lebanese friends have hidden every since. We don't fear the son's of the Bacchae wanting us for themselves. We fear being sucked into the catacombs and being used for a blood fest. That is why no others will come out with strangers near. That is why I was hiding when you came into this building."
Xena gave a strange raise of her eyebrow to the woman and then a smirk toward Gabrielle. The story had been interesting but there wasn't time to think on the situation of these few women or what to do about Orpheus' death.
"Let's go Gabrielle." Xena walked out of the building and continued to walk at a fast pace toward the north end of town. Gabrielle said a quick "thank you" to the woman and caught up with Xena.
"What are we going to do?" Gabrielle asked as Xena seemed to have a plan and new her direction.
"We're going to go get Joxer," Xena replied.
"Joxer!" Gabrielle shouted as they continued to walk briskly. "What can Joxer do? Have the furies played with your mind again, Xena?"
"Gabrielle, Joxer can play the lyre, remember? His mother lives in this direction. It's the same time of year for his mother's birthday. He will surely be nearby for that."
"Oh yeah I remember he said he could play. I don't remember much of hearing him play that time. I was a little busy with the bloodthirsty minions as I recall. The best I remember Xena is your telling me, bite me! "
"Ha ha ha, Gabrielle. You won't let me forget that one now will ya? I know this much. It has been an enjoyable re-enactment for us. Right now, I can't think on that. There isn't much time before the son's of a Bacchae will have those women so intoxicated with Bacchus like wine they will have already created a new generation. I would have to kill 'em all. "
Xena, hastily turned to walk a small path just ahead as a distant squeaking noise also reached Gabrielle's ears.
"Hi Gabrielle! Hi Xena !" Joxer said as he saw his long time friends on the path from his mother's home. "I was just at my mothers for her birthday. How nice of you two to come, but- - ha ha - her birthday was yesterday."
Xena stepped to Joxer and twisted his nose like she was wringing out a towel. She told Joxer, "look you bafoon! I don't have time for small chat. Orpheus is dead. Hear me, dead. You need to find that lyre you claimed to have and meet us back at the catacombs. Think you can manage that?" Xena ended her nose twist and stared with warrior eyes waiting for Joxer to answer.
"Okay, okay - Xena. Don't get your leathers in a wad. My mother keeps all of Jett's, Jace's and my stuff in a trunk in our barn. I can get it and meet you by nightfall. And hello to you too Gabrielle, " Joxer said with a wide smile.
"Joxer - Xena and I are in a hurry. You always want to help. Here's your chance so don't blow it, okay?" Gabrielle rolled her eyes at Joxer while sounding to have doubt he could complete his mission.
Joxer turned to start walking back toward his home mumbling something of she treats me like a kid.
"Okay Gabrielle, now the hard part" Xena said, as she turned and began walking
back in the direction they had just come.
"Hard part? You mean having to see Joxer again, yes that was hard. Xena, I love him like a brother but he can drive me insane with those looks he gives me."
"Well, if my plan works, Joxer will have plenty to look at and it will do him as much good as looking at you."
Xena's remark puzzled Gabrielle but again, it was no time to question a warrior with a plan. Gabrielle once again felt lost because her memory of the past when she had traveled the Bacchae forest was almost a blank. Oh no! her mind rang out. The only way to kill a Bacchae was those dreadful Dryad bones.
"Xena, you don't mean we are going to have to go fight those flying skeletons again do you?"
Xena lowered an eyebrow and gave a serious look to Gabrielle. "Well, unless you got a better plan. I can't kill Bacchae with a frying pan, ya know. You just make sure you don't have an urge to go disco dancing before we get this mess cleared up." Xena then walked with long strides as she turned to give that lovely smirk but a smile to Gabrielle.
The Amazon/Bard had to take double steps just to keep up with Xena. That wasn't any problem with her strong calves and exceptional energy. "Oh, you are funny when you are focused, Xena."
Clouds had moved in from the north and covered the sun. It wasn't night but the fog from the nearby waters and threat in the sky made it appear very dreary as Xena and Gabrielle reached the Dryad burial grounds. It was Gabrielle who heard the growl of wolves and saw the snarling animals just a few steps in front of them. She grabbed Xena's whip from her hip and began cracking it like thunder. Xena had her Chakram in hand and raised it to throw if the wolves took another step.
Gabrielle held the wolf pack at bay as she and Xena stepped together behind a large tree. Xena released her Chakram, which bounced off another tree and sliced the throat of one wolf. The other wolves turned and ran in a whimper before Xena's Chakram was back in her hands. Xena snapped the Chakram back on her belt as Gabrielle rolled up her whip.
"Xena, those were Bacchae in wolf disguise. I guess we didn't kill them all and we don't know how many there are. " Gabrielle seemed worried as she handed Xena the whip.
"No we don't. Stay real close to me Gabrielle. You better ready your Sais " Xena spoke quietly as she removed her sword from the sheath and held it tightly as she walked forward.
Xena began to tap her foot onto the ground looking for any soft spots where the ground might swallow she and Gabrielle up. Suddenly, Xena stopped and began digging with her sword as she removed several skeletal bones. They were the bones of a dryad. A shrill wind began to blow and howling sounds came from the north.
Gabrielle wasn't comfortable in the graveyard of the Dryad bones. The shrill wind and howling sounds were making her very nervous. She held her Sais tight, one in each hand looking all around and especially toward the sky. Xena seemed more secure as she dug slowly and placed the bones she found in a sack one by one.
"Xena, how many bones do we need?" Gabrielle asked with an anxious sound in her voice.
"Oh, several Gabrielle. I'm almost done. We can still meet Joxer by dark. Good thing he still makes an annual visit to his mother's home for her birthday even though she died years ago. With his kids grown, living in Rome and Meg's early passing from over-bloating, Joxer needs something to do. We have to deal with the son's of the Bacchae first. Okay, that should be enough bones. Let's get outta here."
Just as Xena stood upright, the howling sounds turned to frightful shrieks. Through the clouds came three flying skeletons toward Xena and Gabrielle. Gabrielle was quick to block the wild swing of one skeletons sword as Xena took on the other two. The shrieks became louder as the clanging of all the swords and Sais echoed with the crying wind.
The skeleton attacking Gabrielle spun behind her and she turned just as quick locking the sword between both of her Sais. Next, Gabrielle pulled her mighty right arm loose and began whacking wildly at the skeleton bones. She sent the skull flying to her left and the rib cage breaking into to little pieces of flying cartilage, scattering in the wind.
Xena had two skeletons attacking above her, one from the left and one from the right. Her sword cut the cloudy air waving furiously left and right blocking each blow the skeletons were throwing at her. In a clever move she lowered her sword as both skeletons flew downward directly at her. Xena quickly flipped backward leaving them to crash into one another. Their skeletal forms broke apart like shattering glass and they were gone from sight instantly.
Gabrielle picked up the bag of bones Xena had collected and walked over to her asking, "are you alright Xena?"
"I'm fine, you? I see that our long cold nap hasn't harmed your skills with those things (referring to Gabrielle's skill with her Sais)."
"I can't believe how brittle those Dryad skeleton bones are, Xena. I guess thats what you felt when fighting Alti's old bones, huh?"
"Well, Gabrielle - hers had a little more gristle to them" Xena said, giving a wry smile.
"Let's get to it then!" Xena stated, as it was time to leave the Dryad graveyard and get to the catacombs to meet Joxer.
As Xena and Gabrielle walked and were almost feeling their way through the fog thick forest, Gabrielle questioned how the son's of the Bacchae had survived. Xena told Gabrielle she couldn't be sure where they were back then but obviously the she-demons had brought forth offsprings. She reminded Gabrielle that would have been over twenty-five years back and as grown Bacchae, they would need man-loving women.
"But Xena, the only male Bacchae I remember was Bacchus. Are you saying all these son's of Bacchae are his descendants?"
"That's what I'm saying, Gabrielle. Bacchus obviously enjoyed more than drinking wine with his bloodthirsty minions. There is no way to tell how many son's of a Bacchae there are going to be in the cave pad."
Gabrielle walked on further beside Xena thinking on the reality of what Xena had just told her. Just like the days before they were frozen, Gabrielle wished Xena would just give all the details of her plan. A chill overcame Gabrielle to suddenly think that life had gone on for everyone while she and Xena slept in the ice cave. Nothing would ever take away the strange feeling of that, she realized. She and Xena had said so little to one another about that time as if it just happened and now they would move on. There didn't seem much choice since there was no going back. Gabrielle's heart felt heavy and sad now each time she faced how old Joxer looked and yet he still had that irritating look at her. Xena has some plan for him in all this and Gabrielle could not imagine what was she up to now.
"Xena?" Gabrielle spoke as her mind returned to present time and their pace had picked up in the more clear air. "We have to pierce the heart of a Bacchae with one of these bones to kill him, right?"
"Well, yes, " Xena answered. "There is one other place that will do on a male Bacchae, but we don't want to go there. I'm going to shape these bones so that the son's of the Bacchae can't catch on too quickly what weapons we really have."
With saying that, Xena and Gabrielle had reached the front entrance to the catacombs. There wasn't any sign of Joxer yet as Xena and Gabrielle heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the cave pad as if the devil himself were doing a dance of death. Xena grabbed the bag of bones Gabrielle had sat on the ground and ran into the cave with Gabrielle right behind her.
Just inside the cave entrance Xena stopped her running and placed her forefinger over her lips to let Gabrielle know to be silent. Xena now bent over slightly and moved slow and cautious. The curdling scream had stopped as quick as it began and in the part of the cave where the rock walls widened there lie a motionless woman on the ground.
Xena knelt down and placed two fingers to the neck of the woman. Gabrielle stood quiet and looked with concern, as she feared this woman's fate. "We can't help this one, " Xena said in a whisper as she stood but kept her bent over position. She walked slow looking all around and paused at a narrow space in the cave wall. Xena motioned with her hand for Gabrielle to join her behind a larger boulder just as Xena dropped to one knee and began to open the bag of bones.
"Give me your Sais," Xena then requested.
Gabrielle was felt very focused on the danger at hand and spun her Sais, handing them to carefully to Xena, handle end first. Xena seemed to use the knives to scrape the cartilage from inside the bones and slide the outer layer over the Sais blades. Xena cleared a long tibia bone likewise and attached a rather long piece to the end of her sword blade. Working quickly and only with slight scraping sounds, Xena sharpened several rib bones and placed one in each of her boots.
"Here take these, put them in your boots, " Xena whispered as she handed Gabrielle two of the sharpened bones. "We don't want the son's of a Bacchae to recognize the Dryad bones. That would alert them to quickly and we need the advantage."
Now Xena was equipped with a Dryad bone on the end of her sword and two knife sharp bones in her boots. Likewise, Gabrielle had bones on each of her Sais as she held them in a grip, one in the left and one in the right hand. She had slipped the two knife sharp bones in her boots as Xena instructed.
Suddenly Xena jumped up and yelled, "Yi Yi YiYi Ah! As she ran into a larger room of the cave and began fighting a group of the son's of a Bacchae. Gabrielle began blocking the swaying swords as well while Xena pierced the heart of two attackers with the end of her sword.
Gabrielle continued to fight off the son's of a Bacchae, blocking their every move coming directly toward her and from behind. Her mind was repeating that she would have to stab them in the heart to kill them. She let one son of a Bacchae move close to her as she then pierced his chest with her Sais. She turned quickly to target and stab another son of a Bacchae with the Sais gripped in her other hand. Both Bacchae stepped backward before flying against the cave wall and vanishing.
Xena had flipped her sword under her arm and run it through the chest of a son of a Bacchae behind her. Turning her sword back to the front she jabbed two more son's of a Bacchae in the sternum. Xena gave a twist on the handle of her sword that insured the blade pierced the heart. All three son's of a Bacchae did as those Gabrielle had stabbed and vanished into thin air. The cave returned to silence.
Both Xena and Gabrielle stood carefully looking all around and walking slowly passed the large opening to a narrower tunnel part of the cave. Xena was very clever to have attached the Dryad bones on their weapons rather than try to kill the son's of Bacchae's with just the bones. They were large and strong with a frightful resemblance to Bacchus. Horns protruding from their heads, strange bulging yellow eyes and large white fangs that had a bite me appearance that sent chills of fear over Gabrielle's spine.
Xena stepped to the side of an opening that looked like it led to another room of this very eerie cave pad. In a very quiet whisper Gabrielle asked, "do you think this is the main room?"
Xena turned and gently placed her long arm over Gabrielle's shoulder, leaning over to softly say "this could be fast and deadly Gabrielle. I don't know how many son's of a Bacchae there are but this is the main room of terror. If ever there was a time to turn back it's now."
"Xena, I'm not going anywhere. Shouldn't we go back out and wait for Joxer. If he just plays the lyre we'll have a better chance."
Xena had a combined look of concern and sadness as she peered right into Gabrielle's eyes. "There isn't time to wait on Joxer. That woman in the entrance was fleeing because the ritual to intoxicate them with the blood of the Bacchae is tonight. Once they drink the wine of Bacchus' offsprings they will succumb to them and it will be too late. I'm not about to let the bloodsucking son's of a Bacchae take those women."
"Then I'm with you Xena!" Gabrielle exclaimed as she placed her arm around Xena and they embraced with reassurance to each other.
Xena then threw her whole body forward to run into the larger open room and shouted her famous yell again, "Yi Yi Yi YiYi Ha!" Gabrielle was running right behind her and had both her Sais ready. Almost as if coming out of the cave walls, the son's of Bacchae began to attack.
Xena had her sword flying left and right as she pierced and slashed several attacking son's of a Bacchae. They were hitting the cave walls and dissappearing one and two at a time. Gabrielle had run her Sais through two that faced her and one that had attacked from her rear. One of the son's of a Bacchae landed a sword that knocked one of Gabrielle's Sais from her hand. She continued to block two more attacks with only the Sais in her left hand.
Xena screamed, "your boot Gabrielle, your boot!"
Gabrielle grabbed the sharpened bone from her right boot and used it for her two-handed defense. She continued to lunge forward with the bone in one hand and her bone covered Sais in the other. Gabrielle placed her mark directly into the chest of the son of a Bacchae as they kept coming at her.
Xena grabbed one of the knife sharp bones from her boot, threw it dead center in the chest of a son of a Bacchae saying, "Oooh that's gotta hurt." A son of a Bacchae headed toward her left side and knocked Xena's sword from her hand. The sword fell out of Xena's reach as she grabbed the second knife sharp bone in her boot and continued to pierce the attackers who now surrounded her.
Gabrielle had thrown the bone she retrieved from her boot as well to take out the nearest son of a Bacchae and had already grabbed the last one from her other boot. Out of the corner of her eye Gabrielle saw Xena caught by a son of a Bacchae's sword that gashed her thigh wide open. Xena fell to one knee.
CHAPTER 5 - (Final Chapter)
Quickly Gabrielle threw the last Dryad bone at a son of a Bacchae heading toward Xena. Even down on one knee now, Xena forcefully jabbed her last Dryad bone into an attacker. Gabrielle had one remaining Sais in her hand with the Dryad bone on the end. Xena was able to stand as she threw her last sharpened bone to take out a son of a Bacchae whose sword was raised to Gabrielle's back. Without any weapon within reach, a son of a Bacchae sliced Xena's forearm with his sword and began to move in close for the kill. Gabrielle screamed, "Xena ! No! No!" and she threw her only remaining weapon directly into the chest of the son of a Bacchae saving Xena once more.
Gabrielle ran toward Xena with two more son's of a Bacchae close behind her. Several attackers were now headed toward them both. "Lets go! Lets go!" screamed Gabrielle as Xena dropped down to one knee again. The gushing flow of blood from her leg gash had made her weak. The son's of a Bacchae, several in number, now surrounded them and raised their swords high into the air.
Suddenly, a very high pitched twang of disorganized notes from the strings of a lyre were heard. The son's of a Bacchae stopped their forward motion and their swords froze in place. It was the Amazon/Bard who grabbed Xena's sword lying on the ground a few steps away. In a furious rage, Gabrielle penetrated the hearts of all the remaining sons' of a Bacchae with Xena's sword. They began to fly one by one against the rock cave wall and disappear.
Xena raised both eyebrows in amazement as Gabrielle ran to her, embraced her tightly and strongly helped her up. The sounds of the lyre notes came closer and as were irritating and painful to the ears. Walking into the large room of terror was Joxer plucking away on a child looking instrument. It was a very crude lyre and the notes were all shrill and flat with an abstract sound.
"Hi Xena! Hi Gabrielle!" Joxer said with a smile. "Gee, you guys don't look so good. This place is frightful. There are tunnels going every which way in this cave. One room over there is full of some lovely ladies in chains. I told them I would be back for them ha, ha, (grin)" Joxer said as once again he gave that look and wide smile to Gabrielle. He kept plucking out the irritating notes and would strum the strings to give off a very uncultured chord.
" Joxer, just keep playing and dont' stop," Xena said as she leaned on Gabrielle. "We need to make sure we've got them all."
"Xena stop let me look at your leg. It's bleeding bad, please sit down here" Gabrielle asked as she helped Xena to sit at the rooms entrance. Gabrielle stepped to Joxer and yanked a scarf from around his neck. She pulled it tightly into her hands and turned it to make a tourniquet.
"Oh Gabrielle, what strong hands you have" Joxer exclaimed in surprise. "I only know how to play three chords and the scales on this thing. I think we're going to need a better lyre and a real musician."
Gabrielle took the scarf and tightly wrapped Xena's thigh wound and again helped her stand. Xena approached Joxer and said, "You saved us both today Joxer. We'll get you the grandest lyre of all. First, show us those women in chains and by the gods don't stop playing that thing."
The trio found the large room where the women had been shackled and were awaiting the son's of a Bacchae. They were shaking in fear expecting to be forced to drink Bacchae blood and then be taken completely by the son's of a Bacchae. The third woman released from her shackles spoke up to say, "thank you thank you." After she sighed in relief for her safety she added, "those chords are awful and out of tune!" She walked over to Joxer who gave her that look (yes.., that look) and a wide smile.
The woman told him "I play a lyre myself. I can be of help to teach you." Another woman, after being freed also explained she played a harpsichord while another said she pounded some mean drum rhythms.
"Well, you all seem to have a regular band among you," Gabrielle noted as she was pleased that Joxer's eye had caught the older woman who played a lyre as well.
After searching all the tunnels, rooms and cave thoroughly, Xena was confident that she and Gabrielle had killed all the son's of a Bacchae. The women had returned to their village and rejoined the Lebanese. They got along extremely well since the man loving women were accepting and tolerant of the Lebanese customs.
The woman appearing in her sixties by age had taken her own very grand golden lyre and joined Joxer in the cave. She showed Joxer a few nice chords and they continued to play together and insure the safety of the forest.
With night all around and a full moon, Xena and Gabrielle decided to stay on for the evening festival to celebrate the victory and safety of the forest again. After Gabrielle gently cleaned and attended Xena's wounds they agreed to join the party being held in the large room of terror at the cave.
They listened to the man loving women combine their instruments for some really good rock tunes. Every now and then Gabrielle would kind of jerk her body with an urge to dance. She looked up into Xena's lovely blue eyes but they weren't showing any sign of wanting to dance. Gabrielle felt a little disappointed but understood Xena's leg was probably bothering her.
Xena turned to tell Gabrielle, "Joxer will be happy here. He's now the only man in the forest with all these women. They will care for him because he's their protector now as long as he plays that silly lyre of his."
"Xena" Gabrielle interrupted, "You planned Joxer to replace Orpheus all along and be useful to these women, didn't you?"
Xena gave Gabrielle a quick warrior smirk and continued by saying, "Gabrielle, Joxer has no need to give you that look anymore. He is happy now and the Lebanese women are safe. Never should a son of a Bacchae invade any women again."
After a pause, Xena placed her arm across Gabrielle's shoulder. With a seductive look in her eyes now, Xena told Gabrielle that all the Lebanese women had gone outside to walk in the moonlight. She commented that the customs one of the Lebanese told her about were very interesting. Surprisingly, Xena then said, "Shall we go walking Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle was stunned at Xena wanting to leave the cave before the women were finished playing their music. There was still a lot of food at the celebration to share. "I'm tired," Xena continued "the Lebanese women have set up our camp. C'mon let's go!"
Xena turned and walking with only a slight limp, she headed for the caves exit. Gabrielle began to let her hopes rise that Xena appeared more anxious than usual to get to camp.
The clouds from earlier that day had all passed and the fog was gone completely. The night was bright from the full moon and the music from the cave flowed smoothly in the night breeze. Lying next to Xena, Gabrielle sank into a feeling of relief and tranquillity. As the music sounded slower and softer, Gabrielle thought she was hearing a love ballad.
Xena rolled on her side facing Gabrielle and soft as the voice of an angel began to sing and gently stroke Gabrielle's face.
~ ~ I want your soul
I'll give you what you need to be
I'll keep you warm against the cold night air
Just one kiss is what you need right now
Just one kiss and I will show you how ~ ~
Gabrielle's emotions swelled inside at Xena's lovely voice, the lyrics and her touch. A small tear rolled slowly down her cheek. She turned on her side & spoke in a whisper to Xena, "You serenade beautifully."
Xena became silent as she placed her forefinger over Gabrielle's lips, speaking quiet still she said, "Gabrielle, I want you to do something. Close your eyes close them tightly and think of me."
With that, Gabrielle felt herself melt into Xena's strong arms. Xena held her tightly against her bosom and passionately kissed her.
The celebration had ended when Xena and Gabrielle's lips finally pressed together tightly. Only the sound of two lyres playing together with an occasional sour note was heard in the forest.
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