Disclaimer-I do not own Xena:Warrior Princess. I'm sure someone else does, I'm not exactly sure who, but I guess it doesn't really matter. Just know that I don't!
One Tin Soldier
by Prince Bryazon
"Joxer!" Gabrielle cried.
For the tenth time that day, Joxer had tripped. His badly made tin armor clanked very loudly, and it was really beginning to annoy the bard.
"Sorry Gabby, it won't happen ag-" Joxer started, then stumbled.
He gave Gabrielle a sheepish grin, and continued walking. Xena was scouting ahead, just for a precaution. Everyone knew that there was nothing but peace in the mountains they were travelling in. In the distance, Gabrielle saw Xena's silhouette against the setting sun.
"Xena! Find any trouble?" Gabrielle asked.
"No." Xena said.
Gabrielle privately thought that she sounded disapointed.
"However," Xena continued "I did find a village we could stay in for the night. No cold hard ground for us!"
"Thats good, my back was really starting to ache!" Joxer chimed.
"From sleeping on the hard ground, or falling on it?" Xena said, then turned away from Joxer and winked at Gabrielle.
The trio walked for a half hour, then came upon the village Xena had found. They put Argo up in a stable, and checked into the Inn for the night. As she was falling asleep, Xena got an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach.
"Damn Joxer and his cooking...." she said, and nodded off.
Little did she know that it wasn't Joxers cooking that caused the bad feeling in her gut.....
The next day the girls and Joxer left the Inn, only to hear yelling and commotion everywhere. Attempting to find the source of the trouble, the Warrior Princess separated from Gabrielle and Joxer to find the leader of the village. He wasn't hard to find-he was standing in the village square on a podium.
"Hey! Coming through...watch the hands, people have died for less....move it!" Xena said, making her way through the crowd.
She walked up to the podium, getting the attention of the leader.
"Hello there. What seems to be the problem?" Xena asked.
"You'd best be getting out of here, stranger. We are about to be attacked by the people of the valley." the leader said sadly.
"Attacked? Why?" Xena inquired.
"They want the treasure beneath the stone. We sent messengers to them, saying we would share our treasure. They didn't care, they want it for their very own. They don't understand! They just don't.....who are you anyway, young lady?" he said suspiciously.
Gabrielle and Joxer pushed their way through the crowd, and stood at Xena's side.
"My name is Xena. These are my friends, Gabrielle and Joxer." she said, motioning towards her companions.
"Joxer the mighty! You forgot 'The Mighty' part!" Joxer said, and Gabrielle elbowed him in the stomach.
"Ouch!" he exclaimed.
Xena climbed up onto the podium, and looked out at the people in the village. Their faces were a mixture of fear and disbelief at the gall of the strange woman in leather armor, suddenly addressing them like she was in charge.
"People! You have to mount a defense! You can't just stand here and die!" Xena shouted.
The leader of the village touched Xena on the shoulder, and gave her a gentle smile.
"Warrior Princess....we have heard much of you and your deeds. We understand you want to help but...its not our way. We do not fight." he said.
Shocked, Xena got down from the podium. Motioning with a flick of her head to Gabrielle and Joxer, she took them inside a tavern to discuss the situation.
"We can't just let them die, Gabrielle. We can't." Xena said, sounding urgent.
"Xena, we can't make them fight. Maybe they can resolve all of this peacefully." Gabrielle said.
"I can't believe those darn kids called me The Tin Soldier. I'm JOXER the MIGHTY! How dare they! Tin Soldier my foot!" Joxer said indigantly.
"Not the big issue here Joxer." Gabrielle said, shaking her head.
Suddenly, many men of the village walked into the tavern. Gathering around their table, they all looked at Xena.
"Xena, we understand you want to help. But we cannot allow you to fight, it would undermind who we are as a people. The people of the valley will understand this, we can have a peaceful solution." one of the men said.
"No, we're fighting." Xena said in a steely tone.
"What is this 'treasure' they want anyway?" Gabrielle inquired.
"It is a secret only known to the people on the mountain. You are not one of us. However...I don't believe it would hurt if we showed one of you what it is. Why don't you two girls stay here for awhile, have drinks on us. Your companion here will be shown." he said, gesturing at Joxer.
They took Joxer away, to the place under a large rock where the treasure was hidden. The bartender brought Xena and Gabrielle drinks. They both took a sip from their cups, then collapsed.
The leader of the mountain people walked into the tavern, surveying Xena and Gabrielle.
"It's unfortunate we had to give them sleeping mixtures...but they would have fought. Please take them a safe distance from our village." the leader told the bartender.
Joxer was walking along the road back to the main section of the village with a light step. The treasure they had shown him was very valuable, and it had put him in a very good mood. They had even given him a little piece of it! As he crested a small hill, he saw smoke. He also heard panicked screaming.
"Oh no..." Joxer said, and ran towards the village.
The entire village was on fire. People were running everywhere, soldiers in heavy armor and simple villagers pleading for their lives. Joxer stood stunned, not knowing what to do. Surveying the town, he noticed almost every building was aflame.
"The stables...Argo! I have to save Argo!" Joxer said urgently.
Filled with sudden courage, Joxer ran right down the middle of the street, unnoticed by the murderous soldiers as they preyed on the villagers. He heard the soldiers yelling 'the treasure will be ours!' as he made his way to the stable. Entering the burning building, he quickly ran to the stall Argo had been put in. Taking off the lock, he opened the door.
"C'mon girl, get out of here!" Joxer said, and grabbed Argo's reins.
Joxer led Argo out of the stable, and looked at the carnage that was surrounding him. He knew that he would die if he attempted to fight the valley people's soldiers, but he felt that he absolutely had to try.
"Go Argo," Joxer said, slapping her rump, "go to Xena. They had to have taken her out of the village with Gabby. Save yourself...."
Joxer ran his hand along her mane, and attempted to move towards the one sided battle. Argo stepped in his way.
"Go girl, move!" Joxer yelled.
Argo wouldn't budge. When he tried to go around the golden mare, she stepped in his way again. Trying a new approach, Joxer decided to leap over Argo so he could get to the battle and fight. Fight and die, Joxer thought, but I have to try. He jumped, but came up short and only got halfway over the horse. The instant he was on her, Argo took off at a full run out of the village.
"Argo! You have to let me try!" Joxer said.
Argo didn't stop. She knew she had to save the brave man, that he couldn't help. With Joxer struggling on her back, she ran into the forest as fast as her legs would carry her.
Several hours later, Xena awoke alone in the forest. Gathering her thoughts, she stood up and looked around her. She saw Gabrielle walking up the forest path.
"Gabrielle! What happened?" Xena asked urgently.
"They're dead, Xena. All of them...while we were sleeping...all the people of the mountain were slaughtered by those of the valley." Gabrielle said with tears in her eyes.
"Were there any survivors of the mountain village?" Xena asked.
"Only one....Joxer. He's the only person that got out alive." Gabrielle said.
Joxer came riding up on Argo. His face was distraught, and his shoulders were hunched.
"Xena...Gabrielle...I...I...need to be alone for awhile. I'll catch up with you later, ok...." Joxer said in a faraway voice, then dismounted from Argo and started to walked away.
"Joxer, what was the treasure under the rock?" Gabby asked.
He turned and handed a piece of parchment to the bard.
"They wrote it down for me...so I could keep it with me wherever I went...copied it right out from under the stone." Joxer said.
She unrolled the parchment, and her eyes widened when she saw what was written. Gabrielle moved to stop Joxer from leaving, but Xena gently held her back.
"Let him go...he needs to be alone right now." Xena said.
Days later, the trio met up again on the road to Thebes. Camping for the night, they set up their bedrolls and started a fire.
"I wrote a poem about the tragedy a few days ago..." Gabrielle said, taking a scroll out of her bag.
With a sadness in his eyes, Joxer looked up at her.
"Let's hear it Gab..." he said.
She unrolled the scroll, and read it aloud to her companions--
"Listen children to a story,
That was written long ago,
About a kingdom on a mountain
and the valley folk below.
On the mountain was a treasure
buried deep beneath the stone
And the valley people swore
they'd have it for their very own
So the people of the valley,
sent a message up the hill.
Asking for the buried treasure,
tons of gold for which they'd kill.
Came an answer from the kingdom,
With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain,
all the riches buried there.
Cried the people of the valley,
mount your horses draw your swords!
Now they killed the mountain people,
so they won their just reward.
Now they stood beside the treasure,
On the mountain dark and red,
Turned the stone and looked beneath it...
Peace on Earth was all it said.
Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend,
Do it in the name of heaven,
you can justify it in the end.
But there wont be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgement day.
On the bloody morning after,
One tin soldier rides away."
"Tin soldier..." Joxer said, and lay down in his bedroll with a tear in his eye.
This story is based on a song I heard when I was a little kid.
I think its moral can teach us all a lesson.
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