Xena, Gabrielle, Queen Diana, King Lias and King Philemon do not belong to me. They belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance.
Xena was a bit upset; the quiet, romantic honeymoon she wanted to spend with Gabrielle hadn't gone as she had planned. They had met Autolycus, traveled to a mythic temple to return a large emerald and break a terrible curse. Gabrielle had been turned into a giant eagle and Exl had been turned into a wolf and they had nearly lost their lives. It definitely hadn't gone as Xena had planned. She wanted to make it up to Gabrielle, and wanted to surprise her with something lovely. But that's where Xena's ideas ran out. There she was, at an inn, drinking ale and thinking.
It was late and she decided to go and see how Gabrielle and Exl were feeling. For a few days after they had been turned back to their human forms, Gabrielle and Exl had been feeling a bit poor and Xena had given them some herbs to help them sleep and recover. She opened the door and found her dear ones right where she had left them. Gabrielle was sleeping in the large, comfortable bed and Exl had fallen asleep in the armchair next to the bed. Xena silently sneaked next to Exl and checked her injured arm. Exl's left forearm had been clawed by the wolf she had been fighting while being in her wolf form protecting Xena and Autolycus. The wolf had clawed her left front leg, which in human form was her left arm. The claw marks had started to heal effectively, but they would leave scars on her arm. Xena changed the bandage on the wound and smiled seeing Exl was a sound sleeper. She hadn't noticed anything, not Xena coming in or Xena attending her wound. Usually her warrior senses were on alert, but the herbs she had taken really knocked her out.
Xena walked to the bed and sat next to the sleeping bard. She looked like an angel, sleeping soundly. Xena crawled next to her bard and put her arms around her sleeping wife. Somehow Gabrielle must have felt Xena wrap her arms around her, because she took hold of the strong arms holding her. Xena felt blessed having the woman she loved more than anything in her arms and the young one she loved and respected so much sleeping only a few feet from them. Xena closed her eyes and wished this moment would never go away.
In the morning, someone knocked on their room's door. Xena jumped up and Exl also stood up, but sat back down when Xena said she'll see who it is. Gabrielle was still sound asleep, knowing nothing about her surroundings. At the door was the innkeeper who informed that there were two soldiers asking for Xena downstairs. Exl said:
“Do you have any idea who they could be?” Xena shook her head, took her scabbard and said:
“Let's go and see who are so anxious to see us.” Exl grabbed her axes and followed Xena downstairs. When Xena and Exl got downstairs, two soldiers saluted Xena and the other said:
“Xena, we have an urgent message from Queen Diana and King Philemon.” The other gave Xena a scroll and she took it saying:
“Is something wrong? Are Diana and Philemon in trouble?” The soldiers just shrugged their shoulders in ignorance. Xena read the scroll and after reading it she said to the soldiers:
“Go and inform Diana we will arrive as soon we can. Report only to Diana, now go.” The soldiers saluted Xena and left. Exl asked:
“Xena, what's going on? Who are Queen Diana and King Philemon?” Xena sat at the nearby table and began:
“Queen Diana is the daughter of old King Lias. Gabrielle and I have helped Lias, Diana and her husband Philemon numerous times before. She writes that they need our help again, and we must hurry. And I know this must be urgent because she sent those two soldiers to bring the message.”
“So where are we headed?”, Exl asked getting up.
“To Treus, and we have to leave immediately,” Xena said and quickly walked up the stairs with Exl right behind her, and opened the door to their room. They found Gabrielle who had just awakened and was rubbing her eyes.
“Good morning, by the gods I slept so soundly. What is it?”, Gabrielle said seeing the warriors packing their belongings in a fast pace.
“Gabrielle get up, we have to leave, we are needed in Treus. Diana sent an urgent message”, Xena said and hearing the words Diana and urgent, Gabrielle jumped out of bed and had her things packed in no time.
Treus was less than two candle marks travel away, so the trio was there before midday. Xena informed the palace guards who they were and they were allowed to enter the palace with special orders from the Queen. They were escorted into the throne room to wait for the Queen and King. They didn't have to wait for long, Diana and Philemon rushed to the throne room immediately after they heard their friends had arrived.
“Xena, Gabrielle, it's so good to see you”, Philemon said and gave Xena and Gabrielle a hug. Exl had kneeled, as she always did when she met Royalty. Diana also hugged her friends and said:
“I'm glad you came as quickly as you did.” Exl had her head bowed and Xena remembering her friend's respectful way of greeting Royals, said to Diana and Philemon:
“Diana, Philemon, I want you to meet Exl, she is our Guardian. Exl, this is Queen Diana and King Philemon of Treus.” Diana smiled at Exl's honoring greeting and said:
“Rise Exl, friend of Treus.” Exl rose and looked at Diana and Philemon. Seeing how Diana and Xena looked exactly the same, Exl thought she was hallucinating but there they were standing next to each other, the Warrior and the Queen. Exl saluted the Queen and King and said:
“I am honored to meet you. I am Exl, a warrior, Loyal and Guardian of Xena and Gabrielle.” Philemon said:
“The pleasure is ours. Welcome to Treus.”
Xena figured the formalities were over and asked:
“Diana, what is going on? You sent that urgent message so it has to be important.” Diana signaled the travelers to sit down in the chairs facing the thrones.
“Yes Xena, it is important. My father is feeling very poorly, he doesn't have much time on this Earth. For many years my father has negotiated peace with King Macoen of Cesul. King Macoen is to arrive here tomorrow to sign the peace treaty. He has informed he will only sign it, if my father will also sign it. He will never agree to sign it if my father dies before he arrives. We are afraid that someone might try to kill my father before King Macoen arrives. We need your help to keep my father safe until the treaty is signed.” Gabrielle, Exl and Xena looked at Diana and Philemon seeing how much King Lias means to them and so does the peace treaty with the Cesulians.
“So what do you want us to do?”, Xena asked. Philemon answered:
“Xena, we want you to pose as Diana on some occasions and keep an eye on King Lias. Gabrielle and Exl, you are to infiltrate the palace staff and personnel to see if anyone on the inside is involved with the assassination attempt of King Lias.”
“Sounds like a good plan. May we see King Lias?”, Xena asked. Diana nodded and Xena lead the way to the King's bedroom. She knocked and hearing a faint:
“Come in”, she opened the door and entered the room. They saw King Lias was truly at his weakest, and went to his bedside and noticing the familiar faces, he smiled.
“Xena… Gabrielle…”, Lias said.
“Your Highness, we have come to help. Don't worry, you'll be safe”, Xena said to Lias. Lias turned to Exl not remembering had he met her before. Exl saluted the King and said:
“You Royal Highness, I am Exl, friend and Guardian of Xena and Gabrielle.” Gabrielle said to Lias:
“We aren't going to let anything happen to you, or Diana and Philemon.” Lias smiled and closed his eyes, he was very weak. Philemon walked behind the women and said:
“Come my friends, the table is set.”
After eating a good meal, Xena, Gabrielle and Exl were shown a room they could change into their disguises. Gabrielle was dressed as Diana‘s (and Xena's) personal scribe and Xena had changed her usual warrior outfit into a dress matching Diana‘s.
“So if we have to infiltrate the palace personnel, can I infiltrate the palace guards and see if they know anything?”, Exl asked. Diana shook her head and said: “Unfortunately, all our guards are men and much bigger than you. You'll be recognized easily, but don't worry I have something that might suit you.” She went to search the wardrobe for something special.
“Well how about your body guard or something like that?”, Exl tried to think of what Diana had in mind for her.
“I‘m afraid not, here you are”, Diana said giving Exl an outfit.
“What is this?”, Exl asked feeling a bit doubtful about her disguise.
“You'll be posing as Xena's personal lady‘s maid. That is an appropriate outfit for a fine lady‘s maid.” Exl examined the outfit and turned to look at Diana, Xena and Gabrielle with a horrified look. She said with much disbelief:
“You want me to wear a DRESS?!? Oh no… Your Highness, I'm sorry but I'm not going to wear a dress.”
“Why not, I bet you look cute in a dress?”, Gabrielle said amused.
“Well that's the point, the word cute isn't in my vocabulary”, Exl said.
“Come on Exl, you can't be wearing that, you look nothing like a maid dressed like that”, Xena said pointing at Exl own outfit.
“Can't I pose as a lackey or a court jester or something?”, Exl tried to ask. Diana, Xena and Gabrielle shook their heads in unison and Exl rolled her eyes and went to change into the dress.
While she was dressing, Xena and Gabrielle whispered to Diana:
“Is that really the only thing you have for Exl? She won't like this one bit.” Diana winked and said:
“I wanted to bring out her feminine side, I guess she doesn't show that very often. Actually, I do have an outfit fit just for her, but let's see what she looks like in that dress.” Xena and Gabrielle smiled thinking:
“Diana, you really are sly.” Exl emerged wearing the dark carmine red dress feeling like a complete idiot. She didn't like this one bit. And seeing Xena and Gabrielle laugh at her didn't make her feel any better.
“Go ahead laugh, do you know how I feel wearing this? I'm a warrior, not a lady or a lady's maid. I just can't do this…” Diana walked to Exl and said:
“Well I agree with you, this isn't the ideal outfit for you. You don't look like a lady's maid with all those scars and scratches. Here, try this on.” She gave Exl a lackey's outfit and Exl happily went and changed, she had to get rid of that dress. When Exl emerged, she looked great. She had a forest green tunic and pants, with a sky blue belt and gold decorative patterns. Exl smiled, this was more her kind of outfit.
“What do you think?”, she asked and gave a deep bow.
“Magnificent”, Xena said.
“Just perfect. Sorry we laughed at you earlier, but you looked very nice in that dress”, Gabrielle said. Queen Diana gave Exl a black wig with longer hair than Exl had. Exl put in on and Diana seemed happy with her looks.
“You look just like my personal lackey Kinray. You are about the same height and body built, the only outer feature someone can tell the difference between you and him are your eyes. Kinray has gray eyes and you have those amazingly beautiful blue-green eyes”, Diana explained. Exl smiled and continued:
“I guess Kinray doesn't have a large scar like mine?” Diana had forgotten the scar over Exl's left eye and said:
“Well no, he doesn't. But there are only few who have seen Kinray, he is new here and when he isn't needed, he keeps to himself.” Then she went to the door and said to one of the guards she wants to see Kinray immediately.
“So what am I supposed to do as Xena's lackey?”, Exl asked.
“You are to serve her, open doors, offer her a seat and so on. Ah, that must be Kinray”, Diana said hearing a knock on the door.
She went to open the door and a young man stepped inside.
“Your called me your Highness?”, Kinray said bowing for the Queen.
“Yes Kinray, I want you to meet my friends. This is Xena, Gabrielle and Exl”, Diana said introducing the three women to her young lackey. When Kinray saw Xena, he nearly fainted. It's not easy seeing your Queen with a complete double.
“It is my honor meeting you, I am Kinray” , he said. Exl walked to him and looked at him from head to toe. He did look like Exl in the disguise, he even had a somehow similar face as she did, except for the eyes. He had beautiful grey eyes. Kinray felt his heart jump up his throat when he saw Exl, she was like his double! He noticed this young woman wasn't a lady at all. The scar over her eye indicated she was a fighter or a warrior of some kind. And when he looked into Exl's cerulean and emerald eyes, he was enchanted by them.
“Kinray, this is Exl, she we be posing as you and Xena will be posing as me. Gabrielle will be my personal scribe, they are here to protect my father”, Diana explained to Kinray.
“Nice to meet you Kinray”, Exl said and offered him her forearm. Kinray took hold of Exl's hand and gave it a kiss. Exl took her hand away from Kinray fast and Diana came to the young ones and said:
“Kinray, I need you to show Exl the palace and teach her some things about being a lackey.” Kinray bowed and answered:
“What ever you want, your Highness.” Exl also bowed and said:
“Your Highness.” Then she turned to her Couple, bowed to them and said:
“Queen Gabrielle, Queen Xena”. With a wink to them, she left with Kinray to explore the palace. “Come, we must go and look over the schedule of King Macoen's arrival. Diana, followed by Xena and Gabrielle went over the schedule and they were going to the dining hall for dinner when Exl came running after them.
“Xena! Gabrielle! Queen Diana! Come quick, it's King Lias, he is feeling very poor!”, Exl shouted and ran to the King's room after her friends. Kinray was by the King‘s side and gave room for Queen Diana when she came to her father‘s side.
“Father, how are you feeling?”, Diana asked King Lias very worried.
“My sweet daughter, I feel my end is coming soon. I just wanted to make peace with Macoen between our nations. You have to stay strong, my child…”, King Lias said and held his daughter's hand. He closed his eyes and passed out. Diana was in tears, she didn't want to lose her father. Xena, Gabrielle and Exl felt very sad for Diana, losing your loved ones was never easy. Xena walked to Diana and said:
“We'll do what ever we can to keep King Lias alive and safe. We are here for all of you.” Diana felt a bit better knowing her friends were there to help.
“Thank you, all of you, I appreciate this very much”, she said and gave her father's hand a small kiss. They went to have dinner and after eating, Diana left to be alone with Philemon.
Exl said to Xena and Gabrielle:
“I didn't want say this when Diana was around, but I think King Lias is trying to be poisoned. The water pitcher next to his bedside, it has to have traces of the poison.”
“How do you know?”, Gabrielle asked.
“When we went to see King Lias earlier, the mug of water on the table was empty. When Kinray and I went to see King Lias again, the mug was half full and it smelled quite funny. Like the pungent odor of urine”, Exl said. Xena had a thought.
“Poison hemlock. Poison hemlock is plant that has a fowl odor, ingested in great doses it is lethal”, she said and stood up.
“We have to get that water pitcher. If the King drinks any more of that poisoned water, he is finished.”
“What if he has drank enough of it to kill him?”, Gabrielle asked.
“When poison hemlock is mixed to water, to kill someone, the victim has to drink plenty of it. Drinking small amounts will only cause symptoms like the King has now. If you add enough poison hemlock into one mug of water to kill someone, the color changes and the odor is very strong. Anyone could notice there's something in the water if there is too much of it”, Exl continued Xena's explanation. They quickly made their way to the King's room, but the water pitcher wasn't in its place.
“Damn it, the assassin must have got here before us”, Xena said disappointed. Exl however didn't look disappointed and went to get something from under the bed. She took out a mug and gave it to Xena.
“I knew hiding this was a good idea, I had a hunch the assassin might try to get rid of the evidence”, she said. Gabrielle smiled and said:
“Good thinking Exl. Xena, how much poison hemlock is there?” Xena sighed in relief and said:
“Only a very small amount. We have to ask Diana how long Lias has been ill. I can try to mix an antidote when I know about how much poison he has ingested.” However it was late and they needed their rest, King Macoen and his entourage would arrive tomorrow and they had to keep Lias safe as long as they could.
In the morning, Xena, Gabrielle and Exl told Diana and Philemon what they had learned the previous evening.
“Poison, how is that possible?”, Philemon said.
“It was mixed to his water pitcher, how long has he been like this?”, Xena asked.
“For about four days now”, Diana said trying to remember when her father had fallen ill.
“He hasn't ingested that much poison, I think I can help him. Who are allowed to see the King?” Xena asked.
“We have restricted the amount of people who can see him after he fell ill. Only we, the royal nurse, his own two servants and our personal lackeys are allowed to see him. So only… seven people can see him”, Philemon counted.
“So we have to keep a close eye on all those who can get into his room”, Gabrielle said thinking what Xena had in mind.
“Yes, but we must do it with discreet, so the assassin won't realize we're onto him. It is important to act natural”, Xena said. A few preparations still needed to be made before King Macoen would arrive.
Queen Diana and King Philemon went to receive their guests. Gabrielle was with them and Xena and Exl watched the arrival of the King from a palace window.
“Presenting his Majesty, King Macoen of Cesul”, announced a lackey. King Macoen rode to the steps of the palace and Diana greeted him:
“King Macoen, I am delighted to have you as our guest. My father has been expecting you, he is unfortunately feeling a bit poor now.” King Macoen seemed like a good man and he answered:
“Queen Diana, it is my pleasure to come and visit your beautiful kingdom. I am sorry your father isn't feeling well. I want to present my loyal adviser, Ghaos.” The King's adviser, Ghaos on the other hand didn't seem pleasant at all. He was tall, he had a dark beard and moustache, and long, skinny hands and fingers. He looked sneaky, wicked and unpleasant, Xena and Exl both felt he had some dirty tricks up his sleeves. He bowed to Diana and Philemon and said:
“Your Majesties.” Philemon smiled and said:
“Welcome, I hope you enjoy your visit here.” The guests were guided inside to the throne room. Diana and Philemon sat in their thrones and Macoen sat into a guest's throne.
“So, when do you want to have word with my father?”, Diana asked. Before Macoen could answer, Ghaos said:
“Why the rush? I'm sure his Majesty is tired of his journey here and would like to eat and rest well before starting the negotiations.”
“As you wish, our servants will show you to your rooms. If you need anything, do not hesitate to call for them”, Diana said and clapped her hands. Four servants came and guided Macoen and Ghaos to their rooms. After they had gone, Exl and Xena came to the throne room and they discussed the next part of the plan.
“At dinner, Exl and I will replace you and Kinray and see if we can learn anything new”, Xena said. Exl said with a thoughtful face:
“There's something about the King's adviser, Ghaos, that doesn't seem good. He looks dishonest.” Gabrielle said:
“Yeah, he gave me the chills the first time I saw him.” Philemon noted:
“I think he looks quite honest, but if you think he needs to be watched, you must do what you think is needed.”
Diana and Philemon went to rest and Xena and Exl went to prepare for dinner.
Everything seemed fine when they arrived in the dining hall. Macoen and Ghaos were waiting for the Queen and when she arrived, they started dinner. Exl tried her best in remembering what Kinray had taught her about a lackey's duties. To offer Xena a seat, pour her some wine and wait for her orders.
“So, King Macoen, how has your visit started? Is everything okay?”, Xena asked Macoen. Macoen raised his wineglass and said:
“Yes thank you. I want to know, how is your father? I hope he will be fit enough to finish our negotiation of peace. We have been working for peace for many years and I want to sign the peace treaty with him.” Xena said:
“He has been ill for days and is quite weak now.” Ghaos seemed to smile just slightly hearing about the King's condition. Xena continued:
“However, he has started to recover. I am sure he will be well enough to discuss the treaty with you.” Macoen seemed happy, but Ghaos' face turned from joyful to very unsatisfied.
Then Xena turned to Exl and said:
“Kinray, I left one of my rings into my jewelry case. Go and fetch it.” This was the sign Exl had been waiting for. She bowed deeply and said:
“Yes your Highness.” Then she left the dining hall and instead of fetching the ring, she went to search King Macoen's room for anything suspicious. Xena had to keep the guests in the dining hall until Exl returned. Exl sneaked into Macoen's room and searched it quickly but thoroughly. She found nothing and before returning to the dining hall, she took a ring from her pocket. She entered the dining hall and walked to Xena. She bowed and gave the ring to Xena.
“Thank you Kinray. I believe everything is in order?” she asked. Exl winked and said:
“Yes your Majesty. Everything is just fine.” This meant she hadn't found anything in Macoen's room. They continued eating and after finishing, Xena rose and said:
“With your permission King Macoen, I will inform my father you are ready to see him tomorrow?” Before Ghaos could interrupt, Macoen nodded and said:
“Yes. I would like to begin the final negotiations tomorrow, if he is feeling well enough.” Xena smiled and with Exl opening the door, she left.
They walked straight into their room where Gabrielle was waiting.
“Did you find anything?”, Gabrielle asked the moment she saw Xena and Exl. Both shook their heads, Exl said:
“Nothing in Macoen's room, he is clear.” Xena continued:
“And he really seems to want peace between these nations. How about you Gabrielle? Have you found anything suspicious about the other suspects?” Gabrielle started:
“Well the nurse is clear, I have a feeling she isn't quite qualified because she has no idea what could be wrong with the King. The King's servants are very loyal to him and we can rule out Diana and Philemon from the suspects list. The only ones left are Diana's and Philemon's lackeys, Kinray and Wofar. Kinray is new to the palace, do you think he could be behind the poisoning of the water?” Exl said:
“I think he seems innocent, when we found the King yesterday, he seemed very worried for the King's health. He…” Exl suddenly stopped. Gabrielle and Xena asked her what was the matter. Exl then realized something:
“He told me to go and get help and he would stay with the King. How could I have been so stupid. He could have easily disposed of the water pitcher with the poison.” Gabrielle said:
“I can't believe Kinray would do a thing like that. He really seems to care for King Lias and for Diana.”
“If you are pressured into doing something, you might do even the most terrible of things”, Xena said.
“Exl, go and see if you can find something about Kinray. And go and have something to eat, you must be hungry”, she said and patted Exl's shoulder. Exl saluted Xena and said:
“Your wish is my command, your Majesty.” Gabrielle and Xena laughed and Exl left them to find Kinray.
She found him in the kitchen, he looked unhappy.
“Hi Kinray. Why the glum face, is something wrong?”, she asked Kinray. Kinray looked at Exl and answered:
“Oh hello Exl. I was just thinking, have you ever done harm to someone you love or you honor?” Exl's heart ached a bit, and she took out her old Guardian pendant. She showed it to Kinray and said:
“Yes I have. And I have regretted it so much. I was given this pendant by a very dear friend of mine. Unfortunately she fell ill and she passed away. And when another close friend of mine took his own life, I blamed myself for betraying him. I had promised to keep them safe and then they were gone… But then I was told it wasn't my fault. And when I met Xena and Gabrielle, my life changed. They gave me the family I never had before, and they taught me how love and faith towards others are so important. I learned that no matter what the situation is, you can always listen to your heart, it will tell you what is right.” Kinray still looked very sad and said:
“Exl, I am afraid I have something awful. I never wanted to, but I had no choice.” Exl put her hand on Kinray's shoulder and said:
“What is it? What have you done? Who forced you?” But Kinray couldn't say, he started crying and ran away.
“Kinray wait!”, Exl shouted after Kinray, but he didn't hear her.
Exl had something to eat and headed back to their room, when she heard Ghaos talking to someone. She hid behind a corner and listened to Ghaos' angry words.
“You fool, I told you that Lias must be disposed of before King Macoen arrives. Didn't you understand my orders?”, Ghaos said very angrily trying to keep his voice down. A sad faint voice said:
“Yes uncle, I understood. But I couldn't kill King Lias, I…” It was Kinray! Exl took a sneak peak to see the two people talking, it really was Ghaos and Kinray.
“You will do as I say, or do you want to suffer the same fate as your father did?”, Ghaos said.
“No, no uncle. I will finish what I started. Tomorrow morning, when someone will go see the King, they will find him deceased”, Kinray said with much sorrow in his voice. Ghaos left and Kinray fell to his knees. Before Exl could go and comfort him, he stood and left.
Exl went to their room and Xena and Gabrielle were there talking. Exl walked to them, sat down in a chair and said with disappointment:
“It was Ghaos and Kinray.” Her friends saw she was serious and Gabrielle asked:
“What? What have they done?” Xena saw from Exl what she meant and said: “Ghaos and Kinray have been poisoning King Lias. How did you get this information?” Exl looked at Xena and said:
“First I found Kinray in the kitchen and he seemed very unhappy. He said he had done something awful. He left crying and when I was coming back here, I heard him talk with Ghaos. Ghaos said he had ordered Lias be disposed of before King Macoen arrived and he was disappointed to find that he is still alive. He threatened Kinray and before he left, Kinray said that he'll finish what he started and tomorrow morning King Lias will be no more.” Gabrielle looked shocked and said:
“I can't believe that a sweet young man like Kinray would do something like that.”
Exl turned to Gabrielle:
“Ghaos is Kinray's uncle, I heard Kinray call him uncle. And he said he didn't want to hurt King Lias, but he had no choice. I bet Ghaos has treated him badly before, he seemed very afraid of Ghaos.”
Just as Xena was about to say something, someone knocked on the door.
“Come in”, Xena said and signaled Exl to be ready if someone with mischief in mind would enter. It was Kinray, his eyes were full of tears. He bowed and said:
“Your Honor, may I come worth and confess my bad deeds?” Gabrielle and Xena nodded and showed Kinray to a chair he could sit in. Kinray started:
“I talked to Exl before and she said you helped her in the past, so I wondered if you could help me. I have done something awful. I…” Xena interrupted:
“You are the one responsible for King Lias' poisoning. We know.”
“How?”, Kinray asked. Exl stepped forth and said:
“I heard you and your uncle Ghaos talking in the hallway.” Kinray seemed a bit relieved and continued:
“Yes, Ghaos is my uncle, he is my father's brother. My father was King Macoen's previous, very trusted adviser and when he tragically died, Ghaos became adviser and my care-taker. He has never wanted peace between Treus and Cesul, because when the King dies, he will become the new King. King Macoen doesn't have children, so by law, the King's adviser is made the King after the King dies without any heirs. He knows that King Macoen will only sign the peace treaty with King Lias, so he hatched a plan to get rid of King Lias. As service in return for taking care of me all these years, he ordered me to come to Treus and to get a job here in the palace. He was very pleased when Queen Diana made me her personal lackey, I could get very close to the King. He gave me a vial of poison hemlock and told me to mix it in the King's water and said it would kill him slowly.”
“But if you've been working here for a while, why is King Lias still alive?” Kinray looked at Exl and smiled:
“Like Exl, I have never had a real family, I only had my father and when he died, I was left alone. But here, Queen Diana, King Philemon and King Lias have been very kind to me. They have treated me like a real person, not like Ghaos has always treated me. At first I mixed very small amounts of poison hemlock to the King's water, but as his condition got worse and worse, I used less and less poison hemlock and in the end I used nearly none of it. I don't want the King to die, I honor and respect him very much. But if I don't do as Ghaos has ordered, I will suffer the same fate as my father.”
“What happened to your father?”, Exl asked. Kinray cried a few tears and said:
“He was executed for treason, someone implied that he had been helping Treus soldiers escape from a Cesulian prison. Ghaos has so much power, with a single order, he could have nearly anyone imprisoned or executed.” Exl stood by Kinray and said:
“Xena, Gabrielle, we can't let Ghaos carry out his evil plans.”
“No, we can't and we won't. I have an idea. Listen carefully”, Xena said and told her plan to her family and Kinray. They all knew what to do and Xena told Kinray to get Diana and Philemon to the throne room as fast as he could. This he did and in no time, Diana, Philemon, Kinray, Xena, Exl and Gabrielle were in the throne room going over Xena's new plan.
“Xena, are sure this will work?”, Diana asked. Xena nodded and said:
“Sure I'm sure, this can't fail.”
In the morning Philemon, Diana and Kinray were attending breakfast with King Macoen and Ghaos.
“So Diana, is your father feeling well? Are we able to start the negotiations after breakfast?”, Macoen asked. Ghaos listened very carefully, he knew there would be good and bad news. Good news for him and bad for everyone else.
“Yes he is. This morning when I went to see him, he was feeling very well. It is like a miracle. Bless the gods”, Diana said happily. Ghaos felt his jaw drop metaphorically. This couldn't be possible, Lias couldn't be alive.
“That sounds wonderful, doesn't it Ghaos?”, King Macoen said to Ghaos smiling. Ghaos tried to seem happy and said:
“Yes, very nice indeed.” Diana said to Kinray to see if her father was ready. Kinray bowed and obeyed. It wasn't long before he came back and informed everything was ready and in order. Diana and their guests left the dining hall and entered the King's room. Lias was sleeping and a servant in a dark carmine red dress was placing everything ready for the negotiations. After seeing the Queen arrive, she bowed and went into the back room.
“Oh dear, my father must have fallen asleep waiting. We must return after he has woken up”, Diana said and left the room with her guests. After Diana, Kinray and Macoen had left, Ghaos came from his place he hiding where he had gone to while the others where leaving. He walked to Lias and drew a dagger from his belt and said:
“Now old man, you have suffered long enough. It is time for you to finally rest, in peace.”
As he was about to stab the King, the dark carmine red dressed servant emerged from the back room and said:
“Play nice.” It was Exl, in a cute but clever disguise. She threw a few throwing stars at Ghaos. He dropped his dagger and ran to the door. But when he reached the door, he was blocked by Xena, Gabrielle and Kinray.
“Why Ghaos, what's the rush? Stay for a while”, Xena said. Gabrielle swiped Ghaos from his feet and he fell on his back to the floor.
“You… you betrayed me. Why?”, Ghaos asked Kinray.
“I couldn't betray the people I respect and care for. King Lias, Queen Diana and King Philemon have always treated me right. You never cared for me”, Kinray said looking down at his uncle.
“You sentimental fool, you're weak. Just like your father. He wanted to help those Treus soldiers and before he could, I had him arrested for “treason”. And stupid King Macoen believed me, not his own thoughts and feelings. I gave the order for your father's execution and he signed it not knowing a thing. Next thing he knew, he was sitting at his trusted adviser's execution.”
“No!! Murderer!!”, Kinray shouted and tried to attack Ghaos, but was stopped by Gabrielle and Exl. Ghaos laughed, but stopped when he saw Diana, Macoen and Philemon by the door and Lias sitting in bed looking very fit.
“Ghaos, I never could have imagined that you could something like that. I never believed your brother would be able of treason. You murdered him…”, Macoen said to Ghaos. Then Macoen ordered two of his men to chain Ghaos up.
“Take him back to Cesul, when you get there make sure he is imprisoned and is kept under heavy surveillance. When I return, we will have an execution”, Macoen said and signaled his men to take Ghaos away.
He walked to Kinray and said:
“Kinray, I am very sorry for your father. After he died, Ghaos has used me as his puppet. Can you forgive me?” Kinray bowed in front of the king and said:
“Your Highness, you don't need my forgiveness, but your own. I am glad that justice will be done and Ghaos will be punished.” Then King Lias said:
“Macoen dear fellow, it's nice to see you.” He had risen out of bed and was approaching Macoen. Macoen raced to Lias and said worried:
“Lias, shouldn't you be in bed? You haven't been well.” Lias nodded and said:
“That's true, but thanks to friends like these, I am feeling much better.” He pointed at Xena, Gabrielle and Exl, who bowed and saluted the King.
“The antidote Xena made for King Lias was very effective, he was feeling much better yesterday, but knowing his life was threatened, he agreed to play ill after hearing our plan”, Gabrielle said.
“The poison hemlock Ghaos made Kinray give King Lias would have killed him soon, but thanks to Kinray's good heart and respect for the King, he stopped giving the poison”, Xena continued.
“Kinray only did what Ghaos made him do, but he learned that you have to listen to your heart and face those who are against your thoughts”, Exl said. Lias and Macoen smiled and said:
“Now, please leave us. We have a peace to negotiate.” All the others left.
They waited and waited, it felt like the two kings would continue talking until the end of the world. At last, they arrived in the throne room smiling, and they were holding a scroll, the peace treaty between Treus and Cesul. Everyone was happy that peace was now declared and King Lias was healthy again.
That evening, Diana, Philemon and Lias ordered Kinray, Exl, Xena and Gabrielle to come to the throne room. Macoen was sitting in a guest's throne next to Lias. The four kneeled in front of the Royals and remained there until Diana told them to rise.
“Rise Xena, Gabrielle and Exl, dear friends of Treus. Thanks to you, my father is healthy again and there is peace between our nations. You are truly people who can be trusted.”
The three bowed and then King Lias rose up and said:
“Rise young Kinray.” Kinray rose up and looked at King Lias. He seemed proud to be standing there.
“You know you did wrong, but you were pressured into doing what you did. But listening to your heart, you learned what is right and stood up for what you believed in. It takes great courage to stand against someone powerful when you are powerless yourself. Kinray, I am making you my personal lackey. I hope you fulfill your duty with honor and courage”, he said smiling. Kinray bowed deeply and said:
“Thank you your Majesty, I won't let you down.” Lias turned to the three women and said:
“Thank you Xena, Gabrielle and Exl for saving my life and revealing Ghaos' evil plans. You are honorable people.” They bowed for King Lias. Lias sat down and Diana said:
“Now my friends, we have a Royal feast waiting for us.” They went and ate like kings. After all that eating Kinray asked Exl to come for a walk with him.
“Exl, thank you for teaching me to listen to my heart”, Kinray said.
“Don't thank me, thank yourself, you only took my advice and did what is right”, Exl answered. Kinray smiled and said:
“By the way, I think you looked cute in that carmine red dress…”
“Don't push your luck lackey boy”, Exl said never wanting that red dress to be mentioned again.
“I won't, warrior…”, Kinray said with a grin. Exl gave Kinray her forearm and Kinray took Exl's hand and gave it a kiss.
“Well, I just wanted to shake your hand, but that will do”, Exl said smiling.
The next morning King Macoen had to leave, but before he did, he said to Lias pointing at Kinray:
“Lias, take good care of this young man. I know he will take care of you.” Lias smiled and said:
“I will, and I know he will.” Then Macoen left riding on his horse.
Exl, Xena and Gabrielle also decided to leave, their work in Treus was done.
“Too bad you are leaving so soon, thank you for all your help”, Diana said.
“There are many places to see and people to help”, Gabrielle said. Xena smiled and said:
“If you ever need help, just send word and we'll come and help.”
“Thank you Xena, Gabrielle and young Exl. Exl, remember to keep these two safe”, Philemon said. Exl saluted the Royals and said:
“I will do it with all my heart.”
“Good bye my friends, I hope this isn't the last time we meet”, Lias said.
“I'm sure it isn't”, Xena said. Kinray bowed deeply and said:
“Good bye and thank you.”
Xena, Gabrielle and Exl smiled and left.
“Once again, the great Warrior Princess saved the day…”, Gabrielle said as they walked through the gates of Treus.
“I couldn't have done it without the Queen of Amazons and their valiant Guardian…”, Xena said looking at her precious family.
“I'm glad to get back into my own clothes, that lackey's outfit wasn't very comfortable”, Exl said.
“How about that cute dress? I think you looked gorgeous in it”, Xena said.
“I swear, as long as I live, I will never ever wear a dress again”, Exl said thinking she had heard enough of that incident with the dress.
“Think about it, you could be famous and you will be remembered as Queen Exl, the Valiant, the Queen in the carmine red dress…” Gabrielle said. Exl noted:
“I'd rather be remembered as Exl, the Loyal. Guardian of Xena and Gabrielle. Exl the Valiant. Friend of Treus. Warrior. Not anything of that mushy cute queenly stuff.” Xena looked at her wife and said:
“I think that sounds much better.” The trio continued their travel, they didn't have certain destination. They would go where their feet and hearts would take them.
End of “Warrior… Queen… Lackey…”
The series will continue in: “Deception”
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