Wish You Were Here
By Lariel and Temora
DISCLAIMER: Copyright RenPics, not ours. Here there be nonsense! Enjoy it, because tomorrow well be sober!
This is what happens when two bards collide! Please write to both of us as we share the guilt
The campsite was a mess half eaten chicken legs poked out of tall leather boots, all sorts of apparel dangled from the trees and Xena was crying.
There was a sudden generic rustling in the bushes. She wasnt sure what sort of rustling it was exactly, but she knew that if it was the kind of rustle that saw her crying, it would have to be killed horribly. It was that time of the month.
So she shoved the half-read Millius and Boonus scroll down next to the chicken bones, grabbed her sword (which was always handy for interruptions of the generic rustling kind) and began sharpening it in an overly vigorous fashion.
The blonde rustle appeared with an armful of glossy scrolls, dumped them in a heap and beamed at the warrior.
"Ah, sharpening your sword are you? Is there any sword left?"
"Whats that?" Xena nodded suspiciously toward the brightly coloured scrolls which now lay at her feet.
"I," announced Gabrielle cheerfully, "have had THE most brilliant idea. Guess what were doing for the next fortnight?"
"This wasnt what I meant," grumbled a very pissy bard as she stomped past yet another ornate display of weaponry.
Xena, who with barely disguised elation was fingering a Mesopotamian double-edged Singing Axe (Hums as it takes your head off! read the stone tablet next to it), merely grunted and moved on the next case. It was a very fine example of Phonoecian torture tapping spoons (One size fits all foreheads) a style of which shed used herself regularly in her evil past. Many a strong soldier had been spooned into a broken-down, begging wreck of his former self after Xena had gleefully tapped out her theme song (with glee) on various parts of his body. She was nothing if not inventive in those days. Ah, the memories .
"Xena will you put those spoons down? Theyre antiques you know, and the sign says no touching."
"What sign?" mumbled the distracted former wielder of spoons.
"That sign there," pointed the bards admonishing finger.
Please do not touch the Murderous Weaponry. It really is quite sharp.
Once the warriors lips had stopped moving, the finger dropped lower, pointing to a second sign.
The management accepts no responsibility for the loss of blood or limbs. Please keep all children and former rampaging warlords under supervision at all times.
Xena guiltily put the spoons back and furtively glanced around to find their tour guide hovering anxiously, flanked by twelve burly attendants who were muttering things like
"You tell her."
"Im not telling her. I know who she is."
"Yeah, me too. She spooned my brother once."
"And shes bigger than me."
Xena gave them an apologetic smile and they all cowered back in terror. Gabrielle, kicking the display case and picking at the Giant Amazon Blanket of Death, turned to Xena and calmly said, "I know how to use this, you know."
The twelve burly attendants promptly relieved themselves, and Gabrielle recoiled in horror, screaming, "Its ten times worse when its wet, you know! You dont want me to " She felt a tentative pluck-pluck-pluck at her elbow. "WHAT?"
It was Xena. "Gabrielle, if we dont hurry, well miss the tour chariot."
"Were going to the War Archives next."
Gabrielle brightened. "Ooh archives! Do you mean like scrolls?"
"Scrolls? Yes yes " replied Xena. "Thats what it is. Youll love it I promise."
"Great! What are we waiting for? Lets go!"
ATHENS, SUMMER, 45 B.C
As you can see, I finally managed to convince Xena to come on vacation. So were here in Athens and it looks just like it does on this postcard. Except its raining and it smells a bit. Xena is having a wonderful time.
ATHENS, SUMMER, 45 B.C
As you can see, I finally persuaded Gabrielle to come on holiday with me. Athens has changed a bit since I was here last theyve managed to rebuild quite nicely! Say, did you know that the War Archives actually display body parts? Gabrielle didnt. Im having a wonderful time.
The tour chariot bounced along the cobbled street, causing Xenas head to loll against Gabrielles shoulder.
"Xena wake up. Youre drooling all over me."
The half asleep Xena muttered, "Youve never complained before," and promptly went back to sleep again.
"Well Ive never been on the Spears, Swords and Warlords tour before," growled the bard. "I wanted to go on a cultural journey, a tour which explores the finer things in life, Xena. Art. Literature. Music. Theatre. SCROLLS. Fine hotels, someplace where we arent watched everywhere we go "
The twelve burly attendants waved from the back seat.
Gabrielle scowled, and continued. "Where did you find this tour, anyway? It wasnt in any of the brochures and even if it had been, its the last trip I wouldve wanted to take! I mean to say body parts! Battle recreations! You just came on this tour to name-drop, didnt you? For a warrior of few words, you dont mind those words being about you!"
Xena cracked open one eye, judged the situation with her uncanny warlord senses and decided to feign death.
The bard wasnt fooled. "I know you can hear me! This holiday was supposed to be for both of us! Something we could do together! I dont like looking at shrunken heads on poles!"
"I do," said Xena.
The little old lady behind them leaned over and poked Gabrielle with a bony finger. "I thought it was a fascinating example of the early art of head-shrinking. In those days it was all about style. Nowadays its just shrink-and-have-done-with-it. No finesse."
Xena smiled. "See, Gabrielle? It IS art."
SPARTA, SUMMER, 45 B.C
I know youre still in a coma, but Im sure one of your nice guards will read this to you. We went on a tour of dungeons and prisons today, and I thought of you. Xena thought it was great spent all day escaping from the shackles and every cell we passed. Shes such a show-off. Do the Djinn still keep in touch? Hope youre well I hear comas can be very restful. Anyway, see you soon.
SPARTA, SUMMER, 45 B.C
So funny. I didnt notice for hours that Gabrielle had locked herself in one of the cells. It took 12 burly attendants to get her out, and do you know, the language was most unlike her. I escaped from the infamous Scythian three-latched box trap, and I only hurt three people in the process. I cant wait for tomorrow were going on a Mystery Warlord Tour! Gabrielles so excited, she started packing last night! Weathers great.
The little party gathered round as their tour guide waved his S,S&W sign in the foyer of the crowded amphitheater. Xena, flushed and starry-eyed, turned to Gabrielle enthusiastically.
"Cmon Gabrielle dont tell me you didnt like that!"
"Well maybe if just one of the Christians had won ." the bard replied, twitching.
"Aw, cmon Gabrielle ." Xena entreated, swiping with cheery abandon at the blood-splattered bard. "Oops got a little spot on you ."
"Has it gone yet?" Gabrielle innocently inquired.
"Uh yeah, thats fine," replied Xena warily, surreptitiously wringing out the back of the garish orange sari that was part of the bards current ensemble.
"Attention, ladies and gentlemen!" called the tour guide. "If you all take a ticket, then file over to the back of the prisons, our freshly prepared barbecue lunch will be served up at the foods earliest convenience."
"Oh, goodie!" exclaimed Xena, clapping in excitement. "And after lunch its the Battlefield of Mystery! Wonder what it is?"
Gabrielle scrubbed furiously at her arms and legs. "Are you sure theres none on my face?"
"No, youre fine. Just keep away from the lions for a while."
MYSTERY BATTLEFIELD, SUMMER, 45 B.C
So funny. We went to a mystery battlefield and Xena was so disappointed, but I liked the flowers. I dont know what she was expecting, but when you take the battle away from the field, all thats left is the field. It was quite sad to see her desperately scrabbling for arrowheads among the daisies. I had a wonderful time. Tomorrow, we have a boat trip down the Nile. Xena assures me its not flood season, and theres no squid in the Nile. Im a little nervous, but Im sure itll be fine. How are my Amazons doing? Any treaties need signing?
Lots of love,
MYSTERY BATTLEFIELD, SUMMER, 45 B.C
The only mystery about this battlefield is whether or not there was ever a battle at all. Furkin flowers! What a rip-off! Gabrielle and her bright ideas Anyway, we hit Egypt tomorrow, which will be interesting considering the Niles in full flood. Gabrielle is really looking forward to it shes been blowing up wineskins for the last five candle-marks.
They dumped their bags on the floor and took a look around their tiny, odd-shaped room.
"It didnt look like this in the brochure," grumbled Gabrielle as she squelched over to the wash basin in the corner.
Xena tried to shut the door behind them. "Guys your rooms down the corridor," she said, hustling the twelve burly attendants out as Gabrielle stripped off her bloody, muddy clothes and scrubbed herself all over.
The burly attendants gave one last leer into the room and burlyed their way down the cold, dark hall to their own miserable abode.
"Pyramid Inn four stars, my ASS," groused the shivering but clean bard. "Wheres the bed in this dump?"
Xena pointed. "Sarcophagus."
"Its a stone box," said Gabrielle quietly.
"Gabrielle, wheres your sense of adventure?" Xena slid the lid off the sarcophagus and peeked in. She went pale, then straightened. "Ill get us an empty one."
THEBES, SUMMER, 45 B.C
Youd be proud of the way I kept my temper today. Did you know that in Egypt, anyone can be sold into slavery even tourists? No, neither did I. Itll cost Xena two goats and a chicken to get me back. Right on top of that love thing still, and finding much spiritual peace whilst waiting for her to make the trade. I dont know whats taking her so long.
THEBES, SUMMER, 45 B.C
Heres hoping you get this on your "spiritual plane." Youre so "omnipotent" Ill just assume you can read this wherever you are. Hows Dead working out so far? The Egyptians have some interesting ideas on the subject. Id share them with Gabrielle, but she seems to have disappeared.
"Can you at least TRY to fit in?"
"Why?" asked Xena nonchalantly, spearing yet another dim-sum with her curved breast dagger and wolfing it down. She licked her lips, her chin and her neck.
Gabrielle watched, fascinated. So did the twelve burly attendants, who were sucking up chicken and sweet corn soup through straws, being unable to master the art of eating soup with chopsticks.
"Its all about CULTURE, Xena," the bard chirped as she tried to balance several peas on her chopsticks. "Its about tradition, its about harmony with your surroundings. Its a yin-yang thing."
"Yeah yeah," replied the warrior, taking a stab at Gabrielles crispy duck. "You know, you have a noodle on your nose."
"Is it gone yet?" panicked Gabrielle, looking around the restaurant in agitation.
"Is now," said Xena, as she expertly flicked it off with her chakram.
CHIN, SUMMER, 45 B.C
WE ARE NOT IN CHIN. I bought this postcard when we passed through several weeks ago. We are not there now. Really. Chin was interesting. Did you know that they are very into architecture? Its really quite fascinating to get a close-up view. Xena went on a massive bender involving rice-wine and curved swords. She claims to have found some sort of spiritual power, but Im not sure I believe her. Still, she did help clear the paddy fields nicely and the village too. Were leaving as soon as Ive written this
Love, (in a platonic way you understand)
CHIN, SUMMER, 45 B.C
WE ARE NOT IN CHIN. Really. Chin has changed a lot since I was last there, though. Theyve started building a Great Wall to keep rampaging warlords out apparently they started not long after I left. So funny. Gabrielle was leaning over to look at the scaffolding and she slipped somehow. Did you know that they build dead people into the foundations? Gabrielle does now.
Gabrielle frantically stuffed blankets, several bolts of Chin cloth, spare chopsticks sets and a Ming vase into her tiny little shoulder bag as Xena stood in the room trying to summon her spiritual powers.
"I dont understand. I had them five minutes ago!"
"Oh no.... the villagers are bringing in a battering ram. Can you hurry up with those powers?"
"Have you got a hair-pin handy?"
"This is no time to be doing your hair!"
The twelve burly attendants immediately thrust twelve burly hair-pins into Xenas grasping hand. She flicked them round the room with expert wrists, achieving nothing, but looking fabulous.
Several tiny little men all dressed in black flowing robes and screaming Hi-Ya! burst through the walls, the ceiling, the floor and one opened the door. They pranced around the room making various complex chopping motions with their hands and feet. The twelve burly attendants upped and ran as one, dragging Gabrielle and her heavy shoulder-bag out with them. As she was hauled, protesting loudly, from the hair-pin strewn room, the last thing that she saw was Xena disappear under a pile of black, flowing robes and screaming, "Small tiny men must be made small! Smaller, I mean!"
Xena crept through the banshees forest, dressed in a cloak made of several tiny black flowing robes. "I know I left it here last time ... where the Hades did I put it?"
"Look, never mind about that sword! Just because you managed to pull it out of the stone once We need to get back to the tour - the chariots due to go to Gaul this afternoon."
"Gabrielle, the chariots still in Chin. Were on our own now real travellers!"
Gabrielle frowned. "I hate roughing it," she grumbled. "Especially with all these damned elves around. They keep staring at my ass."
"They cant help it thats where their eyes come to."
"Xena theyre up in the trees." Gabrielle covered her ass with a tiny cloak of flowing black silk. A disappointed chittering sound came from all the trees around them. Gabrielle suddenly screamed in shock. "Damn you elves! I didnt know you were down there too!" The flowing black silk bulged suddenly and three small figures dived for cover away from the flailing bard.
"Damn you elves! Get away from my bards ass! Ill have you all ."
Twelve hundred elves appeared instantly in the mushroom strewn glade. "Is that a challenge?" squeaked one.
"You bet Gabrielles sweet ass it is!" the red-eyed warrior fumed.
The last thing Gabrielle saw was Xenas feet as she was covered head to toe in tiny little elves. Xenas pitiful cries echoed around the tranquil green glade. "Damn you little green men! Small tiny elves I hate small tiny men! Must be made small !!!"
BRITANNIA, SUMMER, 45 B.C.
Well we decided that the package deal wasnt really for us, so were doing our own thing now. We figured Britannia would be safe enough theyre used to tourists here. The natives are really very friendly, although very small. Some are even smaller now. Xena has discovered a taste for the cuisine it seems to remind her of her evil warlord days, although Id much rather use a knife and fork myself. I have managed to persuade Xena to try and blend in with the local dress & traditions shes really quite enjoying herself. I always knew shed like organised religion if she gave it a chance. Theyre really very refined.
All my love,
BRITANNIA, SUMMER, 45 B.C.
Say hi to Mom for me. Gabrielle decided that the package tour wasnt for her, so were exploring Britannia on our own. Tell mom not to worry the natives are very friendly. Very. Gabrielle fell in with another cult but this one involved wearing kilts and drinking some foul fermented brew they call whisky. I joined too. Tartan really suits me, and I particularly like the sporran. So handy. Gabrielle isnt really that much of a drinker, and her kilt kept flying up over her head in the high winds. Shes very popular here.
Lots of love,
The tour guide looked aghast as he spotted the familiar (albeit tartan clad) figures of the errant warrior and bard as they loomed through the crowded Coliseum. His eyes grew wider when he caught sight of Xenas sporran, and he started to twitch nervously.
"Yoo-hoo!" Xena waved from across the arena. "Did you check out the baths yet? We did look who we found!" The twelve burly attendants waved too, all with huge grins. Gabrielle looked a little flustered, and damp around the edges.
"Ah, Xena. Gabrielle. And your party. How nice to see you again," ground out the guide.
"Wheres everyone else?" asked Gabrielle. "Im sure there were more than three people on our tour."
"Yes. There were. The Chinese will eat anything you know."
"Oh dear me! Thats appalling!" The tour guide looked slightly mollified at Xenas obvious concern. "I cant believe people would have stuff like that in their diet," she continued, spitting out her spaghetti-bolognaise-on-a-stick. "This stuff tastes awful."
Meanwhile, Gabrielle nervously scanned the courtyard and hustled herself closer to the twelve burly men, who all looked incredibly pleased. ""Xena, dont you think we should at least be in disguise?"
"Why, Gabrielle?" The oblivious warrior was now chomping on a lasagne.
"Not playing now, Gabrielle. Too public."
"Oh for Gods sakes, Xena CAESAR!!"
"WHERE??" shrieked Xena, her lasagne flying all over the tour guide. She assumed the recently learned (and very effective) Hanging Crane position, and looked as mean and evil as she could without her long black coat. The pose made her sporran bulge even more, and it started to wriggle around a bit.
"Xena! Whats going on with your sporran? Tell me you didnt !!"
The warrior shifted guiltily, and assumed the Crouching Duck position (equally effective). "What?" Her face was as innocent as a former evil warlord could ever get.
"Dont give me that look. You brought them didnt you?"
"Gimme that sporran!"
"NO!! Its MY sporran! Its private!!"
Just then, the sporrans stitches split and a tiny little leg poked out, quivering in the sunlight.
"XENA!!!" shrieked the furious and wild eyed bard. "That legs staring at my ass!"
ROME, SUMMER, 45 B.C.
Were finally on our way home. I cant wait to get back to Greece this holiday hasnt been very restful so far. Last time I let Xena loose in the offices of Vacationus Suckius. Im booking next time, and we wont be going to anywhere that has a virgin-throwing toga party thats for sure. I havent seen our twelve burly attendants or Xena for a week now. Youd think that with that price on her head, shed want to keep a low profile but she insisted on bellowing "Oy! Watch them Ides, mate!" at a really quiet point in Caesars address yesterday. At least we had a good (though very quick) tour of all the back streets of Rome. Did you know that if you fall accidentally into one of the open sewers around here, you can get carried out right into the Adriatic sea? Xena does. Now.
ROME, SUMMER, 45 B.C.
Thought of you after Gabrielles latest adventure. Did you know the Adriatic sea has huge sea serpents? So funny. I dont think Gabrielle meant to fall into the sewer, but she wasnt really looking where she was going her kilt was in her eyes again. Shes very popular here. Anyway, I pulled her out and shes cleaned up nicely now. Say what you like about the Romans they sure know how to throw virgins. My poor twelve burly attendants got thrown from one end of the city to the other. Theyve disappeared now. Saw nancy-boy-bad-haircut-salad-face-freakoid Caesar the other day. He was doling out all the "Friends, Romans, countrymen" crap again. Honestly, some people just cant take helpful advice. Were on our way home now, much to my regret. This has been a fantastic holiday and Gabrielle seems to have really enjoyed herself. Im so glad I thought of it. We must get together when were back weve got stacks of holiday pictures to show you. Theres one really good one of Gabrielle in Britannia youll know it when you see it.
The campsite was a mess. Togas and kilts swung from the trees, tiramisu was smeared all over Xenas cheeks and Gabrielle was crying. The elf was nowhere to be seen.
"I think its a really nice picture, Gabrielle," said the warrior soothingly. "So did everybody else. Joxers getting it framed!"
The bards sobs doubled in intensity.
"And its selling like hot-cakes in Britannia. In fact, they want you back for a whole calendar shoot!"
Gabrielle threw herself onto her bedroll in a fit of anguish. "Im not gonna do their stupid calendar! Im not going anywhere! Im never leaving Greece again!"
Xenas face fell. "Oh. Never?"
"NO!! NEVER!! I hate stupid holidays! Bloody foreigners and their stupid food and stupid clothes and stupid dead people in walls. And WHO leaves sewers open like that? Are we living in the dark ages or something? Havent they heard of civilisation? Culture? Art? Decent things to eat! Knives and forks? Not having your ass stared at twenty four hours in a bloody day???"
"Huh?" said Xena, quickly flicking her eyes up to Gabrielles face.
"I mean to say bloody holidays! And as for nice river cruises oh yeah, dont worry Gabrielle. The Niles really calm this time of year "
"I didnt know that the Egyptians were into THAT kind of water sport," said Xena with a dreamy expression on her face.
"And I hate THAT picture too!"
"Oh," said the warrior. "So that would be a no to the Egyptians calendar thing too then?"
"Bloody foreigners and their stupid calendars! And kilts! What the Hades are THEY all about? How are you supposed to keep them ON??"
Xena shuffled a little closer to her, with her most ingratiating expression on her face. "Aw, cmon, Gabrielle. We had fun, didnt we?"
"Youre just a bit down at the moment. Time of the month. I know whatll cheer you up."
The bard sniffled, and stared hopefully at the gleefully grinning Xena. "You do?" she whimpered.
"Yeah!" Xena stuffed a handful of glossy scrolls into the bards shaking hands. "Check out page 15. Guess where were going for the next fortnight?"
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