Xena: Warrior Princess
Virtual Season 4 Re-Deaux
Episode 3 “A Fine Kettle of Fish”
Disclaimer: All characters that regularly appeared in the television series “Xena: Warrior Princess” are the property of Renaissance Pictures and Universal Studios. No money is being made off of this fan based ‘series’ of stories.
Author’s Note: This series veers off sharply from the canon chain of events beginning directly after “Adventures in the Sin Trade”. It is also, like all of my writing in this genre, ‘subtext is main text.’ It’s suggested you read each ‘episode’ in order, at least at the beginning of the series. I hope you enjoy this tale, and my series.
Author: Xena Lorber
Contact info: email@example.com
“It’s nice to smell the salt air again, isn’t it?”
Gabrielle commented as they walked along the
Her taller companion nodded, a small smile playing at
the corner of her mouth. She loved it when Gabrielle
was happy...it made her happy, too. “Yup.” Xena
answered. “That’s salt air all right”.
”Hey!” the bard exclaimed. “I’ll bet there are clams
here...let’s get some, we haven’t had a good clam stew
in ages!” She fell to her knees and started digging
near the surf happily pulling clams from the dark, wet
”Maybe that’s because we’ve been inland for so long.”
the warrior dryly commented.
”Ha and ha.” was all Gabrielle responded, digging up
more clams for their supper. “Did anybody ever tell
you that you had a gift for stating the obvious?”
”Only you.” Xena laughed.
Gabrielle giggled and dug deeper in search of her
quarry. Candlemarks later the couple had gathered
enough clams to make a hearty stew and with their
packs full of the tasty morsels they headed for the
nearby seaside village of Eretia.
The closer they got to the town, the more people they
met on the road. And something was very odd...
”They don’t look very good.” Gabrielle commented.
”Yeah...like they’re starving or something.” Xena
commented in a whisper, not wanting the villagers to
”But they’re right on the ocean!” Gabby whispered
back. “And it’s teeming with seafood! How could they
”Let’s find the Inn and get settled and then we’ll
find out.” Xena told her lifemate. “My curiosity’s
The Inn was happy to have them, and the Innkeeper most
helpful. “We’re glad to have visitors!” the old man
chattered, shooting them both a toothless grin.
”Nobody comes here anymore...the Curse and all.”
”Curse?” they both said in unison.
”Haven’t you heard?” the old man scratched his head.
”Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything...oh well, too
late now. Yes, Poseidon has cursed us for taking in an
enemy of his. Made the seafood disappear to us! No
food to be had unless it’s farmed, and we’re not
farming folks.” he shrugged. “Visitors to the area, now
they can find and catch all the food they need to, but
offer any to us and..POOF!...it disappears. But we’re
taking care of that. We’re executing this fellow in a
few days. No more Cursed Man, no more Curse. Do you
both want separate beds?” he picked up his parchment,
continuing on with the business at hand.
Xena leaned in on the counter. “I need to know
”XENA!” a familiar booming voice called out. Gabrielle
and Xena whirled around to see..
”Minya?” Xena broke out into a wide grin as Gabrielle
stepped forward to greet their good friend with a
hug. “What are you doing here?”
”I heard about the Curse!” Minya said excitedly. “I
thought to myself, ‘Now what would Xena do?’ and I
answered myself, ‘She’d save the day and break the
Curse’! So..here I am!” she finished.
”I see.” Xena said, bemused.
”It’s been a long time, Minya, how have you been?”
Gabrielle asked, trying not to laugh at the expression
on Xena’s face. The bard knew Xena loved Minya as a
dear friend just as she herself did, but Minya’s
insistence on being as much like Xena as possible
tended to drive the warrior a little crazy.
”Oh, this and that.” Minya answered her. “Trying to
right wrongs, foil bad guys...you know, the usual.”
Xena turned back to the Innkeeper. “So tell me more
about this condemned man. Does he have a name?” she
”Sure he has a name!” the old man laughed. “Everyone
has a name! His name is...uh...uh...” his face went
blank. “Hera’s Tits I forgot his name! Let’s see it
started with a C...no, an S...No, a C...”
Xena sighed and crossed her arms in front of her
chest. She resisted the impulse to tap her foot.
”Cecrops! Yeah, that’s the guy’s name. Gonna die in
three days. That’ll be ten dinars for the room.”
Gabrielle and Xena’s jaws nearly hit the floor.
”Cecrops?” Gabrielle whispered in disbelief. “Oh
Xena, Gabrielle and Minya stood outside the entrance to the city jail and all had to admit the citizens of Eretia took their justice system seriously.
"It looks like a fortress!" Gabrielle said, craning her neck further back to see if she could get a glimpse of the top of the Tower. She couldn't.
"How are we gonna get in?" Minya asked. "Distract the guards and then...POW!...WHAP!....you know." she grinned expectantly at her hero.
Xena shook her head. "Not quite." she tried not to chuckle at the disappointed look that came over Minya's face. "We're not going to break in at all; at least not yet. I want to talk to Cecrops and see what his take on all of this is. Then we'll formulate a plan from there."
"So we're just going to walk in?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yup. No law against visiting a condemned man....I hope." the three women entered the formidable building.
It turned out that Xena had been right. There was no law against seeing a condemned man, although the Guard looked at them all quite strangely. "You know he's Cursed." he kept reminding them.
"We know." Xena told him for the fourth time. "So you've told us. Repeatedly. Now can we see him or not?"
"Sure! I just don't know *why* you'd want to see him. Place your weapons here please." he motioned to a space set aside for "visitor's weapons". Xena sighed, and went and placed her sword and chakram in the designated area. Gabrielle leaned her staff against the wall next to them, and Minya stepped up and deposited two boot daggers, a breast dagger, a long knife and a pair of throwing stars. "I think that's everything." she said as she made a mental note.
Xena and Gabrielle exchanged looks, but declined to comment. Minya noticed their look and explained, "I believe in being prepared for anything. You taught me that, Xena."
"Remind me to talk to you sometime about the term 'overkill'." the warrior muttered under her breath and followed the Guard's directions to Cecrops' cell.
Their friend looked exactly like they had last seen him. Maybe a bit more forlorn, but he still had the same swagger and broad welcoming smile.
"Xena! Gabrielle!" he stood as he saw them approaching. "I can't believe it! What brings you here?"
"Originally we were just passing through." Gabrielle answered. "But now....well, how did this happen?" her voice conveyed how worried she was.
Cecrops shrugged. "I don't know really...I was just passing through, too. I thought that Poseidon had forgotten about his anger with me, and I didn't even see it coming."
"See what coming?" Xena asked.
"Poseidon is a stubborn God. He didn't want to give up our feud so easily...so when I stopped here during a Sea Festival they were having, he used my presence here to get mad at the villagers for even allowing me to pass through. He rose up out of the sea and cursed them then and there...told them that for harbouring me they wouldn't be able to benefit from the Ocean until I was dead. And so far he's been true to his word."
"I wonder why he's still so upset." Xena mused to herself. "He replaced the Cursed Crew position that your ship had occupied for so many years."
"And it couldn't have happened to a more deserving fellow." Gabrielle shuddered. "Do those guys ever bathe?"
Xena laughed, "Not that bunch, I don't think. But yeah...that aspect is covered. Why would he still be so angry with you?"
"Hey, Xena." Minya cut in on the conversation. "I'll go distract the Guard while you spring him!" and before the warrior could explain that that wouldn't be necessary, their overeager friend fairly ran down the long hallway back to the Guard's desk.
"Oh, we forgot to introduce you." Xena finally remembered her manners. "That's our friend Minya. She's, uh..."
"She's happy to help." Gabrielle finished with a giggle.
Cecrops couldn't disagree with that statement.
Minya slowed her pace as she neared the guard's post, and considered the situation. She had no way of knowing how many guards were on duty, and her weapons had all been confiscated...
Well, almost all of them.
She reached into her hair and quietly pulled out the carved comb that held her hairdo in place. Her lush black mane fell down around her shoulders, and she shook it out, grinning.
It had taken her a week to learn how to insert the drugged comb, without accidentally putting herself to sleep. It was a fine weapon, as well as a fine fashion accessory. She slipped them carefully into her belt.
Now, she thought, how would Xena handle this situation?
Rounding the corner, she approached the bored- and hungry looking- guard.
"Hi there," she said, making her voice sound as sultry as she could manage.
"Um. Hi." The guard eyed her suspiciously. "Done talking to your friend already?"
"He's really Xena's friend," she said, leaning over the guard's desk (and giving him an ample view of her ample bosom). "I've never met him before today. And to be honest..." she smiled seductively, "I find YOU more interesting."
"Me." The guard seemed baffled.
"It must be a very... lonely job, just sitting here all day."
"Yeah, I don't get to talk to folks much, except when I'm taking orders." He sighed.
"Mostly the only thing I do all day is listen to my stomach growl."
Minya looked furtively to the left and right, then produced something from a pouch at her waist- a chunk of jerked beef. Raising a finger to her lips, she handed it to the guard and winked.
The guard needed no further prompting- he popped the meat into his mouth. He managed to get in two good chews before there was a muffled "poof!" and the meat disappeared.
Tears of frustration trickled down the guard's face. "I'm SO hungry," he wailed.
"I figured, since it wasn't seafood..."
"It was sweet of you, Ma'am," he said, and impulsively gave the big woman a hug.
Minya swiftly liberated the comb and poked him in the back of the neck with it. He barely had time to register what she'd done, before he crumpled to the floor.
"Sweet dreams," Minya said. She wrestled him back into his chair. "Xena!" she called, "the coast is clear!"
The warrior jerked around towards Minya's voice. "WHAT!?" she bellowed, not believing what her ears had just heard.
"I'll be right back." she told Cecrops, and tore off down the hallway towards...
"What in the name of Zeus?" she blurted out. The Guard was unconscious, laying on the floor by his desk, a smile on his face. She glared accusingly at Minya. "What did you DO?"
"Nothing!" Minya said, oblivious to the fact that Xena was less than happy with her at the moment.
"I just fixed it so we can break your buddy out of here, that's all." she held up the hair comb. "See, what I did was.."
"Gimme that!" Xena snatched it out of her hand and sniffed the tines.
"Hey! It's my comb, I get the credit!" Minya complained.
"You sure will. When we get arrested and possibly given the death penalty for breaking Cecrops out of jail and maybe poisoning the Guard YOU get the credit! Absolutely!" Xena whirled and raced back to the cell. "You are not gonna believe this..."
"Yes I will." Gabrielle laughed in spite of herself. "It's all right, Xena, I have an idea." the bard leaned forward and whispered into her lifemate's ear.
Xena's eyebrows threatened to disappear into her hairline. She smiled. "Now that could work. Come on, we don't have much time." The warrior stood back and let the chakram fly at the lock. It glanced off handily, breaking the lock in two and it fell to the stone floor with a clattering sound. Cecrops opened the door and hugged his friends.
"Thank you!" he said.
"Don't thank us yet, you're still cursed and the townsfolk are no better off than before. We've got to go somewhere to regroup and think."
Minya had rejoined them and offered, "There's a Temple a few candlemark's ride from here. I saw it on the way to the village."
"That's great, Minya! A Temple could work nicely!" Gabrielle smiled at the larger woman. "Whose Temple is it?"
Minya grimaced and glanced apologetically over at Cecrops. "Poseidon's." she answered.
"Great." Xena sighed.
The four friends didn't waste any time in getting out of the village and heading for the relative safety of Poseidon's Temple.
"Are you sure this is a good idea, Xena?" Cecrops asked. "I mean, Poseidon's Temple...he's still upset with me for some reason. I don't think he wants me anywhere near his Temple, much less bedding down in it."
"You just leave Poseidon to me." Xena told him.
"So you have a plan?" Minya broke in. "I knew it! What's your plan, Xena?"
The warrior shrugged. "I'm working on it." she replied, then quickened her pace.
Cecrops and Minya exchanged somewhat worried glances, then followed.
They reached the Temple and went around back to hide Argo in the dense forest that almost came to it's back door.
"No wonder this place is almost deserted." Gabrielle commented. "It's almost overgrown by the forest! Hardly a good place for a Sea God's place of worship."
An idea seemed to flash through Xena's mind and a grin broke out on her features. "You three stay here. I need to go check something out."
Gabrielle protested immediately. "Xena! I want to go with you. I could help, I know I could."
Xena leaned over and kissed her lifemate tenderly, standing back up and smiling back at her. "I know you could help." she told her. "But Minya and Cecrops need you to stay here and keep an eye out. You know me, and you know what I'd likely do in any given circumstance. I need you to stay here in case...well, in case things get ugly. I trust you to handle anything in my absence."
Gabrielle sighed. "Yeah, I know. OK Xena, I understand. We'll wait here for you. Hurry back, though. OK?"
"You got it. And you two!" she called after the others. "Keep a low profile. It wouldn't be good for you to be discovered and me to have to rescue all of you from the village's sense of 'justice'."
With that, she waved goodbye and jumped up onto Argo's back, urging the golden mare down the pathway at a fast pace. If what she thought was true, maybe she could solve this puzzle after all.
Argo's hooves made a thundering clatter as they galloped down the windy road towards the sea shore. There, nestled in an attractive outcropping of rocks was the small outdoor Shrine that Xena hoped she would find.
She pulled up in front of it, dismounted and dispensed with any pleasantries. "Aphrodite!" she yelled into the now rising wind. "I need to talk with you!"
Only the wind answered her. For once the Goddess was playing coy.
"Aphrodite, I mean it! It's important and I need you to help! Please!"
There was a poof of pink sparkly smoke and 'Dite appeared, immediately shielding her eyes against the dirt that the wind was kicking up. "This had better be good." she told the warrior. "I'm getting blown all over the place!"
Xena knew there was a dirty joke in there somewhere just dying to get out, but she focused instead on the matter at hand. "I need to talk to you about Eretia." she began.
"Oh! Coolness! Those guys dig me." 'Dite exclaimed, a wide grin gracing her features. "They built me this nifty little Shrine and give me offerings all of the time! What about ‘em?"
"They build Shrines and make offerings to you?"
"Well everyone needs love." the Goddess reminded Xena.
"True, but their lives depend on the sea. Poseidon should be honoured, too. In fact, he should be the main Deity."
Aphrodite pouted. "What for? He would just get grumpy one day and send a tidal wave or flood or some other icky thing their way. I make them happy. I win!" she laughed gleefully.
Xena's expression was earnest. "Aphrodite, listen to me...these people are starving. Poseidon has made it impossible for them to get food and he's pointed the finger at Cecrops so the villagers don't even know what the real problem is."
'Dite looked confused. "There's a problem?"
Xena resisted the urge to smack the blonde Goddess upside her curly head. "Yes....starving villagers. Look at it this way; dead villagers equals no more offerings for you."
That did it.
"He can't DO that!" she shrieked. "Thanks for letting me know, Xena...I'm gonna tell him off good! He can't kill off my worshippers like that!" and she disappeared.
When the last bit of pink smoke had dissipated Xena allowed a grin to spread itself across her face. She whistled for Argo and when the mare came she quickly mounted, turning the mare back towards the village of Eretia. As they briskly trotted down the still windswept road she told her equine friend, "Part one of my plan is finished...now for part two. I hope he shows up."
Argo snorted to clear her nose of the road dust and then quickened her pace.
Eretia was strangely quiet as Xena cantered Argo into the village square. She dismounted, and let Argo loose to graze while she went in search of the town Elders.
She didn't have to search very far because the entire village it seemed was crammed into their Meeting Hall. Their Leader was giving some big speech about how they would all go to their doom because Cecrops had escaped.
"That's a load of Centaur dung and you know it." Xena's voice boomed out, effectively causing every head to swivel in her direction.
"YOU!" the Elder's finger pointed at her. "You're the one who let Cecrops escape! Now it's your head we want! Maybe Poseidon will be appeased!"
Xena drew her sword and did a quick figure eight pattern, showing them she meant business. The blade made a swishing sound, and glinted in the shafts of sunlight that came in through the slatted windows.
"Nobody's taking my head...or any part of me...I'm rather attached to it." she snarled. "Now listen up and listen good. I know why Poseidon is angry with your village and it has nothing to do with Cecrops! Now if you want to be able to get rid of this curse you'll do what I say."
"Why should we trust you?" a woman called out from the back, her individual face hidden in the throng of villagers.
"Because unless I'm wrong you're all on your last legs. Do you want to see your children starve in front of you when there is a bounty to be had at your front doorsteps? Well?"
A woman made her way through the packed room to finally stand in the clear in front of Xena. She held a stick thin child in her arms, and tear stains marked her face. "She won't wake up." the mother pleaded. "The Gods seem to favour you.....I...I ask that you..." she could barely get the words out without sobbing, "Please....help her."
Xena took a step back as the impossibly small child was laid at her feet. What did these people expect her to do? Raise the dead? One moment they were going to lynch her and the next, this?
The warrior sheathed her weapon, her peripheral vision on alert and scanning for any sign that this was a ruse to get a jump on her, but no attack came. She touched the girl's paper thin skin and put a finger to her mouth. Leaning in to lay her head on the child's breast to listen for a heartbeat, her peripheral vision caught a flowing white robe...Celesta! Hades's sister, coming to take the little girl to the Underworld.
"Not on my watch. Not this child. Not now." she vowed, and picked the girl up into her arms. "Follow me!" she ordered, and spun on her heels and ran outside to the pier.
"POSEIDON!" she screamed out into the ocean's crashing waves. "Look at what you've done! For once in your immortal life, look what you've done!"
The waves grew and seemed to boil as Poseidon himself lifted up out of the foamy sea to rise towering above Xena and the villagers and town. "You dare disturb me?" he rumbled. "I'll curse you as well, Warrior Princess! Didn't you learn enough of my wrath when you freed Cecrops?"
"I'm not afraid of you." she said, her voice rising to compensate for the crashing water against the pier.
The Sea God's laughter was anything but pleasant. "You should be." his voice rumbled. "You do a lot of travel in my domain."
"I respect you, Poseidon, but I don't fear you. There's a difference." Xena shot back. "But now I'm not so sure I respect you either. Look!" she held up the little girl, her arms and legs dangling like a rag doll. Behind her Celesta slowly glided towards them both.
"You did this!" Xena challenged. "You're a child killer, Poseidon! And I'm going to make sure everybody knows it! Your Temples will fall, your followers will desert you...and for what?"
The Sea God seemed to consider her words, and held up a hand in Celesta's direction.
"You cannot stop me." Celesta's chime like voice intoned in her maddeningly calm manner. "Only Hades can call me back, or the Fates."
"A moment." he said, "I only ask a moment."
"She is suffering." Celesta answered back, but her forward glide had stopped. "Can't you see that she is suffering? She doesn't even have the strength to cry any more. No more tears to fall. Her place is in Elysia."
"Her place is in her mother's arms." Xena growled.
"Xena....we all must take this journey, you know this."
"Not now." Xena said. "Please, Celesta, give us a moment longer."
"I owe you a debt, Warrior Princess." Celesta said. "So I will give you a few more moments, but that's all I can give you."
Satisfied, Xena turned back to Poseidon. "Well?" she called up to him. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Aphrodite chose that moment to appear in a flash of pink light.
"You!" she waggled her finger up at her uncle. "You are SUCH a bummer! You're like...how old? And these nice people forget one lousy Festival in your honour and you go all 'I'm gonna Curse you' on them? How...like...how babyish!"
Even with the gravity of the situation Xena almost laughed out loud. She'd never seen the Goddess of Love so fierce. But then she realised that at that moment the face of Aphrodite was representing a Mother's Love, and that is indeed a very fierce thing.
"I seem to recall you doing something along those same lines when your Festival was forgotten." Poseidon answered his niece.
"I did not! I only made them all experience unrequited love for a month...not starve little children!"
There was silence as the Sea God mulled those words over for awhile, and then he waved his Sceptre over the land and sent a shower of golden sparks over the entire village. "You are released." he announced. "But only because I'm feeling charitable today and," he smiled down fondly at Aphrodite, "because my favourite niece has asked this of me." he glared at Xena. "It had nothing to do with you." he snapped, and disappeared under the waves once more.
"He's crabby sometimes." 'Dite explained with a shrug.
But all Xena cared about at that moment was that the little girl stirred in her arms and blinked in the sunlight that had now brilliantly appeared, the storm clouds all but gone. There was no more any sign of Celesta.
"LOOK!" a villager exclaimed as he held up a speared fish. He took a big bite out of it even though it was raw just to make his point.
"I can eat!" he laughed out loud. "We can ALL eat again! Praise be to Aphrodite!"
"Whoops! Hold it buster!" 'Dite broke in. "It's that kind of talk that got you all cursed in the first place. My uncle's in a good mood right now but we all know that can change in a heartbeat."
"So how do we stop it from happening again?" the Village Elder asked.
"Well...I really dig your Shrines to me, and it's totally groovy that you want to hang with me and all, but...well..this place should really mostly be devoted to my uncle. After all, this *is* a fishing village, right? You kind of need his help to make sure you all have a good bounty, right? Not to mention calm waters to fish in."
The villagers muttered and talked among themselves and then the Elder stepped forward again. "But you, Oh Blessed One...will we lose your favour?"
"Are you kidding?" she laughed. "You guys are my buds! I'm happy with my little Shrine and you guys are great with offerings and all. Why should I be unhappy with you? But..uh...just so you know. I don't like fish. So lay off the fish giving, OK?"
He bowed, "Whatever you say, Oh Divine One."
"How about Poseidon's Temple?" Xena prompted.
"Oh! Yeah right...and if you guys could clean up Poseidon's Temple, maybe rededicate it or something. Hey, even move it closer to the seashore. That would be the greatest!"
"Consider it done." the Elder said, and gave a last bow before he went to help his fellow villagers begin a sea harvest.
"Mama," the little girl was actually squirming in Xena's arms now, and the warrior set her down. The girl's eyes saw her mother's tear filled ones and ran on stick thin legs to embrace her at last. "Mama! I'm hungry!" she said, and the mother laughed as tears of joy flowed down her cheeks.
"Let's go eat, then, shall we?" she said as she picked her daughter up and hugged her tight. "Let's go home and eat."
With a wave of thanks to both warrior and Deity, the mother and child melted into the crowd and Xena turned to her friend.
"Well, you saved the day." she said. "Love conquers all, as they say. And I'm glad I could see it."
"You helped too, Warrior Babe." Aphrodite said as she placed a friendly punch on the warrior's shoulder.
"Maybe I got the ball rolling, but you delivered." Xena returned. "And that's the way I'd like them to remember this day. Now what do you say we go back and tell the others that the crisis is over? Cecrops will be glad to know he’s not a marked man any longer, and I'll bet Gabrielle could go for some lunch about now." She chuckled and then added, “I’m not sure Minya will be happy she missed the ‘action’ as she puts it, but you can’t have everything.”
"Tubular! Lunch is good. But not fish...I hate fish..."
The two friends walked towards the city limits together, Argo walking up to fall in step beside Xena.
"There's a joke in there somewhere I just know there is.." Xena chuckled. "You and fish.."
"No, you and fish!"
"No, you and fish..."
THE END : )
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