Story # 2 by The Members of Argo's Stable

This is only our second story. The individual
parts have not been edited. It is exactly as it was sent to the list.

      Feedback may be sent to Taiko and will be forwarded to Argo's Stable.


Disclaimer: The characters of Xena & Gabrielle don't belong to us.
They are the sole property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures.
This story may not be sold or used for profit. Copies of this story may
be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers.

A Fairy Tale

Part 1   Part 2  Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7   Part 8
Part 1 By Taiko

She could hear the children playing in the other room. The woman walked down
the short hall and peaked into the bedroom. There they were, her pride and
joy. The little girl, with dark brown hair looked up and spotted the woman in
the doorway.

"Grandma!" the girl yelled as she raced across the floor and threw her arms
around her grandmother. The other child, a young boy with golden curls,
quickly followed suit and the woman found herself engulfed by the two

"I've missed you Grandma!" "Me too Grandma!"

The woman scooted the children over to the bed and sat down. Each child took
a seat on either side of her. "I've missed you both too, very much. I want to
hear everything you've been up to since I've been gone."

As the children told their tales of the past two weeks, the woman looked at
each of them. She could see a bit of her mother and father, her sister and
even herself in them. Joshua, her grandson, looked a lot like her, with his
blonde hair and green eyes. Her grandaughter, Xena, looked more like the
girls great Aunt. Gabrielle smiled at the memory of her daughter, Lila,
naming her first child after Xena. Xena had been such a big part of Lila's
life while she was growing up that it was only natural she'd want to name her
daughter after her. Gabrielle had been pleased, to say the least.

Gabrielle was brought back to the present by Xena's tug on her sleeve. "Tell
us a story Grandma." Joshua's eyes brightened at his sisters suggestion. "Yes
Grandma, please tell us a story!" There was no way Gabrielle could refuse
either one of them.

"A story, huh?" The children bounced up and down slightly. "Yes, yes,
please!" they both said almost in unison. "Tell us a story about you and
Xena!" Xena's namesake requested. Memories of the years on the road with Xena
flooded Gabrielle's mind. Then she glanced at her grandchildren. 'Which
adventure would be suitable for them' Gabrielle thought to herself.
'Although, it doesn't have to be completely accurate. Xena always said I had
a habit of embellishing.' she thought with a smile.

"Okay, okay, settle down." The children quieted. Gabrielle thought for a
moment more and then began.

"Once upon a time..."
Part 2 by Gabby Kat

" know i trust your judgement and your skill and your fighting
prowess and all that warrior stuff -"

"but..." xena interjected for the knew the route this conversation was going.

"...but your choice of shortcuts has always left a lot to be desired.  if we
aren't walking into a war in the forest...or a band of banshees or bacchae..."

"gabrielle, we were running out of supplies.  there's no way we were gonna
make it to carthage on what we had.  cutting east through these woods -"

"desolate woods, xena, you forgot to say desolate!"  gabrielle really did
trust her companion's judgement, but considering it had been 4 days since she
had eaten anything but sour grapes and bitter ginger root - the bard was
becoming less than patient.  "i haven't seen any decent food crawling the
earth for miles.  we won't even mention the lack of edible vegetation.  for
hades' sake, at this point i'd eat joxer's radish stew even if it was basted
in his special sauce, er ah, gravy...whatever he called it."

"oh, now your being ridiculous!" xena's stomach turned at the thought of
joxer's ineptitude in the culinary arts.

"arrgghhhh!" gabrielle exploded.

"what?!  i was just kidding," xena apologized.

"i don't know the last time i saw a summer squash that big!  and look at
those tomatoes!"

xena watched her friend stoop over and begin picking up a vegetable medley
fit for zeus himself.  the warrior raised her left eyebrow at the sight
before her.  gabrielle was picking up a *trail* of fresh vegetables,
vegetables that were perfectly clean and free of bruises.  it was as though
they had been carefully placed on the forest someone was trying

"xena!  look at all this food!"

"gabrielle wait!" xena's plea went unheeded.

"come on, there's more over here. it all leads to that garden in front
of...oh the aroma..." gabrielle's voice trailed off as she left the wood's
edge into a picturesque clearing.

Part 3 by Ambrosia

"Gabrielle wait up!" Xena shouted as she ran after the stubborn bard. Xena
did not know exactly what it was, but she got the feeling that something just
wasn't right. However, she could not for the life of her put her finger on
what it was. She shrugged. Maybe they just got lucky. Or maybe it was just
some sort of elaborate trick that was being played on them. Well she was
going to find out one way or another.

Xena ran around a few trees and finally found Gabrielle kneeling on the
ground in front of Xena studied the house, raising both eyebrows
at the sight. She finally managed to turn her eyes away from it and focused
them on her bard. She could only see the back of Gabrielle. Xena noticed that
she was unusually quiet. Speechless was more like it. Xena jogged up to
Gabrielle and looked at her face. The bards emerald green eyes were glazed
over and her mouth was formed into the shape on an "O", as she stared at the
house mesmerized. The vegetables Gabrielle had picked up not long ago were
laid in front of her. Xena waved a hand in front of Gabrielle, but the young
woman did not seem to notice it. She didn't even blink.

The warrior princess started to get worried, but tried to remain calm.
"Gabrielle," she called softly. No answer. "Gabrielle," she said a little
louder with her voice still managing to stay calm. "Gabrielle!" Xena finally
shouted, throwing calmness to the wind as she shook the bard by grabbing a
hold of her shoulders. Gabrielle's eyes finally focused on the captivating
blue of her partner's. She gasped.

Staring into Xena's eyes the bard breathed, "I have never seen anything so
beautiful in my life."

Xena's eyes widened momentarily, and then she smiled warmly at the bard,
still holding onto her shoulders. She replied, "Well, I feel the-

Suddenly Xena was shoved out of Gabrielle's way by the bard. The blonde
outstretched her arms towards the house. "I mean look at that house!" she
shouted in amazement. "It's absolutely gorgeous!" Gabrielle glanced towards
Xena who was dusting herself off from landing in the dirt after the bard
pushed her. She was mumbling something under her breath, but Gabrielle
couldn't make out what it was.

"Xena, do you see the hou-

"Yeah, I see the house!" the warrior princess snapped. "It's pretty strange
if you ask me."

"Xena must you always be so pessimistic?"

The warrior princess glared at her. "Was it that supposed to mean?"

Gabrielle took a deep breath. "It's a person who-

"Not that! I know the meaning of the word," Xena inserted. "I just..." She
pointed at the house. "Look at it! That's not wood."

The bard turned back to the house. "No. No it isn't. By the gods it's so much
more. NUTBREAD!" she exploded excitedly. "A house made of nutbread. How

Xena mumbled. "Pretty nutty if you ask me."

Part 4 by Leanna

Xena made a grab at Gabrielle's arm, but the bard was already at the door of
the odd house.
"Gabrielle!  Don't barge into their ho..."

Gabrielle looked back at Xena in exasperation, "YOU are the one that said it
was strange." The Amazon bard placed both of her hands on her hips and
continued determinedly , "I  think it's our duty to check it out....and get
some dinner while we are doing it." Her voice dropped on the last part.

"Wha- Gabrielle! What if this is someone's house? You can't just go eating it
all! You'll look like a whale when you are done." The Bard was ignoring the
warrior's pleas,however, and had already dissapeared into the house. Xena
gritted her teeth and followed, swearing under her breath all the while.

Gabrielle seemed much less impressed with the inside of the house. It looked
fairly average and not even one bit of icing was in sight. Gabrielle sighed
Xena looked rather smug about it, on the other hand, "See? They just have
weird decorating styles. Can we go now?"

The Bard turned to Xena and looked like she was about to nod before her eyes
fell on a sword made from chocolate. "Xena! Look at that!"

 Xena turned to face Gabrielle with annoyance and snapped, "Look at
"THAT!" The amazon snapped back before pointing to the sword. Gabrielle
walked over and picked up the sword. Quite  Suddenly the Ground fell from
beneath both of them. They landed with two loud thuds on a dirt floor, and,
staring up, saw a very  smug Ares.
Part 5 by Donaeus

     Scowling with disgust at the arrival of her nemesis,the warrior princess
barked, "Ares,I should have guessed. But the cloud of sickening sweetness
covered up the usual stench I associate with your handiwork."

     "It's a pleasure to see you as well, Xena" said Ares feigning a look of
hurt. Turning his attention to Gabrielle and seeming more pleased with himself
than usual, "I knew you could be taken in but I never imagined it would be this
easy! A little sugar and spice and you're a goner."

     "Aarrgh. So you're responsible for clearing the forest of anything edible.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to choke down sour grapes and ginger root
for one day much less three?" Gabrielle hurled these words at the gloating god
of war as if they were Xena's chakram.

    Standing up Xena and Gabrielle dusted themselves off. "If this happens again
today. . .," Xena thought to herself. She then trained a piercing glare on the
Olympian and demanded," I know you brought us here for a reason--now tell me
what's going on!"

Gabrielle looked over at her warrior knowing Xena was already forming a plan in
her mind. However,she held onto the chocolate sword,just in case. . .

Part 6 by Extra

     "It's not what you think, Xena.    I have no quarrel with you or
your…friend."  He gave a short wave in Gabrielle's direction.
     Gabrielle felt the movement in her stomach as it growled.  She eyed the
chocolate sword in her hands.  Its smell teased her nostrils and her mouth
began to water.  Surely no one could object to her taking one small bite if
for no other reason than to rid her mouth of the tastes of the bitter grapes
and roots.  A flash blinded them all.
     "Don't even think it," shouted a voice in a loud bass.  A form appeared
before them, long robes rippling shades of gold and purple like sunlight on
water.  In grandeur he stood, white beard barely brushing his chest,
straight and tall, holding an ornate staff of intricately carved symbols
cresting into a large, rich green emerald.  "That desert you eye so hungrily
is the key.  Without it, all is lost."
     Patience with gods and magicians not being one of Xena's virtues, she
turned to Ares.  "All right, Ares, stop with the games.  What's going on?"
     "The God of War is as much trapped here as you, Xena."
     Ares shrugged his shoulders, "He has my sword."
     "What?!"  Xena was obviously annoyed.  "Can't you hang on to that
thing?"  She turned to the magician.  "I suggest you let us out of here,
     "There is only one way out, warrior, and when you leave, you free all."
     Xena's shoulders drooped as she glanced to Gabrielle.  "I hate riddles.
  You talk to him."
     "Uh…my friend here is trying to say that she'd like to know what we're
doing here.  So would I.  I'm hungry, and I really need to find something
decent to eat, and…"
     The magician held up his hand.  "Silence, child,"  he boomed, then in a
softer voice, "I brought Ares here.  You were brought here by him at my
     Xena frowned.  "You coulda just asked, Ares."
     "Not my style.  I've agreed to help the wizard for the return of my
sword, but he seems to think the God of War needs extra help.  Beats me."
     "Magic can be used for good or evil.  I am Antun, the sorcerer, and
while I am strong, others are even stronger.  This cottage is enchanted….."
     "Like I couldn't have guessed,"  Gabrielle grumbled softly to Xena.
     "….by a force stronger than my own.  An evil woman, Delailea, a
powerful witch, has imprisoned unfortunate souls in many shapes.  We must
first find in what forms they are hidden to protect them; then we must
destroy her.  Some have already been lost to her cannibalistic appetite.  I
cannot guarantee your safety, mortals."
     "Count us in," Xena answered for both of them.  She nudged Gabrielle
and whispered, "She can't eat
more than you."
     "Then follow me."
      They began their journey in a series of  winding tunnels, labyrinth
beneath the ground.
     "So how did he get your sword, Ares?"  Xena wondered.
     "He distracted me.  You know, tall, brunette….I have a weakness for
brunettes…" he sighed.
      Xena shook her head.  " So I've noticed."
     Gabrielle, carefully carrying the chocolate sword, caught up to the
wizard.  "Excuse me…..I don't suppose you could just poof up some bread and
cheese. I'm really hungry…."


Part 7 by Elyxir

Ares smirked "Hey, glad I don't have your mortal vices!"

Looking at Gabrielle with amusement the Wizard said "Child, it is your
mortality that will save us and the other imprisoned souls."  He continued
"Delailea feeds on mortal souls and only a mortal can set the others free.
But first Ares and I must cast a veil of invisibility over you both so she
can't see you."

Autun closed his eyes and drew a deep breath.  Then his emerald staff
radiated a green glow which shone lightly on Gabrielle and Xena.  "Now you
are invisible to Delailea, but not for long.  We must continue to the center
of her lair"

"Ah, ....Xena.....look at this...." murmured Gabrielle as she held out the
chocolate sword which was melting quickly in her hands.

"I think there's something under the chocolate" Xena said as she peered at
the sword.

"Maybe we should, well, remove some of this chocolate and see what it
is....." The Bard said hopefully.

A few happy moments later, chocolate on her face and hands Gabrielle said
"it's a scroll! Lets see what it says...."  as she unrolled the chocolate
coated parchment.

        Ah, Ye Mortals
            whose heat of life
        Hath revealed the key.

        Seek the souls
            Held captive in liquid murkiness.

        A Joyous Release
            By skilled hands
        Will Banish Evil,
            Shattering the Spell
            Setting All Free.

"More riddles!" Xena swore "Why so many riddles!"

Just then they stepped into a dark cold walled in courtyard.  Dirty brown
Willow trees bent drooping over a murky pond.  They heard the sounds of
grunting and chewing coming from an outcropping of rock next to the pond.

Xena held her hand out to stop Gabrielle, motioned for them all to get down
and drew her sword in one smooth motion.  They all watched as the ugly rag
clothed creature grunted, reached a bony hand into the pond and grabbed a
beautiful orange fish from the water.  She quickly bit it in half and sucked
on its still wriggling body.

"Delailea" the wizard simply said.

"I don't think I'm hungry anymore...." Gabrielle muttered.

Atun whispered "Ares and I will lure her away with trickery." He touched Ares
shoulder and they both vanished.

Moments later Delailea stood up, nostrils twitching, and in a gravely voice
said "I smell the sweetness of mortals."  She bared her gray jagged teeth,
snorted and shuffled, sniffing the air, toward a path behind her.

After waiting till she was gone the Warrior Princess and the Bard approached
the mucky pool of water.  Gabrielle exclaimed " these fish are beautiful!
These are the souls, but how do we set them free?"

"A joyous release of skilled hands.....whatever that means....." Xena replied.

"Xena, I think it must mean you and your fishing skills... What if you
tickled these fish Xena.  You're the only woman I know with that skill!"
Gabrielle said hopefully.

Xena shot Gabrielle a look as she removed her armor and weapons.  "yeah,

She stepped into the water, holding her hands under the surface letting her
fingers wiggle ever so slightly.  A beautiful fish, curious about the new
motion nosed up to her fingers.  Ever so gently Xena tickled under its
chin.............tiny bubbles rose to the surface as the fish laughed.  The
bubbles of laughter popped and the fish became a small girl giggling by the
side of the pond.

Xena  kept tickling and soon there were a dozen children giggling by the side
of the pond.

Then they heard a horrible screeching sound as Delailea reappeared in the
courtyard.  "STOP IT!" She shrieked, clutching her ears "What is that

Then, as they all laughed the walls began to crumble and fall and sunlight
poured into the courtyard.  Delailea continued shrieking, shaking her head
back and forth, and before their eyes she shriveled and then POOF..... she

The children laughed and jumped up and down with joy as a wonderful breeze of
fresh air flowed into the courtyard.
Part 8 by Taiko

Gabrielle looked down at the sleepy forms of her grandchildren.

"The children are all safe?" her granddaughter asked. "Yes, Xena, the
children were returned to their homes and lived happily ever after,"
Gabrielle answered.

"Was the chocolate sword good, Grandma?" Joshua asked before a yawn escaped
his lips. Gabrielle chuckled at her grandson. 'He's so much like me,' she
thought. "Yes, the sword was delicious," she said, smiling down at him.

Gabrielle got up from the bed and pulled the quilt over the children. She
leaned down and gave them each a kiss on the forehead. Sleep came quickly to
both children.

Gabrielle turned and headed for the door. A lone dark figure blocked her way.

"A chocolate sword?" An eyebrow rose in question from the woman blocking the
doorway, "and the children were not fish, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle smiled at the woman and shooed her out into the hall. Glancing back
at her grandchildren, who were now sound asleep, she shut the bedroom door.
Turning to the woman, Gabrielle shook her head, "It's a story, Xena," she
stated as she headed for the kitchen.

Xena followed Gabrielle into the kitchen and took a seat at the table. "I
know, Gabrielle. It was a good story, really. It just wasn't the truth," she
grinned, "a house made of nutbread? Come on Gabrielle, I never would have
been able to get you out of there if that were true." The bard couldn't help
but laugh, "That's true. Especially after several days of eating sour grapes
and roots." They both began to laugh.

Gabrielle became thoughtful and looked over at the warrior, "We have had some
exciting adventures, haven't we?" Xena smiled at the memories, "Yes we have."

They both sat in comfortable silence, lost in memories of their years
together. Xena smirked as she glanced over at the bard, "But none quite as
interesting as the one's you tell your grandchildren." Gabrielle slapped
Xena's arm playfully, "They're close to what really happened. I just..." Xena
leaned closer, "Just?" she asked. "I just embellish them for the children,"
the bard stated confidently. "Ah huh," the warrior said with a smirk as she
leaned back in her chair. The warrior looked over at the bard, "A chocolate

Their laughter broke the silence of the night. And down the hall two children
were caught in Morpheus' realm, dreaming of warriors and bards, wizards and
gods, and of course, chocolate swords.

The End :)

Argo's Stable    Taiko's Scrolls Of The Xenaverse