Just inside the cave entrance Xena stopped her running and placed her forefinger over her lips to let Gabrielle know to be silent. Xena now bent over slightly and moved slow and cautious. The curdling scream had stopped as quick as it began and in the part of the cave where the rock walls widened there lie a motionless woman on the ground.
Xena knelt down and placed two fingers to the neck of the woman. Gabrielle stood quiet and looked with concern, as she feared this woman's fate. "We can't help this one, " Xena said in a whisper as she stood but kept her bent over position. She walked slow looking all around and paused at a narrow space in the cave wall. Xena motioned with her hand for Gabrielle to join her behind a larger boulder just as Xena dropped to one knee and began to open the bag of bones.
"Give me your Sais," Xena then requested.
Gabrielle was felt very focused on the danger at hand and spun her Sais, handing them to carefully to Xena, handle end first. Xena seemed to use the knives to scrape the cartilage from inside the bones and slide the outer layer over the Sais blades. Xena cleared a long tibia bone likewise and attached a rather long piece to the end of her sword blade. Working quickly and only with slight scraping sounds, Xena sharpened several rib bones and placed one in each of her boots.
"Here take these, put them in your boots, " Xena whispered as she handed Gabrielle two of the sharpened bones. "We don't want the son's of a Bacchae to recognize the Dryad bones. That would alert them to quickly and we need the advantage."
Now Xena was equipped with a Dryad bone on the end of her sword and two knife sharp bones in her boots. Likewise, Gabrielle had bones on each of her Sais as she held them in a grip, one in the left and one in the right hand. She had slipped the two knife sharp bones in her boots as Xena instructed.
Suddenly Xena jumped up and yelled, "Yi Yi YiYi Ah! As she ran into a larger room of the cave and began fighting a group of the son's of a Bacchae. Gabrielle began blocking the swaying swords as well while Xena pierced the heart of two attackers with the end of her sword.
Gabrielle continued to fight off the son's of a Bacchae, blocking their every move coming directly toward her and from behind. Her mind was repeating that she would have to stab them in the heart to kill them. She let one son of a Bacchae move close to her as she then pierced his chest with her Sais. She turned quickly to target and stab another son of a Bacchae with the Sais gripped in her other hand. Both Bacchae stepped backward before flying against the cave wall and vanishing.
Xena had flipped her sword under her arm and run it through the chest of a son of a Bacchae behind her. Turning her sword back to the front she jabbed two more son's of a Bacchae in the sternum. Xena gave a twist on the handle of her sword that insured the blade pierced the heart. All three son's of a Bacchae did as those Gabrielle had stabbed and vanished into thin air. The cave returned to silence.
Both Xena and Gabrielle stood carefully looking all around and walking slowly passed the large opening to a narrower tunnel part of the cave. Xena was very clever to have attached the Dryad bones on their weapons rather than try to kill the son's of Bacchae's with just the bones. They were large and strong with a frightful resemblance to Bacchus. Horns protruding from their heads, strange bulging yellow eyes and large white fangs that had a bite me appearance that sent chills of fear over Gabrielle's spine.
Xena stepped to the side of an opening that looked like it led to another room of this very eerie cave pad. In a very quiet whisper Gabrielle asked, "do you think this is the main room?"
Xena turned and gently placed her long arm over Gabrielle's shoulder, leaning over to softly say "this could be fast and deadly Gabrielle. I don't know how many son's of a Bacchae there are but this is the main room of terror. If ever there was a time to turn back it's now."
"Xena, I'm not going anywhere. Shouldn't we go back out and wait for Joxer. If he just plays the lyre we'll have a better chance."
Xena had a combined look of concern and sadness as she peered right into Gabrielle's eyes. "There isn't time to wait on Joxer. That woman in the entrance was fleeing because the ritual to intoxicate them with the blood of the Bacchae is tonight. Once they drink the wine of Bacchus' offsprings they will succumb to them and it will be too late. I'm not about to let the bloodsucking son's of a Bacchae take those women."
"Then I'm with you Xena!" Gabrielle exclaimed as she placed her arm around Xena and they embraced with reassurance to each other.
Xena then threw her whole body forward to run into the larger open room and shouted her famous yell again, "Yi Yi Yi YiYi Ha!" Gabrielle was running right behind her and had both her Sais ready. Almost as if coming out of the cave walls, the son's of Bacchae began to attack.
Xena had her sword flying left and right as she pierced and slashed several attacking son's of a Bacchae. They were hitting the cave walls and dissappearing one and two at a time. Gabrielle had run her Sais through two that faced her and one that had attacked from her rear. One of the son's of a Bacchae landed a sword that knocked one of Gabrielle's Sais from her hand. She continued to block two more attacks with only the Sais in her left hand.
Xena screamed, "your boot Gabrielle, your boot!"
Gabrielle grabbed the sharpened bone from her right boot and used it for her two-handed defense. She continued to lunge forward with the bone in one hand and her bone covered Sais in the other. Gabrielle placed her mark directly into the chest of the son of a Bacchae as they kept coming at her.
Xena grabbed one of the knife sharp bones from her boot, threw it dead center in the chest of a son of a Bacchae saying, "Oooh that's gotta hurt." A son of a Bacchae headed toward her left side and knocked Xena's sword from her hand. The sword fell out of Xena's reach as she grabbed the second knife sharp bone in her boot and continued to pierce the attackers who now surrounded her.
Gabrielle had thrown the bone she retrieved from her boot as well to take out the nearest son of a Bacchae and had already grabbed the last one from her other boot. Out of the corner of her eye Gabrielle saw Xena caught by a son of a Bacchae's sword that gashed her thigh wide open. Xena fell to one knee.
Quickly Gabrielle threw the last Dryad bone at a son of a Bacchae heading toward Xena. Even down on one knee now, Xena forcefully jabbed her last Dryad bone into an attacker. Gabrielle had one remaining Sais in her hand with the Dryad bone on the end. Xena was able to stand as she threw her last sharpened bone to take out a son of a Bacchae whose sword was raised to Gabrielle's back. Without any weapon within reach, a son of a Bacchae sliced Xena's forearm with his sword and began to move in close for the kill. Gabrielle screamed, "Xena ! No! No!" and she threw her only remaining weapon directly into the chest of the son of a Bacchae saving Xena once more.
Gabrielle ran toward Xena with two more son's of a Bacchae close behind her. Several attackers were now headed toward them both. "Lets go! Lets go!" screamed Gabrielle as Xena dropped down to one knee again. The gushing flow of blood from her leg gash had made her weak. The son's of a Bacchae, several in number, now surrounded them and raised their swords high into the air.
Suddenly, a very high pitched twang of disorganized notes from the strings of a lyre were heard. The son's of a Bacchae stopped their forward motion and their swords froze in place. It was the Amazon/Bard who grabbed Xena's sword lying on the ground a few steps away. In a furious rage, Gabrielle penetrated the hearts of all the remaining sons' of a Bacchae with Xena's sword. They began to fly one by one against the rock cave wall and disappear.
Xena raised both eyebrows in amazement as Gabrielle ran to her, embraced her tightly and strongly helped her up. The sounds of the lyre notes came closer and as were irritating and painful to the ears. Walking into the large room of terror was Joxer plucking away on a child looking instrument. It was a very crude lyre and the notes were all shrill and flat with an abstract sound.
"Hi Xena! Hi Gabrielle!" Joxer said with a smile. "Gee, you guys don't look so good. This place is frightful. There are tunnels going every which way in this cave. One room over there is full of some lovely ladies in chains. I told them I would be back for them ha, ha, (grin)" Joxer said as once again he gave that look and wide smile to Gabrielle. He kept plucking out the irritating notes and would strum the strings to give off a very uncultured chord.
" Joxer, just keep playing and don't' stop," Xena said as she leaned on Gabrielle. "We need to make sure we've got them all."
"Xena stop…let me look at your leg. It's bleeding bad, please sit down here" Gabrielle asked as she helped Xena to sit at the rooms entrance. Gabrielle stepped to Joxer and yanked a scarf from around his neck. She pulled it tightly into her hands and turned it to make a tourniquet.
"Oh Gabrielle, what strong hands you have" Joxer exclaimed in surprise. "I only know how to play three chords and the scales on this thing. I think we're going to need a better lyre and a real musician."
Gabrielle took the scarf and tightly wrapped Xena's thigh wound and again helped her stand. Xena approached Joxer and said, "You saved us both today Joxer. We'll get you the grandest lyre of all. First, show us those women in chains and by the gods don't stop playing that thing."
The trio found the large room where the women had been shackled and were awaiting the son's of a Bacchae. They were shaking in fear expecting to be forced to drink Bacchae blood and then be taken completely by the son's of a Bacchae. The third woman released from her shackles spoke up to say, "thank you…thank you." After she sighed in relief for her safety she added, "those chords are awful and out of tune!" She walked over to Joxer who gave her that look (yes.., that look) and a wide smile.
The woman told him "I play a lyre myself. I can be of help to teach you." Another woman, after being freed also explained she played a harpsichord while another said she pounded some mean drum rhythms.
"Well, you all seem to have a regular band among you," Gabrielle noted as she was pleased that Joxer's eye had caught the older woman who played a lyre as well.
After searching all the tunnels, rooms and cave thoroughly, Xena was confident that she and Gabrielle had killed all the son's of a Bacchae. The women had returned to their village and rejoined the Lebanese. They got along extremely well since the man loving women were accepting and tolerant of the Lebanese customs.
The woman appearing in her sixties by age had taken her own very grand golden lyre and joined Joxer in the cave. She showed Joxer a few nice chords and they continued to play together and insure the safety of the forest.
With night all around and a full moon, Xena and Gabrielle decided to stay on for the evening festival to celebrate the victory and safety of the forest again. After Gabrielle gently cleaned and attended Xena's wounds they agreed to join the party being held in the large room of terror at the cave.
They listened to the man loving women combine their instruments for some really good rock tunes. Every now and then Gabrielle would kind of jerk her body with an urge to dance. She looked up into Xena's lovely blue eyes but they weren't showing any sign of wanting to dance. Gabrielle felt a little disappointed but understood Xena's leg was probably bothering her.
Xena turned to tell Gabrielle, "Joxer will be happy here. He's now the only man in the forest with all these women. They will care for him because he's their protector now as long as he plays that silly lyre of his."
"Xena" Gabrielle interrupted, "You planned Joxer to replace Orpheus all along and be useful to these women, didn't you?"
Xena gave Gabrielle a quick warrior smirk and continued by saying, "Gabrielle, Joxer has no need to give you that look anymore. He is happy now and the Lebanese women are safe. Never should a son of a Bacchae invade any women again."
After a pause, Xena placed her arm across Gabrielle's shoulder. With a seductive look in her eyes now, Xena told Gabrielle that all the Lebanese women had gone outside to walk in the moonlight. She commented that the customs one of the Lebanese told her about were very interesting. Surprisingly, Xena then said, "Shall we go walking Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle was stunned at Xena wanting to leave the cave before the women were finished playing their music. There was still a lot of food at the celebration to share. "I'm tired," Xena continued "the Lebanese women have set up our camp. C'mon let's go!"
Xena turned and walking with only a slight limp, she headed for the caves exit. Gabrielle began to let her hopes rise that Xena appeared more anxious than usual to get to camp.
The clouds from earlier that day had all passed and the fog was gone completely. The night was bright from the full moon and the music from the cave flowed smoothly in the night breeze. Lying next to Xena, Gabrielle sank into a feeling of relief and tranquillity. As the music sounded slower and softer, Gabrielle thought she was hearing a love ballad.
Xena rolled on her side facing Gabrielle and soft as the voice of an angel began to sing and gently stroke Gabrielle's face.
~ ~ I want your soul
I'll give you what you need to be
I'll keep you warm against the cold night air
Just one kiss is what you need right now
Just one kiss and I will show you how ~ ~
Gabrielle's emotions swelled inside at Xena's lovely voice, the lyrics and her touch. A small tear rolled slowly down her cheek. She turned on her side & spoke in a whisper to Xena, "You serenade beautifully."
Xena became silent as she placed her forefinger over Gabrielle's lips, speaking quiet still she said, "Gabrielle, I want you to do something. Close your eyes…close them tightly and think of me."
With that, Gabrielle felt herself melt into Xena's strong arms. Xena held her tightly against her bosom and passionately kissed her.
The celebration had ended when Xena and Gabrielle's lips finally pressed together tightly. Only the sound of two lyres playing together with an occasional sour note was heard in the forest.
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