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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2

CHAPTER #26 ----- HELPING THE KING OF THIEVES

H = 21 & 22 & 23, X = 18 & 16


Xena sighed and nodded. "Iíll help the King of Thieves," she agreed. "Sh! I donít want this getting around. I would like to take claim for stealing godly stuff, but flowers? I donít think so!" Autolycus grinned, his thumbs in his belt.

"Pack up your things. We have to get out of these woods immediately," Xena instructed.

Gabrielle started to grab her staff when Joxer stood in her way. "I am obliged to help you," Joxer said, handing her the staff.

"Move!" Gabrielle shoved him out of her path and caught her staff. Joxer kneeled over, groaning.

"Hey! Xena!" Joxer shouted after he stood up. Xena glared at the clumsy man.

"Keep your voice down!" the warrior hissed.

"Oh! Sorry!" Joxer began whispering. "Why are we helping this guy? I mean, Iíve heard his reputation and everything, so why canít he help himself? He says he didnít do it, but I know that..."

"Shut up!" the other three whispered loudly. Joxer looked sheepish.

The journey went on for a few days, and the four travelers only stopped for short naps and food. Their destination was Mount Olympus.

As they crossed the rolling plain, Autolycus stopped and stared at the huge majestic mountain.

Mount Olympus towered above the other mountains, making them look like tiny hills in comparison.

Xena waited for Autolycus as Gabrielle and Joxer kept walking, eager to get to the mountain.

"What is it?" Xena asked the man, getting off Argo.

"Iím almost scared, Xena. This wonít be easy, trying to convince the gods of something I didnít do. I respect the gods and all...at least most of them...but this ridiculous! How do I prove myself innocent?" Autolycus threw his hands in the air.

"I think that you should tell them exactly what you just told me. I think at least a few gods will respect you for it," Xena said as she started down the small hill.

"A couple isnít good enough, Xena!" Autolycus called after the Warrior Princess. "Think how I feel! What if you were put on trial for your crimes? This is where everything could backfire," the King of Thieves actually appeared worried.

Xena stood still, her back to Autolycus.

Before the sun had set that day, they were climbing the huge mountain. There was a cave that led all the way to the top, but there had been an avalanche that had closed the hole up.

Xena tied Argo to a tree and walked over to Joxer.

"I think that itís best for you to stay here," she said to the klutz.

"No way!" Joxer argued. "I want to... to help!"

Xena narrowed her eyes, raised and eyebrow, and then left the conversation. She approached Gabrielle.

"Can you believe it? Weíre actually at Mount Olympus, the home of the gods and goddesses. All except, of course, Hephestus, which is a different story," Gabrielle said quickly. She was overwhelmed. "You know, of all the fights weíve been in, Iím surprised we havenít come to Mount Olympus to argue with the gods before this," the bard pointed out.

"Iíd rather not become embroiled in godly affairs," Xena chuckled.

"We have before. Hades has been helped a lot by you - rescuing Death and bringing that murderer back to Hades. Then thereís Morpheus - now he got a run for his..." Gabrielle was interrupted.

"Hey! Are we going sometime soon? Like this lifetime?" Autolycus shouted, already starting up the mountain. Gabrielle grinned.

"He is so charming!" the bard turned red as Xena laughed at her comment. The climb up the mountain was a hard one. They were halfway up in about a half hour.

"Ah!" Joxer whined, pulling a piece of his armor off the rock which it got caught on.

"What now?" Autolycus sighed.

"It got smashed!" the klutz complained.

"What did?" Gabrielle asked curiously.

"Uh... my water bottle," Joxer covered up.

"Why did you bring water? I told you to leave everything behind!" Xena scolded breathlessly, still climbing.

"Hey! I have a bad bladder! I have to drink a lot of water!" Joxer said.

"Yeah, right, like waterís really healthy for you! And one day theyíre gonna tell you to drink eight mugs a day!" Autolycus chuckled, looking for a sturdy rock to grip while rolling his eyes. Xena smirked.

When they reached the top, Autolycus was amazed at the glamour that the gods lived under.

"Holy..." the King of Thieves spun around slowly, taking all the glitter in.

"Stop right there, thief!" Zeus appeared in flowing purple robes. Autolycusí eyes went wide.

"Xena, I see that you have come to help Autolycus. There will be no trial. Put forth your statement," the king of the gods said.

Gabrielle frowned. "Thatís not fair. You have to give anyone accused a fair trial," she argued.

"Little girl, I donít have to do anything," Zeusí eyes flashed. Gabrielle smiled sheepishly towards Xena. Xena pursed her lips and exhaled slowly. "Autolycus did not take that flower," Xena began.

"Do you know where he was at the time of the crime?" Hermes spoke up, appearing behind Zeus.

"I know where he was. He was in the fields - picking flowers. Actually, only one! A Narcissus," Hermes folded his arms together. "I had to deliver Persephone a message from her husband. She wasnít home, so I went to the fields looking for her."

Zeus frowned and sighed. "We have a witness. Go strap him down," Zeus pointed to a razor sharp execution object.

The Furies appeared, and strapped the king of thieves down to the chair. His head was placed on a stool and a razor blade was raised four feet directly over his head.

He cringed as they strapped his hands together.

"Take off his shirt so that he canít perform any... tricks..." Zeus ordered. The Furies obeyed and then reached down to tie his feet together.

"Any last words?" the king of the gods asked Autolycus as Zeus picked up Autolycusí shirt.

"Yeah. I didnít take that flower," Autolycus said sincerely.

"Where did you put it?" Zeus asked, searching through Autolycusí shirt, coming up empty handed.

"Iím telling you, I didnít..." the king of thieves got impatient and gave up on his statement. He looked at Xena.

"Xena, do me a favor. Never stop looking for the real thief," Autolycus sighed as the Furies prepared the blade.

"Zeus, you canít do this," Xena said calmly.

"Real convincing, Xena," Autolycus urged.

Zeus nodded for the blade to be released.

"No!" Gabrielle screamed. She threw her staff at the Furies, knocking them out of the way. That only made them let go of the rope holding up the blade. Xenaís eyes went wide open and she flung her chakrum at the stool.

The legs were broken off by the boomerang-like weapon and Autolycus jolted back upright right before the blade came flying down. He gasped for breath.

"Talk about help at the last minute!" he said hoarsely. "Xena!" Zeus called from a few yards away. "I thought you believed in justice! This is justice!"

Xena shook her head. "This isnít justice. This is acting on whatever the god of messengers tells you!" she accused.

Hermes acted like he was shocked.

"Tell us, Hermes, who did you actually see at the field? Or were you never really there? Are you still mad at Autolycus for winning the messenger race years ago when you were children?" Xena hissed. Hermesí eyes went wide as he prepared to act defensively. Zeus held up his hand for silence. Zeus used his godly powers to fix the execution object and to prepare the Furies again.

"Letís try it again," Zeus said under his breath. He nodded for the blade to be released.

"Wait!" Joxer shouted. Everything was paused. Everyone stared at him. "I took it. I took the flower. I wanted to impress Gabrielle..." Joxer looked at Gabrielle. She was truly shocked.

"I like Gabrielle. I like her a lot... and I wish that sheíd exchange the feeling," Joxer explained. He pulled a yellow and white flower out of his pocket. "Iím sorry I put everyone in so much danger," Joxer apologized.

Everyone was too shocked to speak.

Demeter suddenly appeared. She cut Autolycus free and then turned to Joxer. Snatching the flower out of his hand, she scowled. "You! How could you..." the goddess of the harvest yelled to the man as her daughter appeared.

"Mother! I think itís cute! That is so brave of him to do something like that! Youíre always complaining that you wish more men were like that, so there you go," Persephone looked at Joxer kindly. Joxer blushed.

Demeter nodded as Persephone walked over to Zeus and whispered something in his ear. He nodded.

"Autolycus and Joxer are free to go. Goodbye, everyone," Zeus disappeared along with Demeter and Persephone.

"Heís embarrassed that he believed you," Xena stared at Hermes. Hermes scowled and disappeared with the Furies.

Joxer went over to Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, I have to tell you something. You have to take me seriously when I say this, too."

"What is it?" Gabrielle asked, her heart racing.

"I love you, Gabrielle, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you," Joxer knelt on one knee. "I got a chance once to see how you would act towards me if you loved me, and I wish that I could see that again."

Gabrielle looked at Xena. Xena had both eyebrows raised. Autolycus had his hands on his hips, grinning.

"Itís gonna be a lonnnggg way down the mountain," the king of thieves laughed.

THE END