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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2

CHAPTER #52 ----- SCAPEGOAT

H = 17, X = 18


"Iíll stay with you two," Joxer said with a big grin on his face. "You know, just in case you need protection."

Gabrielle chuckled. "Since when does *Xena* need protection?"

"Since now," Joxer raised his chin proudly. Gabrielle rolled her eyes and walked over to Xena.

"What now?" the bard asked.

"Weíre going to continue to do what we came to do," Xena answered quickly.

"Weíre going to see Solan."

"Who is this Solan guy anyway?" Joxer asked, walking up from behind the two women.

Xena took a deep breath to keep her from killing him. "Heís someone I need to see now."

"Is he your son?" the clumsy man asked casually. Xena stopped abruptly.

"Joxer, Iím going to send you to the other road if you donít keep your mouth shut!" Xena said impatiently. Joxer raised his hands as if in defeat.

"Alright! I got it!" he said, still watching Gabrielle.

The day crept by, and they only stopped to rest and to eat. They pressed on over the hills and saw their destination in a valley.

"I wonder how heíll react to seeing me," Xena thought out loud.

"He loves you, Xena. He trusts you, and youíre his friend. Heíll be happy to see you," Gabrielle said quietly. She smiled at her friend.

Xena gave a small smile back and nodded doubtfully.

They were almost over the hills when Joxer called for them to take a rest.

"Joxer, we just took one five minutes ago!" Gabrielle said through clenched teeth.

"I know, I know, but I have something to ask you, Gabrielle," Joxer said. Gabrielle stopped short and Xena turned around, raising an eyebrow. Gabrielle walked slowly over to Joxer.

"Gabrielle," Joxer pulled out a flower from his shirt and got down on one knee, taking off his helmet. "Will you marry me?" he asked. Gabrielleís jaw dropped.

"Joxer... I... I..." Gabrielle continued to stutter.

"Take as long as you want to answer the question, my dear," Joxer said, smiling. He still held the flower.

Gabrielle looked at Xena. Xena looked at Joxer. Joxer looked at the flower. Thatís when Xena saw the flower.

"Joxer!" she screamed. "Where did you get that?"

"I picked it from a field, why?" Joxer asked innocently.

"Thatís what Autolycus was accused for taking! Demeterís narcissus flower!" Xena said quickly.

"What?" Joxer said, disbelieving.

Just then, a man ran down the road, out of breath.

"Are you... Xena?" he asked. Xena nodded, motioning for the man to sit down on a nearby boulder. He did.

"Itís Autolycus... the King of Thieves... he told me to send out messages about his death... he died by the evilest god of them all," the man said.

"Who?" Gabrielle asked, stunned by the both menísí recent news.

"Zeus. Autolycus claims that he didnít take Demeterís narcissus flower, but the god Hermes says otherwise. Zeus believed Hermes, and now Autolycus is dead!" the man cried, his voice cracking.

"You are?" Xena prompted the introduction, narrowing her eyes.

"Iím Phileis, the messenger of Athens," the man said.

Joxer still stared at his flower. He felt incredibly guilty.

"Hey! Thatísó" the man caught sight of the flower in Joxerís hand.

"No! Thatís a narcissus from a florist named... uh... Salmoneus," Gabrielle said. Xena nodded at the quick thinking.

Phileis narrowed his eyes. "Let me take a look," he said as he walked over to Joxer.

"Iím leaving," Joxer suddenly stood up. The other three were surprised.

"I took it, but I didnít know that it was the goddessí! I took it because... I love Gabrielle, and I wanted her to think I was tough and..." he looked at the ground.

"Joxer, weíll help youó" Gabrielle started.

"No, Gabrielle. Iíll be back soon. I have to go to Zeus and turn myself in," Joxer said. Xena raised her eyebrows. Then she made a decision.

"Gabrielle, you go with Joxer, and Iíll go to Hades and ask him to return Autolycus," Xena instructed. Gabrielle nodded. She was worried about Xena going alone to Hades - again. They parted soon and went their separate ways. Phileis was left there, in their dust.

He watched them as they walked out of sight. Then he laughed evilly and turned into a man with wings on his heels. He laughed again.

"Stupid mortals," he said, casually flying into the sky.

THE END