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Of Might And Magic

by Kirsten Massey

It was a cool autumn evening when Xena and Gabrielle came up on a nice sized, house made of cut stone and glass windows. With a wooden barn off to the right of the house. Around the house is a small stone wall not unlike the stones used on the house and an iron gate with a path leading to the front of the house.

"I wonder who lives here?" Asked Gabrielle, eyes gleaming. "I am not sure." replied Xena, skeptically. "I know that we should not do this but do you think that if we ask nicely they will let us stay the night in the barn? My back hurts from sleeping on the ground and it would do you some good too."

"No Gabrielle", stated Xena "there is a town not far from here." "Come on Xena, this would be good for us. Maybe some warm food. Even Argo could use a rest." At that Argo whinny's as if in agreeance with what Gabrielle says.

"Okay Gabrielle", stated Xena, with a look of frustration in her eyes "we can stop and ask. But if they say no then we keep going a little bit longer and stay at the inn." "Okay." Gabrielle said with a smile as they approached the door a statuesque blonde woman comes out of the barn with a tabby cat in her arms "Can I help you travelers?" she inquired.

"Yes you can" responded Xena, "My friend and I were wondering if we could stay in your barn for the night as we have been traveling and are very tired." "Certainly, you may stay the night but not in the barn. There is plenty of room in the house for you and your friend to stay. Why not go inside and make yourselves comfortable. I will see to the horse." the woman replied.

"No, that is okay I will see to my horse," replied Xena "she does not like just anyone to handle her." "Oh it is no problem." she said "I am very good with animals you see. It is a gift I have." "Hey, Xena, let her try to deal with Argo!" then to the woman, "Don't say she didn't tell you so, you should listen to her."

Xena dismounts Argo and hands the reigns to the lady, "Here ya go." She watches in amazement as her beloved steed seems to be very comfortable following this strange woman. "Come now Argo," the woman said, "I have some oats and some nice dry hay and if you are particularly good I will give you some fruit."

Minutes later the woman emerges from the stable with a pleasing smile on her face. "How did you do that?" Queried Xena, "Argo never does that for anyone save Gabrielle and myself." "Just exactly who in Hades are you?", interrupted Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, that was not very nice!" then to the woman, "I must apologize for my companions rash words. She sometimes says things without thinking." Xena sends Gabrielle the look.

"No harm done, she is young. To answer your question young one, I am Circe." she said, "and you, are my guests if you still need the rest. I promise not to harm you or your companions Xena." `Circe, why does that name sound familiar to me?' thought Xena as she looked at the young woman.

"Come inside, rest a while and eat. I started a pot of stew earlier as I was expecting an old friend for dinner. It should be ready now." Circe said absentmindedly then to the cat, "Now Sophia, you go and find yourself that mouse that you were chasing earlier." As if in response to her mistress telling her that the cat meows twice and goes about its business.

Circe goes to stir the fire and make sure that it is going strong to heat the stew. "What sort of stew is it? It smells great" said Gabrielle. "Rabbit if I am not mistaken. My mother used to make it for us all the time when Lyceus and I were little" replies Xena and she looks fondly at the fire, remembering her and Lyceus hunting together, "But that was a long time ago." "You are right Xena, it is rabbit stew." replied Circe with a smile.

Suddenly Xena looks at the door, expecting trouble. The door opens to a tall shadowy figure standing there, Xena's sword comes out of its scabbard. As the shadowy figure emerges into the light of the house Xena recognizes Hercules and lets the sword drop to the ground.

"What in Hades are you doing here?" the two say in unison, then they laugh and embrace. "Xena, I wish you would not have done that." responded Circe, "No one comes here without my knowing it. You have nothing to fear. I know that your enemies are many but they will not find you here."

"Circe, my old friend" said Hercules, walking up to the young woman and embracing her "how are you? It has been too long since we last saw each other. I was confused when I got your message and arrived as soon as I could, what did you want?" he asked.

"First sit and eat my friend and I will tell you all my little story and why I asked you here Hercules." Hercules turns to Xena "I did not know that you knew Circe?" "I don't" Xena responded " Gabrielle and I were just walking along and came upon this house and Gabrielle wanted to see if we could stay the night."

"She is really weird I mean it is like she was talking to Argo and he seemed to understand her and talk back to her. He even followed her into the barn without so much of a whinny." interrupted Gabrielle.

"At any rate" Continued Xena, " she said that we could stay the night and that she had been expecting an old friend for dinner." "All right everyone, food is ready." Circe places four bowls on the table and fills them with the stew. "Eat, eat, then we will talk." she says as walking to the front door, "I will go check on the animals and see that they are warm."

As Circe walks out of the door Xena looks at Herc and says "What is it that she called you for? She said nothing to us." "I am not sure," replied Hercules, "she just sent a messenger to get me and said that she needed my help." "Herc, why does her name sound so familiar to me? I can't place it but I have heard that name once before." stated Xena. "Well she is a sorceress and I have known her for a few years now." replied Herc "she knew Dainera, when she was a child."

"If she is a sorceress," Gabrielle asked, "then why does she need your help Hercules?" "I can't figure that part out." he replied. Meanwhile in the yard, Circe is surrounded by three men, a fourth is standing in the entrance to the barn.

"What do you want here?" she asked. "You know what we want old woman!" said a fourth man, "you were wise to call the demigod here as he is the only one that can protect you. From me!" he said and then broke into an evil laugh. "I need no protection from you or anyone!" sneered Circe.

Looking at the three young boys surrounding her she conjures up a fireball and throws it at the youth closest to her. "Take that you worthless son of a sea serpent!" The fireball hits the young boy and he shrieks in pain.

"What was that?" Xena and Herc ask in unison as they jump for the door. Gabrielle grabs her staff "All right!" she says "a fight! I could use the practice." The three leave the house and head to yard only to see a flash of light erupt from the end of her staff, almost like a spotlight shining at the third young boy as he flees into the night. "And don't come back!" shouts Circe.

"Circe, are you okay?" Asks Hercules. "Oh, yes I am fine." she replied, "It was just a bunch of kids trying to make mischief. Nothing to worry about." She paused as if not knowing how to finish, "It is their leader that I am having problems with. He is the reason I asked you here." "What on earth is this all about?" Xena asked inquiringly "what did they want?" "Come inside, rest and eat we will talk in the morning." She said, then turned to Herc and whispered "I am not as young as I used to be."

The rest of the evening goes without a problem as her guests sit around the fire. "I have four extra rooms here you are welcome to use any of them." Circe says "I am off to bed myself. It has been a long day for me. Good night." She walks over to Herc "Good night old friend I will see you in the morning." with that said Circe walks to the end of the house and goes in the door.

"Well, I am going to go to bed myself," says Gabrielle, looking intently at Xena, "are you coming?" "Not yet," replies Xena, "I am not tired and I want to know more about Circe." Gabrielle wanders off to the room next to Circe's room and starts getting ready for bed. Xena and Hercules start to talk about Circe.

From Circe's room Gabrielle hears two muffled voices. Not able to make them out she goes to the wall and listens. "Why are you having him help us?" The voice asks spitefully. "I need his help to protect them," replies Circe, "I can't do it myself this time. The young bard," continues Circe as if talking to herself, "she will be able to get near to them." "But what if she can't get near them?" says the voice.

"She will have to, she has a sense of purity in her and you know as well as I do that only one of pure heart can get near them." Circe says with a sound of urgency in her voice. "I hope that you are right." the other voice says, "if you are not then all is lost and you have failed." "Why are you so condescending of this matter?" Circe asked the voice. "One of us has to be. You still care for him don't you?" questioned the voice. "That has nothing to do with why he is here and you know it." replied Circe.

Gabrielle goes out of the room and heads towards the main room to tell Xena what she has heard. On her way to the main room she sees Xena and Herc talking. "So what is it about Circe that she would need your help" asks Xena "she seems to be able to take care of herself." "I don't know if I should tell you this," replies Hercules, "but, Circe was given a task by Zeus to protect a certain animal."

End Part I

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