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The Mountain

by Wishes

Xena and Gabrielle were walking through a pass in the mountains of Thessaly. Xena was leading Argo. They heard a familiar voice and looked around. "Oh, no," Gabrielle sighed. "It couldn't be, not here. . . ."

"I'm afraid it is," answered Xena.

They heard the shout again. "Hey, Xena. Hey, Gabby!"

Together Xena and Gabrielle said, "JOXER!"

"Hey, Xena and Gabby, up HERE!"

The two friends looked up, as did Argo. All, including Argo, gave a small shudder. There, far above them, on the highest peak of a rocky mountain was. . . .JOXER.

"Xena, Gabby, COME UP HERE!" he yelled. "Hurry."

Xena and Gabrielle (and Argo) looked at each other. They started to walk on.

"No, guys, come on. This is IMPORTANT!" Joxer screamed. Xena and Gabrielle could hear the urgency in his voice. Argo, having the attention span of a . . . .well, of a horse. . . .had stopped listening.

Gabrielle looked at Xena questioningly. Xena shrugged.

"We'll be right up, Joxer," Gabrielle shouted. Then she mumbled to herself, "This had better be good."

Leaving Argo, who had found some tender grass and a delicious purple flower to munch on, Xena and Gabrielle started the steep and difficult ascent. About a third of the way up, they found an ambush laid by a group of hooded bandits. There was much slashing and bashing. Although the bandits were finally defeated, Xena and Gabrielle collected an assortment of bumps and bruises in the fight.

"Hey, you two," they heard Joxer yell. "Will you HURRY and get up here?"

The way up the mountain became even steeper, and Xena and Gabrielle struggled on. They didn't get very far before Xena heard a deep growl that turned into a threatening rumble. She looked accusingly at Gabrielle, who shook her head. Just then, a fierce lion leaped out from behind a boulder and jumped on Gabrielle's back. Xena fought valiantly and finally slew the lion with her sword. Both she and Gabrielle added many deep scratches and bites to their bumps and bruises.

They heard a heart wrenching scream from above. "Xena! Get up here right now! Gabrielle. . . .!"

Binding their cuts with what small bits of material Gabrielle's top and skirt could still spare, Xena and Gabrielle scrambled up the ever-steeper mountainside. Just before they reached the top, a golden eagle, crying its defiance to the wind, dropped down from the sky and grabbed Gabrielle in its talons. Xena let go of the cliff with one hand and threw her chakram at the eagle. As the eagle dodged, it dropped Gabrielle. Xena made a desperate lunge and caught Gabrielle. Both of them tumbled down the mountain side until Xena was able to grab an old tree root and stop their fall.

From up above came the frantic call, "Please, please, come up here!"

With their final bit of energy, and trying to protect the broken bones they had added to the deep scratches and bites and bumps and bruises, Xena and Gabrielle struggled the rest of the way up the mountain.

Xena climbed to the summit and helped Gabrielle stand up beside her. They turned to see Joxer standing at the edge, jumping up and down and pointing out over the next valley.

They walked over to Joxer just in time to hear him say, "Look, guys, you can see my house from here!"

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