Page last updated: January 1, 2005
Xena walked around the marketplace. There was no sign of Gabrielle, so she decided it was time to start asking around. She went to the first likely place that Gabrielle would have gone to and gave her friend's description.
"She's about this high, red hair down to here, blue-green eyes, and she haggles like a miser."
The man shuffled a few blank scrolls around and resettled the quills in their canister.
"Yeah, I remember her. Gave her a good deal on some scrolls. Why, you lookin' to buy some? I got 'em real cheap and you won't find better quality for miles."
"No, I don't write. Did you happen to see where she went to?"
"Yeah, I seen her headed back to town, but then those girls came up and took her off to the temple. Didn't know she was a priestess. She certainly didn't look like one in them clothes, but I guess her bein' one of Aphrodite's makes sense."
The man leered, but Xena was too busy cursing Gabrielle's penchant for trouble to notice. She started jogging in the direction the seller had pointed in and came up to the temple steps in only a few minutes. She walked inside and a young girl offered her assistance.
"Welcome to the temple of Aphrodite. Priestess Daphne has just returned from her pilgrimage to the main temple in Athens and will be available for counsel again shortly. Is there something I can help you with?"
"I'm looking for a friend. She was brought in here an hour or so ago. Her name is Gabrielle and she's about this tall and has red hair and blue-green eyes and..."
"I'm sorry, the only one around here who fits that description is the priestess herself. Perhaps you'd like to wait to speak with her?"
Xena scowled. She really didn't want to talk to any priestesses. But maybe the priestess would have a better idea of where Gabrielle had been taken.
"All right. How soon will she be back?"
"She should be here in just a few..."
A door at the back of the temple opened and Xena looked up to see Gabrielle walking through it. She strode purposely forward.
"What happened this time?" Xena asked impatiently.
"Come on. You can tell me later. We might as well go and get an early dinner and then stay at that inn. We can leave first thing in the morning."
Xena turned and started walking back to the main doors, but she stopped when she didn't hear Gabrielle's footsteps behind her.
"What's wrong? Come on. And what are you wearing?"
Suddenly, Xena had a sinking feeling at the look of confusion on her friend's face.
"These are the traditional robes of a High Priestess of Aphrodite. And who are you?"
The door was pushed open further and a duplicate of the woman standing in front of her spoke before Xena could answer.
"That's Xena, the woman I was telling you about."
Gabrielle stepped around in front of Daphne and tried to smile up at her warrior friend.
"Sorry. They thought I was Priestess Daphne and carted me off before I could do anything about it." Gabrielle turned back to the priestess. "Priestess Daphne, meet Xena, Warrior Princess. Xena, this is Daphne, High Priestess to Aphrodite."
Xena scowled on the outside, but she was smirking on the inside. Her look-alikes were a princess and a prostitute. It seemed fitting that Gabrielle's be a priestess, but she wasn't quite sure what to make of it being one of Aphrodite's.
"It's nice to meet you. Aphrodite must have sent you as well," the Priestess greeted the warrior in an exact duplicate of Gabrielle's voice.
Xena looked to the bard for an explanation.
"One of Aphrodite's matches seems to be in danger of being broken up and she's decreed that all love will be removed from the world if that happens. Daphne believes we were sent by Aphrodite to help."
Gabrielle looked at her with an innocent expression firmly in place.
"Do you remember what we went through when Bliss got loose with Cupid's arrows? That was only her grandson. And what about what she did to Joxer when she thought a few of her temples were going to be taken down? Why should we help her?"
"We wouldn't be helping Aphrodite. Not really. We'd be helping to keep true love alive."
"And how are we suppose to do that? If they don't want to be together anymore, I can't just hold them at swordpoint and tell them to stay in love. Love can't be forced. At least, not true love."
"You're right," said Daphne. It was very strange carrying on a conversation with her friend and someone who looked so much like her. "True love is a sacred thing that must be protected and cherished above all others. Princess Calandria and Jason truly love each other, but the King hopes to marry his daughter to someone higher born than Jason, who is just a blacksmith. I believe the goddess has set this test before us, so that we may learn how truly valuable love is and not waste it."
"And let me guess. Aphrodite has a personal interest in this because the boy is a smith? Like Hephaestus?"
"All love matters to the goddess," Daphne intoned.
Gabrielle looked at Xena again putting on her best pleading face. Xena frowned. She already knew she'd lost this argument. She couldn't just walk away and let love be taken from the world all on a goddess' whim. She didn't know what she could do about it, but she had to at least try.
"What kind of deadline are we working against?"
Xena noticed the smile that practically beamed on Gabrielle's face.
"All must be set right by the next full moon," Daphne told her.
"That gives us less than a week."
"Then I guess we should get to work. Right, Xena?" Gabrielle waited for her approval.
Xena grudgingly gave it with a nod of her dark head.
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