A Quest of a Different Color
A Skit by Vada Foster
Scene: Interior of the cottage of the "healer", high up in the frozen reaches of New Ze..., um ancient Greece. Xena's body lies on the bed, with Gabrielle grief stricken and prostrate on top of her.
G: Oh, Xena, why did you have to die? Why, why? (she sobs, and the tears splash on Xena's bosom.)
Healer: (who has been quietly rolling bandages in a corner during Gabrielle's wailing) Well, speaking strictly clinically, she had to die because her insides were all smooshed up by a great huge tree that....
G: (cutting him off, sharply) I wasn't talking to you, for Zeus' sake. I know all that stuff. What I don't know is why she picked this place to leave me. We're a million miles from anywhere in this Zeus forsaken frozen wasteland, and I have to get her back to Amphipolis, like I promised. How'm I supposed to do that, huh?
H: Hm.. Let me think. Here's a wild and crazy idea; how about the same way you got her up here?
G: Well, sure, yeah, I could do that. But it seems so...undignified do haul her around behind a horse like a big old sack of flour. She's a princess.
(In a corner, the Healer's cat has been grooming herself. Upon hearing the word "Princess", her head snaps up, and her blue eyes open wide. Xena is sharing the cats body.)
X: (spitting) Ptui. Cat hair. What I'd give for an opposable thumb right about now. (Looking around, she spots Gabrielle still prone on top of her body. She launches the cat into the air, intending to land at Gabrielle's feet, but over shoots and lands squarely between her legs.)
G: Arrrrgh! Get this beast off of me!
X: "Beast", am I. That's not what you said when we were making love in that hot spring a week or so ago. (The cat starts to purr and knead Gabrielle's behind.) No, come to think of it, you DID call me a beast then too.
H: (Grabs cat, and heaves her into a corner). Bad cat. No mice for you. (Xena wrinkles up the cats face in distaste.) Sorry. Princess doesn't have any manners.
G: (climbing down off of Xena). Oh, don't punish her. She's just a little wild; like another princess I know. Here, kitty kitty. (Princess strolls over and rubs herself against Gabrielle's ankles. She looks up at Gabrielle with big blue eyes, and Gabrielle's heart melts.) There's something familiar about this cat....
X: Yes, yes!! She recognizes me! Pick me up and cuddle me. (She turns up the intensity of the purr to overdrive. Gabrielle reaches down and scoops up the cat.)
G: Fluffy!! That's who she reminds me of. Best mouser in Poteidaia. I could tell you a story.....
X: (doing her best kitty groan) I hate when you call me Fluffy. We have no time to waste while you tell your pussy cat stories. We need to get some ambrosia into my body before it starts to...well, stink. (She taps her paw against the side of Gabrielle's face to get her attention.)
G: Aw, isn't that cute. I think this cat likes me.
H: That's more than I can say. (He shows her the scratches on his arm).
G: Would you mind if I took her with me? She'd be company on the long trek to Amphipolis.
H: Take her, with my blessings.
G: Thanks. (She starts packing up her belongings, getting ready to leave.) I don't suppose you know where I might be able to come by a nice sarcophagus to take Xena home in, do you?
H: Why, yes, as a matter of fact. There's a little shop just a few blocks away. I'm sure they can help you. Just turn right at the end of the road, and you'll see a strip mall. Can't miss it.
G: OK. Keep an eye on Xena till I get back, will you? (She walks out the door, with the cat draped around her shoulders.)
Fade to black
Fade in. Exterior. Gabrielle stands in front of a strip mall with several shops. One stands out from the others; it is painted Barbie pink, and multi-colored neon lights spell out the name "Sarcophagus's 'R Us" over the front door.
G: Wow. You'd have to be dead to miss this place. (She pushes open the door setting off a little bell. A feminine voice calls out from the back room:)
Voice: Be right with you! (Gabrielle walks around the room examining the sarcophagus's which are tastefully arranged.)
G: (calling back) No hurry! I'll just browse until you get here!
X: No hurry, hell. Get your ass out here. The clock's ticking. (The door to the back room opens, and a tall slender blonde woman walks out. Xena is trying to place her, when Gabrielle gasps in recognition.)
G: Miss Artifyce! What in the world are you doing selling coffins in the back of beyond?
A: (Studies Gabrielle, but does not recognize her) I beg your pardon, honey? Do I know you?
G: Sure. I had a turban on my head, and went by the title "Marquessa", and talked like this. (She uses an accent unrecognizable for any particular country but familiar to Miss Artifyce, who shrieks in delight and pounces on Gabrielle, planting air kisses on both cheeks.)
A: Oh, grrl, it's so GREAT to see you! Where is that tall gorgeous butch lover of yours?
X: Right here. You blind? (Gabrielle's smile falls off her face, and she sobs once or twice before recovering her composure.)
G: She...... she's.... d- d- dead. (Miss Artifyce puts her arms around a sobbing Gabrielle, and pats her back. She finds herself face to face with the cat, and it makes her sneeze.)
A: Achoo!.. Sorry (she sniffles). Allergies. Do you suppose we could lose the cat?
X: (arches her back and hisses) Not likely, sweetie. (Hooks her claws into Gabrielle's bilious green sports bra, and hangs on for dear life.)
G: Apparently not. I'll just keep her over here. (she takes a step or two away.)
A: Suit yourself. (she stares at the cat) You know, that cat reminds me of someone...
X: Agggh, no, not Fluffy again.
A: Those eyes are the color of Xena's. I'm so jealous; I'd sleep with Ares himself to have eyes that color.
X: I heard you had. Must have forgotten to ask about the eyes at the time, eh?
G: You're right. They are the color of Xena's eyes. Maybe that's why I love this ratty old cat so much. (The cat nips her on the ear.) Ow. Sorry. You're not ratty.
X: Yes, I am ratty. But I'm not old. Can we get on with it now? Tick, tick.
G: I need a sarcophagus to take Xena home in.
A: Oh, honey, we have the finest sarcophaguses in all of where ever this is. Let me show you some of our best models. Uh, I hate to be tacky, but about how much did you want to spend?
G: (digs out her coin purse, and pours out her entire wealth into her hand. Counts) 50 dinars.
A: Well, then, let's move over here to our economy models. (She gestures at a plain wooden box with no ornamentation). This is a nice simple, no frills box. Right within your price range, too.
G: But it's.... plain. This is the Warrior Princess we're talking about here.
A: Darling, this is 50 dinars we're talking about here, and it just doesn't.......(Gabrielle's lip starts to quiver, and tears well up in her eyes.) OK, OK, you're robbing me, but I think I can let you have this one. (She leads Gabrielle to a nice sarcophagus with armor on the top.) It was commissioned by an annoying blonde woman, but she never came back for it. She already paid for half of it, so you can have this one for what she still owes, which just happens to be 50 dinars.
G: Oh, Miss Artifyce, it's beautiful, it's......(she looks closer, and sees that the design on the armor on top is the same as Xena's)
A: Call me Bruce. Miss Artifyce is so formal.
G: All right... Bruce. But, tell me more about this annoying blonde.
A: (Shrugs) What can I tell you? One annoying blonde is about the same as the next. Oh, wait, I remember.. This one carried a portrait of Xena with a big red circle around her head, and a line drawn through her face. Do you suppose that means something?
X: Yes. It means she won't be coming back to complain. Buy it, Gabrielle.
G: We'll take it. Huh... (She looks around, wondering what prompted her to say "we".)
A: Shall I wrap it, or will you...... (slaps herself) Oh, how silly of me.
G: I'll be back for it with the horse in a little while.
A: OK. And Gabby (Gabrielle turns), keep your chin up. Ciao!
G: I will. Ciao! (she walks out of the shop mumbling, sotto voce), whatever THAT means.
Fade to black
Exterior - Gabrielle stands in front of another shop, this one painted black. The sign above the door reads "Widow's Weeds"
X: (still wrapped around Gabrielle's neck, she uses the cat's claws to effectively shred the bilious green sports bra.) I am really sick of this thing. Why don't you go on in there and pick up something new?
G: Princess! Look what you've done to my bilious green sports bra! Xena always loved this sports bra, you naughty cat!
X: I wish I could get into a person so I could tell you how much I did NOT love that sports bra!
G: Well, it looks like I am in the market for some new clothes, thanks to you, and I don't have any more dinars. What am I going to do?
(The door of the shop opens, and a woman emerges. She is wearing a pale leather warrior outfit, with a scabbard over her shoulder filled with scrolls. Feathers are twined in her black hair, and beaded leather strips. Her skin is brown, her cheekbones high, and her carriage is proud. She notices Gabrielle, and stops just short of colliding with her.)
Woman: Oh, excuse me.
G: No, no, my fault. I shouldn't have stopped right in the door way.
Woman: Were you coming to the shop? I was on my way out to get a bite to eat, but I can open up again, if you want to shop.
G: (sighs) I wish I could shop. I just spent my last dinar on a sarcophagus.
Woman: Oh, I'm sorry to hear you've lost someone. (Notices the tattered green sports bra) You're about to lose that sports bra, too. I think you'd better come inside, and we'll fix you up. My name is Shadow Dancer. You can call me Shadow.
G: Shadow, really, you're too kind, but I don't have any money at all.
S: Not a problem. You ever hear of bartering? I'm sure you have something I can use in exchange for some clothes. (She leads her inside the shop).
G: I'm just a simple country bard. I have nothing to trade.
S: But that's perfect! I work in this shop part time, but my true vocation is Archive Warrior. See? (She pulls a scroll out of the scabbard on her back, and unrolls it. It is a story of Xena. Gabrielle is reading, then she stops and points to a line.)
G: Don't tell me; you got this story from that weasel Joxer, didn't you?
S: How can you know........
G: What Xena actually said was, "If you see a woman that looks just like me, and she shows the slightest interest in you as a man, that's the bad one."
S: You're Gabrielle, Xena's own bard!
G: Yes. That's me.
S: Oh, this is so exciting.. Arcas! Come out here and meet the famous bard Gabrielle!
G: Well, Xena is famous, I'm just...... (the door to the back room opens, and a brown bear lumbers into the room.. The cat puffs up, and with a screech, digs in to what's left of the green sports bra, and launches herself into space.)
X: Wait!! Princess, wait, it's only a bear....(the cat can't be stopped, she is out the door, and away down the street) What am I saying... ..ONLY a BEAR? I can't leave Gabrielle back there with a wild animal. Princess, you coward, wait here. I'll catch up with you later.
G: (Staring at the bear) Wha-what.. Is that what I think it is? (Arcas sits back on her haunches, and stares back at Gabrielle).
S: If you think it's a bear, it's what you think it is. Gabrielle meet Arcas.
X: And I'm Xena. I'm here to see you don't hurt my girlfriend. (She raises the bear's eyebrow.)
G: Did you see that? She did the eyebrow thing!
S: She doesn't have eyebrows, Gabrielle. She's a bear.
G: Yes, but.....I swear, she.... never mind.
S: Right, well.. Let's see what we have that you can put on now that your green thing is hanging by a thread. (she rummages through some boxes and comes up with a brown sports bra.) Perfect! A nice brown sports bra. Goes with everything. Even Arcas. See? (She hands the bra to Arcas, who holds it up in front of her body.)
X: Beats the hell out of that damn green thing. We'll take it.
S: And that skirt is all wrong for this. Let me see. (She rummages some more, and comes up with a short skirt slit up to the thigh.) It's what the Amazons are wearing this season. Very fashionable. It'll look great on you.
X: I like it. Especially that slit on the side. (Arcas does the eyebrow thing again.)
G: (shaking her head, mumbles) She's a bear. Bears can't do the eyebrow thing.
S: What did you say?
G: Nothing. I like the clothes. Xena would have liked them, too.....
S: Would have? Are you saying Xena is......(Gabrielle nods). Oh, Gabrielle, I'm so sorry. (She hugs Gabrielle tightly. Arcas wraps a paw around Gabby's shoulders and hugs her, too.)
G: Aw, you guys are so sweet... But Arcas, take your paw off my butt.
X: It's me, Gabrielle. Arcas only has eyes for Shadow.
S: Arcas, behave. That's not what "bard bear" means. (Arcas shrugs and wiggles her non-existent eyebrows.) Gabrielle, please take these clothes as a gift. I wish Xena had lived to appreciate you in them.
X: Oh, don't worry, she will.
G: Shadow, you're too kind. I have to take Xena home, but I promise I'll come back here one day and tell you the real Xena stories.
S: Gabrielle, I have a GREAT idea! Why don't I close up shop for a few days, and Arcas and I will come along with you. You can tell me stories along the way. It might help take your mind off .... you know.
X: Excellent! Arcas might come in handy out there.
S: Why don't you pop into a dressing room and put on your new clothes while I throw a few things together and we'll be on our way.
G: OK. (Gabrielle goes into a dressing room; Arcas peeps over the top. Fade out)
Exterior - Argo and Shadow's horse walk side by side with Gabrielle and Shadow leading them. Argo pulls a litter with the sarcophagus on it, and Shadow's horse pulls a litter with Arcas and Princess reclining under an umbrella. Arcas sips pink lemonade, and wears sunglasses. Princess is curled up on her chest. Xena is in Arcas.
G: ........and that's how Xena rescued the baby and saved the kingdom from being taken over.
X: More lemonade, please. And can you move the umbrella? The sun's hitting me in the face.
S: That's not the way Joxer told it. (She looks back at the litter with Arcas on it) What in the world is that bear grumbling about now?
G: She's a real talker, isn't she?
S: Well, not usually. (They stop at a fork in the road) Which way do we go?
G: Hm. Let me see.... I think Amphipolis is that way, through the Amazon nation. (She points to the right.)
X: Oh, no. If those women get a look at you in that outfit, they'll never let you out of there. Besides, I know a short cut, and we have no time to waste. Time for me to take charge of this parade. (She leaves Arcas, and jumps into Argo.)
S: (Leading her horse to the right, she stops when Gabrielle and Argo go marching off to the left). Uh, Gabrielle, didn't you say we wanted to go right?
G: Yes. Yes, I did. Argo seems to have other ideas. (She plants her heels, but Argo shakes her head and continues to the left, dragging Gabrielle along.) OK, OK, left she wants, left we'll go. I think we'll meet up with the road to Amphipolis on the other side of that big temple.
S: (Falls in beside Gabrielle again). Which temple is that?
G: It's the one that's supposed to have the ambrosia in it. Haven't you heard that old myth?
S: Well, no. To tell you the truth, I'm not from around here, so I don't know any of those myths.
G: I had you pegged for an outlander. You're so much more exotic than the locals. Where do you come from?
S: Across the big pond.
G: Ah. How did you find your way here?
S: Turned right at Greenland. Is that your big temple? (She points to a temple in front of them.)
X: YES! I can practically taste that ambrosia. (Argo trots up to the front of the temple and stops.) Now how am I going to get to it?
G: Yep, that's the place. If only that myth about ambrosia was true. I could bring Xena back to life.
S: Let's go inside and have a look around; maybe we can find the ambrosia.
X: Wait! I'm coming with you. (She jumps from Argo into Princess and runs after them). Fade out
Interior - A dark temple. Gabrielle strikes two flints together and lights a torch. The rest of the torches follow suit.
S: How do you do that?
G: Do what?
S: Strike two flints together and light a half dozen torches.
G: (shrugs) Special effects.
(Princess stands on the edge of the precipice by the flaming pit, looking up at the ropes and assorted hanging things.)
X: Hmm. Wonder if Princess could make the jump to one of those ropes so I can climb up there? (Princess doesn't think so; she hisses, and backs away from the edge.) OK, OK, so we go with plan B. (She takes Princess outside and prowls around the outside of the building looking for a way up. She finds a dead tree clinging to the earth by a thread on the side of the building.) Ah.. If I could push that tree up against the building, Princess could walk right up to the top. I'm sure I can find a way in from there. But how to knock the tree over? (She turns and spies Arcas, snoozing on the litter, an empty lemonade glass in her paw). Time to earn your lemonade, old girl. (She jumps into Arcas. Arcas grumbles; she was having a dream about a certain blonde bard. Xena cuffs her on the ear.) Get your own bard, Arcas. That one's mine. Now let's go get butch with that tree over there. (Arcas lumbers over and leans her shoulder into the tree. It obliges by coming up by the roots and toppling against the building.)
G: What in Hades was that awful crash?
S: More special effects?
G: Probably. (She jumps in the air trying in vain to reach one of the ropes hanging down.) Oh how I wish Xena was here. She could grab that rope easy. (in despair, she sinks down on the edge of the precipice.)
S: She is here, in spirit. I can feel her so strongly sometimes I almost feel like I'm looking at her.
X: (Lumbers in and stares into Shadow's face.) You are. (Does the eyebrow thing. Shadow blinks a few times.) Ha! Got your attention, eh? Now I need for you to go take the lid off that god awful sarcophagus so Princess and I can get to my body with the ambrosia. Got it? (Shadow nods as if she understood, and walks out with Arcas right behind her.) OK, Princess, let's climb. (She jumps into Princess as she is cleaning her unmentionables.) Eeeewww, ptui! That's way more than I ever wanted to know about being a cat. (She jumps up on the base of the tree and nimbly climbs to the top. She leaps on to the roof and begins looking for an opening. She finds an eave and squirms underneath. In a corner sits a glowing pile of gummy bears.) Ah Ha, that must be it! (She grabs a mouth full and wiggles out of the opening again. In a few bounds she is on the ground.)
S: (Prying the edge of the sarcophagus open) Sorry, Xena, but something told me I had to open up this box. Hope Gabrielle doesn't mind......
X: She won't mind. Trust me. (Shadow pushes the lid off the box to expose Xena's body. Princess bounds onto her lifeless chest, and prying her mouth open with her paw, she drops the ambrosia into her mouth.)
S: Princess! What are you.... Oh! It's the ambrosia! You found it!
X: (blinking her eyes a few times) Shadow, help me sit up, will you? I have the worst stiff neck in history.
S: (Bending down to help Xena sit up) How do you know my name?
X: It's a long story, and I'll tell it to you for your archives, but first, there's someone I have to see. (Shadow helps her out of the box.)
Interior of temple. Gabrielle still sits with her feet dangling over the fire pit. She hears footsteps behind her, and assuming it is Shadow she resumes their previous conversation.)
G: Yep, you shoulda seen her in action. She could run like the wind and fight like a tiger. But when we went to bed at night, she was gentle as a lamb and soft as a wagon load of cotton. Oh, how I miss her. I'd give anything to have her back alive and well.
X: Gabrielle, you don't have to give anything.
G: (Startled, she nearly goes over the edge, but Xena grabs her and pulls her back). XENA! I can't believe it's really you! How.... who......
X: I had a little help from my friends. (she smiles at Shadow, Arcas , Princess, and Argo who have all come into the temple.)
G: (Throwing her arms around Xena's neck, she plants a lip lock on her that could not be mistaken for a friendly kiss.) Thank you.... Thank you all. Xena, promise me you'll never die on me again.
X: I promise. (She takes Gabrielle's hand, and together they walk into the day light, with Shadow and the animals in a parade following behind. As the group crests a hill with the setting sun before them, we hear Shadow's voice faintly.
S: Gabrielle, you didn't tell me tell me she was..... uh, is, such a major babe. (Gabrielle gives her a playful sock on the shoulder, and the group fades from sight.)